The Flim-Flam Party

David Leonhardt had an interesting column on fiscal responsibility recently in the  New York Times.

“Fiscal responsibility” is one of those terms the applicability of which depends upon its definition. (I define “fiscally responsible’ as paying as you go, so putting a new government program or a war on the national credit card in order to keep current tax rates low wouldn’t qualify.) Conventional wisdom is that Republican administrations have been more fiscally-responsible than Democratic ones. Leonhardt questions–and debunks–that belief.

By now, nobody should be surprised when the Republican Party violates its claims of fiscal rectitude. Increasing the deficit — through big tax cuts, mostly for the rich — has been the defining feature of the party’s economic policy for decades. When Paul Ryan and other Republicans call themselves fiscal conservatives, they’re basically doing a version of the old Marx Brothers bit: “Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

Ever so slowly, conventional wisdom has started to recognize this reality. After Ryan’s retirement announcement last week, only a few headlines called him a deficit hawk. People are catching on to the con.

But there is still a major way that the conventional wisdom is wrong: It doesn’t give the Democratic Party enough credit for its actual fiscal conservatism.

Aided by charts illustrating his thesis, Leonhardt points out that, at least for the last several decades, Democratic administrations have reduced the deficit, while Republican administrations have grown them. Democrats have done that by raising taxes, by cutting military spending and by reducing corporate welfare.

Some of them have even tried to hold down the cost of cherished social programs. Obamacare, for example, included enough cost controls and tax increases that it’s cut the deficit on net….Get this: Since 1977, the three presidential administrations that have overseen the deficit increases are the three Republican ones. President Trump’s tax cut is virtually assured to make him the fourth of four. And the three administrations that have overseen deficit reductions are the three Democratic ones, including a small decline under Barack Obama. If you want to know whether a post-1976 president increased or reduced the deficit, the only thing you need to know is his party.

So why is it that the “conventional wisdom” does not reflect this reality? Leonhardt faults  journalists’ devotion to the idea of “balance,” and their ingrained belief in (false) equivalence. There is a hard-to-dislodge conviction that–whatever the misbehavior–both parties must be equally guilty.

I’ve spent 25 years as a journalist and have repeatedly seen the discomfort that journalists feel about proclaiming one political party to be more successful than the other on virtually any substantive issue. We journalists are much more comfortable holding up the imperfections of each and casting ourselves as the sophisticated skeptic.

As he concludes,

The caveat, of course, is that presidents must work with Congress. Some of the most important deficit-reduction packages have been bipartisan. The elder George Bush, in particular, deserves credit for his courage to raise taxes. Some of the biggest deficit-ballooning laws, like George W. Bush’s Medicare expansion, have also been bipartisan. In fact, the Democrats’ biggest recent deficit sins have come when they are in the minority, and have enough power only to make an already expensive Republican bill more so. The budget Trump signed last month is the latest example.

So it would certainly be false to claim that Democrats are perfect fiscal stewards and that Republicans are all profligates. Yet it’s just as false to claim that the parties aren’t fundamentally different. One party has now spent almost 40 years cutting taxes and expanding government programs without paying for them. The other party has raised taxes and usually been careful to pay for its new programs.

It’s a fascinating story — all the more so because it does not fit preconceptions. I understand why the story makes many people uncomfortable. It makes me a little uncomfortable. But it’s the truth.

Truth, of course, hasn’t been faring so well in our post-fact, “fake news” world….

 

 

36 thoughts on “The Flim-Flam Party

  1. “0we no man anything.” My parents believed and practiced that. If we didn’t have the money, they didn’t get it.

  2. Have we ever faced a future in our nation when the younger generation entering the workforce were faced with significant debt (student loans) as much as we see today and the prospects of national debt not seen since after World War II?

  3. George C. Scott’s movie of the name you use in the title of today’s essay told it simple and true, and today, it’s easy to just identify the political party that story was about by noting that it then, as well as conservatives of today, were and still are trying to get something for nothing.

