Years after seeing its wonderful, flippy trailer, I finally got to see “Teeth” this weekend, on IFC’s free on-demand channel. It’s a horror movie about a girl with vagina dentata, i.e, a real mouth down there. Great premise, imperfect execution.

I think it was a pacing problem — there are four distinct wham-o scenes in which young Dawn O’Keefe’s snapper gets to show what it’s capable of, but after the first, it’s kinda downhill. OK, so it bites, and bites hard. What are you going to do with that? We discover it only does so when it’s not being treated with respect — a little feminist twist on things that I appreciated, but I wanted to see more possibilities explored. Give a girl a biting vagina, and I expect her to be deployed as a CIA sex-assassin by the third act. Although, from the look on her face in the final shot, it’s not far away.

And when that is the high point of your weekend? Seeing a movie about a girl with a toothy vagina? That’s when you know you’re middle-aged.

This was the other one:

“Lord, you are the source of every good thing,” Mr. Perry said, as he bowed his head, closed his eyes and leaned into a microphone at Reliant Stadium here. “You are our only hope, and we stand before you today in awe of your power and in gratitude for your blessings, and humility for our sins. Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness.”

When I lived in Indiana, these folks were always insisting that I honor and respect their faith, nay, their “deeply held” faith. Find the word “deeply” in an American newspaper, and nine times out of 10, “religious” follows it. And for the most part, I did. When a carload of Christian college students was involved in a terrible crash and credited prayer with saving their lives, I put it in the story (mentioning seat belts and air bags in the next paragraph). Their respect for the way I think public life should be conducted would be radically different, I suspect. But this bullshit just tears it. May I see the hands of everyone who believes Rick Perry would be crying out for God’s forgiveness under a McCain/Palin administration? Yes, thank you, it’s as I suspected.

I’ve never been comfortable with the Bill Maher approach to religion; the world is a confusing and difficult place, and people take comfort where they can. But unlike the president, I know a preening bully when I see one. Rick Perry, you’re on notice:

As usual, Roger Ebert is on the beam.

In other news at this hour, a squirrel just spent a few minutes walking around on the skylight directly over my head, allowing me a rare look at the underside of a squirrel. It was a male, if you’re interested. I mention this only to note that it’s hard to stay too pissed about anything on a fine summer morning when breakfast included blueberries and peaches.

And today is Monday, which means (groan). So skedaddle I must, and I will see you soon. But a bit of bloggage first:

When I heard the follow-up to the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial would be the gospel choir featured therein doing their own cover of “Lose Yourself,” I ain’t gonna lie: I groaned. But the video is out, and it’s not terrible, nor is the cover. Such a distinctive-looking town; you can see all the Hollywood DPs who have been coming and going here for the last few years have loved it so.

I guess I have to read this Michele Bachmann profile in the New Yorker. It’ll arrive in dead-tree form about the time we’re heading north — think I’ll save it for the long drive.

And oh, hell, why not: Because we all need a little bunny in our lives, the daily bunny. Not to be confused the daily otter.

OK, now I’m leaving. See you tomorrow.

Posted at 9:48 am in Current events, Movies |

82 responses to “Gnashing.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Not to contradict Mr. Lizza, but I wish all these influences on Michele Bachmann were unknown to me or to many. Well known and much chewed over they are amongst evangelical Christians, while N.T. Wright & Rob Bell are critiqued and Tim Keller is more praised than read. Sigh.

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  2. Bitter Scribe said on August 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

    May God forgive us as a people for taking assholes like Rick Perry seriously.

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  3. coozledad said on August 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Rick Perry is a kind of Mandelbrot iteration of Bush, wherein
    z -> z^2 + c

    where c = any preliterate cabbage of a governor of a goober desert with a penchant for judicial murder, who’d put on a ballerina costume and bounce on Franklin Graham’s dick if he thought it would get him some more power.

    When you see a politician firing a pistol into the air, rest assured the worm’s got dick issues. That boy is so terrified of pussy, if he were living in the Hindu Kush, he’d be spending his Saturdays smoking hash and stoning women to death. And it looks like his party has already adopted half of that as its platform.

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  4. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I’m glad Cooz has mentioned all the weird firearms fetishes embraced by Gov. Goodhair, not least is his story of killing a coyote while out for a jog with his laser-sighted pistol. (Pardon me if I’d have been rooting for the coyote, just as I fantasize about a pack of wolves, angry at being hunted from helicopters in Alaska, descending on Mooselini’s white trash Wasilla compound with ravenous appetites.)

    Is Perry married? Divorced? Is he a father? How can this empty-headed haircut be a good Christian candidate if he lacks a devoted, submissive wife and a passel of young ‘uns?

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  5. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Here’s a nice example of Gov. Perry’s “religious beliefs” in the real world from the Houston Chronicle:

    The participants at the prayer vigil organized by Gov. Rick Perry were treated to arctic blasts of the stuff Saturday, with Reliant Stadium’s 12,000 tons of air-conditioning keeping temperatures nippy. But as historic temperatures scorch Texas for the third straight month with triple-digit misery, $650 million collected from Texas electricity consumers to assist poor elderly and disabled citizens with their utility bills sits idly in a state bank account.

    Instead of serving its intended humanitarian purpose, the state’s $650 million System Benefit Fund now serves a political one — permitting Perry and other Republican leaders to keep their “no new taxes” pledge.

    In February, the Perry-appointed Public Utility Commission voted to reduce aid distributed from the fund, allowing its corpus to grow ever bigger. The fund, a big positive entry in the state comptroller’s ledger of the state’s fiscal condition, is now an essential tool in “balancing” the state’s budget.

    Motherfucker. As noted in a comment earlier, if Jesus were to have attended this rally, he’d have kicked this creep right through the goalposts. Let the poor and the elderly swelter, right Rick, so long as you and your conservative pud-pullers can claim no new taxes.

