Here are some interesting quotes from an MSNBC article titled Legal experts fear implications of White House drone memo:

Legal experts expressed grave reservations Tuesday about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida — with one saying the White House was acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”

The memo, made public Monday, provides detail about the administration’s controversial expansion of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens.

Among them were Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed by an American strike in September 2011 in Yemen. Both men were U.S. citizens who had not been charged with a crime.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a talk at Northwestern University Law School in March, endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans provided that the government determines such an individual poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

But the memo obtained by NBC News refers to a broader definition of imminence and specifically says the government is not required to have “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

So for all my Obama-lovin’ pals out there:  Remind me again, what was it that you hated so much about George W. Bush?  Didn’t it have something to do with pre-emptive strikes against foreigners who hadn’t actually attacked the United States?  Is it okay with you if we kill Americans who haven’t actually attacked the United States?

If it is okay with you, then remind me again … what was it you hated so much about George W. Bush?  Shouldn’t you all be marching down some big-city street right now, wearing Grim Reaper costumes and carrying pictures of Obama drawn to look like Hitler?

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The left-leaning friend I refer to as Paul in our long-running debate sent me an email explaining that the “ObamaPhone” lady whose video graced my last post did not, in fact, receive an “ObamaPhone.”  Here are some quotes from a Wall Street Journal article Paul linked:

The Obamaphone Lady, who as far as we know hasn’t been otherwise identified, is a middle-aged black woman with a loud, gravelly voice. She exuberantly explains why she supports President Obama’s re-election: “Everybody in Cleveland [unintelligible] minority got Obama phone! Keep Obama in president, you know? He gave us a phone!”

She turns out to be propagating an urban legend, one we’d previously heard from conservative friends. The “phone” part is true. There is a federally mandated, state-administered program known as Lifeline that subsidizes telephone service for low-income subscribers. But the “Obama” part is imagined. As Snopes.com explains, Lifeline dates back to the 1980s, and the Dayton Daily News reported in August that Ohio expanded it in 2008 to include cellphones.

A federally mandated program to provide phones … glad to see the federal government sticking to its Constitutional limits.

The rest of the WSJ article deals with allegations that the video is racist … so I guess if you point a camera at a minority and the resulting video doesn’t create a positive image, that’s racist now.

Anyway, I told Paul the point here is that the lady obviously thinks she got an ObamaPhone and was offering that up as a reason to vote for him.  So the “give me free stuff!” mentality is still part of the reason Obama won.

Last night I caught a couple of minutes of Bill O’Reilly asking a female Obama supporter why Obama did so well among single women.  (Romney won among married women.)  The supporter denied that the “give me free stuff!” attitude had much of anything to do with it.   When O’Reilly pressed her for another explanation, she mentioned that women care deeply about the (free) birth control issue, that many single moms are struggling and appreciate the expansion in food stamps, etc.

In other words, “We want free stuff!”

In an election-night Facebook exchange with another liberal pal (who also lives in California, a state that’s gone broke by following liberal economic theories), I made a crack about “you didn’t build that.”  The liberal pal immediately accused me of taking that quote out of context – which has pretty much been the standard liberal explanation for the now-famous line.  I told him I’d seen and read the remark in its full context, which only made it worse.

See what you think.  Here’s the whole thing in context, courtesy of PolitiFact (bold emphasis mine):

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the G.I. Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

So, how should an entrepreneur who built a business interpret this speech?  Let’s look at some key lines.

I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

Okay … if you’re successful, it’s not because you’re smart and it’s not because you worked hard.  We know this because lots of smart and hard-working people aren’t so successful.  So I guess that just leaves dumb luck as the deciding factor – or as John Kerry and other Democrats like to put it, the wealthy are the “winners of life’s lottery.”  (Kerry became wealthy by marrying the widows of smart, hard-working men who made huge fortunes before dying, so the label actually fits in his case.)

I’ll agree with the president to a point:  being smart and hard-working isn’t all it takes to become rich.  It also takes guts. That’s because rich people (by the government’s definition of “rich” anyway) tend to get that way by starting their own businesses.  Lots of lots of smart, hard-working people have no desire to start a business.  They’re happy to work for a salary and let someone else deal with payrolls, taxes, regulations, etc.  – and that’s fine.  Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner.

The people who do start businesses, however, often put their life’s savings at risk to do so.  That’s exactly what my father did.  For many years while working in sales for NCR, he saved like a madman.  He and my mom rarely went out for dinner.  They didn’t buy expensive cars or take expensive vacations.  My dad loved golf, but didn’t join the local country club.   Then in his mid-30s, my dad risked everything he’d saved to become a business owner.

That’s what separates smart, hard-working, “rich” business owners from smart, hard-working people who prefer a salary:  the willingness to take risks, delay gratification while saving capital, and be ultimately responsible for a venture’s success or failure.  They didn’t develop those traits because of good teachers and government-built roads and bridges.

Moving on to more context:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.

And every kid in your class had the same great teacher.  So why did you end up rich and the other kids didn’t?  Oh, I forgot– dumb luck!

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.

Yes, this unbelievable system was created by people who believed in individual liberty and considered government a necessary evil at best.  And I love that “allowed you to thrive” line.  The same liberal pal who told me I was quoting Obama out of context once angrily told me that it’s okay for the government to levy high taxes on the rich because “we let people become rich in this country.”

Interesting logic.  If I become rich, it means I developed a product or service that other people were willing to buy.  Since my liberal pal didn’t step in and prevent us from making a voluntary exchange that had nothing whatsoever to do with him — thus “allowing” me to become rich — he’s now entitled to confiscate a big share of my income.  Right.  Since this was supposed to be a free country, that’s as logical as saying that since I allow him to speak and breathe, I can take half of his paycheck.

Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Ah, I see.  If the government builds bridges and roads – legitimate functions of government – that means pretty much everything government does today is okay … bailouts, stimulus packages, Cash For Clunkers, a giant welfare/entitlement system, huge deficits, etc.  Makes sense.

If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

I don’t care how much context you put around it, If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen says it all.

But to continue:

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Right.  Which is why fighting fires is a legitimate function of government – fire departments are also municipal, not federal.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the G.I. Bill. That’s how we created the middle class.

Mr. President, “we” (by which you of course mean “the government”) didn’t create the middle class.  The middle class was created by entrepreneurs who found ways to make ordinary laborers so fabulously productive, they could trade their labor for a comfortable living.  Since wages are a function of productivity and productivity is a function of capital investment, the more capital the government confiscates and spends, the lower our future productivity and resulting wages will be.

That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

We didn’t end up $16 trillion in debt (with many more trillions in debts to come) because of bridges, dams and the internet, so sure, Mr. President, let’s do those things together.  But you still haven’t explained how other people built my father’s business — or mine.  I seem to recall spending a helluva lot of evenings and weekends developing my software product, and since I taught myself programming by reading books, there wasn’t even a great teacher involved.

Here’s the only honest interpretation of that speech, context or no context:  You’re not really responsible for your success – the government is.  So if you become successful, it’s okay for us to take a huge share of your income.

If any of my liberal pals can explain how I’ve misinterpreted this in-context speech, I’m all ears.

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My fellow Americans:

I must say, it was fascinating to tune in Tuesday night and watch you decide to commit financial suicide.  It was even more fascinating to watch those of you at the Obama rally in Chicago cheering so wildly.  I can’t help but wonder what exactly you were cheering for.

HE TOOK THE NATION ANOTHER SIX TRILLION DOLLARS DEEPER INTO DEBT!  WOOO-HOOOO!  WE NEED MORE OF THAT!

HE RAMMED THROUGH A HEALTH-CARE LAW THAT WILL DISCOURAGE BUSINESSES FROM HIRING NEW EMPLOYEES!  YESSSS!! THAT’S HOW YOU FIX A STRUGGLING ECONOMY!

HE GAVE BILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO COMPANIES THAT WENT BANKRUPT!  LET’S HEAR IT FOR GOVERNMENT CREATING JOBS!!

And of course many of you were just happy to have a president who gives you so much free stuff, like this economic genius so typical of Obama’s supporters:

So there you have the key to Obama’s success.  The 47% (and growing) share of Americans who pay no income taxes and feel entitled to live off those of us who do formed a winning coalition with millions of young economic illiterates who gave answers like these to a reporter:

“Are you concerned about the national debt?”

“Uh … like, I kinda thought the U.S. lends money to all the other countries, so I don’t think we probably have a national debt.”

