Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cruising the Web

Hmmm. If you thought that there was something fishy about the recent report that said Chris Christie, when a U.S. attorney had overspent his travel allowances, you were right. It turns out that the author of the report is a rabidly partisan member of the Justice Department who once broke into a colleague's email to get information on him because he was a conservative and had leaked information to the Washington Post. The main question is why this woman kept her job in the Department of frickin' Justice when they found out that she had hacked a colleague's email.

President Obama chides American reporters for not thanking him for deigning to talk to them.

Ramesh Ponnuru outlines the differences between the Congress that came in in 1995 and the one coming in now.

John Gerardi, a student at Notre Dame Law School, asks some good questions about why liberals are so vigorous in defending Islam but so derisive towards Christianity.

When Democrats gather to vote for their new minority leader, they may ponder this fact and wonder if she is really the one to lead them under a GOP majority: Paul Ryan says that he only had one conversation with Pelosi in six years - a 30-second conversation. When the Republican members wanted to talk to the Democrats, they talked only to Steny Hoyer.

Don't worry about the President being out of touch - after all he reads ten selected letters from the folks every day.

Keith Koffler at the Politico thinks that what he calls the President's Freudian slips are revealing the true Obama. And that Obama is just the one that conservatives were warning about all throughout the 2008 election. Imagine that.

And finally, M. Catharine Evans is inspired by Lawrence O'Donnell's statement that he is a socialist, not a liberal or a progressive, to recall what Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote after attending an international meeting of socialists and radicals.
The socialists want to regenerate humans, to liberate them. They conclude that having forcibly changed the economic way humans live they will achieve their goals. But humans are transformed not from external reasons but only from moral changes.... The comicality, the weakness, the nonsense, the disagreement, the self-contradictions-you can’t imagine it! And that’s the trash that’s stirring up the unfortunate working people! It’s sad.

They began by saying that in order to achieve peace on earth the Christian faith had to be exterminated. Large states had to be destroyed…all capital be done away with, so that everything be in common, by order, and so on. All this without the slightest proof, all this was learned by heart 20 years ago…And most importantly fire and sword and after everything had been annihilated, then, in their opinion, there will be peace.


2421Rich said...

It is not surprising that Maura Lee of the DOJ, who released that report on Christie overspending his travel allowance, is a rabid partisan. Although she was wrong in doing so and should be fired, the question remains on whether or not the report is true.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Lawrence O'Donnell's statement that he is a socialist

if the republican party wants to get rid of social security and medicare, why do they continue to lie about it and say they want to save it?

also, i challenge Betsy and all of you to define "socialism"

lets see how many of your definitions agree with each other

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Tea Party Congressman Wants His Socialism Right Now!

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.


Rick Caird said...

TV, you are still obtuse. No one, including Republicans, want to get rid of Social Security. What everyone, including Republicans want to do is put Social Security on a firm footing. There are ways to do that including raising taxes, raising the retirement age, means testing, etc. It would even be acceptable to go to private accounts where the government could not steal and spend the contributions. So, the companion question for you would be why do you want Social Security to go bankrupt and reduce the payments to 75% in order to match the income stream.

If you are confused on the definition of Socialism, I suggest you use Google or Bing. Just use the phrase "Socialism definition". I expect you can handle that level of research. If any of the big words confuse you, get back to us and we will try to help you out.

You might also try Hayek, F. A "The Road to Serfdom". The index contains many references to Socialism including a bunch to National Socialism (Germany). You might better know that as "Nazi".

Please do not ask us to do such basic research for you. If you are not capable of operating at such an elementary level, we really have no use for you.

lorraine_lanning said...


Socialism: The publis ownership of the means of production, i.e. when Obama took over the auto manufacturers and banks by bailing them out with taxpayer money.

Informally, it's also the nanny state where government does for you what you should do for yourself. Providing health care for yourself and your family, saving for retirement, deciding what to eat, etc.

