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Greg Hampikian:
In light of the [Idaho] bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.

More conversation in triplepoint's diary.

David Firestone:

The steep decline of the deficit is not something Republicans really want to talk about, even though their austerity policies were largely responsible for it. If the public really understood how much the deficit has fallen, it would undermine the party’s excuse for opposing every single spending program, exposing the “cost to future generations” as a hyped-up hoax. In fact, it would lead to exactly the conclusion that Ms. Murray reached in her memo to Senate Democrats: that the country can now afford to spend money to boost employment, stay competitive with the rest of the globe in education and research, and finally deal with the long-deferred repairs to public works.
More politics and policy below the fold.

Ed Kilgore:

What inspired the Arizona bill to begin with, and what is now inspiring the over-the-top reaction to it in some circles, is an effort to convince people not previously invested in culture war that they had to pick sides—that all those nice people in the pews at Catholic and conservative evangelical pews were threatened by marriage equality as the latest outrage imposed by modernity, against which they needed to fight back.

The reality is that hardly anyone in Arizona is going to be bothered by the veto of SB 1062 or will even remember for long the media coverage that Hemingway views as the death knell of all freedom. And that’s intolerable!

What should Obama do about Ukraine? For those who do not remember, from CBS and CNN:
August 11, 2008, 7:27 PM
Bush Slams Russia's Invasion Of Georgia
WaPo:
So far, Putin has said very little about Ukraine, an indication of continuing uncertainty in Moscow about how to handle the Ukrainian crisis.

Russia has launched snap military maneuvers near Ukraine’s border and is playing an undefined role in the unrest in Crimea. Moscow has provided a stage for members of its parliament who wish to castigate Ukraine, and shares Yanukovych’s opinion of the new authorities in Kiev.

But Yanukovych’s Russian hosts didn’t offer him the trappings that are customary at a news conference by a visiting head of state. There was no display of protocol, no meetings, no honor guard. The event took place in a trade hall in Rostov-on-Don, a city that is close to Ukraine but a long way from the Kremlin.

NY Times:
The Obama administration said Friday that it would allow some people to receive federal subsidies for health insurance purchased in the private market outside of health insurance exchanges. The sudden shift was the latest in a series of policy changes, extensions and clarifications by federal officials trying to help beneficiaries and minimize political damage to Democrats in this election year.

Federal officials said they had agreed to provide such assistance retroactively because technical problems had prevented consumers from using online exchanges to obtain insurance and financial aid in some states.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the roundup, Greg! (23+ / 0-)

    Is it ALEC that's responsible for all these "pack a gun at all times" laws?

    Depressing to think of yet more wars in Ukraine and Crimea. Wish we could get some good news-- such as the Dems seizing on the deficit reduction and running with it. Could make a great theme for 2014 election campaigns.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:39:53 AM PST

    •  Crowing about how the deficit has been (11+ / 0-)

      reduced during Obama's administration is a double-edged sword.  The reason the deficit has been so effectively reduced is because Republicans have, over the past years, instigated such an outcry about it and since 2010 have been in a position to stop further spending.  So yes, the deficit has fallen, but the Republicans can take as much credit for it as the Democrats, if not more.  I don't think the Democrats want to argue this point during this election cycle.  I wouldn't even counsel the Democrats to refer to a decline in the deficit as a good idea - with the economic recovery being so moribund, it's not - and Republicans are not going to vote for Democrats regardless of the size of the deficit.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:19:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like cutting the fire department during a drought. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pelagicray, salmo

        A lot of the arguments that the deficit should be cut are as if the mayor of a moderately drought-stricken city asked the homeowners to cut back their water consumption by 20%, and his critics said that he should tell the Fire Department to fight 20% fewer fires.

        Recessions result from a drop in aggregate demand. The argument that the federal government should cut back because everyone else is doing it reduces Economics to following the latest fads. We need the secure to boost their demand to make up for the drop, and there are few more secure job providers than the US government (well, maybe the German govt.).

        Anti-recession policies should be judged first by the jobs created, and secondly by lasting value to pay back the debt once the economy has recovered; and by those measures, the Austerians have made things worse.