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  6. coozledad said on August 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

    He’s married enough to have his wife walk in on him while he was getting blown by his lieutenant governor. She moved out until the party renegotiated her payoff from Bechtel. At least that’s what Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign said.

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  7. Sue said on August 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

    What does Stephen Colbert have against Prospero?

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  8. Sue said on August 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Here’s what I did this weekend:
    The humidity broke a bit on Saturday and motivated me to do some cleaning. I felt like drenching everything in bleach but instead concentrated on cleaning under and behind things and washing windows. My husband was similarly puttering about inside, and between the two of us we happened to have AMC on both TVs. AMC was finishing up “Mob Week”. Not sure why we both ended up watching the movies, we’re not big mob movie fans. Anyway, dinner time comes around and for some reason we’re both thinking “Italian restaurant!”. So off to dinner we went.
    Sunday I checked the garden and had the inevitable, at least once per summer, “Whoa, where the hell did THOSE come from?” moment. Zucchini, of course. Time for a breading-and-frying marathon (16 eggs, two bags of breadcrumbs and a 1.5 quarts of canola/olive oil), with zucchini parmesan for dinner and enough frozen breaded and ready-to-bake zucchini for at least four meals in the dead of winter.
    So a good weekend by my standards.

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  9. John G. Wallace said on August 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Reporting in Indiana can be tricky – people will state things as “facts,” or try to rope in the reporter’s tacit agreement. I would always frame remarks in, so and so believes, and get called on the carpet later.
    One moment comes to mind – the mayor of the town where I lived and worked had an annual prayer breakfast for the National Day of Prayer. It was a a decent enough event the year I attended with a local business leader as the keynote speaker. the problem I had was the extreme born again kooks I ended up seated with; one woman was moved to tears,shaking,and screaming “praise Jesus,” then would embark on a commentary that droned on and drowned out the speaker, who was very good and humorous. They kept trying to hold my hand, you’d think the pen, pad, camera, and look of a dispassionate observer would have clued them in. If a person behaved that way at a public event for any reason but God the police would have been there to evaluate her for a 72-hour hold.

    In reading the comments on Ebert’s post, I found this gem which will be one of the bible passages I will memorize and nodoubt put to good use as this type of crap and veiled intolerance of others seems to be on the rise:

    Matthew 6 – King James Version

    Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
    Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

    And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

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  10. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I hope that this little gem of satire finds a much wider audience.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on August 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

    We had some college friends visiting and we did just enough to avoid complete slothdom. Lots of good food, lots of good conversation, and an exhilarating performance of Hairspray. Fresh sweet corn, pizza made with cherry tomatoes instead of sauce, hand-ground burgers from good sirloin, and then Sunday brunch at Cosmos. We avoided the teevee and jerks who give Christianity a bad name.

    Good Hair is no longer available on Netflix instant watch, darn it. I’ll have to wait for it to come in the mail.

    No zukes in our garden this year due to our late start, but I’m harvesting 30 or more cherry tomatoes daily while waiting for the big tomatoes to mature. Yum, yum, yum.

    Edit: Here’s the same verses from Matthew in a reboot by Eugene Peterson called The Message. They speak directly to Rick Perry and his ilk.

    The World Is Not a Stage

    “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.”

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

    John, you might also like to keep Ezekiel 16:49 handy —

    It sort of kills two birds with one stoning.

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  13. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

    News from the lightbulb wars.

    And, speaking of lightbulbs, Bachmann is a certifiably deranged paranoiac on this subject. Conservatives are running their yaps about the Bachmann Newsweek cover, claiming it makes her look full-goose loony, as opposed to exactly what she always looks like, which would be full-goose loony. This is supposed to be proof of biased media. This is hilarious. Haven’t Nancy Pelosis somewhat similarly wide and bright eyes been a source of constant teabagger derogation for years.

    Roger Ebert’s observation on the two kinds of prayer is worthy of Mark Twain. (Liars, damn liars, and statisticians.)

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  14. Deborah said on August 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    My former father-in-law was a Lutheran minister. During his career he had been first in Iowa, a stint as a chaplain in the air force stationed in the UK, then Wisconsin and finally Texas. I didn’t know him until he was in Texas when I was married to my ex. As far as I can tell he got further and further out in right field as time went on, especially in Texas. I lived in Texas during the early part of my marriage and I can tell you from experience that it’s full of religious loonies, more than any other place I’ve ever lived. When I was in college (a LCMS one in Nebraska) speaking in tongues and other charismatic acts were starting to creep into worship services, it was very controversial and most people I knew thought it was odd and downright scary. I don’t want to stomp on anyone’s belief here if you happen to lean in that direction but I find it strange and unorthodox. Thinking of Jesus as your best bud is just weird to me. I don’t get it.

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  15. MichaelG said on August 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I wish Molly Ivins was still around.

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  16. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I wish Molly Ivins was still around.

    Me too. I was thinking about her this weekend. I’m sure she’d have had a lot to say about Governor Goodhair, not that her scathing view of Shrub kept us from having to put up w/ him for eight years.

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  17. nancy said on August 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Sue, Stephen Colbert has nothing against Prospero. I welcome and appreciate all his comments, but he’s the one whose comments most frequently go into moderation. And his name is short, so it would look good in the on-notice generator.

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  18. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Jeff tmmo: It seems that there is a word missing in the first verse of the King James version of Matthew cited:

    “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

    ye do not what ? your alms before men

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  19. Julie Robinson said on August 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    moe, it’s the usual problem with KJV not being a style most of us these days can understand. Perform might be a better word than do. This should make more sense: “Take heed, that you don’t do your alms(good works) before men”.

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  20. beb said on August 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    moe, reading Matthew 6 the first time I had that same reason, that there was a word missing but as I read on I realized that “alms” here is a verb not a noun.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Speaking of public religiosity, Joel and Victoria Osteen held court at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday night, an event which was heavily advertised in both papers. I’m told the Osteens preach a “prosperity gospel,” which sounds a great deal like the way Jim and Tammy Bakker preached back in the 1980s.

