March 1, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Continues His Efforts to Marginalize Conservatism

Yesterday, entertainment personality Rush Limbaugh spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual conclave for the rightest of the rightwing in American politics. Specifically, Mr. Limbaugh sought to address negative reaction to his previous and emphatic statements that he hopes President Obama fails in his efforts to repair the calamitous damage wrought on the United States by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Instead, however, his attempts to justify himself only served to demonstrate how badly modern conservativism has lost its way.

After watching the clip above, it is clear from Mr. Limbaugh's Super Bowl analogy that he regards politics as a team sport, and that he is completely disconnected from the idea that policies have very real consequences for everyday people. Taking this analogy and his stated support for Pittsburgh to its logical conclusion, he would prefer to see both the Super Bowl and the NFL fail than the Cardinals triumph, just as he would apparently rather the United States lapse into depression and social upheaval than grow and succeed through policies he finds distasteful.

On the one hand, I - like many citizens - have serious concerns about the level of debt that the United States is taking on through the economic stimulus package and the budget blueprint unveiled last week. That said, there aren't really any levers left with which to kick-start the economy besides government spending, and it would be pretty hard to argue that the budget priorities of the last eight years have done much for the average citizen. Most Americans approve of Mr. Obama's performance to date, so, what precisely, is Rush Limbaugh against? Here are fifteen of the priorities outlined in the president's budget package:
  1. A $634 billion down payment on fixing health care that will lay the foundation for a more efficient and affordable health care system that covers every single American.
  2. Tax cuts for 95% of working Americans and no increase in taxes for any family making less than $250,000 a year.
  3. More than $100 billion invested in clean energy technology that will create millions of green jobs that can never be outsourced.
  4. Bringing our troops home from Iraq on an actual timetable, ending a war that never should have been fought, and freeing up almost ten billion dollars a month for domestic priorities.
  5. Allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire in order to help close the income gap and strengthen the middle class.
  6. Closing multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for oil companies.
  7. The largest increase ever in funding for federal grants to help families pay for college.
  8. A plan to cut the deficit in half by 2013, despite the drastic measures required to address the enormous budget shortfall and economic damage inherited from President Bush.
  9. Dramatic increases to funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), - the agencies responsible for policing Wall Street.
  10. An end to off-the-books accounting measures designed to hide costs and the use of taxpayer money from the public.
  11. Elimination of unnecessary government subsidies to large banks, health insurance companies and big agribusinesses.
  12. Expansion of access to early childhood education and improvements to schools by investing in programs to produce qualified, high-performing teachers.
  13. Negotiation for lower prescription drug prices through the use of Medicaid's bargaining power.
  14. Increased access to family planning for low-income women.
  15. A cap-and-trade system to address pollution that causes global warming.
Personally, I don't see anything on this list that I find other than desirable. My priority, however, is the national health of the United States, not whether some set of ideas that has failed us miserably gets another shot.

Of course, unlike Mr. Limbaugh, I don't regard American success as a zero-sum game or the failures of others as justification for amoral or thuggish behavior. Divisiveness and lies got us into our current mess, and it might just be me, but I fail to see how they can be expected to get us out. It's time to change direction, pull together, ignore the increasingly insane ranting of people like Rush Limbaugh and his groupies at CPAC, and get the country back on track.


John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

And Limbaugh never made a bigger ass of himself than when he cracked that blasphemous "joke" about himself and God...

John Lofton, Editor,
Recovering Republican

PBI said...


Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

I am not sure that the people who are in danger of losing their houses or have lost their jobs already would agree that conservatism is "irrelevant." Further, our country has rarely had as much God in the White House as it did under George W. Bush. He is a born-again Christian who established an Office of Faith-Based Services and touted his belief that God wanted him to serve, among many other theocratic gestures and comments about the importance of religion in public life.

I find it very hard to credit that there hasn’t been enough God in the way this country has been run over the past 8 years. To my mind, if anything, there has been too much religion and not enough of either morality or credible policy-making.


