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Reactions to the Obama/Clinton presser...

... from across the 'sphere.

First up, Jon Bershad at MediaIte:

Obama suddenly announced that he was leaving for a Christmas party and vanished, letting Clinton talk for 25 more minutes as if it was 1996! I guess it could have been worse. Obama could have left to go play hoops.

Seriously, what was the thinking here? This has to be one of the worst PR moves in the entirety of the administration.

Ann Althouse:

Why did Obama leave himself vulnerable to this grotesque upstaging, and why did Clinton do it? Was Clinton unaware of how this looked? Was Obama? Maybe Obama realized he'd made a mistake sharing the stage with Clinton without any ground rules, and walking out on Clinton was the best idea he had at that point. And maybe Clinton decided to deliberately show off the way a real President talks to the press because he actually wants to weaken Obama and create an opening for Hillary to challenge him in 2012.

Iowahawk:

Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government's executive branch.

"I am pleased that Bill Clinton has agreed to come out of retirement to head up this crucial post in my administration," said Obama. "He brings a lifetime of previous executive experience as Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States, and has worked closely with most of the members of my Cabinet."

Clinton said he was "excited and honored" by the appointment, and would work "day and night" to defeat all the key policy objectives proposed by Mr. Obama during the campaign.

Bookworm:

Are the wheels coming off the bus, or are we witnessing the most brilliant, and dangerous, political theater in our life times?

...

We may be counting our chickens far in advance of their hatching if we blithely assume that Obama is giving up.  He's a dirty fighter, but he's definitely a fighter.

The Anchoress:

Bill Clinton appears to have taken over the presidency from a weary bored in over his head Barack Obama, who said, "bite me, this job is hard; you take over! I'm gonna go shoot hoops with Reggie!"

Allahpundit:

The spectacle of the president bugging out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party is weird enough, but having Clinton back at the White House podium fielding questions on the hottest domestic issue of the day shoots past deja vu and lands firmly in "am I hallucinating?" territory.

And we'll end with our very own Jay Tea:

After meeting with former President Clinton about how to push the tax compromise through Congress, the two men decided to hold a joint news conference -- and halfway through, Obama cut out to go to a Christmas party. That left Bill Clinton back where he most wanted to be, where he had been truly great and happy -- in the White House, at the podium, talking policy and fielding questions from the press. The only thing he was missing was a cigar and an intern.

Hillary could not be reached for comment... but was rumored to be last seen rubbing her hands together gleefully and salivating like a rabid pavlovian poodle.

The only thought that comes to my mind is how weak this President has become and how it'll be only a matter of time before our enemies attempt to take full advantage of that weakness.

We're in deep kimchee.


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Comments (85)

FO... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

FO

Is it okay to call B. Husse... (Below threshold)
Jason Author Profile Page:

Is it okay to call B. Hussein "worst president ever" now without being accused of racism?

Clinton can F himself.... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

Clinton can F himself.

I just don't understand wha... (Below threshold)
J-Ho:

I just don't understand what he was thinking. You never let Clinton out of your sight!

Could he look any weaker?

I wonder what proportion of... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I wonder what proportion of the 52% have now realized how grievous their voter malpractice was.

But imagine DinnerJacket's reaction. He must be wetting himself laughing. I would be, too, if I weren't an American.

It's not as though we didn'... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It's not as though we didn't have any signs of this earlier.

This is the same idiot who refused to respond to multiple invitations from Sarkozy only to send a letter to Chirac (the former president of France) saying how much he was looking forward to working with him.

This is the same fool that sent the bust of Churchill back to England, bought the visually impaired Prime Minister DVD's he couldn't play in Europe and gave the Queen an IPod loaded with his self congratulatory speeches.

This is the same chowder head that snubbed Germany on the anniversary of the falling of the Berlin wall.

This is the same imbecile that betrayed the Polish people on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

Detached? Tone Deaf? Incoherent and self-absorbed?

He believes his own hype and he will betray anyone the moment he thinks it will suit his own needs. If he were a real leader it would be trouble but for better or worse he is a weak, adolescent fool and it becomes more obvious with every day.

This act of cowardice has s... (Below threshold)
Stan:

This act of cowardice has shown the whole world that Obama is a total empty suit and always has been. To have a former President come in and take over the podium, like that, is political suicide, but does "Walks on Water" know that? I don't think so. The rest of the world now knows what a lot of the American people have known, since he was campaigning for the job, is that he was and still a very inept community organizer.

If anything else, this little stunt will give his enemies more ammunition to force him into more blunders and totally ruin his chances for a second term. Then again, this could be engineered by George Soros and his ilk to get rid of him and not make him a martyr.

This move has also strengthened the hand of Hillary. Don't believe that horseshit about her not running in 2012. There is nothing in this whole world she would like to do more, than be the President. Could this stunt be laying the groundwork for another Hillary candidacy? Only time will tell.

Rick: Good roundup, but it'... (Below threshold)

Rick: Good roundup, but it's "Jay Tea." Two words.

I'll take that from Chone, but that's about it.

J.

Yes, quite a representative... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Yes, quite a representative roundup, Rick. All the way from "Right Wing" to "Far Right Wing." You really insist on getting your information from a wide variety of sources, don't you?

I think your version of "across the 'sphere" differs a little from mine.

Poor Bruce. That the best ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Poor Bruce. That the best you've got?

As for Barry. Just one more example of voting PRESENT!

Heh, Mediaite is Right Wing... (Below threshold)
Bunker:

Heh, Mediaite is Right Wing?

Fixed J.Bruce... f... (Below threshold)
Rick:

Fixed J.

Bruce... feel free to ask the powers that be here for posting privileges... then do what you will with it... or get your own place...

My quick perusal of Huffington Post and DU found nothing on this... if you find something, link to it, praise it, mimic it, make love to it...

It's what you do...

I suppose SNL will do a ski... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:

I suppose SNL will do a skit on this, but they can't make it any funnier than the real thing.

Bunker,Anyone who ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Bunker,

Anyone who deviates in the slightest from the far left orthodoxy is therefore a part of the vast right wing conspiracy (TM). Criticizing obama (with the exception of saying that he is not sufficiently left wing) is evidence of apostasy even if that criticism is warranted.

So yes, Mediaite has joined the ranks of ultra conservatives and their political position is now deemed to be indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh.

what a surprise. The incom... (Below threshold)
Idahoser:

what a surprise. The incompetent communist puppet does things that make him look incompetent.

Yes, quite a repre... (Below threshold)
Brett:
Yes, quite a representative roundup, Rick. All the way from "Right Wing" to "Far Right Wing." You really insist on getting your information from a wide variety of sources, don't you?

Well, then Bruce, I am sure you will be able easily provide us all with a very well-reasoned explanation why this was an example of leadership and strength, vice a chickenshit move by a coward or some sort of emotional breakdown. Please, illuminate us poor dumb racist rethugs...

Heh. Three separate Wizbang... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Heh. Three separate Wizbang posts about it over two days.... and only one lefty shows up; with some wimpy content-free nitpick. And to top it all off, he incorrectly implies Mediaite is Right Wing (or Far Right Wing!).

Yeah, even the Dems know this at least looks bad. Some even know that it IS bad.

Bruce,We'd all lov... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Bruce,

We'd all love to hear how it is that, after months of complaining that the American people are just not understanding his explanations of his policies, it is so desperately important for Barry to duck out of a presser explaining his tax policy in the middle of an economic crisis.

What this seems to be telling all is that obama is less interested in running the country than he is at getting to his cocktail party so he can drink martinis and eat wagyu beef with Chewbacca and Baghdad Bob Gibbs.

He's made himself look weak and enormously self centered. He looks utterly uncaring about this country and the people in it. He made it look as though he really doesn't give a damn what happens to us or our country.

Tell us how walking out on a presser and leaving a stand-in that makes him look tremendously incompetent by comparison is a great example of leadership.

Like it or not he is catching it from both sides of the aisle on this one. You can't throw everyone under the bus and call them right wingers. There just isn't that much room under there.

So, Bruce, what sort of spi... (Below threshold)

So, Bruce, what sort of spin would YOU put on it? Please, enlighten us and share with us.

'Cuz I'm toying with another on it for tomorrow, and I'd appreciate the perspective.

J.

The Iowahawk post is from t... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The Iowahawk post is from two years ago.

