Recently (as in last week), I moved back from the Bay Area of California to my hometown in Metro Detroit.  I spent about 4-1/2 years in CA, mainly around SF, and I’ve seen enough to recognize that the two states are running on parallel paths with respect to fiscal discipline.

The difference is that the demise of the Big Three hastened the general fiscal crisis/one-state depression that is Michigan.  Subsequently, housing prices dropped as foreclosures hit the market–much earlier than CA and many other states.  For example, I’m looking at houses right now, most of them ready-to-move-in and in good neighborhoods, with prices right around $30k, give or take a couple thousand.  Monthly payments would be around $180, and that’s on a 15-year mortgage!  The point is, the same thing is happening now to CA.  But they’re about 3 years behind where Michigan is at, in my estimation.

I believe MI could really experience a renaissance, an rapid influx of people and new businesses (and therefore, tax revenue), by doing a few simple things.  The number one factor already in place is what I already mentioned above: Cheap housing.  Houses are sitting empty, ready for people to move in, often with minimal fix-up work.

Second, make it easier for businesses to stay in Michigan.  Many manufacturing jobs have fled the state to the South (of the US) and also out of the US because of high costs of production in MI due to increasing regulations and influence of unions to increase pay.  Professional jobs run along the same lines, minus the union issue.  White collar jobs often follow the manufacturing base, or move because of the next reason, which is…

…hostile tax and regulatory policies at a state and local level.  Make it easier for companies to stay/enter the Michigan business landscape.  The feedback loop of increased costs from tax and regulation, businesses leaving the state for greener pastures, state/local gov’t raising taxes and fees to cover losses due to dwindling tax base, repeat, repeat, repeat–you get the picture.  Businesses, like just about everything else in life, take the path of least resistance.  You drop a basketball on the top of a hill, it will go downhill, not up.  Water looks for the cracks in a container and leaks out.  Not in.  Michigan–and California and a host of other more progressive states–are leaking vessels.

These states aren’t all bad.  Michigan has a booming west side in the Grand Rapids area.  Silicon Valley is still alive and kicking (although some of those tech jobs have moved to places like Salt Lake City).  But municipalities that are doing it the right way are increasingly at the mercy of poor fiscal discipline at the state level.

So why did I jump from the frying pan of CA into the fire of MI?  Family, the ties that bind.  That, and I can buy a house for $30, 000.  Just as long as I can find a job.

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Free museum admission at any Smithsonian museum or affiliated museums on Saturday, September 26.  I think I’m going to the Exploratorium in SF and save $15 on the admission.

As if we couldn’t see this coming:

“It’s almost Armageddon if the Japanese and Chinese don’t buy our debt,” Robertson said in an interview. “I don’t know where we could get the money. I think we’ve let ourselves get in a terrible situation and I think we ought to try and get out of it.”

The only way to avoid the problem, he said, is to “grow and save our way out of it.”

“The U.S. has to quit spending, cut back, start saving, and scale backward,” Robertson said. “Until that happens, I don’t think we’re anywhere near out of the woods.”

Thankfully, the American people are also starting to realize that the worst time to increase spending via massive new gov’t programs is when you don’t have the money to do so.

In that respect, having the Dems in controlling Congress and the WH at this time of economic uncertainty may be perfect timing for the country.  This is probably the absolute hardest time for them to actually pass legislation of the type they’ve been proposing (cap & trade, health care, higher taxes on rich, etc.).  Imagine what they would be able to do if this had happened during a strong economy.  It probably still would have been tough, but the opposition would have been a lot less vocal and numerous, in my opinion.

Concerning Trolls

September 14, 2009

Trolls are an interesting phenomena in the commenting community.  The equivalent of the kid who like to sneak up behind you in 5th grade and flick your ear, just to see what kind of reaction he would get.  The “wet willy” was also a common method in his toolbox of instigation.  Those boys (and girls) have grown up to become the trolls of the internet that provide us with online entertainment today.  But only if they are not flicking our ears.