Social Security and Medicare are doomed to fail without reform. They take up more and more of our GDP, SS is a pyramid scheme soon to run out of enough workers to pay for retirees, and Medicare is fraught with fraud and inefficiency.

Social Security and welfare programs were originally meant to only help the most desperate of us, widows with no source of income, orphans, the severely disabled, etc. That is no longer the case. We need to move back to that standard with everyone capable providing for themselves, even if it means more than one job.

Pat Patterson said...

Again a quote but no link to the source. But later in the wire versions Harris's aide pointed out that this kind of gap was supposedly solved in the new health care bill and the legitimate question of how come even a congressman has to wait for his new policy to become effective.

Since Laurence O'Donnell is the one who identified himself as a socialist then perhaps TV should ask him what socialism means. Besides health insurance is a pool and payment is determined by how much was paid from the pool the previous year and the actuarial tables.

But TV seems to live in a bubble and when that generation of dominance by the Democrats lasted only one year he seems stuck on the same borrowed talking points he was repeating before the election.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

well, at least one of you ponied up about half of a definition, alto lorraine's reading comprehension seems.. uh, about average for your little group here. no, lorraine, the u.s. government does not own and operate the auto companies or the banks. try a dictionary or two for a complete definition.

rick should get together with tfhr and help him out by explaining to him that social security is, as he correctly notes, perfectly viable. my favorite solution for the ss shortfall predicted by the ss trustees for about 2035 is to raise the level of income that ss taxes are levied on - currently at a little over $106,000. i'm glad to see you've read up on ss since we last talked, rick

however, everybody missed my point that ss is a socialist scheme - it's a government owned and operated pension program

you guys did better than i expected. i'll give you a C

Freeven said...

No one, including Republicans, want to get rid of Social Security.

I do, and wish Republicans did also, but I realize I'm an "extremist" on this issue.

It would even be acceptable to go to private accounts where the government could not steal and spend the contributions.

I consider going to private accounts "getting rid" of SS, and that would be my choice. It's a better model, constitutionally, morally, and economically.

Freeven said...

also, i challenge Betsy and all of you to define "socialism"

Political labels -- fascism, communism, socialism, capitalism, even conservatism and liberalism -- are slippery things. They cover a lot of territory and come in a variety of flavors. They work well as shorthand in discussing one set of ideas relative to another, but their handiness comes at the cost of precision. Context is key, and it usually provides enough precision to convey the intended meaning. If not, you obviously have to ask the user to elaborate on his usage in the particular instance. After all, it's the idea behind the word, not the word in the abstract, that is important. Did you really not understand O'Donnell's or Dostoyevsky's point, or is your interest in playing some type of semantic "gotcha" game?

Rick Caird said...

TV, also known as the Black Knight, should not complain about Lorraine's reading comprehension. When TV claims I said SS was viable when it would in fact only pay about 75% of the promised benefits and prove to be a seriously negative return for later entrants, he misinterprets "viable".. No rational person would call that viable. But, we are talking about TV, here.

Yes the US government did control the Auto companies (control is what fascism goes after. Control without the claim of ownership). However, the US government not only controlled the stock of the new GM, they forced the CEO, Wagoner, to resign. Not only that, Obama and the administration engineered a bankruptcy that overturned settled contract law by defaulting senior bonds and giving equity to the UAW. That is even more control. So, TV, do not try that canard that government did not take over GM. Do you remember the position known as "Auto Czar". Huh, Do ya'???? And then, there is the Volt. That is one lie piled on top of another lie and is being offered solely to satisfy the government.

I would like to see TV's analysis of how raising the limit on SS taxes will save the system. It is doubtful that will make much of a dent at all in the shortfall, just because of the limited number of people who actually make $106K. Remember TV, that is not per family. It is per person. There really is not much money there compared to the actual liability. But, liberals are often "innumerate".

equitus said...

