Excerpt from The Politics of Crazy: The Influence of Money

PoliticsOfCrazy_YLW2One of the factors that serves to limit public enthusiasm for politics is the general belief that money rules all. Money matters in our politics, but not as much as most people think. More surprisingly, money matters less now than it ever has in the history of our political system. Here’s an explanation from the book:

Imagine a place in which only wealthy people can vote. The threshold for political influence at any level is a minimal amount of property ownership. Women are not allowed to participate at all, regardless of wealth. Only people of the correct race, family heritage, and religious associations are granted any voice.

Add in the legal protection of slaveholder’s rights, and that is the system our Founders constructed. The American Republic was originally built to protect the liberty of wealthy white males. When you place the power of the wealthy in a historical context, the steady decline of their relative influence starts to become clearer.

America didn’t grant voting rights to all white men until the 1820s. We didn’t end slavery until the 1860s. Women didn’t gain the right to vote until 1919. Blacks and Hispanics were routinely blocked from the political system until the 1970s and still have their influence systematically blunted today.

There were no federal campaign-finance laws of any kind until the Tillman Act in 1907. Until the early 20th century, Senate seats were more or less openly purchased with payments to the state legislators who selected Senators. That act required no disclosures and included no enforcement mechanism, accomplishing precisely nothing. There were no enforceable federal laws limiting campaign contributions until 1972. Ambassadorships to attractive, peaceful locations are still sold to the highest bidder, as they always have been.


There are few explicit, enforceable legal checks on the political influence of money. Yet buying a political outcome in our system is harder now than it has ever been. It costs more; it requires more effort, energy, and coordination; and more attempts fail than succeed. The decline in the relative power of money in our politics is almost entirely a product of the large devolutionary trends outlined earlier, rather than the result of any legislative effort.

True, well-funded special interests are still more powerful than they should be. Reducing the disproportionate influence of money on our politics should be a priority. However, money is not our central political problem. Finding an intelligent way forward starts with a realistic assessment of the situation.

The most powerful force in our politics is the time, energy, and attention of people willing to get off their couch and participate personally in the process. It takes enormous sums of money to counter the influence of a few well-organized and connected activists.


If it seems like public officials are spending more time and energy than ever raising money, that’s because they are. By a strange twist, our weak campaign-finance laws are to blame for this situation. Our complicated, confusing, and often contradictory mess of regulations has made it extremely difficult to run for office. It has also provided a surprising advantage for wealthy donors.

Thirty years ago, a candidate could fund a campaign with an appeal to one or two donors. As a result, he might be very closely aligned with that one interest, but he spent very little time soliciting money. Now a candidate still needs wealthy donors, but she has to find dozens or even hundreds of them in order to survive. Instead of forging an appeal to a few donors with whom she is already aligned on policy, the candidate must build an agenda that will appeal to wealthy donors as a class. Our funding limits have acted like a union for the wealthy, allowing them to act together in ways that would have been impossible without those limits.

At the same time, the pressure to find donors has increased the power of third-party interest groups and PACs that seek to influence campaigns without being specifically tied to a candidate. A Congressional candidate has only so many hours of the day to spend raising money. These organizations have gained unnecessary influence as caps on campaign contributions have raised the pressure to find cash. They are also competing with candidates for funds.

In short, our approach to campaign-finance law has been an unmitigated disaster. Building a more intelligent system starts with a closer look at the behavior we hope to limit. We want our elected officials to make policy decisions based on a combination of their constituents’ input and their own well-considered evaluations of the public and national interest. Limits on campaign contributions are meant to halt the wealthy from engaging in a sort of legalized bribery that would subvert the public interest in favor of their own.

Not every campaign contribution is bribery. Campaign contributions are in fact one of the ways that we measure a potential candidate’s credibility and qualifications. It takes money to run for office. Communicating with voters costs money. Driving from campaign site to campaign site costs money. Taking money out of politics would require us to take most of the communication, visibility, and accountability out of politics.

Perhaps the simplest, most effective means to limit the power of organized bribery to subvert the public interest is to build our campaign-finance system on bedrock of full disclosure. Instead of limiting contributions by amount, we should impose authentic transparency.

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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224 comments on “Excerpt from The Politics of Crazy: The Influence of Money
  1. flypusher says:

    The Confederate flag debate might heat up again:


    Also the Confederate sympathizers must absolutely be foaming at the mouth over the latest SCOTUS ruling. Myself, I am shocked, absolutely shocked, that I’m agreeing with an opinion by Clarence Thomas!!!!

    • RobA says:

      I have no respect whatsoever for Thomas.

      Seems to me that he voted against this solely because the plate in question was a symbol with known and deep racist connotations.

      Being black, it affected him personally. Had the symbol been about oppressing gays, or transgendered, or women, I have no doubt he’d rule the other way.

      • flypusher says:

        The thing I always disliked the most about Thomas is how rarely he bothers to even ask questions during a case. That’s a very necessary thing to work out these issues- just as important as the writing the opinion part. I probably disagree with opinions by Scalia and Alito as much as those by Thomas, but at least the first two are actively participating in the oral arguments.

        Also being on the right side for a wrong reason is still better than being on the wrong side.

      • 1mime says:

        With Thomas, who knows? Maybe he ruled by mistake? The man just sits there. What could be going on in his mind! Anything? Or, is it just far easier to slide along with his bud Scalia and every now and then “slip up” for fun? I don’t respect him at all. What a disgrace.

  2. Turtles Run says:

    About this mass shooting at the Black church I am waiting for a few things. I want to know when the right wingers are going to start claiming

    1. It is the bad parents fault

    2. Start calling this a terrorist act

    3. Call for Obama to label it as such

    4. Demand Obama do something about these right wing terror groups

    5. Demand that all moderate White people denounce White Supremacy

    Seems they are good at throwing these demands at Muslims and Black people, it seems fair that they do the same.

    I know it is too soon after the shooting to politicize the issue but that never stopped the RWNJs and ammosexuals.

    • 1mime says:

      Just so sad that even churches are not safe havens. I’m sure we’ll learn more about motive, etc., but the 7 people will still be as dead.

      Guns…….I know – it’s people doing bad things with guns – but – why are there so many and why is gun violence so high in America? And, when are we going to equate the two?

      • Doug says:

        “Guns…….I know – it’s people doing bad things with guns – but – why are there so many and why is gun violence so high in America? And, when are we going to equate the two?”

        I have some number over 30 (not sure exactly) in my house, including handguns, evil black weapons…even a couple of short barreled rifles and (GASP!) silencers. There has never been any violence in my home. I’m thinking there must be another factor.

      • 1mime says:

        Then, why do you need so many guns, Doug?

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Doug – Any thoughts on what those other factors are? Are any of the thirty two thousand (32,000) gun deaths per year preventable?

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Doug says:
        June 18, 2015 at 8:25 pm
        “I have some number over 30 (not sure exactly) in my house, including handguns, evil black weapons…even a couple of short barreled rifles and (GASP!) silencers. There has never been any violence in my home. I’m thinking there must be another factor.”

        Not all gun nuts are psycho mass shooters. But all psycho mass shooters are gun nuts.

        And if they ever commissioned a research study on the subject, I’m guessing they would discover that (shockingly!) all gun nuts are emasculated insecure badass wannabes unhappy with the size of their penises.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Follow up: 4 Asian women attacked in NYC classified as a bias crime. They were all struck by a “hard object” and treated and released.


        And recently a man attacked a NYC police officer with a claw hammer. She was injured but survived. Attacker was shot and killed by another police officer.

        Guns don’t kill people. Stupid people who advocate for and legislate to ensure every Looney Tune Tom, DICK, and Harry who wants a gun should have one no questions asked, kill people. The blood is on YOUR hands.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Feelings always run strong after an event like the recent shooting. Each time some feel a little more negative about the loss of lives to gun violence. A certain percentage reach a tipping point in regards to gun safety. Fewer people have guns and decide they they are safer without them. Of course, those that have guns buy more.

        I have always thought that those who have guns, love guns, or truly feel that they are the failsafe to stop the tyrant, these people should take the lead on gun safety. They say they do with gun safety classes. But they fight any and all restrictions on guns. They don’t even allow the government to study the problem. I won’t go through the possible solutions, we have heard them all and the pro-gun counter arguments.

        And nothing changes. Because we do nothing. And the pro-gun person shrugs his shoulders and says not my fault. “I’m thinking there must be another factor”.

        32,000 people. This year gun deaths are expected to surpass car deaths. And I can’t ride a handgun to pick up my dry-cleaning.

        So if gun laws are continued to be loosened, and gun deaths go up, won’t we hit a point where most people will want a change and it will happen. And if the pro-gun folks fight till the bitter end, its possible they won’t get a say in how far the changes go. Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive?

      • Doug says:

        “I’m guessing they would discover that (shockingly!) all gun nuts are emasculated insecure badass wannabes unhappy with the size of their penises.”

        You may be on to something. Many of the firearms belong to my wife, who has no penis at all.

        “Then, why do you need so many guns, Doug?”

        I don’t “need” so many, just as I don’t “need” my sizable collection of fishing reels or camera lenses.

        “Any thoughts on what those other factors are? Are any of the thirty two thousand (32,000) gun deaths per year preventable?”
        60% are suicides. Lots of factors there, difficult to prevent. Of the rest, ending the insane war on drugs would be a good start and more productive than trying to regulate guns.

      • 1mime says:

        Then your “wants” are trumping your “needs”, Doug, which is your choice. Guess we are living in different universes….which is a good thing.

        John Stewart is right: there is a sad irony that America spends over half of its entire federal budget on defense ($612B in latest bill) to protect “us” from “them”…yet domestic violence and death due to guns is huge. Yet we keep weakening gun laws. Fighting tooth and nail for our “right to bear arms” – and, boy do we bear them in the U.S.

        Ponder this American statistic: (http://www.deseretnews.com/top/2519/15/The-United-States-15-nations-with-the-highest-gun-ownership.html)

        “Firearms per 100 people: 88.8

        Firearm homicides per 100,000: 3.21

        Percent of homicides by guns: 67.5

        While the U.S. houses less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the country has approximately 35-50 percent of civilian-owned guns worldwide, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

        The U.S. has the highest firearm related homicide rate among developed nations, continued the Council on Foreign Relations, “though some analysts say these statistics do not necessarily have a cause-and-effect relationship.”

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Doug says:
        June 19, 2015 at 7:45 am

        “You may be on to something. Many of the firearms belong to my wife, who has no penis at all.”

        I could expound on penis envy. And the badass wannabe still stands.

        “I don’t ‘need’ so many, just as I don’t ‘need’ my sizable collection of fishing reels or camera lenses.”

        So you admit it’s NOT for protection and it really IS an abnormal fetish borne of psychological inadequacy. Thank you for the confirmation Doug. And please provide the death rate (by suicide OR homicide) via fishing reels or camera lenses.

        “ ‘Any thoughts on what those other factors are? Are any of the thirty two thousand (32,000) gun deaths per year preventable?’
        60% are suicides. Lots of factors there, difficult to prevent.”

        As I already noted above (which you glaringly did not address), homicides (and suicides) by less lethal means are more survivable than with guns. NOT “difficult to prevent” if you don’t stick your head in the sand {and other dark places where the sun don’t shine) and are willfully ignorant to facts and reality.

        So in your “benevolent” world Doug, suicide is acceptable as long as you can maintain your fetish? As well as an insane gun homicide rate unmatched in the civilized world?

        Continue to live in your delusional science denying, fact challenged, White faux victimization bubble Doug.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Lest someone feels semantically inclined, correction: ATTEMPTED “homicides (and suicides) by less lethal means are more survivable than with guns.”

      • RobA says:

        Doug, your reasoning is no different from the guy who smokes every day until he’s 90 and never gets lung cancer and then says “and they say cigarettes cause lung cancer! Fools! Look at me”

        Which comoletely ignores the fact that smoking DOES kill tens of thousands prematurely every year. It may be true for you but it is definitely not wise policy to apply to the general pop.

        Let’s dispense with opinions for a second and just deal with pure facts. America has, by far, the highest murder and gun death rate in the developed world.

        And it’s not even close. It also has the laxest gun control laws. And it’s not even close.

        There’s got to be a reason for that?

        My opinion is not widespread gun ownership. Lots of Canadians own guns too. Seems to me the difference is, ALL gun owners must submit to background checks, and have a training course (it’s not long. Maybe a weekend). Then you get your gun.

        I understand the pushback to removing all guns. Guns are very useful tools. But who in their right mind would oppose things like background checks, and limiting some of the more powerful military grade assault weapons?

        The citizenry has no use for such weapons.

        An example : there was a recent terrorist attack in Canada where a gunman attacked the Parliament buildings. With an automatic military weapon, he would have killed dozens. He even made it INTO parliament (equivalent to a gunman making it into congress) before he was shot by the Sgt at arms.

        The death toll was one, because the only weapon he could access was a semi automatic hunting rifle.

        It would have sufficed perfectly to hunt animals. To slaughter lots of humans in a shirt period of time, however, it was inadequate.

        When is America going to wake up and enact meaningful gun control?

        The gub’mint is NOT coming to disarm you in order to take over the country.

