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Are The Good Times Really Over For Good?

Watching the news and reading the op-eds makes it clear: America is doomed.

Tom Friedman says it’s our own damned fault.

In the wake of the hugely disappointing budget deal and the S.& P.’s debt downgrade, maybe we need to hang a new sign in the immigration arrival halls at all U.S. ports and airports. It could simply read: “Welcome. You are entering the United States of America. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.”

[...]

Our slow decline is a product of two inter-related problems. First, we’ve let our five basic pillars of growth erode since the end of the cold war — education, infrastructure, immigration of high-I.Q. innovators and entrepreneurs, rules to incentivize risk-taking and start-ups, and government-funded research to spur science and technology.

We mistakenly treated the end of the cold war as a victory that allowed us to put our feet up — when it was actually the onset of one of the greatest challenges we’ve ever faced. We helped to unleash two billion people just like us — in China, India and Eastern Europe. For us to effectively compete and collaborate with them — to maintain the American dream — required studying harder, investing wiser, innovating faster, upgrading our infrastructure quicker and working smarter.

But Friedman is, at heart, an optimist. He thinks we can right the ship if we just work together and make the right choices. John Harwood, not so much.

[S]tep back from events this month, this year or even this decade, and a more ominous portrait comes into focus. It shows an American economy under ever-increasing competitive pressure, demographic trends making those pressures more acute and a voting public facing repeated disappointment as it yearns for better times.

[...]

Any American economy would suffer compared with the one that emerged as a dominant force after World War II. In 1960, according to the World Bank, the United States accounted for 39 percent of global economic output. Millions of soldiers came home to attend college under the G.I. Bill, lifting worker productivity and expanding the suburban middle class. Annual economic growth topped 5 percent four times each in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Those trend lines eventually turned down. But changes in American society helped mask the effects. While international competition shrank the American share of the global economy, women poured into the work force and gave more and more families two breadwinners instead of one. While men’s median income declined slightly between 1970 and 1990, the median income for women rose nearly 50 percent. So household income rose.

While overall growth slowed — the economy expanded at least 5 percent in a year just once in the 1980s, and not since — so did the rate at which Americans had children. Smaller families stretched family incomes further.

And as increases in education and the number of women in the work force reached a plateau, cheap and easy credit encouraged Americans to consume more. So did the “wealth effect” from the Internet-fueled stock market of the 1990s, and the real estate boom after that. From 1980 to 2005, personal savings as a proportion of disposable income shrank to 1.5 percent from 9.8 percent. All the while, politicians and voters grew accustomed to more government services than they were willing to pay for.

“The 2007-2009 collapse brought this era to an end,” Mr. Reischauer said. In the new one, ordinary Americans “are going to be very frustrated, because the political system can’t deliver the rising economic performance and living standards they’ve come to expect.”

Blake Hounshell summarized Harwood’s column, “Sorry Americans, the good times are over.” Naturally, this immediately evoked Merle Haggard:

I wish a buck was still silver.
It was back when the country was strong.
Back before Elvis; before the Vietnam war came along.
Before The Beatles and “Yesterday”,
When a man could still work, and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?
Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.
Wish a Ford and a Chevy,
Could still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

I wish coke was still cola,
And a joint was a bad place to be.
And it was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV.
Before microwave ovens,
When a girl could still cook and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.
Wish a Ford and a Chevy,
Could still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Stop rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.
Stand up for the Flag and let’s all ring the Liberty bell.
Let’s make a Ford and a Chevy,
Still last ten years, like they should.
The best of the free life is still yet to come,
The good times ain’t over for good.

Released in May 1982, it reached #2 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. In my mind, it’s the best of a series of similar songs that came out in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (The Kinks’ “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” [1979] and Hank Williams Jr’s “Mr. Lincoln” [1984] are other archetypes.) The country had suffered defeat in war, several shocks in the political system, and the economy was in the crapper.

Within a couple of years, it was Morning in America.

Things are really, really bad right now. But I’m not sure they’re any worse than they were then. While GM has had its troubles, a Chevy actually will run ten years (like it should). And at least a podunk country hasn’t held our embassy hostage for 444 days.

They’re almost certainly not as bad as they were during the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s, with Vietnam, the civil rights struggle, Watergate, and the oil shocks ripping the country apart. And, regardless of whether we’re undergoing a Great Recession, a Great Contraction, or a Mediocre Depression, they’re sure as hell not as bad as they were from 1929 to 1944.

I haven’t the slightest clue how we’re going to pull out of the nose dive that we’re in. Maybe we won’t; there’s a first time for everything. But I’d bet the other way.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Joyner –

    As long as the dominant wing of one of the two major political parties in this country refuses to believe in education, science, and facts, the country will not reverse course.

    What’s different now than any of those previous times in history is that you have one party that is beholden to nihilists who, willingly and proactively, put the US financial full faith and credit at risk for political gain – all the while you and your ilk were saying “That’s a good negotiating tactic.” – regardless of what it did to the country.

    So, are we doomed?

    Probably not, but it’s certainly more POSSIBLE now than it was before.

    BTW, are you ever going to revisit your earlier premise? Do you still think it was a good negotiating tactic to hold the debt ceiling hostage?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  2. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA: My argument was always that it was both illegitimate and dangerous to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage to Democrats meeting budget demands. Wrong time, place, and manner to have that fight.

    I merely point out that it was a good negotiating tactic in that it worked as intended, giving Republicans leverage and securing major cuts that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. mike says:

    @EddieInCA: So Eddie, the suspense is killing me, which party is it? B/c from my foxhole, when I watch the news, the party holding this party hostage at any given time depends on the issue and when it is convenient to their needs at the time. Both parties need to put their big boy pants on and start putting the needs of the country before the needs of their party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  4. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Joyner –

    With all due respect, that’s quite some disconnect you have going there.

    How can something be both “illegitimate and dangerous”, AND “a good negotiating tactic”? Hows does that mental ju-jitsu work inside your brain? How do you reconcile those two vastly different points of view?

    And how can anything be a good “negotiating tactic” that leads to the downgrade of the US debt?

    Are we Americans first and partisans second? Or have the rules changed and we’re Democrats and Republicans first and Americans second?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  5. EddieInCA says:

    Mike –

    Tell me when the Dems have ever held the country hostage, or created a scenario that led to the downgrade of US debt?

    Please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA: First, I don’t hold the Republicans responsible for the S&P decision which, as I’ve explained at length in several blog posts, was just bizarre.

