Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Friends In Need

Here's how I look at it: you do what you have to do.

At the moment my wife and I are spending more helping people in our family than we are on ourselves. Literally. Quite a bit more. I won't say I'm thrilled about it, but it's something I want to do, feel obliged to do, and am willing to cut back in other areas in order to do it. My car is about to roll 200K, and I think it's got a few more in it. Our deck is aging poorly, but we can do without replacing it. I like having patches on my jeans; makes me feel like a kid again. Traveling is on extended hold.

The thing is, as a country, we've been fed for so long the false notion that tax cuts solve everything, that ignoring essential needs is okay as long as you invade a country once in a while, that there's absolutely no sense of willingness to pitch in in a time of need. Not, in any case, from the loudest on the right.

As in many areas, it's easier to believe than to face facts. How nice it would be if we had no obligations except to ourselves. How pleasant it's been to ignore the crumbling of our economy, the failings of our health care system, the falling behind of our educational institutions, our roads and bridges. How sweet to accept -- because we want to, we really want to -- the smoke and mirrors of tax cuts and deregulation, the sexiness of self-interest. What a great country that demands nothing more of so-called patriots than to slap on a bumper magnet and call it sacrifice. Environment? Oil dependence? What silly issues. Tell me I should use less gasoline? Pay for our excesses? In what world??

So we have tea parties. We have a mob mentality, unformed, but angry. At ... what? Taxes returning to 10% less than under Reagan, on the richest among us. Bailouts, formulated by Bush and Paulson, but now, somehow, blamed on Obama. Government spending to restart the economy, not unlike my spending on my relatives. Still laboring under the delusion that we can have what we want without paying for it, that we can forever ignore the needs of others, these people are pissed, all right. Screw those liberal fascists (oxymoron be damned!) for telling me there's more to citizenship than me me me.

Funny thing is, I bet a lot of these teabaggers wouldn't rise up in protest if their families were in need. Would they? Would they call for new parents if they were told they couldn't afford a vacation this year because there was a need to fix the leaking roof and help cousin Jack with his mortgage payments? Would they grab signs and march up and down their street demanding a higher allowance even if it meant their siblings would have to drop out of school? That's exactly what their default leaders are fomenting -- people like Hannity and Beck and O'Reilly and Coulter and Gingrich and Savage and Malkin, etc., ad nauseum: people who have more money than their followers could ever imagine, and always will. People for whom the state of the economy and of the nation are no more personally impactful than was the fate of New Orleans, and never will be.

But it's even weirder even than that. These people have been whipped up and astroturfed into raging against the people and philosophies who are trying to fix the problems, rather than the people and philosophies who caused them all. It's got to be one of the greatest examples of cynical manipulation of public sentiment since... since... well, since Dick Cheney and George Bush used their "war on terror" to justify looting the country and trashing its constitution.

I don't like spending what I am, but I do it. I expect that sometime conditions will be such that I'll not have to keep doing so, and that it will have been worth the investment: if not for me, then for the ones I'm helping.

Helping out in a time of need; coming together for the common good. In those railing against Barack Obama, there's none of that sentiment; it couldn't be further from their minds. And they're the Christians!

Aren't they?


Anonymous said...

If you're a 50-year old-with a college degree, you will pay approximately $81,000 over your working life just to pay the interest on the debt in the Obama budget.

If you're a 40-year-old, you'll pay $132,000.

And if you're a 20-year-old, just starting out after college, you will pay a whopping $114,000 just to service the interest on the debt created by the Obama budget.

Or your grandkids will never pay it off. Angry at the Bush deficits? The Obama deficit dwarfs it.

I. N. Esher

Sid Schwab said...

Complete bullshit.

First of all, Bush ran up about 6 trillion in debt, while no one from your side raised a peep. Second, Obama has said he'll address the deficits when the economy is back on track, which is the opposite of Bush, who created deficits while the economy WAS on track. Obama has pledged to address entitlements. I'm not convinced he can, because everyone will scream about it. But I'm betting he'll try.

There's virtually no one with credibility that disagrees with the need for government spending in a time like this. It simply HAS to be done. It's useful to understand why we got here, and it has to do with the Bush years of tax cuts and deregulation (and, yes, Democrats bought into the deregulation stuff, too, for a while. At least they woke up eventually). And it's useful to listen to what is being said about the future plans regarding deficits.

Finally, it's necessary to face facts. Under Bush, debt rose by over 6 trillion dollars, while the needs of infrastructure, health care, etc, etc, were ignored. We can continue on that path and make people like you happy; or we can do what has to be done and fix it, making people like you unhappy, but finally giving the US a chance to get back on its feet in the short and long run. You can't wish this stuff away.

