Conservative bitch-slaps conservatives

T.A. Barnhart

No gloating in this. Just the delight of seeing the whiners, distorters and liars on the right taken down by one of their own (in The Daily Beast, h/t to the Huff Post). Of course, a Reagan-era conservative would have little love for any of the Bushies, and even less the more they tried to claim Reagan's "true" conservative mantle. But Bruce Bartlett, one of the inventors of supply-side economics, does more than tear the current crop of right-wing a new one:

In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies.

He demonstrates, with actuals facts and figures (resources steadfastly avoided by both Bush-era and current conservatives), that Bill Clinton's presidency was far more successful than Bush's, including on bases valued — allegedly — by conservatives:

It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton's cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs.

The items for which, as a conservative, Bartlett praises Clinton are among those which liberals and conservatives have problems with, especially his welfare-related actions, much of which was regressive and hurtful to the poor and disadvantaged. The point here, however, is not the nature of the policy but that Clinton performed better as a president than Bush — on grounds that conservatives themselves say matter.

Bartlett even exonerates Obama's performance to date, laying the blame for his "mistakes" at Bush's feet (something too few on the left are willing to do):

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn't made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush's incompetence led to the election of a Democrat.

A terrific article, not because a conservative makes a case for conservative policies (Bartlett's work under Reagan was heinous in its own right) but for an honest appraisal of what's wrong with the angry attacks on the President and the promulgation of the idea that Bush was a great, effective president or that the right has anything of value to offer today. Because the one thing lacking from this article is exactly that: What can the conservatives offer that is better than what Obama and the Dems in Congress are doing?

We know that answer and don't require Bartlett to provide it: Nothing.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I have long believed that most of my fellow Republicans have been remiss in not acknowledging how essentially conservative the Clinton economic policy was. But I also think that Bartlett is remiss in not acknowledging that most of the things he praises were the result of the Clinton Administration AND a Republican Congress.

    Obama's economic team, like Clinton's, is essentially mainstream if not conservative in the strictest sense of the word (which, in my vocabulary, doesn't include dogmatic supply-siders). A couple of months ago, I kidded Congressman DeFazio that I probably like Obama's economic team better than he does. He laughed, but didn't disagree.

  • alcatross (unverified)
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    Gee whiz, TA... what planet have you been on? Bartlett's (and a good number of other Conservatives' with a capital 'C') criticism of GW Bush's economic policies isn't news. Even such an authoritative and deeply-rooted 'inside' source as Wikipedia notes that Bartlett was fired in 2005 from his job at a free-market think tank for his criticism of Bush's economic policies. I've personally seen his similarly-themed syndicated columns here and there the past few years - he even wrote a book called How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy in which he compares GW Bush to Richard M. Nixon as "two superficially conservative presidents who enacted liberal programs to buy votes for reelection."

    BTW, just because federal spending as a % of GDP fell during the Clinton administration doesn't mean federal spending went down... it just means the GDP managed to grow faster than federal government spending. Without arguing over who earned or should take credit, it's a fact Clinton benefited from the fortuitous combination of the continuing post-Cold War military draw-down (especially during his first term) that started during Bush 41s term and an extraordinary period of economic growth. Non-discretionary spending during Clinton's 2nd term still grew near 15% - despite the 'abolishment' of welfare (which it's also well-known Clinton would have tried to reverse if he hadn't shot a lot of his own political wad (so to speak...) on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress...) And Bush established the massive new Medicare entitlement program for prescription drugs (which WAS loudly protested by Conservatives with a capital 'C') with the overwhelming encouragement and support of Democrats in Congress led by the 'lion of the Senate' himself, Ted Kennedy.

    It's a bit of a stretch to claim Bartlett is a 'leading conservative economist' - at best he was a 'policy analyst' (over 20 years ago)... over the last 15 years he's just a former Washington fringe-player making a living as yet another caterwauling Beltway pundit. Regardless, so what? You think all 'conservatives' think exactly alike? I don't disagree with some of the things he says - but criticism of the presidential administration policies by the opposition party is how the game is played. Bartlett is just repackaging stuff he's been saying for awhile here to hump the new book he's got coming out.

  • alcatross (unverified)
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    BTW, interesting to see the ads promoting Ann Coulter's weekly column here in the middle of Blue Oregon... lol!

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    Don't go crazy, but I hope you click on some of those Newt and Coulter ads. Every time you do, a couple nickels goes from them to us! And no, I haven't got the foggiest idea why they're advertising here.

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    alc, it wasn't that this article was new or innovative; i just dug the way he ripped into the wrong-headedness of conservatives. and that he did so by praising (as he would see) Bill Clinton, the conservative's anti-christ, was just too rich.