Anonymous said...

Just to show you how two people can see the same thing totally different...

After reviewing the attached youTube, I saw a person who is VERY aware of the real consequences of our President's proposed policies for everyday people. Rush defends capitalism and self-determination, two things that have been pushed to the side as we address this financial crisis.

I appreciate your concern for the level of debt, but you have decided there are no more levers to pull. How about putting the money back in our hands versus having the central government pick winners and losers? As a small business owner, I have pulled back from spending specifically because of the stimulus and proposed budget (actually the looming inflation). If you do not agree that small business generates jobs, we can stop our discussion now. I have hired 11 people in the past year. With more money in my hands, I could proceed with desired renovations and enhancements to my business. Unfortunately, I will not add solar panels, improve landscaping, upgrade software, expand on services, etc... because I am worried about increased utility costs (ironic since I want to add solar to reduce dependency), increased taxes, increased regulations, etc. Each of these "investments" would require hiring a business to deliver their services.

I don't listen to Rush so I am not sure which items Rush is against. But I believe the question posed is a false premise. I believe many conservatives are quite comfortable with end result of the proposed policies, but VERY uncomfortable with the proposed plan to get there.

Here is my item by item thoughts.

1. Which government run program would you model to get the proposed "efficient and affordable" health care system? It can't be Medicare. This has led to much of where we are today. Nor Freddie or Fannie. Nor Ethanol. Nor ... Even the TSA has what appears to have way too many agents, but it is politically incorrect to discuss this due to "security" and unionized labor. Rather than take $634B downpayment, I suggest we attack the legal system that has forced every Dr. to purchase excessive insurance and issue unnecessary tests to protect themeselves from frivolous lawsuits. As for the projected costs, look at Massachusetts (where I believe you said you would rather live).

2. The top 5% already pay a majority of tax revenue. Taking more will siphon investment dollars that create jobs (see above). This is great fodder but again is short-sighted.

3. How about drilling for more oil on our own soil in the meantime? This will generate much more than $100B AND free us from the dependency of foreign gov'ts. Too, we can control the manner in which drilling occurs. It would be safer and friendlier than say, Mexico drilling a mile outside our restricted areas off shore. Use these funds to invest in clean energy technology. Also, these jobs cannot be outsourced to other nations.

4. Conservatives were ridiculed for "permanent bases". Is this not the same thing when we leave 50,000 troops in country, like Germany, Japan and South Korea? This obviously isn't "bringing our troops home" and it will still cost quite a bit to leave 50K troops there. I did not like that we went into Iraq without a specific, direct response to an international event (i.e. 1st Gulf War). But I do not proclaim to know how to get out, either. It is a real pickle. However, I do know that liberals were against the surge and proclaimed we had already lost. How is this different from Rush's desire that Obama's policies fail?

5. If this is a good idea, why wait until 2011 to let the tax cuts expire? BTW - the tax cuts were across the board AND the rich ended up paying an even higher percentage of the overall tax bill after the cuts were implemented.

6. We AGREE on something. I'd rather they close ALL loop-holes like this.

7. We provide free education thru high school. Grants are fine, but so is taking a few years to earn and save before beginning or completing for college. More importantly, why not restrict public colleges from raising tuition 300% - 400% of inflation every single year. An increase in grants will not curtail this in any way.

8. Good luck on this. And Obama voted for TARP and the 2 previous budgets, right??? Repubs were HORRIBLE stewards of the economy. This does not mean Dems should continue level of irresponsibility.

9. And oversight of USPS after paying its "CEO" a $800K bonus for operating at a loss? Get a clawback for the $90M paid to Raines while running Fannie Mae into the ground. Blah, Blah, Blah

10. Again, we AGREE.

11. Agree, but include ACORN, UAW, ACLU...

12. Or lower taxes so that both parents don't have to work to meet budget. Also support school choice that leads to better performance because of competition for students.