Well, evidently YOU can. But it doesn't work, as George Bush has made infinitely clear. For that, at least, we owe him thanks.

Anonymous said...

While you may be correct in principle, I doubt you can defend most of Obama's enormous deficits as being about infrastructure and such. It's mostly just pent-up dem spending.

Pretty easy to say "I'll stop spending later" isn't it? Do you really believe him?

The tea parties really have your panties in a bunch, don't they? Don't you just hate it when people disagree with you?

BTW--the latest actual violence in protests was the anti-Prop 8 crowd. Think there's a DHS bulletin about them?

I. N. Esher

I. N. Eshe said...

And as for your "main point"? Check charitable giving of conservatives against libs. Or check Bush and Cheney's giving against Obama and Biden.

Conservatives give more. Libs just take.

I. N. Esher

Anonymous said...

You sound a little bitter Sid, its like my Old Man told me...Buy a man a fish, and he'll eat for a meal, teach a man to fish, and he'll eat forever... didn't help me get out of jail any faster...
Sounds like y'all need to invest in some fishin pole's Sid...
Paid Uncle Sugar 93K in 08' how much did you pay??
Gotta go wrap Mom's fishin' pole..

Sid Schwab said...

Tea parties: I saw one interview of several participants, all of whom believe Obama was born in Kenya. I also believe most of them are recipients of Obama's (ill-advised, in my opinion) tax CUTS.

Main point/charity: I'm not talking about charity, here. I'm talking about paying for past mistakes. And if in your mind giving to charity gets Cheney and Bush off the hook for an unnecessary and disastrous war and for ruining our economy, well, okay. Not a bad return on their investment, huh?

Spending: nice talking point, ie, just pent-up Dem projects. How about specifying?

In fact, the majority of the money is going to states, to be spent on infrastructure. And here I thought federalism was a conservative paradigm. If you think building schools is just some sort of liberal boondoggle, well, okay. If you think the road and bridge projects in my area, which are now on schedule to begin, using stimulus money in large part, are similarly just some sort of liberal wastefulness, well, okay again. Or maybe it's unemployment benefits that get your panties in a bunch. And those of the teabaggers.

Sid Schwab said...

Frank: I'm having trouble following the fish analogy in this context, although part of what I'm spending for family is for tuition. Is that like a fishing pole?

And, like most general surgeons, I never made as much as the typical gas passer. Sitting and sniffing on shifts pays better than standing and working around the clock, as you know, if you stay awake.

I. N. Esher said...

Tax CUTS? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Name even a little one. "Middle class tax cut"--heard it over and over. Hasn't happened, never will.

I. N. Esher said...

Hey--maybe this will help you:

Anonymous said...

I. N. Esher --

"While you may be correct in principle, I doubt you can defend most of Obama's enormous deficits as being about infrastructure and such. It's mostly just pent-up dem spending."

Bah. Go read about Keynes on Wikipedia. We're clearly in a liquidity trap: interest rates can't get any lower, so the Fed can no longer stimulate the economy with rate cuts. Everything runs in reverse in a liquidity trap: people start saving just when the economy needs investment. We're hemorrhaging jobs and businesses are going bankrupt everywhere. What choice does Obama have? The GOP apparently does want the economy go down the toilet so they can pin the blame on Obama and get themselves out of the dog house. Fancy how quick they are to call others "obstructionist".

"Conservatives give more. Libs just take."

No one worth his salt says anything that goddamned daft. There are obviously worthy liberals and conservatives, and odious ones. It's not that your brush is too broad, you're dumping a can of paint and saying these are the good ones, those are the bad ones.

Conservatives tend to be wealthier. Your comparison is broken unless you express charity as a proportion of net worth. Bush and Cheney are extremely wealthy men, so it would speak badly of them if they did give less than Obama and Biden.

Cheney made many of his millions off of Haliburton options while he pushed for an unnecessary war that poured billions into Haliburton's coffers. They got cost plus contracts, no less. I'm sure you write plenty of cost plus contracts to your various vendors so you're okay with this. Bunny Greenhouse, a longtime auditor for the military, was demoted after calling one of the Haliburton contracts the most alarming she'd ever seen.

Bush's fortune is a result of his getting a sweetheart deal on a portion of the Rangers with his name, then as governor condemning land for a new stadium for them. He's a champion of free enterprise.

Contrast these two paydays with Whitewater. Whitewater merited a $30 million investigation, yet evidently involved not crime.

Cocksure simpletons like you are far more of a problem than any political philosophy.

--Sam Spade

Anonymous said...

I posted this elsewhere, but it bears repeating:

What Syd is doing on this blog is a perfect parallel to his work on Surgeons Blog. He’s a Surgeon you see, and he can diagnose cancer when he sees it.