Case in point, here is a quote from Afrolib, a known troll at hotair.com, concerning Kanye storming the stage at the VMA show:

Cons need to go buy a sense of humor from somewhere. Kanye was only kidding around with that Taylor chick. It was all an act. Jeez

Afrolib on September 13, 2009 at 11:42 PM

This evoked a response from someone who sees this particular troll as a horsefly instead of the gnat that he really is:

Get lost.

***********peace on September 13, 2009 at 11:44 PM

Of course, bothered by a gnat long enough, you will eventually tell it to “get lost.”  This really isn’t so bad an example of what to do with a troll, except for the fact that the troll gets his jollies from responses just like this.  But small jollies.  (I know, that doesn’t sound quite right.)

This is where the troll really succeeds, though.  Read this response to the same comment Afrolib made:

…I’m assuming you belong to the school of thought that only whites can be racist.

D*********r on September 13, 2009 at 11:52 PM

DING DING DING!!!  Afrolib is probably ROTFLOLWWU (rolling on the floor laughing out loud wee weed up) about now.  He got the exact response he was looking for:  Someone that is willing to take him seriously and is now arguing with him on semi-intellectual grounds now.  Hook, line, sinker.  It will eventually devolve into a “I know you are, but what am I” argument at this point, where one party (the serious responder to the troll, usually new to the blog, btw) offers up real arguments, while the troll, regardless of his political affiliation (if he has any at all) plays Devil’s advocate to string the other commenter along.  Everyone else just stands by to watch the slowest trainwreck in the world.

Essentially, to be a troll you do not need any sort of political/moral/whatever-the-blog-deals-with conviction.  You just have to know the issues and know how to push people’s buttons.  It doesn’t take much.  And all it takes is one or two mice to be caught so the cat (in this case a troll–hmm… a troll-cat) can play with them a while before he leaves them at the bloggers feet as a little present:  “Ban that troll!” they yell.

Yeah, right.  Trolls are too much fun if you know how to deal with them.  Just sit back with the are folks who are in on the joke and laugh at the kids getting their ears flicked.  Just as long as it isn’t you.

Here’s what I just received from Jon Vogel at the DCCC:

How’s this for a rapid response to Rush Limbaugh openly comparing the Democratic Party to Nazis and using swastikas on his website? In less than 24 hours, nearly 25,000 of you signed our petition telling the GOP to condemn Rush.

But we need to keep up the pressure to show Republicans that Rush’s hateful rant won’t be tolerated by the American people.

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition, telling Republicans to condemn Limbaugh’s offensive rhetoric. If you already did, please forward it to five of your friends.

We can’t let Rush’s disgusting remarks disappear into yesterday’s headlines without holding Republicans, who refuse to stand up to him, accountable.

Send a powerful message to Rush and the Republicans! Sign our petition today and then get your friends and family to do the same.

Jon Vogel
DCCC Executive Director

Here’s Rush Limbaugh’s response.  In a nutshell–and I heard the original broadcast where a caller first brings up the national socialist (which is what “Nazi” means in German) aspects of the bills being introduced by the current Democrat-controlled Congress–Rush simply took what Pelosi said about swastika-carrying health care protesters and turned the comments back against her–without the ad hominem attack.  It’s not ad hominem if you can actually make real comparisons between the socialistic nationalism of the current leadership of our country and that of 1930’s Germany. Read Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism if you want a thorough comparison.

Rush wasn’t saying the Democrats and the administration were about to round up and kill Jews.  He wasn’t even implying that.  This is an argument of a political, not eugenic, nature.  The only accusations that health care opponents and conservatives (not on and the same) have made against Dems in terms of race is that they are racist by way of condescension and patronization.  Krugman calls you a racist if you are against Obamacare.  NBC just came up with a new website exclusively for the black community, as if regular news just won’t work for them.  Townhall protesters are repeatedly called “rednecks” (ultimately, a racist term for middle America white know-nothin’s when used in the sense that the left has employed it) and “teabaggers” by so-called leaders on the left in politics and the media.