      • way2gosassy says:

        I have a pretty impressive collection of guns. Most are antique guns of historical value and some have been passed down through many generations of my family. Some are in working condition and some are not. Only one gun in the house is considered useful as personal protection and that is a shotgun, not because we fear our neighbors but because we live in a rural area where a few wild animals may pose a threat. I have never felt I needed to point a gun at another human being and I certainly do not have penis envy. I have hunted certain animals for food in the past and I make no apologies for that. I have shot guns in sporting competitions and have won several trophies doing so. Guns have been an integral part of our American history as it has been in others. I do not consider myself a gun nut, although others may. It is in my opinion that labeling people as such is wrong because it does not take into account that people like me also believe in effective gun laws that are enforced. I believe that if certain laws were enacted and enforced, responsible gun owners like myself would not be negatively impacted.

        I can and have had reasonable conversations about restrictive gun laws that are designed to prevent guns from people who really should not have such easy access to them. I believe that every bit of usable data should not be prevented from being collected in order to write those laws. I also believe that a person who wants to own a gun should be fully trained in the use and safety of that gun. Thorough background checks should be the norm every time a gun is purchased or gifted even within families with absolutely no exceptions.

      • 1mime says:

        Sassy, you are a responsible gun owner. You also recognize the fact that others may not be and support all rational, practicable, necessary regulations to increase gun safety generally. As is so often stated, “guns don’t kill people”, but the question remains: why, in a society as educated and affluent, is there such a need for so many guns, everywhere we go? Antique family heirlooms, check; personal handgun for safety, check; hunting gun for food, double check; Sporting weapon (firing range), check; assault weapons with multiple round magazines, silencers, – no way; guns in our grocery stores, recreation centers, school campuses, churches – Really? Americans really need to carry in these public spaces?

        I submit that having more guns doesn’t add greater protection for a society that refuses to address the underlying problem – people who are either irrationally afraid or irrationally power- driven. A society that must carry guns everywhere is more afraid than it is free, and resorts to violence as a first choice instead of as a last resort. And, this is freedom? For whom?

        Responsible gun owners are not the problem, but they could lead the way to more responsible gun use. Each of us in our own way, can help make our country safer – and, kinder.

        Today’s article in the NYT about the historical attacks on Black Churches is a sad, noteworthy read.

        “Even at a time of waning attendance, the church remains an important institution for African-Americans. In 2014, 79 percent of African-Americans identified themselves as Christian, a religious-affiliation rate that has dipped in recent years but remains higher than that of any other ethnic group, according to the Pew Research Center.

        In Pew’s most recent study of church attendance, which was conducted in 2009, 53 percent of African-Americans reported attending religious services at least once a week, compared with 39 percent of Americans overall.”

        Black people don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk – because the only true thing for them is their faith. They had no government or society to turn to for redress. They have been forgiving White people for too long. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. We have to change how we as a country view and help our poor and oppressed. Lift people up. Practice kindness. Walk the walk. It starts within each of us. Teach your children and grandchildren. Teach by example. Because it’s important and it is right.

    • flypusher says:

      TR, I saw some really bad racist trolling on another forum, based on the asinine assumption that there was the danger of Black people starting riots because of this. I’m a staunch 1st Amendment backer, but I swear, some people are just begging to be smacked.

      The equally loathsome “THIS WAS STAGED AS AN EXCUSE TO TAKE OUR GUNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” crowd is also representing.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      You do not want to watch Fox’s discussion of the shooting.

      Evidently, when a White racist goes into a Black church to kill Black people, it is an “attack on Christians” because it happened in a church.

      I’m sure when the shooter said, “you are raping our women and ruining our country”, he meant that Christians are raping women and ruining the country.

      He likely just really thought the apartheid-era patches on his jacket and confederate flag on his car were really pretty colors rather than anything racial as well.

      • flypusher says:

        The call to not get pay TV just looks better and better.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, right….just like everyone who knew him was “surprised”, or, as Bubba says “I’m shocked, literally shocked!”

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Lindsey Graham Senator from South Carolina (R) and Presidential candidate (R) was on the “View” this morning. He denounced the hate crime as an “anti-Christian bias attack” (paraphrasing somewhat from memory). Yup, White guy shoots up a historically significant Black church and kills 9 Black women and men and first thought is “it’s an anti-Christian bias attack”.

        Ambition and pandering to the racists for personal gain and delusional aspirations for accretion of power trumps honesty and decency.

        Absolutely shocked, just shocked I say.

      • flypusher says:

        Some quotes from John Stewart:

        “I honestly have nothing other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist… What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us, and we’re killing ourselves.

        If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, we invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives, and fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countires. All to keep Americans safe. We gotta do whatever we can. We’ll torture people. We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people shot in a church? What about that? ‘Hey, what are you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is.’

        This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church in South Carolina, which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for 100 and some years, and has been attacked viciously many times, as many black churches have. To pretend that — I heard someone on the news say ‘Tragedy has visited Charleston.’ This wasn’t a tornado. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater.”

      • RobA says:

        Not to mention, this guy ID a Christian.

        He sat there for a Bible study for an hour. He even said he almost didn’t go through with it because everyone “was so nice to him”.

        I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

    • GG says:

      Go to the Chron for the crapfest. Capt. Sternn is over there taking a drubbing right now. He keeps trying to insinuate that they were killed because they were Christians. He also managed to work in his usual “leftists view the unborn as property” routine.

    • 1mime says:

      It just came to me – Can any of you long-timers ever remember an instance where a Black person entered a white church and killed people? EVER? Ever hear of a Black person/persons burning down a White church? EVER?

    • objv says:

      Turtles, I’m still in shock. The Bible teaches that all Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what their ethnicity. I take that view seriously even though some hypocritical people have done horrible things. I mourn for the families of the victims. Killing the members of the Bible study was a senseless, evil act.

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, for this 100 year old Black church, it wasn’t the first time they experienced violence.

        Racism exists and it is out of the closet. I repeat my earlier post: Show me an instance of Black viiolence against White churches. Then compare that to White violence against Black churches.

        That tells the whole story. You can’t explain it away, wish it away, or ignore it. If those of you who are conservatives don’t clean your own house of this cancer, you will be consumed by it.

      • johngalt says:

        Goodness, objv, that’s naive. You must not know much of the history of the Southern Baptist Church.

      • objv says:

        Mime, without a doubt, racism exists and the shooting was racist in nature. I mourn the deaths of my fellow believers. Christians the whole world over are my family. I have no excuses for what this man did and other racists have done in the past. It is evil and must be condemned.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…this dude didn’t kills “members of the Bible study” group.

        The dude killed black folks.

      • objv says:

        Homer: The victims may have been simply black to the shooter. They are fellow Christians to me. We share the same beliefs. Believe it or not, there is a bond between us. For a Christian, belief should transcend race.

        The great commission states: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” At its heart, Christianity is open to all people no matter what their race or ethnicity. When someone becomes a believer, he or she becomes a brother or sister adopted by God.

        There should be no difference based on skin color among fellow Christians. Unfortunately, many so-called Christians have not given that impression.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…I’m not even going to try to pick that apart.

        These folks were not killed because they loved the bible or because they were in a church. They were killed because they were Black.

        Let’s hope we can get to the point where we do not have to partition our compassion for those that have the same religious beliefs, in that we likely share a more human bond with any number of Muslims, Hindu, Atheists, and just regular old non-denominational folks who have vague beliefs about something who are victims of such atrocities.

        Interesting phenomena going on. White religious folks are readily identifying with the victims in SC (and some even brazenly characterizing this as anti-christian violence) rather than with the White killer. When the killer (or heck, even the victim in the case of Travon Martin) is Black, the identification seems to be all about race.

        Funny how that works.

      • objv says:

        Yes, Homer, it is funny how that works. Once again, I’ll say that I believe the shooting was racist in nature. The shooter was an unstable, young, white guy motivated by racism. That seems fairly obvious.

        However, white Christian identification with the victims is more complex. If you would have asked the victims what was most important to them before they died, they would have picked their faith first. Not to say that race would not be important – just that it would be secondary. After all, these were people who attended Wednesday night Bible study. They were serious in their beliefs. (I hate to admit, that it’s been years since my church saw me show up on a Wednesday night.) White Christians should be horrified at what happened. We are all part of the same family of faith. (Yes, yes, I know, we are a very dysfunctional family at times, but family nonetheless.)

      • objv says:

        Homer, I also would like to say that if a black person had come into a church and killed white people for racist reasons, black Christians would condemn the act and identify with the victims as well. Here we have a case where groups overlap and white Christians as well as black Christians would understandably feel that the attack was on their own community.

      • 1mime says:

        For the third time in this one blog topic, I am going to ask: Can anyone provide an example of Blacks going into White churches to kill people?

        The New Republic’s piece on this lays bare the heart-rending story of people who have no safe haven – not in their own churches, not in parks, not on the streets. Note the historian quoted in the article describes why this Black church was formed. The answer will turn your stomach.


      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        The attack was not on the Christian community.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        These folks probably all drove cars to their church group. We, as the car driving public, should feel as though it was an attack on our car driving community.

      • objv says:

        Homer, it’s true that the attack was not on the Christian community. That is clear. Racism was the cause. However, many white Christians identify with the victims because those who died ARE members of the same Christian community. People are more than their skin color. Naturally, believers of the same faith would feel pain and sorrow at the news.

        Is it really that strange to you that white Christians would care about black Christians and feel outrage at their deaths?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        No…it is not strange…what is strange that some folks want to talk about it in terms of an attack on the christian community, when it clearly was no such thing.

        I think you might be a touch presumptive to say, “If you would have asked the victims what was most important to them before they died, they would have picked their faith first.”

        First, lots of these folks might have said, “family”, “friends”, “dogs”, or the “first burst of sunshine on a tee box on a pretty Saturday morning” was the most important thing to them.

        Let’s go with the assumption that they would have put their Christian faith ahead of their race in terms of importance, it seems as though Mr. Roof found their race to be awfully darn important. Important enough to kill them.

        For all the folks who wonder why Black folks just cannot get “past the race thing” and “just move on because slavery was so long ago”, I suspect a fair number of Black people would be awfully happy if White folks could seem to move on from the “race thing” and stop being racist ass-hats.

    • Ah, well. Yet another example of a familiar recipe: nutball + gun free zone = tragedy

      Sad. If only we could all just get along and simply agree on implementing our lefty friends’ one world utopia *RIGHT NOW*, what a wonderful world it would be. (Cue John Lennon’s “Imagine.”)

      • 1mime says:

        Lefty one world utopia – Hardly. Reasonableness, sensible, balanced – that’s what this Lefty wants in my country. With a per capita gun ownership of 88/100 people, the U.S. leads the world.

        So, all these guns aren’t making us safer, then – what is it making us? Smarter?

      • flypusher says:

        Just cut the crap Tracy. Nobody here is proposing utopia. Nobody here is proposing confiscating all the guns. You are here frequently claiming about how responsible you are as a gun owner, but you dismiss any discussion about how to deal with guns in the hands of criminals/terrorists (which this Roof dirtbag was)/ whack jobs with that sort of condescending rhetoric. The responsible gun owners ought to be the ones out front and center in this discussion, not trying to shut it down.

        We have a problem here and the denial and condescension doesn’t change that.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Tracy Thorleifson says:
        June 19, 2015 at 8:37 am

        “Ah, well. Yet another example of a familiar recipe: nutball + gun free zone = tragedy”

        Correction, (not that facts and realty will change you little insular bubble):

        Ah, well. Yet another example of a familiar recipe: nutball + gun free zone = safety and glaringly less death and maiming in the rest of the civilized word.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        And to clarify, NOWHERE in the US is a “gun free” zone when any nutjob can get a hold of a gun (and apparently an armored car) anytime and anywhere he wants. Even in strict gun control states when they just buy it from Wild West Wingnut states and smuggle them in or as in Chicago, the Wild West Wingnut White suburbs a mile or two away.

        SEAL THOSE DAMN BORDERS. Or follow the damn model that works. Duh.

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy – given the long history of distrust between the police and our black citizens, do you think those parishioners would honestly have felt safer if they had concealed weapons. As one of the Daily Show correspondents quipped, “For white people it’s ‘open carry.’ For black people it’s ‘He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!’.”

        Plus I’d like to point out that it is batshit crazy to accept a society in which people praying in church need to be packing to protect themselves. There is no other developed country on earth in which this sort of thing happens regularly.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Ah, well. Yet another example of a familiar recipe: nutball + gun free zone = tragedy”

        TTHOR – so your claim is that Roof chose this historic Black church because it is a gun free not because he is a White Supremacist. Because that is the only way your claim works.

        The whole mass shooters prefer gun free zones is a myth that has been proven false.

      • way2gosassy says:

        I gave you credit for being better than that Tracy. Gun free zone in a Church is the cause of this tragedy, really? If you can’t be safe in what these people believe is their sanctuary without armed guards at the door or packing heat on every person that enters does that not negate the whole idea of sanctuary?

    • vikinghou says:

      I think we have to face the truth that settling scores with guns is as American as apple pie. It’s in our cultural DNA. No amount of gun control is going to make a significant difference. The country is awash in guns and it would be impractical, if not impossible, for law enforcement to reduce the gun population to any significant extent.

      After each massacre there is a lot of handwringing. Oh how terrible! How could this happen? Something must be done! Then two weeks later we return to the status quo. Then the cycle is repeated after the next massacre.

      The cycle will be broken only when a fundamental change in our society occurs. What would cause such a change? I have no idea.