        Freedom's just another word for not enough to eat. --Paul Krugman's characterization of conservative attitudes.

        by Judge Moonbox on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:44:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The question is not who, but why (4+ / 0-)

      I strongly suspect that ALEC, and similar right wing oligarchs' vehicles, are the principal advocates for the laws you reference, Diana.  There are several questions this should raise, but for me the first one is, "Why?"  What is it that those gated community dwelling, entitled sociopaths want through laws making it easier to shoot someone that they don't already have in their protected enclaves and cushioned lives?  I'm thinking that as they look forward to a society where basic services for the rest of us, like police protection, are withdrawn, they want their guards and security details to be able to shoot the riff-raff.    To the extent that their plan envisions a continued division among what is left of the middle class, and working class in our nation as the underpinning of their control, a shoot first racist policy somewhat along the lines practiced in the South post Civil War is probably the model.  I would be willing to bet that there are no bartenders and cell phones in the room when they have that discussion.

      •  See below. There was a Maddow comment a few (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonmug, salmo, wintergreen8694

        years ago that was right on target. The logical end of the arm everybody, weaken government and tolerate religious intolerance is Somalia.

        The logical end of TP/GOP economic and governing policies is definitely what I've seen in the what we called the "third" and poorer parts of the "second" world.

        There the top strata live like princes and a small second strata live really well in walled compounds darting about in secure cars in a sea of want and poverty from which servants are readily available. They have mountain, lake and beach compounds while the "public" resorts are sewage and trash filled remainders. For those that "got" it isn't too bad unless the walls fail.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:21:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where do those conversations occur? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pelagicray

          My state senator is an ALEC committee chairman.  He's a dyed in the wool tea partier, a genuine fool, and a deeply flawed human being, but I find it impossible to believe that he actually explicitly discusses the desirability of creating a second or third world reality for his constituents.  His fantasies almost surely do not include the conclusions Maddow draws.  In fact, even though I spent considerable time during my professional career involved with local and state elected officials, I can't think of a single one who would accept such a policy direction, much less have a discussion about how to achieve it.  I believe that the legislators involved in ALEC have to be wrapping their implementation of ALEC directions with a gauzy tribalism and unthinking prejudice.  

          But, I have also sat in a room full of high powered lawyers dividing up the tobacco lobby money because I was there to buy other services from people who could make our state legislature do what we needed it to do.  There were several shocking aspects to it, but what sticks in my mind now was how unconcerned they were about the deaths and destroyed lives they would leave in their wake.  So I have no trouble imagining plutocrats and their paid agents pursuing a dystopian, Hobbesian agenda for the benefit of the 1% (or so).  What I am wondering is how far down the chain of authority within organizations like ALEC do those explicit conversations occur?  

          •  I am not sure the logical consequences enter their (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            salmo

            heads. Even among people that have traveled to the "less developed" world it has been travel wrapped in pink cotton candy. Cruise ship passengers escorted to scenic spots and shopping opportunities, business travelers met at airports with drivers and meeting in the shiny offices of even cities whose ordinary streets are filled with trash, sewage, mangy dogs and poor kids. They go to beach resorts with a glittering strip and never go back where they just might see a black, literally black, trash filled stinking canal draining the sewage and trash not far from the hotel beaches. Canals sometimes with kids splashing in them.

            Oh no, it is perfectly possible to enjoy the true luxury of such places, served by smiling people who (unless they live in) go home to a shack and poverty. It is possible to spend weeks and months in such places and, unless you are curious and observant, drive from luxurious beauty spot to spot and never even see the reality not far away. Hell, I even know residents of such places that have developed curious eyesight resembling colorblindness. The light that falls on the kids in rags playing in stinking ditches between them and the beautiful panorama is not visible light.

            The logical, secretly or perhaps just unconsciously desirable end of the TP/GOP policy is a highly stratified society in which a few got it almost all, a few more have a lot and the vast majority are desperate to provide the services and labor at any price so that those that got got it good. As some of the Southern and other backward area mill and plantation owners knew very well a hundred or fewer years ago, a vast sea of want is good business in the form of cheap and (they hope) docile labor.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 11:13:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, stop that! ALEC and the NRA are only trying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, diffrntdrummr

      to bring us the freedoms enjoyed by those armed to the teeth peoples of Somalia, the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and other such garden spots. Every man fully armed and all problems solved, right? Add, weak central government and plenty of strong religious views and we can be just as advanced!

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:11:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone wanna bet... (6+ / 0-)
    If the public really understood how much the deficit has fallen, it would undermine the party’s excuse for opposing every single spending program, exposing the “cost to future generations” as a hyped-up hoax.
       ...that the Democrats let this hanging curve over the plate go right by them?

        After all the deficit fetishization that began on January 21, 2009, you'd think the Dems might want to point this gun back at the GOP...but I expect dead silence at best. And probably calls for more austerity.