13. Hard to argue against, but who is going to pay for drug R&D? There needs to be an incentive, right?

14. What if it's not used because of the return of welfare formulae that incentivize having more kids that you can't afford?

15. My favorite... 1) Just as much data to suggest warming is in a natural cycle. 2) the cost of cap-and-trade will increase utility bills, further increasing the need for gov't subsidies for all, further increasing individual (and corporate) dependency on gov't, further undermining capitalism and self-determination 3) who will control the environmentalists from preventing businesses from making upgrades to current facilities, or worse, preventing new development because some variation of the mosquitoe may approach being wiped out? 4) Lastly, why is nuclear power off the table? Hasn't France proven this can be done safely and responsibly?

Conservative PRINCIPLES lead to successful capitalism and self-determination. I will be the first to state recent Republican leadership did not follow these principles. In my opinion, Tom Delay is the devil. If he had not been so self-absorbed and ruthless to the Democrats, we may not be in this mess. However, the proposed plan is NOT the answer. I want it to be, but I am a realist. Mark my words, it starts with the families who make over $250K, but it will quickly march downward when that does not generate the projected revenues. But I only use the history of Hoover, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush as my guide. Hopefully, I will be wrong.

lokywoky said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your lovely 'rebuttal' arguments. Once again, right-wing conservatives spout talking points, most of which have been debunked over and over and over ad nauseum.

Just explain to me one thing - and use only facts please - not spoutings from Faux Snooze or their ilk.

If 'conservative' values such as those you claim to espouse are so great - what happened? You (Bush and the Republican Controlled Congress) had six years of unfettered control. You did your tax cuts. You deregulated everything. You got us into a war we didn't need to be in. Thousands have died and more tens of thousands have been wounded for that misadventure and the cost of their care will be in the trillions when all is said and done. You eviscerated every single department of government - including the Department of Justice.

And yet, still, we're still in two wars, the economy is in the tank, 46 million people with no health insurance, millions have lost their jobs, (by the way - there is currently a glut of oil on the world market), bankruptcies and foreclosures are at a record high - and the stock market is at an all time low.

So - how did all this happen with the wonder of conservatism?

And don't try blaming it on Obama. He has been in office for less than 6 weeks and you guys had 6 years of unfettered control, and the last two years, while you didn't control the House, you did have effective control of the Senate - and of course Bush still had his veto pen and his signing statements and his Executive orders.

Again - please tell me how all this happened - and only facts please.

PBI said...

Hi Anonymous (Although I suspect I know who you are!),

Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your (extensive) thoughts. I apologize for the delayed response, but I wanted to try to get to all of your very sensible questions.

To begin, Limbaugh has said on repeated occasions that he hopes President Obama is unsuccessful - because he doesn't want the opposition to "win" - without seeming to understand or care that at this point things are so bad that if Obama fails, the country fails. I'm all for individual rights, but it has become increasingly apparent that this is some sort of game to Rush and the CPACers, and it's not.

At the end of the day, if the economy is growing, education, health care, energy, defense, etc. are functioning well, why does it matter how we got there if our core freedoms and rights remain intact? I don't care if it turns out that Milton Friedman loses a feather in his cap while Keynes gets one, and I find that a great many of those, like Rush, who are suddenly very worried about individual rights and accountability were thunderously silent about issues like Guantanamo Bay, torture as U.S. policy, Plamegate, the USA PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, the politicization of the Justice Department, no-bid contracts, pallets of cash literally disappearing in Iraq, etc., etc., etc.. Maybe you were one of the people who - like me - was outraged by those things, but I know Rush wasn't, and as a result it's a pretty easy judgment for me to label him a self-aggrandizing hypocrite and an unprincipled hack. In my opinion, you give Rush Limbaugh far, far too much credit.