    and wherever he stands in the pantheon of conservative columnists (this was written for The Daily Beast & not WSJ), his creds as a conservative are solid. the subtext of this piece seems to be: we (under Reagan) were the real conservatives; you Bushies were worse than the Dems — to whom your incompetence & unconservativeness gave power.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    Bartlett clearly has a point. A large part of what aided the Clinton economy was his approach as a "New Democrat", which led him to slash capital gains taxes and reign in some spending. Some of his spending cuts were horrendous (slashing the defense budget for instance was beyond disgraceful), but his welfare reform clearly deserves praise. What Bush (and congressional Republicans) seemed to miss during the Bush presidency was that you can't just get half of the equation right and expect the results you are looking for. Bush's tax cuts on both capital gains and regular income clearly increased the tax revenue by growing the economy (as tax cuts always do), but it doesn't matter how much you increase revenue if you always increase spending by even more...you will then always run a deficit. If Bush had combined his tax cuts with targeted spending cuts, America would have seen much greater economic success. No one should overlook the fact that Bush did inherit a recession, coupled with a potentially crippling terrorist attack which even further threatened our economy..and through accelerating the tax cuts he pulled the US economy out of very difficult economic times...but had he incorporated spending cuts as well, we all would have been much better off.
    So while Obama's presidency is clearly off to a bad start (as most Americans now disapprove of his presidency), perhaps he can turn things around by looking back at Bush and Clinton and understanding just how much those two did to save our economy....wishful thinking I'm sure, Obama doesn't seem to have that kind of wisdom or critical thinking ability in him..which is too bad for all of us...

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    ok Kari, i made a nickel for BO. it was worth it to see the cast of characters the right is listening to. dear god.

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    Some of his spending cuts were horrendous (slashing the defense budget for instance was beyond disgraceful)

    Reagan promised the nation a cold war dividend -- cutting military spending and reinvesting in infrastructure. Clinton delivered on that promise.

    The United States currently accounts for half of all global military spending. With the Cold War over, there is no credible rationale for maintaining the current spending levels. None of our "enemies", not North Korea, nor Al Qaeda, the Taliban, nor any other threat -- real or imagined -- justifies the current level of military spending.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    Sal: "None of our "enemies", not North Korea, nor Al Qaeda, the Taliban, nor any other threat -- real or imagined -- justifies the current level of military spending."

    Wow Sal, strong words there..perhaps you should tell that to the men and women in our military who are currently fighting like hell in Afghanistan and Iraq against our terrorist enemies, or tell that the the families of the 3,000 people we lost on 9/11...go and tell them that we are not up against a real enemy..tell them that this threat is just a some conjured up fairy tale of the right...and tell them that you think we spend too much on our efforts to defeat this enemy, too much on body armor, on secured humvees, on weapons systems......i don't doubt that al quada, the taliban, hamas and hezbollah would all fully support your plan to gut the US military...but to people who actually support America, who protect America and who want to keep it safe, your words are beyond deplorable. Do yourself a favor and retract your comment..clearly you didn't actually mean that...

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "So while Obama's presidency is clearly off to a bad start (as most Americans now disapprove of his presidency)"

    Where the hell are you getting that information?

    CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. July 31-Aug. 3, 2009

    "Do you consider the first six months of the Obama administration to be a success or a failure?"

    Success: 51% Failure: 37%

    I think what we have here is another example of a right-winger employing the rhetorical device of "proof by assertion."

  • Blue collar Libertarian (unverified)
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    Hey JJ we have about 30,000 troops in Japan and the same number in Korea,50,000 to 70,000 in Germany, 11,000 each in England and Italy. Note that Japan, Korea and Germany all manufacture cars and in the U.S. auto manufactures have been having a difficult time, not that they have made their own mistakes, but here we are subsidizing those U.S. auto makers have to compete against in a global market by helping to defend them.

    Then we might ask. Why we have troops in England? The Normans going to invade them? Or Italy for that. Hannibal going to cross the Alps.

    Bring the troops home! Maybe someday one of those Democrats will get rid of this welfare program. But I won't hold my breath.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "tell them that you think we spend too much on our efforts to defeat this enemy"

    The enemy today is terrorist groups, and we will not defeat them by spending billions on high-tech hardware because this is a different type of war and calls for different weapons and tactics. Trying to defeat terrorists with conventional weapons and tactics is like trying to kill mosquitoes with a shotgun.

    Nor do I understand how any amount of military spending would have prevented 19 Islamist wackos armed with box cutters from taking over two airliners and flying them into the World Trade Center.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    dartagan: you need to step it up a bit on your research..when i said obama's presidency is failing, it was based on the most recent poll numbers which show that 47% of Americans approve of the job he's doing, while 52% now oppose. Here's the link...happy reading.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

  • Murphy (unverified)
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    JJ --

    This country was born of a revolution, survived an invasion, nearly committed national suicide in a civil war, fought two world wars, overcame numerous economic recessions and several depressions, not to mention also lived through the various social and cultural upheavals that any progressive nation will undergo, and it will overcome a cadre of fundamentalist religious nutcases.

    But since you and your fellow travelers seem to think that America now face an existential threat greater than any before, I expect to see you down at the recruiting depot today ready to sign up.

    At the very least, you ought to support a draft, right? I mean, this country is in serious danger of immediate destruction, and so it’s all hands on deck. I also assume you’d support an immediate tax increase to pay for this military spending. After all, it’s a small price to pay for survival, isn't it?

    And by the way: Research 2000 poll from 8/13.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA Favorable -- 60 Unfavorable -- 36

    Enjoy YOUR reading.

  • Mike M (unverified)
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    Here are the results for the above mentioned Research 2000 poll:

    http://www.dailykos.com/weeklypoll/2009/8/13

  • Richard (unverified)
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    For real explanations of all things Republican and conservative go to DailyKos, BlueOregon, MediaMatters, HuffingtonPost Keith Olbermand and Ed Schultz?