I second Freeven's comment on labels and add that, to people like TV, terminology is very flexible. When losing an argument, change the meaning of the terms you use (see "liberal", "fascist", "investment", "tax", and "torture")

For example, for TV now, an employee receiving health insurance benefits from an employer is now "socialism" (his Andy Harris example). See how that works?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

i guess i have my answer

republicans these days love to go on and on about 'socialism', but when you ask them what they mean by it, they pussyfoot around without being able to actually tell you

thanks for playing!

Tacitus Voltaire said...

no, freevan and equitus, my point is that words should have fixed meanings that everybody should agree on if we are going to have a meaningful debate

the word 'socialism' has been manipulated and abused by the republican party for so long that even though anybody can look up their definitions in a dictionary, nobody takes the trouble and therefore uses it vaguely to refer to anything they don't like. nobody here managed to give the dictionary definition

(equitus seems to have further confused ss with health insurance)

my point was that social security fits the dictionary definition of socialism -

owned and operated by the government

please study that phrase until you have it fixed in your mind

so, since social security is a socialistic program, and you all and the whole republican party are - i guess - against socialism

why do you say you support our socialistic national pension scheme, ss?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

the limited number of people who actually make $106K

now, that's amusing, rick

that would be about 8% of american tax payers, or at least 16 million people

Rick Caird said...

No, TV. You are truly innumerate. The 2007 survey showed 16% of HOUSEHOLDS above $100k or 10% with income between $100K to $150K. It is unlikely many of those 2 earner households has a person above $106K $17.5 trillion unfunded liability of Social Security. I will refer you to this report showing Medicare and Social Security have an unfunded liability of $107 trillion.


An unfunded liability is the amount of money you need right now to fund the liability.

Looking at the $100k to $150K range and assuming half make $125K, then the increased tax from that group would be about $315 million. That is a long way from 17.5 trillion. Above that we have only about 6% of households. Your math will not work. The unfunded liability will continue to grow faster than the increased taxes.

Rick Caird said...

TV, you also continue to be confused by SS and socialism. The idea of socialism is not to have individual accounts as SS claims to have. Have you not noticed the report you get from them every year that goes over your total contributions and the estimates your personal benefits? The very fact SS benefits are based on contributions (at least so far) makes it not completely socialism.

But, there is a second issue. Social Security is not "owned" by the government. If Social Security were run by an AIG like company which the government owned, then it would be socialism. In this case, however, SS is merely a pension plan run by the government.

Tacitus Voltaire said...


the top-earning 5 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $159,619), however, still paid far more than the bottom 95 percent. The top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

google search on 'is social security socialism'

apparantly most people realize it is, rick

Tacitus Voltaire said...

i will refer you to this report showing Medicare and Social Security have an unfunded liability of $107 trillion.

i will refer you to the latest report of the trustees of ss, which declares that it is expected to be fully solvent until 2037


Locomotive Breath said...

Not only have I paid the max into Social Security every year I've been employed, I fully expect that through some sleight of hand, I'll never see a dime in payments. I'd love to get rid of Social Security. Let me keep my own money and I'll do just fine.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

i will refer you to this report showing Medicare and Social Security have an unfunded liability of $107 trillion

i really enjoy how rick & tfhr love to quote this lump sum, added together from two completely different programs without explanation or timeframe, and derived from an essay posted by a "think" tank, as if it were some bill that was going to come due next april 15th

if you read the essay, rick, you will see clearly that the writer doesn't say, as you do, that this sum is "the amount of money you need right now to fund the liability"

what she actually writes is "the unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and medicare programs", altho this is also incorrect

"future" is different than "right now", rick, and altho less total will be taken in this year in taxes than paid out - for the first time since the program was started in the 30s - the trust fund itself is expected to make this up in interest

what an unfunded liability actually is is the shortfall in the amount that should be added now to meet obligations in the future. this is the most obvious mistake that villarreal makes. the gigantor number that ms villarreal cites bears no relation to any money required anytime soon, and the tipoff that should set off reds flags for anybody with a half a brain is that she never gives a time frame for the calculation. its certainly not for one year! another red flag is the conflation of hypothetical, unsourced numbers that suppossedly come from two utterly different programs!