The stimulus package is 40% tax cuts, which will put money in the hands of private citizens and business owners. At the end of the day however - as can be readily discerned by plummeting consumption and a savings rate we haven't seen since the 1990's - people are scared to spend. Add to that the fact that banks still aren't lending at any sort of sustained pace, and the sole lever left to boost spending becomes the government. (Bernanke himself came out in favor of Obama’s plans on Tuesday. See here.)

The reason government spending is the right lever for its time is that it is guaranteed to take place, and infrastructure projects will leave something behind that has tangible, long-term value. Tax cuts, on the other hand, are at least as likely to spur increased savings as to be spent, and there is ample historical data to justify the direction in which Obama is headed. (Direct spending will target public projects, so I’m not sure I understand your reference to the central government picking winners and losers.)

I wholeheartedly agree that small businesses generate jobs, but I'm not sure why you'd hold back from spending now if you're concerned for future inflation. (And I agree, there will be inflation down the line.) If you're worried about the cost of purchases and financing rising in the future, shouldn't you be making them now, while prices are down?

All that being said, I don't think anybody - President Obama included - thinks the stimulus bill is a desirable thing or a policy we’d choose to follow in better times. The fact of the matter is, however, that the outlaw capitalism of the last decade or so has put us in a position with very few options.

And now, on to the numbers!

1. Who says we have to pick from any of the models for healthcare that cited? The link you provided, in fact, centers on an alternative to the Massachusetts model: single payer. Of course, this will raise cries of "socialized medicine, horrors!" but honestly, something’s GOT to change. (I’m not advocating single payer in particular; merely pointing out that there are plenty of options to be explored by people more expert in the realm than I.) The United States spends more of its GDP on healthcare – and receives less in return – than any other developed nation. (See here.) It’s currently a financial black hole – with cost increases far outpacing inflation - and the results do not justify the price.

The cost of malpractice insurance has been a convenient boogie man for some time. However, it’s been demonstrated that malpractice settlements are not driving increases in premiums for physicians; insurance companies are raising them to make up for bad investments. (See here.) Likewise, the idea that malpractice judgments are behind rising health care costs is a myth. (Here.)

2. The top 5% pay the majority of INCOME tax, which is different than the majority of tax revenue, and the reason they are paying more in nominal dollars is because they have been making huge piles of cash in the bubble free-for-all of the past 8 years. (See here for a good look at both wage inequality and the actual marginal tax rate from 1917 to 2006.) To me, the idea that letting the top tax rate go back to 39% from 35% is going to somehow cause the rich stop making money, or stop investing, or stop running their companies is pretty hard to support. It also conflates profit-taking with wealth-creation and ignores the fact that massive expansion has taken place in times of high marginal rates on the upper brackets throughout American history. (See here for an overview of tax policy versus expansion using real data rather than the preconceived notions that are usually trotted out!) Besides, what is that has been going on for the last 8 years? Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! Shouldn’t everything be OK by now?

3. I don’t necessarily oppose additional domestic drilling, but the sites that are most often listed as the best places to expand domestic oil production are ANWR and offshore. Neither of those options will bring on anything significant for years (2030, according to the Bush White House) – despite the ridiculous attempts of John McCain’s campaign during the election to whittle that time line down to months. (See this excellent recap from the Daily Show.) Given that there is no short term gain to be had, it strikes me as far more appropriate to get to the business of new energy.

4. I don’t recall conservatives being "ridiculed" for permanent bases in Iraq; I recall them being accused of a land grab for oil companies supported by the U.S. military. Leaving that aside, the governments of Germany, Japan and South Korea have all expressed a desire to have us on their soil; the Iraqis want us out. I think Obama’s draw-down plan, which relies on a timetable that can be adjusted – and already has been – is the right way to go. The amorphous "we’ll stand down as they stand up" wasn’t going to get the job done, and while I don’t like the idea of 50,000 "support" troops staying with an open-ended mission, at this point, I’ll take it over the endless clusterf#ck of the Bush "strategy".