  • Mike M (unverified)
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    This is actually more telling: pollster summary of many polls

    Of course the websites you mention are the pillar of objectivity (sarcasm off)

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)
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    Bill Clinton listened to the electorate and adapted his policies accordingly. GWB thought he was elected to do what he thought was right, so he ignored what the electorate thought. Obama doesn't listen to what the electorate is saying and believes his role is to convince the public to adapt to what he believes is right.

    When Obama talks about "teachable moments" he's thinking about what he can teach others, rather than what he can learn from others. Obama should talk less and listen more.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Sal Peralta wrote:

    "The United States currently accounts for half of all global military spending"

    So what?

    The dollar cost of equipping 100 American troops compared to 100 Chinese is not the same.

    The US does not field half of the world's military manpower.

    Why don't you compare the size of our military in real terms, not in dollars?

    Then you will probably see that our military is more or less proportional to our share of world population.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Murphy wrote:

    "you ought to support a draft, right?"

    In the event of a draft, both Obama and Clinton are on record in support of forcing women into the draft.

    The American public, I think, will not go along with forcing their daughters into the military.

    Do you?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    alcatross wrote:

    "Gee whiz, TA... what planet have you been on? Bartlett's (and a good number of other Conservatives' with a capital 'C') criticism of GW Bush's economic policies isn't news........"

    Great post, point by point, alcatross.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    T.A. wrote:

    "What can the conservatives offer that is better than what Obama and the Dems in Congress are doing?

    We know that answer and don't require Bartlett to provide it: Nothing."

    How 'bout instead of creating a government monopoly on health care, we instead allow more freedom for individuals and small businesses (and their employees) to pool together to purchase health insurance as a group ---- voluntarily. They could benefit from favorable group rates just as large corporations do.(they currently are not allowed to due to government overregulation. Obama and the Ds are simply proposing more of the same)

    What would be wrong with more freedom in your view, T.A.?

    How is government coercion superior to voluntary choice, I'd really like an honest answer from you.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    TA BoneHead,

    It's good to see you ramp up the Hate! Have you taken the training wheels off your bike yet?

  • (Show?)

    Sigh.

    I hate to seem like a prude here for the Nth time, but during a period when we are criticizing conservatives for overheated rhetoric at town halls, do we really have to use the term "bitch slap"?

  • (Show?)

    Why don't you compare the size of our military in real terms, not in dollars?

    Howsabout you guys quit conflating "The Troops" with the overall military budget.

    There is lot's <ahref=ofhttp: newsblaze.com="" story="" 20090501180608zzzz.nb="" topstory.html=""> good evidence that a huge percentage of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in the defense budget is going to stupid crap like the F-22, the B-2, and a bunch of other James Bond category toys that don't (and will never) work.

    Don't even try to make support for the defense budget about support for The Troops.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    I see that Ted Piccolo's AKA I Am Coyote army of wingnut drones is coming over here citing the same Rasmussen Reports crap that is cited on NW Republican.

    It is one thing to cite Rasmussen Reports, but to argue that in face of other polling (http://www.pollingreport.com/obama_job.htm) that COLLECTIVELY tells a different story is 3rd rate political hackery at best.

    You may get away with referring to President Obama as BhObama, the One, Barack Hussein or other racist nonsense on wingnut blogs, but I and many other commentators will call you out and turn you out every time you try that nonsense over here.

    The reaction goes to show you how insane wingnuts become once a founder of Reaganomics AKA supply side economics theory starts calling their faux outrage for what it really is:

    Trying to shut down a civil debate via mob rule because they believe that elections do not have consequences for themselves and their families.

  • Murphy (unverified)
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    “The American public, I think, will not go along with forcing their daughters into the military.”

    If, as the neocon militarists are forever telling us, the very existence of our country is in grave, immediate danger, can we afford not to have the daughters of the American public serving in the military? So you’re willing to let the fair maidens of the land sit it out while their country is overrun by screaming, evil Arabs. Dude -- Cheney’s going to take away your secret decoder ring.

    So which is it? Is America in serious, imminent danger -- or just “sort of” in danger? I mean, you know, not enough to support the kind of mobilization we saw in WW II, but, well, in enough danger to scare citizens come election time.

    You see, cons have bought wholly into a fear-based ideology in order to scare the population into supporting their policies, and as with all authoritarian systems, it will not be able to maintain power, and will eventually die by its own paranoia and suspicion. We’ve witnessed the beginning of that very process over the last four years. The right’s ongoing hysteria -- it just can’t quite come to terms with Obama -- is simply a manifestation of that paranoia.

    It’s going to be a long, slow, slide.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan wrote:

    "stupid crap like the F-22, the B-2, and a bunch of other James Bond category toys that don't (and will never) work"

    wow I didn't know you could read the future, Pat. You must be amazing.

    The left derided Reagan's missile defense as 'Star wars' , saying 'it will never work'.

    But missile defense does work, and continues to improve.

    Why do those on the left oppose advancing the technology available to Americans in order to save lives?

    Why is Obama in the process of gutting missile defense and other advances?

    Should we just issue rocks and sticks to our guys?

    Amazing. shakes head

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    T.A.,

    I see little difference between the Reagan and Shrub administrations. Both were kleptocratic [More than 30 Reagan appointees were convicted of crimes committed on the job and more than 30 more quit or were fired over unethical behavior]. Both had disastrous economic policies [what Papa Bush called voodoo economics were later exposed by Reagan's own budget director, John Stockman]. Reagan was an outlaw imperialist [Central America, Grenada]. The Reagan administration ignored science to promote environmental rape.

