Scott Walker faces the Blue Wall

In the prevailing campaign narrative, we are supposed to believe that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is uniquely electable because of his success in a solidly blue state. Instead of demonstrating a Republican path to the White House, the Walker campaign demonstrates why the GOP’s current posture has eliminated it from national relevance. Walker probably is the most electable potential Republican nominee and he would lose his home state – and the election, to almost any Democratic candidate.

The Blue Wall gets its power from a single political phenomenon – the conversion of the former slave and Jim Crow states from single-party Democratic rule to single party Republican rule. A new generation of Neo-Confederates has found vast new room to operate inside a far weaker political organization. Freed from the shackles of a more powerful national party, Neo-Confederates inside the GOP are now dictating terms instead of accommodating.

This has given Republicans in the old Jim Crow belt tremendous new local power, but it has converted the Republican Party into a regional force with little or no appeal beyond aging whites. Success for northern Republicans in state and local races depends on two factors. First, the template of relevant issues is much narrower than in national races, meaning voters are sometimes willing to tolerate or ignore otherwise unpopular positions. Second, candidates in state and local races can often establish a safe distance from the positions of the national party. Those two criteria are impossible to meet in a campaign for the White House.

In Wisconsin, for example, Walker built his appeal on his willingness to break the smothering stranglehold of public employee unions on state and local politics. For all the noise on the issue nationally, that position has always been a winner there for very good reasons and it remains a winner today. That is a purely regional concern that voters in Missouri or Nevada or Texas likely do not even comprehend.

Walker’s first campaign tried to conceal his social conservatism, downplaying abortion and other issues. Voters were keen enough to see reforms in state government to roll the dice on social issues, betting that there was little harm he could do. Despite taking some extreme Tea Party positions, voters have stuck with him by a narrow margin out of fear that a loss by Walker would undo the valuable work he has done. Polls are making clear that those voters are not willing to tolerate his far-right positions in a role as powerful as the White House. Truth be told, after what he has tried to do to the state’s flagship university, they probably wouldn’t return him to another term in the Governor’s office. He’s finished.

Walker trails Clinton in Wisconsin in a hypothetical matchup by double-digits. Yes, the election is a long way off, but it is difficult to imagine what might change. Wisconsin voters experienced three low-turnout elections with Walker and their buyer’s remorse is rising. Hillary Clinton is probably the most thoroughly-vetted public figure in modern history. There is nothing left to learn about her. Wisconsin voters have made up their minds and are unlikely to shift much on this issue in a year, or a decade.

Walker has never won more than 1.2m votes in Wisconsin. Obama won 1.6m in both 2008 and 2012. In a high-turnout election he has absolutely zero possibility of taking the state. And by the way, the state’s Tea Party Senator, Ron Johnson, who won election in an off-year, already trails his most likely rival by a huge margin. It is virtually inconceivable that he can hold his seat in Wisconsin in a Presidential election year.

Republicans are not going to reverse our decline in national relevance without addressing the forces behind the problem. The party has fallen captive to a Neo-Confederate agenda driven by the counter-civil rights movement. Talk all day about taxes or war or trade or any other issue, as long the party is chained to a core of bigotry, whatever else we build around that core will be tainted.

Want to build a more powerful, more vibrant, more optimistic Republican Party that can dominate our politics for a generation? Start with a good hard look at what happened in Indiana with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. If you need evidence to demonstrate the scope of the problem, take a good hard look at the career arc of Governor Scott Walker. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican nominee to carry Wisconsin. Walker will not be the next one.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Civil Rights, Election 2016, Neo-Confederate, Tea Party
226 comments on “Scott Walker faces the Blue Wall
  1. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Looks like we will have a new attorney general, as the Senate managed to confirm Lynch after a mere five months of sideshow and bluster.

    Our Mr. Cruz was the most vocal advocate for blocking her confirmation. Mr. Cruz called her “lawless”, and said, “We are sadly going to see more and more lawlessness, more recklessness, more abuse of power, more executive lawlessness.”

    One wonders how Mr. Cruz would describe real crime when he uses these terms to describe glorified lawyer bitch-fests?

    The confirmation vote was 56-43, with 10 GOP members joining the Democrats. For the math-inclined in the bunch, that 56 to 43 only adds up to 99. That means someone didn’t vote.

    Who do you think that was? Why yes, the most vocal opponent, Mr. Cruz, could not find time to vote on the confirmation of the attorney general of the US.

    Mr. Cruz’s spokesperson said that he could not participate in the vote because of a prior commitment back in Texas. I, for one, appreciate my senator putting the business of my great state at the forefront of his efforts, so one is curious about the urgent issue arising in Texas that required his attention.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      In fairness…the outcome was already determined, so Mr. Cruz being there had no effect on anything (so true of much of congress), but the visual certainly isn’t good for Mr. Cruz.

      Undoubtedly, however, his supporters will not cease complaining about Obama jetting off to various fundraisers.

      Also, geez…that is a really big image there of the invitation.

      • 1mime says:

        Much ado about nothing? It seems Sen. Cruz likes to be the center of attention as often as possible. Given his abysmal voting record, he must have lots of demands on his time that are more important than the job he was elected to do. The man is so narcissistic it hurts.

        That said, I’m sure everyone in the room breathes a sigh of relief when they learn he won’t be in attendance…..even his Republican colleagues. What a prick.

      • flypusher says:

        “In fairness…the outcome was already determined, so Mr. Cruz being there had no effect on anything…”

        Oh, so NOW he’s recognizing a futile gesture, is he?

      • 1mime says:

        Politico’s 2016 Blast today shows Rubio lining up $$ with the big boys….Could be the “dark horse”

        A Game of Thrones indeed!

        “For a time, it looked like JEB BUSH would steamroll the GOP field with a cash-flush juggernaut that might raise as much as $100 million in the first quarter.
        But with GOP millionaires and billionaires beginning to pick sides, the view looks different today. Billionaire Norman Braman is considering spending anywhere between $10 million and $25 million for MARCO RUBIO. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson might also weigh in big for Rubio and a few others. Hedge fund investor Robert Mercer is reported to be the main donor behind a network of four super PACs backing TED CRUZ.
        On the eve of Bush’s Right to Rise donor summit in Miami this weekend, a Bush bundler explains the landscape this way: ‘With Mercer, Adelson, Braman, the Kochs and talk radio and the blogs, it’s like Game of Thrones out there.'”

      • 1mime says:

        “That is a really big image there of the invitation”………

        Well, if it was for anyone but Ted Cruz, I’d say it was “overkill” (-:

    • Turtles Run says:

      Fleecing the flock….I mean supporters takes time. He cannot be bothered to actually work for the state he was elected to represent. Those that support his brand of unseemly politicking make me wonder, my guess is that they have no interest in the governance of this nation.

      • 1mime says:

        Anyone who is deluded enough to think Cruz works for anything or anyone other than his own personal goals deserves no pity. The man is shameless in his self-absorption. I’m certain he could care less about any criticism of his actions.

        In an appropriations sleight of hand, Republicans plan to borrow from Peter to pay Paul…using “CHIMP”, a budgeting gimmick. So much for pay as you go…honoring existing budgets…fiscal responsibility. This is how Republicans govern.

        Read for yourself:

    • 1mime says:

      Homer, thought you would appreciate this “back story” on Loretta Lynch’s father, Lorenzo Lynch. The title is misleading; the story is much broader. A special family, Loretta’s brother was a Navy Seal. Interesting sidebar is the mention of a Sears & Roebuck heir who used his inheritance to build thousands of schools for black children. Lotta history in this article.

    • fiftyohm says:

      It’s the existential threat of infiltration by poutine-eaters from the north he’s worried about.

      • RobA says:

        say what you will about me. Poutine must never be disparaged. It is our Most important treasure

      • 1mime says:

        Well, I wonder if I am the only one here who didn’t know what “poutine” is? Saw a picture…..gotta be a zillion saturated fat calories in one serving…, that means, it must taste awesome!

      • fiftyohm says:

        I quite agree! You from the Great White North?

      • fiftyohm says:

        It’s a pile of French fries, topped with succulent cheese curds, and lightly and completely smothered in brown gravy. And yes, your instincts about it’s wholesome goodness are correct!

      • fiftyohm says:

        1mime – It’s a funny thing about perception and reality when it comes to food. First off, the saturated fat myth had been almost totally discredited. Second, most French fries have essentially zero saturated fat. Most gravy these days is made from vegetable oil, and has no saturated fat either. Cheese does have some, of course, but nobody would mention the saturated fat content in a few cheese curds, would they? Put em all together, and they form, in the mind of the general public, something horrible for you.

        Curious, eh?

      • 1mime says:

        No calories, either, I’m guessin?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Oh, plenty of those puppies, fer sher!

      • texan5142 says:

        Had to look up “poutine”, glad I did, I was thinking the definition of “putaine” and that is a horse of a different color.

    • Creigh says:

      Another case of prosecutorial overreach and abusive police tactics, certainly. No evidence from that article that the “Democrat Party” was involved.

    • 1mime says:

      This is horrible, Doug. National Review is an ultra conservative magazine and I hope they are reporting this fairly. I will try to learn more about these heinous events. Political reprisal is replete on both sides of the aisle but one hopes it is disappearing from the landscape. Police brutality and aggressive political tactics are wrong. Sad.

      • johngalt says:

        I used to subscribe to the NR, some years ago, and enjoyed its intellectual commentary. It’s now a rag, FoxNews on paper. William F. Buckley must be rolling in his grave.

    • 1mime says:

      Another thought on the politically driven home invasions in Wisconsin – how in the world do these individuals (police, etc) ever think they will get away with doing something like this? There is a legal process to allow citizens to vote their preferences. If you don’t like it, vote against it. If it passes, live under it and work to repeal it, but actions like these are always wrong and should be punished to the fullest extent under the law. Keep us posted, Doug, as I don’t follow National Review (-:

      • Creigh says:

        1mime, police and prosecutors act like this because people want them to. In a New Yorker article on police shootings in Albuquerque, DA Kari Brandenburg is quoted as saying that people come up to her in the grocery store all the time and tell her that the police should shoot more criminals.

      • texan5142 says:

        Creigh, they should start with Wall Street, plenty of criminals to shoot at there.

      • flypusher says:

        ” DA Kari Brandenburg is quoted as saying that people come up to her in the grocery store all the time and tell her that the police should shoot more criminals.”

        That’s no shock to anyone who reads the Chron comment section (or just about any online comment section) following an article about police shootings or home invasions. I have no issue with the castle doctrine (as applied to someone invading YOUR property), and I have zero sympathy for thieves, but the sheer bloodthirsty delight some people express (even allowing for trolling) is quite disturbing.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly – I continue to be amazed at the things people say about their religion, the President, minorities, immigrants, etc. What may have once been an “undercurrent” of anger and hate is now in full view. Any sane person supports self defense when being attacked or their property invaded, but, encouraging overt, aggressive, retaliatory tactics because they fit one’s personal animosities or political views? No way. That’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it is abjectly sad for our Democratic form of government. For law enforcement to be a willing partner in such abuse is horrible.

        Media has played a role in encouraging and affirming such heinous behavior, but, I am more deeply concerned about the increasing human expression of hate and intolerance. It doesn’t seem to be slowing. Reason has fled. Tolerance is in short supply.

        I have no doubt that the electorate and citizenry in Wisconsin have huge differences….just as I have huge differences with many Republican actions. This is still a Democracy and just because I don’t like or agree with something doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want with impunity. We live in a society of laws. If you are in the minority, work to bring about constructive change. I believe things have gotten much worse in this regard since Pres. Obama was elected. Civility and respect are gone from politics. As much as I disagreed with Pres. G.W. Bush (and, especially Dick Cheney), I never denigrated the office of President as has been done over these past seven years. Is it any wonder that nations around the world are looking at the bastion of freedom, America, and shaking their heads?