“Do you worry at all about the national debt?”

“Not really.”

“Do you have any idea how large the national debt is?”

“No, but I’ve heard it’s pretty big.”

“Well, how large do you think the national debt is?”

“I bet it’s at least 200 billion dollars.”

Yes, yes, I know … many of you in the crucial swing state of Ohio fell for that line about Obama “saving” the auto industry.  You swallowed that crock of @#$% because (to be frank) you don’t understand diddly about economics.  Obama didn’t save the auto industry.  He bailed out an inefficient automobile company that should have been allowed to fail.  Unless Americans decided to buy fewer cars just because GM was no longer making them, the auto industry would have been just fine.  With GM gone, car buyers would have taken their business to Ford or Toyota or Honda (Toyota and Honda produce their cars in the U.S.), who would have ended up hiring more workers to meet the extra demand.  Employment would have simply shifted to producers who didn’t need government bailouts to stay alive.

I’ve got to give the Democrats credit for their long-term strategy.  They’ve managed to turn such a large share of the voting population into government dependents, a Republican presidential candidate has to nearly run the table among the non-dependents to win.  The “give me free stuff!” crowd will continue growing and imposing itself on the rest of us until the party ends — which it will, and very, very badly at that.

Now that Obama (who saved the auto industry!) has been given another four years to wrack up trillion-dollar deficits, the Federal Reserve will keep pumping out trillions of phony new dollars to cover the debts, inflation will necessarily spiral upward, prices will rise as the purchasing power of a dollar necessarily falls … and you, my economically illiterate fellow citizens, will blame greedy businesses for raising prices.

Now that ObamaCare doesn’t stand a chance of being rolled back, insurers will be forced to cover routine, expected, and non-threatening conditions (such as a lack of birth control pills), premiums will necessarily rise as insurers pass the cost of those routine, expected and non-threatening conditions on to policyholders … and you, my economically illiterate fellow citizens, will blame greedy insurers for raising premiums.

Now that Obama has been re-elected, the Bush tax rates will expire, the people who actually create jobs will have more of their capital confiscated to be spent on “green” companies that are about to go bankrupt and other brilliant “stimulus” plans, so they’ll end up hiring fewer people … and you, my economically illiterate fellow citizens, will blame greedy businessmen for not hiring more people and raising wages.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  You’re about to get exactly what you demanded at the polls:  runaway inflation, higher prices on damned near everything, higher insurance premiums, fewer new businesses, fewer jobs, and a national debt that will crush your children and grandchildren.

Enjoy the consequences of your decision.  And a decade or so from now when the U.S. has turned into the next Greece, citizens are rioting in the streets because our dead-broke government can no longer send them checks backed by money borrowed from China, and the Treasury is begging the IMF for a bailout, remember:  You asked for it – you @#$%ing morons.

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Here’s another example of “tolerance” from our oh-so-tolerant friends on the left:

A Philadelphia high schooler says she was humiliated after her teacher told her to remove a Mitt Romney T-shirt she was wearing, comparing it to “wearing a KKK shirt.”

Samantha Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore at Charles Carroll High School in the Port Richmond section of the city, says she wore a pink Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan T-shirt last Friday during the school’s dress-down day.

No one made an issue of Samantha’s political T-shirt until she got to geometry class.

“The teacher told me to get out of the classroom, I said no,” Samantha said.

“She told me to take off my shirt and said that she has another one if I need one. And then the teacher asked me… ‘Are your parents Republican?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ She said that’s like her wearing a KKK shirt.”

So remember, folks, when our friends on the left talk about “tolerance,” they mean they’re willing to tolerate white liberals, black liberals, Hispanic liberals, Asian liberals, religious liberals, atheist liberals, male liberals, female liberals and transgendered liberals.  They tolerate all points of views that match theirs.

Romney = KKK … my friend Paul would approve of the rhetorical technique.

 

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Round 21 – Paul

Tom –

Shortly after the crash 2008, I was reading an issue of FORBES which noted that in the decade leading up to the crash, Wall Street had issued derivatives valued in the hundreds of ‘trillions’. A revelation that staggered me at the time.

So I did a Google search today inputing “Derivatives, October, 2008″. Several pages of stories surfaced. Several of which placed the derivatives market at between 500 – 600 trillion. I am sending you a NY TIMES article from then which puts it in that range.

Now are we to believe the banks had to issue 600 trillion in derivatives to finance ‘affordable housing’?? I don’t believe that for a moment. Investment banks can package derivatives of any kind. And they did! Not just Wall Street but London as well. In fact, before the crash, London was challenging New York as the world’s financial center.

Before the crash, several American cities were addicted to development. Phoenix and Las Vegas built like growth could never end. Despite their lack of water! They now face years of surplus real estate. Atlanta is another one. They too lack water now.

That development wasn’t ‘just’ affordable housing. It also represented mansions, hi-rise condo towers and vast amounts of office and retail properties. My brother, in Chicago, put $14,000 down for a palatial condo that would have stood in a needle tower on State Street. It was never built.

Therefore to suggest that affordable housing mandates sunk the whole economy is really simple minded. It is, indeed, the FOX NEWS spin; scapegoating minorities! While absolving bankers of any responsibility. And this idea that Chris Dodd could steamroll over everyone is perfectly ridiculous. His party was out of power for most the Bush years. His reign as Banking Commitee Chairman didn’t begin until January of 2007, less than 2 years before the bust.

I went back and read Stephen Hicks again. To make sure I didn’t miss something. Oddly it seemed even ‘more’ pretentious the second time around. Using academic verbiage to make this case that liberals attack conservatives with mean-spirited labels. A lament that goes back 30 years when followers of Jerry Fallwell felt the mainstream media was openly dissing them. (It turned out Nancy Reagan wanted nothing to with them).

Hicks, as you intoned, feels that liberals are so intellectually bankrupt they must resort to labeling. The problem is those labels tend to always fit. It seems that every legislative drive by Republicans and conservatives threatens the interests of the poor, sick and old. The following is a partial list.

ABORTION: Low income Blacks and Hispanics are six times more likely to get abortions. Why? Because they’re poor! Poor White women are more likely to abort than more affluent Whites. Poor women are less likely to have supportive men. They’re less likely to have health insurance and jobs with paid maternity leaves.

GUNS: Currently almost all Republicans must get an NRA endorsement. And currently the NRA opposes any gun restrictions. They are trying, in fact, to abolish municipal gun laws. A source of major worry to big city mayors.  Who know that poor minority children are disproportionately the victims of indiscriminate shootings.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS: Currently Republicans want to abolish the EPA. Like we can count on state laws to protect the environment! But poor people in the South have no such expectation. Their communities could easily become dumping grounds for toxic waste. With no political power, they’d be quite susceptible.

HEALTH CARE: Republicans maliciously opposed what we now call Obamacare. A plan that could benefit the so-called working poor. And already it has benefited thousands of college kids. Ironically Obama’s plan came from the Heritage Institute.

TRANSPORTATION: Republicans are currently trying to gut major funding for mass transportation. Which could have grave implications for the urban poor. Who could see service cutbacks on bus and subway lines.

MEDICAID: Republicans want to cut funding. Again the poor could lose.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Republicans are currently pushing Right To Work Laws with an eye on busting unions. A thrust the working poor have no reason to cheer.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: Currently Republicans are buddying up with Catholic Bishops to deny basic contraception to 700,000 women. As though Catholic Bishops have any moral authority!

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Republicans have had Affirmative Action in their cross-hairs for several years at this point. And some ‘tom’ is always available to lend support to them. But that old adage, “last hired, first fired”, is still quite relevant.

JUSTICE: The same conservatives who claim to be “pro life” always support the death penalty. Stats show beyond a doubt that indigent defendants are more likely to be executed.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Conservatives who claim to be “pro family” want to break up immigrant families. No matter how long the undocumented have been here. No matter how clean their criminal record might be. Rick Perry, one should note, was castigated for suggesting the Dream Act might have merit.

In issue after issue, Republicans and Conservatives have proposed legislation hostile to the poor. So it makes me want to vomit when White males over 40 try to play this stupid victim card. Like they’re oppressed by liberals. Or by ‘snotty liberal elitists’; a term that dog whistles with anti-Semitic undertones.

STOP YOUR WHINING, TOM!