    Anyone who knows more about this guy willing to share? They sure are a Hollywood-style handsome couple, but otherwise, I’m drawing a blank on the guy.

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  22. Joe Kobiela said on August 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I have a feeling if Mccain and Palin had things as fucked up as Obama does there would be a lot more of the left praying for help.
    Pilot Joe

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  23. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Not really, Joe. We’d be sacrificing goats to our Satanic master. You know, typical lefty reaction.

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  24. coozledad said on August 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Whereas under The McCain administration, we’d be celebrating our victory in the second Mexican American war with an affordable and humbly delivered shoe-shine.
    Plus, they’d have made Levi Johnston make an honest woman of that girl, and undersecretary of plug tobacco.

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  25. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Earth to Joe: Wake up big fella! It was the Republicans in Congress that put the hurt on us today. They’re the ones so willing to default on the debt ceiling. They’re the ones not willing to compromise. Speculating about McCain and Palin is a nice trick to take your eyes off the real story. This is just like The Emperor’s New Clothes, only you’re not seeing the real picture here.

    It’s better explained here:

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  26. Scout said on August 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Maybe those (Joe, and maybe others?) who think OBAMA is the one who f-ed up can elaborate on some specifics. I give thanks to the gods of politics every day that Obama is the adult in charge… and mccain/PALIN are not. As I watch my 401(k) swirl the crapper, I’m not blaming Obama for this giant fail. I blame the Teapublicans and their disgusting show of know nothingness for that.

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  27. coozledad said on August 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Aww moe: I was enjoying the counterfactual history. Just think how things might have turned out if Dick Cheney had gone with a different sex robot than George Bush! Enron would be a blue chip stock. Kenny boy Lay wouldn’t have to pretend his ass was dead! And Tony Blair could have realized his dream of being both Mick Jagger AND on the board of the Carlyle Group.

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  28. Sue said on August 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    It might be easier to blame Obama for this if Speaker Boehner hadn’t publicly stated that the Republicans got 95% of what they wanted in the debt deal. As I said at another blog, if Obama is responsible for the post-deal meltdown and downgrade, that 5% must have contained some awesome lefty bling.
    Here’s an opinion piece that covers it nicely:

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  29. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    It might be easier to blame Obama had not McConnell actually revealed the game plan. I am serious when I say these Grover Norquislings are flat out traitors as defined by Article III, Section 3. They have sworn abject obeisance to a shitheel determined to destroy the American government. Suppose George Soros wrote a pledge and collected signatures, stating that the signatories would defend absolutely a responsible government that provides for the health and welfare of every American citizen. Witch hunt? Only question is how violent?

    And anybody worried about Boner’s 95% needs to make sure to work to get out the votes and send the rubebaggers back to Dogpatch. It doesn’t have to be about ideology, necessarily. These fuckers have shown themselves to be whited sepulchers of hypocrisy, incompetent as Barney Fife, and dumber than GD grunt.

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  30. Deborah said on August 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Here’s something that shocked me in a positive way when I heard it: not that there’s anything wrong with it but did you know that Grover’s wife is a Muslem? And Grover met her when he started an organization that has something to do with Americans and Muslems working together. I’m sure he’s taken a lot of heat for it with the Sharia Scarers. I wonder what Pam Geller thinks of that?

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  31. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    John Harwood, a NYT business and economics reporter, wrote this overview of how our economy has unfolded in the postwar era. It’s short, and I found it a compelling summary of big-picture trends.

    Have to say I am feeling pretty discouraged. I just don’t know how you get more than 300,000,000 people, many of whom are angry and afraid, to respond to a straitened reality in a constructive way–much less Congress.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Your discouragement is understandable, Jolene. Our current political situation is terrible and regardless of what the talking heads say, we can lay 95% of the blame at the feet of the Plutolican Party, which continues to do the bidding of the uber-wealthy while using the fear, resentment and anger of the proletariat to clog the gears of gubmint.

    There was a column in the NYT recently extolling the virtues of Richard M. Nixon. When I first glanced at it, I figured it for a parody, but it was an assessment that while acknowledging the deeply cynical, race-based “Southern strategy” crafted by Tricky Dick, noted that he created the EPA, beefed up OSHA, increased the National Endowment for the Arts six-fold, increased the size and budget of the EEOC, etc. All of those things, of course, would be anathema to a Democrat these days, much less a teabagger, err, Republican, if there is any difference.

    Today’s GOP consists of Jesus freaks and gloom and doom nihilists and that, folks, is a pretty sickass combination.

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  33. Sue said on August 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Oh for….
    Someone tell me TPM is interpreting this incorrectly or engaging in fear-mongering or something. Someone tell me this is not going to be the next Obama disappointment for me.

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  34. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    And Joe, if you are taking your talking points from Michelle Bachmann, you might want to reconsider:

    Sue, Obama’s got some advisors these days that are in bed with corporate interests. I think that’s a real problem and one that is difficult to identify and deal with.

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  35. brian stouder said on August 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Aside from today’s continuing market crash*, there’s this grimly humorous fracking article, from Columbus, Ohio, about a binder that was found in the road, full of selling points to make, when trying to obtain drilling leases from residents of Ohio’s rural outback

    The lead:

    A memo that appears to coach buyers of oil and gas drilling leases to use deceptive tactics on unsuspecting landowners has provoked a state investigation and spirited debate in rural Ohio, the latest frontier in America’s quest for new energy resources. The tale of the found memo — unauthenticated but with language similar to that used by a seller familiar to Greene County residents — features aggressive marketers, zealous environmentalists, and vulnerable residents.