        Vitriol used to be the domain of those who were crude, uneducated and unaccountable. Today it occurs at the highest levels of governance and is justified as “every man’s right”. Again, there is a process and it’s called elections. If you don’t vote, you undermine Democracy for all. And, shame on those who make voting harder and contribute to distrust in our government that was formed to provide equality and freedom for all.

        Sorry for the long post. Feel strongly about this subject.

    • johngalt says:

      Police have been routinely criticized by the left and right for excessive force in incidents in which they are a little too ready to use military tactics to enforce warrants. The John Doe investigations in Wisconsin do seem a little sketchy, particularly with police raids like this, but there must be a tool by which politicians are held to account for the legality of their actions. It should be noted that a prior John Doe led to the convictions of six Walker aides for real, actual crimes.

    • fiftyohm says:


      Let’s have some assholes break into my house, threaten my family, command me to shut up about it, and see what happens.

      Now it’s true that such thuggery is not legal in Texas, and therefore nothing to worry about. It’s also true that this type of unconstitutional behavior is abetted by compliance of the victims. That it has taken so long from the incidents in question to formal judicial review of the tactic is pretty convincing evidence of this.

      Let’s have a vote: How many here would comply with the order to keep quiet?

      • Crogged says:

        At the bottom, the same thing–the baleful terrible impact of money on elections and office holders. So individual states write ‘better’ legislation, and there can be no vague something about vague actions regarding corporations with unknown ownership and blah blah blah-the law is violated! Send in the troopers-thow shalt not conspire to communicate or talk about how to write transparently wrong candidate commercials…….

        Transparency and actual participation of most registered voters in every election-maybe there’s another way to tackle the problem of ‘money’ and democracy.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, what is your view about publicly financed elections? IOW, no Citizens United, no Koch or Soros influence….Plus, expand Congressional terms from 2-4 years so they’re not continuously campaigning and asking for money. Also, of course, expand voting access by utilizing technology, mail out ballots, making poll hours more worker-friendly. If America is ever going to bring up its voter percentiles and remove the obscene amounts of money from the process, the entire process will have to change. How do you feel about changes like these and others that interest you?

      • Crogged says:

        “This advertisement paid for by Mr. __ and Ms.____the actual owners of “Freedom From Stuff I Don’t Like Inc.”

        And everyone complains about getting a drivers license-so let’s all bitch about having to go vote or lose it…..

      • fiftyohm says:

        “…what is your view about publicly financed elections?” 1mime

        It’s not the elections that are the problem – it’s the campaigns. But a factoid that should be kept in mind before we conclude that our country is being completely and totally consumed by the influence of Big Money, is the fact that during the 2012, (a presidential election year), we spent more on Halloween candy than both parties spent on their political campaigns combined.

      • 1mime says:

        50 – of course, both campaigns and elections would be included which would certainly cut down on tv ads, phone calls, print barrage. Imagine: being able to eat dinner during national elections without the incessant ringing of the phone. At the very least, there should be full disclosure of all campaign contributions/contributors and no “smoke and mirrors” pacs. NO secret donations.

        The absolute key is to increase voter participation. America doesn’t fare well in comparison with other nations. It makes you wonder if the reason is contentment, apathy or difficulty with the process. We certainly have a lot of “ghouls and witches” on our ballots, maybe we should give away bags of trick or treat candy at the polling sites…….

      • Crogged says:

        1mime-I just like saying crazy shtuff-because crazy shtuff eventually becomes a better idea after somebody else thinks about it, then a law after a lawyer gets a hold of it, then a principle when a college professor explains the history, before finally revealed as a human right first proposed by a ProtoIndoHippie from Germany in 1490 after Guttenberg invented the printing press, but we lost the manuscript.

        Rich people are going to spend their money because they have it. Let them, elections are won because we voted and I didn’t buy my car because of the television advertisements. Even the guy in Ohio who voted for the candidate who interrupted his dinner least with phone calls-so what?

        I don’t like the impact of many of the wealthy donors. Newt Gingrich was in the news and the last Republican campaign because one rich guy bankrolled his entire operation (via several dumb corporations I’m sure), several million dollars was pocket change to this dude.

        If the voter ranks swell, the money is diluted even further and who is campaigning against more people voting? Can’t stop money-but you can bleed them dry.

      • flypusher says:

        “we spent more on Halloween candy than both parties spent on their political campaigns combined.”

        I vote for snickers!

      • 1mime says:

        I vote (in prez election) for “her she”

      • fiftyohm says:

        1mime – I can’t say for sure what the issue with turnout is concerned, but it’s damn sure not difficulty with the process. It’s about as difficult as going to the store – often easier. Maybe it’s the other stuff you mentioned. Either way, if you haven’t a clue about the candidates, for god’s sake, stay home. Voting for the sake of voting is about the worst thing I can think of.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Who me? Be quiet…. I’m usually the biggest loud mouth in the room!

      • Crogged says:

        I believe if voting were a duty, there would be FEWER uninformed voters and while it certainly isn’t difficult, it can still be easier. What is the problem?

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Crogged. At the very least, they should be encouraged – not discouraged as we know is done in swing states. How many of us can honestly say we have ever voted for someone we didn’t know? I’ll be the first to admit to doing so. (I’m waiting for the stones….)We’ve lived and voted in three states so there’s always a learning curve. The main thing was, we voted the best we could and tried to make informed decisions. Given some of the dumbclucks who are in office, one wonders if they got there by chance or if those voting for them were “informed”. Point is, voting is a right and America needs to increase voting participation. I stand firm on that belief. And, I agree, voting could be easier, just as we accommodate disabled and elderly voters, why couldn’t this convenience be afforded to all who are registered voters? And, as I have maintained before, why not computer voting.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “if voting were a duty, there would be FEWER uninformed voters” -Crogged

        Such nonsense. What’s that based on? You force people to do something, and they do it better – even though there is absolutely no standard regarding what ‘better’ is? It a test given when one enters the polling place to determine of the voter has read a newspaper or knows a thing about the candidates? WTF?

      • 1mime says:

        Giving a test to determine one’s knowledge of candidates in order to vote? I know what you really mean is you want voting to be a serious, informed process – as we all do. Not everyone is well educated but I have known some very smart, good people who lacked formal education but trust will make good decisions…..and it is their right to exercise in the election of those who will govern them. On some very basic level, Fifty, people know who best represents the values they hold dear, even if they don’t know the candidate’s platform…..which, I might add, frequently shifts once they’re elected. Sadly, there are many who vote against their personal best interests, but they are voting with their gut and heart even if the person elected doesn’t enact policies that benefit them. That’s an old topic Lifer has iterated in several posts.

        The point is, voting can’t be elitist. Wars and revolutions have been fought for the right for all to vote. Let’s encourage it not disparage it.

      • Crogged says:

        Why is it ‘nonsense’? You can’t make a better voter–not looking for that, just to increase the participation rate. Period. What exactly are you concerned with if more people vote? All those ‘uninformed’ people?

        You and I are in the ‘bubble’ of the informed, or the bored, putting off doing something to speak here of politics and Ted Nugent fries. A shared duty creates conversation, where it goes is not my concern.

      • Crogged says:

        If I haven’t made it any more clear. The liberals here are concerned with ‘money’ and it’s influence on our elected officials. Our couple of nominally libertarian friends decry ‘regulatory capture’. Make everyone vote: no corporation, vested interest or single issue nincompoop can accidentally win. Let ’em spend a kagillion dollars on television advertising and endless young people calling me. Don’t care about the results, I’m not betting that the ‘right’ people win, certainly not in the state which bitches endlessly about the Feds, but love that NASA!

        Some writers here wouldn’t have their fucking job without NASA and the effect it had on their industry, but, they have their principles from a French farmer…..

        Term limits would more than likely be unnecessary with a much higher percentage of the voting age adults in the United States actually ‘having’ to vote. It is social insurance, bitch about the ‘mandate’ and your freedom to not do something to someone else. Complain about the ‘idiocy’ of the public and I’ll listen, American Idol fundamentally hurt musical tastes in this country.

      • 1mime says:

        Good point about correlation between term limits and increased voter participation, Crogged. It’s frustrating to see members of Congress spend decades in office….yet, they keep getting re-elected, so, whatever they’re doing must be working for their constituents, right? Count me as one who doesn’t think more time necessarily equates to wiser governance.

        I would say that your analogy of mandatory voter participation as “social insurance” is also correct. Under that scenario, candidates would have to appeal to a broader range of constituent needs. The way House districts are currently drawn, representative never have to consider the needs of the minority voter. That’s why the House is going to be in the hands of Republicans for many more years and why Senate and Presidency positions offer more opportunity for change. Until the re-districting process is removed from state legislatures into the hands of independent organizations, things will be pretty much the same for the foreseeable future. The whole “one man one vote but no voice” is not the way Democracy is supposed to work. People who are registered HAVE TO VOTE. No excuses.

        Finally, regardless what individually concerns each of us about American elections, the process should be free, open and accessible. Then, as you noted, let the chips fall where they may.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged – Increasing voter participation with people who would otherwise choose not to vote accomplishes less than nothing. Remember the bit from Eddie Murphy’s Delirious? If you think a vote is worth something intrinsically, absent any thought or notion of the issues whatsoever, we differ so significantly on the meaning of democracy and its practice, I don’t know where to begin.

    • RobA says:

      This story makes my blood boil just the same as when power mad cops murder unarmed civilians.

      I see nothing about this being anything to do with the democratic party however. Seems extreeeeeemely tenous that just because the typical Dem would have opposed her work on unions.

      The fact is, like so many things, righties opposition to certain things (handouts, abortions, unions) extend only so far as it affects other people. When it affects THEN directly, all of a sudden things change.

      Wold Dick Cheney be so out of characterily open minded when it comes to the LGBT community if his daughter wasn’t gay? Somehow, I doubt it. How many stories have we heard about high profile politicians who condemn abortion…..until it st heir wife or daughter who gets pregnant.

      Likewise, I would say it’s far far more likely that these cops are conservative (and thus, republican) in every other way with the exception of unions. Why? Because they belong to a very powerful one, of course.

      Obviously, we don’t know, and that’s why I would never condemn this article as an act of anything other then good old fashioned police abuse of power.

      To somehow subscribe this to ANYTHING related to the left, or Dems, or anything, requires connecting so many dots that it stretches the limits of credulity

      • fiftyohm says:

        Well, RobA, you’re likely correct. And union thuggery is nothing new, is it?

        Hey – do you live in the Great White North part-time?

      • Doug says:

        “To somehow subscribe this to ANYTHING related to the left, or Dems, or anything, requires connecting so many dots that it stretches the limits of credulity”

        Did you read the same article I did? The one I read made it clear that the entire thing was driven by a very partisan Dem DA:

        “A partisan Democrat whose wife was a shop steward for a teachers union, Chisholm investigated everything possible related to Walker for a couple of years, without really laying a glove on him. It was in the run-up to Walker’s re-election campaign that, with the help of a compliant judge, John Doe entered its next phase of harassment of conservative groups.”

      • goplifer says:

        The DA is always partisan when I’m the defendant.

    • goplifer says:

      That is manufactured bullshit. Read the article in the National Review – carefully. There’s nothing there. French is part of criminal investigation and the police came to his home looking for evidence. Watch an episode of cops if you want to know how that usually goes down.

      They are irate that the cop was rude when she wanted to get coffee. What a f’g asshole. Looking forward to his posts about the impertinent behavior of the guards in prison.

  2. flypusher says:

    Not completely off topic, since Cruz is running- some of his college debate highlights (this could be NSFW- use your judgment):

    What is it about conservatives and such whacky ideas about female anatomy? Also have to hate that gross double standard in play here. So Teddy, how would you “visibly modify” guys who cheat? I like the “lose an inch each time” suggestion.