even worse, toward the end of her essay she states: "every dollar if payroll taxes is [sic] spent. nothing us saved, and nothing is invested". really! this is a monumental revelation every bit as important as the truth about the alien remains in area 51! she should tell congress, the president, and the ss trustees about it right away, since they think quite differently!

jeez, who could swallow this farrago?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Looking at the $100k to $150K range and assuming half make $125K, then the increased tax from that group would be about $315 million

social security tax is currently 6.2% on income up to $106,800/yr. the rates were increased in the mid 80s. that's $620 per $10,000 for a maximum of $6,626 for any individual

Locomotive Breath said... I paid the max into Social Security every year I've been employed

i'm not sure if l.c. means to say here that he's always made at least $106,800 a year, but if you did make at least that amount for 30 years, you'd contribute $198,780 over that time

now, we see some numbers above that the top %5 of american taxpayers make over $150k/yr, and %5 would be at least 10 million americans. if you raised the cap on ss contributions from $106,800 to $126,800 for these people only, then they would all individually pay an extra $1,240/yr - not an overwhelming burden for somebody making at least $150k/yr. multiply this amount by 10 million and you get $12,400,000,000 - $12.4 billion dollars a year. i couldn't tell you how far this would go to fixing the shortfall predicted by the ss trustees, tho...

the ss administration tells me that if i retire at 70, as i plan to do, i'll get about $3k/month (current figure that doesn't include COL increases), or $36k/yr. if i manage to survive for 20 years, and the fund holds up as the trustees estimate it will until 2036, then i'll get back $720k, which would be way more than the max $200k a person could reasonably expect to contribute

of course, if you put by $6,626 every year for 30 years and invested it wisely, you might be able to end up with $720k or more. as a matter of fact, most of us should be putting 10- 20% of our income away in the 401k, which is of course private and voluntary

anybody got $720k in their 401k?

tfhr said...


I see Pat Patterson has already pointed out that your comment/"quote" about the Maryland legislator that rode to victory in the bluest of states by attacking ObamaCare was clipped, as well as characteristically unlinked. Here is the link to the rest of the article:


If you were at all honest about discussing a point, you would have provided the link and acknowledged that the incoming Congressman raised the point to demonstrate the inefficiency of a government run entitlement program that he intends to repeal.

But we've come to expect this level of dishonesty from you, TV. It's sad that so often the bulk of your commentary is built around a core of half-truths or deliberate deceit.

Your rush to disparage some Republican reveals that your priority is gutter-sniping politics, not the patient, when it comes to health care. Andy Harris is a doctor and has a good grasp on the issues. Here are some of his ideas:

▪Bring market forces to bear on health care purchases.

▪Bring market forces to bear on health care insurers.

▪Allow tax deductions for all health insurance purchased, not just that provided by

▪Expand the availability of high-deductible ("catastrophic") plans combined with roll-
over Health Savings Accounts.

There's a lot more here: http://www.andyharris.com/issues/firstchoices.pdf

I like his stance on portability, illegal aliens, and tort reform, but there's more, as you would expect from someone with a medical practice. But somehow, you prefer to examine the issue in a way that resolves as such:

"heheheh..." ~ TV, 12:52 PM

While I am grateful that you've finally found your voice and have used it to express your opinion in your own words, I'm afraid that it characteristically underserves your effort to counter the arguments of others in these threads.

As for your "name that -ism" contest, I think your effort to present yourself as the final arbiter in determining the meaning of concepts so often broad in scope suggests a disturbing undertone of narcissism on your part. Whatever you do, don't ask people here to define that "ism", or they'll just say, "See TV".

Rick Caird said...