Paul

 

Round 21 – Tom

Paul –

Shortly after the crash 2008, I was reading an issue of FORBES which noted that in the decade leading up to the crash, Wall Street had issued derivatives valued in the hundreds of ‘trillions’. A revelation that staggered me at the time.

So I did a Google search today inputing “Derivatives, October, 2008″. Several pages of stories surfaced. Several of which placed the derivatives market at between 500 – 600 trillion. I am sending you a N Y TIMES article from then which puts it in that range.

Now are we to believe the banks had to issue 600 trillion in derivatives to finance ‘affordable housing’?? I don’t believe that for a moment. Investment banks can package derivatives of any kind. And they did! Not just Wall Street but London as well. In fact, before the crash, London was challenging New York as the world’s financial center.

Paul, please send me links to articles describing the trillions in derivatives that weren’t based on mortgages that tanked and caused the financial crisis.

Before the crash, several American cities were addicted to development. Phoenix and Las Vegas built like growth could never end. Despite their lack of water! They now face years of surplus real estate. Atlanta is another one. They too lack water now.

That development wasn’t ‘just’ affordable housing. It also represented mansions, hi-rise condo towers and vast amounts of office and retail properties. My brother, in Chicago, put $14,000 down for a palatial condo that would have stood in a needle tower on State Street. It was never built.

Indeed, the real-estate bubble involved a lot of expensive real-estate as well. And once again, it was only because of the Federal Reserve creating magic money out of thin air that the bubble was able to exist.

Therefore to suggest that affordable housing mandates sunk the whole economy is really simple minded. It is, indeed, the FOX NEWS spin; scapegoating minorities!

Nice attempt to label the people who point out what happened as racists, Paul. Stephen Hicks would be proud of you. That feeble attempt aside, it was the high default rate in the sub-prime mortgages (those written for people without good credit histories) that triggered the collapse. You can read all about it in The Big Short.

While absolving bankers of any responsibility.

I’m going to ask this question one more time, and I expect you to answer it for a change: please explain to me why greedy and self-interested bankers would write mortgages for people who were at high risk of defaulting unless Fannie and Freddie were buying up the loans. Please explain why bankers who weren’t willing to write a mortgage for an attorney with a 10% down payment in 1985 were willing to write a mortgage for a waitress with no money down in 2005.

And this idea that Chris Dodd could steamroll over everyone is perfectly ridiculous. His party was out of power for most the Bush years. His reign as Banking Commitee Chairman didn’t begin until January of 2007, less than 2 years before the bust.

As I already answered, these policies were in place before the Bush years.

I went back and read Stephen Hicks again. To make sure I didn’t miss something. Oddly it seemed even ‘more’ pretentious the second time around. Using academic verbiage to make this case that liberals attack conservatives with mean-spirited labels. A lament that goes back 30 years when followers of Jerry Fallwell felt the mainstream media was openly dissing them. (It turned out Nancy Reagan wanted nothing to with them).

Hicks, as you intoned, feels that liberals are so intellectually bankrupt they must resort to labeling.

No, he points out that liberalism is based on emotions, not logic, and therefore liberals tend to get emotional and resort to name-calling when they can’t deal with the logic presented by their intellecual opponents. You’ve provided numerous examples of that in these debates.

The problem is those labels tend to always fit. It seems that every legislative drive by Republicans and conservatives threatens the interests of the poor, sick and old. The following is a partial list.

Paul, the fact that liberals claim to be the champions of the poor, sick and old doesn’t make it so. Liberal policies royally @#$%ed up the economy, which hurts the poor the most. It’s because of liberal policies that average wage-earners who could retire as millionaires will instead receiving a whopping $14,000 per year in Social Security, even as Social Security creates a debt bomb that will explode and will harm the poor the most when it does.

ABORTION: Low income Blacks and Hispanics are six times more likely to get abortions. Why? Because they’re poor!

I kind of think being pregnant may have something to do with it. Last time I checked, pregnancy wasn’t contagious.

Poor White women are more likely to abort than more affluent Whites. Poor women are less likely to have supportive men. They’re less likely to have health insurance and jobs with paid maternity leaves.

You’ve got the causality backwards. Women get abortions because they’re NOT MARRIED. Married women are far less likely to be poor than unmarried women.

GUNS: Currently almost all Republicans must get an NRA endorsement. And currently the NRA opposes any gun restrictions. They are trying, in fact, to abolish municipal gun laws. A source of major worry to big city mayors. Who know that poor minority children are disproportionately the victims of indiscriminate shootings.

Boy, I guess all those gangs shooting at other gangs with their legally-obtained and registered weapons should have their gun permits revoked. Because you know, if you just outlaw something, it goes away. That’s why there are no illegal drugs in big cities.

If the big-city mayors want to put a stop to the violence, they should all get together and demand the legalization of drugs. Until that happens, the gang wars will continue. Outlawing guns for people like me won’t have any effect on that whatsoever, any more than outlawing alcohol stopped people from drinking.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS: Currently Republicans want to abolish the EPA. Like we can count on state laws to protect the environment! But poor people in the South have no such expectation. Their communities could easily become dumping grounds for toxic waste. With no political power, they’d be quite susceptible.

Nobody wants to abolish the EPA to stop it from preventing toxic waste dumps. They want to stop the EPA from doing things like this: Stossel interviewed a couple recently whose land was flooded when a state-owned bridge broke. They called the state and were told sorry, you’ll need to clear that debris yourself, we can’t get to it. So they did. Then the EPA moved in and told the couple they’d CREATED A LOSS OF WETLANDS — a wetland that wasn’t natural, was on private property, and had only been around for a few months, thanks to a broken state-owned bridge. The EPA threatened to fine the couple $37,000 per day until they flooded their own land again. Then they ordered them not to build the house they’d already started building. Stuck with expensive land on which they were no longer allowed to build, they declared bankruptcy.

That’s why conservatives don’t like the EPA, Paul. They’re @#$%ing bullies who have no qualms around ruining people’s lives and bankrupting them, all in the name of oh-so-precious wetlands and other bull@#$%. I have kids, in case you don’t remember. If you think I don’t mind them growing up in a world that’s full of toxic waste dumps and poisoned waterways, then you don’t have a clue about parenthood.

HEALTH CARE: Republicans maliciously opposed what we now call Obamacare. A plan that could benefit the so-called working poor. And already it has benefited thousands of college kids. Ironically Obama’s plan came from the Heritage Institute.

Oh, puh-leeze. Conservatives “maliciously” attacked ObamaCare because it’s an assault on freedom. And once again, just because liberals declare some Grand Plan to be a benefit to the poor, that don’t make it so. When do-gooder Grand Plans involve making it far more expensive to hire people, you just make it less likely people with low skills will be hired. That doesn’t help them.

TRANSPORTATION: Republicans are currently trying to gut major funding for mass transportation. Which could have grave implications for the urban poor. Who could see service cutbacks on bus and subway lines.

MEDICAID: Republicans want to cut funding. Again the poor could lose.

I see you’re getting really serious about cutting the deficit. We all need to sacrifice, according to your recent emails, yet anything conservatives want to cut makes them cruel and heartless people. What will be cruel and heartless is when the debt bomb explodes and the economy tanks far worse than it did in 2008. Like I’ve said before, I’d love to live in your liberal fantasy-land where we can just keep spending and spending and there won’t be any consequences, but since I live in the real world and don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where skyrocketing debts turned us into another Greece, I’m going to think like a responsible adult instead of like a child who can’t be convinced Mommy and Daddy don’t have an endless supply of funds.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Republicans are currently pushing Right To Work Laws with an eye on busting unions. A thrust the working poor have no reason to cheer.

In case you haven’t noticed, most of the workforce isn’t unionized anymore. The exception is government employees. And a “right to work” law means if I want to hire you and you want me to hire you, we don’t need permission from a third party … almost like we were living in a free country.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: Currently Republicans are buddying up with Catholic Bishops to deny basic contraception to 700,000 women. As though Catholic Bishops have any moral authority!

What a crock of @#$%, Paul. The bishops aren’t denying contraception to women. They’re resisting being ORDERED TO PROVIDE contraception to women. If you can’t spot the difference between the two, that explains rather a lot.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Republicans have had Affirmative Action in their cross-hairs for several years at this point. And some ‘tom’ is always available to lend support to them. But that old adage, “last hired, first fired”, is still quite relevant.

JUSTICE: The same conservatives who claim to be “pro life” always support the death penalty. Stats show beyond a doubt that indigent defendants are more likely to be executed.