Prescient.

Bruce Henry - silence.... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Bruce Henry - silence.

Re #s 16, 18, and 19:... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Re #s 16, 18, and 19:

What, it's my job to spin Obama's press conferences? I was just snarking on Rick's hilarious line "from across the 'sphere."

I've told you guys before that I'm no blind Obamabot. I've got plenty of criticisms of Obama, this little stunt among them.

Oh, and guys, while you may be right that Mediaite (which I had never been aware of before today) isn't exactly Right Wing, it ain't exactly Think Progress, either.

And Mr Tea, will you please tell your colleagues to learn to take a punch? Maybe they should spend a few months trolling a liberal blog, as you did in years past, in order to thicken up their skins. And someone could use a lesson on when ellipses are appropriate.

Let me know when you've let... (Below threshold)
Rick:

Let me know when you've let loose with a punch Brucie... so I can learn to take it...

And the writing style guide allows for the use of ellipses to signal a pause in thought... and to irritate the hell out of the small minded...

I've told you guys befor... (Below threshold)

I've told you guys before that I'm no blind Obamabot.

And no one believes you.

I rather liked my comment o... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

I rather liked my comment on one of the other posts about this: "Redefining 'fail' at every speaking opportunity he had this week."

The (P)resident is living up to everything that was said of him by Conservatives prior to his nomination or election. He does not know the definition of leadership and his idea of compromise is when he gets everything he wants and you get screwed.

He is thin skinned, the walking embodiment of narcissistic behavior and totally incompetent.

He is Shiva, the Destroyer of the American Dream.

Never forget, he told the Republicans when they met to discuss a compromise on Health Care "I won."

Its time to teach him that he can loose to.

"will you please tell your ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"will you please tell your colleagues to learn to take a punch? "

We can and do. But we punch back. Quit whining that we ask you to pony up to the argument with facts. How many lefty blogs are crowing about the wonderful success it was when obama ran away from his own press conference?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Walking out on your own pre... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Walking out on your own press conference?

Extremely bad move. No two ways about that one.

This may only be another si... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

This may only be another sign and portent of the end, with many to come, but

the fat lady is fixing to lip-lock the mike.

When I said "colleagues", J... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

When I said "colleagues", Jim, I meant Mr Tea's fellow authors on Wizbang, not mere commenters like you or me.

I got no complaints about how you take a punch, Jim. Seems to me you give as good as you get, and you don't seem to get your feefees hurt about blog comments.

I don't know what "writing style guide" you're using, Rick, but try this on for size:

"Let me know when you've let loose with a punch, Brucie, so I can learn to take it. And the writing style guide [?] allows for the use of ellipses to signal a pause in thought - and to irritate the hell out of the small-minded."

See how much better that works?

A fool and the presidency a... (Below threshold)
914:

A fool and the presidency are soon parted. So long Barry.

Shorter Bruce: "I don't hav... (Below threshold)

Shorter Bruce: "I don't have an opinion I feel like sharing, but you're all wrong."

And Bruce, I don't offer my colleagues lessons. I offer them an example. Some times it's a good example, some times it's a bad one. And sometimes the smartest thing they can do is ignore me.

Rick's a big boy. He can do just fine on his own. And if he wants my counsel, he knows exactly how to ask me. He doesn't need you trying to rope me in as a sham "concern troll" bullshit move.

And, quite frankly, neither do I. Knock it off.

J.

Bruce,Still waitin... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Bruce,

Still waiting for the list of lefties claiming that Barry running from the press was a great display of leadership.

Again, I wasn't trying to p... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Again, I wasn't trying to prove anyone wrong, I was just snarking that Rick thought his sampling was from "across the 'sphere."

Now, he felt compelled to respond to my snark, so I kept f**king with him. But I see I've gone too far. My apologies. I'll stop now.

The point you seemed to be ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

The point you seemed to be trying to make is that the sample was poor and therefore the conclusion was false that obama looked like a weak and incompetent leader.

Mine was that despite the fact that the sample was light on lefties there is not a thunderous roar of approval from the left at obama's display of ineptitude.

The fact is that there are no credible lefties crowing about what a coup it was to bring Clinton out and to flee the stage to avoid the media. It was a failure. To point at the sample and say that a non-bipartisan sampling of opinion makes the point invalid is simply not realistic. Regardless of who was quoted the point remains valid.

Bruce, like Rick's #12 comm... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Bruce, like Rick's #12 comment, I checked Daily Kos and found only one in-passing comment about "The One" bailing on his own press conference and leaving Clinton to take over(I scanned about 300 of the 655 comments in the "Trotting Out Former President Clinton thread). Amazing, huh? No one else appeared to want to talk about that aspect of the presser.

Can't say I blame them though. I wouldn't want to talk about it either.

Bruce,Snark is fin... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Bruce,

Snark is fine. Just be willing to back up the snark with something you believe in. I think that even the conservatives here would prefer a president that they disagreed with but who was competent to actually run the government. We don't have that right now and few from the left are offering a believable argument to the contrary.

Heh. And after all t... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Heh.
And after all this blather, still just pointless OT nitpicking from the troll.

Pretty much the definition of a troll.

Well, you know, Democratic-... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Well, you know, Democratic-leaning blogs are not likely to emphasize what anyone can see was a bad PR move. Much like Wizbang, as I recollect, and correct me if I'm wrong, didn't spend days talking about Bush's unwanted shoulder-rub of Angela Merkel or talking with his mouth full to Tony Blair like he was Bluto in "Animal House." Back in 2006, I think it was.

In any event, it may have been tone-deaf, but it hardly portends an "emotional breakdown" or, as someone intimated on Jay Tea's thread on this subject, that Obama should be put on suicide watch, or some such nonsense. It was what it was - a PR blunder. It wasn't the end of the world.

That substantive enough for you guys?

Finally.Was that too... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Finally.
Was that too much to ask?

I'm sure someone will be al... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I'm sure someone will be along any minute to tell me how inadequate it was, Mr Nessman.

By the way, what's your definition of a "non-troll" commenter? Me-tooer? Yes-man? Mob mentality mofo? If it wasn't for trolls, blog commenters would just say "me too," or "I agree," so what would be the point?

Barrys has written too man... (Below threshold)
914:

Barrys has written too many checks his policies cant cash. Clinton siezes the podium as the real 1st black president and dreams of oval office liplocks.

Hope and change? What a monumental joke. Go back to community rabble rousing you jive shucking street hustler.

What, it's my job to spi... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

What, it's my job to spin Obama's press conferences?

Right. He intended to come out with toilet paper stuck to his shoe. It's the latest thing in Paris, wingnuts.

Seriously, is there any doubt that Clinton's presence was a matter of getting the water boy out and bringing in the varsity?

What, it's my job to spi... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

What, it's my job to spin Obama's press conferences?

Shorter Bruce Henry: "Barack who?"

Much like Wizbang, as I ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Much like Wizbang, as I recollect, and correct me if I'm wrong, didn't spend days talking about Bush's unwanted shoulder-rub of Angela Merkel or talking with his mouth full to Tony Blair like he was Bluto in "Animal House."

Here's the point, for those who missed it, Bruce: Bush's gaffes called into question his manners, rather than his leadership. "Barry's" did the exact reverse; he showed good manners in defering to his superior, in this case Bill Clinton. (Admit it: Clinton has more Presidential cachet in his dick than "Barry" does in his whole ass.) The only problem is that "Barry" nominally at least holds a position superior to that of Clinton, a private citizen. Apparently, even he can't believe the electorate (including you) were this stupid.

front page NY Times Saturda... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

front page NY Times Saturday ... picture of Bill Clinton at the podium answering questions with Obama in the background with his back turned leaving the room. snap ...

No, here's the point, Gueva... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No, here's the point, Guevara. Rick's piece was supposedly a roundup of opinion from "across the 'sphere." It wasn't, and I pointed that out. When pressed for an opinion on the earthshaking import of Obama leaving the presser in the hands of Bill Clinton, and why the Left Blogosphere was mostly silent, I offered one.

The comparison was not about Bush v Obama, it was about how the Left blogosphere reacts to its favorite president doing something stupid, and how the Right blogosphere does it. My point was, you don't expect the Left to jump all over Obama's gaffes any more than you expected the Right to jump all over Bush's.