  4. Marge; that is certainly an intelligent way to live and I try but…when my 31 year old furnace died during the mid-January ice storm and I spent three days without heat…I was fortunate to find a man to owe, even at 9.9% interest on the loan. At 80 years old; not many would take a chance on approving a loan in any amount.

    Norris; your point is certainly on target. My generation tried to get enough education to get into the workforce to enable them to incur necessary debts…such as mortgages. Starting adult life “in the hole” with the cost of education today will deter many from seeking higher education. Of course if DeVos enacts her national education plan; students will not see the benefit of higher education because “God will provide.”

    Steve; President Flim-Flam Man has lived 70 years “getting something (everything) for nothing” and there appears to be no stopping his continuing this lifestyle – at our expense.

    Actual results of that much touted ” Trump tax reform/cuts” will not be seen or felt by the general public (the primary source for tax dollars as has always been the case) until next year when they find the loss of exemptions on their IRS forms. This fact scares me because too many voters will find the misleading “tax cuts” claim to be a reason not to bother voting this year; which election outcome will be the basis for the 2020 presidential election.

    “Get this: Since 1977, the three presidential administrations that have overseen the deficit increases are the three Republican ones. President Trump’s tax cut is virtually assured to make him the fourth of four. And the three administrations that have overseen deficit reductions are the three Democratic ones, including a small decline under Barack Obama. If you want to know whether a post-1976 president increased or reduced the deficit, the only thing you need to know is his party.”

    “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” In the above copied and pasted quote, we are given a very basic and simple choice. Which past is worth consideration to repeat and which will doom our near future? These 2018 elections, primary and general elections, gives us the opportunity to choose.

  5. Listening to one of our daughters talk about what living cost her made me nearly cry. She works lots of overtime too.

  6. It’s all about marketing. Republicans are the masters of marketing. Democrats still don’t seem to know what it is.

  7. As for Truth, it’s very uncomfortable for a reason. Accepting it means you must take responsibility for this reality and change it. The other option is denial.

    We have been in denial for decades.

    This quote from above, “One party has now spent almost 40 years cutting taxes and expanding government programs without paying for them. The other party has raised taxes and usually been careful to pay for its new programs.”

    Yet the stock market continues setting new records and our banking system profits handsomely and remains intact even though they refuse to loan money at reasonable rates. Some very intelligent people are asking that we start praying for the new Fed Chairman appointed by the brilliant reality TV host. Stagflation may be our reality very soon.

    Its simple math, who do you think has paid for all the Washington political games?

    The journalist Sheila quotes doesn’t seem to point to the winners and losers during the last 40 years even though every single economic chart I’ve read points them out in simple terms. Why does he avoid speaking the real truth?

    Politicians are hired by the Donor Class to perform very specific functions. Both political parties have made their Donors extremely wealthy, but it’s come at the expense of the working class. ALL OF IT.

    Meanwhile, the working class is divided through the use of very targeted propaganda. Racism continues to be one of the favorite divisionary tactics because it works. However, it doesn’t work so well for the young people who are several generations mixed. They are color blind unless taught by their racist parents but those kids face difficulties in schools which aren’t completely segregated.

    David scratches the surface of the truth but he’s nowhere even close to it. If you still don’t believe this is class warfare, you’re in denial. #WakeUp

  8. It’s easy to pin this latest fiscal fiasco on Trump, but he’s not smart enough to put it forth nor sell it. This looming fiscal debacle is pure Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand bullshit ideas about economics. He lies with a straight face and cooks numbers like the money chef he is for the corporate moguls who run the government. Paul Ryan is the darling of the capitalists, and they are racing to the edge of the financial cliff as fast as they can before they are discovered as the thieves of civilization they are.