    Second, something can be simultaneously a bad idea and work out well. I don’t think filibustering Supreme Court nominees is legitimate, either, but it keeps justices that the Senate minority doesn’t like off the bench.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  7. hey norm says:

    Of course the Good Times are over.
    That’s the entire reason the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey have been able to manipulate well-off old white southern suburbanites. The Good ‘Ol days are gone…free-loaders and people of all different colors and them flaming homosexuals are going to take your jobs and your money and turn your grand-children into free-loaders and colored people and flaming homosexuals.
    It’s easy to sell romantic nostalgia, and to sow fear.
    It’s difficult to, nigh on impossible, to sell a vision of the future and sow hope…because the folks selling fear can too easily use it for a punch-line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  8. sam says:

    “I haven’t the slightest clue how we’re going to pull out of the nose dive that we’re in. Maybe we won’t; there’s a first time for everything. But I’d bet the other way.”

    Me, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. hey norm says:

    and oh-by-the-way…if the Republicans don’t have fear to sell they have nothing to sell. So fear that the good ‘ol days are gone is front and center in their catalogue of fears. TAKE AMERICA BACK. What do you think that’s about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. john personna says:

    It’s always darkest before the dawn … but then again, this could be merely dusk.

    (If anyone wants a shot of serious pessimism in the morning, try here. Though, I don’t think things are quite that zombie-apocalypse.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Rob in CT says:

    We’ll muddle through. It probably won’t be pretty, but we’ll get through this (in spite of ourselves, at times).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Well, given that Generation Y is the worst generation ever produced (they’re the least educated and the most spoiled, not a good combination), and that various structural imbalances in the economy all but guarantee severely high unemployment for perhaps decades to come, along with the demographic reality that this same collection of Gen. Y dolts will have to support the largest entitlement generation in history, I think it’s safe to say that good times are not around the corner.

    That said, like many other aspects of life, location and timing along with micro factors will allow the cream to rise from the top and for pockets of prosperity to flourish.

    If by way of example you live in Texas or in Florida or in Utah (or other business friendly states) and you have a real eduction and then live within your means you’ll have a great shot at being successful. Alternatively if you graduate top of the class from NYU’s or Columbia’s or Fordham’s business school (or Wharton’s) and you score a meaningful job with Goldman Sachs or UBS or Credit Suisse then you’ll have a great opportunity to be a success in life. If you pursue a career in the health services sector (medicine, pharmacy, nursing, benefits management, etc.), and do well in school, live in a low cost, low tax state, you’ll have a great chance of being successful in life. So on, so forth.

    As a general proposition, however, for a wide swath of the populace, things are very grim and, truth be told, are on the cusp of getting much worse. Just wait until inflation kicks into gear. Then just wait until Social Security and Medicare get in touch with their inner Greece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  13. Mr. Prosser says:

    Any time you want to go live the life Haggard is wailing about go right ahead. When Your pleasure is to drink bootleg liquor in Muskogee or your highest hope is to ensure a legacy job for your kid on an assembly line in Akron or Flint or in a mine is West Virginia you will be living his dream. The future is going to be different and yes, your grandkids might be browner than you and they will come out sooner, so what? That’s not frightening, just different. Friedman may be simplistic but his advocacy or education, research and bringing in the brightest is correct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. john personna says:

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, at the Telegraph, offers a more moderate pesimissm. It’s a good read.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Boyd says:

    I always find it amusing when a partisan accuses his opponents of “selling fear,” as though this were something new, and not something that all political parties of all countries have been doing for time immemorial.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  16. hey norm says:

    @ Boyd…
    Granted…but Mushroom Clouds over our cities and Defense of Marriage and Sharia Law? I don’t see an equivilancy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  17. @Tsar Nicholas II:

    Well, given that Generation Y is the worst generation ever produced (they’re the least educated and the most spoiled, not a good combination)

    I’ll take Generation Y over the demographic locust swarm that is the boomers. All they’ve done their entire lives is show up at each institution in our society, ravenously consume everything available, and the crap all over whatever’s left before moving on to the next one. Education, business, religion, government, and soon healthcare and retirement. At each step in their lives all they’ve done is create unsustainable monstrosities that give them gold plated benefits and then collapses the second they no longer need them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  18. john personna says:

    @hey norm:

    You forgot Death Panels, the ultimate example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  19. hey norm says:

    Thanks John.
    Yeah Boyd…DEATH PANELS.
    And one that really works on the old white well-off suburbanites of the Tea Party…oooooooh…SOCIALISM.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  20. Andre Kenji says:

    In 1981 the United States had a fair lower debt to GDP ratio. Like Mexico or Brazil in the past, the debt is going to be a real drain in the economy. And since the population is older and more affluent you can´t expect growth to solve these problems like in the Past;

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t think that we’re doomed and, as I’ve said before, I’d rather have the hand that we do rather than the ones the Europeans or the Chinese do.

    That said I think we’re entering a period that’s going to be a lot less fun than the last 15 years have been. It’s pretty unlikely that deleveraging will be accomplished by borrowing a lot more. We’ll need to tax more, spend less, and save more, all the while trying to make the process as pain-free as possible for the poorest and weakest in the society. It’s a tall order but I think it’s possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    I´m a foreign and I am a big fan of the American process of confirmation of federal judges. Filibuster is a cheap price to pay for a process that guarantees a high quality and diverse bench.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  23. Boyd says:

    @hey norm and @Stormy Dragon: I’m further amused that all you respond with is more sputtering about “but…but…but…those other guys!”

    First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

    I know, the Bible holds no particular sway over you guys, but even if you ignore the religious aspects of the book, there’s a lot of excellent philosophy in there. For example, the above quote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  24. liberty60 says:

    Shorter Tsar Nicholas:

    Hey you kids, get off my lawn!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    There may be good times ahead but they will be much different than the old good times. The age of cheap resources is over, not just oil but nearly all resources. The world economy, Friedman’s “flat earth”, is dependent on cheap liquid fuel. There is plenty of oil left but it won’t be cheap – it won’t be cheap enough to keep cargo ships or the long haul truckers in business. The economy will become more and more localized. Items that are made in China and last a year or two will be replaced by items made locally that last a decade or two. I’m 65 and I am still using kitchen devices that belonged to my grandmother. Similar items purchased at Wallmart don’t last more than two or three years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  26. James Joyner says:

    @Mr. Prosser: The post is in no ways a criticism of Merle Haggard. I’m just pointing out that the sentiments we’re seeing now have been with us periodically before.