      • flypusher says:

        “I think we have to face the truth that settling scores with guns is as American as apple pie. It’s in our cultural DNA.”

        Viking, I think that is absolutely true. Americans like guns and the guns aren’t going anywhere. But the attitude that just floors me is this notion that because we can’t make it 100% impossible for Roof’s ilk to get guns, we shouldn’t even try to make it as difficult as possible via legal means. There’s a lot of middle ground between “take all the guns” and “everybody gets a gun, no questions asked”, but too many extremists dig in their heels, and we can’t even have a civilized national discussion on the topic.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Viking – the change has happened. Sandy Run was the turning point for me. I personally contribute to gun safety organizations. Like:


        and others. I tell all of my representatives that I am a single issue voter. When I plan a personal trip, I try not to spend money in states that have crazy gun laws. And I talk about my feelings to anyone that will listen. I really don’t want to take all guns away so I always stress the safety issues.

        Note – It appears I am losing as gun laws are loosening or being taken off the books in more states. The gun lobby is winning. This is a two edge sword. If more guns do cause more gun deaths, we will reach a tipping point and the public will say enough. Eventually we can compare Oregon’s background check law to others.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Sandy Hook not Sandy Run, that was a – never mind.

      • vikinghou says:


        I too thought that Sandy Hook would be a sufficiently significant emotional event to cause a societal change. A slaughter in an elementary school would certainly be the last straw. For a while I was encouraged by all the political outrage and seeing the NRA on the defensive for a change. But, as you said, the gun lobby won.

        But you never know, a hundred years from now, Sandy Hook may be looked upon by historians as the seminal event that changed America’s course with respect to guns–ever so slowly. In the meantime, gun violence is just a part of living in America.

    • BigWilly says:

      What happened in SC is terrible. However, if you look at the numbers, your political angle should produce a fail in your analysis.

      Here’s the quick and dirty.

      From the FBI’s Expanded Homicide Data circa 2013

      B(lack) on W(hite) 8%
      B on B 91%

      W on W 84%
      W on B 14%

      of the 5,496 combination of murders (B and W) 2,491 had a B victim. 3,005 had a W victim.

      46% of the total murders were B victims. Project that out onto the total population and you would have almost 15,000 murders (B=13 W=78). So B on B murders is so disproportionate that it begs the question.

      What are you politicizing this for? Do you think we won’t check the math, even a little.

      So, again, my answer is NO!

      Here’s the link to the FBI site


      And the census data which I used.


      • bubbabobcat says:

        Black on Black murder IS a severe problem. See my previous posts on how to limit.

        But that is a total deflection/red herring of what just occurred.

        It’s not a zero sum “game”. We do NOT allow open season condoning/accepting White people shooting Black churches until Black on Black crime is reduced.

        Your stay in Wisconsin has seemed detrimental to the rationality of your broad outlook BW. I am disappointed. I liked the old BW better even though I disagreed with you significantly back then also.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Of course, BW, I’m sure you also checked the math where the person who kills a White person is about 3 times more likely to find himself in a death penalty case, and well, if you are a Black person who kills a White person, well, you probably aren’t going to be seeing a whole lot of mercy going your way.

  3. 1mime says:

    BW –
    “I’d start by drawing down in the Middle East, and globally. Dismantle as much of the security apparatus in place as practicable.”

    Mime: Don’t disagree with your first point, to which I would add: eliminate all US bases (domestic and foreign) that are not absolutely highest priority. THEN – bring the Defense budget down – waaay down. There are greater needs for our tax dollars. At the very least – America’s people should have priority over foreign investment.

    BW: “I’d make you illegal.”

    Mime: Huh? I have been wished a lot of things in my life, BW, but that’s a new one!

    BW: “Homeland Security can go. The DOE can go. The NRA can go. Thee EEOC can go. Most of these agencies are unnecessary. The states can handle these matters better than the Federal Government.”

    Mime: Let’s start with Homeland Security. It includes: the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the newly created Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You feel these services can be provided at the state level, without national coordination? There is good argument for returning the USCG to an independent agency, but I wonder how well that works in today’s terrorism environment? Or, that states have the resources to deal with a 9-11, pr Katrina, capsized foreign tankers in maritime waters, Horizon Oil Spills, air and sea transportation security issues, nuclear and energy regulation – you want 50 different standards governing these industries? Immigration Services – You want 50 different standards governing immigration? From documented to undocumented, VISAs, etc…NRA elimination? That’s an area of gov’t I know least about except that it involves regulation of commerce….some of which is interstate and would be difficult to manage solely at the state level, some of which probably could. I’ll give you a pass on that one until I learn more about its role in America.

    It’s EASY to say “get rid of all of ’em” – bring those duties back to the states….well, I’m going to tell you, there are things states can do and should do – arguably, public education is one area (with several exceptions) – BUT – America is a complex, huge, populated country that cannot function without an efficient government. And, what makes you think that states will be fair and responsible? Look at what’s happening in KS? Public schools closed early because a governor played ego games with the state budget? How responsible is that! A better argument is Lifers – improve and streamline wherever possible, but accept and appreciate the need for the organizational structure that allows our country to function. If not, BW, there’s always your favorite place – outer space….try that and see if you like making all your own rules.

    BW: GSLs and grants have to go – not sure what this is but do share what I think is your “intimation” that America pushes college at the expense of skilled training.

    Mime: Next time I visit a Starbucks, I’ll be sure to ask how many of their employees hold doctorates (-: along with my latte order.

    BW: larding up bums with my tax dollars, waste, fraud, abuse – TANF, SNAP –

    Mime: We are a big country, BW. Waste, fraud and abuse is an unfortunate part of the coordination and delivery of services – whether it is in social services or defense (or Congress!). It should be reduced and eliminated whenever possible, but there are legitimate purposes served by TANF and SNAP. Evidently you’ve never seen the “good” things that these programs do to provide temporary help to desperate people. Is it abused? Yes. But so are alcohol and power and money and position. FIX these programs; don’t eliminate them simply because they are assistance from tax dollars.

    We have a basic disagreement about the role of government in our lives. Can it be better? You bet. Do we have people in office whose elected responsibilities it is to manage these programs efficiently? Yes. Are they doing their job as well as the people down in the trenches who are doing the actual job? I doubt it. Point the finger of blame and responsibility where it properly belongs. Each of us and all of us, separately and together.

    I do thank you for your effort to spell out what you want to eliminate. I wish life were that simple.

    • BigWilly says:

      I wish life were that simple. Don’t we all.

      • 1mime says:

        You threw a lot of GOP talking points out there, so I responded. Thoughtfully. I try to live in the real world, BW. It bothers me to hear smart people say dumb things. You’re better than that. Next time I won’t make the effort to respond.

      • 1mime says:

        On the issue of taxes and responsible management by those who allocate them. Note: It’s OK for Republicans to exceed budget caps but Not Dems – $38 Billion dollars.

        I hope Obama has the stuff to veto it. How much is enough for our Defense budget????!!!

        Senate passes $612B defense bill despite veto threat
        The Hill:
        By Jordain Carney
        The Senate passed an annual $612 billion defense policy bill Thursday, including extra war funding for the Pentagon that brought a veto threat from the White House.
        Senators voted 71-25 on the National Defense Authorization Act, which lays out broad policy requirements for the Defense Department.
        The usually bipartisan bill garnered strong criticism from Democratic leadership this year for including an extra $38 billion in funds through the Overseas Contingency Operations account, the Pentagon’s war fund. The maneuver allowed Republicans to bypass federal budget caps imposed in 2011.

      • johngalt says:

        Your response is great, 1mime, and I think we can have an honest debate about the proper role and size of the federal government, but what I find disingenuous about the simple “solutions” posed by Tea Partiers, whether BW includes himself in that or not, is that they’re soundbites that are both impractical and low impact. Let’s take BW’s proposal to close down the DOE. I presume he means Energy. Its budget is $28 billion (2 weeks of Defense), but fully half of this is maintaining (or cleaning up from) our nuclear arsenal. This must be done, so you eliminate the department and transfer this function, and the money, to DoD. $5 billion more is extramural research. Maybe he’d like to ignore the ROI on R&D and cut this too, who knows.

        Perhaps BW meant the Dept. of Education. OK, then, that’s $67 billion and we’re starting to talk about real money, though only slightly more than the development costs for the F-35 fighter. But nearly all that is transfer payments either to local school districts or for student grants. We can cut that, though, and let states like Minnesota raise their taxes to replace that funding while states like Texas do not.

        Sound bites are clearly effective propaganda, but actually leading is a wee bit harder.

      • BigWilly says:

        I’m not a propagandist. I honestly have not taken the time to study the federal budget in depth. You buy, I’ll fly.

        I thought I was presented somewhat of a fantasy regarding which agencies and programs to eliminate. I highly doubt I’ll ever have the opportunity to participate in that process to begin with, and I’m a local yocal anyway so I would rather do some damage here where it’s a whole lot more meaningful.

        But obviously, given the chance, I would take away all of your money and make you illegal.

      • 1mime says:

        Glad we got that cleared up, BW. Now, as for the “taking all my money” part….get in line!

        I’m intrigued with your “illegal” conversion…..fond wishes for all those who vote Democrat? Or, just me…for whatever reason? Can’t imagine what I’v e done to deserve being cast out altho I have always had an interest in living in Costa Rica (-: (legally)

  4. flypusher says:

    More crazy, of the absolute worst kind. Everybody’s probably heard of yet another mass murder, in a Charleston church. Cops caught the scum, and it’s reported that his dad gave him the gun he used:

    I think owning a gun ought to require a liscence in the same way a liscence is required to drive on public roads. You need to demonstrate that you under the responsibility that goes with the right.

    I’m sure some here will disagree. Bring it.

    • flypusher says:

      Understand, not under

    • Crogged says:

      Well, as I understand it, one of the reasons for declining abortion rates are the laws we have passed which make abortion, if absolutely necessary, safer for woman and help them realize the enormity of the decision. Perhaps these same principles apply to guns and we need to have more videos shown to gun purchasers of the impact of guns. It is a staple of driving instruction we watch videos of the results of cars driven improperly and the resulting carnage, what harm would result from making our concealed weapon classes watch a video of guns used improperly?

      • flypusher says:

        I’d use the current CHL requirements as a starting point for any gun ownership with an expectation of actually firing the thing. Maybe those requirements need beefing up,

      • 1mime says:

        Passing tougher abortion laws is NOT designed to make abortion safer; they are designed to eliminate abortion period. This is properly a personal issue that should remain, as protected by Roevwade, between a women/man and their doctor. Any window dressing other than an honest: “we want to eliminate abortion because it violates our personal beliefs” is a lie.

      • flypusher says:

        1mime, methinks Crogged is cooking up a bit of sauce for the gander.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m sorry, Crogged. I came on too strong. It’s a subject (abortion) which is not dealt with honestly by too many people, but I didn’t mean to lash out or preach to you.

      • flypusher says:

        The sheer intellectual dishonesty burns me too. If the AMA or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had done a proper scientific study that demonstrated a valid medical reason for those added rules, then fine. Those are the ONLY opinions I deem valid on the issue, not those of non-medical interest groups, nor those of politicians, of any political stripe.

      • Crogged says:

        Fly, the AMA has also spoken regarding the safety of guns (really, we can put those words in the same sentence/phrase?) in the home and our country. What do those egghead over-educated doctors know-and as you pointed out in another blog entry, some of them only apply the scientific method when it suits them.

      • BigWilly says:

        Yes, Little Alex, guns can hurt people.

        I would suggest the Ludovico method. Fly apply the eyedrops if you will.

      • Crogged says:

        How clever, it Is real fucking clear that guns hurt people and nothing NWO or Orwellian at all in pretending the problem is there not enough of them.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Well, there is the Concealed Handgun License (CHL) for carrying firearms out in public, and background checks before purchasing a firearm for anyone without a CHL who intends only to keep the firearm at home.

      From my limited but expanding knowledge of firearm laws, I think anyone carrying a firearm out in public must present their CHL upon request by police, and any driver stopped by the police for any reason must notify the officer that he/she is carrying a weapon.

      • flypusher says:

        No disagreement with anything you said. My major problem with this latest atrocity is (if the report is correct) that this guy’s father could just give him a gun, no training, no background check required.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fly, wouldn’t this be the equivalent of a father giving the car keys to a son who doesn’t have a driver’s license, and the son going out and intentionally running over and killing several people?

        It would have nothing to do with existing driving laws. It would be a case of homicide on the part of the son, or perhaps negligence on the part of the father.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I do know that a person without a driver’s license can take official possession of a vehicle, be given formal title, as long as he/she surrenders the license plates, so it is legal to own a vehicle without a driver’s license, but it is NOT legal to drive on public roads without a license.

        So, ownership is not really the issue. It’s what you do with the vehicle/firearm that is the issue here.

      • flypusher says:

        I don’t know what the law currently is in SC, but in your scenario the father handing over the keys to a son who couldn’t legally drive absolutely should face charges. I think there should be equivalent consequences for handing over a gun. This wasn’t a let’s-go-to-the-range-and-I’ll-teach-you-how-to-responsibly-use-a-gun sort of thing, as far as I can tell. I think both cars and guns should be treated in this fashion- you have to be trained to earn the right to use them, and if you enable use by an untrained party, you bear legal responsibility.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, you don’t have to surrender the plates, you just can’t renew the tags without a driver’s license. But you can still own the vehicle and have the title in your name, as long as you don’t drive it on public roads.