"Front page NY Times Saturd... (Below threshold)
914:

"Front page NY Times Saturday ... picture of Bill Clinton at the podium answering questions with Obama in the background with his back turned leaving the room. snap ..."


Exit stage left.. hahahahaaha

He went to a party? I thou... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

He went to a party? I thought he going to fetch #42 some coffee...

I fear this was more than j... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

I fear this was more than just another gaffe. This is our President abdicating the Presidency.

Seriously, a Christmas party or Michelle or whatever are higher priority than something affecting the entire nation?!?

To use the President's analogy, that car that Republicans supposedly drove into a ditch? Barry just abandoned that car.

We are a country without a leader.

Well, Bruce, then feel free... (Below threshold)

Well, Bruce, then feel free to cite some left-leaning blogs that talked about it. As noted, they didn't want to talk about it. So, therefore, Rick's non-mention of them was a fair representation of their deafening silence.

J.

Right, Mr Tea. And... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Right, Mr Tea.

And, if, to use my Merkel analogy, Oliver Willis, for example, had said that there was outrage "across the 'sphere" at Bush's behavior, you in your trolling days would have said nothing. Right?

Of course, you're more mature now, those days behind you. Excuuuse me if I'm still the adolescent you once were.

Look at the apocalyptic comments on this thread and on your piece, Mr Tea. It's my contention that, as is their wont, conservatives are in a tizzy about another tempest in a teapot. The liberal blogs are silent about it for two reasons: One, it was a bad PR move, but two, it WASN'T THAT IMPORTANT.

And also, it probably helped Obama sell the deal, since most Democrats still consider Clinton a brilliant politician and a wise man. The MOST left-leaning blogs probably don't want to talk about that, either.

Now that I've read the comm... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Now that I've read the comments.... while complaining that the author did not write to his standards or make the observations he thought should be made, Bruce complains that people hit him with the same treatment.
and it got under his skin enough that he forgot the faux courtesy of calling us all Mr...

Who's complaining, Mr Wuzzy... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Who's complaining, Mr Wuzzy?

I don't call Guevara "Mr" because he doesn't deserve any honorifics of any sort. He's a raving McCarthyite lunatic.

I don't call Jim or Rick "Mr" because "Mr Jim" or "Mr Rick" sounds like something a little Southern kid would call his YMCA counselor. That's all.

By the way, I thought the point of having a comments section was that people would comment, either negatively or positively.

Definitely a serious gaffe ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Definitely a serious gaffe on Obama's part. And plenty of people are having a field day with this--and loving every minute of it.

Still, this certainly isn't the end of the world--it's a stupid mistake within a larger, much more serious set of political shortcomings, mistakes, and bad decisions. And this is a problem--for everyone involved (Democrats, Republicans, and everyone else). The Dems are in deep shit right now, and they aren't doing much to make things better. Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So what do you guys think is the answer to all this? What does the country as a whole need? I'd be interested to hear some sincere answers about this. You guys sure like jeering from the sidelines (much like the left during the last Bush admin), but I don't really see any good answers coming from the Republicans either.

There's a LOT of finger pointing and blaming going around, and not too many good ideas.

I still argue that we need to find a way to break the two party monopoly that we have (ya, I know: good luck), because we're basically stuck in the same reactionary holding pattern. We keep shifting from one party to another, all based upon superficial rhetoric, while the underlying structural, political, and economic issues basically stay the same.

Overall, the vitriolic and acrimonious bickering between the two major parties is only going to keep dragging us down. What we need is a government for all of the people, rather than a winner take all government that only caters to its own political interests and constituents. Sounds utopian, but we better do SOMETHING that moves us outside of what we've been doing for far too long. And the more that the "left" and the "right" keep demonizing one another, the more this divisive process is possible.

Basically, we need to get our shit together here in the US if we're going to move forward at some point.

Obama's choice to attend a ... (Below threshold)

Obama's choice to attend a Christmas Party and "install" a temp POTUS to stand in his stead, has to go down in the history books as the most flabbergasting "stunt" ever in a 21st century White House.

Why couldn't just one lapdog liberal reporter have the balls to holler: "Where are your priorities Mr. President" as he "walked away"? It speaks volumes of how the White House press are a bunch of drones wallowing in their loathsome liberalism. The whole affair was an embarrassment to the office.

Comments from a broader spe... (Below threshold)
John:

Comments from a broader spectrum of left leaners.... ah well, you see, it's a, sorta like, when Bush, ah did as, you see, like a maybe that time that Regan, ah you know went and a it's a. I mean, I gotta go to my christmas party now.

Jay G:"Bush's gaff... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G:

"Bush's gaffes called into question his manners, rather than his leadership."

Well, that's a matter of opinion. While Obama's latest gaffe certainly calls his leadership into question, this assessment of Bush has the wondrous tint of rose colored glasses. When it came to foreign policy, there were plenty of moments when Bush jr needed quite a bit of help. Foreign policy wasn't his thing--and that was pretty damn clear.

Now, don't do the usual thing and read this as an endorsement for Obama's foreign policy. It's not.

John,"Comments fro... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

John,

"Comments from a broader spectrum of left leaners.... ah well, you see, it's a, sorta like, when Bush, ah did as, you see, like a maybe that time that Regan, ah you know went and a it's a. I mean, I gotta go to my christmas party now."

It was a really bad move, period. Definitely. And things are not looking good for the Dems or anyone else. We're stuck in two wars, our economy is still in the tank, and our president feels the need to hide out in Christmas parties. Great. And the opposition party? What do they have on tap? Sarah Palin? Ya, not looking good here in the old USA. A long way from the days of Madison, Jefferson, and Lincoln--no doubt about that.

So now what, John? Where to from here?

BH,"By the way, I ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

BH,

"By the way, I thought the point of having a comments section was that people would comment, either negatively or positively."

That SHOULD be the point, but some of the brave keyboardists around here just want an echo chamber and call anyone who disagrees with them a "troll." Or they use some other uncreative term they saw on Hannity or Glenn Beck. But, those folks carry little weight, since all they usually have are baseless insults. Few of them can actually argue a position with any force or clarity, so they do what they can. And I guess posting cheap insults online makes them feel tough or something--as if that's an impressive feat.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people on this site who can debate and disagree without dragging things into the gutter.

And I have plenty of respect for them. I've had some pretty great discussions with certain folks around here--and that's part of the reason why I check into this site every now and again.

So, like pretty much any political blog, we all have to wade through the BS (or ignore it) in order to actually discuss issues, debate, disagree, etc. For me, the point is to communicate, not to simply waste bandwidth with meaningless drivel.

Oh I'm sorry Ryan I thought... (Below threshold)
John:

Oh I'm sorry Ryan I thought this was a post about Obama. But ok both parties are bad, I'm on board with that.

Ryan, here's where we go fr... (Below threshold)
John:

Ryan, here's where we go from here, 2 years from now the Dems and Repubs will nominate new people (or for the Dems the same guy) and we'll have another election. The country will react and move futher in the direction it's going (doubtful given the polling on that) or will go in a different direction. At that time either you'll be unhappy or I will (meaning the liberal side of the country or the conservative part of the country.) So for me I'll go vote for who I think will be the best leader for the country and the best representives for my State and community and you'll do the same. In the mean time you'll advocate for your side of the argument and I'll advocate for mine. We have that luxury in the US thankfully.

No, here's the ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

No, here's the point, Guevara.

Bruce, you persist in missing the point. If Bush had loudly broken wind in public, it would have been all over the sinistrosphere, while the dextrosphere probably would have more or less ignored it. We agree on that, I'm sure. It would have been embarrassing, but of no import in the larger scheme of things.

This was not about breaking wind. Obama's actions called his very leadership into question - he looked weak and ridiculous (while Clinton looked Presidential), an appearance that can only embolden our enemies (and no, by "enemies" I don't mean Republicans). This incident was embarrassing, but it goes beyond that - it has considerable import in the larger scheme of things. (Consider that when an earlier Democrat Wunderkind, JFK, came across as a callow, weak, and inexperienced politician to Khruschev, he decided he could get away with putting missiles into Cuba. The incident came as close to starting a nuclear war as we have ever come. So far, anyway.) That's why this matters, and the sinistrosphere should take cognizance of it. It's not a partisan political issue, as you seem to treat it.