       

    "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

    by Buzzer on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:40:28 AM PST

    •  At the risk (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rikon Snow, marykk, diffrntdrummr

      of being kicked off the site. It's the national debt not the deficit we should be working on. I hear nothing from either side about how to pay down the debt. Think of all of the stuff we could do with the interest money saved if we could pay the debt down about 50% or so. I suggested a way to do this once and got read the riot act, I know how stupid I am, don't need to be told, so I'll keep my ideas to myself.

      If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

      by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:50:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're not that stupid. The problem is that we've (7+ / 0-)

        sacrificed so much revenue (taxes) in pursuit of fraudulent "growth" that there's no solution.  

        But we'll keep trying the same broken behavior over and over and think that we'll get different results this time.

        The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of those, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. - Omaha Platform, 1892

        by Rikon Snow on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:56:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I suggested once (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rikon Snow

          a $.01 cent national sales tax (food excluded) dedicated by law to paying the debt. The response I got was,lets say, less than what I expected.

          If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

          by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:59:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A sales tax is regressive (4+ / 0-)

            That's probably why you got hammered.

            Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

            by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:05:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stude Dude, Rikon Snow

              and yes it is, but something has to be done and cutting taxes to the rich and corporations isn't the answer, despite what republicans want us all to believe.

              If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

              by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:08:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL, what about *raising* taxes on the rich and (6+ / 0-)

                corportations?  Let me guess: we can only propose ideas the GOP will love by virtue of the added burden on lower income folks they will create?

                I suggest you read the article from last nights MB FP post.  Your POV is exactly symptomatic of why we're in the place we're in right now, staring down the barrel of inequality that threatens the very fabric of society and of democracy itself.

                "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

                by nailbender on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:44:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  How about closing tax loopholes (6+ / 0-)

                that allow the ultra wealthy and corporations to stash money in non-taxable offshore accounts?
                Why not charge normal income tax rates on income from investments (I believe that provision was in Dave Camp's just released tax plan, which is why it's going nowhere in the House)?
                Why do Republicans continually talk about tax reform, have a big majority in the House to get it passed, but do nothing about it? Camp's been working on his plan for over a year and got shot down in less than 24 hours.

                Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

                by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:09:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  If you really think we have to start paying (16+ / 0-)

            on the debt, and also want to put the Republicans in a bind, suggest an investment transaction tax on Wall Street and investment banks with all receipts going to pay on the debt.  That would please the "reduce the debt" Republicans, the parts of the tea party who hate Wall Street, and almost all Democrats.  Forget taxes that punish those on the lower rungs of the economy; sock it to investors who managed the economy into the ditch in the first place.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:09:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  love that idea (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ratcityreprobate

              even if it's part of a package.

              "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

              by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:36:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  A "transaction tax" might have a valuable side (0+ / 0-)

              effect as well. There is a whole lot of just simple churning going on in these "investments" that has pretty much wrecked that concept of an "ownership society." Remember when one bought stock in a company they had some faith in to manage well and innovate? Held on to "good stock" and paid attention to those proxy letters?

              A horrible side effect, one touched on yesterday, is directly connected with the great slosh of money churning about resting in shares from seconds to just weeks. The percentage of shares held by entities paying any attention to corporate governance, the long term health of corporations is now largely dwarfed by huge amounts flying about like pollinating insects.

              A graduated transaction tax, time dependent, would help that problem. How about a 20% tax on any funds involving shares held less than a month and going down to near zero for those actually indicating a care for "ownership" that are invested a year or more?

              Basically a "Hey assholes! Pay attention to what you own!" And by the way, you might be interested in the fact that incestuous board and CEO structure is robbing you blind paying themselves vast sums as the corporation hemorrhages value.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:34:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Smoke and mirrors (0+ / 0-)

              is all that would be.  Money is fungible. You could dedicate the investment transaction tax to "paying down the debt" - and that would just ease the pressure on the rest of the budget. The difference would swiftly be made up, by Democrats increasing spending, or by Republicans cutting other taxes on the rich and starting pretty little wars.

              Not that such a tax isn't a good idea. And not that smoke and mirrors isn't standard procedure in Washington.

              Better would be to dedicate the proceeds to the Social Security trust fund. Since the austerians have always pretended that SS money - the only non-fungible dollars in the system - was taken out of the general treasury, they'd have to go along with it. And then we could point to the surplus, and give the golden agers (our New! Improved! With no more pesky pensions! geezer class) a boost over their own shrunken minimum wage.