  • Stop the stimulus by putting a freeze on spending towards any projects that have not yet begun
  • Halt the Cash-for-Clunkers program
  • Cancel the vote on the Health Care bill (probably going to happen)
  • Cancel the vote on Cap-and-Trade (hopefully going to happen)
  • Loosen manufacturing, energy, and environmental regulations (even just a little bit)
  • Lower the corporate tax rate (even just a little bit)
  • Introduce tort reform (loser pays+damages cap) as a first step in health care reform
  • All this to Freeze the Deficit, Save the Country, and watch an Explosion of Growth

Yes, it’s a dream. But the opposite would be/is a recipe for disaster. Priority One is getting out of debt. We thought dependence on foreign oil was bad, but dependence on foreign funding is much more sinister in a drug-addicted junkie sort of way–sheepishly asking our friends around the world for just a little more money, if only to make it through the next couple of months. How many times can we keep going to that well?  China has won the first battle between the 21st century superpowers without firing a weapon, but by merely lending us money.  Is it merely chance that our post-WWII economic growth coincided with our rise to superpower status?  Or, is it merely chance that the USSR’s fall coincided with their economic downfall?  No, economic prowess and world standing go hand-in-hand.

Are we so blind as to not see the economic wasteland that is much of Europe? Can we not trace the roots to their socialist and quasi-socialist government programs that have disincentivized whole working populations and spurned inventive business practice? How can anyone can believe that a government program can “pay for itself,” as Obama has said about gov’t-controlled health care? You are adding new spending–the money has to come from somewhere. There is only one solution: Tax Everyone.  Yes, even the poor and destitute are taxed now and will have their taxes increased even more through a VAT (currently being surreptitiously floated by the administration) or hidden consumption taxes (many already in place on things like alcohol, cigs, gasoline, etc.)

My solution–and I would like to hear it echoed all over the blogosphere, talk shows, town halls, and Congress’s voicemail–calls for a simple first step:

STOP THE STIMULUS!

STOP THE STIMULUS!

STOP THE STIMULUS!

It’s an excellent place to start.  Let’s make the US look attractive to investors once more.

Of course, I may just have absolutely no idea of what I’m talking about.

update: When I wrote this last night, I was a little worked up over the inanity and waste of the Cash-for-Clunkers program which is being viewed as this great success.  In my rush, I definitely left out a few things that also need to be changed in order to halt the deficit for years to come.  Number one on the list is Social Security.  If anything would affect our yearly deficits and overall national debt more than SS, I don’t know what it is.  It is the proverbial frog being boiled to death in a pot of water that slowly heats up from a refreshingly cool temperature, much as SS was a relief to those in and coming out of the great depression.  Thankfully, Americans seem to be a little better informed about health care and other recent proposals (with hindsight as a weapon), and the immediacy of the programs calls for immediate action and opposition.  The water in the pot is already uncomfortably warm.

Other things obviously include our current gov’t run health programs in Medicaid/Medicare.  And the tax code could use a massive overhaul.  The list could go on and on, but sometimes you have to stop the car (in this case by stopping some of the current proposals in spending) before you can turn it around.  Actually, unless my logic fails me, you always have to stop the car before you can turn it around!

You might be wondering what this blog is all about.  By the name, you might think I’m some Democratic Party shill, doling out the latest talking points.  In actuality, it is the opposite.   From the How This Site Started link above:

I wrote to the DNC about Rush Limbaugh a while back after they went on the attack against him.  Subsequently, I went on their mailing list and began receiving emails from them a couple times a week.  The letters are usually attributed to (though, probably not written by) various names in the Democrat party–Pelosi, Carville, Albright, Vogel, etc.  This blog puts those emails out there for all to see, and I’ll comment on the many fallacious arguments they make regarding conservatives and the Republican party.  I’ll tell you right now, half of the arguments they make are straw man and ad hominem.