    Yes, Haggard’s worldview was shaped by extreme rural poverty. But the song was expressing a very widespread sentiment in America 30 years ago: social upheaval and the breakdown of our old institutions and values was making us something less than great. We’re undergoing the same thing again, perhaps at an even more rapid pace, now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. @Boyd:

    I’m Generation X, thank you very much. I’m just sick of constantly hearing the Boomers dumping on Generation Y, especially since Generation Y is the one doing all the heavy lifting in the war on terror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. john personna says:

    @Boyd:

    I thought you were asking for examples ;-), you know, since “time immemorial.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. Boyd says:

    A bit belated, but I incorrectly directed my previous comment to @Stormy Dragon, when it should have been to @john personna. I suppose my eye-hand coordination isn’t what it used to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    Certainly, the “good times” are not over “forever.” People are too resilient and definitions are too contextual for anything to ever be over “forever.” Even Britain returned from the economic doldrums that it suffered in times past. The situation as I see it is that we may be in for another period like the time before “morning in America.” Stagflation and high unemployment, limited employment mobility, and the like are things that I’ve seen before–remember that Felix Royhatyn or some other guy from the Nixon era declared that the US was destined to have an unemployment rate permanently fixed at 6-7%. Yes, we recovered, but it took until Clinton’s second term (and “redefining welfare as we knew it”–thank you, both Clinton and Congress) before the unemployment rate was routinely lower than 5.5 to 6%. Roughly 25 years. We may easily be in for another spell that long.

    Part of the problem, IMO, is that the right fuels a sort of “poverty as a motivator” philosophy and has been endorsing the “creative destruction” of the economy. Economic “growth” has been defined sometimes (more often than I would have liked) as the creation of minimum wage jobs to replace jobs that paid much higher wages. I still remember watching Larry Elder and Lars Larson on Larry King noting at the time of the GM bailout that at least one good thing might come from the action if “the unions got broken” and the companies could “get rid of all those high wage jobs.” Eventually, we will figure out that there isn’t really any bottom line for this plan, but I don’t know when that will happen. Until it does, the good times are probably over–for most of us, at least. Not for me of course, but then again, I am currently teaching in a “developing” nation at a 65% increase in pay over what I was able to make in the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. jan says:

    S & P bond rater: It’s the debt stupid!

    The downgrade has been extended tofreddie & frannie & others, as well.

    David Beers added on Sunday:

    ..”the U.S. Treasury Department’s criticism of the credit rating agency’s analysis a “complete misrepresentation.” Even with the debt limit agreement passed by Congress, he said, “the underlying debt burden of the U.S. is rising and will continue to rise over the next decade.”

    Republicans, having virtually only 1/3 of the power in DC cut what deal they could to get past the crisis. But, many if not most of them knew it was not enough for long term progress. But, there was thinking that Moody’s might also drop the rating, which I think it is still considering. In the meantime, the dems continue to mock republicans, calling them names, all the while demonizing the task of sensibly reforming entitlement programs knowing full wellthis trend looms out there indicating that entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2049, if serious restructuring is not done first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  32. hey norm says:

    @ Boyd…
    I think it gets back to the discussion from the other day…yeah both sides use fear, and have as you say, since time immemorial…but it’s not a zero sum game.
    Right now there is one side selling fear and little else…let’s return to a happier time when everyone was the same color and spoke the same language and liked the same kind of sex and it wasn’t so scary. And one side is trying to sell the future. One message is about fear of change and going backwards and one is, at the risk of sounding corny, about changing/evolving/moving forward.
    Even this latest psuedo-crisis was manufactured fear about impending disaster due to our level of debt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  33. hey norm says:

    doh…jan’s been reading far-right blogs again.
    add michelle malkin’s “hot-air” to her list of easily impeachable sources.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  34. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: How about admitting that characterizing an entire “generation” of Americans is simply stupid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. hey norm says:

    @ Boyd…
    Look at the right’s war on homosexuals for instance.
    Granting equal rights to gay people is going to destroy the institution of marriage. Gays are barbarians. Same-sex marriage is going to lead to man-on-dog sex. It’s going to spawn a dying civilization…oh wait…that one was about birth control. Well, you get the idea.
    All of these things are demonstrably untrue. Yet they have been spoken by Republican Presidential candidates.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  36. Boyd says:

    @hey norm: I’m really trying to not take sides in the fear-mongering, but you keep repeating and repeating and repeating the same…erm….truth-challenged claims, that “it’s only the other guys!”

    Do you really have so little respect for the folks here that you think we’re too stupid to see the one-sided nature of your statements? Or are you truly blind to your own fear-mongers? Really? You’re really missing the ability to perceive, or alternatively, the intellectual honesty to admit to the fear mongering that’s going on today from your own partisans?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  37. jan says:

    @hey norm:

    Facts are facts, no matter where you read them. The progressive blogs and media tend to insulate and put such news on the back pages, which is why so many of you tend to be in la-la land frequently. Putting blinders gives one only a smaller view, cushioning reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  38. john personna says:

    @Boyd:

    I’m not to invested in this sub-fight, but I think it is clear that the GOP has invested in the fear more seriously than the Dems. We were lied into Iraq, based on fear. We were lied into a bad health care policy, based on fear.

    I mean we’ve got “death panels” and “smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

    What have you got?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  39. Boyd says:

    @john personna: Your inability to honestly evaluate your own positions and claims. That’s about all I’ve got in your regard, John.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  40. john personna says:

    @jan:

    It is truly crazy that you first argued for an unworkable debt bill and then later crow that it was achieved.

    I don’t really know why you waste these long posts on us, unless you are trying to square that circle in your own mind.

    For AAA we need revenue increase. It’s that simple.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  41. john personna says:

    BTW, David H. Levey, ex-Moody’s, says that S&P should not have downgraded but what he really says is “yet.” Read his third point:

    3) Despite the above positive factors for the US, it is certainly the case that the US long-term debt outlook is deteriorating under the pressure of rising entitlement costs and an inefficient, distortionary tax system. Failure to reverse that trajectory would eventually make a downgrade unavoidable. But the recent discussions signal to me that — finally — public awareness of the fiscal crisis is growing and beginning to influence Washington. There is still a window of time — perhaps as much as a decade –within which structural reforms to spending programs and the tax system could reverse the negative debt trajectory.

    For AAA we need revenue increase. It’s that simple.

    (We need spending cuts too, and it’s rather the point that no one, not even Dems, are contesting that.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  42. john personna says:

    @Boyd:

    Pfft. So you went ad hominem rather than answer the question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  43. jan says:

    U.S. gets downgrade it deserves

    The Financial Times is calling the downgrade “a contentious and historic move that highlights the weakened fiscal stature of the world’s most powerful country.” The key word there is “highlights.” Which is humiliating but hard to argue. Make no mistake: The U.S. more than earned this downgrade. The nation is absurdly debt-laden and shows absolutely no signs of stopping.