      • flypusher says:

        “So, ownership is not really the issue. It’s what you do with the vehicle/firearm that is the issue here.”

        Just like you could collect classic cars with no intention of driving them on a public road, and therefore not need a driver’s liscence, likewise you could treat guns the same. If you want to collect them/hang them on a plaque over the mantle without ever shooting them, then fine, you don’t need a liscence.

        Perhaps we invoke the training/ liscence thing when someone tries to buy ammo.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Can you carry a concealed Cadillac into a place of worship. Sorry for the silliness. But is there a possibility that the father can be prosecuted?

      • flypusher says:

        “But is there a possibility that the father can be prosecuted?”

        You and me and millions and millions of others want to know. We’ll see what the investigators find. No doubt someone will point out mr-racist-dirtbag-mass-murderer could have obtained a gun illegally. That’s still no excuse to allow him to get that gun in an apparently legal manner with zero oversight.

        I may try to look into which laws apply here later. I’m making a few guesses at this point.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fly, I would say that if the shooter is mentally ill, then the father would be negligent in giving him a firearm.

        Otherwise, the responsibility lies totally with the shooter. He is an adult, after all. We couldn’t really blame the dad for giving a firearm as a gift to his son on his 21st birthday.

      • 1mime says:

        If the gun is a gift for someone else, shouldn’t the recipient be required to register the gun? Of course, if he took it with the idea of killing people, he probably wouldn’t be too concerned about registering it, would he!

      • flypusher says:

        “Otherwise, the responsibility lies totally with the shooter. He is an adult, after all. We couldn’t really blame the dad for giving a firearm as a gift to his son on his 21st birthday.”

        Hence my advocation for a change in the laws (if that is indeed legal). A parent should not be allowed to legally give a gun to their child if the child has not been trained, regardless of the child’s age.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Or the dad would be liable if he knowingly gave a firearm to a convicted felon (convicted felons cannot legally possess firearms). I don’t think the son was a convicted felon. I think he’d had been charged with trespassing (a misdemeanor) and had been detained for drug possession, but that investigation was ongoing. Otherwise, the dad wouldn’t be liable under existing laws as far as I understand it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        MIME, the vast majority of states, including South Carolina and Texas, don’t require registration of firearms, nor does the federal government.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I should clarify- ANYONE EVER CONVICTED OF A FELONY, even after serving his time in prison, cannot legally carry a firearm.

  5. flypusher says:

    Also on the topic of crazy, the Freedom of Information Act gives us this little treasure trove of correspondence concerning Operation Jade Helm:


    The absolute best summation of this flavor of crazy I’ve ever seen:

    “It is a stupidity so stupid that we may be able to use it as future measure of the viability of nation-states; if a majority of any definable population is stupid enough to believe this thing, it is evidence that that population has lost the intellectual ability to maintain a government.”

    I want to buy that person a beer.

    The Al foil is quite awesome too.

    • 1mime says:

      Yep, that’s what it’s come down to….The fact is that these people have always been out there but were under their rocks. Now – they feel “empowered” and “righteous” in spewing their paranoia in the public arena. Put a gun in their hands on top of their demented judgment and no telling what’s next.

      • vikinghou says:

        “The fact is that these people have always been out there but were under their rocks.”

        Very true. This is one negative consequence of the Internet. These people now have a way to find each other and organize.

    • johngalt says:

      I wish I could write prose as bluntly eloquent as that person.

  6. BigWilly says:

    If Donald Trump wants to run I’d be interested in reviewing his policy proposals before I jumped on the hump The Donald bandwagon. Pres. Obama said he’d review the federal budget line by line in his acceptance speech. Did that ever happen? He let the GOP do it for him. I don’t want to imagine the nuttery that would’ve ensued had the Democrats been able to take the House back after 2010.

    Funny, for a blog called GOPLifer it’s not very often we see GOP supporters on this page. The TEA Party will, hopefully, wane a bit before the next election and allow us to nominate the best candidate available. That would be Mark Rubio. Bush, Walker, Kasich, and Pataki are all formidable politicians who know how to win elections in purple states. You say clown car, I say embarrassment of riches.

    Being pro-life is not crazy, neither is being white, male, and Christian. Being an atheist is crazy, but I digress.

    I think Hillary’s announcement speech was a bit out of bounds. I have no desire to go in that direction.

    Watch the money fly in this election like you wouldn’a believe.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      BW – You are trolling multiple lures out there. It’s like a crappy rig. I’ll bite on the first one. Well maybe its the second one. You are right about “Pres. Obama said he’d review the federal budget line by line”. But what does that mean? He didn’t say he would veto every bill that had earmarks he didn’t agree with. I assume he knows the President does not have line item veto. I assume you know that. So all he has is the bully pulpit to reduce these items that are plugged into most bills.

      Maybe he wasn’t aware how deeply screwed the banking and insurance industry was at that time. By the way, if you haven’t read “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, you should. Anyway, why would he want to reduce public spending of any kind while the economy is in a freefall? We know that public spending reduces the depth and length of a economic contraction. Why would anyone want to screw around with the economy when it was so tenuous? Why would flirt with real uncertainty like shutdowns and fiscal cliff bullshit? Which brings us to one of the other enticing lures you present.

      Crazy is as crazy does.

      Hopefully I spit that lure, BigWilly.

      • BigWilly says:

        You are right about “Pres. Obama said he’d review the federal budget line by line”. But what does that mean?

        Is it poetry? Is there hidden meaning in those words? If there is I don’t see it. Now that the contraction is over you need to let the other shoe drop. In other words the spending should be ending. The PPACA needs to get straightened out. Lot’s of work for the GOP.

        The TEA Party guys aren’t wrong, they’ve just been punked by the admen and marketers who give us reality in a box. On Jan. 20, 2017 the President will clean out his desk, say goodbye to the staff, get in the limo with his successor, and all of this nonsense (which we have all had to endure) will be over.

        You didn’t think being the first black President would be easy, did you?

      • 1mime says:

        OK, BW, now you have me fired up.

        “the spending should be ending.

        The PPACA needs to get straightened out. Lot’s of work for the GOP.

        The TEA Party guys aren’t wrong,”

        You have really drunk the kool-aid, BW. This President has presided over the second worst economic disaster in America’s history. He has made mistakes but spending isn’t one of them. There are many theories as to the best way to handle an economic crisis like ’08 – the countries that tried austerity are still struggling. America is on its way back.

        But – you say “stop spending”. Exactly – specifically – what programs would you cut, BW?

        Then you say the ACA needs to be straightened out….ok…we can agree with “changes” need to be to improve the plan OR replace the plan WITH SOMETHING THAT STILL ALLOWS MILLIONS OF AMERICANS TO HAVE ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE, QUALITY HEALTH CARE!

        Where’s the GOP plan? I submit that they want to go back to “what was” and screw all these other uninsured. Is that what you want? What would you do?

        The TP isn’t wrong. No, they are genuine concerns – but their focus is no narrowly defined and at the expense of others that that is what denigrates their platform. Their right to exist and lobby is absolute; their right to shut down government which jeopardizes the full faith and credit of the United States of America is NOT. Nor do I as an investor like when my investments take a hit from stupid stuff that is purely ego driven.

        Being the first Black President has been hard – but the GOP has tried their damnedest to make it impossible. Whoever is elected in ’16 as President will have my allegiance even if I oppose their election. Because: I respect the office of the President. Can you state that has ever been the case with Pres. Obama? No. Emphatically, NO. He has made lots of mistakes but he has worked hard, never complained, maintained his dignity, and tried. I give him good scores for that. He has seen us through the Great Recession, avoided wars, and improved people’s rights.

        We have different political allegiances BW, but those statements of yours don’t elevate you. You are a better person than that, I know.

      • Crogged says:

        So we face the horrifying problem that for most of the 238 years of our existence, we spend more than we tax, and depend on the full faith and credit of our government (and the pitiful asset which is our nation) to comfort those poor, frightened, huddled bond holders.

      • BigWilly says:

        What would I do if? If it’s all purely speculative I’d start by drawing down in the Middle East, and globally. Dismantle as much of the security apparatus in place as practicable. Thought we were getting a peace dividend there for awhile but it didn’t pan out.

        I’d make you illegal, of course. Homeland Security can go. The DOE can go. The NRA can go. Thee EEOC can go. Most of these agencies are unnecessary. The states can handle these matters better than the Federal Government.

        GSLs and grants have to go. We’re creating a new class of indentured servants. Academia’s largely a joke. You have to have a degree to qualify for a job the doesn’t really require it, but the businesses can demand it because we’ve overproduced college graduates. We still need tradesman. If you want to be a barista a Starbucks they want a PhD in Womyn’s studies with an emphasis on lesbianism. I think that’s a bit overqualified, and I don’t care to pay for it.

        I’ve had to be frugal with my scarce resources by necessity, and I’m tired of larding up the bums with my tax dollars.

        Of course you can’t forget the unholy troika of waste, fraud, and abuse which I think reassembles into TANF being decades long and SNAP equates to Funyuns and Grape Now and Laters.

      • 1mime says:

        And, the holiest of the unholy? SS, Medicare, VA, Medicaid, Workman’s Comp?

      • Crogged says:

        So let us ratify the Articles of Confederacy of Dunces lest we go broke in fifty years when no one knows how or why we print our scarce resources on pieces of paper.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        mime – Very passionate rebuttal, but I get the feeling BW agrees with you for the most part. Here I go translating for him again.

        BW, not sure why you would pick this phrase to criticize. It not like “You can keep your doctor”, or “Read my lips, no new taxes”, or even “I did not have sex with that woman”. Or something about WMDs.

        Who’s to say that the budget wasn’t reviewed line by line? I review my phone bill line by line last month. Then I paid it. Remember Obama thought he could negotiate with the other side for 6 years. Maybe hubris on his part? But he couldn’t.

        “The TEA Party guys aren’t wrong, they’ve just been punked by the admen and marketers who give us reality in a box. On Jan. 20, 2017 the President will clean out his desk, say goodbye to the staff, get in the limo with his successor, and all of this nonsense (which we have all had to endure) will be over.”

        They are not wrong to be concerned about their country, but their concerns are manufactured and very wrong. IMHO. And there is no way to get in front of them and show then a chart of declining deficit. No way to speak into their ear about their disappearing safety net. But we will not have the paranoid pushing the Muslim Kenyan line.

        What it will be replaced with, too early to tell. If Hillary is elected, it could lead to some funny stuff in the hinterlands. “White conservative men castrated by UN women in black helicopters”.

        “You didn’t think being the first black President would be easy, did you?”

        No, but as much as he was opposed on every turn, he did make it look easy, didn’t he?

        Send more Kenyans.

      • BigWilly says:

        “White conservative men castrated by UN women in black helicopters”.

        On a very real level the NWO is emerging around us. Stuff like Jade Helm is the tip of the iceberg. A ludicrous example like women in skin tight cat suits parachuting from the sky to kidnap, steal the semen, and then castrate the white male…gets you off the right path. It’s called a red herring in Sherlock talk.

        The VA? Does having a standing, professional, army bother you? I’m not too comfortable with it. Is it really obeying corporate orders, instead of the will or need of the American people.

        You can poo-poo conspiracy theory all you want, but ignore the evidence at your own peril.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        BigWilly – I cannot say I disagree with you greatly. I’m not into the NWO stuff but I’m convinced that we have a military that is way too big and way too secret. And a congress that will not oversee. Too many spy agencies that are surprised by too many things.

        Military manufacturing is just too profitable to control. I do fear we may have reached a point of no return. It will be difficult to bring under control. Eisenhower was right.

        A standing army would be ok if it wasn’t standing in Germany waiting for the Soviets to start the tank advance. And will we never trust the Asians to defend themselves? And for me, can we finally get the word out that the standing Army and National Guard replaced the militias of yore?

        Not sure what you see coming in the new world order but IMO it will come to us first and then spread to the rest of the world.

  7. vikinghou says:

    Getting back to the Politics of Crazy, what does everyone think about Donald Trump’s entry into the fray?

    He will be dangerous during the primaries because he’s sufficiently rich not to need donors to finance his campaign, and he isn’t afraid to say exactly what’s on his mind. I can see him throwing rhetorical bombs during the debates to which the other candidates will have to be extremely careful when responding. He won’t become the nominee, but he can do a lot of damage. I’m getting my popcorn ready.

    • Turtles Run says:

      Don’t worry about it. I brought enough for all of us.

    • RobA says:

      Maybe he’s a Manchurian Candidate for the GOP

    • Turtles Run says:

      Fly – I hear ya. He definitely has the derp dialed all the way to 10 (yes, I even have an image for that as well)

      1mime – Hence the clown car joke. I do not see Trump being so charitable that he is willing to spend millions of his own Ameros….I mean dollars to make Bush look good.

      • 1mime says:

        Turtles – You mean to say you don’t think Trump has a generous bone in his body?

        He may just be having fun – “billionaire-style”…..And, we know he loves the “stage”….

        In any case, he won’t make the final ten.

      • rightonrush says:

        No matter how much $$$ Donald has, he’s just another dépourvu d’intelligence in the GOP clown car.