I see … so any African American who is against affirmative action is a ‘tom,’ eh?  Yes, white people like you and me can disagree over policies, but black people must all think alike.  Those who don’t agree with Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton aren’t independent thinkers … they’re ‘toms.’  No racism there, Paul.

I’m against the death penalty. The conservatives who are pro-life believe an innocent human being is being killed when a woman has an abortion. I don’t agree with them (although I do if we’re talking about late-term abortions), but I understand their position.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Conservatives who claim to be “pro family” want to break up immigrant families. No matter how long the undocumented have been here. No matter how clean their criminal record might be. Rick Perry, one should note, was castigated for suggesting the Dream Act might have merit.

Some conservatives want to deport all illegals. Some don’t. Gingrich, for example, has said specifically he’s not going to send grandma back to Mexico when her kids and grandkids have been living here as legal citizens.

In issue after issue, Republicans and Conservatives have proposed legislation hostile to the poor.

No, Paul, we’re not hostile to the poor. Conservatives give more to charity than liberals at all income levels, which has been documented many times. Giving to charity is not something people hostile to the poor do. (And I’ll be happy to compare my charitable giving to yours any time you wish.) We have very different ideas on how to help the poor. We’ve seen liberal Grand Plans to “help” the poor backfire over and over and over. We’ve seen those Grand Plans lead to enormous federal deficits that will sink the country. If I see some dumbass doctor proposing to bleed a patient and I try to stop him, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the patient. It means I think the doctor is an idiot and I don’t want him making the patient any worse. Liberals are like doctors who can’t be convinced that bleeding the patient isn’t actually helping. If Liberal Grand Plans to “help” the poor actually worked, poverty would have been wiped out years ago.

So it makes me want to vomit when White males over 40 try to play this stupid victim card

STOP YOUR WHINING, TOM!

You’re kidding, right? I don’t play a victim card. I’m just asking the government to leave me alone. The left’s entire political philosophy is based on victimhood. If you don’t recognize that, your powers of perception are seriously deficient.

Like they’re oppressed by liberals. Or by ‘snotty liberal elitists’; a term that dog whistles with anti-Semitic undertones.

Excuse me, Paul, but I guess I’m not up on my political biographies … is Bill Clinton Jewish? Is Barack Obama Jewish? Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, the Kennedys, Joe Biden, the Cuomos, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid … which of these snotty liberal elitists are Jewish? You’ll have to tell me, because I don’t honestly know.

By the way, you’ve apparently forgotten that my wife is Jewish. I’ve been trying to keep my anti-Semitism under control at family gatherings.

Tom

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Round 20 — Paul

Tom –

You’re mostly right about the dot.com bust. It was, for the most part, a well-deserved correction. Happily sparing Main Street from economic ravages. Yet many of those dot.com stocks were not much more than swindles. Representing companies that existed mainly on paper.

Even high tech stars, like Cisco Systems and Oracle, saw their stocks plunge during most of 2000. Because their Price / Earnings ratios had been totally out of sync. Yet investment banks were rating these stocks as ‘buys’ right up to the bust.

In the aftermath of the dot.com bust, those dubious ‘buy’ recommendations got some degree of coverage, especially in the business press. Then 911, of course, sucked up all the air; severely chilling the markets for a couple months, at least. 911 was still in the news when Enron fell in December of 2001. Its demise was followed by a series of corporate failures.

Global Crossing, WorldCom, U S Health, Tyco and Adelphia all crashed from fraudulent management in the opening months of 2002. But ‘The Accounting Crisis’, as it was known, disappeared from headlines when Bush made Iraq the story. Therefore no meaningful action was taken to correct what had been a wave of white collar crime. Bush, in fact, pushed for less regulation.

Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress from 2002 – 2006. Giving them plenty of time to correct the housing bubble. Had they been inclined. So this notion that stupid liberal policies led to the Financial Crisis is totally disingenuous.

Not that Democrats were blameless, mind you. Clinton signed Phil Graham’s bill to dissolve Glass-Steigel. Which allowed commercial banks to load up on derivatives. And yes, Chris Dodd was a dubious senator. He’s gone now for that reason. And I know that Andrew Cuomo gets less than flattering coverage in THE NEW YORK TIMES.

So if you think Democrats were culpable, in The Financial Crisis, let’s have an investigation. The people deserve a full report. It shouldn’t be left to FOX NEWS.. or ‘any’ cable network to put the spin on what happened. The FOX spin, however, strongly suggests that affordable housing (to poor minorities) fueled the entire crash.

That spin plays to the Republican base: angry White male Southerners. Who have no clue at all of what those ‘toxic assets’ were. Though it came out after the crash that many banking executives had only scant knowledge how derivatives worked. Even Alan Greenspan was not completely sure. As captured in the transcripts of a Fed meeting.

Then there was that issue of executive compensation. Or more specifically the compensation of Wall Street traders. It seems they made absurd amounts selling all those toxic assets. This was clearly identified as a component in the crisis.

Finally one should note that Europe has been gripped by a financial crisis of similar magnitude. One that continues making news each day. So it strains the imagination to guess how stupid liberals in this country caused Europe to go down. Chris Dodd may have an Irish name, but he didn’t cause Dublin’s crash. Nor is Andrew Cuomo responsible for Italy’s debt.

Regarding Stephen Hicks and his post-modern leftist theory, I’m not exactly clear which leftists he has in mind.  The first rule of politics is ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL. That goes for liberals and conservatives. Every region has its own particular strain. Which breaks down even further along class and ethnic lines.

I am sending you, separately, a piece from the Washington Post that tells us what the Tea Party is really all about.

Paul

 

Round 20 – Tom

Paul –

You’re mostly right about the dot.com bust. It was, for the most part, a well-deserved correction. Happily sparing Main Street from economic ravages. Yet many of those dot.com stocks were not much more than swindles. Representing companies that existed mainly on paper.

If overly enthusiastic investors put their money in pie-in-the-sky ideas, that’s their problem. It’s not up to you or me to make their investment decisions for them. That goes with the territory.

Global Crossing, WorldCom, U S Health, Tyco and Adelphia all crashed from fraudulent management in the opening months of 2002. But ‘The Accounting Crisis’, as it was known, disappeared from headlines when Bush made Iraq the story. Therefore no meaningful action was taken to correct what had been a wave of white collar crime. Bush, in fact, pushed for less regulation.

The Accounting Crisis disappeared from the news because members of both parties would have gotten burned. Clinton was pals with the Enron crowd, as were some of Bush’s people.

Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress from 2002 – 2006. Giving them plenty of time to correct the housing bubble. Had they been inclined. So this notion that stupid liberal policies led to the Financial Crisis is totally disingenuous.

What an amazingly illogical conclusion. Those policies had been in place for years. Clinton and Cuomo both pushed for the GSE’s to lower their standards, Obama sued Citibank to make more loans to people without good credit histories, and Janet Reno threatened to prosecute banks that didn’t lower their lending standards. The Republicans failed to pass legislation to force Fannie and Freddie to tighten up their standards after Dodd, Frank & Co. fought like hell to block it. The fact that the Republicans failed to correct dumbass policies instituted by the “affordable housing” crowd in no way negates the fact that those policies caused the housing bubble.

Not that Democrats were blameless, mind you. Clinton signed Phil Graham’s bill to dissolve Glass-Steigel. Which allowed commercial banks to load up on derivatives. And yes, Chris Dodd was a dubious senator. He’s gone now for that reason. And I know that Andrew Cuomo gets less than flattering coverage in THE NEW YORK TIMES.

The problem wasn’t that banks loaded up derivatives. The problem was that the derivatives were based on lousy mortgages that never should have been written. But they were written — and only because Fannie and Freddie bought up the mortgages and created the derivatives. If the banks hadn’t bought the securities, do you think those mortgages would have magically turned out okay? No, the explosion simply would happened elsewhere. Once the bad mortgages were written, the fuse was lit.

So if you think Democrats were culpable, in The Financial Crisis, let’s have an investigation. The people deserve a full report. It shouldn’t be left to FOX NEWS.. or ‘any’ cable network to put the spin on what happened. The FOX spin, however, strongly suggests that affordable housing (to poor minorities) fueled the entire crash.

The term “affordable housing” turned out to be a joke. All the “affordable housing” policies did was fuel a buying frenzy that drove up prices like crazy. Now the same group of idiots who caused that frenzy are looking for ways to prop up housing prices instead of letting them fall to their natural level.