Virtually all the emails I have received thus far devolve into begging for funds after attacking their opposition in a way that is thin on facts and heavy on playing to fears and stereotypes.  Where are those funds going?  Fancy names like Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund are used to mask how the money will be used.  Anyone with half a brain can figure out that the “Response” fund is all about advertising and marketing whatever legislation they are too afraid to give the American people the whole truth about.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. No special comments in this blog besides what is directly (or sometimes indirectly) mentioned in the “dispatches” I receive from various mechanisms of the Democratic Party.  If you know of any more sources, I’d be glad to hear about them.  And skewer where appropriate.  And (I know this is a longshot) applaud where appropriate.

Another shameless ask-letter from Pelosi via the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).  It’d be one thing if she was actually trying to argue based on the merits of the proposed health care bill, but this is simply just a money grab for advertising dollars.  Here goes:

Dear XXX,

Republicans have made the cynical political calculation that it’s better to attack Democrats and do nothing to address soaring health care costs rather than deliver change [what does that even mean?] for the American people.

Republicans have many ideas in Congress to address “soaring health care costs.”  It’s ironic that Pelosi is the one that will never let them see the light of day.  One is the Patient’s Choice Act.

Well, I’m not going to let Republicans derail health insurance reform. Recently, one prominent Republican senator even went as far as saying: “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

As President Obama said in response: “This isn’t about politics. It is about a health care system that is breaking American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.”

Wait—I thought it was the loan and banking industry that was “breaking American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.”  Or was it outsourcing of jobs?  Oh, that’s right, the stimulus was supposed to fix it all!  What’s that—it didn’t?

Pelosi continues, now moving into “ask” mode:

I could not agree more. But delivering this change depends on us. Please help the DCCC raise $250,000 before the August recess for the Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund.

That is, money we can use to advertise our health care bill.  Since when do you advertise legislation?  Why don’t they just call it the Advertising/Marketing Fund?  You know, because we, the American people, are the ones who vote for these bills in Congress.  What’s that—we’re not?

Stand with President Obama: Contribute $5, $10 or more to support historic Health Insurance Reform today and my colleagues and I in Congress will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

America’s families, who are struggling to cope with skyrocketing health care expenses, understand the true cost of doing nothing. If we fail to act, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise by $1,800 every year for years to come and insurance companies will make more health care decisions.  That’s $18,000 per family over the next 10 years.

On its face, the constant increase of $1,800 a year, every year, is ridiculous.  The market would not allow that to happen.  Little of it there may still be out there, we have enough competition in the market to ensure that this won’t happen.

Last week, House Democrats introduced historic legislation to meet President Obama’s goal of comprehensive health care reform. Our legislation lowers health care costs for everyone. Our bill offers greater choice, including the right to keep your own doctor and it includes a public option to compete with private insurers.

This has been repudiated repeatedly here (see links from previous posts) and elsewhere. Health care costs, by design, cannot be “lower for everyone.”  Someone will have to pay for those who aren’t paying a dime.  And when your current employer drops private coverage to switch to GovCare, you’re not guaranteed to keep your doctor.

Even ‘Harry and Louise’ from those infamous television ads that attacked President Clinton’s health care reform effort have now switched sides. Yet even though Harry and Louise may be on our side now, we must be able to counter the Republican attacks and set the record straight. And, we need your financial support to do it.

Contribute $5, $10 or more today to support historic Health Insurance Reform today and my colleagues and I in Congress will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

Democrats will not be deterred and the American people will not be denied quality affordable health care. Please help us fight these attacks and pass historic health care reform this year. Together, we will move America in a New Direction.

What’s with all the capitals?  Is “New Direction” some bill we don’t know about?  And, by the way, Harry & Louise are actors!

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House

P.S. Republicans and their powerful special interests are trying to defeat President Obama’s plan to make quality health care affordable for everyone. We must have the financial resources to counter their attacks. Contribute $5, $10 or more to support historic Health Insurance Reform today and my colleagues and I in Congress will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

In summary, the recent letters are all about getting money for advertising.  There is no attempt to inform DNC and DCCC members (or at least people like me who are on the mailing list) of what any of these bills actually contain.  No pdf links to the bill itself, or links to blogs/magazines/newspapers/networks that are actually trying to defend the Health Care bill on its merits.  Oh, and another email from Pelosi just popped into my inbox—joy!