      • 1mime says:

        In today’s Larry Sabato posting, he posits about the Clinton/Bush match up and the possible strategy of the Bush folks:

        “Jeb has to hope his enormous war chest and establishment backing propels him to the nomination, and then maybe voters in the fall of 2016 will want change badly enough that they’ll pick the Republican ticket, whatever their doubts about installing yet another Bush.

        In that sense, an election between a Bush and a Clinton might turn out to be more about the current occupant of the White House than either of the dynasties.”

        My comment: Hasn’t it always been about getting rid of Pres. Obama?

    • vikinghou says:

      I forgot to add that he’s going to be a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. I can’t remember the day they announced, however (hadn’t had enough coffee yet). It should be fun watching Mika roll her eyes.

    • johngalt says:

      Trump is a two-bit real estate developer whose career in most every parallel universe is building strip malls and cheap apartment complexes in Piscataway. Somehow, in this one, he got lucky, and it has given him delusions of grandeur. He may be the single least qualified presidential candidate in history, and I put Michelle Bachmann on that list. If nothing else, it’s gold for comedians, such as this gem from Colbert, which perfectly captured the tone of Trump’s announcement:

      • Crogged says:

        Jeb started something and I need to copyright this quick–Combover!

      • vikinghou says:

        Today on Morning Joe, Trump bragged that he has better hair than Marco Rubio. It was quite an interview.

      • Crogged says:

        Didn’t catch that–but saw ol’ Jeb ride around Iowa with some news anchor. Loves his grand-kids and their special Sunday afternoon’s, which is why he must be President because who knows what nation they will have unless he gives up that time with them. If only we all gave up more of our family time and worked harder, longer hours, what a special country we would have.

  8. 1mime says:

    This NYT article on ISIS is chilling. We are so focused on America and its challenges that it’s easy to ignore the stealth empire this dangerous group is building. How long will they be content within their current geographical location?

    It is a sobering, frightening piece.


    • vikinghou says:

      This sentence was most telling:

      “People may not be with the organization’s ideology, but the group has been able to give some stability, punish thieves and put in place a legal system,” he said. “In general, the normal people want no more than that.”

      Isn’t this was Saddam offered despite his excesses–until we upset the apple cart? This further illustrates that the West’s attempts to democratize the Middle East have been entirely futile. Reinvading the region would be a fool’s errand. I can’t understand why people still even listen to Lindsay Graham, John McCain, Bill Krystol and all the other neocons. At this point I believe the best we can do is be vigilant and work to prevent terror within our boundaries.

      While we’re at it, we can also start rebuilding our own country instead of squandering billions rebuilding the unrebuildable.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s probably more complex than you or I can appreciate, but IF the American people could vote on priorities in our country, you are most likely spot on: jobs, education, infrastructure, health, defense….in what order? I don’t know, but decades of investment in the Middle East has only cost more young American lives and enormous capital that we surely wish we had available to us to meet contemporary needs.

      • 1mime says:

        Viking, another thought about your observation about Hussein. It is impossible for us to understand the protracted, utter devastation Middle East people have endured. It is not hard for me to grasp why stability – even if it’s ISIL – is better than constant dysfunction and violence. These people have lost everything.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I do not suspect we will destroy ISIS/ISIL. I suspect they eventually will become large and organized enough to be expected to actually govern, and that will be where they find that all the fun stops.

      Yeah Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

      • flypusher says:

        I can see that happening as part of the ME throwing off those old borders imposed by the British and French. I think Syria and Iraq will soon cease to exist. Probably IS will be the Sunni state, a chunk of Iraq a Shia state, and the Kurds finally get a Kurdistan (although I’d nix the -Stan suffix; it has some bad baggage now.).

      • vikinghou says:

        So Joe Biden was right.

      • 1mime says:

        Biden was right – about a lot of things. Good man.

  9. flypusher says:

    With the SCOTUS ruling on King vs Burwell imminent, I really would love to read the minds of the GOPers who have been screaming the loudest over the ACA:


    It looks like they’ve set up the perfect lose-lose situation for themselves. Break out the nano-violins!

  10. flypusher says:

    To anyone in the Houston metro area or South Tx- I hope you’re in a dry comfy spot and don’t have to drive anywhere.

    • vikinghou says:

      I canceled appointments and stayed home today, but received little to no precipitation at my house near Meyerland (!). I dodged the bullet during the last storm thankfully. Weather forecasters now say we might be in for an overnight deluge. We’ll see…

      • flypusher says:

        I got yet another weather day off. I brought a bit of homework back with me, so I’ve spent the day writing on that, checking various blogs, playing on the clarinet, repeat. Very light rain in my neighborhood so far, but it isn’t over yet.

  11. bubbabobcat says:

    OT but more proof that far right wingnut climate change deniers are delusional, fact challenged faux victimization whiners who are themselves blind ideologues and paid shills as they hypocritically accuse the 97% of climate scientists of such.

    In other words a typical wingnut in all aspects of their political “philosophy”.

    I’m shocked, absolutely shocked I say.


    • 1mime says:

      Spunky, smart lady. But, climate deniers continue to practice “willful ignorance”. (Hope you read the article I linked to on this subject.)

  12. “Our complicated, confusing, and often contradictory mess of regulations has made it extremely difficult to run for office. It has also provided a surprising advantage for wealthy donors.”

    Nuthin’ surprising about it. The former is designed form the get go to further the latter. And so it goes with nearly *all* regulation, which ought to give one pause when considering the many-thousand-paged Dodd-Frank and ACA laws. There’s a reason why the insurance companies signed onto Obamacare, and that reason has absolutely nothing to do with fairness or reduced costs for thee and me. Follow the money. (If you can. You’d best pack a lunch, ’cause with the way those laws are written, it’s gonna be an all day job.)

    “Perhaps the simplest, most effective means to limit the power of organized bribery to subvert the public interest is to build our campaign-finance system on bedrock of full disclosure. Instead of limiting contributions by amount, we should impose authentic transparency.”

    BINGO! Go to the head of the class, Mr. Ladd. No limits, maximum sunlight – that’s how it should be. 🙂

    BTW, James Taranto penned a somewhat evil-grin-ish bit on this very subject just a few days ago:


    For those not subscribing to Journal, the heart of the matter:

    “Dark money distorting democracy, the possibility of corruption—these evils cannot be easily dismissed. To make the case in favor of the First Amendment, one must return to first principles.

    “The language of the amendment is unequivocal: ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.’ There is no exception for communications intended to influence elections; indeed, political speech has long been understood to be at the core of the First Amendment’s protection.

    “The founders were not oblivious to the possibility of corruption; indeed, bribery is the only crime other than treason that the Constitution specifically cites as a ground for impeachment. It follows that they viewed government control of expression as a greater evil than corruption, or they thought free expression was a more effective prophylactic against corruption than censorship, or both. As Justice Louis Brandeis put it in Whitney v. California (1927): ‘If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.’

    “This column must side with the founders and Justice Brandeis. Let the First Amendment continue to protect the New York Times Co.—and every other person.”

    Needless to say, Mssr. Taranto had just a little fun at the Hildebeast’s and the Gray Lady’s expense. 😉

    • 1mime says:

      Tracy: “The former is designed form the get go to further the latter. And so it goes with nearly *all* regulation, ”

      May I suggest that the same adage applies to taxes?

      • Indeed, 1mime. Hence my support for a modified Flat Tax. (Basically a simple, two-bracket progressive income tax where the first bracket is 0% – very similar that that proposed by presidential candidate and fount of all evil, Sen. Ted Cruz.)

        BTW, this is also the primary argument for severely limited federal government. As Neal Stephenson in his latest, “Seveneves,” had his heroine describe her father,

        “…[he grouses about] how his taxes are too high and the federal government needs to be scaled back to a size where he can personally stomp it to death with his steel-toed boots.”

        Amen. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! 😉

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy, talk about the flat tax gives me a rash, because I sense a deeply ingrained wish in that push to make our tax system ever more regressive. But the reality is that our tax system is already regressive, because despite progressive rate tiers, the moneyed interests have bought so many loopholes, exemptions, and special favors, that it becomes regressive. If the flat tax were to restore some honesty to this, then I’d listen, but can you really believe that we won’t start building loopholes even in the flat tax? It is not, in the end, a solution for political cowardice.

        The quote about stomping one’s government to death with steel-toed boots is so juvenile and, frankly, pitiful that it doesn’t really merit a serious response.

      • objv says:

        Tracy, just to be clear, are family run charitable foundations still OK? It must be nice to get $500.000 in speaking fees and donations from foreign entities eager to influence me. Please reply to me at objv2@objmail.com on my private email server.

      • objv says:

        Pass me the hydrocortisone cream, JG. Paying alternative minimum tax gives me a rash. Unfortunately, the government thinks my husband and I have too many deductions and have been taking them away for the past four years.

      • 1mime says:

        Welcome to retirement, Ob! If you are losing deductions, that means you are doing well, no? That must offer some pleasant compensation.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Big – There is no Billionaire Class. Next, in no sane GAP world with which I am familiar, can depreciation possibly be construed as ‘profit’. Then comes capital gains. How can you exempt personal property? Isn’t it all?

        And finally, and some of us are still shaking our heads at the apparent lack of understanding of the method, science makes no claim to infallibility. That is left to religion. If science were like religion, we’d still be bleeding people.

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty – You are correct about depreciation. We may disagree as to whether it’s been “gamed” for special interests, but it is a common business tax practice, not a “tax loophole”.

        How do you feel about tax laws that are narrowly defined to benefit special interests? We hear much these days about the benefit small business derives from the EX-IM Bank yet conservatives perceive this instrument as government subsidized funding. Why is this vehicle less credible than ethanol subsidies, or any other corporate subsidies? Could it be that big banks are behind the effort to repeal this entity even though the businesses who qualify through the EX-IM Bank have failed to get big bank loans? How is this a bad thing?

        WIKI: Its Charter spells out the Bank’s authorities and limitations. Among them is the principle that Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders, but rather provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not take place because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risks inherent in the deal.

      • objv says:

        Rats. Apparently there is such a thing as objmail.com. I thought I was making that up.

        Correction: Do not send any email there. Try Objvmail.com

      • BigWilly says:

        Doesn’t bleeding actually work? Leeching works, as icky as it seems, to help remove infected tissue. Theodoric of York, anyone?


        You mean G.A.A.P. or O.C.B.O.A if you like. I’m a genius with Alphabet Soup.

        You could argue that depreciation expense isn’t conservative enough and you should recognize expense when the cash goes out of your hand and recognize income when you have the cash in your hand. Anything else one should be very suspicious of, yessss?

        Your income statement would be like.
        I I IIIIIII
        I I I I
        I I I I I
        I I I I I
        I I I I

        A roller coaster. It’s a cruel method of accounting, I know.

      • “…but can you really believe that we won’t start building loopholes even in the flat tax? It is not, in the end, a solution for political cowardice.”

        johng, you’re right, of course. The income tax as it was first passed was actually quite simple. As with all things run by the government, over time the tax code grew ever larger and more complex, became increasingly unwieldy, increasingly unjust, and increasingly arbitrary. It’s like entropy; it’s just what government does.

        There is no permanent solution short of rewiring human nature. The Flat Tax merely represents a “pruning back,” so to speak. Over time it, too, will become increasingly baroque. It’s the way of the world. At some point it will require correction, just like the current tax code.

        The fact that government tends towards a certain Leviathan-like state over time is no reason to avoid redress of the problems we face. All we can do is what we can do; our descendants will have to clean up their own messes.

      • objv says:

        Mime, My husband and I aren’t retirement age yet – although if lay-offs continue we may find ourselves in that happy state sooner than we planned. 🙂

        Yes, I’m grateful that my husband has always had a good job, but as far as taxes are concerned, there few breaks for people in their peak earning years. In fact, deductions and credits such as those for college tuition are lost.

      • 1mime says:

        “there few breaks for people in their peak earning years. In fact, deductions and credits such as those for college tuition are lost.”

        Per our age difference, Ob, we had to educate our children without the benefit of a 529 plan. It was all savings. Also, there was no 401K plan available to us when we were in business as small business owners. The IRA was started which we took advantage of immediately – a whopping $500/yr each! There was no child care credit; no “cafeteria” deduction of XYZ expenses and when we were in business, interest rates zoomed into the teens, making it very challenging for small companies to expand. We managed by working hard, saving as much as we could, living simply, and having the good fortune to avoid catastrophe within our family such as what Lifer’s grandfather and father experienced. We did experience the horror of the 80s energy sector crash which roughly paralleled the losses of the 2008 Great Recession. That was hard.

        Our kids complain about the same issues you raise yet make six figure salaries and live very nice lifestyles – despite their tax load. I remind them that each generation helps the next – we pay school taxes (with the benefit of a senior deduction) yet have no children in school…but we do have grandchildren and we do understand that an educated populace benefits all, just as a strong, safe infrastructure, adequate (note not bloated) defense, and health care access do. Because our home is paid for, we have no mortgage interest deduction either. We do pay both federal and local taxes, so are participating still.

        I don’t know what the answer is to solving taxes but as Fifty said, it’s a mess. A deliberate mess. I do know this – if you experience a serious, lengthy chronic illness or disease in your family, you better be either dirt poor or have squirreled away a WHOLE lot more money than you ever imagined would be needed. With average age expectancy in America at 82 years, that probably gives you and your husband 20+ years to plan. Use the time wisely. And, bear in mind, this statement is coming from a couple who worked and saved.