    A few more nuggets:

    Turner — who attended some emotional environmental coalition meetings — has a “No Fracking Way” sign posted on his property. He says he asked Bucher whether the company would be drilling for oil or natural gas. “And he just kept saying, ‘No, we’re primarily looking for oil,'” Turner recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, I get that. That “primarily” word is what’s hanging me up here.'” Inside the controversial binder were five single-spaced, water-soaked pages headed: “Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights.” Page footers read, “Proprietary — Do Not Disclose.” Skidmore and Turner said several points in the notebook were used by Bucher when he talked with them. One encouraged pitching leases to men who “are more likely to sign than women.” Another stressed emphasizing the search for oil, not natural gas exploration. The memo also advised appealing to customers’ patriotism by emphasizing that China bought more oil than the U.S. last year. “Fear of foreign encroachment is the biggest asset we have in selling our development strategy,” it said.

    I can just imagine the dialogue if the day ever comes that one of these slick-haired lackeys comes to the door of Cozzledad’s Carolina cottage!

    *a question for the house: when all these sons of bitches SELL SELL SELL their stocks, and the values and indicies all plunge, where do they put all their money? That is – I panic and order my broker to SELL SELL SELL all my Amalgamated and Acme and all the rest; and then I have a pile of cash, right? And the cash goes into…..treasury notes! And Treasury notes aren’t paying much of any premium at ALL – when everyone lines up to buy them ….and this makes one wonder – How on God’s green Earth (or hell’s half-acre) is S&P’s DOWNgrade of US debt anything other than a flat-out conflict of interest? How is it not simply an effort to extract a better interest rate out of the safest – if noth the ONLY safe – game in town?

    PS – I love-love-loved the nn.c “You’re on notice” thing! And once again, Prospero is the man!

    PS to the PS – Sue, I hear you. I think at the end of the day, almost no matter what, I will vote to re-elect President Obama. I confess that Romney could – at some considerable extreme – become attractive enough to seriously look at, provided that he stays off the crazy train (which is not at all a sure thing).

    My “irrational exuberance” is political rather than market-based, and I will almost certainly keep buying what the president has to sell. (But that’s not really a good thing, as I voted for GWB 4 times – including the primaries – and remained on his side right up until he abandoned New Orleans. Looking back, I was really a doofus; but, that’s how I roll!)

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  36. beb said on August 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    It’s not his advisers in bed with corporate interests, its the man himself. Which is why I think he should be primaried. Put from lefty heat to his quisling ass. And if we end up with another god-damn Texan in the white house, at least we’ll know who the enemy is.

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  37. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Sue: I didn’t hear the whole speech, but I don’t think the TPM headline is justified. According to the article, this is what Obama said:

    “Our challenge is the need to tackle our deficits over the long term last week we reached an historic agreement — reached an agreement that weill make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending,” Obama said. “But there’s not much further that we can cut in either of those categories. What we need to do now is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps: tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.”

    Doesn’t sound to me like he’s privileging defense over Medicare. “[M]odest adjustments” is not caving in to the defense contractors. We have the highest healthcare costs in the world, but not the best health care. My own view is that, over time, we will have to change the way medicine is practiced and paid for, and there are tons of useful ways to do that. For instance, Atul Gawande recently published an article about medical “hot spots,” which has to do w/ identifying particularly high-cost consumers or particularly high-cost facilities and focusing on them as a way to reduce cost. This is similar to the idea of focusing crime control efforts on areas that, statistically, produce most crime.

    The TV spot I saw on this approach focused on a very poor man in Camden, NJ. When his healthcare became the focus of the “hot spot” approach, his health improved and the cost (specifically ER visits) dropped dramatically.

    I don’t think we can be afraid of change in this area. It doesn’t make sense that a proportionally smaller younger generation can support older generations living longer lives without some changes to make the way we deliver care more effective and efficient.

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  38. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Brian Beutler that wrote that TPM piece is incapable of any logic but pretzel. And he’s generally wildly alarmist and anti-Obama from the left. He’s surely already planning to elect Romney or Good Hair by voting for Darth Nader. He may not be resposibl for the head, but it bears no logical connection to the story or the facts.

    As soon as I read the debt ceiling deal and understood it, I said that Republicans were thrown in a briar patch, where there was a forced dilemma of choosing defense cuts or tax increases. If Panetta’s serious, he has apparently not read the ground rules for the debt deal. This is clearly nothing to get bunched u-trou about at present. For one thing, the GOPharisees are left with no hostage to protect hedge fund manufacturers anymore. Their only chance to protect the taxation status quo will be to give in on so-called “entitlements”.

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  39. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    As far as Social Security is concerned, this is the most obvious and easiest issue in this whole mess to put to rest. Raise the income ceiling by $25 or $30grand. !08>6thou is ridiculous. Medicare reform is also a no-brainer. Refuse to honor and then repeal the drug benefit boodoggle, and let the government negotiate or set drug prices. This bullshit was never any good for anybody but Billy Tauzin, GOP campaign fund extortionists, and Pharma. In fact the details of Tauzin’s self serving involvement ought to put him in real jail for a long time. Plan D was clearly detrimental to both finances and health care for huge numbers of middle class Americans.

    Raise FICA tax ceilings across the board, problem solved.

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  40. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Mitt Romney is not worth your while, Brian. This is yet another reason why:

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  41. nancy said on August 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks for flagging that, Moe. That goes into the Twitter stream.

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  42. LAMary said on August 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Sarah Palin is a grandma again. Little Kyla Grace Palin was born six months early and is doing fine considering. Since we know SP’s son practices abstinence, the baby must be a preemie.
    The comments about this on Joe McGinnis’s blog were pretty good. The best one complimented the baby’s name, expressing relief the kid wasn’t named Tran or Brick or something.

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  43. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    If you can think of no other reason to vote for Obama, simply think of the Supreme Court nominees a super right-wing Jesus freak plutocrat would submit. You’d be recalling the appointments of Nino Scalia and Clarence Thomas with fond nostalgia.