    The big difference: Reagan was perceived as a kindly grandfather, while Shrub came off as an inarticulate fool. Both were intellectually challenged shills for capitalist exploitation and imperial foreign policy.

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)
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    Back when I was a GOP operative in 2004-05, I caught a lot of hell from Republicans for expressing that Clinton governed much more conservatively than Bush on many issues. I specifically recall warning these folks that, "You will rue the day that you began supporting and defending Bush." Sometimes you don't want to be right...

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Jake Leander wrote:

    "Both had disastrous economic policies "

    Yeah Reagan what a disaster.

    He took the interest rates of 20% inherited from Jimmy Carter and cut them nearly in half.

    And all those new jobs! Who has time to work that much? C'mon.

    GDP soared as did revenue to the US treasury when he cut taxes and let people keep more of what they earned.

    What a bonehead.

    Thank goodness we finally have a President who will reverse the madness and put that money back in government hands where it belongs.

    It's simply too dangerous to allow individuals to keep that much cash. Who knows what they might do with it?

  • (Show?)

    Of course I support a robust R&D arm to our defense policy. Anything else would be suicidal. The problem comes when the development budget decisions are based on pork for the perpetuation and expansion of internal DOD departments and control of congressional districts rather than the actual efficacy of a given program based on the science.

    Since you guys are all about the WastFraudAndAbuse angle of gummint bureaucracies, point some of that vigilance at the biggest Black Hole in the budget.

    The same is true with the health care reform issue. Believe it or not, the president's crew is fanned out through the whole mess looking for efficiencies in medicare, VA, medicaid, and education. They have already identified hundreds of opportunities which are on the public record, but they can't be heard over the incoherent screaming of their one-note opponents.

    Remember that these guys are libertarian paternalists and as such are less interested in dogma than they are in results.

    It can't realistically be summarized in a one sentence soundbite, and I suspect that a lot of you are disinterested in such incrementalism, but to my mind it's the only sane way to approach a systemic overhaul.

    <hr/>

    Bottom line? If gummint is inherently evil, no efficiency in the spending of my tax dollars is likely to impress you anyway.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Righton, Scott! Bush was a horrible candidate and a worse president. McCain in 2000 was my candidate. Too bad the dems ran such poor candidates against him. It really was a choice of tweedle dum and tweedle dummer.

    Today now there is no conservative movement ala Reagan and Goldwater. The republican party is taken over by idealogues that actually listen to the likes of Sarah Palin and think they make sense. The national republican party is in worse shape than the Oregon republican party and that is very sad.

    Clinton had somevery good results. Some were his and some were forced upon him by a republican congress. Today, unfortunately we have the same thing that we had for the last 8 years. Federal government controlled by a single party and a strident outer wing pulling the mainstream outward.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat,

    So, 'bureaucratic control of defense budget -- bad' and 'bureaucratic control of health care -- good' ?

    What makes you think that a government monopoly on health care would be efficient when our experience with other government bureaucracies suggest otherwise?

    I don't want Obama 'looking for efficiencies' in health care.

    I want government out of the health care market.

    The government has a constitutional mandate for defense. That's not gonna change because you can't privatize it.

    No such mandate exists for health care. The 10th Amendment shows the wisdom of our founders in allowing the federal tribe only as much authority as was absolutely essential.

    Trim the government to it's proper size and task and it will be a whole lot easier to focus on making it efficient and accountable because it's functions will be few and far between.

    Put it in charge of everything and no one will be able to keep up with what is being spent where.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    TA Bonehead,

    Why are you so fucked up and stupid?

  • (Show?)

    I don't want Obama 'looking for efficiencies' in health care. I want government out of the health care market.

    And that collision between your religious beliefs and my understanding as a small business owner and as a citizen that the current US healthcare system, employer based, and coming in a 400% cost compared to the average of our global industrial competitors, is killing our competitiveness.

    As a 59 year old business owner, I'm no longer willing to carry every doctrinaire libertarian with insufficient healthcare insurance on my back when it comes time to pay the piper. I'm clear that you think that the current system of small business providing welfare to the rest of you guys is just fine, but I guess I'm just not that much of a socialist.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
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    I wish you illiberals would consider Big Insurance with the same skepticism you regard Big Government.

    The Insurance Industry invented limiting doctor choice.

    The Insurance Industry invented rationing health care.

    The Insurance Industry sucks 30 cents out of every health care dollar and cost 10 times as much to administer as Medicare. And Medicare for All would be even more efficient.

    And the Insurance Industry is one big lying sack of poo poo. They started the lie about Death Panels. They have ponied up millions to create a false impression of a grass roots movement against Obama's half steps towards reform.

    They rap themselves in proclamations touting their free enterprise entitlement. And yet they are buns up at the trough for subsidized premiums.

    Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party in Great Britan, just released a rejoinder against Tea Blogger attacks on the British National Health Service. Real conservatives see no place for the greed players in health care. Yes, John Crypto-Right-winger Mackey, it is a right. Just ask our British cousins who invented Conservatism.

    So you illiberals want Insurance Companies for your end of life planning and discussions?

    Try this for dialog:

    "Sorry, we don't cover that. Drop Dead."