In the case of the Republican Party, I think he sees a terminal case, and he has the courage to tell the patient the truth about his condition.

Still, he is willing to do what he can to remove and repair as much as possible.

This in the face of the patients denial.

The voters have excised the main tumor, but it is the way of the disease that some malignant cells remain, lurking on blogs, ready to metastasize and threaten the patient again.

As I watch from the gallery, I greatly enjoy seeing a man of hand and mind at work.

Keep it up Syd.
Eugene in San Diego

I. N. Esher said...

Wikipedia ain't research.

Broad brush? I learned it on this blog.

Here's research for you:

"According to their tax returns, in 2006 and 2007, the Obamas gave 5.8 percent and 6.1 percent of their income to charity. I guess Michelle Obama has to draw the line someplace with all this ‘giving back' stuff. The Bidens gave 0.15 percent and 0.31 percent of the income to charity.

Meanwhile, in 1991, 1992 and 1993, George W. Bush had incomes of $179,591, $212,313 and $610,772. His charitable contributions those years were $28,236, $31,914 and $31,292. During his presidency, Bush gave away more than 10 percent of his income each year.

For purposes of comparison, in 2005, Barack Obama made $1.7 million -- more than twice President Bush's 2005 income of $735,180 -- but they both gave about the same amount to charity.

That same year, the heartless Halliburton employee Vice President Dick Cheney gave 77 percent of his income to charity. The following year, in 2006, Bush gave more to charity than Obama on an income one-third smaller than Obama's."

Sid Schwab said...

Tax CUTS? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Name even a little one. "Middle class tax cut"--heard it over and over. Hasn't happened, never will. See, there's the problem. When you deny the hand in front of your face, there's not much we can talk about. You just say shit and believe it makes it so. Okay, go for it. I like to deal with facts, but maybe that's just me. And liberals.

I suppose today is too far in the past for you. If not, you could read this. If it's too many words for you (warning: some have more than one syllable), here's an excerpt. From 4/15/09:

First, we passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers. This tax cut was a core focus of my campaign, it was a core component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is the most progressive tax cut in American history. And starting April 1st, Americans saw this tax cut in the extra money that they took home with each paycheck.

LenapeGirl said...

I like this blog entry, Sid. Thank you for it. When did we get so selfish?

Anonymous said...

Guess Who I Am

I have 2 million dollars ($2,000,000).

My father is wise.

My HDTV is enormous, much larger than yours.

I am VERY SECURE I just like touching your arm when we talk that's all.

I am Impressed that a black president ordered white SEALS to shoot black kidnappers. I'll vote for him in 2016. Golly!

I dont get along good with apostrophe's.

I don't envy Sid Schwab nor am I playing out an unsavory Freudian "Daddy" thing with him.


Let me know if you guys need some more hints.

--Sam Spade

Anonymous said...

As Bush began spending us into bankruptcy, Dick Cheney famously said to - then Treasury Secretary O'Neill- "You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due."

From Salon,com - Wednesday, Apr 15, 2009

Of the roughly $11 trillion in federal debt accumulated to date, more than 90 percent can be attributed to the tenure of three presidents: Ronald Reagan... George Herbert Walker Bush...and his spendthrift son George "Dubya" Bush, whose trillion-dollar war and irresponsible tax cuts accounted for nearly half the entire burden.

So now a wind is blowing up a depression and we hear clunking sounds from hollow republican gourds, as they twist in the cold wind they created: "Deficits are bad"

Now that their wolf is at the door, they sob about the generations a'comin. Where the hell was all that concern when their psychopath twin clowns - Bush and Cheney - were giving away the circus?

Politics above all, Right Wingies? Country be dammed, Obama must fail to salvage a party that looks and sounds - more every day - like a backwater KKK Rally.

Eugene In San Diego

Anonymous said...

...I am Impressed that a black president ordered white SEALS to shoot black kidnappers. I'll vote for him in 2016. Golly!

So, more about the pirates those poor kids.

So, they were just Somali Junior Coast Guard volunteers, bravely guarding Somali waters from passing enemy cargo ships? They were just having fun! “They just wanted to go home and Obama had them killed?”

Anybody who picks up a gun, and is ready to kill, needs to be ready to die; good intentions don’t stop bullets.

And, just maybe, the people those brave boys – the Somali Junior Coast Guard -are holding hostage would like to go home too – Ya think?

Eugene In San Diego

Anonymous said...

I.N. Esher:

"Wikipedia ain't research."

Bother, you're on to us. Wikipedia is the wedge through which we mean to redistribute income, make Islam the US religion, and set up a world government which will microchip you. Also we will make you celebrate Christmas in the basement with the curtains drawn.

This query turns up this page on Pat Tillman as its first non-trivial link. Let's compare.