    It doesn’t matter what the media presents to us – or doesn’t – because the runaway capitalists will continue the long con and fulfill Marx’s predictions about capitalism destroying itself. Marx must have conjured up Ryan, Mercer, Koch, Scaife, Coors, et. al., when he wrote “Das Kapital”.

  9. “WASHINGTON, Michigan, April 28 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened to shut down the federal government in September if Congress did not provide more funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico.”

    Prez Flim-Flam has flipped his wig…or we can hope that this will only result in this idiotic, egotistical threatening rant posted by Reuters. Another “news flash” this weekend; poor Donald didn’t watch much of the Paralympics because they were just too difficult for him to watch. I doubt many of us have forgotten his ugly ridicule of the disabled journalist during his campaign. Trump probably looked at the Paralympics as the comic relief from his Fox News addiction.

    “As for Truth, it’s very uncomfortable for a reason. Accepting it means you must take responsibility for this reality and change it. The other option is denial.”

    OK Todd; how do we get Congress, the current shifting administration and Trump himself to face up to these Truths and begin to take responsibility for the current chaos? They have been operating on the option of “denial” since 2015 when they shifted Trump into the foreground regarding the presidential election. We, whether called Democrats, leftists or liberals are in a position of no authority at this time, we are onlookers at a pending 21st Century Holocaust in this country and the possibility of nuclear war world-wide. In case you missed it; the majority on this blog as faced our years of denial and are working to overcome the results we HELPED bring about. It is not fully our fault, our responsibility or within our ability to change all wrongs going on in the current administration.

    Vernon is right when he says we cannot place ALL of the blame on Trump for the current fiscal fiasco; and maybe his reference to Ryan/Rand governing, plus McConnell’s evil control, answers my oft repeated question as to why the GOP pushed Trump into the nomination while dumping 16 other possible candidates. Could any of them be as out of control and that easy to place all the blame on and agree to end the Constitution, democracy and all long-standing diplomatic relationships around the world? They repeatedly insult our intelligence throughout the day with new, distracting traumatic Tweets, reports and actions…luckily Robert Mueller appears to keep-on-keepin’-on with his Putin/Russia investigation and reaping new evidence almost as often as Trump denies it as a “witch hunt”.

  10. I would blame the now established methods of reporting, campaign slogans, and political ideology of the using simplistic one word or few word descriptors. Examples of this include but are not limited to: Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Family Values, Hoosier Values, Hope and Change, American Exceptionalism, Welfare Kings and Queens, Hawk, Dove, Entitlement Programs, Death Taxes, Rocket Science, Trickle Down, etc.

    These descriptors allow the mind to run amok to fill in the blanks and that is the idea, you do not have to think to deeply. It is like describing the fictional characters Sherlock Holmes and Dirty Harry as detectives and expecting them to be the same. The McMega-Media struggled with labeling Bernie Sanders, since issues dominated his message.

    The so-called Fiscal Conservatives or Deficit Hawks that call for fiscal restraint never fill in the blanks with what exactly that they want to slash and burn. The Defense Department is never on the slash funding list.

    Paul Ryan has never to my knowledge been forced to say in public what programs or spending he would slash and burn and it’s effects. Ryan is allowed to say one word “entitlements” without any specifics. The McMega-Media with it’s intellectual shallow reporting lets Ryan off the hook.

  11. JoAnn,

    “Could any of them be as out of control and that easy to place all the blame on and agree to end the Constitution, democracy and all long-standing diplomatic relationships around the world?”

    No. It’s a massive deceptive, non-linear, web-like, multiple-leveled attempted TAKE-OVER. Vernon can see it best because of his engineering aptitude [ extraordinary spatial relations ability], residence in Texas, a long standing concern about the effects of racism, as well as understanding where and when it all BEGAN.

    The movement needs MASSIVE DECEPTION as it is nothing new. It is straight out of the Nazi playbook. For a clearer understanding read: “The Nazis March to Chaos: The Hitler Era Through the Lenses of Chaos-Complexity Theory” by Roger Beaumont (Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, 2000).