    SCOTUS is going to be the ugly, right-wing gift that keeps giving and giving unless, of course, you are poor or middle-class, which is more like taking and taking. I fear for my sanity next year in the wake of Citizens United and all the scum money that will be flowing to the TV stations from the likes of shitheels like Dick Armey, Karl Rove, the Koch heads, It’s going to be gruesome.

    Thanks, Roberts court!!

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  44. LAMary said on August 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    The thing with Obama is I SO want him to succeed. I am disappointed over and over, but I remember the Obama who ran for office so I’m hanging on to the idea that he can succeed. The guy went into office with multiple inherited messes and a lot of people who want ruin him, mostly because he has the nerve to be black. It’s sometimes hard for me to know how much of a disappointment to blame on Obama and how much to blame on his opponents.
    I think there are Republicans who speak against him who agree with him, but they cave to the pressure of the Neanderthal wing. Even Clinton wasn’t given the shit Obama’s been handed, and Clinton was put through impeachment hearings.

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  45. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    FICA taxes: easily adjustable in a variety of ways with no paycheck bite. Oh, and charge it on the hedge fund manger capital gains income.

    Swallowed a poisonous substance? Ain’t got no Ipecacc? Just read this powerful emetic from Mittster. It’s too bad there is no Presidential Paetorian to either intimidate Congress into responsible behavior, or to convince the bastards to fall on their swords. Simpee question for Mitt? What would you have done, other than wait until this was all fait accompli before announcing you were on the yahoobagger side? What a spineless, sanctimonious prick. Guy’s got cojones the size of silicon crystals.

    As for Clinton, he’s been a whole Huggie-ful of help.

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  46. Joe Kobiela said on August 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    All Iam saying, lets pretend that Mcain was elected, and did the EXACT same thing that Obama has done with the EXACT same results, what would you be saying about him? Look I know things were screwed up when Obama took office, but going from 1.4 BILLION a day deficit to 4.1 BILLION a day deficit was insane. I’m sorry but the man is in over his head. With his experiance would you let Obama run your bussiness? I wouldn’t.
    Pilot Joe

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  47. LAMary said on August 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Joe, McCain wouldn’t have had the whole Republican party trying to make him fail.

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  48. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Well you may almost be right, Joe. If it were McCain and he took the same course exactly, he would still have been a semi-oldtimers white fart, so he would not have faced the blizzard of obstructionism that assaults the black guy. That’s a ridiculous hypothetical question, as it ignores the triple whammies of pure political intransigence, GOP feelings of electoral entitlement, and obdurate racism in America.

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  49. coozledad said on August 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    If John McCain had been elected president, I would have bought a lot of guns and paraded up and down in front of the white house in wool knickers and dared that sumbitch to lay a single white finger on my medicare. Then I’d have bet against US treasury bills while I worked to push the country into default. I’d also be hammering that Mick motherfucker for his birth certificate. And at the end of a hard day, I’d settle into my depends and let some fat oxycodone slave interpret reality for my cracker ass.

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  50. beb said on August 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Jolene the comment of concern comes from our new Sec of Def, Leon Panetta, who pretty flatly said there is nothing in the Pentagon that can be cut so it’s all got to come out of medicare. This isn’t the white house’ party line but I don’t hear the Prez rebuking Panetta over this. The idea was to give the Rethugs such an unpleasant choice that they would have to raise taxes. But I think Obama has mis-read the Republicans. They’ll destroy the army before they raise taxes.

    Was Sarah Palin’s granddaughter really born 26 weeks premature? Because I don’t recall ever hearing of a baby born that premature ever surviving? Ah, my mistake they were married only three months and we all know how much of an abstinence only mother SP so obiously they were not pregnant before the marriage. I tried to find out the birth wt of Kyla, which would tell if she were premature but none of the newssites listed her weight. What’s up with that?

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  51. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    My sentiments exactly, LAMary. I think Obama has the right ideas about what’s important to the country in the long run–education, R&D, energy conservation and new energy sources, more efforts to build international alliances w/ emerging nations–but he has had to address such a mess of problems and has had to confront such a bunch of fact-resistant, recalcitrant assholes that I’m amazed he’s been able to accomplish anything at all.

    I do feel that, for someone who can be such a powerful communicator, he has fallen way short in explaining to people what is at stake and why he has taken the positions he has. I may have more faith in rationality than is justified, but I can’t help but think that there are many Americans who could be brought along by more effective arguments. and, more generally, more effective communication.

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  52. Judybusy said on August 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    beb, it’s satire, about that baby being born six months early. Re-read the post and laugh. After I got that, my next thought was, at least the kid’s got a normal name.

    I’ve also been sorely disappointed in Obama, mostly because for the reasons Jolene cited in the last paragraph in #51. I voted for HRC in the primary, because I thought she was savvier and would really fight for the common person. She knows how dirty the Republicans play, and I think Obama was incredibly naive, thinking they’d play nice or honorably.

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  53. Deborah said on August 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    As I’ve said here before Obama’s my man and I’m going to support him 100% until the 2012 election. Then we’ll see what he’s made of. We can’t let a Republican get elected, at all. No way.

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  54. moe99 said on August 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Letters from Defiance as a soporific for the day:

    Joe, all you need is the following chart to show you exactly why the deficit has zoomed up, and whose responsibility it is:

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  55. alex said on August 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I may have more faith in rationality than is justified, but I can’t help but think that there are many Americans who could be brought along by more effective arguments. and, more generally, more effective communication.

    I think those who can be persuaded by reason already have been. Unless someone can invent a way to repackage reason with a churlish attitude and make it play to religious and racial prejudices, I doubt we’ll be seeing much headway.

    I think Obama’s right not to engage in fiery rhetoric, but is perhaps overly cautious when it comes to calling out the assholes who deserve it.

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  56. april glaspie said on August 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Maybe so, beb, but they will never win another election if they do that.