  • Elaine (unverified)
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    T.A., Thanks for pointing out that article -- I read it yesterday and thought it pretty good.

    I have to laugh when the so-called fiscally conservative scream about the cost of single-payer health insurance. Oh, man, I guess facts don't matter to them. Yes, all insurance is a form of socialism, even if you buy it privately. So now why would anyone want to pay retail if you can get a wholesale deal?

    You have to wonder how many realize that supply-side economics really doesn't work well for a consumer-driven (demand based) economy. You really can't have it both ways at the same time, policywise. Ahem, it seems right now the U.S. has plenty of what we ordinary folks can't afford nor want, regardless of the advertising campaign. So, how is that working for us?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat,

    How is 'I want government out of the health care market' considered a 'religious belief' by you?

    How is 'I want government out of the health care market' considered 'socialist' by you?

    I favor:

    a) ending exemptions for 'self insurance' plans by employers. If businesses want to 'play insurance company' for their employees, then they should be subject to the same rules as a real insurance company.

    b) allowing individuals and small businesses to pool together to get group coverage at favorable rates like large corporations with many employees do

    c) ending cost shifting. Health providers shouldn't be able to charge me or my insurance company more simply because a government program such as medicare didn't pay market rate or because an uninsured person skipped out on their bill.

    d) enacting tort reform to limit lawyers fees in medical malpractice suits.

    e) ending federal medicare and medicaid programs. If the states want to run similar programs, fine. But it is not within the constitutional mandate for the feds to do so.

    f) ending illegal immigration. Remove the job magnet and illegals will go home and stop draining the health care system of time and resources.

    g) allowing everyone to utilize MSAs

    h) expanding convertibility. When an individual leaves a group plan he should be able to take coverage with him as an individual if he chooses to do so. Naturally he won't get the same favorable rate as a group. But he shouldn't lose coverage. If he wants to transfer from one group to another, he should be able to do so.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Elaine wrote:

    "Yes, all insurance is a form of socialism, even if you buy it privately."

    Do you really not understand the distinction between doing something voluntarily and being forced by law to participate against your will?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Fireslayer wrote:

    "I wish you illiberals would consider Big Insurance with the same skepticism you regard Big Government."

    I do.

    That's why I would prefer choice as opposed to no choice.

    If government establishes the health care monopoly that Obama desires, you are out of options.

    In a monopoly, there is NO incentive for efficiency, NO incentive for good service.

    Do you really want a health care system with all the efficiency of the DMV and all the compassion of the IRS?

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    If opposing "government-run" health care truly is a matter of conservative ideological principle then why aren't British and Canadian conservatives trying to overturn their respective health care systems?

    Both systems bear far more resemblence to the "Socialism" boogyman that the GOP is using in public than what is actually on the table in Congress.

  • (Show?)

    JJ - The military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were not part of the congressionally authorized military budget and are not usually included in estimates about U.S. military expenditures.

    Here's the list of the top countries by military expenditures. You will note that 21 of the top 23 countries on the list are staunch American allies. The only two that aren't are China, our largest trading partner, and Russia both of whom combined spend less than a fifth of what we spend on military expenditures.

    Iran and North Korea, the two biggest nationalist threats to the United States, are #24 and #25 on the list, and spend less money combined on their military than Australia.

    In the absence of an arms race with another superpower, there is no justification for maintaining our current level of military spending.

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    If we define religion as believing things to be true for which there is no compelling evidence, your itemized response is the demonstration. So by the letter:

    a) No comment. Unclear on what your point is here.

    b) I'm with you on this one.....

    c) Several implied assumptions-- 1. that most deadbeats are medicare recipients or uninsured. That medicare always (or mostly) underpays and the poor defenseless insurance companies have to make up the difference.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/07/does_medicare_pay_below_cost_w.html

    d) Actual peer reviewed studies show that the vast majority of malpractice lawsuits involve actual patient harm i.e. they are not frivolous, and; the lawsuits that are frivolous are largely thrown out by judges. Here's a link, since the hyperlink feature seems spotty today.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2145400/

    The other fact here, is that there is zero correlation between the rise in malpractice premiums and claims paid.

    http://www.insurance-reform.org/issues/StableLosses-MA04.pdf

    e) I'm opposed to anybody coming into this country illegally and I also oppose employers hiring said illegal immigrants, but to then ignore the effects of the past twenty years of screwed up anti-American trade policy while focusing on health care is to pretty much miss the point entirely. (BTW: Once an ill human being from wherever, presents to a physician, it would be both immoral and illegal to deny them treatment. Neither they nor we are animals here.....)

    g) MSAs, HSAs, are another good theoretical idea, until the thousands of dollars taht you've saved over the years disappears and you are selling the house. Then you're back in my pocket again with the privatized socialism.

    "Harvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems—and 78% of those filers had insurance..."

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jun2009/db2009064_666715.htm

    h) I think that everyone's for this one.

    If you are willing to internalize factsw taht disagree with your current position, or provide coutervailing facts, you are reason based. If not.....my point about religion is pretty much proven.

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    Sorry about lotsa spelling errors.....

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    I don't know why my submissions keep failing to appear but ...

    at the risk of being a constant nag, can we please try to avoid using terms like "bitch slap."

    Not only is it sexist, it's needlessly provocative and undercuts our message about calming the rhetoric.