              Re: RepresentUsPlease - the absolute size of the debt is irrelevant. What matters is what it grows to as a percentage of GDP.  If the budget is balanced, and the current "huge" debt stays constant ever after, the growing economy will effectively make an ever smaller deal of it. If it perpetually grows, but less rapidly than GDP does, the same eventually applies.

              •  I guess a normal guy (0+ / 0-)

                like me just has a problem with all of those zeros on the left side of the decimal point. You assume the economy keeps growing, if the 1% and republicans keep it up, there is no guarantee the economy will keep growing.

                If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

                by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:37:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  A stamp tax on financial transactions (0+ / 0-)

            might be better. Tax all financial transactions of any kind over $100K even at 0.1% and you'd be on your way.

            Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

            by Anne Elk on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:24:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  On the debt (6+ / 0-)

            To pay off the national debt, we need to reduce deficits first. Can't do one without doing the other. And given that deficits are going down for the first time since the Clinton administration, we're at least going in the right direction in that regard -- which is a much stronger position than the one we were in during the late Bush years.  Deal with the deficits, and the debt will be much less difficult to take care of.

           But of course, not all that long ago, we were very much on track to slay the debt, which was shrinking steadily during the late Clinton years. And then Greenspan declared that paying off the debt "too quickly" would be inconvenient for the rentier class he represented, so that momentum was lost as soon as Bush seized office.

           

        "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

        by Buzzer on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:59:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes but once (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marykk

          that debt has been borrowed, it must be paid back. Every time (late Clinton years the latest) we get close republicans start screaming tax cuts. Without tax reform and allowing the debt to be paid on, we never will pay it down. I'm not saying it needs to be paid off, because it don't, but it does need to be cut in half.

          If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

          by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:05:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  WHY does the debt need to be cut in half? (5+ / 0-)

            The U.S. government, right now, could borrow hundreds of billions of dollars at very low interest rates and do amazing things with the money. Borrowing money to do amazing things is not inherently a bad idea.

            It's logically possible that even better things could be done in the long run if the government first cut the debt in half. (By the way, do you mean as a fraction of GDP, in real dollars, or in nominal dollars?) But it's by no means obvious.

            "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

            by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:48:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  of course there's this (6+ / 0-)

              "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

              by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:56:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Do you realize how many (0+ / 0-)

              hundreds of billions of dollars in interest we are paying on the 17 trillion dollar debt? That alone is why they keep having to beg republicans for debt limit increases. They could balance the budget and still have to keep upping the debt limit to keep borrowing just to pay the interest. I have read several on here state that we can run debts up forever and not worry, that IMO is wrong, at some point we have to pay that debt down, at least some.

              If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

              by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:06:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If they balanced the budget (4+ / 0-)

                We wouldn't still be borrowing to pay the interest. Interest payments are part of the budget. If we were still borrowing to pay the interest, we would be running a deficit, by definition.

                More generally, we can't currently pay down the debt without trashing the economy. The economy is essentially public debt, private debt and trade balance. If we want to pay down the debt, we need to figure out how to run a trade surplus. Otherwise we'd just run up private debt instead and that's a far more dangerous and volatile situation.

                The Empire never ended.

                by thejeff on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:25:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  that's more an assertion than an "opinion" (0+ / 0-)
                I have read several on here state that we can run debts up forever and not worry, that IMO is wrong
                Not sure what you mean by "run up," but in fact I think all evidence indicates that it is perfectly possible for a country to continuously increase its nominal debt and do just fine. I cannot tell what you think is an acceptable debt level or why.

                thejeff took on part of your comment; I'll try to say something about the first part.

                Do you realize how many hundreds of billions of dollars in interest we are paying on the 17 trillion dollar debt?
                Somewhat over $200 billion. As I said, it's at very low interest rates. Of course interest rates won't always be so low.

                To keep things simple, let's assume that the U.S. would have to pay off $8.5 trillion of debt in order to reduce interest payments by somewhat over $100 billion/year. Does that really strike you as just obviously the correct choice? In the short run, is that choice even possible? Surely not. But don't just say, "Of course, I'm thinking about the long run." Regardless of the time horizon, one has to consider the economic and social cost of debt reduction, as well as the reduction in interest payments, in order to act responsibly.

                Analogies to household budgets are really misleading, but I might as well also ask: Since my family pays thousands of dollars in mortgage interest each year, do you suppose I should sell my left kidney and my right eye in order to reduce those payments? Or might it actually be more prudent not to? Do you think my wife would be thrilled if I sold my organs this afternoon, or would she perhaps be kind of "WTF, HVM, this does not make me feel better off!"?

                I'm hoping I got that one right. I'm afraid of surgeons, actually.