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  57. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Beb, I don’t know what Obama had in mind in allowing Panetta to speak as he did. The only thing I could figure out was that he wanted to scare the Republicans on the committee that is to make the next round of budget decisions into being sensible.

    But whether they are sensible or not, domestic programs are not more exposed than defense. If the committee can’t agree on a plan, the trigger will affect both parts of the budget in amounts that have already been agreed to.

    By the way, is anyone following what’s happening in England? Millions of dollars of property damage have been incurred. Pretty amazing.

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Cousin Jeff — Joel Osteen is a tough one to pigeonhole. He’s actually quite vigorously criticized on the Christian right for mentioning Jesus little, the Bible less, and financial prosperity without let-up. He sounds very “human potential-ish” and almost a charismatic Eckhart Tolle, but when pressed, as Pierce Morgan did, he shows (grudgingly) his evangelical non-negotiables, on gay marriage and Jesus-only theology.

    I honestly don’t know what to think about him. Much of his criticism is patently sour grapes from preachers who wish they could fill a repurposed sports arena, and he and his lacquered wife have racked up some unseemly events in their business-class seats when they’re not in private charters, going around the world to do their own version of Jonas Nightengale without the mirror-ball jacket. He’s a guy who strikes me as someone who’s not entirely comfortable where he’s ended up, but is doing too well to stop (again, see Steve Martin’s star turn in “Leap of Faith,” which shows us a down-market Osteen with a touch more revivalism, whence Jonas Nightengale comes from). His dad built a large but not mega-church with standard brand conservative Christianity and a light overlay of Pentecostalism, and when he suddenly inherited the mantle on his dad’s death, he found a groove that has rolled his marble into the big leagues.

    There’s a worried frown always lurking under that unearthly white smile, to my eyes. But he wants you to know God loves you, cares directly for you even when you don’t deserve it, but will do so much more for you if you only believe . . . and put a little seed money in the buckets as they go by.

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  59. brian stouder said on August 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Joe – I was on W’s side on the run-up to the wars, even despite when he shifted us away from focusing on Afghanistan and plunging deeply into Iraq. W didn’t ask for September 11 to happen, when he was only eight months into his first term; war was thrust upon all of us – it literally exploded in our faces, in our front yard.*

    And for the record, I don’t believe anything is new under the sun. There were people who hated W from the get-go, and never saw what 50,000,000 voters (including me) saw in him; just as there are people who hated O from the get go, and never saw what 67,000,000 voters (including me) saw in him.

    There was an informal thing said about W back in the day – that people voted for him because he seemed pleasant enough to have lunch with (or whatever). And indeed, his image was and remains that of a likeable guy; he certainly left office with grace, and has remained off the national stage – unlike his graceless and self-appointed Vice President.

    And honestly, as much as I admire President Obama’s intellectual power and rhetorical grace (no small thing, for any presidential tool box), actually getting to see him and his family up close, and shake Michelle’s hand* really cemented me into President Obama’s corner (and into the Democratic party).

    I never gave any money to a national political candidate before BHO came along. In fact, I never gave money to ANY political candidate at ANY level before the Obama campaign came into existence. He’s my age, he’s got a beautiful wife an family with which I can identify; he’s my guy just as John Kennedy was my dad’s guy, back in the day.

    We don’t elect kings, who can rule by decree; we elect presidents who immediately have to face two other powerful branches of government, who have the advantage of the clock on their side (especially with regard to lifetime-appointed Justices of the Supreme Court).

    Joe, honestly – I believe when the presidential debates come, President Obama will absolutely flatten the R candidate. Consider: if that candidate is Perry of Texas or Bachmann of Minnesota, or any of their other candidates, if that person feels they owe their soul to the Tea Party faction – all Obama has to do is spell out all the concession he has offered and/or made in the direction of tea party/Norquist/Freedom Works orthodoxy – and then stand back as the R candidate attacks that as ‘not nearly good enough’ nor far enough nor extreme enough.

    We will have another “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” moment, and the Republican will get steam-rolled. Recall the 1964 slogan about Goldwater – “In your heart, you know he’s right”, and the LBJ response “In your guts you know he’s nuts”.

    I have faith that the American electorate circa 2012 is, on the whole, in no more mood for ‘virtual extremists’ (aka ‘nuts’!) than the American electorate of 1964 was.

    *and not for nothing, but as the 10-year anniversary of that event approaches, I’m betting that President Obama will have a Ronald Reagan moment, and address the country in a way that will be remembered at the 50-year mark and beyond. Afterall, and as we were all reminded this week, we are still very much at war in Afghanistan, and President Obama is working to bring us to the conclusion of American involvement in that God-forsaken (and Allah-foresaken) place. I think that the latest flying-monkeys-of-the-right-wing-airwaves meme, that Obama is “incompetent”, will evaporate as Obama points to his successful extrication of our country from Iraq and Afghanistan. If his DoJ could arrest, try, and convict a few dozen banksters – and especially some of those bastards from S&P, then they might just have to add Obama’s visage to Mount Rushmore

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  60. Jolene said on August 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Meant to link this earlier today. Yesterday, the Post had really good article describing the politicking that led up to the debt ceiling crisis. If you ever doubted that there are people who’ll do anything to stop Obama, this report will disabuse you of that idea.

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  61. mark said on August 9, 2011 at 12:12 am

    moe- I know you like those charts; you have posted that link before. A few days ago the US debt to GDP ratio hit 100%, significantly (about 20 %) higher than your link predicted just months ago.

    Is this discrepancy sufficient for you to consider that the Atlantic might not be the definitive word on this issue? I’m not disputing (significantly) the impact of the Bush tax cuts. But Obama is deepening the hole Bush left us in, not getting us out of it.