  • Elaine (unverified)
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    LOL!

    So, it's fine to be paying 30% more for what is already an oligopoly with no efficiency, no incentive for good service and no compassion? In addition, just to make sure there is no competition, let's also pay for lobbyists. As a large insurance corporation, we can up our salaries if we duplicate all administrative services and require insureds to fill out as many forms as possible with slight variations so that they can pay for even further processing fees. Oh, and to make sure we have the best CEO's in the business, let's make sure they remain on board for an additional $8M a year in bonuses, so that we can brag amongst ourselves on our Caribean vacations, er, conferences about the newest method of scamming insured of valid claims.

    Just so that you know, those of us who are insured, still don't have a choice to pay for those who aren't. We also pay a premium for those who end up getting treated at an ER. The pool of insureds, btw, is growing smaller which means even greater costs to consumers, be they individuals or businesses.

    I want the portability of universal health insurance -- the choice to live and work wherever I want in the U.S., and the ability to keep the same insurance. I don't want to be dependent on my employer for that "perk", thanks.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Sal Peralta wrote:

    "Iran and North Korea, the two biggest nationalist threats to the United States, are #24 and #25 on the list, and spend less money combined on their military than Australia."

    Again, so what?

    "This means that the average North Korean makes the equivalent of about a dollar a day, which puts the North among the world's 25 poorest countries in terms of per capita income."

    Let's compare apples with apples. North Korea spends far more in real terms on their military than the US.

    "Military expenditures account for 31.3 percent of GDP expenditures, making North Korea --- dollar for dollar --- the world's most militaristic state."

    Percent of GDP Spent on Military

    North Korea 31% South Korea 3% U.S. 3% Britain 2% France 3%

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Elaine wrote:

    "I want the portability of universal health insurance -- the choice to live and work wherever I want in the U.S., and the ability to keep the same insurance. I don't want to be dependent on my employer for that "perk", thanks"

    No one is making you dependent.

    If you want insurance on your own , buy it.

    No one said you could only buy it thru your employer.

    But why should everyone else forfeit the right to have employer-based coverage if THEY want it?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan wrote:

    "a) Unclear on what your point is here."

    The point is simple.

    If your employer wants to 'play insurance company' by collecting premiums and paying claims (that what happens in a 'self insured' plan. The administration of the plan is provided by Blue Cross or Aetna or some supposed insurance company, but the real risk is carried by the employer. It is the employer that is 'insuring' you), then the employer should have to follow the laws that govern insurance firms. But they don't. They are often exempt.

    So when people claim 'the insurance company disallowed my coverage', it likely was their employer which did so, using Blue Cross or Aetna as cover.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan wrote:

    "c) Several implied assumptions-- 1. that most deadbeats are medicare recipients or uninsured. That medicare always (or mostly) underpays and the poor defenseless insurance companies have to make up the difference."

    Don't misunderstand me.

    I am talking about two different causes of cost shifting.

    From deadbeats.

    And from the government.

    I've not said or implied that medicare recipients are deadbeats.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan wrote:

    "d) Actual peer reviewed studies show that the vast majority of malpractice lawsuits involve actual patient harm i.e. they are not frivolous"

    I didn't say they were.

    I said lawyers ripoff their clients and pocket much of what is intended to go to the injured party.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan wrote:

    "e) Once an ill human being from wherever, presents to a physician, it would be both immoral and illegal to deny them treatment. Neither they nor we are animals here.....)

    I agree. And we don't deny them care. And we shouldn't.

    We should simply make sure that it happens as rarely as possible that the person is here illegally.

    States like California are going bankrupt providing medical care for illegals.

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    Joe - I don't care if North Korea spends 100% of their GDP on military spending. That still wouldn't make them enough of a threat to justify our current level of military spending.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Sal, I agree. Especially with Nancy Pelosi and friends ramming an extra $500MM in for GUlfstream jets. :-)

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    Joe White wrote:

    What a bonehead.

    High interest rates are a problem because they tend to slow growth. If they are coupled with low inflation, then they harm low income/low wealth people. Reagan did lower interest rates, but there was little upside to the reduction and plenty of downside.

    Below are the numbers on household income during the Reagan and Clinton years. Everyone but the rich did much better under Clinton [and even the rich did pretty well under the Democrat]. So, lowering interest did not spur much growth, as it should have.

    Change in Mean Real Household Income, By Quintile, from 1981 to 1989 [Reagan]:

    quintile total change change per year Poorest 20% +7.6% (+5.4%) +0.9% (+0.7%) Second 20% +11.3% (+9.1%) +1.3% (+1.1%) Third 20% +12.0% (+9.8%) +1.4% (+1.2%) Fourth 20% +13.8% (+11.5%) +1.6% (+1.4%) Richest 20% +27.0% (+24.4%) +3.0% (+2.8%)

    Change in Mean Real Household Income, By Quintile, from 1993 to 2000 [Clinton]:

    quintile total change change per year Poorest 20% +16.9% (+15.3%) +2.3% (+2.1%) Second 20% +15.4% (+13.9%) +2.1% (+1.9%) Third 20% +15.2% (+13.7%) +2.0% (+1.8%) Fourth 20% +15.0% (+13.5%) +2.0% (+1.8%) Richest 20% +18.9% (+17.4%) +2.5% (+2.3%)

    Even worse for the Republican is what happened to the budget deficit, a number more directly under the control of the president than is the national economy.