  3. unarmedandunafraid says:

    Interesting article related to a lot of the comments in post. A lot of SS related info and links.

    Some statements about retirees and medical expenses, that 1mime would find interesting.

    And mention of a study about why the electorate prefers “universal” programs and will not support “particularist” ones that go to ” special interest groups. The point that creigh and myself were making.

    • 1mime says:

      Good article, Sassy. I don’t believe there is a genuine, broad concern or commitment by America’s wealthy for stabilizing the slide of the middle class into poverty. It is an “inconvenient truth” and will certainly become election fodder, but conservatives are exactly where they want to be and have bigger plans in store for the middle class and poor. Their positions are cloaked in the mantra of “fiscal responsibility”….whose, may I ask?

      The questions are: are conservatives correct in their assessment of the need to slowly dismantle the “New Deal” social structure? And, do their political actions reflect the wishes and needs of the majority of Americans? If so, what does this new political reality mean for today’s SS and Medicare/Medicaid recipients and those who are within 10-15 years of retirement? If not, what will it take to forge agreement about entitlement programs? Will it be “ram it down their throats, or, a deliberative, bi-partisan effort? There is only so much money to spend and America has a large federal debt. So, it comes down to a matter of priorities.

      The statistics cited in the NYT article indicate that the majority of Americans support for keeping SS and Medicare viable, even if it means raising taxes. If this is true, it further illustrates the disconnect between average Americans and the two parties. Given the vitriol on this blog on the subject of higher taxes, I highly doubt much effort will be spent by conservatives and corporate America in taking this course of action; rather, it will be a battle royale. When over half the U.S. budget goes to defense, that leaves everything else fighting for what’s left.

      I am not surprised by the health care cost escalation cited in the Kaiser chart. We’re living it. Simply living longer exposes seniors to the high probability of debilitating health and huge expenses. It is difficult for those who are now in their 40s-50s to grasp this looming reality even with the example of challenges being faced by their aging parents. Saving more will certainly help and is important, but serious health problems can devastate savings. Then what happens?

    • 1mime says:

      Unarmed, what do you consider a “particularist” program? And, what do you believe is a “universal” program, as perceived by the electorate?

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Imime – The author was referring to “universal” programs like Social Security and Medicare. Or what is perceived to be universal. This is what Fifty and I have been going on about. Because everybody gets SS distribution, it is accepted. Accepted by people that would ordinarily be against welfare or any income redistribution program.

        It is not conservatives that accept these programs but the electorate. Conservatives still hate them. But notice that conservatives only try to nibble at the edges of SS because it is considered the “third rail of politics”. The same with medicare. Everybody is eligible for medicare, regardless of wealth or income. (there is some reduction according to income).

        Notice the difference in how food stamps are attacked. Food stamps are considered “particularist” because there is a narrow slice of of the public that benefits and they are poor and usually non voting. Welfare was attacked until it changed to workfare in the Clinton years. Again, because the disribution went to a smaller, particular class.

        Strange way of governing, but I guess it goes with a democratic republic when the democratic part breaks.

      • 1mime says:

        I was pretty sure I was reading you right but have learned to ask to be sure. The poor have no advocates in America unless you count Pope Francis and Mother Theresa. So sad that America has become so desensitized to the needs of the poor. There are many reasons for that – abuse of the system is the easiest one to attack, but you are probably closest when you say they don’t vote and they surely lack a lobbyist, and they are so easy to ignore – invisible people. The programs for the poor are valuable when they’re not abused….just like tax loopholes for the wealthy, right? The difference, they HAVE lobbyists who work the system. And, I agree with you, Democracy is broken.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a perfect example of what you are talking about Unarmed, where the poor get screwed – Kansas style.

    • 1mime says:

      Sorry, Unarmed. Gave Sassy credit for the NYT post (-: My bad!

  4. BigWilly says:

    Proto Indo European hippies. Don’t you wish.

    I don’t expect the “blue wall” to manifest itself as a permanent political division among the states.

    Once America gets hip to what the Left (the communist remainder) has in mind for them I think you’ll find the party will pick up steam in the so called “blue” states. I was willing to entertain some of the liberal ideas because I thought the GOP went just a step too far to the right. Gauging from the unhinged rhetoric I read here I have a little advice for the GOP: Don’t step to the right, run to it.

    Scott Walker might prove to be a pretty good negotiator he has 20 plus years in politics. I’ve watched some of the other guys flame out (Scott Jensen) before they could get to the point where he is now.

    Of course Cruz is just down the street, I wouldn’t count him out. 2016 looks to be better than 2010, or 2014. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    • texan5142 says:

      “Gauging from the unhinged rhetoric I read here I have a little advice for the GOP: Don’t step to the right, run to it.”

      You don’t get out much if you think that what you read here is “unhinged rhetoric”.

      • RobA says:

        Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

        My guess is BW is an older gentlemen (45+) in a rural, homogeneous community.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all. Rural folk are fine people. Just that in an America that’s becoming increasingly urbanized, the urbanite has become the true voice of America while the rural voter is in the minority.

        Again , nothing wrong with that, just that the lack of diversity and opinion endemic to such areas give these rural folk a false sense of what passes for the “average America”.

        On this, demographic trends are quite clear. America is becoming more urban, more secular, more liberal, and less white all the time.

        From my point of viee As a youngish (30) urbanite with a large and wide ranging circle of friends – the most of which are patently UNpolitical – the idea that we could ever swing back to the right in any meaningful way is completely bizarre to me. I have around 2500 fb “friends”. Of course I don’t know the majority of these ppl in real life. Most of them are ppl I would meet at random downtown bar hopping nights, the kind of drunken camaraderie where you meet someone, shoot the $hit for a while, add em to your FB, and never talk to them again (this is typically how us millenials meet ppl). anyways, the point is, while I doubt any definitive opinion can be formed from a 2500 member strong FB list, I do believe you can take a general reading of a cultural pulse by reading enough people’s comments and statuses. For example: ppl my age, the concept that anyone would oppose 2 ppl who love each other right to get married simply because they’re the same gender is overwhelmingly absurd. Most ppl don’t even think that sort of thing exists anymore, except in ppl our grandparents age (grandparents always tend to get a pass. We don’t call our grandfather’s bigots for saying that blacks and whites shouldn’t mix, for example, even though we would be loathe to associate with someone of our generation with the same views. I guess the general idea is just that they don’t know any different. They’re a product of the culture they grew up in). Does bigotry still exist in my generation? Undoubtedly. A bug difference though, is it has gone underground. It’s happening fast now Too. It wasn’t that long ago, you might hear the word “fag” used somewhat casually in public conversation. i was at a fairly large cocktail party the other day, and some guy called another guy that and was promptly asked to leave, literally by almost every one of the 60 or so ppl there.

        The times they are a-changin’.

        So I guess my point is, I vehently disagree that there could Ever be a “return ” to conservative values in the way that I think BW means it. It just seems to be moving backwards through time, not forwards.

        For city slickers, who are exposed to much greater diversity and who realize that The Gays, and The Blacks, and The Mexicans, and The Immigrants are actually not that much different from you and I, the concepts and values of the right are puzzling, to say the least. To the average rural American, who is exposed to far less diversity, the “liberal hippy dreamers” in the city seem just as puzzling.

        But in the end, demographics will win, as always. There will always be a right wing and always be a Republican party. The difference is, the center itself will inexorably move left. In 30 years, what passes for a centrist/moderate liberal today will likely be firmly in domain of the right wing.

        I imagine if you are the rural type whose only ever exposed to rural types, and you guys all find support and similar opinions about how “liberal the world is today. Kids these days……” etc etc It might be tempting to think that there’s a backlash against progressives coming.

        From my perch firmly in the demographic that will soon run this joint though (30 something urbanite) I cannot imagine anything of the sort.

        In fact, I’m seeing far more political activism among my peer group ever since the midterm elections then I ever have before. Ppl are hearing crackpots like Ted Cruz and we are seeing that this lunatic actually has a solid support base from a sizeable percentage of the population. And that is mobilizing more people to be political then I’ve ever seen. Cruz and his I’ll terify ppl.

        And sorry if this comes off as long and rambly lol. My boss let us all go early to enjoy this beautiful day so I’m sipping mimosas on the balcony with the missus, And loving life too much to be bothered to go back and proof read 😀

      • BigWilly says:

        Well, there’s an asshat out there to fit most nearly anyone. 46, yes young gifted and white, AA, BA, MBA, and EA living in the heart of Houston, TX-Spring Branch. I have my own, very private, practice as an Agent. I’m kind of poking at the CPA. That’s the cup board where I keep my very sharp knives.

        I will say that you’ve very carefully aimed at the target, but you’ve missed.

        You’ve identified yourself to me as, mostly, a vacuum. As you mature you will, hopefully, become more substantial in your assertions.

        Here’s a tar baby for you!

      • 1mime says:

        Your boss let you go early?! What a boss! Your posts are more interesting without speellchuck (-:

        BTW, I agree with your urban analysis.

    • texan5142 says:

      Lol! The more I think about it, the “unhinged rhetoric” mostly comes from you.

      Carry on.

    • 1mime says:

      Politico is doing a regular report on the run up to the 2016 race. Here’s today’s:

      By Ben Schreckinger and Jonathan Topaz
      THE CLOCK: 567 days until Election Day 2016…
      THE ABSENTEE SENATOR: POLITICO’s Austin Wright reports: TED CRUZ came to Washington two-and-a-half years ago pledging to be the anti-senator. But he’s been more like the no-show senator.
      He seriously lags most of his colleagues in attending hearings and casting votes, according to a POLITICO review. He’s skipped the vast majority of Armed Services Committee hearings, is below-average in attendance on his other major committees and ranks 97th during the first three months of this year in showing up for roll call votes on the Senate floor.
      The Texas senator’s attendance record is so poor that his just-launched presidential campaign could be a referendum, as several senior colleagues suggested, on the proper responsibilities of a senator.
      In his first two years in the Senate, Cruz attended just 17 of 50 public Armed Services Committee hearings for which there are transcripts – the second-to-worst attendance record on the 26-member panel.
      Last month, Cruz dismissed concerns about all the Armed Services Committee hearings he’s missed over the past few months by saying he’s been busy planning a presidential campaign. But a POLITICO review has found that his attendance problems date back to his first few months as a senator in 2013, when he skipped congressional hearings on immigration, the war in Afghanistan and across-the-board spending cuts.
      Another senator running for president has also been cited for a poor attendance record: MARCO RUBIO of Florida.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Just read that. Reid has missed the most but mostly due to his injury. The Rubio and Cruz. Pitiful show for their constituents don’t you think.

      • RobA says:

        And this guys wants to be President?

        I mean, I can understand thinking you could be elected IN SPITE of being a hate mongering, bigot who shamelessly pander to the lowest common denomenator of voters if you’ve got some fantastic political achievements and/or legislative victories to hang your hat on.

        This guy has none of those, doesn’t even attend votes, and is in fact running on the expectation that he’ll get elected BECAUSE he’s a hate mongering bigot.

        Whose advising this guy? Cruz’ top political advisor must be the same guy who advised Hector of Troy it would be a good idea to the horse inside the city because it would “go good with the drapes”.

    • lomamonster says:

      BigWilly, maybe it’s time to move on from taking those guitar lessons from Ted Nugent, eh?

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Big Willy – I personally would like to hear more about the Proto Indo European hippies. Are you fur em or agin em.

      • BigWilly says:

        When I’m not tending to my still I like to watch these funny people talk about Indo-European languages. Hmmmm.

      • Crogged says:

        Will someone please label me a Proto Indo European hippie? Should I change my handle to Proto?

      • BigWilly says:

        Tartans, dreadlocks, marijuana inhalation tents-they buried their dead with ephedra and lots of kind bud. Their values seemed to be in the right place. Now if I could only get my hands on some authentic Haoma.