That spin plays to the Republican base: angry White male Southerners.

Riiiiight … who are all stupid Baptists who drive pickup trucks.

Who have no clue at all of what those ‘toxic assets’ were. Though it came out after the crash that many banking executives had only scant knowledge how derivatives worked. Even Alan Greenspan was not completely sure. As captured in the transcripts of a Fed meeting.

Indeed, lots of people didn’t seem to know what they were, as explained nicely in the book The Big Short. Surely you’re not suggesting the angry little pissants in the Occupy Wall Street movement were well-versed in financial derivatives?

Then there was that issue of executive compensation. Or more specifically the compensation of Wall Street traders. It seems they made absurd amounts selling all those toxic assets. This was clearly identified as a component in the crisis.

How does high pay among traders make a good mortgage go bad, Paul? If traders had paychecks more in line with your preference, would that have prevented over-extended home-buyers from defaulting? Would it have prevented Fannie and Freddie from cooking their books and selling securities they assured the financial world were sound? Explain that one to me.

Finally one should note that Europe has been gripped by a financial crisis of similar magnitude. One that continues making news each day. So it strains the imagination to guess how stupid liberals in this country caused Europe to go down.

When exactly did I blame U.S. liberals for the debt crisis in Europe? Europe’s crisis was caused by excessive government spending. In the case of the Irish government, they chose (stupidly) to guarantee their banks’ debts just before the mortgage meltdown caused those banks to incur huge losses.

Chris Dodd may have an Irish name, but he didn’t cause Dublin’s crash. Nor is Andrew Cuomo responsible for Italy’s debt.

Again, why are you disputing charges I never made? I was talking about our meltdown, not Italy’s. Italy and Greece spent themselves into a hole they can’t climb out of. We’re headed there soon enough.

Regarding Stephen Hicks and his post-modern leftist theory, I’m not exactly clear which leftists he has in mind.  The first rule of politics is ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL. That goes for liberals and conservatives. Every region has its own particular strain. Which breaks down even further along class and ethnic lines.

What a strange retort. Last time I checked, we had a lot of national issues dividing the country and very different ideas on how to deal with them.

I am sending you, separately, a piece from the Washington Post that tells us what the Tea Party is really all about.

The Tea Party is really about stopping the runaway growth of government and the debt-bomb it’s lighting under all of us. You’re doing exactly what Hicks described yet again:  trying to link ideas you don’t like to racists, dumb pickup-truck drivin’ Baptists, anti-abortion fanatics, etc., to save yourself the trouble of actually dealing with the ideas.

Tom

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I’m having knee surgery on Tuesday, so this may be it for the week …

Round 19 – Paul

Tom:

Did I ever tell you my first career was that of Store Detective? I was barely 21 when I started walking the floors of I. Magnin & Co at 830 North Michigan Avenue. There I worked undercover for 4 1/2 years before moving across the street to Marshal Field’s Water Tower.

As a Store Detective I got to know the Michigan Avenue Tactical Unit of the Chicago Police Department’s 18th District. Which was based on Chicago Avenue at Clark Street. There were about 6 regular plain clothes cops on that unit whom I spent a huge amount of time with during my 7 years on the Avenue.

Tom, when you’ve spent that much time with Chicago cops you get a little cynical.

My first job in L A was that of Store Detective at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. From there I became a Hotel Detective at The Beverly Hills Hotel. In both of those jobs I saw the rich and famous every day. Warren Buffet and Ron Pearlman were regulars at the hotel in addition to countless entertainment figures.

After the hotel closed for renovations, my next position was that of Security Receptionist at the Bel Air headquarters of Michael Milken, famed Junk Bond King of the 80′s. From Sept ’92 – Nov ’94, I sat at an antique desk in Milken’s sun room of a lobby (the building looked residential). There I signed for Milken’s mail and welcomed his visitors which included some very illustrious people.

In fact, I was there when Mike got out of Federal prison after serving his sentence for wire fraud (convicted by Rudolph Gilliani). Mike was, as you might know, a key figure in The Savings & Loan Crisis. As a purveyor of junk bonds, he empowered several rogues who took over Savings & Loans. Using the assets of those thrifts to buy ‘more’ junk bonds, of course. Which kept the junk bond market going like a “daisy chain”, as FORTUNE magazine opined.

I gained considerable insight into Mike’s career by reading books from his own library. And gleaning information from all his visitors. During this period, Tom, I began to unlearn all that Milton Friedman shit about the beauty of free markets. Instead I began to realize that big time traders could rationalize almost anything in pursuit of profits.

Mike actually saw himself as the Christ of capitalists who was crucified for everyone’s sins. He was also convinced his Jewishness had a lot to with the legal problems. What’s more, he surrounded himself with sycophants who embraced his version of events.

It may interest you to know that in 1987, when his personal income reached 750 million, Mike was planning to buy up huge tracts of West L A between Century City and Santa Monica. Like “Monopoly” the board game. A scheme he might have carried out had he not been prosecuted.

So when you spend years hanging out with Chicago cops, then years among the rich and famous, and finally a couple years among big time buccaneers, you get a unique perspective. Though not, as you presume, the perspective of some wild eyed liberal socialist. No, it’s more the perspective of a Chicago cop who spent years arresting urban junkies. Then later spent time observing the biggest of buccaneers.

So at this point, that evangelical capitalist shit I believed in my early 20′s seems terribly dated now. Especially after The Financial Crisis. It’s like an album from the 70′s that I once found inspirational. But these days it just sounds shallow and irrelevant.

And Tom, if you believe The Financial Crisis was caused by liberal policies that forced banks to lend to unqualified home buyers, then surely you’d agree we need to ‘tighten’ regulations. But you don’t. Which becomes a peculiar paradox.

Did stupid liberals force Wall Street to write trillions of dollars worth of derivatives? Those were the toxic assets that tanked Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers. And what about AIG? They were essentially a casino! Taking bets they couldn’t pay off. Stupid liberals made them do that? Stupid liberals caused the crisis in Europe too? How odd that socialist countries, like Sweden and Denmark, came through the crisis unaffected.

Tom, you and most Republicans are living in a time warp where it’s always 1980. You’re always running against Jimmy Carter and big-spending liberals. The Savings & Loan Crisis, The Dot-Com Bust, Enron, The Financial Crisis.. none of it ever happened. Unregulated capitalism is still the only answer.

Again, it’s like an album from the 70′s that now sounds very shallow.

Paul

 

Round 19 – Tom

Paul –

You keep bringing up fraud as if that’s allowed under a free-market system. It isn’t. A transaction that involves fraud is not a voluntary transaction, which is all free markets are about: voluntary transactions. When crooked investors commit fraud, they are breaking the law. To cite law-breakers as proof that unregulated markets don’t work is just plain silly. You’re essentially saying that since some people break laws, that’s proof we need more laws. No, it’s proof that some people will always break the law, no matter how regulations you pass.

It may interest you to know that in 1987, when his personal income reached 750 million, Mike was planning to buy up huge tracts of West L A between Century City and Santa Monica. Like “Monopoly” the board game. A scheme he might have carried out had he not been prosecuted.

And if he’d bought up huge tracts of land from willing sellers, the harm would be … ?

And Tom, if you believe The Financial Crisis was caused by liberal policies that forced banks to lend to unqualified home buyers, then surely you’d agree we need to ‘tighten’ regulations. But you don’t. Which becomes a peculiar paradox.

Say what? Bad government regulations lead to hundreds of thousands of bad loans being written, so I should take this as proof we need more regulations?

Did stupid liberals force Wall Street to write trillions of dollars worth of derivatives? Those were the toxic assets that tanked Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers. And what about AIG? They were essentially a casino! Taking bets they couldn’t pay off. Stupid liberals made them do that? Stupid liberals caused the crisis in Europe too? How odd that socialist countries, like Sweden and Denmark, came through the crisis unaffected .

The trillions of dollars of worthless derivatives were created by Fannie and Freddie, Paul — two GSEs whose dumbass policies were encouraged and protected by the “affordable housing” crowd in Congress. We’ve already covered this, but before Fannie and Freddie were empowered and encouraged (and in some cases ordered) to buy up most of the mortgages written for people with less-than-stellar credit ratings, banks were quite conservative and cautious. As I told you, my best friend was turned down for a mortgage in 1985 despite having a 10% down payment and a well-paying job as an associate with a law firm. It’s not in the self-interest of banks to write mortgages for people who may not pay them back … unless they get to immediately sell off those mortgages to Fannie and Freddie. That’s exactly what happened, and it was all aided, encouraged, and demanded by government officials.