    This is Yahoo Finance, and Financial Times lecturing this country. So, the criticism is speading beyond a fiscal conservative’s POV. While the oppositional discourse in DC added fuel to this downgrade, the main ingredient was the size and direction our debt was going. No amount of progressive rationalization is going to windex this fact away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  44. mike says:

    @EddieInCA: Eddie, again, you pick one issue and say that the Dems are never to blame for anything. Do you really thing the dems have perfect solutions for this country? If so, why is your state on the verge of insolvency, year after year?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. Hey Norm says:

    Boyd…you keep talking about equivalency but I see no examples. I do not think either side is guilt-free. But to render it a draw is just nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And at least a podunk country hasn’t held our embassy hostage for 444 days.

    No, but they have been fighting the mightiest military the world has ever seen to a stalemate for almost 10 years tho (to be fair this is as much a fault of political will as the stupidity of fighting a war you can not win).

    I haven’t the slightest clue how we’re going to pull out of the nose dive that we’re in. Maybe we won’t; there’s a first time for everything. But I’d bet the other way.

    Years back I rappelled into the Sotano de las Gollandrinas (1094 feet) with a blown piece of climbing gear. I had no idea how I was going to get back up, but there was no way I could just walk away from that awesome hole in the ground. Sure enuf, I figured out a way.

    America will too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. SickOf-IT says:

    It’s getting to the point where it is hard for even the media to ignore the problems that keep coming back. The people in this country are sick of it because of the crazy actions of our government and the president.

    It comes down to weak leadership. We have the president to thank for this. The first time that he blinked the republicans have been rolling him and the democrats ever since.

    Memo to America: Stop waiting for Democrats and Republicans to save you. It’s bad for your health and your future. Can’t you tell?

    “WAKE UP PEOPLE!” – If you are an American, read “Common Sense 3.1”
    We don’t have to live like this anymore, unless you prefer it.

    “Spread the News”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  48. jan says:

    Oh oh, the “Blame-the-teas” message is running into some problems — people aren’t buying it!.

    Rassmussen:

    Several prominent Democrats and their media friends have charged the Tea Party with being economic terrorists during the congressional budget debates, but most voters don’t see it that way.

    Fifty-five percent (55%) of Likely U.S. Voters, in fact, say members of the Tea Party are not economic terrorists. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 29% believe Tea Party members have been terrorists during the budget debates, while another 16% are undecided.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  49. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve talked to Europeans of various stripes since I was an American kid living in France. And I’ve heard the “End of America” stories pretty regularly over the years. I always tell them: don’t bet against the Americans. We’re not always going to win, but generally, over time, we come out on top.

    As Schuler said above: I’d rather be playing our cards than Europe’s or China’s hand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. john personna says:

    @jan:

    LOL. A third of the country thinks the Tea Party have been … not just bad … but “terrorists”

    And poor Jan thinks this is a win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  51. Hey Norm says:

    Jan…facts are not facts…for instance that Ed Morrisey post you linked to is full of CHERRY-PICKED facts intended to support his faulty ideological argument. Lying by omission is still lying. And if you have to lie to make your argument it isn’t much of an argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  52. ponce says:

    America will be fine once we all agree on where the next bubble is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. EddieInCA says:

    @mike:

    @EddieInCA: Eddie, again, you pick one issue and say that the Dems are never to blame for anything. Do you really thing the dems have perfect solutions for this country? If so, why is your state on the verge of insolvency, year after year?

    Mike –

    As for California, all our problems can be traced to Prop. 13, where we cannot raise property taxes until a house is sold. It’s why Warren Buffet pays more property taxes on his small home in Omaha than his home in Laguna Beach California. And if you know anything about Laguna Beach, you’d know that’s a pretty ritzy area.

    Buffett cited the inequity of property taxes he pays on his homes in Omaha, Neb., and Laguna Beach, Calif., and said the California cap on property taxes imposed by Prop. 13 “makes no sense.”

    His $500,000 house in Omaha has a tax bill of $14,401. His $4 million house in Laguna Beach has a tax bill of $2,264. The taxes on his Omaha home increased $1,920 this year, compared with $23 on the Laguna Beach home, he said.

    President Clinton handed George W. Bush a budget what showed surpluses into the future. Here’s a brief, but factual, timeline, courtesy of Steve Benen

    As far as the rest of your post, Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

    1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget

    1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.

    1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.

    1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. Debt clock is unplugged.

    2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.

    2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.

    2001 – 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.

    2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agree, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.

    2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

    2009: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives — including health care reform, cap and trade, DREAM Act — which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.

    September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

    October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.

    November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.

    December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts, relying entirely on deficit financing. GOP continues to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.

    March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.

    July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses, pushes debt-ceiling standoff until the last possible day, rattling international markets.

    August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

    So, yes, I’d say Dems have done better than the GOP in terms of fiscal responsibility in Washington.

    Facts are stubborn things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  54. jan says:

    @john personna:

    It is truly crazy that you first argued for an unworkable debt bill and then later crow that it was achieved.

    I never argued for the bill, one way or the other. What I have argued for was to address the debt and entitlements in a more legitimate way.

    In fact I was pretty quiet on what I really thought about the bill, because you all were saying that the people (mainly the teas) would now complain about not getting more, in a way to set them up as petulent and not in the mode of being nice and compromising.

    I didn’t bite…..because there are simply more of ‘you’ than ‘me’ on this blog.

    I don’t really know why you waste these long posts on us, unless you are trying to square that circle in your own mind.

    It has been a learning experience to read your posts here, lending impetus to changing my voter registration to independent. Fiscally, I don’t share the progressive’s ideology. Also, I post to present another POV, but don’t expect to change any minds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  55. Hey Norm says:

    “but don’t expect to change any minds”
    Or your own, evidently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  56. mike says:

    @EddieInCA: Eddie, I am not a Republican, nor am I a dem for that matter – my point is that both parties have plenty of blame for the financial mess we are in – we have been playing fast and lose with money and credit for a long time – it is time to cut back our spending and learn to be responsible and think of the future. The US’s spending, just like CA’s spending in the past, is not sustainable. you oversimplify things by blaming everything on one party. Saying all repubs are bad and all dems makes you look just plain stupid. You are either naive or stupid or trying to take an extreme position to draw responses. Don’t do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  57. Rob in CT says:

    jan, the concern troll “I used to be a Dem until the scary/crazy progressives drove me out!” thing isn’t convincing. Unlike the GOP (which has gone full wingnut), the Democratic Party is not run by its fringe. Obama is not a progressive. He’s mildly liberal. Reid sure doesn’t seem very progressive. Pelosi, sure. Dems periodically go out of their way to stomp on the progressive wing of the Party. And we are supposed to believe that those wacky progressives have made you an Indy?