      • Crogged says:

        Can’t fool me BW, your first sentence is a lyric from Arlo Guthrie

  5. bubbabobcat says:

    OT, Obama’s positive approval rating exceeds his negative for the first time since 2013.

    And before the usual suspects start braying, it’s the same approval rating that Faux Saint Ronald Reagan had at the same point in his Presidency.

    Oh yeah, the Republican Congressional leaders’ approval rating is 28% versus a 67% disapproval.

    Shocked, just shocked I say.

    • RobA says:

      Don’t tell Big Willy.

      There’s a backlash against liberals a-brewin’

      He heard so at a truth telling contest two towns over.

  6. way2gosassy says:

    Mime, I don’t mean to sound arbitrary about SS as I’m also on SS and it is a large part of my income due to disability. But 50 is right about SS being a tax. We may have contributed all our lives for SS but we did so on earnings that were not taxed nor do we pay a tax on the employer match of funds unless or until our other taxable income reaches a certain level based on our filing status, we are not being taxed twice on this money and in most instances w are not even being taxed once.

    50, I think there is more than one way to fix the instability of SS as it is today to keep it stable far out into the future. Personally, I think means testing is a viable option provided it does not cut current benefits below poverty levels, remove the earnings cap altogether and properly fund the Department so that it can more quickly find and prosecute instances of fraud.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Good suggestions all, Way2.

    • 1mime says:

      Sassy, I am glad SS is there for you and hope it will be there for others. You could never be arbitrary (unless you’re reeely trying hard …and you can throw a zinger with the best of ’em!) There’s not much more I want to say on this subject so I’ll leave it with these thoughts. We are grateful to receive even 15% of the SS we hoped for even as we are disappointed to forfeit 85% through taxes at this stage in our lives. And, I promise you, we don’t have a second home or a yacht, but I’m happy for those who do.

      As you know better than most here, serious health issues can drain even robust savings, and there’s not much you can do about it except soldier on. That’s when SS income helps, along with your savings and a caring spouse or family who are able to help. As Unarmed pointed out, the ’08 recession was devastating for many people, so there are many unplanned life events that impact earning and savings.

      Our kids have told me that they’re not counting on getting SS for themselves even though they’re paying SS taxes, so they’re saving through their 401k plans, IRAs and other investments as they can. Hopefully, the rules won’t change for them in their later years, but they all have good jobs and are planning ahead, just as their mom and dad did but knowing that life throws curve balls.


      • objv says:

        Mime, for the life of me, I don’t understand why everyone is piling on. What you have said makes sense. There should be some adjustment for inflation or a great many middle class people will be in the same boat.

      • Creigh says:

        1mime, if you’re really forfeiting 85 percent of your SS benefit in taxes, you might try another tax preparer. Taxpayers with income somewhat north of $400,000 should pay 39 percent taxes on 85 percent of their SS benefit, or just about 33 percent in tax. Those with less income will pay less.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for the tip, Creigh. I have an appointment with a CPA/Financial Planner to go over our tax return and to advise me going forward. The challenge is the escalating cost to manage my husband’s increasing care requirements (Parkinson’s Disease). Doubtless, there is a smarter way to handle things than I know how so will see what I can learn.

        Appreciate your interest.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Creigh – First off, it’s an entitlement, and not an insurance program. Insurance pays only when a need arises. Secondly, taxes on benefits are one thing. Benefits should be based on assets as well. You can be a multimillionaire, and draw thousands in SS. It’s just friggin’ stupid.

        Your arguments are, with all due respect, extremely weak.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Well, Fifty – Here we are again. When you say “You can be a multimillionaire, and draw thousands in SS”, you make it sound so outrageous. It is thousands because its more than 2 thousand but it stops there. Distribution is quite progressive already. Even if you are a billionaire the max SS benefit is $2,663/mo. So it is means tested in that respect and further when it is taxed away as your income from other resources rise. So it looks like the person pulling over 400K from his other assets would be down to 1.8k. (approx)

        What seems worse to me is that the working person making 118K salary is contributing the same as the person that makes a million or two in salary and another 10 or 20 million in stock options.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Creigh – Ah right. We really oughta be sending millionaires drawing 400k a year from accumulated assets $1,800 bucks a month for life. Makes sense to me. Are you serious???

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Fifty – I have to comment on my own comment. Of course 1.8 thousand per month = Thousands per year. 21 approx. My bad.

      • fiftyohm says:

        S’allright, unarmed. Just to review-

        I can’t countenance the notion of government benefits for the rich, any more than I can tolerate otherwise honest, hardworking people in poverty. And they are absolutely related. Tax dollars go only so far – and I’d add here there are plenty to go around.

      • Crogged says:

        Fitty you know people who aggregate lots of money are usually among the most successful in not losing same. They will argue, correctly–I PAID INTO IT-why shouldn’t I receive SS?

        Perhaps a bone to throw to those poor people scraping by on multi-digit monthly investment income is to pay them back, somewhat, the SS taxes they paid? Offer that anyone at time of receipt of SS can accept a small lump sum in lieu of ‘continuing payments’?

        At any time an individual can write a check to the US Treasury when doing taxes and they are pretty good about cashing same, which was noted by a writer back when Clinton, Gates et al were saying “raise my taxes”. If you feel they aren’t high enough, just go ahead and pony up.

        I didn’t want to write on this topic because I will be dependent on SS—my ‘choices’ in life etc. I think a hard line, “if have x you don’t need to get y” is fine, but it’s so unfair (insert wink wink nudge nudge here).

    • Creigh says:

      Means testing is dangerous because it is a divide and conquer strategy. Once you turn SS into a welfare program and not an insurance program, you lose political support among your most politically powerful (rich) constituents. Incidentally, the SS benefit is already reduced by up to 1/3 by taxes for higher end retirees.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sorry – please see above. I can’t seem to get things to go where I want them this evening…

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Sorry Creigh – I didn’t see your posts here. Didn’t mean to duplicate what you said so well.

      • Creigh says:

        Fifty, I feel your pain in getting comments to land in the right spot. Should be a lot more straightforward. Whether SS is an insurance program or not is kind of semantic. The real point is that rich people run this country, and if they see no benefit from SS it is in great danger. FDR set SS up to look like an insurance scheme as much as anything for political reasons; he knew that if voters felt like they had paid for the benefit they would punish anyone who tried to take it away. And that strategy has worked well for decades against SS’s enemies. Again, I feel that means testing is divide and conquer – split people into two groups that will fight each other, and your dirty work is that much easier.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yes creigh , it was. That’s what I’ve been calling the Big Lie. Look – the rich don’t give a rat’s patoot about SS. For them, the benefits are insignificant, and the contributions ignorable, so long as the earnings cap stays put.

    • Creigh says:

      All of these points correctly made below.


    “Overall, 17% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents back Bush for the GOP nomination, while 12% support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Paul and Rubio stand at 11% each, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 9% and Cruz at 7%. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom placed second in CNN/ORC polls as recently as last fall, are now well behind the leader at 4% each.”

    So how is it, if these so-called “neo-confederates” are so powerful within the party, that we keep nominating guys like McCain and Romney? And if early polls are any guide, it looks like we’re heading towards yet another establishment Republicrat. And how is it these relatively ‘enlightened’ RINO/Dem-lite candidates keep *losing*. Hmm… just curious.

    • johngalt says:

      Tracy, Chris has asked this question before, but which GOP nominee do you see as capable of winning Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, or Iowa, states the GOP must win to win the presidency? Can your tea party darlings Cruz and Rand do it? Are they more likely to win those states than Bush?

      • JG, I really have no idea. I’m only reminding all and sundry of Einstein’s apocryphal maxim: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I suspect a major realignment of the party is in order – perhaps along the line of Cooke’s “Conservatarian Manifest,” but who knows? As my dad was fond of saying, the best thing about hitting yourself on the head with a hammer is that it feels great when you quit. 😉

      • johngalt says:

        And if the GOP “does the same thing again” which is to force such ideological purity during the primaries that the eventual winner is “a severe conservative” who wants to be so hostile to immigrants that they will choose to return to Mexico, then you will again end up with a fatally flawed candidate incapable of winning swing states. If you nominate a Paul or Cruz, you will find the party isn’t capable of even winning some of the supposedly safe states.

      • 1mime says:

        Jg, Salon has a really good article that relates to your question about TP presidential candidates and how those who are governors have actually succeeded in their states. It also spends a lot of time on debunking the claim by Repubs that they are the fiscal geniuses of governing. There are a lot of outstanding article links in the Salon piece for those who have time and interest in them.

  8. RobA says:

    Completely OT, but gun control//justice is a topic we talk about a lot here. This story caught my eye.

    Undoubtedly, this is a horrible crime. I think no one disputes that criminals aren’t everywhere. But I can’t help but think what the death toll would be if the 13 year old had easy access to automatic weapons. in my opinion.That’s the main rebuttal to “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” trope. Specifically, that those people ARE right. Guns aren’t inherently evil. They’re just tools, and as tools, can be used for both good and evil. The issue is that humans are inherently violent (to varying degrees) and knowing that, isn’t it wise to restrict tools (note: restrict, not eliminate. That’s both unrealistic and undesirable. Guns have a place in society) that make killing much more efficient? Of course people will still kill other people. But at least that way, we might be able to restrict a case like this to 2-3 deaths instead of 20-30.

    The other piece that stands out to me is that this kid won’t be facing any criminal charges because he’s under the age of 14 (he’s 13). I’m as liberal as the next dem (maybe more so) but that seems crazy. 13 is definitely old enough to know that murder is wrong. And at some point, the well being of society needs to be balanced against individual rights.

    So what happens here? Does he show up to school on monday and get detention? I’m kidding, of course, but that seems way too lenient for such a crime. Wonder what will happen to him.

    • flypusher says:

      Rob, you’ll like this past posting from Chris:

      Yes, if people don’t have guns, and they’re hellbent on killing, they will find another way. But there is nothing that matches a gun in the ability to kill large numbers, quickly, easily, and with very little risk to one’s self. Yes, I could kill you with a knife or a tire iron or a chop to the throat, but to do so I have to get very close. Close enough that you could strike back and take me out instead. A gun is very cheap and easy power, and it’s power in the hands of far too many who lack the judgment or the moral compas to deserve to hold it.

      • Crogged says:

        If you have a several hour class and ‘situational awareness and tactics’, then you have my complete mistrust of judgement and moral compass.

      • Doug says:

        Is it the awareness part that bothers you or the tactics?

      • johngalt says:

        I’m not opposed to “situational awareness” or “tactics.” I am opposed to the ludicrous notion that either can be taught in a classroom in the risible number of hours required for a CHL. Those who have served in the military will tell you that acquiring these skills require intensive training over years and that those who have not spent the time will revert to their innate panicky and impulsive response.

      • Doug says:

        Situation awareness is merely being cognizant of what’s going on around you along with an idea of what could happen if something changes. It’s useful to keep you alive on the freeway or to keep you from sawing your hand off on a table saw. It’s a good skill to practice regardless of your views on self defense.

      • johngalt says:

        And seeing the “situational awareness” of the general population of drivers in Houston, you understand my reluctance to rely on their situational awareness in the presence of firearms.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Thank you Bobo.

        I’ve said this before; want to play with guns? Join the Army or National Guard. THAT is our modern day “well regulated militia”. Ain’t no more Minuteman ready to take up arms on a moment’s notice to defend against the invading Redcoats.

      • Doug says:

        Is Stevens senile or dishonest?
        United States v. Cruikshank (1875): “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress,and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.”

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        He’s neither. He’s a good thinker.

        In this book review, he mentions the errors in Cruikshank.

        “Although I have reservations about accepting a political explanation for a judicial decision, there can be no doubt concerning Cruikshank‘s unfortunate effects. The Court not only set aside the conviction of one of the Colfax massacre’s leaders, who had made a sport out of lining up black men at the parish to see how many he could execute with a single bullet, but its decision also judicially constrained the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection principle in a manner that has not been undone.”