Here’s part of a piece from that arch-conservative newspaper The Village Voice, explaining Andrew Cuomo’s considerable role in the whole mess:

“Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country’s current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded “kickbacks” to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.”

The Bush Administration was worried about what Fannie and Freddie were up to and tried to impose tougher oversight years before the crash. That move was blocked by Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and others in the “affordable housing” crowd in Congress. I’m currently listening to a book written by a former editor at the Wall Street Journal, who explains at great length how ferociously Frank, Dodd and others fought against all attempts to make Fannie and Freddie tighten up their standards.

Take the GSEs and the other government-sponsored nonsense out of this mess, there never would have been so many bad mortgages which in turn became toxic securities. Those securities were sold by Fannie and Freddie, who cooked their books and assured the buyers the securities were sound. Lots of people on Wall Street made mistakes, but their biggest mistake was in trusting the GSEs.

This was a government-induced meltdown. It followed a government-induced bubble that never should have happened, but was fueled by the Fed.

Tom, you and most Republicans are living in a time warp where it’s always 1980. You’re always running against Jimmy Carter and big-spending liberals. The Savings & Loan Crisis, The Dot-Com Bust, Enron, The Financial Crisis.. none of it ever happened. Unregulated capitalism is still the only answer.

The Savings & Loan crisis was the result of privatizing gains while socializing losses — always a bad idea — the dot.com bust was hardly a disaster (more like a natural correction after too much enthusiasm), Enron occurred not because of unregulated free markets but because of outright accounting fraud (which is already illegal and should be), and the financial crises was government-induced.

Again, it’s like an album from the 70′s that now sounds very shallow.

As opposed to that revolutionary new idea of “let’s spend trilions of dollars on everything we want and make the rich people pay for it.”

Or my favorite: “If we spend all this money now, it’ll actually SAVE money in the long run.” So many big-spending government programs have been sold under that excuse, I’d expect the treasury to awash in surpluses by now.

Two thoughts occurred to me as I was re-reading your last few emails:

I read a book awhile back titled “Explaining Post-Modernism,” written by a philosophy professor named Stephen Hicks.  He traces the intellectual heritage of today’s post-modern leftists versus classical liberals or what we now call “libertarians,” since liberals hijacked a perfectly good word and gave it a meaning far from the original.

As Hicks explains, objectivism (the intellectual grandfather of classical liberalism) is based on logic and rationality.  To quote his book:

Individualism and science are thus consequences of an epistemology of reason.  Individualism applied to politics yields liberal democracy … individualism applied to economics yields free markets and capitalism.

Subjectivism (the intellectual grandfather of today’s post-modern leftism) was advanced by philosophers who specifically rejected rationality. Post-modernism, which inspired much of the modern left’s thinking, began as reaction against the Enlightenment thinkers — ironically, in part to save religious faith from the onslaught on science and rationality.  Immanuel Kant was a major influence, as were a lot of other Germans (surprise):  Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg W.F. Hegel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (not German), Martin Heidegger, and of course Karl Marx.  They specifically rejected reason and logic in favor of subjectivism.

Simply put, an objectivist thinks this way:  If it’s true, I believe it.  A subjectivist, however, thinks like this:  If I believe it, it’s true.  According to Heidegger, for example, reason tells us nothing important, and logical inconsistencies are not a sign of intellectual failure.

Now, once again, try to be objective (there’s that word again) while answering this question:  who is more resistant to pesky things like logic and reason, an objectivist or a subjectivist?  Who has an easier time ignoring logical inconsistencies in a belief system?

As Hicks points out, only a subjectivist could believe that:

  • All cultures are valid and equally deserving of respect, but Western culture is really bad.
  • Values are subjective, but racism and sexism are really, really bad.
  • Technology is destructive and bad, but it’s not fair that some people can afford more of it than others.

The post-modernists were also collectivists.  Here are few relevant quotes:

“The state ought to have a universal compulsory force to move and arrange each part in the manner best suited to the whole”.  – Rousseau

“All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the state … this final end has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be member of the state.” – Hegel

“A single person, I need hardly say, is something subordinate, and as such he must dedicate himself to the ethical whole.” – Hegel

Because post-modern leftism is based on philosophies that appeal more to emotions than to rationality, leftists the post-modernists taught that language isn’t a tool for seeking the truth; it’s a weapon to wielded for the purpose of acquiring power.  Don’t like what some objectivist-individualist wrote, but having a hard time disputing it?  No problem.  Declare logic a “white male construct” and apply the principles of Deconstruction … otherwise known as “If you can’t debate your opponent’s ideas, label him a sexist or a racist.”  Therefore, personal attacks on your intellectual opponents are not only considered fair game, they’re encouraged.  That’s not just some right-winger’s opinion; it’s clearly stated in famous leftist texts, such as Rules For Radicals, which urges readers to attack, attack, attack, make it personal if need be, because the ends justify the means.  Hicks brought this up in his introduction:

A related puzzle is explaining why postmodernists — particularly among those postmodernists most involved with the practical applications of postmodernist ideas, or putting postmodernist ideas into actual practice in their classrooms and in faculty meetings — are the most likely to be hostile to dissent and debate, the most likely to engage in ad hominem argument and name-calling, the most likely to enact politically-correct authoritarian measures, and the most likely to use anger and rage as argumentative tactics.

Whether it is Stanley Fish calling all opponents of affirmative action bigots and lumping them in with the Ku Klux Klan, or whether it is Andrea Dworkin’s male-bashing in the form of calling all heterosexual males rapists, the rhetoric is very often harsh and bitter.  So the puzzling question is: Why is it that among the far Left — which has traditionally promoted itself as the only true champion of civility, tolerance, and fair play — that we find those habits least practiced and even denounced?

Substitute “Bircher” for “racist,” and that pretty much sounds like you in a couple of your emails, wouldn’t you agree?

On your examples of Michael Milken, Enron, etc. … Thomas Sowell wrote in The Vision of the Anointed that when his students used to declare this-or-that system bad, the first question he always asked them was, “Compared to what?”  Comparing a system you don’t like to perfection is a neat rhetorical trick, but it has nothing to do with anything real, since all systems involve human beings and human beings are flawed.  The Anointed, Sowell wrote, employ this trick all the time when trying to push through the next Great Plan.  If there are flaws in the medical system, it must be replaced with a Grand Plan.  If there are flaws in free markets, we must replace them a Grand Plan.

So Milken and Enron and Madoff committed fraud … so what?  Does that prove free markets are bad?  No, not even close.   Fraud is fraud, period.  It has nothing to do with free markets (fraud means an exchange wasn’t voluntary), and sure as heck has nothing to do with allowing people to invest their own money in a simple index fund.

Going by your logic, we need to get rid of most government programs.  After all, the list of scandals involving government officials who committed fraud would fill volumes.  The biggest and most damaging fraud in recent years was committed by Fannie and Freddie — GSEs run entirely ex-government officials.

Tom

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I must apologize (again) for being a lousy steward of my own blog.  When I get swamped, this is the one I let slide.  The debate has gone on many more rounds, and I’ll try to get caught up.

Round 18 — Paul

Tom –

So let me get this straight. We could just dissolve or phase out Social Security? Then start a public education campaign to let everyone know to put aside 15% each year in an IRA, Savings Account, or Market Index Fund? And no government agency is needed to regulate these plans? Or to make sure people even comply?

Like we can trust the banks again? And put our faith in markets? Without any Congressional hearing to determine why the banks all failed?

Did we ever get a Ken Starr? Investigating banks? And holding weeks of hearings with bipartisan committee members? Could Congress not cooperate in finding out what happened? Just so we can have a transcript like THE STARR REPORT?

Consider the following examples of free-market mishaps from the not-too distant past.

In the late 1980′s, when the Savings & Loan Crisis unfolded, Charles Keating emerged as a principal actor. Keating had been CEO of Lincoln Federal Savings & Loan. Where he had directed tellers to recommend Lincoln high yield bonds (aka junk bonds) to elderly depositors. While falsely assuring them the bonds were government guaranteed.

After the collapse of Enron in 2001, hundreds of employees were dismayed to learn their IRA’s were leveraged on Enron stock. And many of those employees worked for utilities Enron had acquired.