Ask yourself this question: as a result of Obama's catastrophic performance at the press conference, is DinnerJacket more or less likely to build and threaten to use nuclear weapons? How about Kim Jong-Il? More or less likely to push his luck?

That's the point.

John,Thanks for th... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

John,

Thanks for the stock answer and the rudimentary explanation about "how out political system" works.

"At that time either you'll be unhappy or I will (meaning the liberal side of the country or the conservative part of the country.)"

Hmmm. Part of the problem is this kind of thinking--that we are all neatly divided into simple little categories like "left" and "right." I could give a shit about "my side" winning, and care more about moving the US out of the current political climate. If you think I'm some ra-ra person for Democrats, or "the left," or any pre-packaged political position, then you've got the wrong person.

"So for me I'll go vote for who I think will be the best leader for the country and the best representives for my State and community and you'll do the same."

Ok. So are we choosing the "best leaders" or are we choosing out of a handful of mediocre candidates?

"In the mean time you'll advocate for your side of the argument and I'll advocate for mine. We have that luxury in the US thankfully."

Interesting. So what's MY SIDE, John? And what, exactly, is YOUR SIDE? Might be a good idea to think that through a little more. Just a thought.

John,"Oh I'm sorry... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

John,

"Oh I'm sorry Ryan I thought this was a post about Obama."

I already posted an earlier comment agreeing with the basic complain here. At the same time, all things considered, I really don't think this particular gaffe is the most important detail of all time, and I certainly don't think it requires much more political analysis. There are bigger symptoms than this, my friend.

Apologies for expanding the discussion beyond the boundaries you have set. But then, other commenters already brought up the Bush comparison, and I was just adding to that.

So what do you ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

So what do you guys think is the answer to all this? What does the country as a whole need? I'd be interested to hear some sincere answers about this.

We need to turn away from socialist ideas. It's that simple. I'm not saying that we're socialist, but rather that the philosophy underpinning socialism has infected our culture and our thought processes.

Don't think so? Think that statement is extreme? Schools now ban many competitive sports and games (e.g., my kids' school banned dodgeball and tag, and does not permit score to be kept in any other game) because the losers feel bad. Life produces winners and losers. Pretending otherwise is foolish.

People bleat about the poor, and how best to help them. First, no one in America is truly poor, by which I mean lacking food, clothing, or shelter. Most of the "poor" in America have an obesity problem, cell phones, and color TVs. That's not poor. I've traveled extensively in the Third World, and there you see people who are really no shit poor. By their standards, the poorest people in America are indescribably wealthy.

Second, most of the people in America categorized (here) as poor are so because they make and have made stupid decisions, i.e., their poverty is a self-inflicted wound. (Take away drugs, gangs, illegitimacy, garden-variety laziness, and lousy work habits, and they'd do OK.) In short, most of the poor need their butts kicked. But we can't do that because socialist perspectives are chic.

But the biggest problem is the socialist notion that the government exists to do stuff, to "improve" things, to right all wrongs, to enforce "equality" (aka "social justice" or "economic justice," all synonyms for redistributing wealth from those who produced it to those who didn't),
to push people to do what government bureaucrats think that they ought to do (don't eat trans fats!), in short to control people, to build "heaven on earth" in the famous Marxist phrase.

We need to regain an earlier perspective: the government exists to maintain order, to protect the nation, its people, and their property rights, and to build and maintain infrastructure that no private sector actor can and/or will do. That's it. It's not the government's job to make people happy, or to prevent them from doing stupid things, or to even out life's happenstances of abilities, talents, and success.

In short, we need minimalist government, one that leaves people alone, one that lets winners win and losers lose.

(Apologies for length.)

Ryan @ 48How about... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Ryan @ 48

How about Govs Jindal and Christie?

Jay G:Thanks for t... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G:

Thanks for the extended response.

"We need to turn away from socialist ideas. It's that simple. I'm not saying that we're socialist, but rather that the philosophy underpinning socialism has infected our culture and our thought processes."

The US has had a mixed economic and political system for a long time. Are you calling for some purist "capitalist" system? And what model do you propose for that (since nothing of the sort has ever existed)?

Adam Smith wrote that liberty, reason, and happiness can only flourish "where civil government is able to protect them." Link:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN20.html#V.1.213

In that case, Smith was talking about the need for a civil government to challenge to power of the church. So while many see Smith as some anti-government advocate who felt that the "invisible hand" of the free market could solve all problems, if you actually read what he wrote you'll see that there's more to the story.

"Don't think so? Think that statement is extreme? Schools now ban many competitive sports and games (e.g., my kids' school banned dodgeball and tag, and does not permit score to be kept in any other game) because the losers feel bad. Life produces winners and losers. Pretending otherwise is foolish."

Well, that's just a dumb decision on the part of the school admin. I'm not sure what this has to do with "socialism" per se. I don't recall Keynes or even Marx ever ranting about the need to ban dodgeball.

"People bleat about the poor, and how best to help them. First, no one in America is truly poor, by which I mean lacking food, clothing, or shelter."

So...you're telling me that homeless people aren't actually homeless, and that jobless people aren't actually poor? There are absolutely some pretty poor populations here in the US, Jay. This claim is completely false.

"Most of the "poor" in America have an obesity problem, cell phones, and color TVs."

Right. Interesting. Is this merely your opinion, or is there some sort of data set you're working with here?

"I've traveled extensively in the Third World, and there you see people who are really no shit poor. By their standards, the poorest people in America are indescribably wealthy."

Interesting. Since people in other parts of the world are "really poor," there is no need to address poverty that exists here in the US? Another twisted argument on your part. As I see it, while there are surely destitute and poor populations throughout the world, there is no need to sweep aside income and poverty issues here in the US. I think it's pretty amazing that you are claiming otherwise, especially considering the current economic climate. There are definitely very poor people in Mexico--but that does not negate the poverty that exists in the US.

"Second, most of the people in America categorized (here) as poor are so because they make and have made stupid decisions, i.e., their poverty is a self-inflicted wound."

Jay, this is wrong on numerous levels. This is a completely false claim that you can't actually back up with evidence. Have you done a thorough historical and economic study of all US populations? Of course you haven't. What have you been reading, Herbert Spencer* or something? To simply equate poverty with "bad decisions" is seriously reckless thinking, IMO. Your logic ignores a whole slew of historical, social, economic, and political factors. This is pure ideological conjecture on your part.

"(Take away drugs, gangs, illegitimacy, garden-variety laziness, and lousy work habits, and they'd do OK.) In short, most of the poor need their butts kicked. But we can't do that because socialist perspectives are chic."

Right. It's all just because people are stupid and lazy--and there's nothing more to it (/sarcasm). You call this an argument? You think that poverty in Eastern Kentucky all boils down to laziness? Tell that to coal miners who work their asses off to make ends meet.

"But the biggest problem is the socialist notion that the government exists to do stuff, to 'improve' things, to right all wrongs, to enforce 'equality'..."

So what's your take on the federal government's role in civil rights? Do you think that was just a case of unnecessary enforcement of "equality" or "improve things"? Where do we draw the line?

"We need to regain an earlier perspective: the government exists to maintain order, to protect the nation, its people, and their property rights, and to build and maintain infrastructure that no private sector actor can and/or will do. That's it."

Ok. So who or what provides a check on the accumulation of power in the hands of private interests? Or is this not a problem for you? As I see it, we need a system that limits the concentration of power in anyone's hands, whether government, private, or otherwise.

"It's not the government's job to make people happy, or to prevent them from doing stupid things, or to even out life's happenstances of abilities, talents, and success."

I definitely do not think it's the govt's job to make everyone happy, by any means. But, we do have our share of problems, issues, and injustices here in the US. What should we do about them? Nothing? So, do you think that poor people here in the US should just be of no concern? Should everyone who has "enough" simply look the other way? You seem to equate "success" and "wealth" with hard work and good decisions--and that may be the case at times. But there are also plenty of cases in which very hard working people just aren't making it. So what's your answer? Screw em? And how does that fit within the predominantly Judeo-Christian ethic here in the US?

*For those of you who don't know, Spencer was a 19th century social theorist who argued that poor people were poor, basically, because they were inferior. This kind of thinking lead to a whole series of bad social policies and decisions, including forced sterilization of supposedly "inferior" peoples here in the US. Look it up. Yet another reason why equating poverty with lower intelligence is a bad road to head down.