With regard to the troop escalation, the stated goal was to reduce violence in order to bring about political reconciliation. Step one has been accomplished; step two has not. If you look at conditions on the ground in Iraqi cities, they are highly segregated – often with concrete blast walls – to reduce opportunities for clashes. On top of the ethnic and sectarian cleansing that has occurred over the last 5+ years, there has been massive emigration by millions of people, and Iraq is anything but healthy, internally.

Finally, if you can find me any "liberal" public figure who actually said "I want George W. Bush to fail in Iraq," I’ll be stunned, but even if you are successful, if Bush failed in Iraq - which to a large extent he has, in my opinion – that has very little impact on the majority of Americans. If Obama fails in the United States, the same is not true.

5. I think the intent of not ending the Bush tax cuts before 2011 is for stimulus purposes. Leave money out there – even at the top - for now in order to keep spending up. Then, put the tax cuts back to where they were during the explosive growth of the Clinton years as a means of reducing the deficit without crushing the middle class, which is the real driver of our economy.

6. Glad we agree!

7. I think you make a fair point about grants versus tuition caps at public universities, but only to an extent. It seems to me that tuition caps would create an environment in which only the rich and talented can go to private schools. Grants, on the other hand, would create more opportunities for the poor-but-talented to go to a wider variety of schools, and in the end, the more talent that is realized, the better for the country as whole. Also, capping tuition could prevent public universities from making needed improvements to remain competitive with private ones.

8. From what I have seen to date and the reviews I’ve read, Obama’s budget is probably the most realistic but forth by a president in decades. That said, you’re right, we’ll have to see if he can do it, but in the meantime, not acting (see #1) is not an option.

9. I’m all for more oversight, and agree that public performance bonuses should conform to the kind of scrutiny currently being visited on the financial sector. The Postmaster General shouldn’t be getting $800,000 in bonuses with his performance. Franklin Raines should be held accountable for his performance as well, and any money that can be clawed back should be pursued. This element of the Obama plan may be incomplete, but it certainly doesn’t mean that what’s there is wrong.

10. Good – this one seems like a no-brainer for a business owner! : )

11. I’m not sure what you’re referencing with regard to government subsidies to the UAW, ACLU or ACORN. Happy to discuss, but would need citations, although I’d be a bit skeptical about drawing comparisons to huge, often-multinational private enterprises and non-profits.

12. Again, I’m a bit confused, since property taxes are generally what fund public schools. I’m not opposed to school choice as long as it provides equitable choice. For instance, good students from poor neighborhoods may not be able to actually get to good schools in other areas or receive enough support to cover expenses, etc. Unless that piece is addressed – and it hasn’t been consistently, to date - school choice isn’t for real.

13. I think better prices are like anything else; if we press too hard for price cuts, we kill the incentive to invest in innovation. That said, Wal-Mart has used a volume discount method with its suppliers for decades – and I’m not saying discount negotiations should be that severe – so it can be done. However, the big issue to be addressed herein is that that Medicaid prescription drug benefit Bush passed specifically limited the government’s ability to negotiate pricing. I think this is mainly aimed at correcting that.

14. Teen pregnancy is on the rise. (Here.) Something’s got to be done, and the joke that is abstinence-only education needs to be put to rest once and for all. Yes, abstinence is the best choice for avoiding pregnancy, but it is criminal how uninformed kids are today about how to practive contraception. I’m not really sure how to answer your question about incentives for more kids, other than to say I’m not aware of any, and ask, "What if it doesn’t?"

15. I don’t mean to be rude – I’m not any kind of "green zealot" – but there emphatically is NOT "just as much data" supporting a normal warming cycle, and I strongly recommend you peruse for the view from the climate scientists. (It is non-partisan and not affiliated with any environmental groups.) There is certainly political disagreement over climate change (and Al Gore has been a convenient target), and while there are a some contrarians – a number of whom are even reputable - within the actual climate science community, the vast preponderance of opinion is that current climate changes are anthropogenic. In the realm of peer-reviewed science, no matter what field, it’s a very much an exercise in consensus, so I’ll go with the weight of opinion.