                "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:33:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It actually was (0+ / 0-)

                  my opinion, I don't have a degree in economics, nor do I claim to know any more than balancing my checkbook. It just seems that increasing debt forever is not sustainable, but maybe I am wrong, and once again, everybody here proceeds to tell me, in so many words, how stupid I am. I already know that. An honest explanation once in a while, from somebody that does know would be nice.

                  If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

                  by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:10:21 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  OK, hmm (0+ / 0-)

                    I actually worked pretty hard at thinking of some examples that would help you see that maybe your intuitions were leading you astray. I'm sure I sounded cranky doing it, but on the other hand, if our positions were reversed, maybe you would have sounded cranky. It's one thing to say "I don't know much about this issue, but it seems to me...." It's another thing to go around telling people what has to happen as if it is beyond dispute and they all have their heads stuck in the sand.

                    I'm not a macroeconomist, and I certainly won't try to turn you into one. One common way of thinking about this is that a constant ratio of debt to GDP surely should be sustainable, because the tax burden required to finance the interest payments shouldn't increase. (Of course that depends on interest rates, but those certainly don't have to increase.) So, as long as the economy is growing, the debt can grow too.

                    Obviously sometimes the debt grows much faster than the economy does. Generally, that's OK — in a recession, most economists agree that it's smart. The U.S. never really fully shook off the Great Depression until it went massively into debt to fight World War II, and that worked out just fine.

                    "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                    by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:11:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                      The only thing that concerns me, what if something goes wrong? Given bankers being what they are and them having the GOP in their back pockets, something is bound to go wrong, again. That scares me, and the country having a bit less debt would make me feel better, for the next time those idiots create another bubble and then pop it.

                      If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

                      by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:15:02 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  well, things always go wrong (0+ / 0-)

                        Generally, the institutions that buy Treasury bonds probably are more interested in a safe investment than in potentially Going Galt and crashing the U.S. economy for lulz. The Republican Party itself has some perverse incentive for the economy to underperform as long as a Democratic president is in office, but I don't think many of them actually thought that engineering a debt crisis would be a good thing.

                        Having a bit less debt would make me feel better, too, in the sense that I get mad every time I think about the Bush tax cuts (on average, tax cuts for the rich have far fewer economic benefits than actual expenditures do) and wars (presumably created some economic stimulus, at an appalling human cost). But even so, we have millions of people out of work right now, and lots of important work for them to be doing, so things are already going very terribly wrong, and we shouldn't assume that sitting on our hands is the responsible course. Let's not run up debt for the hell of it, but let's not be afraid to invest in our people and our future.

                        To put all this in perspective, although I agree with most people here that the U.S. should be spending a lot more right now, many other governments took a more "austerian" approach than the U.S. did, and their economies are faring even worse. Of course, some people see that as taking tough medicine, and there is no voice from heaven to say, "No, really, you're just Doing It Wrong." It's never that cut-and-dried, unfortunately.

                        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                        by HudsonValleyMark on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:00:49 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Interest Rates are LOW (0+ / 0-)

                If you want to really improve the economics of the nation, we should be borrowing more at low rates, investing in infrastructure and putting people to work. Increased employment reduces government spending and increases tax revenue. And we get new facilities, roads and bridges.

                It's win win win, except for the Republicans that oppose this.

                Don't run thru the screen door, Granny, you'll STRAIN yourself!

                by Tuba Les on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:57:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  food for thought (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pelagicray

            The Chart the Debt Alarmists Don't Want You to See

            http://www.slate.com/...

            by a non alarmist author.

            "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

            by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:58:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The worst aspect (0+ / 0-)

            and problem with US debt is that the government borrows the money and hands it over to the 1%.  That does our country no good.  It is a scam to beat all scams and has put us into the situation in regards to inequality that we find ourselves in.  The money cannot be siphoned to the top and support a thriving economy at the same time.

            Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

            by tobendaro on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:58:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Paying the bills for Medicare, Medicaid (3+ / 0-)

              and reimbursing the SS trust funds are not "handing the money over to the 1%."  These programs are the largest portion of the automatic payments required by law.  If the public is so concerned about the deficit/debt, cut the military budget in half.  The military budget is a huge part of the discretionary budget.  But as we've seen just this past week, even the deficit hawks go ballistic when that's proposed.  If we want eventually to reduce the deficit and tackle the debt, we have to invest in those things that will result in economic growth (and we already know what those things are).  We can't just cut our way out of the mess.