        You might also like his ideas for constitutional amendments:

    • The sad truth behind the majority of mass killings is that they end only when an armed response arrives on the scene. (In a few cases, several brave individuals acting in concert have been able to physically overwhelm the assailant, but such cases are the exception rather than the rule.)

      In the case of Sandy Hook, where only a small percentage of the target population was adult, and the remainder children, the attacker’s choice of weapon was largely moot. The butcher’s bill would have been more or less the same had the attacker chosen a pump shotgun, a double-barreled shotgun, a WWI Springfield bolt-action rifle with a bayonet, two braces of black powder revolvers and a Bowie knife, a katana or a pair of tomahawks. All of the victims were unarmed, and the vast majority of them were physically much weaker than the attacker. Game, set and match to the bad guy.

      Since we don’t have a viable pre-crime bureau, and since we don’t have reliable means of identifying the homicidal violent psychotics among us, the logical solution is to *reduce* the amount of time it takes to mount an armed response. Had the administrators at Sandy Hook been armed, or had an armed police officer been on the scene, the outcome might have been much different. However, disarming Connecticut’s law abiding citizens, as was done ex post facto, would have made no difference. It’s really as simple as that.

      • johngalt says:

        Do you really think that arming elementary school teachers and administrators is a good idea? Can you not imagine how many accidents will occur in the conjunction of loaded guns and hundreds of 7 year olds?

      • bubbabobcat says:

        REALLY TThor? He would kill the same amount of kids in the same time frame with just two tomahawks as he did with 3 guns including a semi automatic assault rifle with multiple large ammunition clips?

        We can’t have a reasonable debate when you are that over the edge irrationally biased/defensive/stubborn.

      • JG, what is the picture in your head? Do you suppose daily loaded AR juggling contests? A significant percentage of educators have military experience or other firearms training, and are perfectly capable of responsibly handling and wielding firearms. In any event, significant training and appropriately securing arms would be both necessary and prudent. With appropriate training and safeguards in place, I don’t see any reason why there would be a problem. I’d prefer armed police on site 100% of the time, but some might regard that as overly costly. (Which kinda brings up an interesting question: We provide armed guards for bank transfers; we provide armed guards for politicians, rock stars, celebrities, athletes and rich folks, but we balk at providing armed guards for our children. How messed up is that?)

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll tell you what’s messed up – even considering armed guards in an elementary school. That’s obscene.

      • And bubba, visit and watch a few of the videos on their edged weapons, e.g.:

        Tomahawks? You bet. Swords? dittos. Whack! Dead teacher. Whack! Dead kid. Every time you swing, somebody dies. Guns replaced edged weapons in conflict not because the latter were ineffective, but simply because the former have better reach. When the victims are unarmed, reach *doesn’t* matter. The attacker at Sandy Hook dispatched nearly all his victims at near contact range. Weapon choice was moot.

      • Really, 1mime? I’d say defenseless innocent children being ruthlessly slaughtered by a madman is obscene. But, hey, that’s just me.

      • 1mime says:

        Sigh – of course, Tracy, but I’m speaking philosophically here. I will never forget the children we lost at Sandy Hook.

      • johngalt says:

        For a weapon to be useful in an emergency, it needs to be accessible and firing-ready. It also needs to be in the hands of a person who is trained to use it effectively in a chaotic situation. Despite what you say, very few educators have military- or law enforcement-grade weapons training. In my kids’ elementary school of a thousand students I would wager a guess that exactly zero of the school employees are suitably qualified. Face it, people make mistakes and accidents happen. It is “4/20” day, so I suppose you could argue that loaded weapons in this environment would make everyone safer. Perhaps tomorrow you will sober up.

      • JB, see I keep my home defense guns in such safes. They are accessible to me in seconds, and otherwise completely secure. I’ve already stipulated training. Q.E.D.

      • And bubba, sorry to pile on, but you might also want to do a little reading up on the Rwandan genocide. Over the course of 100 days, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 unarmed Tutsis slaughtered by their neighbors. The weapon of choice? The machete. Why? Reach doesn’t matter when the victims are unarmed, and machetes are cheap.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        TThor, we are not going to have a reasonable discussion if you insist physically swinging a bladed weapon will inflict (even with elite ninja training) the same lethality in the same time span as a semi automatic assault rifle.

      • johngalt says:

        Nor are we going to have a reasonable discussion when your point is that kindergarten classrooms should be equipped with gun safes. I’m sorry, but that is f’ing insane.

      • Doug says:

        Tracy, we cannot have a reasonable discussion when you present facts that have no bearing on how people *feel*.

      • Crogged says:

        Really now. Our teachers and the huge numbers of wasteful school administrator’s don’t have difficult enough jobs. After all, these same predators stalking the U of H parking lot in huge numbers all begin as children, some of them with dicey parents (hmmm–never mind…….).

        So if we just provide the few teachers with military background with weapons, if we completely weaponize the culture, every classroom with a gun safe—PEACE! Security! Orwell spinning in his fucking grave………..

        Nobody is talking about disarming anyone–we are against arming everyone, to escalate the arms race to an individual level where peace is enforced with the idea that your demise is within the judgement of anyone you cross in the street. Yes, most schools now need to have a police presence, I’m in complete agreement with the idea but the inability to see why this is so is troubling.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Yes Doug, and of course YOU are the ultimate authority on factual accuracy. Here’s my repost of a previous response to you on the (horrors!) “180 MPH [wind turbine blade tip] speed”:

        Doug says:
        April 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

        “Bubba,the blades appear slow, but the tips can move up to 180 m.p.h. Surprising, huh?”

        No not surprising if you have basic understanding of physics and the relationship of angular speed and rotor radius/blade length and but what is your point about the blade tip speed? That is based in fact?

        What is that you were posting previously about causation vs correlation? In this case you missed the boat entirely as there is neither causation nor correlation of “180 MPH blade tip speed” to massive deaths of raptors. None.

        “Larger turbines have fewer rotations per minute but have
        similar blade tip speeds compared to the smaller turbines
        commonly used in older U.S. wind facilities (NAS 2007). This
        difference may be partly responsible for the lower raptor
        collision rates observed at most wind facilities where larger
        turbines have been installed (NAS 2007).”


        “Although only general estimates are available, the number of
        birds killed in wind developments is substantially lower
        relative to estimated annual bird casualty rates from a variety
        of other anthropogenic factors including vehicles, buildings
        and windows, power transmission lines, communication
        towers, toxic chemicals including pesticides, and feral and
        domestic cats (Erickson et al. 2001; NAS 2007; Manville 2009)”

        Click to access birds_and_bats_fact_sheet.pdf

        You whiffed again factually in your incessant anti left screed Doug.

      • objv says:

        It’s important to consider mental illness above all. When a mentally sound person like Tracy carries a gun, everyone is safer. However, the problem lies in identifying someone who is a danger to society. Treatment and putting safeguards in place would do more good than banning guns.

        A mentally impaired person or a terrorist does not need a gun to kill. Look at what the German pilot was able to do. Anyone here want to ban pressure cookers? Box cutters? Fertilizer? They kill, too.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Tracy Thorleifson says:
        April 20, 2015 at 9:26 pm

        “Guns replaced edged weapons in conflict not because the latter were ineffective, but simply because the former have better reach. When the victims are unarmed, reach *doesn’t* matter.”

        Reach DOES matter when defending against a tomahawk (not even a long blade) vs an AR 15. An adult defending him/herself against a tomahawk with bare hands (or arm block) or a chair or any object to block or throw is much more likely to be successful than against an AR 15 or any gun.

        If not, why is modern warfare waged via guns and not tomahawk or samurai sword? And why do we need that in a civilian populace? That was rhetorical.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        objv says:
        April 21, 2015 at 10:15 am

        “Anyone here want to ban pressure cookers? Box cutters? Fertilizer? They kill, too.”

        Box cutters, along with knives, scissors, nail clippers, etc. were banned on commercial planes after 9-11 and still are. Large quantities of fertilizer purchase are monitored/tracked after OKC.

        False equivalency, scale of application, and logical conclusion in your argument OV.

      • objv says:

        Exactly, bubba. That’s what I meant when saying safeguards should be put in place. I do not mean that guns should be completely unregulated, but that we need to be more concerned about a person’s state of mind. A mentally unbalanced person who wants to kill will find a way – gun or no gun.

      • “If not, why is modern warfare waged via guns and not tomahawk or samurai sword?”

        Well, bubba, one supposes you are being purposefully dense and obstreperous, but to just to reemphasize the point: When both parties are armed, reach matters. That’s why modern warfare is waged with guns; all combatants are armed. Once again, slowly, when the target is unarmed, reach matters little. Go ahead, try to block *any* edged weapon attack with your bare hands. Real life is not like the movies; in real life your ninja skills suck. You won’t even have time to contemplate your missing appendages because you’ll be *dead*.

        Or perhaps you’re just trying to make my point. Pick up a chair, and you are now armed with a somewhat unwieldy bludgeon. You now have a little reach; you can block the edged weapon with something other than your *flesh* and maybe even inflict a little damage of your own. Against a pair of tomahawks or a 10 buck machete, you might even stand a snowball’s chance (assuming a sturdy chair). On the other hand, if your attacker is sporting a high quality piece of steel such as that manufactured by the folks at ColdSteel, your chair will just slow down the killing blow a bit. If you have a pistol, now you have some real reach. If you open fire with your blade wielding attacker outside a 21 ft. radius, you might even get lucky and put him down before he fillets you. If you have an AR, you have roughly 3 times the KE at your disposal of even the most powerful handguns, and you have a much better chance (as long as you are using something other than ball ammo) of putting the bad guy down before you become an unwilling vivisection subject. When both parties are armed, reach is all important. That’s why handguns are so popular for self defense.

      • flypusher says:

        “In the case of Sandy Hook, where only a small percentage of the target population was adult, and the remainder children, the attacker’s choice of weapon was largely moot. The butcher’s bill would have been more or less the same had the attacker chosen a pump shotgun, a double-barreled shotgun, a WWI Springfield bolt-action rifle with a bayonet, two braces of black powder revolvers and a Bowie knife, a katana or a pair of tomahawks. All of the victims were unarmed, and the vast majority of them were physically much weaker than the attacker. Game, set and match to the bad guy.”

        That’s assuming all the little targets are just waiting for the guy with the knife or the sword to come cut them down. If they scatter, he’s not going to get all of them. That’s also assuming that you cut down the adults just as fast as you would with a gun.

        “Or perhaps you’re just trying to make my point. Pick up a chair, and you are now armed with a somewhat unwieldy bludgeon. You now have a little reach; you can block the edged weapon with something other than your *flesh* and maybe even inflict a little damage of your own. Against a pair of tomahawks or a 10 buck machete, you might even stand a snowball’s chance (assuming a sturdy chair). On the other hand, if your attacker is sporting a high quality piece of steel such as that manufactured by the folks at ColdSteel, your chair will just slow down the killing blow a bit.”

        It take more than just a sharp sword to do that- it takes a lot of training to develop that skill. An untrained person could take an Uzi and fill a room full of people with lead. Given that such sword expertise is not common, the guy with the chair probably has better odds than you are giving him. Also, if we are thinking of a classroom setting, there are going to be things that can be thrown at a attacker from beyond the range of that sword. If it’s a science lab, there can be some truly nasty things at hand. Delaying the attacker enough to get the hell out (which is what your main goal is) is an easier task than killing, and an attacker with a non firearm weapon lowers the degree of difficulty even more. If a teacher in such a situation can keep his/her head, there is a better chance of reducing casualties among even very young children than there would be if a gun is involved.

        Why is a so difficult for some people to admit that guns make carnage easier and up the body count more than swords or knives of bludgeoning weapons?