    The center of gravity (COG) of the Religious Right/Far Right Movement originated in Texas, more specifically Dallas. It’s more than just seeing it, it’s also about feeling it.

    “What led me [Roger Beaumont] to approach this VORTEX? In the late 1980’s I became interested in chaos-complexity during a visiting year at the Naval Academy, where I was aided and encouraged by several colleagues as well as by relatives and friends. After returning to TEXAS A&M, I began work on “War, Chaos and History,” which appeared in 1994.” p. x

    vor-tex (vor’teks) n. pl. -tex’es or -tices’ [< L vertere, to turn] l. a whirlpool 2. a whirlwind 3. anything like a whirlwind, etc. in effect
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary

  12. I’m just glad we have a party willing to fight for the people mentioned within the following article. I’m sure after we’re very successful in suing the Russians and Wikileaks,we can finally forego some of the more serious business (such as suing the Russians and Wikileaks) and begin to tackle the incidental and innocuous concerns within the linked article.
    Again,I’m sure the Democrats will fight tooth and nail in 2019 for these folks and, keep America great as Hillary has expressed that we are on innumerable occasions. After all,we are exceptional country and party.

    http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/21085/xpo_logistics_labor_teamsters_death_abuses_memphis

  13. We have had political propaganda since Adam and Eve (e.g., Lincoln as the old “rail splitter” long after he was rich via representation of railroads (who kicked widows and Indians off their properties during the runup to Promontory Point in 1869). Truth is, as Sheila suggests, the Democratic Party has been the fiscally responsible party. Republicans have demonstrably been the party of the “big spenders” though they have somehow managed to lay that perception on the Democratic Party via skillful propaganda that would make Goebbels proud.

    To me, fiscal responsibility does not involve less public investment (or spending, as Republicans insist on calling it). It involves balancing investment and spending with the political courage to favor policies that will pay for it. We have been led down the garden path by the Kochs and Mercers and their Republican lackeys that increases in taxes are always bad (see Nordquist), unpatriotic, and somehow certain to crash the economy, when the truth is that raising taxes (especially on the under-taxed) is good, patriotic, and as history has proven, strengthens the economy (see the enormous economic growth and expansion of the middle class in New Deal days). We have allowed the myth of an admixture of fiscal responsibility and tax cuts to become policy, which explains our current debt of some 23 trillion dollars, aided by a some 2 trillion dollar increase in that stratospheric debt via a tax bill recently enacted by an Ayn Rand Speaker and a president who is personally enriched by such enactment.

    When I survey the domestic and international scene and try to pick out who are our friends and who are our enemies in terms of our survival and that of our democracy, I am increasingly coming to the view that Putin, Kim, the Chinese et al. occupy second place to the Ryans, Trumps and Nordquists, whose terminal greed has overtaken reason and who do not seem to recognize that if this country goes, so do they and their accumulation of assets since rampant inflation will render their accumulation of assets meaningless. What to do? Vote as though our survival and that of our democracy depends upon it, because it does.

  14. Gerald,

    “…..Ryans, Trumps and Nordquists, whose terminal greed has overtaken reason and who do not seem to recognize that if this country goes, so do they and their accumulation of assets since rampant inflation will render their accumulation of assets meaningless.”

    Don’t be so sure. Probably, many of them have already taken action to minimize their loses.

  15. It’s hard to fault the press’s reluctance to call Democrats “the party of fiscal responsibility” when Shumer and Pelosi and Obama and Biden and Ms. Clinton seldom cite that reality. Dems need to emulate Republicans, at least to some small degree, in beating their chests when they’ve got something substantive to brag about. Why are we so shy about our accomplishments?