              "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

              by SueDe on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:20:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Are you suggesting that in addition to paying (0+ / 0-)

              interest to the 1% it would be a good idea to tax the hell out of Americans, decimating purchasing power and demand, to hand the 1% and China an enormous windfall payout? Paying off the national debt barring a complete reversal in our balance of trade and balance of payments would cause a hair raising contraction in the economy that would make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park.

              •  Well since you all (0+ / 0-)

                have college degrees in economics, and I'm just a damn generator mechanic trying to make sense out of it, I won't worry about it, until it all come crashing down in my middle class lap, and I, along with everybody else gets stuck with the bill. It's for damn sure the 1% won't help out, and I can point my finger at all of the economics majors and say, "They said it would all work out". Joy

                If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

                by RepresentUsPlease on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 02:48:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  When the deficit gets reduced, (0+ / 0-)

        so does the debt.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:59:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  not so (5+ / 0-)

        debt is driven by entitlements (mostly Medicare) and we have been talking about them for years.

        Medicare: Why is it on the table? (2011)

        Medicare: What can we do about it? (2011)

        We havem however, doen it form the POV that says: Simpson-Bowles is not the right approach, and giving ACA a chance to work (as well as cutting general medical costs) is the best way to deal with Medicare costs, the big driver of future debt.

        "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

        by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:01:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ^ on the spending side (4+ / 0-)

          It would be nice if Republicans were one tenth as candid about the revenue side as Democrats tend to be about the spending side.

          "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

          by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:52:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A lot of the problem is our media culture (3+ / 0-)

               Republican-friendly spending (the military, law enforcement, prisons) is always framed by the media in terms of its necessity and the benefits it provides (let's keep America strong, let's keep criminals off the streets, etc.)

               Democratic priorities, on the other hand, are ALWAYS framed in terms of their costs. Obamacare is all about how we're supposed to pay for it, as opposed to how many Americans it's benefiting.

               I remember attending a Kerry/Edwards rally back in 2004, just a few days after the convention. A local media reporter walked up to the friend accompanying me and asked him for a few words on Kerry, and she immediately followed up with "how's he going to pay for all this" question. Republicans are almost never asked such things.

               It's a pervasive sickness in our national discourse, and our leaders buy into it all too much.

            "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

            by Buzzer on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:01:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  in this case, however, it is fair to say (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HudsonValleyMark

              the Medicare program is a bigger driver of debt than military spending, which is (separate point) actually being reined in a bit.

              "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

              by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:09:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  True, but misleading (0+ / 0-)

                Medicare spending is being driven by increases in healthcare spending in general, as well as the aging population. The same projections that show Medicare spending becoming unsustainable show private healthcare spending becoming unsustainable far sooner.

                Cutting Medicare benefits doesn't change the real problem.

                The Empire never ended.

                by thejeff on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:13:55 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  the major culprit is aging boomers (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wintergreen8694

                  the best solution is anything that cuts medical costs. And an honest discussion entails benefits vs cost, not just cost. For example, people want Medicare not to be cut.

                  "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

                  by Greg Dworkin on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:08:41 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  "Austerity is working, so let's have more of it" (6+ / 0-)

      is the obvious GOP response to any proposals for spending on things they hate.

      OTH, expect to see them use the shrinking deficit as a perfectly good reason to cut taxes further on the upper brackets, eliminate that nasty Medicare surcharge, and push back against a financial transactions tax.

      And expect Boehner (and all the Tea-Partiers) to continue to rant against the "skyrocketing Obama deficit," as he did just a week or two ago.

  •  "When May I shoot a Student" (15+ / 0-)

    Is currently one of the most pressing and well worded op eds that I've seen.

  •  Memo to ex-Ukranian president......never flee. (0+ / 0-)
  •  An odd week in my classroom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, salmo

    looking back at a very interesting 5 days including a medical emergency and a notable guest speaker

    in this diary to which I invite your attention

    peace

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:50:31 AM PST

  •  Ah. On my campus, the "active shooter" training (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, a2nite, Stude Dude

    basically consisted of "let's not worry about it too much, we can't do anything anyway, the legislature wants guns everywhere and we just have to accept that."

    The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of those, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. - Omaha Platform, 1892

    by Rikon Snow on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:52:32 AM PST

  •  Infrastructure......and water wings..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, salmo, SueDe
    •  "Engineers noticed a slight bowing..." (4+ / 0-)

      Not something I'd want to hear if I lived downstream from that dam!