      • Fly, no one is disputing that killing a lot of people with a gun is generally easier than doing the same thing with an edged weapon. Sandy Hook happens to be an example that breaks the rule, because of the young age of most of the victims, the limited number of adults present, and the close confines of the rooms in which the majority of the shooting occurred. At Sandy Hook the largest group of victims was found huddled in a tiny classroom bathroom where they were attempting to hide; these unfortunates were shot at point blank range. They would have suffered the same fate had the shooter been armed with an edged weapon; there was literally no place for them to run. The “little targets” *were* just waiting for the bad guy to arrive.

        In the first room the shooter entered there was no time for those present to attempt to hide; several children did manage to escape by running out the door during the general melee. Note that two students *did* subsequently hide in the classroom bathroom; they were exceptionally fortunate that the killer did not check the bathroom when he reentered the room prior to shooting himself. Within the limited confines of an elementary school classroom there is very little difference between shooting a rifle and swinging a sword; under such circumstances no particular skill is required with either. (Although it is worth noting that the Sandy Hook shooter was a person of small stature; one might argue that he lacked the physical strength necessary to effectively wield an edged weapon.)

  9. RobA says:

    Huckabee calls two state solution “nuttiest idea he’s ever heard”

    Because, ya know, the right to self determination and freedom from oppression is such a nutty idea.

    I hate to use terms like “unamerican” (it seems to have an unsavory connotation in recent years, along with other coopted words by the right, such as ‘patriot’ and ‘liberty’) but it seems to me that calling the idea that a people might want to have the right to rule themselves “nutty” is the very unamerican.

    It’s what the entire concept of “America” was based on.

  10. 1mime says:

    Speaking of competence (of the religious variety), here’s Salon’s look at the major ’16 presidential candidates and their religious bona vides and how their views might impact their actions and decisions as Commander in Chief:

    “…if the man or woman carrying the nuclear briefcase happens to be eagerly desiring the End of Days, we need to know.”

    ” This Season of Unreason will end with the elections of November 2016, but its consequences – validation of the idea that belief without evidence is a virtue, that religion, and especially Christianity, deserves a place in our politics, our Constitutionally enshrined secularism notwithstanding – will live on and damage the progressive cause.”

    • fiftyohm says:

      The slant of this piece was that were it not for the GOP, we’d have a chance for a non believing president. Such crap. Over 75% of Americans classify themselves as Christian. A scant 5% or less call themselves atheist. And if you think all of those are Lefties, I’ve got a newsflash for you.

      • RobA says:

        Got to agree 50. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I would imagine a belief in God is largely bipartisan.

        The difference that I see is one of interpretation of how that belief translates to the real world. In other words, most dems don’t think that the faith they hold should be a front and center political issue. Righties, on the other hand, think we need to remake America as Saudi America (Christian version).

        I understand I’m generalizing, I know there are both types on both sides. Just making a generalized statement that I think is more or less accurate.

        The term ‘atheist’ has a ton of baggage. I wish they’d stop using it. ‘Humanist’ or ‘secularist’ works fine.

    • RobA says:

      just reading that myself 1mime. good article.

      The thing about the End of Days is bang on. While I doubt that even Cruz “desires” a nuclear war in the middle east, I’m still extremely leery of ANY president whose able to find a silver lining in such an event.

      For my parents, and many other religious fundamentalists (and probably people like Cruz and Huckabee), Armageddon (the actual Middle East war predicted in Revelations, not the generic term for general mayham it now occupies in pop culture) is the last major sign needed before Jesus comes back to claim the flock, thus starting The Tribulation.

      For many of these people, anything more then a token effort to avert such a war would be perceived as trying to get in the way of “God’s Will”. These people should’t even be allowed to be polic officers or soldiers, let alone Presidents.

      the other part I liked is the conceppt of ‘Season of Unreason’. The reason you can’t have logical discussions with these people is because they look at faith (i.e. belief without any evidence) to be the highest of all virtues. The less evidence there is for a claim, the more faith that is required to believe it, and the more “holy” that person is. It’s madness. Theories and concepts should become stronger based on MORE evidence supporting it. On the other hand, these peoples faith becomes STRONGER as more and more evidence comes in supporting the opposite.

      It’s a collective madness, and the entirety of it is based in this one simple fact: Evolution has blessed us with the ability to foresee our own death, but cursed us by not (yet) giving us the strength to accept it.

    • johngalt says:

      We’ve had non-Christian presidents before. None of the first six held orthodox Christian beliefs.

      • 1mime says:

        Hey, I’m fine with secular presidents. In fact, I’d prefer that while not making it a rejection issue for my personal candidate choice. I want to see more religious tolerance in America, not less.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG – I fear the age of intellectual politicians is well behind us.

      • RobA says:

        If I had to bet, I would put money down that Obama is an atheist.

      • fiftyohm says:

        So he’s a liar and/or a hypocrite and/or being deliberately misleading? C’mon RobA – you don’t mean that, do you?

      • Crogged says:

        He evolved or created his current beliefs, depending on your point of view…..

      • johngalt says:

        Sadly, 50, you’re right and as voters we are getting what we deserve.

      • Crogged says:

        Personally, I’m pretty certain he ‘believes’ and is no more hypocritical and/or lying than the average human/politician. I baldly lied to my children, guilty, shouldn’t have been a parent……..ask ’em.

        I have more trust of his judgement than any of the current announced Republican candidates who apparently believe some pretty outlandish things about religion, except for the more mainstream House of Bush candidate-who probably will be doing something akin to lying or hypocrisy in his own quest for the Presidency.

      • RobA says:

        50, I think he’s a realist who knows that in the current time, an atheist is unelectable as county sherrif, let alone POTUS.

        I don’t expect any politician to be 100% truthful at all times, just like my girlfriend doesn’t wnat or expect 100% truth when she asks me if she’s gained a few pounds.

        That’s just human nature, and this whole good vs evil, black vs white, truth vs lie concept of looking at the world is unrealistic, impossible, and undesireable.

        An intelligent adult with normal thinking skills can seperate the important untruths from the important ones.

        If you expect 100% honesty at all times from your WIFE, let alone your politician, you’re living in a fantasy world.

      • RobA says:

        To add to that, what I wwant from my politicians is intelligence, ability to compromise, strong character, and ethical (note, I didn’t say “strong morals”. Ethics and “morals” are two different concepts with two different meanings, at least in this context), good leadership etc.

        To expect that a politican owes us every aspect of their private life is, to me, a ridiculous and dangerous. That is one thing about America I don’t really get. Elliot Spitzer, for example, if you ever listen to him speak, is an extremely intelligent man who was very good at his job. But he paid for sex, and all of a sudden he’s completely unfit?

        I reject that line of thinking that politicians need to be “moral” people .and when I say “moral” I mean it in the context of how a religious person would define morality.

      • fiftyohm says:

        RobA – If we assume the person “with their finger on the button” should be forthright and completely honest about harboring irrational, nonsensical, and generally looney thoughts and beliefs, then everything I said applies. This has not a thing to do with ‘morality’. As you said, all questions are not equal – nor are untruths.

      • Crogged says:

        So, to the extent you think they are ‘lying’ about professed religious beliefs, you are comfortable voting them into the Chief Finger on Button office? I mean, there’s a large number of Republican’s completely comfortable with Huckabee’s campaign, including the ones who think he’s going to hell for being a liberal Baptist……(all Baptist’s are liberal btw, choirs, piano’s and not believing in water immersion for saving your soul makes ’em liberal Bible changers…….)

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged – If you’re asking whether I’d vote for Huckabee for president, I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher.

      • RobA says:

        50 – I think I see the confusion. You interpreted what I said about the nuclear football to mean I don’t want someone who is a Christian (or any other religion) to be POTUS.

        If that’s how it came out, that’s not how I meant it. THere are many, many (probably the majority) of Christians who don’t believe in the actual, literal accuracy of the Bible, or who does NOT interpret Revelations in the same way.

        My only concern is with individuals who are NOT those…..the ones who believe the interpretation of Revelations as a literal truth and not allegorical. I imagine the majority of Christians do NOT subscribe to this belief.

        I guess what I meant is: I don’t want anyone who is President who would not find a nuclear war in the ME to be anything but an unmitigated, catastophic disaster on epic proportions. I don’t want someone whose biblical interpretation sees such an event as an unfortuante, but necessary, event that must happen in order to usher in the End Times.

        And perhaps my opinion is colored by the fact that the church I grew up in feels exactly that way, and I’m overestimating the number of such Christians out there. Just a lot of things that guys like Cruz and Huckabee say sound eerily familiar to me. I don’t get the same vibe from guys like Bush, or Rubio, for example.

        And hey, maybe I’m way off base and Cruz/Huckkabee are NOT those types.

      • Crogged says:

        Huckabee should make a fine dogcatcher, he was governor of Arkansas, but the Peter Principle is in play……….

      • bubbabobcat says:

        No I value the lives of even stray dogs too much to elect Huckabee dogcatcher. Particularly since he has no issue with his son torturing and murdering a stray dog by hanging (at a Boy Scout camp!), and then attempted to cover it up/sweep it under the rug and even attempted to intimidate a State Trooper into silence.

        Nope, not even a dogcatcher.

      • 1mime says:

        RobA, This lady may beat you back to Canada….if Hilly becomes Prez. How do you think she’ll fit in up there in the vast winter lands?

        In her Facebook post, Rios wrote of the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

        “If this happens — I am moving to Canada. There is NO need for her as she is not the right person to run our country — but more importantly a female shouldn’t be president. Let the haters begin . . . but with the hormones we have there is no way we should be able to start a war.

        Now, one has to wonder, are women the only mammals with hormones? Should we add that to our list of qualifications for President (-:

  11. unarmedandunafraid says:

    In conservative circles , I’ve heard it said that when you give someone something it de-incentivizes them. It makes them lazy and ruins their ability to face the world and earn their keep.

    So the house voted to repeal the Estate Tax or the Death Tax as conservatives call it. So that the top 1% can give to their children what they have earned. There is an obvious incongruity here. Why would a person want to ruin their childrens lives in this way?

    There is recent evidence that a redistribution of wealth to the poorest of our citizens is beneficial to the whole society. It helps even out the swings of the financial cycles for example, and the best education for the disadvantaged creates a better world for us all. Also, who wants to look at all those poor people.

    So, the question is when do we redistribute. When we are earning or when we die. In practice it will probably be both. But it seems that taking a hefty bite of an estate allows the aggressive person who measures his worth in earning power to do so while he lives, but more importantly protects his heirs from the sins of unearned gifts.

    • 1mime says:

      I don’t believe earnings should be taxed twice. That assumes that taxes were properly paid on the original earnings, of course. I do empathize with people who are “land poor” – especially farmers, but why not do something that will help millions right now?

      Here’s what I suggest: STOP taxing social security benefits. These earnings have already been taxed once and since millions of Americans receive SS, this would help many more people while they are alive and able to use the money.

      • johngalt says:

        The very wealthy earn much of their income via returns on investment, not wages. Presently, wages can be taxed as high as 50% between income and payroll taxes. Investment income is taxed at 15%. It is not clear to me that there are compelling reasons for their to be any distinction, much less one this large, in tax rates for income based on its source. I’d be far more willing to discuss reducing or eliminating estate taxes if this discrepancy did not exist.

      • 1mime says:

        John, are you advocating for a flat tax of some kind?

      • 1mime says:

        JohnG, Are you aware that SS can be taxed as much as 85%? Once you are retired, you are required to take out what is called an RMD, (required minimum distribution) if it is invested in a traditional IRA, which for many older Americans, was the only tax deferred savings programs available. Now, of course, there is the Roth and 401K and many others, but say you are retired, receiving SS and drawing down your traditional IRA. If you draw down more than the RMD and it bumps your earnings past the prescribed tax thresh hold for SS, your benefits can be taxed as much as 85%. I don’t believe in double taxation.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        1mime – I usually agree with you. But in the case of taxation of Social Security, I’ll have to disagree. Taxing the distribution above certain a threshold helps make it more progressive. This also will help keep the fund viable longer. Keeping in mind that the collection of SS is regressive right now. If we can maintain SS as the last resort, keep us old folks from selling pencils on the streetcorner type of fallback, then I go along with taxing above certain thresholds.