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy – why does one need a flat tax for this? There is nothing inherently complicated about a progressively tiered income tax system, beyond the slightly harder math required. Remove the majority of deductions beyond a personal exemption and a few other carefully chosen things: charitable contributions, perhaps (with an important tweak that only those contributions used for actual charitable activities be counted) and other taxes paid. Do this and you could actually reduce the marginal tax rates, probably significantly. But I have absolutely no problem with the general philosophy that the tax rate on the millionth dollar of income should be higher than on the 50,000th dollar.

        And, yes, it would steadily get more complex as the lobbyists went to work. It does need to be revamped and simplified every once in a while to correct this.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I wouldn’t mind paying taxes so much if the government was efficient in using tax money wisely. It wastes billions.


        Although I don’t think a tiered system is necessarily a bad thing, the tax code needs pruning.

    • BigWilly says:

      Yes, but I know those “loopholes,” and they’re really not what you think they are. If you try to untangle the code to stop the big bad billionaire class from doing what it’s going to do anyway you’ll end up screwing what used to be the middle class in the process.

      How comfortable would you be with investing in a business that has expensed its’ assets in the year of purchase and realized the profit in subsequent years? Do you consider depreciation to be a “loophole?”

      Right now, if you meet the criteria, you can exclude up to 500k in capital gain when you sell your own home. That one’s the one you want to give up, right?

      And the 97% thing again. Is that the 97% of Doctors who recommend smoking to help loose weight? I’d be more inclined to buy into science as if it were religion if so many of the scientists didn’t unknowingly treat it as such.

      I believe you can pray the gay away. That’s my heresy of the day.

      • flypusher says:

        “And the 97% thing again. Is that the 97% of Doctors who recommend smoking to help loose weight? I’d be more inclined to buy into science as if it were religion if so many of the scientists didn’t unknowingly treat it as such.”

        If you truly think that is the mindset of scientists, then you don’t truly understand science, the people who do it, or how it is done. It is nothing like a religious belief.

        Also an MD degree doesn’t automatically mean you understand the research process.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crap – please see above…

      • 1mime says:

        BW, don’t worry – your tax loopholes are safe as long as the GOP governs the land. The vast majority of Americans want to keep SS and Medicare, but changes are going to have to be made in these programs in order for them to be sustainable. Same with other tax loopholes, including mortgage deduction, depreciation, etc etc. I am certainly not a tax expert but this much I do know: the priorities of the vast majority of Americans does not appear to be registering with Congress. It is all a matter of priority. Whose priority is key. When tax policy/regulations benefit large groups, then that might be a determinant for retention. When it benefits a narrow slice to the detriment of the vast majority – that should be an area of skepticism.

        No one here “hates” wealth. What most seem to abhor is unfairness. When the facts emphatically demonstrate that there is a huge income divide in America, regardless of the reason, this is concerning for a healthy nation. It’ s about more than economics, it’s also about how our country values and treats its people.

      • BigWilly says:

        If you exclude certain data which does not conform to the model you do so at your own peril. Science and religion are incompatible in your mind, but not in mine.

        I’d be inclined to believe your assessment if it weren’t so soundly backed up with raging dogma.

        This coming from someone who tortures tiny little things for profit.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Mime – Please don’t put depreciation in the category of “loopholes”. Just don’t. It’s like saying the ‘sound barrier’ is like the speed of light. (Hint: If ‘c’ is not constant, immutable, and inviolate, nothing, and I mean nothing, makes sense.)

        Think of it as ” asset entropy”.

      • flypusher says:

        “If you exclude certain data which does not conform to the model you do so at your own peril. Science and religion are incompatible in your mind, but not in mine.”

        Science and religion occupy different spheres, have different approaches, and answer different questions. To equate the two is to lack understanding of either one, or both.

        “I’d be inclined to believe your assessment if it weren’t so soundly backed up with raging dogma.

        This coming from someone who tortures tiny little things for profit.”

        Yep, you truly don’t get it.

      • Crogged says:

        He must be ascetic, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      • BigWilly says:

        You’re a jackass. What more is there to be gotten?

      • flypusher says:

        Yes, how jackass of me, to point out that you are wrong.

        Such thin skin is its own punishment.

      • BigWilly says:

        You’re still a jackass. I asked you a fairly innocuous question about science and you responded with useless invective. More inclined to listen to you, but you a demonstrably a dullard.

        fiftyohm shut up before you get sued for detrimental reliance.

      • flypusher says:

        You asked me nothing. You made an incorrect statement comparing science to religion, and your low opinion of me for pointing that out doesn’t change the incorrectness. But I’m quite happy to return to ignoring your posts if you want to carry on with that level of ignorance.

      • BigWilly says:

        Mull is mill so mill I willed. Perhaps I should have asked you a direct question. I can see how you misunderstood what I was saying.

        Do you think the current understanding of evolutionary biology is complete and perfect? Do you think the current understanding of human evolution is complete and perfect?

        I saw an interesting article on fruit fly behavior under stress. It seems the flies exhibit something like anger. Do you think that our understanding of consciousness is complete and perfect?

        If science and religion merge within my mind its the result of a unitary consciousness on my part. I understand the textbooks definitions, but at some point in time it is necessary to dispense with textbooks and apply the knowledge forward.

        I have advance a number of facetious and tongue in cheek arguments, largely to see what my fly would do…err population on which I projected the sample results upon.

        Marsha, Marsha, Marsha you can still be a jackass. You can even be a Democrat (also a jackass cased you didn’t know).

        Fitty-depreciation expense matches the income derived in the period to the usage of the asset to produce said income. I had never considered asset entropy from accounting. Assets have a tendency to decay into total randomness? I’d considered 39 years, perhaps, in an asset life as a max from a bookkeeping standpoint. Entropy, what does this mean to an accountant?

      • flypusher says:

        Well that’s better, but if you are going to look at any branch of science and demand that everything be “complete and perfect”, you will condemn yourself to an eternity of spinning your wheels. Far more useful to ask things like ” does it make testable predictions?”, “how well has it stood up to the testing?”, “is it the best explanation for the data?”, and “are there any useful applications for this model?”. For evolution, the answers are yes, exceptionally well, absolutely yes, and oh hell yes.

      • 1mime says:

        Well said, Fly.

      • RobA says:

        Science and religion are fundamentally opposites.

        Science starts with no ego whatsoever. There is not ONE idea that is formulated BEFORE empirical and repeatable evidence supports it. Basically, you start from square one, run exoeriments/tests/collect data, and you must then go wherever thw result leads us.

        Science is not ever infallible. Science has absolutely no problem saying “we just don’t know at this point” (such as how inorganic amino acids first became what is known as life). Science doesn’t mind being proven wrong. In fact, it loves it. It means we have increased the accuracy of our collective knowledge. Almost EVERY scientist out there is trying very hard to either further established knowledge OR completely overturn established knowledge. If a scientist makes a discovery that comoletely invalidates what was thought of as “established science” that scientist is celebrated and praised.

        Religion is almost the exact opposite in every way. It demands blind obedience and shuns questions. “Because we say so” is basically what ever argument boils down too. It rarely changes, and when it does its because it’s previous positions have become laughably untenable, and it does so very grudgingly. If a clergyman demonstrates that established dogma is wrong, that person is persecuted, not celebrated.

        Whereas science starts from square 1 and let’s the facts take it to its destination (wherever that may be) religion STARTS with the destination and then tries to shoehorn “facts” in to support the predetermined thesis.

        Religion is belief without evidence. Science is believe NOTHING without evidence.

        They are fundamental opposites and anyone who thinks they can reconcile doesn’t understand both.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Mime – (Not sure where to put this, but I think I started the confusion…)

      Re: the tax code, et. al. Do I believe the tax code is a disgusting labyrinth of special-interest suck-ups, twisted notions of ‘fairness’, and is generally socially destructive as a result? Damn right I do. Do I abhor corporate welfare? Can’t stand it. On these things, we disagree not at all.

      On EX-IM Bank, and corporate welfare, please see the following: http://www.wsj.com/articles/tim-phillips-1402869142 The executive summary is that about 75% of the loans for exports go to 10 small businesses like like Boeing, General Electric, and Dow. My mind is not made up regarding whether the essential concepts of financial assistance and risk assumption for private business by government are a good things or not. (Or in all cases.) A closer look at the example of EX-IM suggests that attempt at least, has some serious issues.

      I think that *all* government activities carry with them an inherent risk of ‘unfairness’ do to the influence of special interests. (It is an inescapable reality that cannot be ‘fixed’. We have to live with it, and be on guard for it. To some extent, the “cure” is worse than the disease. See the parent post and the unintended consequences of same.) The more complex the program, the greater the risks. As Tracy mentioned above, where was the squawking about the ACA from the insurance companies? Or the AMA? Or big pharma? This was a program that redirected and restructured a larger segment of the US economy than any on modern times, and directly on the playing field of those just mentioned. And they effectively said not a word. Does this suggest anything to you? I think it should.

      • 1mime says:

        I value your intelligence and objectivity, fifty. That’s why I directed my question to you. Regarding the Ex-Im Bank issue, people feel strongly on both sides. The Houston Chronicle has done a great deal of reporting from the small business viewpoint – and these are not “little” Boeing guys. These are genuine small business people who are trying to enter a broader market and unable to get traditional bank financing. Whether they should or not, is another question. I have also read (can’t cite source right this minute) that the Ex-Im bank has produced a solid return for the U.S. Gov’t. I am sure there are diametrically opposed views on this but it is something I am interested in and wanted your input.

        Per Tracy’s remarks about the “chief” beneficiaries of the ACA. You certainly won’t hear me deny that! Nor will you hear me proclaim its perfection. It is a flawed, negotiated attempt to expand health care access. Lots of entities benefited in exchange for their participation just as they did with “W’s” RX plan. At least the ACA cost was not “off budget” as this was. The pharmaceutical companies seem to always come out smelling like roses – no matter who they negotiate with. The individual user, not so much.

        Where I come down on this particular issue is that it is tragic that in a country of our sophistication and wealth that SOMEONE can’t design a health program that offers affordable, quality health care for our people – all our people. I don’t have the magic answer to this but there is something seriously wrong in a country like ours – the proud leader of the world – when the leading cause of personal bankruptcy is due to health related issues. I have no problem going to another concept if it reaches more people. Lifer offers an interesting idea or two on this subject which probably deserve being evaluated.

        The conundrum as Lifer points out in his book, is how to offer responsible, appropriate government support within realistic, affordable means and reach the broadest possible number of people . We may disagree on many things, but I’ll bet we do agree that that is not happening now – and seems elusive without a major shift in policy, tax structure, and priorities.

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, the WSJ link won’t open as I am not a subscriber so I couldn’t read the article.

      • fiftyohm says:

        ” I’ll bet we do agree that that is not happening now – and seems elusive without a major shift in policy, tax structure, and priorities.”

        We do indeed, 1mime.

        And BTW, re: the Journal article: The cotton-pickin’ thing was moved behind the paywall since I posted it! Sorry about that. Perhaps our host’s current 15 minutes, (hopefully much more!), has placed us all under greater scrutiny?

      • 1mime says:

        FYI. Jeffrey Immelt was interviewed on Charlie Rose tonight. They touched on lots of issues, one of which was the Ex-Im Bank and Trade Policy. If he is someone who interests you, you can pull up the interview on charlierose.com. Very smart guy and seems nice, too (-:

    • Creigh says:

      Tracy, re the Taranto column. That column deliberately and, in my opinion, disingenuously conflates freedom of speech and press with any spending of money on political commercials. The First Amendment recognizes speech and press as separate modes of communication. I’d say today we have four separate modes that are important for political discourse; speech, press, broadcast media, and Internet. One of these things is not like the others. Speech, press, and Internet are inherently democratic because anyone can participate if they make a minimal effort. Broadcast is different, due to licensing and physical limitations in the electromagnetic spectrum. You can’t have a TV or radio license, and I can’t either. McCain-Feingold recognized this, and limited spending restrictions to broadcast media.

      Perhaps (probably?) Chris is right that any restrictions would not be effective in practice, but the Citizens United ruling that overturned most of McCain-Feingold was wrongly decided on technical as well as moral grounds.

  13. Anse says:

    I think, Chris, you have overlooked one very significant thing that is relatively new, and is very much about the influence of money, and that’s lobbying. Not the act of lobbying Congress, exactly; I have no problem with various organizations sending people to Washington to bend the ear of legislators. That’s how our republican democracy is done, and we all have some lobbyist working our behalf, no matter our political stripe. The problem is the revolving door between lobbying and serving in Congress. It is my understanding that something like half of all the people who serve in Congress end up getting a cushy lobbyist’s job after they leave office. Eric Cantor is one who leaps to mind; after years of being a shill for the big banks, he now pulls down $400,000 a year as a lobbyist for them (and I’m sure he gets a pension from his work in Congress, too).

    I have a serious problem with the way campaigns are run. They’re too long, too nasty in their tone, and this perpetual campaigning is the thing that makes voters cynical and turns people off of politics altogether. I don’t actually think it’s easy to throw an election your way by spending a ton of money on it (mainly because the media is so diverse now, younger voters probably don’t even watch much prime time television, at least not the traditional networks where the bulk of political ads are). But politics is a huge industry for a lot of people now. It’s a great source of wealth for the folks running SuperPACs and various organizations that are feeding off the campaigns. It’s not good for our country.