    The markets aren’t responding real well to the blame the tea party pr campaign. It has been a long time since this President proposed any legislation, or even a budget. The sole survivor of his economic team is busy explaining why everything he predicts is proven wrong within a few weeks. It increasingly seems Obama does not know what to do, and is content to merely take whatever political advantage may be found in criticizing those who do make proposals.

    That approach may get him re-elected, but it won’t keep the economy from tanking. Seriously, why doesn’t this great thinker/orator propose some concrete legislation and take to the airwaves to sell it to the people?

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  62. moe99 said on August 9, 2011 at 3:00 am

    Funny thing, mark. I seem to recall that Mitch McConnell said that the Republicans got 98% of what they wanted with the debt ceiling bill that tanked the markets. I would posit that the markets are not responding to the ‘blame the tea party’ stuff (which Obama is not doing–he is trying to say both sides are at fault, which I disagree with) they are actually, finally looking at the deal and the completely wrong headed intransigence of the Republican party, and seeing that this self inflicted wound is likely to be replayed time and time again as the Republicans throw tantrums when they don’t get what they perceive they want.

    I rather think that the bio of Michelle Bachmann in the New Yorker is a great exposition of what we can expect from the R candidates in 2012:

    I shudder to think who she would appoint to the Supreme Court.

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  63. coozledad said on August 9, 2011 at 6:03 am

    moe: Trolls gonna troll. But hey, if it makes Mark feel any better, here’s some footage of Bush moles at the Justice Dept. ramping up a fresh investigation of the New Black Panther Party. Go get ’em boys!

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  64. Linda said on August 9, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Mark–Obama has indeed come up with concrete legislation, only to see it whittled down to nothing by Republicans and blue dog Democrats. The only way out is by running up a huge deficit–which Ronald Reagan did–to pull the country out of a much smaller recession. Since Obama has an opposition party in the House whose self-described first priority is to make him a one-term president, rather than a Democratic opposition who tried to work with him, like Reagan, he has few options. And if the Republican Party was serious about cutting into the deficit, they could lift the tax break to the richest Americans. This would help more than defunding Planned Parenthood, or NPR, or other Republican pet projects, but they seem strangely unwilling.

    BTW, while only 29% of Americans think that the tea party acted “like terrorists” in the debt ceiling dust-up, over 40% feel they did harm to the economy. Bragging like banty roosters that they got 98% of what they wanted, and McConnell’s happy characterization of their part of the debate as hostage taking does not help, either.

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  65. Bruce Fields said on August 9, 2011 at 6:45 am

    “A few days ago the US debt to GDP ratio hit 100%, significantly (about 20 %) higher than your link predicted just months ago.”

    I believe you’re confusing gross public debt with debt held by the public. See the bottom of for details on which the Atlantic post is based, and for an explanation of the difference.

    “Is this discrepancy sufficient for you to consider that the Atlantic might not be the definitive word on this issue?”

    It looks pretty well thought-out to me; I’d be interested in any information to the contrary.

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  66. coozledad said on August 9, 2011 at 6:54 am

    The Tories demolish the safety net and chaos ensues. Cameron “scrambling” to return from vacation. Ha.
    I wonder how the right will paint this over here. A little race-baiting, maybe?
    I can hardly wait.

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  67. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 9, 2011 at 7:41 am

    The counter-counterbalance to all the Tea Party critique is that in my little corner of heaven, I’ve heard lots of people, who are almost all unwilling entirely to be considered “Tea Party Movement” themselves, say “not sure they’ve been as right as they think they are, but they’re the only reason everyone left, and right, is saying that entitlement reform has to be addressed.” On the left it’s said in a bit of a muttered rush before raising volume and slowing cadence to say “and the rich (or super-rich) must pay their fair share! Bush tax cuts ruined this economy!” and on the right it’s said with an effort at simulating ruefulness, but it is true that no one doesn’t say it in public, political discourse.

    I’d be very interested in seeing someone who knew how running the numbers on a real Grand Bargain Deux: what would the budget impact be over ten/twelve years of reducing or largely eliminating the current so-called safety net in exchange for Medicare Part E(veryone)? What would it do for the economy, for families, for employment, and ultimately for taxes, if a new model meant that there was a basic, comprehensive health care insurance plan (with annual visits for wellness and all basics included)?

    That’s the kind of game-changer this debates gonna need. Right now, we’re trying to cut our pork chops of the prize hog one at a time, and it ain’t pretty for anyone involved, and won’t end well.

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  68. alex said on August 9, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Recall the 1964 slogan about Goldwater — “In your heart, you know he’s right”, and the LBJ response “In your guts you know he’s nuts”.

    I remember reading a Gore Vidal essay on the 1964 GOP convention, where Vidal was a correspondent, and at the time (the 1980s, I think) was surprised to learn how contentious it was, with angry mobs pummeling journalists like Dan Rather. I thought stuff like that just couldn’t happen.

    Four years later the Republicans corrected themselves and Tricky Dick got elected, and like him or not, he actually championed progressive causes (as was mentioned a few days ago here by another nn.c regular) including environmentalism and consumer protection.

    So there’s hope.

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  69. Linda said on August 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Jeff, almost every time entitlement “reform” is spoken of, it’s politespeak for cutting benefits. Or raising the age to collect benefits so that fewer poor and working class people (who live shorter), will receive them. Calling it “reform” somehow implies that the system is corrupt, and it’s not. Social Security is the only thing standing between my mother (no pension) and poverty–that and the tiny pension from my dad ($200 a month). And, as Ezra Klein pointed out, raising the age of collection is thought of as a good thing by rich people who love their jobs. I’ll buy it myself if you can find a gaggle of employers that want 70 year old employees–and young people who want to wait for jobs till the 70 year olds clear out. As it is, anybody over 50 has a tough time finding work. As for the Grand Bargain of which you speak, I won’t hold my breath and stand on one foot.

    As for RN, he was sort of a conservative, but mostly a pragmatist. He didn’t hate government, and didn’t pretend to.