Anyway, cap-and-trade will potentially increase utility bills, but there is no reason funds from this market can’t be used to address needed subsidies, and I believe that’s the intent. Further, demand for increased efficiencies and clean technology will create jobs and increase tax revenues. I’m personally a lot more worried about policies that directly abrogate Constitutional rights (like the memos produced by the Bush Justice Department telling the president he could ignore pretty much all of the country’s foundational document, here)than I am about environmental totalitarianism, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

As for who will control environmentalists tomorrow? Probably the same people that control them today. Just because the balance between business and environmental policy shifts doesn’t mean it goes away or tilts entirely to one side. There are a million shades of gray between the black and white alternatives that seem to be implied by your question.

With regard to nuclear power, I agree, it should be on the table.

OK – as for the "conservative principles" argument, I hear that all the time. In point of fact, by most economic measures – GDP, inflation, S&P 500 performance, Treasury debt and employment – over the last century, so-called "liberals" have done a much better job than "conservatives", despite the popular wisdom. (See here for the charts.)

Further, you might well be someone who decried Bush’s un-conservatism from the beginning – I certainly was – but the vast majority of self-labeled conservatives did not, and not only supported him, but lauded him as the cornerstone of their movement. I don’t know that one can separate "principles" from the actions of people who espouse those principles. (For instance, we refer to Stalin, Kruschev and Brezhnev as communists, but their actions are different from the actual "principles" of communism.) Anyway, that’s potentially another discussion entirely.

In the end, I think if you delve more deeply into the history of the presidents you mention, you might be less alarmed about what is taking place today from a policy perspective. I certainly don’t claim to be 100% confident about anything in the president’s plans. What I do know for certain, however, is that it’s time to act like adults, clean up the disastrous mess that was created over the past 8 years, and recognize that we can’t continue doing the same things that got us here and expect a different result. Based on what I can see, our current course is at the very least, the most "un-bad" option available.


Whew! Made it through! Not sure I can maintain this pace! : )

This will make no sense to you if I have guessed wrong: Grip?

PBI said...


I thought I had effectively triple-checked what has got to be the lengthiest blog comment I have every written, and there are STILL typos in there.

My apologies!


lokywoky said...

As usual, you have presented all the facts and evidence to support your claims, arguments and opinions in this article.

I am still waiting for Anonymous to do the same. As usual for 'conservative' types. I wish for once that I would be proven wrong and find a conservative that I could have a rational discussion with. You know, with facts and things like that. So far, nada.

Your blog comment was almost as good as another article!

PBI said...

I think most people either don't have or don't take the time to get deeply into the issues, especially if what they’re hearing coincides with their preferred worldview. (It's criminal how stenographic a lot of the media has gotten in this country, and I loved Lara Logan's comment in an interview that she would "shoot herself in the head" if she had to rely on American outlets to get her news.)

The tone of Anonymous’s post was very conversational, and I appreciate that approach. I think some of his/her questions and comments are, as you say, hard to support in the face of the best information, but I regard it as the purpose of this blog to have factual discussions, and I think there are some areas that are fodder for genuine, heartfelt differences of opinion. I also have a suspicion I know this particular Anonymous, although even if it turns out that I don't, I want to engage and not browbeat on these points.

Anyway, you're right - this comment really took on a life of its own! Although I suppose I have no one to blame but myself; if I’m going to write something with 15 bullets, I have to back it up when it’s questioned. : ) (But I do feel like I’ve already done my second post for the week!)

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Lokywoky - Your comments seem to insult versus discuss. I hope I am wrong. I own a business and usually do not have time to hang out on blog sites.