    Republicans can concoct fanciful stories of success and manage to take credit for them even when there is not a germ of truth supporting the claim. Crime, for instance, is at all time lows nationally, but Trump has convinced most of America that we are being consumed by flames ignited by immigrants. If you despise immigrants, that’s strong messaging! Yes, Republicans follow orders and salute more easily than Democrats, but that doesn’t preclude us from learning how to express ourselves. Finding an effective message, spreading it rapidly to all our spokespeople, and staying on message through a couple of news cycles is a powerful way to connect with voters. We need to find the discipline to learn and then apply that skill. Simply looking at all sides of an issue and declaring it complex – a Democratic strength – doesn’t cut it with huge numbers of voters.

  16. Debt is always of course the other side of a coin called “investment”. Every instance of borrowing is the “dating” of someone with money that they don’t currently need by someone who needs money now that they don’t have. Banks and other financial institutions are the dating services that connect those with extra to those with a shortage (which smart people/companies/institutions/countries only use when their shortage is temporary but of course is tempting to use when the shortage is not temporary because it puts the pain of the situation off in time until the always attractive “later”. That’s the Republican mantra. Never solve a problem that can be put off.)

    Now, given all of that, what does an economy with extremely inequatable wealth distribution look like?

    Good guess. Like the one Republicans sniffing after Agent Orange are creating.

    We see it as a problem, they see it as a goal.

  17. Marv – I’m relatively sure because we live in a global economy and the collapse of our economy would likely trigger a collapse of the world economy in which Swiss bank accounts and worthless real estate holdings would not save the Trumps, Mercers, Kochs and their ilk.

  18. Gerald,

    I’m in agreement with you. But they still will have much more, when it all comes down, than we will have. That’s why I don’t take any breathers. In my opinion, these jerks, if not stopped now, are going to bring that collapse much more sooner than later.

    Our economics degrees should be worth something. Who knows? Maybe, at this time in our lives, they are more valuable than our law degrees.

  19. Gerald,

    We also have military backgrounds. I’m beginning to think, maybe my sports background, at the highest level, is going to be our TRUMP CARD.

  20. So, it seems that the perpetual growth model of economics is in jeopardy even before the resources run out. The inconvenient truths of giveaways to the rich while continuing to screw the working classes are about to show how thin this bubble’s skin really is. I’ll bet it’s as thin as Trump’s.

    Trump’s 80-minute upchuck in Michigan yesterday shows how shallow, intimidated and thoughtless this creature is. I noticed that all it took was 20 minutes before people started leaving. Even the true believers are losing interest in “poor Donald’s” problems.

    Yes, the global economy is teetering on the precipice of failure, but look for the recovery to begin in China and Europe, while our Republican besotted capitalists keep whipping that dead horse of ME FIRST capitalism. I’m glad I’m old.

  21. I’m getting the feeling that WE are all becoming more and more on the SAME PAGE. Who knows? Maybe there will have been something positive about Donald Trump.

  22. One way to grow the economy is to increase debt. Of course it only appears to be growing but so much in this shallow world today are appearances.

    Appearances define the breadth, depth and height of Agent Orange and the Republicans addicted to them.

  23. William @ 11:32 am – good link to real journalism. Now for the flip side of journalism.

    Yesterday, we had a very public display of the degradation of our McMega-Media Press, that is the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, attended by (per the Guardian) 3,000-strong audience at the Hilton hotel. It was all a display to re-assure the American Public of the commitment by Korporate AmeriKa to Free Press, with some laughs thrown in. The narrators on FOX, CNN and MSDNC could never be bothered or permitted to investigate the physical and psychological conditions of the working class in these modern day sweat shops.

    Will the McMega-Media cover the Teachers Strikes across America with the same zealous devotion of air time and assets as they do to Stormy Daniels, or Michael Cohen?? The answer is not only No – It is hell No.

    According to an article in the Intercept: The Democratic Party Is Paying Millions for Hillary Clinton’s Email List, FEC Documents Show. The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list.