" (Apologies for length.)</... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

" (Apologies for length.)

65. Posted by Jay Guevara "

Now that's funny right there, when you are responding to the Filibuster King who promptly twists all of your points to the most extreme 'interpretation' possible, if not outright mis-characterizing them.

I'm not sure wh... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I'm not sure what this has to do with "socialism" per se. I don't recall Keynes or even Marx ever ranting about the need to ban dodgeball.

C'mon, Ryan, you're a smart guy. What's a (perhaps "the") central squawk socialists make about capitalism? Competition sets people against one another, right? And they're for promoting cooperation over competition. Therefore competition - the apportioning of people between winners and losers - has to go. Banning dodgeball, while admittedly prosaic, is of a piece with trying to eliminate competition in other spheres - such as the economy.

So...you're telling me that homeless people aren't actually homeless, and that jobless people aren't actually poor? There are absolutely some pretty poor populations here in the US, Jay. This claim is completely false.

No, it's completely true.

First, homeless people aren't homeless because they're poor. They're homeless because they're ">http://www.google.com/search?q=homeless+mentally+ill&hl=en-US&sourceid=gd&rlz=1Q1GGLD_enUS354US358&aq=t"> mentally ill. Why are the mentally ill out on the streets, you ask? Because the US Supreme Court, in 1975 in O'Connor v. Donaldson, ruled that involuntary commitment
"is unconstitutional to commit for treatment a person who is not imminently a danger to himself or others and is capable to a minimal degree of surviving on his own."

Second, I say again: no one in the US is truly poor. No one. No one in the US is going hungry (liberal mantras notwithstanding) except for supermodels. Fattest segment of the population? http://www.google.com/search?q=obesity+poverty&hl=en-US&sourceid=gd&rlz=1Q1GGLD_enUS354US358&aq=t "> The poorest. A specific cite on point: Obesity and Poverty: The Poorest of Us Also Weigh the Most.

And as for color TVs? Try this article, based on Census data : Poverty now comes with a color TV. Some quotes:

Two-thirds of those in poverty had air conditioners in 1998, up from 50% in 1992. Personal computers have grown increasingly ubiquitous. Where fewer than 20% of homes had them in 1992, nearly 60% did in 2002 (more than own dishwashers).

Furthermore, Census data cited above show that as of 2002 98.20% of American households own a color TV, 99.20% a refrigerator, 85.70% a car, 93.20% a microwave, and 86.90% a VCR. (I've not addressed cell phones because many people who can afford them haven't yet gotten one, for whatever reason. I only got one myself a year and a half ago.)

So there are your cites to impartial (Census) or lefty (MSN) sources. Can we agree that any household that owns a color TV is not poor? A household that owns an air conditioner, a computer, a color TV, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a VCR is certainly not poor. I've been in Third World countries where people yearned to own a refrigerator, or a bicycle. They were poor.

I say again: there are no poor people in the US. None. There are people who have less than others, sometimes much less, but no one who is going hungry. When is the last time you saw a seriously undernourished person? Seriously. (Again, supermodels don't count.) The poorest person in America lives like a king compared to most people in the Third World, or even compared to a real king of a century or two ago. They don't/didn't have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, central heating, color TVs, refrigerators, or microwaves. In absolute terms, we are rich - all of us.

Oops. Sorry about the HTML.... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Oops. Sorry about the HTML.

Geez Ryan, we're all just h... (Below threshold)
John:

Geez Ryan, we're all just having a little fun at the expense of the "won" it's not a big deal. It's probably not the end of the republic that we have a crappy president. We've had other crappy presidents, usually after an especially crappy president we get a really good one. But if you feel the need you can go ahead and write another 1000 words on the end of the empire.

It's all just b... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

It's all just because people are stupid and lazy--and there's nothing more to it (/sarcasm).

Straw man alert. There's more to it. Coming from a shitty, dysfunctional family and culture plays a role too. Please don't give me the "racism" crap - that is simply a lie. There's a black man in the White House. The racism card is now officially expired. Anyone who cannot make it now just isn't good enough. Period.

Black schools suck because black culture disfavors education ("acting white"). You know it, I know it, Bill Cosby knows it, all God's children know it. Changing black culture is something the blacks have to do; no one else can do it. (This is where Obama could play a real, positive role - but hasn't.) They need to get away from glorifying the "gangsta"/NBA punk/crack dealer/rap singer/pimp/ho lifestyle.

So what's your take on the federal government's role in civil rights? Do you think that was just a case of unnecessary enforcement of "equality" or "improve things"?

Where did civil rights problems come from? From government - city and state governments, to be precise. The Federal government was undoing the damage that local governments had wrought. Why were the armed forces segregated? Because Woodrow Wilson, as President, segregated them.

So who or what provides a check on the accumulation of power in the hands of private interests?

Let me turn it around: what provides a check on government power? Microsoft doesn't have police, guns, prosecutors, and prisons. The government does.

The government has a role to play in protecting people's property against acquisition by others, whether by burglary, robbery, fraud, or monopoly. But the government is itself a monopoly, and is perpetrating frauds on a daily basis (e.g., Social Security and Medicare, to name two; a corporation would be prosecuted for acting in the same way, since kiting checks is illegal).

But there are also plenty of cases in which very hard working people just aren't making it. So what's your answer? Screw em?

Yep, pretty much, at least by your standards. I have no answer, because there is no question. Some people work hard and don't get far. Some people don't do shit, hit the lottery (a stupid move right there), and roll in cash. Some people are born beautiful, or with wonderful singing voices, and do just fine through no fault of their own. Some people just get lousy breaks through no fault of their own (e.g., Christopher Reeves). That's life. So it goes. Not every wrong can - or should - be righted.

This kind of thinking lead to a whole series of bad social policies and decisions, including forced sterilization of supposedly "inferior" peoples here in the US. Look it up. Yet another reason why equating poverty with lower intelligence is a bad road to head down.

First, no one's talking about forced sterilization. That's not a fair point.

Second, poverty and low intelligence are most certainly correlated; I don't think anyone disputes that. The question is the nature of the correlation, and the extent to which the relationship is causal. It's amusing to watch liberals twist and turn trying to explain away the obvious correlation. See, for example, Poverty, Biology, and Intelligence on an article in PNAS attributing the correlation to the stress induced by "poverty."

Criminals (certainly caught ones) generally have low IQs, and poor impulse control. Sure, there may be (almost certainly are) more high IQ Bernard Madoff-type criminals out there, but most (especially those commiting crimes of violence) are pretty dull. See, for example, Intelligence and Crime - Measuring the Size of the IQ-Crime Correlation:

The central question of IQ-crime studies is whether individuals with less intelligence, on average, commit more crime than those with more intelligence. That is, are IQ and crime negatively correlated? The best answer, drawn from previous research, is a qualified "yes." Delinquents and criminals average IQ scores 8 to 10 points lower than noncriminals, which is about one-half a standard deviation.

I'll draw this to a close, but basically "poverty," crime, low intelligence, and lousy decisions are all pretty much joined at the hip.

"Banning dodgeball, while a... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Banning dodgeball, while admittedly prosaic, is of a piece with trying to eliminate competition in other spheres - such as the economy."

Still sounds like a stretch me to connect this with "socialism". I'd stick notch this one up as little more than a dumb decision from an air-headed school administration. I highly doubt they were reading Das Kapital when they came up with that idea.

"First, homeless people aren't homeless because they're poor. They're homeless because they're mentally ill."

In some cases, sure. But this by no means explains homelessness across the US. Take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and tell me that all of the people in the US are in that situation b/c they're mentally ill. The current economic climate, in which thousands of people have lost their jobs, has added to this. You're reaching with this argument, Jay.

"Second, I say again: no one in the US is truly poor. No one. No one in the US is going hungry (liberal mantras notwithstanding) except for supermodels."

Actually there are plenty of people in the US who are either going hungry or eating diets that are pretty much killing them. As for the obesity and poverty issue, did you even read the article that you linked to? Check this quote out:

What these studies found were that the head of the households buy high calorie, high carbohydrate and high fat foods, with high density, when they have a limited amount of money each month. These kinds of foods, such as, hamburgers, doughnuts, pizza, salty snacks have the most dietary energy at the lowest costs and, at the same time, have the highest level of satiety and taste. In short, they taste good and make people feel full. However, they have the lowest nutritional value and the highest calories. In fact these obese people are overweight but under nourished.
What does this mean? Poor people are often overweight, but UNDERNOURISHED, because they spend their money on shitty foods. Why? Because it's high energy (calories) and low cost, but ultimately really low in nutritional value. Ya, like fast food, which is super high in fat and salt, cheap, and filling. But it also leads to obesity. Read the rest of the article and get back to me. Lower income people eat these foods because high quality, healthy foods are often difficult to access and are pretty damn expensive.