TV, This is going to be difficult because you just don't know enough. You are definately a moving target. First, Socialism is not a point. It is an area on a continuum that runs from anarchy to communism and socialism covers a range of definitions. For example, in Chile the government requires contributions to their version of Social Security, but each individual has his own account and can select how to invest. Is that socilaism or no?

The only abuse being done here is by you insisting that socialism is a single point and ignoring that communism and fascism are also socialistic systems.

Rick Caird said...

Now,on to unfunded liabilities. If you had done more than just glance at the heading of my reference, you would have seen SS listed as and unfunded liability of $17.5. This is a 100 year value. Now, you seem to understand that is the amount SS has promised but has no way of delivering under current plans. Every year that unfunded liability grows larger unless we find a stream of income to pay for it. However, that stream must always approximate that years payout. I know you think there is $2.5 trillion in Treasury bonds just waiting to be cashed in. But, to cash them in, the Treasury needs to come up with the money. The original $2.5 trillion has all been spent, spent, spent. SS cannot sell their bonds to anybody. They can only turn them in for cash. Now, where is that cash going to come from? We are currently running a $1.5 trillion deficit and we are on our way to a national debt of $20 trillion. BTW the interest on that will be about $1 trillion/yr or about 30% of our current budget. In the end, there is just no way the federal government can pay SS back. That is why we say it has been spent.

Rick Caird said...

TV, your numbers are wrong. It is pretty hard to catch all your errors. SS is 12.4 not 6.2. Your calculation on taxpayers is considering a tax return to be one person. That is not true. Most of the top 10% of tax returns have two workers. That will change all your calculations as 2 people making $75 K a year will have a tax return reflecting $150K, but will not add a dime to your increased SS tax.

Besides your error in the rate, you are neglecting to factor in the interest or investment income. Up until the last two years, pension plans figured an annual return of 8.5%. Doubling a persons contribution and figuring the 8.5% growth over 40 years, will bring many people to over $1 million. Does that change your hopes for $720K in payments. Given that, you have a negative return.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

no, rick, the ss rate is 6.2%. no, rick, the number cited for top 5% of earner specifies single earners. no, rick, pension funds and 401ks never averaged 8.5% returns. no, rick, we are not paying 30% of the federal buget in debt service

Tacitus Voltaire said...

The original $2.5 trillion has all been spent, spent, spent. SS cannot sell their bonds to anybody. They can only turn them in for cash. Now, where is that cash going to come from?

very entertaining. somehow, just the same, all ss and medicare payments are being met.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

If you were at all honest about discussing a point, you would have provided the link and acknowledged that the incoming Congressman raised the point to demonstrate the inefficiency of a government run entitlement program that he intends to repeal.

since the only govenment run entitlement program that was under discussion in the article is the free, public (therefore 'socialized') medical care provided by the government to members of congress, you have just stated that the congressman intends to repeal this system and make congresspeople buy their own, private, medical insurance, just like the rest of us who don't qualify for medicare or medicaid have to do. i'm definitely in favor of this, but i'm afraid you'll find that the congressman likes his free socialized medical care just fine

by the way, the health insurance reform bill passed last year only changes rules in regard to private health insurance companies and provided subsidies to people and businesses to purchase private health insurance - no public insurance entities were created by it

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Medicare and Social Security have an unfunded liability of $107 trillion

"the unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and medicare programs"

rick states that this figure is not due now, as he previously stated ("the amount of money you need right now to fund the liability"), but represents the next 100 years

hypothetically, then, altho she never states it, ms villarreal has added together all the ss and medicare payments for the next 100 years and subtracted all the medicare and ss taxes that will be paid over the next 100 years. (did she include interest income over the next 100 for the ss and medicare trust funds?)

so, somebody tell me where you can get hard numbers for the population, income, medical costs, medical requirements, and retirement population of the united states in, say, the year 2060? anybody?

and you actually swallow this number??? naive much?