        When doing taxes this year, I had to remind myself that many if not most of the retirees in the near future will not have this “problem” because they did not or could not maintain savings. Possibly because they lost their job at age 50 and had to draw down savings. Their only income will be SS.

      • 1mime says:

        The original idea was to keep people from double-dipping – collecting SS and continuing to draw earned income. What is happening is that people who are no longer working but living off savings are getting walloped. It’s a complex problem but SS solvency shouldn’t depend upon double taxing savings of those who are no longer able to work by setting a taxation formula that isn’t indexed for inflation. That’s what happened with the Earned Income Tax formula and in a little different way, the “doc fix” problem. It’s time for Congress to re-visit this tax in the same way it has dealt with these other problems.

        Here’s a better explanation than I have provided in defense of my position.

      • 1mime says:

        Another point, Unarmed, the only way someone could really live on SS alone is to be extremely healthy until you croak, die younger than you hoped, or have very supportive family who will take you in. That is one scary position to be in. We don’t object to paying taxes but it seems unfair to be paying them in retirement on savings that were already taxed. Per most retirement/financial consultants, the single greatest unplanned retirement cost is medical. It is easy to incur large medical expenses with a chronic illness – and it’s not unusual for this to occur in one’s later years – years when savings are dwindling and the ability to work is not possible.

        Unless I can change your mind, we will have to agree to disagree on this one (-: But, I’m happy we agree on many other things.

      • Doug says:

        FWIW, I’m with you on this, mime. It’s immoral to take 12+ % over your entire career and then tax the pittance that’s given back.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Mime, I read your post several times about SS being taxed at 85% and Something didn’t look right about that statement so I did some research. Only 50% of your ss benefits are taxable “if” 50% plus any other taxable income and only if the total is over the bench mark for your filing status. If your total is more than the bench mark for your filing status you only pay taxes as any other tax payer 15% to 33% depending on the amount. Again only 50% of your ss is taxable.

        This may better explain it,

      • 1mime says:

        Sassy, please read this and see if you get a different tax rate for SS benefits. The most significant point of this is that if SS benefits above the base rates is going to be taxed (which I don’t think is right, but that’s a separate argument), then the rates should be tied to inflation to make it fair. As pointed out in Burns’ article, the tax was never intended to apply to the same income today as when the law was changed. Fix that and at least it would be more fair. From the SS website, link below.

        “No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:

        file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
        between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
        more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

        file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
        between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
        more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        1mime – not much of a disagreement. After looking at the link you provided, I would be ok with raising the thresholds or tying them to inflation. I think the really sad thing here is that many, many, people are going into retirement age with no or very little savings. Traditional retirement plans were scrapped in many companies, including the company I worked for. 401k’s were available but not contributed to by some young people. The recent recession emptied many 401ks. Most wealth is equity in homes. And you know what happened to the real estate market recently. So depending on your timing, that may not turn out well for some. Even if you try to save and you make the minimum or slightly over, it is tough.

        Medical problems can be worrisome, at least we have medicare. And death panels.

      • johngalt says:

        1mime – I’m not suggesting a flat tax as it is advocated by many, in which all taxpayers would pay x% of their income. I would still leave it with progressive rates, but would prefer that all sources of income be taxed the same, whether from wages or investment. I would also eliminate most, if not all, deductions. If you did this, you could lower rates, probably substantially.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “Here’s what I suggest: STOP taxing social security benefits. These earnings have already been taxed once and since millions of Americans receive SS, this would help many more people while they are alive and able to use the money.” 1mime


        Point 1. “These earnings have already been taxed once” Wrong. FICA is, and has always been, deductible.

        Point 2. “since millions of Americans receive SS, this would help many more people while they are alive and able to use the money.” So by this logic, we should not tax the young because there are millions and millions more of them than SS recipients, and and we would therefore “help” even more people.

        Point 3. (Inferred) SS benefits are money I’ve already put in to the system. Bullshit. Tell you what – add up what you’ve received in SS payments so far. Combine that with what you figure you’ll receive by age 81. (Statistical life expectancy for you.) Then compare the sum to what you paid in over your working career, Then kindly get back to us and tell me how wrong I am.

        This is such a cringingly stark example of “go redistribute everyone’s wealth but mine” I’ve seen in some time.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Strangely Doug thinks SS is not a bargain, and rightly includes the employers contribution. And Fiftyohm thinks it is a bargain, that most of us get more out than we put in.

        I won’t try to figure rate of return of stock market on one side of the argument or the overlooked benefits on the other. That is SS is more that a retirement plan. It is also long term disability insurance plan and it also provides survivors benefits. It would be interesting to ask an insurance company to duplicate those benefits and get a look at the premiums.

        What we get out is an arbitrary amount. We find it useful to look at it as a savings account. But it’s not. It was designed to look that way to make it acceptable to those that rail against “welfare” programs. I believe Sen Moynihan said as much.

        It all boils down to, we had a problem. Old people that could not provide for themselves were hungry, cold in the winter, and dying unnecessarily because they couldn’t afford medical care.
        Our problem is we cannot see these problems and let them continue.

        We ants can’t let the grasshopper die because he didn’t prepare. Especially if we have to watch the suffering.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Unarmed – As a taxpayer, I can assure you that SS is no ‘bargin’. Furthermore, looking at it actuarially, there’s absolutely no way you could afford the premiums. I don’t think this is open to serious disagreement.

        On the other hand, you are absolutely correct that we’re not about to watch the grasshoppers starve. What we are doing however is larding old ants and rich grasshoppers with money. This is just stupid, but it has its roots in the big lie that sold SS to the public in the first place – that it was some sort of ‘savings account’.

        Listen: SS is not a savings account or a pension. You paid a friggin’ tax to keep the grasshoppers alive. Live with it. And means-test payments, for god’s sake. And not just income, but assets too. Why are we sending checks for thousands of dollars a month to people with summer homes? Or fat bank accounts? It’s just unconscionable. It’s also such a sacred cow I have little hope of anything changing until things get really, really bad.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Fifty- And I would not have a problem with means testing but my situation and my outlook is not shared by everyone. When hearing Social Security, Bob now thinks of his elderly mother and aunts and uncles. They have some savings but SS helps least pay the heat bill and keep the lights on. Would a program survive that was very obviously a welfare program? A take from us and give to them program. You know who I mean by the them, the welfare queens and the others.

        I am assuming you think we have a shared responsibility to take care of the old and infirm.

        So what do you think of Lifers idea here?

        It uses the same principle, a progressive distribution plan. I think it is a good idea in general, depends on the details. It may be too late in history though. The great planner looks down and says, ” Now you want to be efficient”.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Unarmed – I think we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves with the whole minimum income discussion. There is no way in hell SS is going to be replaced, wholesale, with something like that. (It’s financially impossible, anyway.) There is absolutely no way a minimum income at any level seriously contemplated, could sustain the non-working elderly on its own. Therefore SS has to be fixed.

        You begin with honesty, and say it’s a tax. (As it has always been.) And you make it damn good and clear that it’s not some sort of contributory pension plan going forward. That’s mendacity at its lowest. You follow with a plan that says means testing will be phased in, so grasshopper Auntie and drunk Uncle Louie don’t starve. But you make sure they can’t be spending the winters in Florida in the Winnebago either, if they want in on the vig.

        *Then* we can discuss the other stuff. Look – SS is absolutely welfare for the old, but without the restrictions or the stigma. It’s a bad and unsustainable thing as practiced. It needs to change radically. The idea that we pay millionaires thousands a month is nauseating.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Well Fifty – The root of this is my ethical shortcomings. When someone tells me that his SS went into a strongbox in a non-government safe somewhere, I don’t correct him. I let him continue to believe it. And I get a stronger twinge from my truthy bone when I tell my granddaughter about the egg laying Easter bunny.

        Seriously, if we could implement a truly means tested program that could be protected from… that could be protected in all political cycles. In the meantime, I really don’t see that big a sin in taking money and then giving it back to get the political protection that the recipients provide.

        We differ on the importance of public acceptance.

        And I was going to exchange a true welfare program for SS, I would insist on getting buy-in from high majority of the public, then implementing it before allowing the SS system to fade away. I don’t see it happening.

        But I see your point and I respect it. You argue from a foundation of truth. I just don’t know how to end these comment threads.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Actually, unarmed, I think we disagree little if at all. Thank *you* for this afternoon’s chat.

      • 1mime says:

        The SS Administration offers an interesting history of the evolution of SS. It is historical going way back and I think all will find it interesting and informative.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Best of luck to you, OBJV! Camping is “in tents”. 😉

    • flypusher says:

      This whole death tax concept is such bullshit. It’s unearned income, and if you are preaching the virtue of work, then why should earned income be taxed, but unearned income be sacrosanct?

      If you follow $ around, it looks like it gets taxed when it changes hands. You get paid and there are taxes on you and your employer. You buy something, and there are sales taxes. You inherit $ about a certain amount, there’s a tax.

      • 1mime says:

        why should unearned income be sacrosanct….

        Ask the Wall St folks whose bonuses are treated as “carried interest”, making the vast majority of their income off limits for legitmate taxes that ordinary citizens pay as earned income. What a sweet deal…….One of those tax loopholes that the GOP will eliminate? Want to bet on that happening? No, the GOP wants to cap Medicare coverage in a voucher format, a la Paul Ryan….let’s stick it to the little guys, there are more of them!

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, Fifty, social security – that socialistic re-distribution! I agree that we will get more out of SS than we paid in assuming long, healthy lives (please include interest over a lifetime of tax payments). Given the alternative to invest in the market rather than pay SS, we would have done so, but, that wasn’t the law, so we paid our taxes and saved separately for our retirement years. We planned our retirement with certain expectations: that Uncle Sam was going to keep his bargain with SS and Medicare. Then, things changed. We were fortunate – to have our own business and the education and sophistication to make and manage money. Lots of people weren’t so fortunate. Lots of grasshoppers out there!

        I am grateful to have social security to bolster our retirement nest egg. As for the implication that we would self-servingly “redistribute everyone’s wealth but ours”, that’s crap. My point with the Burns article was to illustrate the irony of the effort to repeal estate taxes for the very wealthy (above $5+ million) when millions of middle income retirees are living on savings and SS and experiencing higher taxes in later years when their health needs are greatest, and Congress is oblivious and deaf to making fair changes to tie SS taxes to inflation. This tax isn’t original to the SS program, nor were SS proceeds ever intended to go into the U.S. General Fund. Living on $77K/annual income from SS and savings combined should offer a comfortable retirement (not lavish, by any means) – unless – there is a chronic illness, or accident, or personal loss (401k, job loss, etc) in which case the increased tax from SS and resulting loss of income can make a huge difference.

        Re-distribution benefits civilized societies through common roads, schools, safety, defense, health access, etc. Social Security has helped millions of elderly who helped millions of young people. It’s mutual economic reciprocity at its finest. Means testing is already occurring and it is happening on the back end of retirement through SS taxes. I don’t think the way it’s being applied is fair and it should be changed for millions of middle income seniors who are trying to live responsibly and independently.

      • fiftyohm says:

        1mime – Oh puhlese…

        In no particular order:

        Taxation for infrastructure, defense, and all that other stuff you rattled on about is not ‘socialistic redistribution’. What are you talking about? Not what I was, that’s certain.