    • goplifer says:

      While I agree that the situation you describe is not what we want to see happening, I’m not so convinced it undermines my point. Politics, considering the importance of the matters at stake, is absolutely trivial in its size as an economic unit. We spend more on Easter candy each year than both candidates spent in the last Presidential election cycle.

      As someone who has been on the fringes of politics my whole life I can tell you this with authority – there is no money to be made in politics. It’s a dry hole. An average young person will make more money over the course of a career in teaching than they will in a political career of almost any kind. Well, maybe not teaching in Texas, but you get my point.

      If Eric Cantor had gone into business instead of politics and reached a similar level of achievement, he would have been earning millions a year for a long time already. He’s doing his best to catch up, but he never will. There’s just not enough money in it. $400,000 a year sounds like a lot, but for the level of energy and achievement you have to rack up to even be in striking distance of those jobs, it’s a personal economic catastrophe.

      And the nastiness of these perpetual campaigns? Again, I don’t like it, but you have to place it in perspective. I’m about 400 pages into a biography of Alexander Hamilton. Our politics is a powder-puff football game compared to what our Founders were engaged in.

      Our best course to improve the situation from it’s present, pretty decent condition? 1) Aggressive disclosure, 2) a smaller, more modest government.

      • 1mime says:

        Certainly disclosure (very difficult to attain here in TX) and the kind of smaller, more productive government you describe in your book, would help. BTW, your idea about every individual receiving a stipend from Uncle Sam to “even the opportunity playing field” is interesting but it would never work without the health care component. I’m in your “solution” to societal malfunction section and I have to say you are not afraid to challenge the status quo! I have to wonder, however, if the safety net would not be a huge priority (over defense) if every American could vote on it. Reduce corporate subsidies alongside a streamlined but sufficient safety net and you have greater priority balance, in my view. Your ideas are creative and I like that.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Lifer – “Our best course to improve the situation from it’s present, pretty decent condition? 1) Aggressive disclosure, 2) a smaller, more modest government.”

        Disclosure? I can not believe that it is not a given. I cannot wrap my head around, at this stage, we have to fight or beg, to know who is buying our government.

        A smaller government? I am worried that in a “new” economy, where actual jobs are hard to find, the government may become the employer of last resort. Efficiency may not be high on our list when large numbers work at “make work”.

      • Creigh says:

        Lifer, why smaller government? More efficient government, certainly. More effective government, absolutely. Government not doing X, because negative consequence Y, OK. But smaller for the sake of smaller, I don’t get it. Why?

  14. 1mime says:

    Gun laws – an old topic here, OT to this specific discussion except as it reinforces special interests and the political process. The irony here is that the NRA is protesting a proposed bill that would tighten hand gun law licenses. (See article for details.) The same conservatives who don’t want hand more restrictive gun licenses are quite willing to support 24-48 hr waits for women seeking abortions. “We” only favor tighter restrictions on things that don’t constrain us in our particular interests.

    I’ll wait for the gun guys to respond. I’m certain they’ll speak up.


    • 1mime says:

      Since I’m already on the OT edge, here, I want to share Neil deGrasse Tyson’s elegant response on a current issue (Houston Chronicle, 6/15/15).

      Q. “You think a lot about science and society. And there are all these questions about evolution, genetically modified crops, climate change and such. Why do you think people are so willing to doubt science when the facts are pretty clear?

      A: I think the science is not being properly taught in school, or (what’s) being incompletely taught is the understanding of what science is, how it works and why it works. If that were considered a fundamental part of science education nobody would be asking those questions. Because they would understand that science is not to be cherry-picked in the service of your political, cultural or religious philosophies. As I say, science is true whether or not you believe in it. On the research frontier science is wrong all the time. But when you start getting experimental agreement, when it’s been tested multiple times by multiple people in multiple ways, that’s the sign of a new truth of the universe.”

      What a guy!

      • Doug says:

        “But when you start getting experimental agreement, when it’s been tested multiple times by multiple people in multiple ways, that’s the sign of a new truth of the universe.”

        Exactly right. And it’s too bad that we don’t have a few dozen spare worlds to experiment on regarding CO2. Multiple computer models do not constitute experimental agreement. So I’ll see your Tyson and raise you a Dyson.


      • 1mime says:

        Freeman Dyson is a remarkable man but if we’re choosing which scientist to believe, I stay with Tyson and the vast majority of scientists who support Global Warming. As I have stated so many times before, we know man is introducing negative gases, products, etc into our environment. Rather than get into an either or contest, for me it’s as simple as let’s each do our part. Believe what you will. We only have one world at this point, and I am concerned about what is happening to it – as simplistic a view as that is, that’s where I come down.

      • flypusher says:

        “Exactly right. And it’s too bad that we don’t have a few dozen spare worlds to experiment on regarding CO2. Multiple computer models do not constitute experimental agreement. So I’ll see your Tyson and raise you a Dyson.”

        I’ll see your physicist who critiques use of computer models (not without merit), and raise you one who analyzed data:


        If computer modeling were the ONLY leg the climate scientists have to stand on, Dyson would have much more of a case. But there are other ways to investigate. You can look at the physical marks of the past. The carbon long sequestered from the cycle has its own effect of the atmospheric carbon isotope signature when it’s put back in.

        Dyson’s comments on agriculture strike me as very naïve. More CO2 isn’t the only factor to consider- what about the effects of increased temperature and availability of water (via changes in rainfall patterns)? And as I’ve already pointed out in a past post, the changes (from more heat or more CO2) in the nutritional value of wheat (a major staple crop) the experiments are pointing to would NOT be favorable to humans. Also growing faster is not always growing better-which trees produce better wood (for human purposes) oaks or tallows?

        Sure a control planet would be the absolute best way to test climate hypotheses. But to paraphrase an infamous GOPer, you go with the experimental methods you have, not the ones you wish you had.

        Also, if anyone is seriously proposing the death penalty for disagreement on this issue, they are flat out wrong. Of course I can’t judge the seriousness of it, given that the author didn’t bother to quote any of it or provide all of the context. But even in jest such statements would be counterproductive, and people should knock that @#&% off.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      The NRA that did not get much bang for their buck in the last election cycle is still pushing the buy more now agenda. I am waiting to see if the same ruse works for the next year. Will the people who are being flimflammed into buying more and more hardware because Obama is going to stop these sales any day now.

      Plus get your camo bug out bag half off this weekend only!!!!!! (made in china)

    • 1mime, two separate (old) topics here; I’ll take a swing at each.

      1) First, grok that the law does not restrain the lawless. At best, the law merely provides society with the means for justifying and codifying the punishment of transgressors *after* they have transgressed. Criminals, sociopaths and maniacs of all stripes simply do not obey gun laws. It then follows that the primary, if unintended, purpose of strict handgun laws is to endanger the weak and defenseless. Understand this in no uncertain terms: strict handgun laws and handgun waiting periods *kill* women. To wit (and this is only the most recent tragic example):


      2) Speaking of the NRA as a special interest group, bear in mind that an annual membership to the NRA costs a whopping grand total of 25 bucks. The NRA has 4+ million members. (I happen to be a lifetime member.) 4+ million at $25 a head per year is a bucket o’ coin. The NRA is the very definition of a real grassroots organization.

      • 1mime says:

        Nah, handgun regulation that is fairly designed doesn’t hurt anyone. There will always be criminals. As for the economic largess of the NRA – that is impressive when one divides $4M by $25….meaning ” I get the huge membership part”. That doesn’t make them right just because they are numerous. But the money does help them in exactly the way Lifer proposes: access and influence and the ability to market their ideas. The NRA in my view is a business.

      • johngalt says:

        That leaves 316,000,000 Americans who are not members of the NRA or, if I can do the math 98.75% of the country who do not feel that unrestricted gun rights are worth even $25.

        Just a question: $25 x 4 million is $100 million. The NRA’s budget is estimated at $250 million per year. Where does the rest come from? And why?

      • 1mime says:

        Insightful comment, JG. And, the math example in reverse is an interesting twist. Mainly, as I said, the NRA is a business and has unfortunately been very effective in their lobbying efforts. The NRA is second only to Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform – which I find particularly objectionable.

      • 1mime says:

        Tracy – you never answered my question in a prior blog: Why do U.S. military institutions forbid cadets to bring weapons onto campus (exception – specific exercises where weapons are required)?

      • johng and 1mime, nobody is restricted to giving *only* $25/yr. to the NRA. Even though I’m a lifetime member, I regularly toss in additional dollars. I don’t have the numbers at hand, but I’m pretty confident the annual member donation to the NRA exceeds $25 by quite a bit.

        With respect to weapons on our military academy campuses, understand that it was not always so, nor was it always so for our military bases. It’s also important to understand the history of English and U.S. military forces in general, and the tension between enlisted and officer ranks during times of conscription. Access to weapons outside of (and sometimes even within) the battlefield has always been carefully regulated in our military.

        That aside, I’d apply the Texas campus carry law to any of our military academies in a heartbeat. I think it’s quite reasonable.

        As an aside, my son is a USNA graduate. During his 1/C and 2/C years he served as a range instructor. He’s related that it’s pretty much the scariest thing he’s ever done (and he’s an SH-60 pilot). The young men and women who attend our military academies are a slice of America, no more or less likely to be well acquainted with firearms than the general public. Teaching safe firearms handling to large groups of the completely uninitiated is not a task for the faint of heart. And to be fair, most of our academy graduates go into military jobs in which they will never touch a handgun or rifle again. (Nor would such individuals be likely to take the time to obtain a CHL in the first place. Time is the one thing midshipmen *never* have enough of.)

      • 1mime says:

        Following the Korean Conflict, my husband did a stint teaching cadets at West Point. He was totally impressed by their commitment, professional conduct and skills. It was a great experience for him.

        Our grandson just shipped out Saturday from Great Lakes to Coronado Beach for the 3rd leg towards his goal of becoming a Navy Seal. He’s a fine young man – don’t know if he’ll “make it”, but it is his plan.

        BTW, “it’s just what government does”…..”government” as a term gets a bad rap for the things people do in the name of government.

      • 1mime, all the best to your grandson! Prior to his current stint at NAVSPECWARCOM, my brother was XO at BUD/S. My nephew will likely be one class behind your grandson. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up serving together. 🙂

      • Oh, and 1mime, one thing: Much like Soylent Green, government is people. That was really the brilliance of the Framers; they understood all too well the vicissitudes of human nature, and designed accordingly. We depart from those safeguards at our own peril.

        BTW, that’s one of the chief differences between the Scottish and European schools of the enlightenment. Our gang didn’t buy in to that whole Rousseauean “noble savage” nonsense. As a result we got to miss out on fun parties like the Reign of Terror and its descendants on down through the Holocaust and Stalin’s “purges.” But, hey, if you want to operate on the principle that government is completely benign, even though the people it’s comprised of are anything but, why, knock your lights out. Go ahead, continue to vote for ever larger, ever more powerful government. Just don’t come complainin’ when you find yourself a prisoner on the reservation.

      • 1mime says:

        American government – benign?! Surely ye jest! No, I’m simply trying to make the point in the other direction – people who despise, distrust, or fear government really are transferring their emotions to an empty vessal….people are government, even when they are irresponsible government representatives (I hestitate to use the term “servants”…for all the obvious reasons). I do think the founders did an incredible job to design a structure that could last centuries; although, they never could have imagined the changes of today, nor we, the changes of tomorrow! You work with the government you have…and change it as necessary. It is a “living” thing. It’s people, after all (-: Lifer has some innovative ideas about changes that would improve government’s efficiency and fairness. Hope his ideas get some exposure with his book’s release.

        As messy as Democracy is, it mostly functions…we can debate separately which areas need tweaking, but it is what it is until it isn’t.

        BTW, my grandson’s first name is Trent – from TX. That would be neat. Both young men have a lot more to experience in coming weeks/years. Fine program but demands the heart and soul of these young men. Not much left over for a “normal” life, but, then, when one aspires to be a SEAL, that’s a given.

  15. vikinghou says:

    For me, the time spent campaigning, let alone the money, has gotten completely out of hand. Once someone gets elected, he/she starts running for the next term (if available) right away. Heaven forbid they concentrate on the job they were elected to do. I’m already tired of the 2016 election. All the debating and primaries are going to be exhausting, not to mention having to watch all of the ads. I often envy the Brits and their system. Campaigning and elections are over within a few weeks. Much more civilized.

  16. goplifer says:

    Brent & Duncan,

    In a hurry this morning, but suffice to say there’s a reason I never wrote or posted about that study when it came out. The notion that policy ideas endorsed by the least economically affluent Americans are less likely to become law than those endorsed by more affluent citizens seems so obvious as to lay in realm beyond study. I’m not sure what interesting conclusion we are supposed to draw from that.

    • 1mime says:

      I would say that the conclusion one could realistically draw, Chris, is that money does make a difference in elections – and – both from “who” can enter the process and the issues that are addressed. The average Americans’ issues are being marginalized to well-funded special interests, especially at the state and national levels. I agree with Brent and Duncan in their views. We may be wrong but we are probably better informed than most Americans about things politic and we STILL feel this way, despite your excellent tutelage. How then, can we expect the average person to feel? That their needs matter? When all the news from the GOP is all about removal of the safety net that critical in so many ways with no realistic replacement? As you so ably point out in your book, changes need to be made in this regard but with respect and recognition for responsibly designed supports that broaden peoples’ choices thus incentivizes their ability to participate. The old “hand up vs hand out” philosophy, which I emphatically support.