    • Under Reagen we had the largest budget deficit in history up to that time.

    • Under Clinton, we had the largest budget surplus in history up to that time.

    Republicans are good at yelling, And they like to yell about Democrats' supposed economic ignorance, but the numbers are clear. Clinton did a better job with both the government's finances and the nation's economic stewardship. Eight years of Shrub brought us back to mega-deficits in the federal budget and damaged the economy almost as badly as had Coolidge/Hoover [two more Republicans, by the way].

    Do some homework before tossing epithets that make you sound like another red-faced reality-free tea-bagger.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    What the rest of the industrialized world seems to understand is that a) government is us, the people and that b) we can pool together as an entity of government and create institutions--say a national health insurance plan--to compete with the private sector. I am not sure why people are so afraid of this (although numerous polls show that, at least in terms of crime, US citizens are far more scared than citizens of other nations). No one will force you to pay the higher prices charged by United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and so on.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Jim wrote:

    "What the rest of the industrialized world seems to understand is that a) government is us, the people and that b) we can pool together as an entity of government and create institutions--say a national health insurance plan--to compete with the private sector."

    No, that's not 'competition'. That's the planned destruction of the private sector using a government subsidized entity.

    What if the government came to your town and set up a business doing the same thing your employer does, and charged half the price?

    How long would you have your job? How long would your employer be in business?

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Jake Leander wrote:

    "Under Clinton, we had the largest budget surplus in history up to that time"

    Only because a Republican congress forced him to sign a balanced budget.

    When he had a Democratic congress early in his term , he made no attempt to balance the budget.

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    christ on steroids. Kari, start charging Joe White by the post! the man is gonna explode, he's posting so fast, so furious. wowzer.

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    To put the military budget into context...

    If we cut our $600 billion defense budget in half, the Federal Government could, on an annual basis:

    1) pay the full tuition of every student currently enrolled in a public college or university - $45 billion

    2) Fix every one of the 590,000 structurally deficient bridges in the United States - $9.4 billion

    3) Fix every road in America - $45 billion

    4) Ensure that our water treatment facilities and sewage facilities - $21 billion.

    5) Provide a $2,000 tax credit to every taxpayer. $180 billion.

    ...and we would still spend 3x more on defense than China and Russia combined.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Sal Peralta wrote:

    "If we cut our $600 billion defense budget in half, the Federal Government could, on an annual basis"

    It doesn't seem to occur to you that it is not the domain of the federal government to 'pay student tuition' or 'fix every road in America'

    Have you ever heard of separation of powers? That's our system. Some duties are the responsibility of the feds, some duties belong to the states, some belong to local entities such as counties, cities, school boards, water districts, etc.

    You seem to want an all-powerful federal government.

    Sal Peralta wrote:

    "...and we would still spend 3x more on defense than China and Russia combined."

    Again, so what?

    Your comparisons are bogus.

    Comparing dollar for dollar with other countries means nothing since the purchasing power of the dollar is not the same in each.

    It's like comparing someone who pays $300,000 for a house in New York state with someone who pays $85,000 for the same house in South Dakota. They both got the same thing, the price was different because of where they are.

    You keep comparing the spending of various countries like it means something. It doesn't.

    North Korea spends far more on their military than we do in real terms. Get real, my friend.

    Quit trying to use statistics to distort the picture. You mishandle the statistics when you do so, because you use them devoid of context.

  • The Skald (unverified)
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    "No gloating in this. Just the delight of seeing the whiners, distorters and liars on the right taken down by one of their own..."

    mmm, to gloat: "gaze at or think about something with great self-satisfaction, gratification, or joy" ...esp. with respect to one's adversary.

    not that I'm gloating ;-) c'mon, just fess up. I agree w/Bruce Bartlett. In fact, Clinton actually went after the employers in terms of illegal immigration and tended to only give a cursory amount of concern to the border... and STILL did a much better job than did Bush in this area. Oh wait... I voted for Clinton. Guess I might not qualify as a rabid rightie, but I AM a Conservative... mostly ;-)

    Just sayin' Cheers!

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    It doesn't seem to occur to you that it is not the domain of the federal government to 'pay student tuition' or 'fix every road in America'

    Just showing some examples of what we could be spending money on, given that the overwhelming majority of global military spending is done by our allies and major trading partners.

    President Dwight Eisenhower, who I believe knew a little something about the military, would disagree with you about the Federal Government's role in building the nation's infrastructure -- particularly roads.

    He was the President most directly responsible for developing our nation's interstate highway infrastructure -- though President Lincoln deserves a great deal of credit as well, given the vision he showed in investing in rail.

    Even Ronald Reagan promised that a reduction in military spending and a re-investment in the nation's infrastructure would be the nation's "cold war dividend".

    One wonders what these Republican Presidents would think about the perversion of their legacy by folks like yourself who do not seem to grasp that our nation's might is predicated -- first and foremost -- on a healthy infrastructure on which to build our economy than it is the size of our military.

  • rw (unverified)
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    I have a question that I know you will brush off. But it has bothered me for days since you posted this stupidly named thread.

    Why do you insist upon using a misogynistic term? You knew when you wrote "bitch-slap" that it was dicey.