Conservapedia touches on the investigation into Tillman's death gently and emphasizes the fact that he's a patriot and hero. Wikipedia largely repeats this but on the other hand manufactured quotations of outrage from Tillman's mother, father, and brother, and confabulated that Tillman was a fan of Noam Chomsky.

"Barack Obama made $1.7 million -- more than twice President Bush's 2005 income of $735,180 -- but they both gave about the same amount to charity... in 2006, Bush gave more to charity than Obama on an income one-third smaller than Obama's."

Fair enough, if that's accurate you have me beat here. I can merely speculate that the blood is hard to wash off their hands.

Sam Spade

I. N. Esher said...


If you don't know how government works, just say so.

"First, we passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers."

So, this is an act of Congress, right? That means that somewhere in the 1,000 page stimulus or in the budget, neither of which anyone read, is a change in the tax code. But they're just now saying so? That seems odd. If you can find the change to the tax code, please show it to us.

Perhaps Obama is talking about the change to withholding? That's not a tax cut--that just shifts the tax due to April 15. It puts more in each check, but requires the same amount of tax at the end.

Maybe he's talking about these tax credits? Those aren't tax cuts, you know. And the poorest among us aren't buying houses or sending their kids to college right now.

You have to consider the source--you were quoting Obama! (Okay, quoting his teleprompter--but it's the same thing.)

Eugene--no idea what you're talking about, but I'm sure San Diego is proud to have you.

Sid Schwab said...

Teleprompter!!! Oh, snap!! You're on a roll. Don't ever stop.

Anonymous said...

I. N. Esher said...

"Eugene--no idea what you're talking about"

Umm... It's about people who don't get it.

Eugene In San Diego

I. N. Esher said...

Here's Obama without his teleprompter:

At least Bush would correct his flubs. Obama doesn't even notice that he can't speak.

He's the genius president you wanted.

Sid Schwab said...

Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you're going to make a post on the tea(bagging) parties, but out of curiosity I went to the one nearby me and I thought I'd give you my thoughts on it.

I live in Charleston, SC, a pretty modern and vibrant city/town by southern standards and I love it here.

But oh my. I was laughing at the crap the speakers were saying, the people around, and the signs.

Our 'distinguished' Senator DeMint and Governor Sanford were in attendance and both gave short speeches. Nothing too notable was said, it was just a litany of platitudes. Libery, freedom, no more bailouts, no more taxes, etc. Quite short on specifics, but nothing too extreme a la the RWS.

The random speakers were the ones where it got more humorous. They went on about communism, socialism, how we don't have any freedoms, how Obama is trashing the Constitution (are you f'ing serious?). They even started trashing our other senator, no right wing lightweight either.

Then there were the signs (abound with spelling errors no less). Socialism was probably the most seen word, with fascism, communism, abortion, no more taxes, no more bailouts, evil Obama and Pelosi, evil liberals, etc.

It's as if they'd had their heads in the sand for the past 8 years (not that I expected any differently). And the demographics were telling, with white men between the ages of 45 and 65 making up probably 50% of those in attendance. I was probably one of very few there old enough to vote but under 30 (unfortunately many little kids were brought along and made to hold signs). Charleston's a pretty youthful town, but it seems like a lot of people came in from the boonies for this. I hate to judge on appearance, but this just didn't seem like the most educated group of people in attendance. If this is the future of the republican party, they're in for some bad times before good ones.

Anonymous said...

Well, the tea parties don't have the excitement of...well, death and a rally with Obama's friends like Bill Ayers. No bombs, the police don't have to come with tear gas, no buildings burned down, etc. But we like them anyway. We're nice people.

Anonymous said...

Ah--here's the left showing us how to work a crowd. Is this more what you would like?

Tolerance. Nice.

Anonymous said...

White men between 45-65??
So Joe Biden was there??

Anonymous said...

Biden counts as "white men:...with IQ of..."45-65". And he was Obama's choice as VP.


Sid Schwab said...

Once again, in embarrassment, I must apologize for the poor quality of trolls this blog seems to have attracted; namely, people who are nearly entirely unable to attend to the point of a given post, to respond to it in a way that has some sort of tether -- even a tenuous one -- to it. Rather, we see, always, the "I know you are but what am I" level of thought on full display.

To those who actually try to address the occasional point, I can only say thank you for wading into the swamp and, in what must surely be an act of amazing self control, returning.

I'll admit that, at some perverse level, it's entertaining. Especially when I criticize the absence of thought, logic, or factual basis for those on the right. It's like fish in a barrel, when the response, in breathtaking displays of unintentional self-parody, confirms the thesis.

But, I suppose, we're all in it together, perseverating in head/wall beating, as if it makes some sort of difference to anyone but us. Some sort of clubby masochism, I guess, all around.

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