    I see now what you’re doing. You’re attempting (what you think is) a mirror image of the various Conservatives who have rebelled against the GOP/Tea Party of late (like the authors of this blog). It doesn’t work because the situation simply isn’t equivalent, which makes your supposed switch either ridiculous or made up. I have come to believe the latter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  58. john personna says:

    @jan:

    In fact I was pretty quiet on what I really thought about the bill, because you all were saying that the people (mainly the teas) would now complain about not getting more, in a way to set them up as petulent and not in the mode of being nice and compromising.

    I think the key thing there is the “missing left.” The left traditionally wanted more spending and more tax to support it. As much as folk on the right would claim that now, it’s not there. The left is on board with broad spending cuts, trillions in spending cuts, and only wants tax increase to (a) actually make the thing work, and (b) to moderate reduction.

    Asking for a more moderate reduction is not the same as expanding government & etc.

    It has been a learning experience to read your posts here, lending impetus to changing my voter registration to independent.

    We always need more of us ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  59. Rob in CT says:

    @mike:

    Assigning 100% blame to one party doesn’t pass the smell test, sure. You know what’s really lazy, though? Pretending it’s gotta be 50/50. You can actually look at policies and try to gauge their impact.

    Eddie’s original post was to James. He’s been on this horse for a while: trying to convince James that the GOP has lost it and is endangering the Country right now (though I think James has largely come to that conclusion as well, I think Eddie wants to hear him say it, for whatever reason). It’s not so much about assigning all the blame to the GOP for the run-up to the present, though I’m sure both Eddie and I would put more than half on that side of the ledger. It’s about Eddie’s desire to hear James say “Yes, Eddie, you’re right, the GOP has gone batshit crazy and should be opposed” or something to that effect.

    You appear to have taken that to mean that Eddie really believes that 100% of our problems can be assigned to GOP policies. I doubt that he thinks that, though he can obviously speak for himself.

    I think a convincing case for 75% can be made, though. And it’s important, because the same people are making largely the same arguments, to prop up the same policies that I and many others think got us in this mess. Couple that with a willingness to play high-stakes chicken (and win, sigh) and the results aren’t likely to be good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rob in CT: What took you so long?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. Rob in CT says:

    I suspected for a while, but I err on the side of assuming better of people. Besides, jan brings us the talking points of the day so she serves some purpose…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  62. mike says:

    @Rob in CT: Those are great points. The last Bush turned me into an independent. I think the repub party has gotten worse and worse the past decade except for a few individuals. My dilemma is the alternative which I don’t particularly like either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. Rob in CT says:

    @mike:

    Well yeah, the Dems, judged simply on their own merits in a vacuum, sorta suck don’t they? Yeah, they do.

    We don’t live in a vacuum, though, and no third party has done anything since – if you’re really generous – the early 90s (Perot, round I). But for real significance you probably have to go back to the temporary splintering of the GOP back in Teddy Roosevelt’s day. Before that, back to the disintegration of the Whigs, the rise of the GOP (and the short-lived Constitiutional Union Party).

    I have no faith in some sort of Independent-driven fix to this mess. I think the change has to be done from within the two major parties, as much as they suck (which is why I’m a registered Dem, and why I hope James and his ilk remain in the GOP, doing what they can to drag it back to sanity).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  64. ponce says:

    I merely point out that it was a good negotiating tactic in that it worked as intended

    Shorter James: Rape is a great way to get sex if you’re not burdened by any of those moral thingys.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @ponce: Heh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. Drew says:

    Fascinating. Jan systematically taking apart the lefties – ooops, that’s right, jp is an “independent” (snicker) – here.

    I leave this thread in good hands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  67. Laurie says:

    this is a very interesting post and comment thread. I think what I like best is Dr. Joyner sounding less like a know it all than usual and sharing in the uncertainty most of us feel. I think future good times will look quite different than good times past. Maybe we will find that a good life can be had with smaller houses, fewer cars and quite a bit less stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  68. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:
    As usual you see what you want to see. Jan’s been embarrassing herself for days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  69. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    Oh, look, Jan, you accidentally left something out from your Rasmussen quote:

    Still, a plurality (43%) of all voters think the Tea Party has made things worse of the country in the budget debates in Congress. Thirty-two percent (32%) say the Tea Party has made things better for America, and 14% say it’s had no impact. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

    So you cherry pick a quote from a deliberately phony Rasmussen poll and you still lose the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  70. jan says:

    @EddieInCA:

    As for California, all our problems can be traced to Prop. 13, where we cannot raise property taxes until a house is sold.

    Property taxes in CA go up 2% annually. When a property is sold it can be taxed at 1 1/4% of the sale price (and, you know our sale prices here are high, especially in the coastal regions), after which it reverts back to the annual raise until it is resold once again. Revenues have been rolling in to CA in previous years. Each time, though, these additional revenues are spent on more government programs, public employees and/or in negotiations with unions and their members regarding lucrative benefit plans — pensions and healthcare. Consequently it’s more due to the latter, rather than the former that we have fiscal problems here in CA. However, the progressives continually have their needle stuck in the past and blame prop 13, instead of updating to present day concerns.

    Our indebtedness also rose significantly under Gray Davis and his terrible energy policies, followed by Arnold, who should have stayed in Hollywood. All the while, everything has been processed and expanded under the majority rule of a very liberal democratic legislation.

    As for that fiscal “timeline” you posted, it has so many holes in it that I’m not going to waste much time refuting most of it. I will say, however, that some of Reagan’s deficit problems were due to the dems not honoring the cuts that were supposed to go along with the revenue increases. The same thing that was done to the first Bush. Also, much of the belt-tightening in Clinton’s administration was due to his fiscally conservative Congress who had the power to lead the way. Clinton was a more flexible president too, and went along with cost-cutting bills, such as Welfare reform, which only gave fiscal kudos to his reign, especially in light of his impreachment.

    What is truly telling is how often democrats will oppose fiscal plans put forth to them. And, then when the sky caves in, they will somehow find something in their rationalization bag to pull out and hang it on those who have only been attempting to rectify and reform costly, unsustainable programs and burdensome regulations. That’s what is happening now with this downgrade, just like it has happened in the past.

    But, when fiscal conservatism, or any other idea, is listened to and works on a democratic watch, the dems take all the credit. When it doesn’t work they throw the blame onto someone else. Yes, both parties do this. But, IMO the dems do it more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  71. EddieInCA says:

    @mike:

    @EddieInCA: Eddie, I am not a Republican, nor am I a dem for that matter – my point is that both parties have plenty of blame for the financial mess we are in – we have been playing fast and lose with money and credit for a long time – it is time to cut back our spending and learn to be responsible and think of the future. The US’s spending, just like CA’s spending in the past, is not sustainable. you oversimplify things by blaming everything on one party. Saying all repubs are bad and all dems makes you look just plain stupid. You are either naive or stupid or trying to take an extreme position to draw responses. Don’t do that.