When Bernie Madoff fell, it developed that dozens of bright and famous people were invested in his scam. Many through so-called ‘feeder funds’ Madoff cultivated. Funds that seemed to have no apparent link to him. Surprising victims who never thought their funds were only fronts.

Amid the Sub-Prime Crisis we learned that almost ‘half’ of all sub-primes were issued to people who could have qualified for conventional mortgages. But sub-prime brokers had incentives to sell their type of mortgage x.Which was obviously too complicated for common folks to grasp.

Furthermore this whole dispute regarding robo-signings (foreclosures signed by robots) has yet to be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. Attorney Generals in several states feel the robo-signings violated ‘their’ state laws.

So where do you get this notion we can trust free markets?

And what makes you think common people really have a grasp of where to put their money? Again, so many of Madoff’s victims were bright and prosperous. People you would think ‘had’ the best advice.

Finally let me ask, if Social Security is dissolved, which agency will help those seniors who ‘lose’ their retirement plans? Because with no regulation or oversight a huge number of people will lose their nest eggs long before retirement. What do we do with them then? Get specific on this point.

Paul

 

Round 18 — Tom

Paul –

So let me get this straight. We could just dissolve or phase out Social Security?

It would have to be phased out. We can’t renege on the financial obligations we made to people who were forced to pay into the system their entire working lives. Everyone below retirement age should be allowed to opt out in return for giving up a percent of benefits, based on age. I’d happily opt out and let them keep 100% of my supposed benefits, but that’s me. The alternative to is let this Ponzi scheme crash the country.

Then start a public education campaign to let everyone know to put aside 15% each year in an IRA, Savings Account, or Market Index Fund? And no government agency is needed to regulate these plans? Or to make sure people even comply?

Make sure people comply? Do you think it’s your job to force people to save for retirement, Paul? What, if anything, does the term “a free country” mean to you, anyway? If people choose not to save for retirement, it’s not your job or mine to threaten them with violence (every law, EVERY SINGLE LAW, is backed up with the threat of violence) and order them to do so.

Most people would opt for having the 15% withheld from their paychecks and automatically invested, as milions of Americans already do with their 401ks. As for making sure the plans are legitimate, fine, let the government inspect their books. Protecting people from fraud is a proper function of government.

Like we can trust the banks again? And put our faith in markets? Without any Congressional hearing to determine why the banks all failed? Did we ever get a Ken Starr? Investigating banks? And holding weeks of hearings with bipartisan committee members? Could Congress not cooperate in finding out what happened? Just so we can have a transcript like THE STARR REPORT?

Of course you’ll never get a congressional hearing to determine why the banks failed. You really think Congress wants to expose its own role in producing the big bubble and crash? You think Chris Dodd and Barney Frank want to hold hearings so they can remind the citizens how they fought tooth and nail to prevent greater oversight of Fannie and Freddie? You think Congress wants to drag Andrew Cuomo up to Capitol Hill and ask him to explain why he ordered the GSEs to start buying more sub-prime loans? You think Congress wants to grill Obama on why he sued Citibank to force them to make more of exactly the type of loans that went bad? You think Congress wants to grill Bill Clinton on why he reduced the amount of capital Fannie and Freddie were required to maintain?

The government has no interest in getting to the bottom of this mess, because it was government-induced. The banks failed because they wrote too many bad mortgages, and they wrote too many bad mortage because the “affordable housing” crowd in government enabled them to do so — and in many cases ordered them to do so.

Consider the following examples of free-market mishaps from the not-too distant past.

In the late 1980′s, when the Savings & Loan Crisis unfolded, Charles Keating emerged as a principal actor. Keating had been CEO of Lincoln Federal Savings & Loan. Where he had directed tellers to recommend Lincoln high yield bonds (aka junk bonds) to elderly depositors. While falsely assuring them the bonds were government guaranteed.

So he engaged in fraud, which is illegal. I guess if we make fraud double-double illegal, it’ll never happen again. But I’m not advocating forcing seniors to go out and pick stocks and bonds. I’m advocating allowing people to make their own investment decisions. Most of them would probably pick the safe route and go with simple index funds. If others want to make riskier investments, it’s not up to you or me to decide that we know better than they do and impose our preferred plans on them. That’s what I mean by the amazing arrogance of The Anointed. You’re so convinced that other people are too stupid to make their own financial decisions, you feel justified in forcing them to accept your superior wisdom on these matters and stick with a dismal retirement plan that is racking up trillions in unfunded liabilities — all for their own good, of course.

After the collapse of Enron in 2001, hundreds of employees were dismayed to learn their IRA’s were leveraged on Enron stock. And many of those employees worked for utilities Enron had acquired.

I see … hundreds of people who were foolish enough not to diversify their portfolios got burned, so this means everybody should be forced into giving up 15% of their paychecks in exchange for a 1.5% return on investment — or a negative return if you die young — that is bankrupting the country. Yes, I see the logic there.

When Bernie Madoff fell, it developed that dozens of bright and famous people were invested in his scam. Many through so-called ‘feeder funds’ Madoff cultivated. Funds that seemed to have no apparent link to him. Surprising victims who never thought their funds were only fronts.

Well, you’ll got me on that one. Since multi-millionaires were seduced into going after big gains by a scam artist, this proves that working class people can’t be trusted to put 15% of their pay into an index fund and retire far better off than they will with Social Security.

Amid the Sub-Prime Crisis we learned that almost ‘half’ of all sub-primes were issued to people who could have qualified for conventional mortgages. But sub-prime brokers had incentives to sell their type of mortgage. Which was obviously too complicated for common folks to grasp.

And this relates to the ability of people to stick 15% of their paycheck into an index fund or savings-account IRA how, exactly? The only reason the banks were able to keep writing mortgages for less and less credit-worthy people is that the Fed kept creating the new magic money to fuel the borrowing frenzy.

Furthermore this whole dispute regarding robo-signings (foreclosures signed by robots) has yet to be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. Attorney Generals in several states feel the robo-signings violated ‘their’ state laws.

The people trying to get out of their mortgages because of contract pages being robo-signed happily took the money and bought the houses … but now they’re trying to get out of their contractual obligations on a technicality. If the banks canceled mortgages for people whose copies were robo-signed and told them they no longer had a mortgage, would that be okay with you?

So where do you get this notion we can trust free markets?

Paul, if you can cite cases of people getting ripped off by buying index funds, please do so. Show me the headlines about the great Charles Schwab scandals. If people are ripped off by brokers, it’s a legitimate function of government to punish everyone involved and demand reparations.

The biggest financial disaster of our lifetimes was caused by Fannie and Freddie (protected from scrutiny by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd) cooking their books, bundling crappy mortgages into securities (mortgages only written because Fannie and Freddie were anxious to snap them up) and selling them to investors. The biggest financial crisis of our lifetimes was goverment-induced.  Meanwhile, Social Security is racking up trillions of dollars of debt that future generations will never be able to pay. So where do you get this notion that we can trust the government?

And what makes you think common people really have a grasp of where to put their money? Again, so many of Madoff’s victims were bright and prosperous. People you would think ‘had’ the best advice.

Madoff’s victims were financial high rollers looking for the big score. Common people do have a grasp of where to put their money. That’s why 401Ks are so popular. That’s why most people take advantage of employer retirement programs. And it’s why most people would opt to have their 15% withheld and invested in something like an index fund. Again, what you are saying is that common people are too stupid to make those decisions, and therefore you should be able to force your preferred plan upon them.

Here’s what you don’t seem to grasp: even if, by some miracle, your preferred plan turned out to be better for them financially, that doesn’t entitle you to force it on them. If people would rather risk their money in an index fund for the sake of retiring with more money and owning actual accumulated wealth that they could pass on their children, it’s not your place to decide you know what’s best for them and force them into Social Security instead.

Finally let me ask, if Social Security is dissolved, which agency will help those seniors who ‘lose’ their retirement plans? Because with no regulation or oversight a huge number of people will lose their nest eggs long before retirement. What do we do with them then? Get specific on this point.

I did get specific. People who paid into Social Security must be given what they were promised. It would be unconscionable to take their money for 40 years and then renege on that promise. For everyone who isn’t nearing retirement, there should be the offer to opt out. The longer you were in the system, the higher the percent of the original promised payment you’d receive. But if we don’t phase out this ridiculous Ponzi scheme, the payments will stop someday anyway, because the government will finally run out of suckers willing to lend it more money.