"Furthermore, Census data cited above show that as of 2002 98.20% of American households own a color TV, 99.20% a refrigerator, 85.70% a car, 93.20% a microwave, and 86.90% a VCR."

It's a classic mistake to equate the possession of material goods with "wealth". So if you have a beat to shit TV from 1988, a crappy old refrigerator in your apartment, a microwave you bought on credit, and a '79 Impala does that make you rich? Not in my book. Another part of the issue here is that many Americans don't actually own a lot of the stuff (houses, cars, etc) that they possess. Credit debt is pretty rampant. So the possession of stuff by no means guarantees some "wealthy" lifestyle."

"Can we agree that any household that owns a color TV is not poor?"

Absolutely not. There are definitely households in places like southern Mexico who are clearly very poor, but happen to have some old beat up TV. How does that make them any less poor? Because they used a little of their income to buy a TV a few years back? The same applies here in the US--there are plenty of households that own TVs and other material goods that are still pretty damn poor. And there are a whole slew of ways in which that can happen. What if you by the TV during a slightly better year, then lose your job? Does the TV somehow guarantee economic status? No, it doesn't.

"I've been in Third World countries where people yearned to own a refrigerator, or a bicycle. They were poor."

Look, you don't have to be living in the Brazilian Favelas or the deserts of Cameroon to qualify as being poor. There are surely different kinds of poverty, and definitely different levels, yes. But just because there are seriously destitute populations in the "third world" doesn't mean we can just write these issues off here in the US. We have our own set of problems here.

By the way, what countries are you talking about?

"I say again: there are no poor people in the US. None. There are people who have less than others, sometimes much less, but no one who is going hungry. When is the last time you saw a seriously undernourished person?"

While I agree that we don't have the kind of destitution that you'll see in a place like Afghanistan, I still don't see how you can make this argument. We have some pretty poor populations all over the US. I think it's interesting that you're claiming otherwise.

Also, go read your article about obesity. We see seriously undernourished people all the time.

"The poorest person in America lives like a king compared to most people in the Third World, or even compared to a real king of a century or two ago."

People in the US generally have access to more stuff, and can usually get access to food. But that doesn't mean they "live like kings" by any means. And your claim about kings a century or two ago? Complete nonsense. You think King George was worse off than some poor contemporary farmer in Kansas? Are you serious? Why, because the farmer has a TV and a window mounted AC unit? Time to rethink this one, Jay.

"They don't/didn't have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, central heating, color TVs, refrigerators, or microwaves. In absolute terms, we are rich - all of us."

I agree with you that many Americans certainly have access to modern convenience items, and that these things can make life easier and more comfortable. But I still think your argument is off. You continually equate wealth with having more stuff, and forget about the some of pesky details like health, quality of diet, credit debt, and so on.

BTW: sorry for the lengthy responses. Apparently this bothers some of the folks around here.

"Straw man alert. There's m... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"Straw man alert. There's more to it. Coming from a shitty, dysfunctional family and culture plays a role too. Please don't give me the "racism" crap - that is simply a lie."

Where did you read that I was making that argument? That's your own tangent, not mine.

"First, no one's talking about forced sterilization. That's not a fair point."

That was just meant to clarify the Spencer reference, nothing more.

"Second, poverty and low intelligence are most certainly correlated; I don't think anyone disputes that. The question is the nature of the correlation, and the extent to which the relationship is causal."

Crime rates and ice cream consumption also correlate famously correlate as well, but that doesn't mean much. And there are TONS of scientists who dispute claims about trying to link poverty with intelligence. What, EXACTLY, are you reading?

"Let me turn it around: what provides a check on government power? Microsoft doesn't have police, guns, prosecutors, and prisons. The government does."

Oh, I agree with you that there is a definite need to check govt power. Absolutely. But you never answered my question about private interests. You don't think the concentration of power in the private sector can be a problem? What about when corporations have undue influence on governments and militaries? And yes, that happens.

Take a look at ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and tell me that all of the people in the US are in that situation b/c they're mentally ill.

I didn't say "all," goddamnit. Stop putting words in my mouth with these puerile straw men. The Katrina example, frankly, is stupid. Show me a cite on how many people are homeless now because of Katrina. Not the week afterwards, but even a month afterwards.

The current economic climate, in which thousands of people have lost their jobs, has added to this.

Yes, yet how many people who've lost their jobs have become homeless - i.e., no roof over their heads - as a consequence. Back up your assertion with evidence. My guess: very few.

Actually there are plenty of people in the US who are either going hungry or eating diets that are pretty much killing them.

Oh. Or "...are eating diets that are pretty much killing them." A little mission creep there. I said going hungry. Not making stupid choices of diet. Stick to the topic, please. And where is the evidence of "plenty of people in the US who are either going hungry?" Answer: there isn't any. None. Zip. Nada. Nichevo. Nichts. Because there aren't any.

What these studies found were that the head of the households buy high calorie, high carbohydrate and high fat foods, with high density, when they have a limited amount of money each month. These kinds of foods, such as, hamburgers, doughnuts, pizza, salty snacks have the most dietary energy at the lowest costs and, at the same time, have the highest level of satiety and taste. In short, they taste good and make people feel full. However, they have the lowest nutritional value and the highest calories. In fact these obese people are overweight but under nourished.

So they're overweight, but going hungry? How is that possible? Answer: it isn't. The point is nonsense.

But let's parse this quote, which is replete with liberal bullshit. It says that the poor are eating... fast food, which is not cheap. (Somebody's gotta pay for all that advertising.) It implies that they do so to fill up cheaply. But they could save money by eating...uh...less of the fast food, too, couldn't they? They're obviously getting enough calories, in fact, more than enough.

What does this mean? Poor people are often overweight, but UNDERNOURISHED, because they spend their money on shitty foods. Why?

Because they're stupid. Simple, really. Eating poorly is expensive. Hell, my family and I don't eat fast food; it's too expensive. A home-cooked meal is not only more nutritious but cheaper into the bargain, but it takes some work and some planning.

But what's the common denominator we see emerging? Work and planning are not the long suit of the poor.

It's a classic mistake to equate the possession of material goods with "wealth". So if you have a beat to shit TV from 1988, a crappy old refrigerator in your apartment, a microwave you bought on credit, and a '79 Impala does that make you rich? Not in my book. Another part of the issue here is that many Americans don't actually own a lot of the stuff (houses, cars, etc) that they possess. Credit debt is pretty rampant. So the possession of stuff by no means guarantees some "wealthy" lifestyle."

What the fuck are you talking about? No one has a right to a "wealthy" lifestyle. Stay on topic. We're not talking about "wealthy" lifestyles. We're talking about poverty. That means the absence of stuff. I draw the line at defining poverty as the absence of the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter. (Premium cable is not included.) If you have stuff, you are not poor. You may owe money on it, but you have it.

I'll prove it to you. Is the US a poor country? No, of course not. Yet the Federal government is swimming in debt, and in fact technically is bankrupt right now. No one would call the US a poor country. Why? Because it has stuff.

There are definitely households in places like southern Mexico who are clearly very poor, but happen to have some old beat up TV. How does that make them any less poor?

Where to begin on this one? I said, "No one in the US is poor." Mexico is not part of the US. But even in Mexico, anyone who can afford a color TV is not poor. No one would buy a color TV if he didn't already have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. A TV - any TV - is a luxury.

There are surely different kinds of poverty,

Yes, real and imagined, the latter being used for agitprop. If you're not going hungry, you're not unclothed, and you're not sleeping rough, you're not poor.

We have our own set of problems here.

No, we don't. We don't have anyone starving. (Who's heard of food stamps?) We don't have anyone who doesn't have clothes (lack of designer clothes doesn't count.) We don't have anyone going homeless except the mentally ill who choose - yes, choose - to live on the streets (usually because shelters and such won't let them do drugs or drink, and otherwise constrain their behavior).