    This may surprise you, Mike. But I’m a registered Republican. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to vote for a GOP presidential candidate since George Bush, Sr.

    I don’t blame our country’s ills on just the GOP. However, I DO blame our CURRENT predictament on the GOP.

    As mentioned before countless times, Bill Clinton handed GW Bush a surplus, with budgets moving forward into surpluses “as far as the eye could see”. Bush, Jr., WITH A GOP CONGRESS, gave us two wars (one unnecessary), and a massive new entitlement program, along with Tax Cuts, which caused the surpluses to turn into deficits.

    If you can’t admit that, you’re either naive, stupid, or just a partisan shill.

    Now, in our current situation, we have taxes as a historic low…

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/tax-burden-at-historic-low/

    …yet the GOP refuses to even consider raising taxes. At all.
    …yet the GOP refuses to cut loopholes. At all. Even to companies that don’t need them.
    …yet the GOP refuses to cut subsidies. At all. Even to companies that don’t need them.

    So, yes, I do blamed the GOP for our CURRENT financial situation. If we return taxes to historical norms (or at least to the Clinton era tax rates), our debt problem would dissappear. The single biggest driver of the current deficit is the Bush Tax Cuts. That FACT has been presented in too many economic reports to be sloughed off. Yet, again, the GOP refuses to even consider letting them expire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  72. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    Our indebtedness also rose significantly under Gray Davis and his terrible energy policies,

    Are you referring to the criminal enterprise known as Enron? The same Enron that was for a while the single largest corporate donor to the GOP?

    I will say, however, that some of Reagan’s deficit problems were due to the dems not honoring the cuts that were supposed to go along with the revenue increases.

    they will somehow find something in their rationalization bag

    Interesting juxtaposition there, don’t you think?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  73. mattb says:

    @jan wrote:
    Oh oh, the “Blame-the-teas” message is running into some problems — people aren’t buying it!.

    Jan, you’ve accused me of selective reading in the past. Did you continue reading down the Rasmussen page you linked to. Because immediately following the quote you chose, was the following statement (emphasis mine):

    Still, a plurality (43%) of all voters think the Tea Party has made things worse [for] the country in the budget debates in Congress.

    Thirty-two percent (32%) say the Tea Party has made things better for America, and 14% say it’s had no impact. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

    Again, there’s a noticeable partisan divide: 53% of Republicans believe the Tea Party has made things better, while 73% of Democrats feel it has made things worse.

    Unaffiliated voters are evenly divided

    with 37% saying the Tea Party made things better and 37% [saying the Tea Party made things] worse.

    So while the Tea Party = Terrorists meme (which many of us have said is dumb) isn’t catching on, that doesn’t mean that people think that the Tea Party isn’t worthy of blame for making the situation worse. And considering that this is Rasmussen (whose sampling methods should be most favorable to a Tea Party/Conservative position), and the largest agreement is that the Tea Party negatively effected the legislation, its tough to claim that they’ve come out in a particularly good position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  74. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So you cherry pick a quote from a deliberately phony Rasmussen poll and you still lose the point.

    Ok, lets compare our cherry-picking quotes:

    Your’s:

    Still, a plurality (43%) of all voters think the Tea Party has made things worse of the country in the budget debates in Congress. Thirty-two percent (32%) say the Tea Party has made things better for America, and 14% say it’s had no impact. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

    Mine:

    Fifty-five percent (55%) of Likely U.S. Voters, in fact, say members of the Tea Party are not economic terrorists. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 29% believe Tea Party members have been terrorists during the budget debates, while another 16% are undecided.

    First off I was dealing with the smear ‘terrorist,’ and that people were not buying into that smear.

    Secondly, no matter how you cut it, with whatever figures you use from the questions asked in that Rasmussen Poll, it appears that a smaller plurality of people have problems with the teas than the bigger number who think they are not economic terrorists.

    And, if you want to go even further, add the numbers together of those who think the teas have made it better with the numbers of those who say it has had no impact and you get what? 46 which is a greater number saying the teas have been better or not effected the process to 43 who disagree, and think the teas have been problematic to the debate.

    My point stands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  75. EddieInCA says:

    @jan:

    Also, much of the belt-tightening in Clinton’s administration was due to his fiscally conservative Congress who had the power to lead the way. Clinton was a more flexible president too, and went along with cost-cutting bills, such as Welfare reform, which only gave fiscal kudos to his reign, especially in light of his impreachment.

    So how do you explain 2001-2006 explosion of debt under a GOP President and GOP Congress which turned surpluses into deficits?

    It’s amazing to me how you can just gloss over six years like that. Six not to distant years.

    How do you create such an intellectual disconnect?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  76. mattb says:

    @Jan (and others in the past) wrote:

    some of Reagan’s deficit problems were due to the dems not honoring the cuts that were supposed to go along with the revenue increases. The same thing that was done to the first Bush

    Does anyone know of any good links that provide a narrative for how the Democrats “went back” on their promises?

    (Preferably an analysis from a semi-neutral source or a partisan with some legitimate research chops).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  77. jan says:

    @Drew:

    Anytime you want to step in Drew….feel free to do so. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  78. john personna says:

    @Drew:

    You caught me Drew. Technically I am still registered Republican, as I have been all my voting life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  79. john personna says:

    As an aside, if you think the moderates have been “taken apart” I’ll suspect in turn that it is a combination of confirmation bias and cognitive decline.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  80. john personna says:

    ROTFLMAO, “a plurality (43%) of all voters think the Tea Party has made things worse of the country in the budget debates in Congress”

    … beat us up some more, Jan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  81. mattb says:

    @EddieInCA: No offense, I think you just made us all dumber by that response.

    You connected two disconnected questions — the economic terrorist one dealing with hyper rhetoric, versus a second question dealing about practical effect. On the second issue, adding the 14% say the Tea Party had no effect to the “positive view” of the Tea Party column is an overreach. All they said was the Tea Party had no effect. Beyond that, arguing that a 3% point different is a win for the tea party (3% potentially being within the margin of error of this study) is weak tea at best.

    In general, the average, non partisan person doesn’t think of the tea party as terrorists. But reaching the conclusion that they are seen in a particularly positive light… that’s not what this data is saying.

    (I also don’t want to get into the issue of “independents” and how that’s a somewhat useless category at this moment — thanks to the historically low general opinion of both political parties — when its listed without a discussion of which way particular independents are leaning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  82. mattb says:

    Crap…. Poster !Fail… Eddie, that last comment was directed at Jan.