    The DNC has taken out $1,700,000 in loans since January 2017, roughly equal to the amount it owes the Clinton campaign, bringing its debt burden to $6.6 million with just $10,093,347 cash on hand. https://theintercept.com/2018/04/25/hillary-clinton-email-dnc-democratic-party/
    ==========================
    Somehow The Intercept scooped our McMega-Media or maybe they were not allowed to report on it.

    You have to wonder how much the DNC lawsuit against the Russians and Wikileaks is costing???

  24. Re:Monotonous Languor,

    Interesting the DNC is paying over a million to “rent” Hillary’s list…Considering it wasn’t too long a go when Democrats were vehemently demanding Bernie Sanders “give” the party his list. Entitlement much? Exceptional hubris? Double standards much? Yep,that’s the DNC.

  25. The Republican fall from grace was both self created and is self maintaining.

    They started in a dysfunctional platform direction and now have no choice but to build ever more an alliance of dysfunctional voters recruited by propaganda on entertainment media funded by oligarchs paid back by creating dysfunctional legislation favoring oligarchs.

    How do you get off of that train? 🤔 I don’t think it’s possible to.

    I think think that America’s only alternative is to only vote Democrats in for now, let the GOP die a peaceful death, then take advantage of the diversity of donkeys and create a replacement two party system.

    We’ll have a few years of chaos but I believe that the restoration of order will occur naturally.

  26. Pete is right that one of the ways to grow the economy is to increase debt, but giving away unearned and borrowed taxpayer money under the guise of tax relief does nothing for economic growth; it only benefits corporate executives and shareholders. There is a big difference between spending and investment. Investment, for instance, involves infrastructure, education, medical care and the like, all of which make for a more efficient economy and a healthier and better educated citizenry, while handing tax money over to Wall Street is spending pure and simple. We get something back from investments, but we get nothing back from handing tax money over to banking and other corporations who plough such gifts into buybacks, executive compensation, Zurich or wherever – an essentially political process which at bottom amounts to nothing more than borrowing against our future and that of our progeny in a tax bill designed to see to it that such borrowing is paid for disproportionately by you and me while the already rich enjoy a gigantic tax cut (which you and I and our children’s children will have to pay over time).

    Those of us who got a chump change increase in our paychecks under the new tax law received such next to nothing nudges out of borrowed money, a borrowing that we and our progeny will have to repay over time, with interest. Net result? The few profited greatly and the rest of us received a raise so small that it will be more than eaten up by increased interest rates, inflation (especially with tariffs and shortages of farm labor), and interest on an increased debt already circa 23 trillion dollars. So tax cuts for whom, Messrs. Ryan and Trump? In words of the street, we’ve been had; the term shaft comes to mind.

  27. Just a note for any you planning a trip to Dallas to hear Mike Pence address the NRA.

    From the NRA Web Page- Due to the attendance of the Vice President of the United States, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for event security at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. As a result, firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind will be prohibited in the forum prior to and during his attendance.

    Among the other prohibited items: Ammo, pepper spray, selfie sticks, toy guns, back packs, laser pointers, etc.

    Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Parkland massacre, reiterated one of the NRA’s own talking points to highlight the organization’s insincerity.

    “I thought giving everyone a gun was to enhance safety. Am I missing something?” he tweeted, referring to the “good guys with guns” theory often touted by the NRA. “On so many levels, this is enlightening. According to the NRA, we should want everyone to have weapons when we are in public. But when they put on a convention, the weapons are a concern? I thought giving everyone a gun was to enhance safety. Am I missing something?”

    https://thinkprogress.org/parkland-shooting-survivors-cry-hypocrisy-after-nra-bans-guns-during-pence-speech-e21f8558bd0c/

  28. *Sarcasm Alert*

    You would think they would hand every attendant a gun–to protect the VP,Dontcha know.

    The hypocrisy in America is amazingly stunning,shameless and flagrant.