We have some pretty poor populations all over the US.

Where? Tell me. Where are the starving people? I've missed them. It should be easy to point me to them.

People in the US generally have access to more stuff, and can usually get access to food.

Exactly. So they're not poor. My point precisely. Thank you for making it.

You think King George was worse off than some poor contemporary farmer in Kansas? Are you serious? Why, because the farmer has a TV and a window mounted AC unit?

Absolutely. Imagine you'd told King George that he could turn a dial and adjust the temperature in his room. He could flip a switch and watch events anywhere in the world. If he wanted to, he could board a plane and fly to where the event was taking place. If he had a medical problem, we have modern medicine and anesthetics (unknown until 150 years ago; before then, it was bite on a stick. Literally.) Many women died in agony in childbirth or from infections incurred during it. Mean lifespan as recently as 1900 - 45 years. Hell, if King George wanted to take a crap, he could do it indoors. George would've thought all of his Christmasses had arrived at once.

Conversely, King George was poor by our standards. He lived like the very poorest people in the US.

You continually equate wealth with having more stuff, and forget about the some of pesky details like health, quality of diet, credit debt, and so on.

I apologize for equating wealth with ...uh....wealth. (And please the "quality of diet" rubbish; that's a matter of what you choose to eat. Poverty means you don't the choice of whether to eat.)

Objectively, wealth means having stuff. Period. No one said you have to have a healthy bank balance, or choose to eat well. If you have stuff, you're wealthy. Others might have more stuff, i.e., be wealthier, but you're wealthy too.

Precocious 12 year old in... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Precocious 12 year old in fancy dress, or puerile, middle- aged oddity? Future historians be damned...your choice, either way, will be too generous to this fellow.

I didn't say "all,... (Below threshold)
ryan a:
I didn't say "all," goddamnit. Stop putting words in my mouth with these puerile straw men.

Well, you sure as shit didn't qualify yourself, did you? Here is exactly what you wrote:

First, homeless people aren't homeless because they're poor. They're homeless because they're mentally ill.

Now, please tell me where you wrote "some" in that sentence.

The Katrina example, frankly, is stupid. Show me a cite on how many people are homeless now because of Katrina. Not the week afterwards, but even a month afterwards.

The Katrina example was just one of many simple counters to your broad claim that people are homeless because of mental illness. It's a clear case in which people can be instantly homeless, obviously. I'm not sure why you think it's a stupid example. Here is one 2008 article:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-16-homeless_N.htm

The point is that there are numerous causes of homelessness--and yes mental illness is one of them. But then so is unaffordable housing, drug abuse, lack of jobs, and of course the declining economy. What do you think happens when people lose their houses? You don't think some end up homeless?

And where is the evidence of "plenty of people in the US who are either going hungry?" Answer: there isn't any. None. Zip. Nada. Nichevo. Nichts. Because there aren't any.

According to the USDA, about 17.4 million Americans (adults + children) live in households with "very low food security":

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/stats_graphs.htm

Of course, since this doesn't fit your worldview, you'll probably write this off as agitprop, right?

So they're overweight, but going hungry? How is that possible? Answer: it isn't. The point is nonsense.

They're overweight but undernourished. If you actually READ the article, you would already get that. It was YOUR source after all.

But they could save money by eating...uh...less of the fast food, too, couldn't they? They're obviously getting enough calories, in fact, more than enough.

It's not about calories. You can have too many calories and still be undernourished. It's a simply point, and you don't get it. Basically, a lot of poor people eat pretty low quality foods.

But what's the common denominator we see emerging? Work and planning are not the long suit of the poor.

Wow. And is this the conservative mantra, or just yours? Talk about sounding like a fucking elitist.

We're talking about poverty. That means the absence of stuff. I draw the line at defining poverty as the absence of the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter. (Premium cable is not included.) If you have stuff, you are not poor. You may owe money on it, but you have it.

And there are certainly people in the US who suffer from a lack of pretty basic necessities. You just refuse to acknowledge it for some reason.

But even in Mexico, anyone who can afford a color TV is not poor. No one would buy a color TV if he didn't already have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. A TV - any TV - is a luxury.

You have one of most restrictive, stupid definitions of being poor that I have ever seen. It's a purely technical definition. I can tell you, for sure, that there are absolutely very poor households in Mexico who have a shitty old TV. And these households are full of hardworking people who have hit a seven year streak of losing their crops due to a lack of rain. Your argument is ignorant as hell here and incredibly simplistic.

If you're not going hungry, you're not unclothed, and you're not sleeping rough, you're not poor.

Again, a stupid, technical definition of poverty that allows you to sweep these issues aside. Tell this to all the poor Americans who work their asses off and can't make ends meet. Ya, there's no poverty here, so tough shit for them.

Where? Tell me. Where are the starving people? I've missed them. It should be easy to point me to them.

I wrote "poor" populations, and you wrote "starving." Just to keep things straight. Start with Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan (Detroit), Mississippi, Alabama. No poverty there at all?

Conversely, King George was poor by our standards. He lived like the very poorest people in the US.

That has to be one of the dumbest arguments I have seen in my life. Are you serious? The fucking King of England in the 18th century was worse off than the POOREST person in the US? What are you smoking? Do you think that George went without food, shelter, or want for even a day? Good good, this is stupid. While there are surely benefits of modern consumer goods, air travel, and medicine, your argument is asinine. You assume that all people have access to these goods, first of all, and they definitely do not.

(And please the "quality of diet" rubbish; that's a matter of what you choose to eat. Poverty means you don't the choice of whether to eat.)

Right. So if someone can eat cheap, empty carbs like manioc, they can't be living in poverty? Another stupid argument. OF COURSE it matters whether or not people have access to decent foods. You do realize that people actually need a certain diet to live a relatively healthy life, right?

Is the US a poor country? No, of course not. Yet the Federal government is swimming in debt, and in fact technically is bankrupt right now. No one would call the US a poor country. Why? Because it has stuff.

The US is absolutely NOT a poor country. We have tons of material wealth. We have tons of resources. But that doesn't mean that we don't have poor populations. We do. Absolutely. Not everyone gets a piece of the pie, no matter what you tell yourself.

By the way, what "third world" countries have you traveled to? And when did you go?

You're obviously very young... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

You're obviously very young (less than 30), since I don't think you're very stupid (unless you're over 40).

You asked for cites in support of my contentions. I supplied them. You, on the other hand, have generally failed to do the same. (And what the fuck is "generally low food security," anyway? You accept this vapid pablum from a government agency? Did it ever occur to you that the USDA is unlikely to suggest there's no need for a ...USDA?) No one in America is going hungry. No one. You have still yet to provide any evidence to the contrary. The poorest people in America are the fattest. How can they possibly not be getting enough to eat? How is that even possible?

But that doesn't mean that we don't have poor populations. We do. Absolutely. Not everyone gets a piece of the pie, no matter what you tell yourself.

Where? WHERE ARE THESE MOTHERFUCKERS WHO ARE GOING HUNGRY? Point me to them. Not people who have "generally low food security" (you are aware we have give-away programs up the ass, right?), I mean people who are going hungry. Bellies swelling from malnutrition, that sort of thing.

A piece of the pie? The "poor" apparently have two pieces of the pie. Blacks and Hispanics have among the worst obesity problems, and nitwits are babbling about them going hungry. They have LOTS of food. Obviously.

Answer this one question: when is the last time you saw someone who looked malnourished? When? WHEN?

Do you think that George went without food, shelter, or want for even a day?

And who does this in America? WHO? We can rule out any household with a color TV; if you don't have food or shelter, you'd sell your color TV, right? And no human being goes without want. The question is what he wants. If all he wants is to eat, then he's poor. If he wants a Porsche, then not.

Not that it's any of your business, but I've traveled (job-related) to over 30 countries, from Scandinavia to South Africa, from Spain to China, and most in between, and lived abroad for a good part of my working life. You remind me of one of my undergraduate students who thought that the solution to "poverty" was to double everyone's pay. Do you have the intellect to perceive the small but noticeable flaw in that proposal? Frankly, I doubt it. Prove I'm wrong. Please.

I'm not going to waste any more time on you. Come back when you grow up.

Bottom line: "poverty" is a... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Bottom line: "poverty" is agitprop for the Dems/ Reds /progressives/ socialists/ communists/ whatevers to mobilize people for a mass movement.