    @jan: Just out of curiosity, did you read to the bottom of the Rasmussen page? Because there is a paragraph the pretty much undercuts your entire point (with the exception of the “terrorists” thing). Note what happens when the sample is controlled and they look at non-tea party member responses.

    Among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, 92% feel they are not economic terrorists, and 76% think they’ve made things better for the country in terms of the budget debate. Those who are not members of the [tea party] movement are narrowly divided over the terrorist question, and 58% of this group think the Tea Party has made things worse for the country.

    Again, you are right that the majority (as far as we can tell) of non-tea party members do not think of them as terrorists. But a clean, simple majority – 58% “think the Tea Party has made things worse for the country.”

    Please explain to me how that is a good thing for the Tea Party movement or represents the idea that they are not getting “blamed” for the current condition.

    Or are you just part of that 76% of tea party members that so believe in your narrative that you are not going to let the facts get in your way? Drew, feel free to jump in on this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  83. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:
    You cherry-pick a quote. I add a quote. That’s not cherry-picking, that’s correcting your attempt to do so. And now MattB just added a third graf and left your attempt at Rasmussen-based propaganda bleeding all over the floor.

    And again: this is GOP pollster Rasmussen, with a question deliberately phrased to elicit a pro-Tea Party response. Even I wouldn’t apply the word “terrorist.” Malicious? Un-American? Borderline treasonous? Yes. But not terrorist because that is a word with a specific meaning.

    You want to find comfort in that, help yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  84. EddieInCA says:

    mattb says:
    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 13:38

    Crap…. Poster !Fail… Eddie, that last comment was directed at Jan.

    Hahaha! I’m scrolling back… wondering “WTF did I write?” Then I read the 2nd post.

    Thanks for the laugh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  85. hey norm says:

    Jan and Drew…
    Didn’t they sing “Dead Man’s Curve” and “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”?
    They were slaying it in the early 60’s…dozens of chart-topping hits.
    Oh wait…that’s not them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  86. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You cherry-pick a quote. I add a quote. That’s not cherry-picking…

    A quote is a quote that you and I pick out of context to affirm a point. Now you’re backtracking and parsing, at the same time. But, apparently that’s how you take comfort in never admitting you may be wrong or off base. Also, trashing the pollster, Rasmussen, who BTW is one of the better ones out there, is another way to give yourself credibility,

    What ever makes you feel better……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  87. EddieInCA says:

    Jan –

    A simple question, asked yet again.

    So how do you explain 2001-2006 explosion of debt under a GOP President and GOP Congress which turned surpluses into deficits?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  88. mattb says:

    @jan:

    A quote is a quote that you and I pick out of context to affirm a point.

    What the heck does that mean?! Seriously?

    Now you’re backtracking and parsing, at the same time. But, apparently that’s how you take comfort in never admitting you may be wrong or off base.

    Jan, did you just really write that?!

    And again, can you square your earlier comment:

    @jan: Oh oh, the “Blame-the-teas” message is running into some problems — people aren’t buying it!

    with the following sentence from the very same link you provided:

    Those who are not members of the [tea party] movement are narrowly divided over the terrorist question, and 58% of this group think the Tea Party has made things worse for the country.

    Again, I agree with the point that the majority of people don’t think the tea partiers are terrorists (though it’s noteworthy that on this issue Rasmussen uses the words “narrowly divided” and fails to provide specific percentages). But please explain to be how we do not interpret the simple majority of 58% of non Tea Party members believing that they “made things worse for the country” (Rassmussen’s words, not mine).

    Or is “[making] things worse for the country” different than blame?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  89. Davebo says:

    A new internet tradition.

    Don’t feed the Jan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  90. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jan:

    Also, trashing the pollster, Rasmussen, who BTW is one of the better ones out there,

    Heheheh…Heeheeeheehhaahahahaha hawhawhawhawHAWHAWHAW Stop it Jan, you’re cracking me up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  91. John Weiss says:

    @Stormy Dragon: FOAD, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  92. mattb says:

    @jan:

    A quote is a quote that you and I pick out of context to affirm a point.

    On second read, I think I understand what you mean, and the problem is that it isn’t correct. The entire idea of “quoting” is to choose a selection of a text, with enough surrounding material, that it maintains its contextual meaning (even removed from it’s co-occurring text). The idea is that it should lend authority and support to your argument either as hard evidence (qualitative data as in this case) or by presenting an idea that you can build off of.

    Here, for example are two quotes from the New Testament that shows non contextual and contextual quoting (to show that the later is possible):

    Non-contextual – We should always question God because, as Jesus said “put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4.7)

    And contextual – In response to the Devil temping Jesus to attempt suicide so that God would directly intervene, “Jesus answered, but the scripture also says, do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4.7)

    If you are planning to be taken serious, you’re expected to contextually quote.

    Jan, you used a bit of Rasmussen data to suggest that the majority is not “blaming” the Tea Party. Th problem is that when you look at the entire study, that point of view is *not* supported — or rather, can only be claimed if you include the views of the Tea Party within the sample (and even then the numbers are relatively close).

    That’s a classic example of a poor quote. Or rather a poor argument and wording. You are correct about the terrorist thing, but even that misses the overall context of the quote and the larger article from Rasmussen in that the polling firm clearly sees a difference between the two issues.

    And then, rather than admitting you’re wrong, you then doubled down and wrote something that’s just dumb — i.e. that quotes are always taken out of context.

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  93. John Weiss says:

    @jan: You wrote, “…Rasmussen, who BTW is one of the better ones out there, is another way to give yourself credibility,”

    You make me laugh! Keep it up!

    Rasmussen one of the best (polsters) ?!

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  94. An Interested Party says:

    Anytime you want to step in Drew….feel free to do so. :)

    Indeed…you do need all the help you can get…

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  95. hey norm says:

    “…Rasmussen, who BTW is one of the better ones out there…”

    Jan you are just too f’ing funny for words.
    Did you copy/paste that from the Rasmussen website?
    Or the Republican National Commitee website?

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  96. WR says:

    @jan: Hey Jan — How many times has Disneyland changed hands since the 70s? How many times has Universal sold off its backlot? How many times has the Chevron refinery on the Bay been sold? What’s that, you say? None? So they’re still paying property taxes based on a mid-70s valuation?

    Because of course this is the big lie of prop 13. It was sold as a way for little old ladies to keep their houses, but its real purpose to was allow huge corporations to duck property taxes on their real estate.

    “As for your nonsese about “looking backwards” — last time I looked prop 13 was still in effect, and it was still destroying our state economy. I realize Rs think the answer is to make cops, firefighters and university professors work for minimum wage — well, except the professors, who should all be fired since they’re Commie elitists — but those of us who value human life and human excellence know that professionals need to be paid what they’re worth.