        So you didn’t save money because you figured your Uncle would look after you, and he was taking money out of your income to do so, eh? Well, lemme tell you something: If all you saved was the pitiful amount you paid into SS, well shame on you. But let’s assume you bought into the Big Lie. Well, OK. It’s there for you – but it can’t be there for everyone from now on. What did you come up with from the calculation I suggested you perform? Do you think that’s sustainable? Do you think you just ‘deserve’ all that extra money, and not have to pay taxes on it?

        And $77K a year??? Have you any idea what percentage of the population ‘gets by’ on far less than that amount? Look it up. They have expenses too, you know. Like raising children. And health insurance. And all the rest. And they don’t have Medicare to pony up for all their prescription drugs and healthcare either, do they? And they have accidents, too. And financial set-backs. Cry me a river. What makes you so special?

        Congress hasn’t “tied taxes to inflation”? Well, no they haven’t. It’s called ‘bracket creep’. But you know what? Wages aren’t tied to inflation, either. Oh! But SS payments are! It’s called COLA. The idea that SS recipients are the only ones who suffer from bracket creep, (but to a far lesser extent as a result of COLAs), is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

        Again – redistribute everyone’s wealth but mine.

        *shakes head…face-palms*

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty – Lovely reply. Your sarcasm and projected indignation really elevated the discussion.
        We paid what was required into SS, educated our children through college (no loans), cared for parents, and saved, yes, saved additionally for our retirement years. So don’t give me your patronizing judgmental claptrap about how little we contributed. You have no right.

        I have stated many times in this forum that the social safety net will have to be changed in order to be sustainable – but it needs to be done responsibly – and that includes SS. We have experienced several changes in our lifetime to SS and Medicare and I expect more are on the way. We can absorb most changes but many seniors can’t. If you read the Burns article, he explained the inflation issue pretty well regarding SS taxation. We’ve been paying taxes on our SS for years and it keeps going up because of a little thing called RMD. That’s how taxes work for people who deferred income through traditional IRAs. I completely agree that wages have suffered the past 30 years. If you want to start picking on COLAs, by all means include our federal employees and career military.

        The $77K example was drawn from the SS website I linked in a post to Sassy, to explain how the 85% taxation rate could apply to combined earnings from savings and SS. That is all. Of course many people live on far less with great family and personal responsibilities, including many, many middle class families. We’ve already been down the road many younger families are traveling. Medicare, supplemental and RX policy premiums alone run us almost $10K a year and we are only two people. And, that’s just the start of our medical costs. Yeah, we all experience health issues, accidents and financial set backs, and, if you’re lucky, they happen while you can still work. If not, you better have a nest egg. We do, and we’re trying to manage it responsibly so that we can live out our lives without being a burden on anyone, especially people like yourself who obviously feels we are feeding at the trough. If my complaint about the need to link SS taxes to inflation bothers you, too bad.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sarcasm? No sarcasm, just straight up. You constistantly and reliably argue for additional and higher taxes. I can recall not a single exception. Except when it pertains to your situation.

        And you take exception when I point that out? Best get used to it.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And BTW, you never responded to my comment at 10:15 this morning. How come?

      • 1mime says:

        I assume you are referring to your comment posted at 10:19am. I don’t need to do that exercise. I’ve worked and I know that is correct. I didn’t design the program even as I am grateful it’s there. Your point is: don’t whine about taxing SS cause we’re getting more from it than we paid into it. Fair enough, but if SS is going to be taxed, the formula should be tied to inflation. We obviously disagree on this and I’m fine with that.

      • objv says:

        Fifty, you are being MEAN. I was so looking forward to that luxurious vacation home in retirement. 😉 For now, a tent will have to do. I am going camping for the first time in my life. Wish me luck.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Look at

      I enjoy the tv series “Downton Abby”. And it comes to mind when I consider “Death Taxes”. Interestingly “Downton Abby” is mentioned in the weeklysift. Along with some very good reasons to tax estates.

  12. johngalt says:

    This suggests that the most important thing the Democratic nominee (presumably Hillary) should do is to devote a huge effort to voter turnout, which will be much more important than specific issues.

    • Turtles Run says:

      Hence the attacks on voter registration drives and rushed voter ID laws. The campaigns need to start registering voters yesterday.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Thought : can anyone tell me why when people are born they are not immediately registered to vote. We get SSN at birth why not automatic registration? Seems like a no brained to me.

      • 1mime says:

        No kidding!

      • 1mime says:

        Can anyone tell me why people aren’t registered to vote at birth?

        ….because voting is a privilege, not a right (-:

      • goplifer says:

        Actually, registration at birth wouldn’t make much sense. Your registration is tied to a jurisdiction which is based on your address and voting rules are set at the state level. Your voter registration details can change pretty significantly with something as simple as a move to the other side of a freeway. If no one ever moved, then idea could work. Otherwise, not so much.

      • RobA says:

        I remember watching a lecture a while back from some political science guy, and he had a really interesting idEa.

        He proposed that every citizen be given a vote, from the day they’re born. To be clear, he wasn’t recommending kids vote. any child under the age of 18 automatically cedes their vote to their legal guardian until they’re of age.

        Actually makes a lot of sense. If we imagine a hypothetical society with 100 people. 70 of them had no kids, and 30 of them had 3 kids each. in this society, the childless voters far outweigh the ones with children and can dictate their interests to the rest, even tho this seems somewhat undemocratic.

        Voters with children and voters without often have very different priorities. What if they do a referendum about whether to spend a windfall on a new school and playgrounds, or a new casino?

        Obviously this is a very simplified example, but there are millions of citizens whose interests have no voice.

        And I’m not saying I endorse such a plan. But it’s an interesting one.

      • Turtles Run says:


        You have to change your residence address every time you move, why would updating your voting address be more burdensome than any document you need to change. It could he a simply state database that is tied to other sdtastes and the feds. Its the computer age we need to modernize.

    • texan5142 says:

      If one cannot take the time and responsibilities to register to vote, maybe that person should not be voting in the first place.

      • 1mime says:

        Of course, but what about those who are registered and are the butt of GOP efforts to make voting more difficult? The Vote Georgia project is a recent example of grassroots voter registration that was horribly, politically abused by the state registrar of voters (complicit with state GOP leadership, for sure). That and reducing voting days, times, making it harder not easier for working Americans to vote.

        That’s the problem I have. Then, of course, there are those who are registered who don’t vote and have no impediment to doing so. That’s another problem, and that needs to change. I’d like voting to become mandatory but easier – using mail in ballots, computer voting (just like one is able to do in voting proxies for stocks), renewal of drivers’ licenses, etc. Make it easier to vote to encourage more to vote.

      • texan5142 says:

        Agreed, my point is that we need informed voters, ones that take the responsibility seriously. It’s those among us that pull the lever blindly and or idealolgy that is the greatest threat to our democracy.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, valid point, but why make voting so difficult? That is the real question. If we can update drivers’ licenses and car registrations, Prescription D plan selection and equity proxies by computer, why not voting by computer? Surely there is the technological ability to figure this out.

        The problem is that the GOP has a basic reluctance to one man one vote, unless it’s one white man, one vote. Why not utilize Australia’s method of mandatory voting or be fined? America enforces mandatory registration for military purposes, why not expand upon that?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Texan – I do not see how automatic registration makes the electorate less knowledgable or less ideological. Those that are not inclined to vote will continue to not participate. My support for automatic registration just removes a barrier in the voting process. I would think it would also lessen the burden on state and local entities on tracking and handling registration records.

    • 1mime says:

      JG, New Salon piece focuses on GOP strategies to win presidency. In summary, run Rubio (he’s not establishment, speaks Spanish, has TP support to turn out this highly motivated voting block and he is picking up Koch and Adelson support among other heavy GOP hitters) – and then broaden the base (Rubio picks up light skinned Hispanics who are more conservative & has TP voters) and reduce voting turn out/access for Dems. Interesting reading. Of course, as you stated, Dems will also work at the GOTV issue.

      “Either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio will be the likely nominee. Two factors point to Rubio being stronger. First, because Republicans will want to hit Hillary for being dynastic, a second Bush candidate is risky. (Even if Hillary’s history could also make Bush’s family name less of the deal-breaker it might otherwise be.) Second, Rubio has strong Tea Party ties that Bush lacks, meaning that he could expand the base without losing too many true conservatives. At this point, he offers Republicans the best chance at winning in 2016.”

  13. irapmup says:

    Unusual to read a reasoned analysis from anyone left or right. Now that the religious camel has stuck its’ nose under both tents we as a nation are in for a real problem. Beyond the fact not all of us accept religious beliefs of any sort there is reason; practical methodology doesn’t look to mythology for answers

    • 1mime says:

      Ira – Why do you state that the religious camel has his nose in both tents? My take is that the religious camel only likes “red” tents. Dems are too secular – or is it – too tolerant and inclusive….I don’t follow your reasoning here.

      There are plenty of super smart people who haven’t finished college and have gone on to great personal success. Walker isn’t one of them. He shares in the “no college degree” but doesn’t have the gravitas to be President, although he thinks he does. Of course, in today’s “anything goes” political environment, who knows what will happen?

      • flypusher says:

        I look at any degrees as a sign that you’re been exposed to knowledge. But I want to see you in action in order to determine if any of it stuck.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, agree on the college degree not being an elimination factor, but it should be part of the consideration of a candidate’s resume. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and many others were college drop outs in order to pursue their dreams. i can see a Bill Gates running for President. Scott Walker, not so much.

      • RobA says:

        Rightly or wrongly, I want my president to have sometjing tangible that they’ve accomplished in life that assures me that they are smart, responsible, and have the ability to persevere.

        If I knew these candidates personally, I could make such a judgment.but I don’t so I need to rely somewhat on tangible accomplishments.

        in most cases, a professional degree and/or a well documented career in something such as law or business work. However, a high school dropout who started his own company in his garage and led it to an IPO on the stock market would also work.

        That last one is just a specific example, there could be any number of examples that would work for me.

        At the end of they day, I need to look at SOMETHING that suggests competence and talent. whether that’s an advanced degree or sometjing comoletely different is not really relevent.

        Walker does not, that I’ve seen, qualify.

      • flypusher says:

        According to Article II, the official requirements are:

        “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

        So all of us are eligible 🙂

        I did express reservations to a history major friend back in 2008 about Obama’s CV regarding Presidential-relevant experience. His response was is there really anything else out there that truly prepares someone, and I realized he had a valid point. It’s certainly no coincidence that many of our recent Presidents had been Governors, as that is executive experience. Probably the best warm up would an office like Guv of CA, as that is a big state with a strong executive. But even then you’d be a few orders of magnitude lower in complexity and responsibility (no Governor has the power and the burden of the “football”). Hillary is a very interesting case, in terms of relevant experience. Being a Senator and Sec of State are important credentials, and I’d argue that 8 years as FLOTUS are also relevant. Yes, it’s not an elected position, but the savvy holder has the opportunity to wield a whole lot of influence, and well as pick up quite the education about how a Presidential Administration operates (which really makes me annoyed at Hillary over this e-mail mess, as she should know better).

      • 1mime says:

        Email debacle – Agree, Fly. She’s got so much going for her that to give Repubs this red meat was really dumb. That said, on just about every other criteria, she’s head and shoulders above the rest. We would all like a highly accomplished, charismatic candidate who was flawless, but that ain’t gonna be the case, so, looking at the field on both sides, Hillary still gets my vote as much because of her personal achievement and the Democratic values she represents. I’m ready to give an accomplished female a shot at being POTUS. And, as one snide critic commented, she’s already past menopause! Can you believe some dumb ass actually said that!

      • flypusher says:

        “And, as one snide critic commented, she’s already past menopause! Can you believe some dumb ass actually said that!”

        But it does negate the “raging hormones” argument. Some female CEO actually brought that up. But if you’re going to mention hormones and not bring up testosterone, you’re making a really flimsy, biased argument.

      • 1mime says:

        Right, we know that women are the only gender with “raging hormones” (-:

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