      The only place where I have witnessed a different outcome is at the local level. Typically, the people who run are ‘known” in the community. Money is not as significant as personal history. The further up the pyramid one move in politics – state/national – the more difficult it is for the candidate to spend real time with people and discussing issues as the search for campaign funds trumps. It’s pure logistics. Grassroot efforts matter tremendously, as Obama’s ground game proved and as the Tea Party has demonstrated, but both have been very competitive in fundraising. The other advantage the TP has are people who have leisure time to participate. Absent volunteer time, it has to be paid staffing. Again, cost.

      It’s redemptive for Sassy to experience a concrete demonstration of how the democratic process can work – personal contact, issues, etc. That this still happens is great, but few candidates can survive the financial part of the process, which relegates the issues of ordinary Americans once more to the back seat of the process. I understand where you are coming from in your analysis of money/politics, but I don’t agree with you based upon a long history of participating and watching the political process….even though I readily admit the process has morphed into a completely different game from where I entered. As you note in your book -“all politics is local” is not so true anymore.

    • 1mime says:

      My son shared this excellent piece with me from The Chronicle of Higher Education. It is absolutely OT and a great read.

      “We have entered an age of willful ignorance…..There is simple ignorance and there is willful ignorance, which is simple ignorance coupled with the decision to remain ignorant. Normally that occurs when someone has a firm commitment to an ideology that proclaims it has all the answers — even if it counters empirical matters that have been well covered by scientific investigation. More than mere scientific illiteracy, this sort of obstinacy reflects a dangerous contempt for the methods that customarily lead to recognition of the truth. And once we are on that road, it is a short hop to disrespecting truth.”


    • duncancairncross says:

      That study is well worth a read
      They actually talk about that point
      To paraphrase
      What if the reason that the wealthy get their way is that they are normally “correct”?
      And that “their way” is the best way?
      A quick examination of our economic and social history does not support this hypothesis!!!

      “policy ideas endorsed by the least economically affluent Americans are less likely to become law than those endorsed by more affluent citizens”

      Then I would probably be OK with that

      BUT that is not what the study found
      The study found that
      Policy ideas endorsed by the least economically affluent Americans that are opposed by more affluent citizens simply NEVER become law
      Not less likely – doesn’t happen!
      Something 80% of the population is in favor of if opposed by 1% – will NOT HAPPEN

      That is a whole different ball game from – less likely –

  17. the study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page at Princeton at least demonstrates that popular policy proposals never get a hearing (google “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens”). They went so far as to declare us an oligarchy and no longer a representative democracy.

    Sorry Chris that study totally torpedoed the idea that “money does not buy politicians”

    And that study was from data BEFORE the current money floodgates were opened!!!

    It’s well worth a good long read –
    I have long been a pessimist as far as the effects of money are concerned but I was blown away at the totality of the observed data

    There are “Theories” about how money effects politics but that was an actual study and it’s truly frightening

  18. Brent Uzzell says:

    I’m not sure how this fits with your analysis Chris but the study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page at Princeton at least demonstrates that popular policy proposals never get a hearing (google “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens”). They went so far as to declare us an oligarchy and no longer a representative democracy.

    As mentioned in a previous comment money and monied interest do go a long way in determining who runs and who is viewed as a “serious” candidate worthy of press coverage.

    Lastly, I always flinch when the mention of citizen participation comes up. First, participation requires leisure, which the silent death of the 40 hour week has vanquished), and it requires institutional structures for organization and issue education. We used to have Union halls and other local meeting places to facilitate political engagement but as with so many other venues of social capital they have been sytematically dismantled.

    • 1mime says:

      That is so true, Brent. The church has traditionally served as the meeting hall for members of the Black community to engage on issues. They served the dual purpose of religious reinforcement and political interaction. Religious fundamentalists appear to be doing the same thing with a radically different ideology though both utilize religion as their mainstay.

      The advent of television and computers both expands and contracts our individual worlds. The personal engagement aspect of campaigns is only a component of modern campaigns. This is why so many Americans feel Congress is out of touch with average peoples’ needs. They simply don’t grasp the reality of day to day challenges of working people as their world moves in a completely different arc. The exception to this, of course, are local campaigns. At least we start off right.

  19. BigWilly says:

    I ran two campaigns in Wisconsin’s 9th Assembly District back in the 90’s. The first race, in ’94, received 42% of the vote in general election. We raised less than 5k, mostly from friends and relatives. Of that 5k about 2k came in the form of a semi-restrictive grant from the state.

    I had a great time. The candidate was my VP from the CRs. The district was almost entirely in the City of Milwaukee. So we walked the blocks, big time.

    Us poor people can be highly influential if we focus on the ground game and stop getting distracted by all of the “national” issues. School boards and other low turnout elections are the best choices. State Senate up is a lot harder to walk without a mass effort.

    This is where the TEA Party, or anyone or group with discipline, can take make the difference. There might be a blue wall, but it can be breached.

    I don’t know what to tell you about the big money elections. They’re not for me. They size up your ability to maintain the consultancy within seconds. I still like to tell them I’m the Lord of Gondwanaland. Sorry folks, you’re dialectically materialist atheists can be found down the street. Get you soullessness out of here.

    • 1mime says:

      Big Willy – I agree. Local campaigns for office can be the most satisfying. They “exemplify” what most of us would like the political process to be like – personal, issue-focused, not “all about money”. Many state office contenders spring from local office experience. So, it makes sense to send the good ones up from the ranks, as it seems increasingly difficult to remove those who aren’t performing like you want. Glad you had such a great experience.

  20. stephen says:

    I fully agree that as long as full discloser is the law there should not be any limit on campaign donations. With that those donations could hurt more than help a candidate. People are smart enough to realize that their interest and special interest often do not align.

  21. goplifer says:

    Has the cost of running a political campaign actually risen? Everyone seems to assume that without taking a close look at the numbers.

    In inflation-adjusted terms Senate campaign spending has actually declined over the past few decades. House races have grown slightly more costly, but this probably has more to do with the rising competitiveness of House seats – another counter-intuitive trend we’ve been seeing over recent decades.

    To a certain extent, long political trends suffer from a climate/weather conundrum. We only perceive weather. Massive climatic trends go largely unnoticed. Likewise, we only perceive recent headlines. We struggle to grasp the realities behind long term trends.

    Looking a politics from top to bottom I think you’ll observe a very slight increase the cost of political campaigning in the past half-century, if not a slight decline. Money isn’t the core problem with our political system right now. What is weakening our political system is our trend toward disengagement in public life.

    • goplifer says:

      Ugh. That was a supposed to be a reply. Goofed it.

    • briandrush says:

      One of the consequences of the Citizens United decision is that a lot more political spending is done not by campaigns but by third parties. Counting that spending into the mix, yes, political money has risen dramatically and continues to rise. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/06/2012-overview/

      What causes disengagement from public life? What else but the perception that neither party and no candidate represents the people they are supposed to? And if that perception is true, then what is the cause of that, except for the veto power that money exerts over who can run?

      You look at today’s Republican Party with dismay. I can tell you that those of us on the left aren’t terribly happy with the Democrats, either. They may not be insane in the same way, and they may not be Confederates out to destroy the nation, but too many of them are in the pockets of the plutocrats. Barack Obama has been a great disappointment, and by no means all of that is a result of Republican obstructionism. Much of it is on him.

      If both parties represent the plutocrats, not the people, isn’t disengagement a perfectly rational response? But there may be a solution to this, and it’s bottom-up rather than top-down. I like what I see in regard to internet activism, part of which involves a movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. We may be in the process of transitioning from a representative to a direct democracy, or at least of incorporating a lot more direct democracy into our decision-making process.

      • goplifer says:

        The first issue is that those calculations aren’t based on inflation adjusted-figures. The second problem is that its impossible to separate third party spending on campaigns from third party spending on lobbying – another of the step-children of Citizens United.

        To further complicate matters, most of this spending was completely dark until McCain/Feingold, making comparisons over a time range nearly impossible.

        From experience on the ground I can tell you that it is very difficult to buy political outcomes. It can be done and it is regularly done. Texas’ payday loan program was bought and paid for, for example. But it takes much more than campaign contributions.

        Just like any other kind of advocacy, the kind of work carried out by small clusters of gazillionaires routinely fails unless it’s paired with grassroots activism. And that brings the debate full circle. Money becomes just one more extension of expression.

        It seems to be me that the best response to money in politics, especially in light of the Citizens United decision, is to require very proactive disclosure. No more tax-deductible political advocacy of any kind. No more secret donor lists. Money becomes an extension of everyone’s personal advocacy. Every donation is publicly listed within 48 hours. No donations to candidates or interest groups can be spent until they are public. Drop almost all of the rest of the rules. They are mostly just a smokescreen for bad behavior.

      • 1mime says:

        I completely agree with your suggestions about full disclosure of all campaign donations, but, how can that be achieved in today’s political process? The GOP holds the majority in Congress and they would need to be the ones to pass it – even if Dems participate (which I believe they would be in support). Given the C.U. ruling, would Congressional action be the only requirement?

      • Crogged says:

        As to our esteemed (and published!) author’s points. In 2012 the campaign of the “she turned me (three times) into a Newt!” presidential candidate was bankrolled by one mega rich donor and he steamrolled all the way to 138 delegates, falling only 1,306 delegates short of the 1,444 needed to capture the nomination. Then there was the campaign of Eric Cantor, wild eyed liberal backed by the impoverished Republican establishment and his overwhelming, now seeking other opportunities, election result.

        Money is overrated in elections, as in ‘Look at all those zeros and damn commercials!”, but underrated when it comes to the thesis of Virginia Woolf in her essay, “A Room of One’s Own”.

  22. briandrush says:

    The idea that limits on individual campaign contributions has worsened the problem is one I haven’t considered before, but I have to say it’s probably a line where our progressive-conservative disagreements may take precedent over our alliance against a common, crazy foe. I’m not at all sure you’re right about this, and it seems to me that it may represent post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. If the total cost of running a political campaign had remained the same, you might have a case (limits on donation amount mean candidates need to seek more donors), but that’s not so; the cost of campaigns has increased dramatically, precisely because rich donors are flooding the process with more money than ever before, so candidates need a bigger warchest to compete against opponents with deep pockets. Also, the Citizens United decision effectively removes the limits on individual donations by allowing the money to be funneled through entities not formally aligned with any candidate or party.

    “Yet buying a political outcome in our system is harder now than it has ever been. It costs more; it requires more effort, energy, and coordination; and more attempts fail than succeed.”

    This, I submit, represents a misunderstanding of the way that money in politics operates. Money never buys an election, or hardly ever. Instead, it exerts veto power over who can run and what issues can be raised. Of the declared candidates in the 2016 presidential election, the one that polls say is most in tune with the voters on economic issues is Bernie Sanders, and he’s definitely a left-wing outlier. Why? Because the capitalists who fund campaigns forbid raising the sort of issues that he does, and so normally solutions such as he is offering are never offered, and people never have a chance to vote on them. There are differences between Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidates on economic issues, to be sure, but nothing like the incredible gulf between her and them on social issues — which, as a class, capitalist donors don’t care about (although individually, of course they may).

    As you’ve pointed out earlier, whoever wins the Democratic nomination is almost sure to win the presidential election, so a smart campaign donor isn’t going to waste time trying to buy the election for a Republican. Instead, he’ll spend his money to make sure that Clinton rather than Sanders wins the Democratic nod, and that her policy positions are acceptable to the plutocrats. And by and large, they are, just as Obama’s are, and just as her husband’s were. Since there’s no way to determine the outcome of an election through money, a better investment is to ensure that all possible outcomes further the donor’s agenda.

    I do agree that a supply-side solution, which is what traditional campaign-finance laws are, is as unlikely to work in campaign finance reform as it is in economics. Instead, what we need is a way to reduce the demand for campaign contributions and allow all policy options to have a hearing. Some sort of public campaign financing would probably do the trick, especially since it seems to work well in other democracies. (Being a backward nation is embarrassing, but it does have the advantage that we can learn from the success and failure of those who are ahead of us.)

    • 1mime says:

      Interesting thoughts, Brian. The concern I have is that even if “big” money doesn’t guarantee a winner, it sure buys up air time, direct mail, print space, etc. winnowing the field artificially. We all agree that we are living in a high tech world and the role this plays in politics is huge. That element is not always free, or accountable, allowing both positive and negative consequences (47% – not 57%!).

      Issue oriented campaigns appear to be near impossible given the practical exigencies of pure number of candidates, time away from other duties, limited media access. I hope Bernie Sander’s ideas at least stimulate the media sufficiently that we can have “some” meaningful discussion of core American concerns, but I’m not convinced that media is any less driven by money than ratings. Gotcha is the name of the game. And, who does that serve?

      • way2gosassy says:

        Color me shocked Mime that you mentioned issue oriented campaigns at a time that I can tell you that a local election for mayor in Nashville, Tennessee is doing just that! We have men and women, far right to far left running in this campaign and I have yet to see one candidate sling mud or make derogatory comments about another candidates platform or policy positions. The have all campaigned on the issues of the city and it’s citizens welfare. Amazing I tell ya in this very red state! If it can happen here maybe it can become as infectious as Typhoid and sweep the Nation…… or not. One can hope.

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