Tom

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Round 17 – Paul

Tom:

Are you familiar with the just released book, “COMING APART: The State Of White America, 1960 – 2010″?

Said book, written by Charles Murray, co-author of 1994′s “The Bell Curve”, generated a fair amount of coverage last week. Murray, who Wikepedia describes as “An American Libertarian political scientist”, has a BA from Harvard and a PHD from MIT.

In COMING APART, Murray examines the decline of White America throughout the last 50 years. A major premise seems to be that the decline in well-paid manufacturing jobs has caused a corresponding decline in families and greater dependency on government entitlements.

Last weekend, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE set out to analyze Murray’s findings. Which resulted in a lengthy article that was too long for even me to finish. So I didn’t consider sending it to you. But today Paul Krugman, who I know you hate, hits on the crux of that article.

In short, lower class Whites in Red States are dependent on government entitlements more than ever. Yet strangely they’re in denial about their dependencies and supporting Republicans who would shred the social safety net. In other words, the Tea Party movement was largely fueled by these lower class Whites dependent on government.

Look at some of the stats Krugman comments on in this column.

Paul

 

Round 17 – Tom

Paul –

Krugman’s an even bigger jackass than I suspected. I couldn’t find where he got his data on percent of income being made up of government transfers, but I did look up the list of the most conservative and most liberal states, then compared that list to the richest and poorest states.

Several of the 10 most conservative states are also among the poorest states. Several of the 10 most liberal states are also among the wealthiest states. (Hey, I thought Republicans were the party of the rich?!)  So, let’s apply a little logic and see if we can figure out why people in the most conservative states receive more of their income from government transfer programs. Hmmm, that’s a tough one …

And yet I think I’ve got it: The biggest income transfer program is Social Security. If I’m poor and elderly, a much larger share of my total income will be made up of Social Security checks than if I’m rich and elderly. So states populated by a greater proportion of poor people will automatically be more “dependent” on government transfers in the form of Social Security.

However, those people were, like all of us, forced to participate in the Social Security program during their working lives, like it or not. The government took 10-15% of their incomes, like it or not, and now gives them a check that’s a pittance compared to what they could have accumulated in any moderately successful investment program. (For the average retiree, Social Security works out to roughly the equivalent of a retirement program that only earned a 1.5% return on the money “invested.”)

If they’d been allowed to invest that 10-15% for in their own retirement programs, they’d be able to bequeath their accumulated wealth to their children, thus making it less likely their children and grandchildren will also be poor. With Social Security, there’s nothing to bequeath. You die, the payments stop, even if you paid in more than you received, which is often the case with working-class blacks, who tend to die younger than whites.

For Paul Krugman to call conservative low-income people “moochers” because they now receive checks from a program they were forced to participate in – a program that made them poorer in their retirement years than they needed to be – only confirms my earlier opinion: he’s an arrogant leftist jackass.

Tom

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Dear Microsoft –

Well, my old ThinkPad laptop finally got too long in the tooth to be useful, so I bought my first PC with Windows 7 installed.  Wow, what a difference.  Now I finally understand those “Windows 7 – it was my idea!” ads you were running awhile back.

I sell a software system I designed to law firms, so I was already aware of some of the fabulous Windows 7 features.  I want to thank you for those, because they keep me busy.  Once my clients started switching to Windows 7, I went from almost never receiving tech-support calls to receiving them on a regular basis.  That’s when first discovered that you had incorporated one of my favorite ideas:

When an installation program creates a new folder and writes files to that folder, the files should all default to being read-only with permissions denied to everyone.

“This is Tom Naughton, may I help you?”

“Yes, I’m trying to attach the database, and I know I’m doing it exactly like you showed in the tutorial, but I keep getting an access-denied message.”

“Hmm, let’s fire up TeamViewer so I can see your system.  Okay, the database files are in the correct folder … the script is pointing to that folder … what the? … Let me look at the permissions … Oh, boy, everything is set to read-only and permissions are denied to everybody.  You have to manually grant yourself permissions on the database files.”

“I have to give myself permission to use the database files I installed on my own PC?”

“Yes.”

“I have no idea how to do that.”

“Well, you right-click the files, then choose Properties, then Security, then you have to click the Continue button, then … ah, never mind, I’ll do it for you.  Let me take control for a few minutes.”

I never got that call when my clients were using Windows XP, and I have to tell you, it’s great to get to actually talk to so many of them on the phone.  With email and Facebook and Twitter and all that, people just don’t spend enough time actually talking.

Here’s another one of my ideas I already knew you had incorporated:

Some common folders should be automatically marked read-only, and when users de-select the read-only option, the folder should remain read-only even after they click the Apply button — with no warning that the read-only setting wasn’t removed, of course.

I learned about that terrific feature when I started hearing from clients that they could no longer use the mail-merge feature of my software.  As per your instructions, my software installs itself in the Program Files directory.  It’s been doing that for several years without creating any problems.

So you can imagine my surprise when (after several hours of detective work) I realized the mail-merges were failing because sub-folders created within the Program Files directory are read-only and – this is the fun part – that setting can’t be changed by anyone!  Since my software could no longer create a mail-merge data file in a permanently read-only folder, the merges failed.

Brilliant!  What kind of crazy software program would ever need to write a data file inside one of its own folders?  You must have had countless software vendors beg for that read-only feature – because again, that gives us the opportunity to spend time on the phone with our clients as we walk them through moving a program out of the Program Files folder.

But I didn’t realize just how many great ideas you incorporated into Windows 7 until I bought my own Windows 7 PC and started trying to install software.  I know from working in corporate environments that the corporate IT people in charge of PC security believe the ideal computer is one that doesn’t allow anyone to actually do anything (we all stay out of trouble that way), but I didn’t expect you’d apply that philosophy to an operating system with “HOME” in the version name.  Pure genius.

I really appreciate the multiple warnings whenever I try to do something that would make the computer useful.  For example, I double-click an installation program, select “I agree” on the license-agreement screen, enter my serial number, and then – BANG! – up pops a dialog box:

A program is attempting to make changes to your computer.  Do you want to allow this?

Thank goodness for that feature.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally double-clicked an installation file, agreed to a license and entered a serial number, only to discover to my great horror that this series of inadvertent mouse-clicks and keystrokes was about to make changes to my computer.  Always being given another chance to correct this situation was my idea.

And I especially appreciate the constant warnings that only an Administrator can do whatever it is I’m about to do.  Sure, I made myself an all-powerful Administrator on the PC immediately, but the ego-boost was disappointly brief.  So I enjoy being reminded of my lofty position when I’m presented with frequent dialog boxes that say, in effect:

Only someone in the powerful role you already occupy can do this.  Click OK to continue, Oh Mighty One.

That was definitely my idea … as was this one:

When people logged into the PC as an Administrator copy files from a backup drive, they should have to go through several steps to grant themselves permission to use the files before actually using them.

Again, even with an operating system clearly named as the “HOME” version, you can’t be too cautious about security.  Just because you’re an all-powerful Administrator, that doesn’t mean you should start accessing files willy-nilly without having to take a moment and reconsider whether or not you want to give yourself permission to do so.  You may just decide you’re not trustworthy and refuse to grant yourself access.

It was also my idea to keep Administrators on their toes by making them consciously run installation programs as an Administrator even though they’re already logged in as an Administrator.  You’d be surprised how often Administrators get lackadaisical about this.

Just today, for example, I was attempting to install a package of programming tools, only to see the installation roll back time after time after the progress bar had reached 90%.  So I had to get on the phone and call a tech-support person (who no doubt appreciated the opportunity to talk to someone for a change).

“Oh, in Windows 7 you have to install that package using Administrator privileges, or it will fail.”

“But I am an Administrator.”

“Yes, but if you just double-click the .exe, you’re not installing it with Administrator privileges.”

“Say what?  I am the Administrator.”

“I know, but instead of double-clicking the .exe you have to right-click it and choose Run As Administrator.”

“So I’m the Administrator, I’m logged in as the Administrator, but if I just run the installation program, I’m not installing it as an Administrator?”

“That’s right.  You have to choose to do that by right-clicking and then clicking Run As Administrator.  Otherwise you’re not installing as an Administrator.”

“Even though I am the Administrator?”

“That’s right.”

“Who the @#$% thought that was a good idea?”

Then I remembered:  I did.

Windows 7 … it was my idea.

Thank you, Microsoft.

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