So, gents, please enlighten me. As I clicked through to your supporting sites for the "facts", I notice numerous attached ads by "Extreme Liberal" rants (my opinion). Therefore, my BS meter goes off right away - because as a science major, I know you can manipulate "facts" to support your theory by how to pose the question and then choose which facts to use. If I had the time, I presume I could find all of the "facts" that support my position from "Extreme Right" sites (example

Listen, I am not a Bush supporter. I did vote for him, but became disillusioned quickly. I still believe his opponents were/are FAR worse for our country and economy. But I digress. I believe Bush WASTED a huge opportunity, but I also do not believe he "lied" about everything that liberals believe. Every major intelligence agency in the free world stated that Saddam had WMD's. Just because you disagree with him, doesn't mean he lied, right?

I respect our President's position and the support he was able to secure for victory. In fact, he was on the cusp of securing my support because of his rhetoric. But the amount of money spent on things NOT related to generating jobs, the amount of funding for expanded social programs, the expansion of Federal mandated spending lost me. Why could he not just use the Stimulus Package to create jobs? Why did he have to include ANY pork (Schumer's word) with this? I understand the desire to support favored programs (and as victor, he earned the right), but include those in a budget and let them see the light of day. But, why the double dipping by having same programs included in both Stimulus and Budget? For Budget purposes (not Stimulus argument), why does it have to increase 8% from last year? I know my family is doing without some things because I did not want to extend ourselves too far. Why can't gov't do that as well? And don't give me "the Republicans did it!" because I already stated that they lost me as well.

I would like smaller government. I would like lower taxes. I would like greater individual responsibility. I would describe myself as socially moderate, but fiscally conservative. Our President's plan (your original 15 bullet points)is inconsistent with these positions and I do fear that we have begun a period of wondering around rudderless. I do not consider an income tax rebate to be a "tax cut" if you didn't pay taxes in the first place. And I disagree that giving $400 to every individual will create sustainable growth. Look at how wonderful that worked with Bush's giveaway. Lastly, as a minor example, my cynicism surfaces when the plan is to take away deductions for charitable giving. It was stated that these funds were already included in the stimulus package. However, I believe the intent is to force a situation where money is given to only those organizations that pass a means test. This is devisive and another manner in which "Big Brother" can pick winners and losers. This country has too much diverse thought to allow gov't the position to define who is "worthy" of a hand up and who is not. We are the most generous country in the world. Why try to replace that with gov't selection of targeted charities?

Two thoughts from me as I close... a poor person has never offered me a job. And social programs we are pursuing will fail because we will eventually run out of other people's money.

PBI said...


I’ll confess to being more than a little frustrated by your most recent comment. I supplied both my own answers for you to consider, as well as links, but you still ask that I “enlighten” you.

Worse, the idea that I provided a bunch of information to “Extreme Liberal” sites is pretty hard to support. My links went to which referenced a World Health Organization report; Visualizing Economics; ABC News; Comedy Central which provided clips from mainstream news reports; the Center for Justice & Democracy which is non-partisan; which is non-partisan and does not include ads; and my own blog, which had links to the New York Times. Consortium News and Alternet may be potentially regarded as left of center, so let’s correct that: Here’s another article on the Bush Administration memos circumventing the Constitution from the New York Times. I can’t provide an alternative to the Alternet article because it is original to that publication, but it’s easy enough to check the author’s data.

Discussing Bush’s policy in Iraq – the unprovoked invasion of another country which had not attacked us, and which is 100% illegal under both international law and treaties to which the United States is signatory (making them the law of the land) – is not something that I would describe in the terms you use. There is more evidence all the time that the Bush Administration cooked the books on all of it, including pre-war intelligence. Having gone unrewarded for providing you links on other topics, I’m not going to do so here, but instead, point out a fundamental flaw in your argument. To whit: If Saddam had WMDs that were an “imminent” threat to the United States, and this was “confirmed” by other intelligence agencies, then President Bush wrecklessly endangered the country by telling the Iraqi dictator he was going to invade for several months in advance of the actual invasion. The only alternative is that there was no imminent threat, and Bush knew it, in which case the justification for the invasion was a complete sham. So, take your pick, but that’s the crux of the issue.