    Moreover,,we are always at war somewhere in the world to bring peace. I thought as Americans, we support weddings? The reality is we sure do like to blow many of them up in the ME. I digress.

    Back to hypocrisy. Just like when so many use Europe as an example of good things–yet,oppose them and claim those very same things are just impossible to do here at the homeland (homeland is used as sarcasm). College affordable for everyone? It’s been done and was a reality here in the US at one time. But thanks to that bumbling prick and lousy B movie actor from Hollywood (Ronald Reagan) that went the way of the horse and buggy. Of course,that cannot be accomplished (affordable college)because those making money from today’s education environs have great lobbyists. Besides,that would be going back in time–much to the delight of those godawful deplorables. We can’t go back in time,dontcha know (Think of the Cher Tune; If I could Turn Back Time). We can only have 2 viable political parties. Other countries have several–but we just cannot do such a thing. We will not accept such deviance. It’s a fantasy. Again,we have only 2 parties because we are great and exceptional. Countries with more than 2 political parties are primitive and are not as exceptional and great as the U.S. HealthCare. We just cannot accomplish such a thing because we are just too great to come up with a solution.If we do come to a solution,how can we accommodate the lobbyists representing the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries? We allow a toady such as Max Baucus to take care of the interests of the donors. Hell,the grand plan was to use a program developed by the Republicans and their think-tanks. Is that brilliant? The ACA extended the courtesy of allowing the executives of the affected industries to continue earning multimillions of dollars per year. It was promised it might even get a bit of tweeking within the ensuing years. That’s what we do because we are so darned great– as a country and as an opposing party to the Republicans. Btw,there hasn’t been any of that tweeking of the brilliant Republican idea after more than 8+ years. That’s ok,we’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan for a few years too. Incrementalism my dear friends,we must accept. Just like the tax breaks given to the wealthy was accomplished after so many, many years of incrementalism and opposition from the Democrats. Oh wait!

    Both party organizations seem to operate in the same manner as the television evangelists….They have a lot to say,lots of finger wagging toward everyone, intoxicated by hubris,sanctimonious grandstanding and gratuitous aggrandizement. But, they know deep down, they’re full of it.

    One can only handle so much kabuki and kayfabe in one lifetime. Plus,both ardent supporters of both organizations act as if they’re fanatical religionists. (Is that even a word).

  29. I read and hear constant complaints about our “two-party system.” Perhaps we should amend the Constitution to rid ourselves of the two-party system and provide for parliamentary government with multiple parties who would probably have to rule in coalition most of the time, thus assuring an internal form of checks and balances. Perhaps a form of government entrenched in a document over 200 years old that we still revere is itself a stumbling block to economic, social and political progress in this age of information and automation. One could argue that government, like other areas from our economy dominated by corporate power to our society through changing mores and folkways are subject to evolution, so why is government itself exempted? Perhaps we should have executive power exercised through a prime minister and not a president separately and somewhat kingly empowered via a 200 plus year old document, a document in constant need of judicial interpretation. Perhaps in effecting such a transition we could more fully define the rights of citizens along with adoption of a working document embracing a parliamentary form of government and thus relieve the courts from having to interpret and reinterpret what this old document allows and disallows today, such as the tortured language of Citizens United. Perhaps. Perhaps. Anybody in our little study group for abolition of our system of government in favor of adoption of a parliamentary system?

  30. Gerald,

    “Anybody in our little study group for abolition of our system of government in favor of adoption of a parliamentary system?”

    We first need to decide do we have the CIVIC COURAGE to try for a real DEMOCRACY. We’ve never really had one of those. All we ever had was a PRETENSE to counter the Soviet Union, especially its presence in Africa. And after the “IRON CURTAIN”came down there was no longer any need for PRETENSE anymore so we started to head back, as fast as we could, to the days of a form of FASCISM [Jim Crow] for African Americans but this time it would have to be FASCISM FOR ALL. It looks like we made it back. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

    God save us ALL!