    And since when did you live in California? All your other messages have put you in the South. Or are you simply a collective of right wing hacks churning out boilerplate answers?

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  97. James Joyner says:

    @jan: See “Rasmussen Polls Were Biased and Inaccurate; Quinnipiac, SurveyUSA Performed Strongly

    I think Rasmussen, like Zogby, had a couple good cycles back in the 1990s and either subsequently fell into disrepute, either by intentionally shifting their likely voter screens or just lousy methodology.

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  98. mattb says:

    Regardless of whether or not Rasmussen is a “legitimate” polling agency, the fact remains that Jan believes them to be. Which means that we can take as gospel that,

    According to Rasmussen’s early August polling: “58% of [people who do not identify as members of the Tea Party] think the Tea Party has made things worse for the country [at least in terms of the debt ceiling debate].”

    I encourage everyone to use that (contextualized quote) link to that report in future responses about the popularity/public opinion regarding the Tea Party (here’s the URL again: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/august_2011/29_say_tea_party_members_are_terrorists_55_disagree

    Oh, and be sure to credit Jan with finding the link and personally vouching that Rasmussen is “one of the better” polling firms out there – so we know the numbers must be right.

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  99. sam says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’m Generation X, thank you very much. I’m just sick of constantly hearing the Boomers dumping on Generation Y, especially since Generation Y is the one doing all the heavy lifting in the war on terror.

    All this generation stuff confuses me. I was born in 1941 (before Pearl Harbor, even) — do I belong to a generation? (BTW, I think the Boomers went to Vietnam…)

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  100. Moosebreath says:

    sam,

    You are near the boundary between the Silents and the Boomers, but on the Silents side, according to Strauss and Howe.

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  101. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:
    I feel I should respond since you addressed me personally, but honestly I think MattB and others have already disassembled you pretty thoroughly.

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  102. Tom says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I know you are not used to looking behind you but long before you were born the boomers were dying in a hellhole called Vietnam in greater numbers than all the wars on terror combined. In WW1@WW2 their parents and grandparents stood up for the freedoms you now enjoy. Don’t kid yourself into thinking your generations sacrifice is greater than those before you.
    WW1 302,000 dead and wounded
    WW2 1,076245 dead and wounded
    Vietnam 211,454 dead and wounded
    War on terror 5796 dead 41221 wounded

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  103. An Interested Party says:

    Why must anyone play this game of which generation is better or worse than any other? We’re all Americans and supposedly we’re all in this together…this whole business started with Tsar Nicholas II trashing Gen Y…looks like the troll accomplished his mission…

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  104. @Tom:

    Oh I agree the boomers parents and grandparents did amazing things. Even outside the wars, those two generations pretty much made the US the nation it is today. In fact part of why I resent the boomers so much is that they spent their lives pretty much coasting on the laurels of the previous two generations without really accomplishing much themselves.

    PS – you forgot the Korean war: 136,826 dead and wounded

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  105. Tom says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Not to diminish the casualties of Korea but technically it was a police action. Like Vietnam our soldiers there were drafted they didn’t go voluntarily. As far as the accomplishments of the boomers they are too numerous to cover here. But just to mention a few: Putting men on the moon, invention and development of the computer, cell phones, color TV, air conditioning, the largest accumulation of personal wealth of any generation before or since, largest expansion of the middle class, largest contribution to social security of any generation(which allowed our parents and grandparents to retire) highest percentage of college educated, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, rock and roll, abolishing the draft (so you don’t have to die for causes you don’t believe in). In short the boomers shaped modern society as we know it. We formed and contributed to a system of government that made promises to us that is now inconvenient and expensive to keep because the money we paid in advance is being used to finance the needs of today. It’s true your generation is inheriting the cost of our golden years(and two wars) just as we did for our parents and grandparents. In short we paid our dues, meet our resposibilities to our elders, protected your freedom. Now its time for you to man up, take responsibility and continue to shape and form a system that you will need to support you sooner than you think. I don’t expect you to agree with me buts it’s not like you have a choice about the future, we also make up the largest segment of the population which gives us the power of the vote. Now it’s you turn to change the world, make the most of it we really are counting on you. In the mean time all us boomers are going to get what we’ve already paid for.

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  106. @Tom:

    But just to mention a few: Putting men on the moon, invention and development of the computer, cell phones, color TV, air conditioning, the largest accumulation of personal wealth of any generation before or since, largest expansion of the middle class, largest contribution to social security of any generation(which allowed our parents and grandparents to retire) highest percentage of college educated, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, rock and roll, abolishing the draft (so you don’t have to die for causes you don’t believe in).

    And here we see the boomer’s anachronism stew version of history that allows them to over estimate their importance. The oldest boomers were only 23 at the time of the moon landing. I doubt they were really involved accept possibly as some of the most junior engineers involved in the project. Likewise most of the people responsible for innovations for computers came from the generation before or after (take the internet for example, most of the core infrastructure was invented by the generation before the boomers and then sat around until Generation X started coming up with ways to use it). Cell phones follow a similar pattern where most of the big names involved in the development are either from before or after the boomers. Color TV is from the 50s and 60s, again the generation before the boomers doing. Air Conditioning is from the 1920s!

    Of course these technologies have one thing in common: the boomers were the first generation to widely use them. And of course in their narcisstic minds, using something is equivalent to being responsible for inventing it.

    The college education fact is just outright wrong: greater percentages of both Generation X and Generation Y are college educated than the Boomers. The Civil Rights movement is one again the generation before the boomers.

    And so on…

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  107. Tom says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Maybe I should have phrased that invention or development. But it doesn’t diminish the contribution the boomers made. You seem to be one of the brighter of your generation even if you don’t want to recognize the accomplishments of those before you. Your generation is being given the responsibility of building on those accomplishments. We took the world we inherited full of hopes, dreams and problems and shaped it to fit our needs and just as we made it a better place we also created a host of problems that will need to be dealt with by your generation. We expect you to do the same. The challenges you face and solve will define your legacy. I personally hope your generation changes the world as much as mine did.

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  108. Rob in CT says:

    Every generation seems to want to claim that it’s great and some younger one sucks, and that results in a bunch of myth-making (such as Tom trying to claim the Moon landings, etc. for the Boomers).

    I say we try and break the habit of talkin’ ’bout our generations. Tom, you may want to remember that this little tit-for-tat began with Tsar Nicholas flatly stating that GenY was the worse ever.

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  109. Fog says:

    “Now we reach our modern age, when we can no longer stand our vices, nor the remedies needed to cure them.” Livy, 27 BC

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