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  70. Deborah said on August 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Alex, I’m not holding out much hope for a Republican regime to see the light, not this day and age. The Nixon and Reagan days are over, long gone. We seem to have a strangling group of wild eyed folks out for blood now. They’re not the majority but they sure know how to bollix things up. Does anyone think the right will ever go back to reasonable governance?

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  71. Jolene said on August 9, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Right now, we’re trying to cut our pork chops of the prize hog one at a time, and it ain’t pretty for anyone involved, and won’t end well.

    Agree, and this approach also exacerbates the inclination for each person or interest group to insure that their pork chop is not the first to meet the frying pan.

    Hmmm, not sure this metaphor holds up–we can only eat our pork chops after they’re fried–but anyway . . .

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  72. nancy said on August 9, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I’m not often in agreement with Prospero, but here goes:

    Raise the income limit for FICA contributions. And yes, we’ll probably have to means-test benefits at some point.

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  73. Bruce Fields said on August 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

    “Raise the income limit for FICA contributions. And yes, we’ll probably have to means-test benefits at some point.”

    For social security, as I understand it, raising the income limit is enough:

    Also, as Krugman points out (, means-testing medicare is partly just a less efficient way of raising marginal tax rates.

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  74. moe99 said on August 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

    more evidence that conservatives and liberals think very differently

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  75. Jolene said on August 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I think, too, that raising the cap on FICA taxes makes a lot of sense and is better social policy than raising the retirement age. Have never been clear why that limit exists.

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  76. mark said on August 9, 2011 at 10:07 am

    The FICA limit exists for the same reason that we don’t means test the benefits- the program was sold to the public as a form of insurance (SSI), not as a form of welfare. Hostility to ‘poor relief’ was greater then than today.

    The benefits paid are still tied, to a degree, to the amount paid in- just as an insurance benefit is linked, frequently, to the amount of the premium. You can get an estimate of your anticipated benefit and it is determined by your actual payments. Minimum payouts and maximum benefit caps have skewed the “insurance” analogy over time. Remove the income limit without some increase to the maximum benefits further defeats the comparison. But raising the high end benefit would be kind of silly when we are trying to maintain program solvency, the extra would go to the uber rich, and the benefit increase would be insignificant to the tax increase for someone making a couple million/year.

    Much of the difficulty reforming SS and Medicare seems to me to be in the unwillingness to change these programs into high-end welfare programs, and limit benefits for the very successful. I don’t think it matters much but a lot of others do.

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  77. Judybusy said on August 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I also remember last year reading a NYT article about how raising retirement to 70 might make sense if you’ve got a desk job, but not for people who do manual labor. Many of the people we were talking abou a few days ago–the factory workers–just can’t do that beyond 50 or 55. What about cops and firefighters? (And yes, I know they usual have pensions and can retire earlier.)

    Also, with the attack on unions and thus pensions, the instability of the market and now talk of reform for SS, I do worry about how I will manage retirement in about 20 years. Five years ago, I thought I had a pretty good plan: I do everything “right” in terms of investing every month, I’ve got a financial planner who manages things, etc., but I’m thinking it could all be kicked out from under me. I also consider myself lucky: union job with pension, ability to save about 16% post tax for retirement, little debt, and a mortgage that will be paid off in 7 years. Meanwhile it’s business–or actually much better–than usual for the very wealthiest of Americans. Why middle class people aren’t more outraged about that befuddles me. They believe the crap coming out of Fox News about how raising taxes will hurt them personally, and get distracted by where the President was born, or if the gays get married all hell will break loose. These days, I am not optimistic about our country.

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  78. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Can’t raise the retirement age, I think that’s a given. FICA income limit hikes are, yes, less efficient forms of taxation, but since when did efficiency become the guiding principle of tax code crafting? I’d still love to see the numbers on what Medicare Part E(veryone) could actually save if proposed as a new reworking of the Great Society, with much less emphasis on TANF, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. The jump in food stamp recipient numbers has been much bruted about as a political talking point, with little mention of how, at the end of 2009, we drastically opened up the program. I don’t regret that it happened, but it revealed another angle of instability in the so-called safety net.*

    For Brian Stouder and other CW-geeks, cool stuff worth burning a click for on the NYT: — yes, I ddeply envy those conservators. To stand there and touch, even with gloved hands, such an artifact . . .

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  79. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    *multiple complications invovled, but in a nutshell, the old guidelines said you couldn’t have “assets” worth more than $2,000, and the new guidelines basically said “whatever, we only care about reported/FICA/W-2/pay stub income.” So lots of folk on a ragged edge of one sort or another were freed up to apply — I won’t say our staff here didn’t, formerly, occasionaly stare abstractedly at ceiling tiles and say “now, when you fill this out, if your car was not reported, then . . . la la la,” but it was a high barrier for working poor families regardless. The new regs make it easier for a family bumping across a tough patch to get food aid even though they have a bit of equity in a house and a pair of semi-decent cars. Anyhow, that’s why percentages/numbers have gone up as much as it is a sign of a totally tanking economy.

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  80. Jolene said on August 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for the explanation, Mark. Makes sense. But, even so, the cap on FICA taxes has been raised before, and it could be again. In fact, it should probably be indexed in some way.

    The opposition to means testing in SS and Medicare comes, I think, from the idea that once these programs are seen as welfare, they become subject to political pressure from people who don’t benefit.

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  81. Jolene said on August 9, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Can’t raise the retirement age, I think that’s a given.

    Ae you sure? It certainly gets talked about a lot, and it has the great political advantage of being a simple idea that seems to apply to everyone. I think it’s a bad idea all around, but that describes a lot of policy ideas that come down the pike.

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  82. moe99 said on August 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    You can raise the retirement age, and I suppose with most of us working service jobs we could continue into our 70’s. It’s the hard labor jobs that do not translate well.

    And there was a study done that showed we would not save much money by means testing SS payments.

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