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:17:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder how much our infrastructure (4+ / 0-)

      has to fail and cause catastrophic damage before congress decides to invest in the needed maintenance.  It might help if a few dams failed upstream from congress members' homes.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:33:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cruz will blame it on Obama....and Harry Reid. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes
        •  My senator, Jerry Moran, (8+ / 0-)

          was complaining about cuts in the military on his FB page the other day, and I reminded him that he voted for those cuts when he supported the sequester.

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

          by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:42:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They're hoping you won't notice (5+ / 0-)

              With social media and the increased real-time scrutiny that brings, it's getting harder and harder for elected representatives to pull that kind of stuff.

              Though I'm still waiting for the moment it affects actual elections...

            "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

            by Buzzer on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:50:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just looked up (4+ / 0-)

              the vote on the Senate Veterans bill from last week to see who voted against restoring cuts to health and pay for veterans.

              Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014
              Measure Title:    A bill to improve the provision of medical services and benefits to veterans, and for other purposes.
              http://www.senate.gov/...

              Ted Cruz
              Rand Paul
              Marco Rubio

              Almost every Republican voted against the bill.
              Moran, surprisingly, voted for the bill, so maybe the push back he was getting had some effect.

              Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

              by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:03:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  They need a tour. Air dropped into a hot area of (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wintergreen8694, skohayes

                Afghanistan with normal kit to give it a try. No VIP tour, a real one. Pretty much Kipling's 1892 Hurrah! For The Life Of A Soldier in some ways with an "elite" of or in the pockets of the 1% neo aristocracy all for getting into every hot spot they can find that isn't MAD risky and then playing cheap on those that actually have to pay with flesh, blood and mind.

                   

                For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck 'im out, the brute!"

                    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;

                    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

                    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

                Amazing how that gang is so fond of the flag in hot zones until it comes to paying for the logical result to those they  so eagerly send there. Very much remind me of the corrupt,  London toffs with makeup, perfumed hankies and all the other trappings of Kipling's era.

                I'm hoping those current vets and their families "ain't a bloomin' fools" and see those posturing jackasses for what they are. Unfortunately a few, mostly older, that I know are all for the Cruz types. Maybe the younger generation is seeing more clearly.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:02:43 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Ed Kilgore's piece is great (9+ / 0-)
    I tweeted the other day that the Arizona debacle was the Terri Schiavo case of this decade: an overreach that exposed the underlying extremism of the Cultural Right. That judgment’s looking stronger every day.
    Brownback and Kansas legislators were going to pass a bill just like the one in Arizona, and are now wiping their brows in relief that they backed off passing it at the last minute (according to the state tea party, they "caved" to Big Business).
    I'm glad someone else's state is the laughingstock of the country right now.

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:05:10 AM PST

    •  Local radio wingnut sez......The country has moved (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes

      on inre 'teh gay'......Abortion on the other hand.....nt

    •  I can't figure out why legislators in AZ (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes, wintergreen8694

      passed that bill.  Discrimination against gays is already legal in the state, both in hiring/firing decisions and commercial transactions.  I guess they just wanted to double down on their bigotry.  Same goes for the other states whose legislators are pushing the same bill - they've already enshrined discrimination into law.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:33:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought the same thing! (0+ / 0-)

        Even tweeted to Mike Signorile about it one day about it while listening to his show.
        It's all about pandering to the base of the far right in anticipation of elections, but now they're starting to get push back, even from Republicans. The far right base is shrinking.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:09:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Where would the Tea Party be? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, wonmug, skohayes

      For the Tea Party to criticize big business would be like Dr. Frankenstein being criticized for a serious breach of scientific ethics by his monster.

      The Tea Party was born sold out. For these partisans to criticize the Astroturf creators is a serious excess of ingratitude.

      Freedom's just another word for not enough to eat. --Paul Krugman's characterization of conservative attitudes.

      by Judge Moonbox on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:19:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When you've lost Michael Gerson... (5+ / 0-)
    No political movement can persuade a great democracy without displaying a measure of democratic grace. And any ideological movement that claims to be inspired by faith and morality is discredited by language that dehumanizes its opponents.

    This sobering also proceeds on matters of political strategy. The serious prospect that the GOP might gain control of the Senate has highlighted the fact that many tea party leaders and groups view this goal as irrelevant. Their objective is not to elect the acceptable; it is to weed out the heretical. So Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — having previously pledged not to raise money for a similar group — does so for the Madison Project, which seeks to defeat Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his upcoming primary. Cruz’s representative says it reflects “a previous fundraising agreement.” It looks more like strategic incoherence and political duplicity. Thomas Sowell, not a conservative violet known for shrinking, notes “disquieting signs” that Ted Cruz is “looking out for Ted Cruz — even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving.”