    “We are going to do a terrible thing to you. We are going to deprive you of an enemy.”
    ~George Arbatov, Soviet expert on the U.S., speaking at the end of the Cold War.

    “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what we want, and the other is getting it.”
    ~Oscar Wilde

    The above two quotes from “That Used to be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented and How We Can Come Back” by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2011).

    I picked up a new copy of the above book, the day before yesterday, for a $1.00 at one of the Dollar Tree Stores in Jacksonville. Now, with the Donald Trump presidency, I assume, that’s how much Friedman’s and Mandelbaum’s brilliant advice is worth.

  31. Motivation. While it’s not necessary to know it can reveal more about the plans that it hatches. Let’s do some surmising here.

    Capitalism has been an absolute windfall for a few, a solid benefit to many and a burden to quite a few but over the last 200 years it has pretty much defined progress. While it gets all of the credit the truth is closer to that that success was enabled by the fact of absolutely unlimited, cheap in huge quantities, energy. The success of Capitalism depends on cheap energy and vice versa.

    Reality revealed by science over the last century informed us that such massive use of fossil fuels created a high cost for waste disposal from fossil fuels. We thought that we could just dump the waste into the air once the energy had been removed and it would disappear forever. Reality turns out to be different. The more we dump the more we change some of the fundamentals that we built our civilization adapted to like the distribution of seasonal weather around the world and the level of the seas, and the damage potential of extreme weather plus things like the chemistry of ocean water which is an essential source of food for humanity.

    What to do, what to do. It turns out we can chose one alternative or not in which case nature will chose the other but both require us to replace fossil fuels. We can either do it as rapidly as possible, or nature will dictate when the economically recoverable supply dwindles. The difference in time between the two options is somewhat slippery to pin down so let’s just assume a century. I think that’s longer than we have, some might guess shorter. Our only two alternatives (the one that we can chose, vs the one nature demands) both require the re-sourcing of energy. The difference in costs between them is that of recovering from the consequences of anthropogenic global warming growing every year on critical resources that began a few decades ago and will increase annually until they become unaffordable which will then motivate us to finally adapting our civilization to those inescapable blows to it.

    Bottom line is that Capitalism will lose its essential partnership with energy either sooner (very costly) or slightly later (way more costly).

    This could be a fatal blow to those who built mega fortunes from the former conditions, capitalism and abundant energy. They know this. It’s the topic around the lavish banquet table every year in Davos, Switzerland. What do they need to do to lock in their royal lifestyles given that what created them is short term?

    If we look over big history we know that we went from hunting-gathering to settlements and to protect them from each other a feudal community organization that linked serfs to mega wealthy militarily powerful nobility and as nobody except other nobility could dislodge them they because permanent fixtures supported by the wealth creation of everyone else. That’s what the American and French Revolutions managed to change but Capitalism and abundant energy re-created the same arrangement in every important way since. Now physics and chemistry and economics are unintentionally driving a different and unavoidable revolution to the next arrangement, whatever it turns out to be.

    People in Davos and at other conclaves of course don’t want to go back to economic equality so plan to manage nature’s revolution to maximally advantage their position. Bottom line thinking. Their tools are no longer armor and castles and moats but now are advertising based and effective because we addicted us to enertainment enough so that we purchased a media outlet for every purse, pocket and room over which their wealth can broadcast thoughts to keep us otherwise occupied so that their wealth (capital), rather than our capabilities will save us from the energy shortage and natural consequences problem.

    Enter Donald Trump stage right………..

  32. ‘I define “fiscally responsible’ as paying as you go, …’

    The policy of paying as you go eliminates NATIONAL INVESTMENTS. I have fast departed from writing and speaking in favor of pay as you go, because pay as you go would mean I wanted no Panama canal, no Hoover Dam, no TVA, no interstate highway system, no deep-water ports and was in favor of acquiescing to Hitler.

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