Consider this: Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, George Soros, the Pritzkers, and others are wealthy as hell (family fortunes over $500 million). They all pontificate about the "poor" and the need to do something to "help" them.

What the fuck do they do, personally? Their "help" is limited to agitating to get people making

You've been conned, and are too stupid to realize it. The cheerleaders on your side don't give a shit about the "poor" or anything else than either their personal aggrandizement, or feeling good about themselves/assuaging their guilt. When John Kerry gives half of Teresa's fortune to "the poor," I'll take him seriously. Until then, he, and others like him (e.g., Barbra Streisand), can kiss my ass.

"You asked for cites in sup... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"You asked for cites in support of my contentions. I supplied them. You, on the other hand, have generally failed to do the same."

I gave you a 2008 article that talked about people who were still homeless after Katrina. That's what you asked for. If you want a full on research paper, that'll take more time.

Then, I gave you a recent USDA report that discusses food insecurity, which is a defined term that they use to try to measure access to food. If you read the definition, the point of that is pretty clear. Sure, the stats are debatable, like all stats. But don't pretend that your Googled sources are somehow bullet proof.

"No one in America is going hungry. No one. You have still yet to provide any evidence to the contrary."

Then you didn't read the link. It says that about 17 million people in the US do not have consistent access to food. Granted, I think there is a lot more to the issue, and I certainly don't think that the USDA should be taken as gospel by any means. But there are certainly people in the US--homeless and otherwise--who go hungry. I can walk downtown here and find plenty of them. Your ideological stance on this won't change that, no matter how much you rant on here.

"Where? WHERE ARE THESE MOTHERFUCKERS WHO ARE GOING HUNGRY? Point me to them."

I already pointed out where we have poverty issues in the US. We have people out on the streets going hungry all the time. Nice use of all caps, by the way.

"Not people who have "generally low food security"...I mean people who are going hungry. Bellies swelling from malnutrition, that sort of thing."

Now you're getting technical again. People don't have to be suffering from severe malnutrition (ie stomach swelling) to be going hungry. Do you always freak out and overstate your arguments like this???

"Answer this one question: when is the last time you saw someone who looked malnourished? When? WHEN?"

There are tons of malnourished people in the US--READ THE ARTICLE THAT YOU PROVIDED. And then look up what "malnourished" means. People who are overweight can absolutely be malnourished. For God's sake this is so simple it's stupid. Malnourished does not mean "starving"; it basically means "lack of proper nutrition; inadequate or unbalanced nutrition." Feel free to use a dictionary.

"And who does this in America? WHO?"

Who "goes without" here in the US? Homeless people. Jobless people. Poor people. Mentally ill people. Some old people who are cast aside.

"We can rule out any household with a color TV; if you don't have food or shelter, you'd sell your color TV, right?"

Ya, because selling a 30 dollar used TV can really pull you right out of poverty. Because, like, when you sell a TV you can buy food and shelter for years on end. Are you being deliberately ridiculous now?

"Not that it's any of your business, but I've traveled (job-related) to over 30 countries, from Scandinavia to South Africa, from Spain to China, and most in between, and lived abroad for a good part of my working life."

Good for you. So which of these 30 do you consider "third world"? Or were you just being rhetorical when you said that?

"You remind me of one of my undergraduate students who thought that the solution to "poverty" was to double everyone's pay."

First of all, what on earth do you teach?

Second, don't attribute some dumb argument to me. When did I say anything about doubling everyone's pay? When did I say ANYTHING about what I think about solutions? Look, do me a favor and leave the comparisons with your undergrads out of this. And try to hold your composure a bit more, if possible.

"Do you have the intellect to perceive the small but noticeable flaw in that proposal? Frankly, I doubt it. Prove I'm wrong. Please."

What? The flaw in the proposal that your undergrad made that you're pretending I said? Wow. What a COMPLEX question! I mean, who could possibly answer that one? Come on Jay, you can do better than this.

"I'm not going to waste any more time on you. Come back when you grow up."

Are you backing out now? After all of this good fun?

"Bottom line: "poverty" is agitprop for the Dems/ Reds /progressives/ socialists/ communists/ whatevers to mobilize people for a mass movement."

Right, there are no poor people in Eastern Kentucky. That's just commie propaganda. Seriously? This is your thesis?

"Consider this: Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, George Soros, the Pritzkers, and others are wealthy as hell (family fortunes over $500 million). They all pontificate about the "poor" and the need to do something to "help" them."

Yep, they're all pretty much full of shit. But that doesn't negate the fact that we do indeed have poor and homeless people here in the US.

"You've been conned, and are too stupid to realize it. The cheerleaders on your side don't give a shit about the "poor" or anything else than either their personal aggrandizement, or feeling good about themselves/assuaging their guilt."

LOL. Don't make assumptions about whose "side" I'm on. If you think I'm some rapid fan of the Democrats, you're off base.

"When John Kerry gives half of Teresa's fortune to "the poor," I'll take him seriously. Until then, he, and others like him (e.g., Barbra Streisand), can kiss my ass."

So Kerry is an idiot? What does that have to do with anything? You want me to act shocked? How does that actually tell us anything about income and poverty issues in the US? It doesn't. Now you're just flailing around and mixing up all sorts of issues.

By the way, if you at least pretend to listen to ANYTHING I have said, then I'll take you seriously again. I take the time to listen to your points, and while I disagree I do listen. Try your best to do the same, prof.

"I don't call Guevara "M... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"I don't call Guevara "Mr" because he doesn't deserve any honorifics of any sort. He's a raving McCarthyite lunatic."

From this point forward I would like to be referred to as Ms. Oyster.

Got that?

Wow this discussion has got... (Below threshold)
John:

Wow this discussion has gotten off track, Ryan one small point in your poor people going hungry or eating diets that are killing them, it's much cheaper to buy fresh fruit, vegies, and even meat at the grocery store and cook it than it is to CHOOSE a diet that is killing you. Healthy food has the added benefit of being fairly cost effective, especially over fast food or packaged food. If you're not working why wouldn't you have time to cook decent food and maybe even grow some yourself. So if the less privleged are killing themselves with diet it's their life style choice and we know how important choice is don't we?

I want to apologize for the... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I want to apologize for the intemperate tenor of my remarks of last night. Exasperation got the better of me.

Meanwhile, a homework assignment for you: watch the show "COPS." Keep watching it until you get it - those are the poor - and you figure out the reason they're poor. They're poor now, they were poor yesterday, they'll be poor tomorrow. Even if they hit the lottery, they'll be poor again shortly.

John,"Wow this dis... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

John,

"Wow this discussion has gotten off track..."

Ya, complete tangent. I'll take the blame for this one.

"Ryan one small point in your poor people going hungry or eating diets that are killing them, it's much cheaper to buy fresh fruit, vegies, and even meat at the grocery store and cook it than it is to CHOOSE a diet that is killing you."

Agreed. And this is a good point. A lot of low income people have terrible diets...but sometimes that boils down to some pretty bad choices, eating out of convenience, etc.

"Healthy food has the added benefit of being fairly cost effective, especially over fast food or packaged food."

Definitely. And that was actually one of the final points in the article that Jay G linked to (Obesity + poverty).

Good points, John.

Jay G:"I want to a... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G:

"I want to apologize for the intemperate tenor of my remarks of last night. Exasperation got the better of me."

No worries. These kinds of discussions can get frustrating. Apologies if my comments got a little too sharp as well.

Also, I get your point about the fact that poverty can certainly be due to lifestyle, choice, and personal responsibility. And I think that holds true in many cases. Don't misread me as saying that all poor people are victims, etc. We can't just ignore personal choices and actions and assume that all people who are poor are simply victims--that doesn't accomplish anything.

But, at the same time, I think there are extenuating circumstances that can lead to poverty as well. It all depends on who we're talking about. That's my main argument when it comes to this issue. Sure, sometimes people definitely put themselves in that position, and aren't necessarily trying to get out. But there are other people who end up in pretty terrible situations through no real fault of their own. To me, it makes sense to parse these cases out.

So, in the end, poverty can be due to really bad life choices, or it can be due to factors beyond our control. All poverty can't necessarily be explained by just one factor, IMO, whether in the US or abroad. It all depends on what population you're talking about, since each group has its own histories, etc.




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