    Republicans deal with a tea party hangover

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:08:56 AM PST

  •  Finding the root of the extreme bill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, skohayes

    free for all in the Idaho legislature is simple. It's election season. The governor is suddenly worried about those closed primaries hurting his chances of winning a challenge from the right - the process he was for a few years ago is suddenly getting an 'oh shit' moment. In turn, everything from Ag Gag to guns on campus to an attempt at a religious liberty bill is fair game for a signature from Governor Otter. When in fear, turn right! It's insane and depressing, but the sudden concern for the voters is rather amusing.

    “On May 20 when you go in (to the polling place), they’re going to have a piece of paper there that says, ‘I am a Republican,’” Otter told a sympathetic audience of Farmers Insurance agents at the Capitol Thursday. “Well, there are a lot of folks that may not want to sign that.”

    He added: “When I think about how many people have been disenfranchised — which was maybe, I’m sure was an unintended consequence. Every state employee is supposed to be nonpartisan…Now when you sign this piece of paper it says that ‘I am a Republican’ and it’s the only way you can get a Republican ballot.”

  •  A good NYT article on the politics (5+ / 0-)

    that have been injected into the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources since McCrory took over as governor, and the resulting fallout from the Duke Energy coal ash spill:

    From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. “If you don’t like change, you’ll be gone.”

    But when the nation’s largest utility, Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February, those big changes were suddenly playing out in a different light. Federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the spill and the relations between Duke and regulators at the environmental agency.

    The spill, which coated the river bottom 70 miles downstream and threatened drinking water and aquatic life, drew attention to a deal that the environmental department’s new leadership reached with Duke last year over pollution from coal ash ponds. It included a minimal fine but no order that Duke remove the ash — the waste from burning coal to generate electricity — from its leaky, unlined ponds. Environmental groups said the arrangement protected a powerful utility rather than the environment or the public...

    Critics say the accident, the third-largest coal ash spill on record, is inextricably linked to the state’s new environmental politics and reflects an enforcement agency led by a secretary who suggested that oil was a renewable resource and an assistant secretary who, as a state lawmaker, drew a bull’s-eye on a window in his office framing the environmental agency’s headquarters.

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    There's a great animated video there that really shows the scale of the accident. It's horrifying.

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:33:23 AM PST

  •  Let's face the facts............. (6+ / 0-)

    the Rethugs austerity agenda has less to do with the deficit and debt and more to do with punishing the nation for electing a black man to the prescience............twice!  

    It is purely a punitive position to hurt the lower and middle classes who tend to not support their arrogance, thievery and hypocrisy.  The only solution is to vote them out of power at all levels.  

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:37:50 AM PST

  •  Austerity did not reduce the deficit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Livvy5, wonmug

    When the govt spends less, the economy shrinks and people demand more assistance - growing the deficit. The deficit shrank because the stimulus and other demand side policies grew the economy, and we ended our trillion dollar follies in the Mid East.

    Take the fight to them. Don't let them bring it to you. - Harry S Truman

    by jgoodfri on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:34:28 AM PST

    •  Correct (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jgoodfri, Subterranean

      The deficit has been reduced because of the stimulus programs that are ongoing particularly the billions of printed dollars going into the economy every month.  

      That amount is being reduced slightly and so far doesn't seem to be causing any downturn in economic activity.  I am fearful that without that stimulus continuing for a very long time, we are going to see an economic downturn that could be significant which could see more spending for assistance programs giving us higher deficits.

  •  I think the problem in this debate (0+ / 0-)

    is a paradigm problem.
    1. Deficit and debt / investment and spending - it's not how much we spend, it's what we spend it on. Also, borrowing for  a given (positive) purpose over a determined time is different from paying finance charges in perpetuity for money we just wasted.
    For example: Credit card fraud is estimated at $115 billion annually, and credit card company profits are reported at $150 billion. That is a loss to the economy approximately equal to the stimulus package
    btw:
    2. inflation is good/ deflation is bad only applies in a perpetual growth system, and:
    3, growth is good only applies when growth does not demand use of limited resources, pollution, and global warming.
    4. Jobs are the first priority only since we are conditioned to believe in and subjugate ourselves to a system of perpetual consumption and growth.
    I suggest a paradigm shift - only work as much as necessary and only borrow when needed for a specific, positive purpose and for a defined length of time.
    The long term benefits would be tremendous, but the problem with this paradigm shift would be that there would be some very unpleasant consequences in the short term, i.e. the collapse of modern capitalism. My 99% heart bleeds.

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