    I really hate it that words associated with women do end up being the ultimate perjorative a man can muster up. I am not one to ask for PC renderings, typically. But somehow this jailhouse, ghetto misogyny just seems cutesy and contrived; way out of place.

    There. I've said it. I do not understand why it is really bothering me to see it over and over and over again as this Joe and that log a comment, but it is.

    It's bothering me. I'm a woman. Choose away from perjoratives men share among themselves. This one equates wtih that other unforgiveable: "he pees sitting down".... I feel some kind of actual pain in my heart when men say that! Maybe becuaes I remember the intense and horrific domestic violence that attended my own life at the time when I was hearing these terms the most: Oklahoma, indian country, deep poverty that prevented a faster getaway under any kind of personal control.

    Visceral response to some of this terminology is not political mentation, rationalized: it is out of deeply personal referencing. And those who use the terms are indeed expressing internal threads, whether they are conscious in it or not.

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    North Korea spends far more on their military than we do in real terms. Get real, my friend.

    North Korea has a $25 billion economy -- roughly 1/70th the size of California's economy and 1/10th the size of Washington State. If you believe that they spend more in real terms, or that they are a credible threat to the United States that justifies $600 billion per annum in defense spending, then clearly you are the one who is badly in need of a reality check.

  • Johnny Brainwash (unverified)
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    Bitch-slap? Really?

    Again, I fail to see what qualifies as progress around here.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Sal Peralta wrote:

    "North Korea has a $25 billion economy -- roughly 1/70th the size of California's economy and 1/10th the size of Washington State."

    Again, so what?

    Context my friend.

    Comparing these economies solely in terms of dollars is misleading, no it is lying because you purposely mislead and paint a false picture.

    The differences in buying power of a dollar in Korea vs a dollar in California make your attempted point pointless.

    If you want to compare apples with apples, go ahead. But so far you have only succeeded in comparing apples with poppy seeds.

    You attempt to paint the US as highly militaristic and overboard in military spending. We spend roughly the same amount as France and Britain in terms of GDP.

    N Korea spends nearly a third of their total GDP on the military, but you want to dismiss this as if it didn't matter.

    N Korea is a real threat to the stability and peace of the entire Pacific region, including China, Japan, South Korea and more.

    If you don't understand why this is important to the US, I suggest you do a bit of reading.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    T.A.,

    I agree with paul g. that bitch slap is a sexist term. "Bitching" can be excused as direct reference to the sounds made by an unhappy female dog, but "bitch slap" clearly refers to women.

    The older I get, the more I realize the damage done to both men and women by patriarchy and hyper-masculinity.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Jake, Bitching is inexcusable too. Reference a male dog once in a while too if you want to remove the sexism from it.

  • boikin (unverified)
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    At a time when most are focusing on Dems chewing up Dems over healthcare, yours is a unique, if lonely, perspective.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    At least one participant in this conversation has said the U.S. needs a big defense budget in order to fend off various groups & countries, and included Hamas as among those that needed to be defended against.

    So, check this out: http://blog.taragana.com/n/hamas-asserts-control-of-gaza-strip-after-bloody-battle-with-radical-muslim-group-141124/

    Hamas itself is Sunni and it has effectively taken out a radical-jihadist-Sunni group that had sprung up in its midst.

    Hamas' only beef is with Israel, and that beef has evolved to a fight only about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

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    You attempt to paint the US as highly militaristic and overboard in military spending. We spend roughly the same amount as France and Britain in terms of GDP.

    Ummmm, no, we don't. According to figures from the CIA World Factbook, the US spent about 4% of its GDP on defense in 2005 (and I don't believe those figures counted off-the-budget spending in Iraq and Afghanistan). The UK and France were at about 2.5%. Now, some people might say that there's only a 1.5% difference, but that means that we're spending 60% more -- as a percentage of GDP -- on defense than either of those two countries.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    OK, I am not the blog police or anything but . . . I come here because I want to get the perspective of progressives. I'm not interested in arguing with conservatives here.

    Might I humbly suggest that we not engage with posters like Joe White, Boats, etc. who consistently drag the conversation in a dreary, FOXward, predictable direction. You know the old joke about why you don't try to teach a pig to sing? It wastes your time and it annoys the pig . . .

    Why would we debate whether or not the U.S. defense budget is bloated here? If this is not a settled question for progressives, what is? I'm interested in how much can be cut, how fast, what the political considerations are, what the actual security considerations are, what the moral considerations are . . .

    I'm not interested at all in engaging with someone who wants to compare our budget with that of North Korea. Really, that is for children. Why are you feeding this troll?

    I'm interested. If you say: shut up and mind your own business, then I will. I simply don't see this as the place to have those rather childish conversations.

  • Joe White (unverified)
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    Joe Hill wrote:

    "I come here because I want to get the perspective of progressives."

    Then possibly you've strayed into the wrong thread.

    T.A.'s post was regarding one conservative's comments about another conservative.

    btw, I suggest that you'll probably not learn a lot if the only people you are able to talk to are people who think like yourself.

    The reason I come here is I enjoy hearing from someone who doesn't think like me. But maybe I'm just more open to other's opinions because I'm a conservative.

    I would never suggest that others not dialogue with a liberal. This is America, last time I checked.

    I find that name calling "childish" , "troll" , "pig" is not the kind of political discussion that will move the country in a positive direction, and I wonder why liberals seem to default to name calling so quickly.

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