Please provide some examples of “pork” in the final stimulus package. To date the most popular attempts to paint items inside it as such have been debunked, including highspeed rail between LA and Las Vegas and Nancy Pelosi’s supposed pet project for salt marsh mice, but I’m happy to discuss if there are others. As it stands, based on the lack of specificity in your questions, I can’t answer them.

As for budget increases, there are a whole host of things that need to be addressed, and just because the stimulus package is the first step in creating economic activity, doesn’t mean it’s the last or only. I fully expect there to be government spending in the budget to both address unmet needs like veterans health care – which has been at criminal levels, despite having two ongoing wars – AND provide another layer to get the economy going. Again, government spending in economic times like these, is the text book approach, and amply backed up by the examples of FDRs policies.

I’m not sure how you support the idea that we’re entering a period in which we’re “wandering around rudderless.” Are you contending that everything has been wired tight up until now? And are you really trying to make the argument that income taxe is the only levy on wages that is paid? As a business owner, I would have assumed you are eminently familiar with payroll tax. Finally, with regard to deductions for charitable giving, I believe you are overstating your case immensely, and I’m not really certain how you get to your contention that this will all result in means-testing charities by the government. There is no charity-by-charity evaluation whereby donations to some will be deductible at different rates than for others. (If you have evidence of such, I’d be very interested to read it.)

Finally, while a poor person has never offered you a job, I’m willing to bet that a poor person has probably also never been a major customer of yours. In the laboratory of America, supply-side economics has been proven to be a failure that has benefitted a very few people at the top of the heap. That inequity is a problem, because it is the wealth of an expanding middle class that drives sustained growth, not the continued enrichment of the wealthiest. Policies by which more people get more purchasing power – and actually create demand for goods and services - has worked very well throughout American history, and in my opinion, will work again.


On a more general note, I thank you for your interest, but if you’re not going to support your arguments or provide cites – even if it’s because your business obligations or other things keep you from doing so – this will end up being pretty pointless. I’m sure I’m not right on everything I discuss, but until someone provides evidence that outweighs the facts I’ve used to form my opinion, I think I’m justified in sticking to my guns.

Unless there has been a radical event in recent weeks, Lokywoky’s not a dude! : )

lokywoky said...

PBI, Anonymous' comments about your cites was a complete straw man because he complained that the cites contained "left-wing advertisements (rants)".

As a blog owner myself - there are ads on my site from time to time that I don't agree with. But when you sign up with GoogleAds or some of the others, you don't always get to choose all the content of the ads.

As an example - a site I frequent is the Black Mesa Indigenous People's site. They have numerous legitimate complaints about some of the things that have been rammed through Congress regarding the Navajo Reservation, and resource extraction companies such as Peabody Coal (which is currently stripping Black Mesa, a religious site, down to nothing).

On their site - a Google Ad was running during the campaign urging votes for John McCain. People thought the site had been hacked and were screaming in distress about it.

Challenging a source because an ad is running alongside is a complete straw man and explains why you are unable to answer the challenge by Anonymous. There is none.

Anyway - pretty lively discussion.

Thanks for the gender defense. My 'handle' is pretty non-specific for that reason, and I don't mind if people think I'm a 'gent' or not! But thanks anyway.


PBI said...


I know you're correct about ad serving - there's been some weird stuff popping up on Sensen No Sen from GooglAds, too, so I understand how it works.

But even considering that, the idea that the references I provided were "lefty" is a total cop-out that I think you actually dignify too much by calling a straw man. I really do try to engage people who disagree with me - I've certainly been convinced of new things from time to time - but that "enlighten me" after I provided 25 paragraphs or so of specific responses with references was just obnoxious.

I didn't think the gender issue would bother you; I just figured that since I was playing host I ought to try and politely guide the conversation among my guests!

Take care,