Harry and Louise, who appeared in commercials that helped sink HillaryCare back in the 90’s, are back in the news.  But this time they’ve switched sides and believe that health care reform is needed.  The thing is, they are just actors.  From a Reuters story:

The actors who play Harry and Louise appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday with Senate supporters and advocacy groups pushing for healthcare legislation now.

Okay, so maybe they genuinely believed their message in the 90’s, and now genuinely believe we need “healthcare reform.”  But healthcare reform doesn’t mean throw out the whole system and bring in a new one that is close to a complete failure economically and care-wise everywhere else it has been implemented.

Enough of my ranting.  Here’s Carville’s latest communiqué via the DCCC.  The only time he mentions Harry & Louise is at the beginning, and he essentially name-drops with even explaining who or what they are about.  He simply says that they’ve switched sides.

The rest of the email is a plea for donations using the same old ad hominem attacks about Republican “fat-cat CEO friends.”  As if the DCCC and DNC relies solely on $5 & $10 donations.  As usual, anything in bold/brackets is my commentary.

Subject: Remember Harry & Louise?

Dear XXX,

Fight Back Against Republican Scare Tactics

You know the Republican attacks on President Obama’s health care plan must be pretty vicious when even Harry and Louise from those infamous TV ads way back when decide to switch sides.

From launching attack ads on television, creating ridiculous attack web sites and using every single lie from the Karl Rove playbook, Republicans and their fat-cat CEO friends are doing everything they can to try and derail President Obama’s plan to make health care more affordable for everyone.

See previous posts for links on how this is total BS.  And there he goes again using words like “everyone”—he really thinks it will cost everybody less when somebody is going to have to pay for somebody else’s free health care?

But you and I can say not this time, not this year. That’s why my pals at the DCCC are looking to raise $250,000 for their Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund before the next recess starts at Midnight on July 31st. House Democrats are so committed to this – they will match all gifts dollar-for-dollar.

What is the “Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund”?  Nothing in this letter mentions the purpose, but it is essentially to fund attack ads (or counterattack ads) in the healthcare debate.

Contribute $5, $10 or more to our Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund and get a free “Health Care Reform NOW” window decal. If you contribute today, House Democrats will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

Sweet. A sticker. Whoop-dee-freakin-do.

Here’s the good news. Last week, the House introduced a bill to meet President Obama’s goal of comprehensive health care reform. It’ll lower health care costs for everyone. [Again, a lie. Quit using the word “everyone”, Carville.  Of course, then it wouldn’t sound nearly as good to say,It’ll lower health care costs for everyone except the middle and upper class—and maybe the segments of the poor, also.”] It’ll offer greater choice, including the right to keep your own doctor and it’ll include a public option to finally keep all those big insurance companies honest.

That last point has already been debunked. See previous posts for links.

But here’s the bad news. Republicans have already started their truth-twisting attacks. And if we think it’s bad now, just wait till Congress leaves for the August Recess after passing the bill.

Uh, sorry to tell you this, James, but as of right now the bill isn’t even going to make it to a vote.

Congressional recesses are when the Republicans like to kick their attack machine into overdrive. We have to be ready with everything we got.

Contribute $5, $10 or more to our Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund and get a free “Health Care Reform NOW” window decal. If you contribute today, House Democrats will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

Harry and Louise may be on our side this time around, but trust me, this fight is just getting started. Help President Obama make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself in 2009.

Sincerely,

James Carville

Republicans are scraping every last dollar from their fat-cat CEO friends to try and derail President Obama’s plan to make health care more affordable for everyone. Fight back hard by contributing to our Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund. House Democrats will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

Of course, the bill seems doomed to fail at this point.  It looks like the American people are starting to bring the pressure on, mostly because of information they have gleaned from the not-MSM (talk radio, blogs, other online publications, their own common sense, etc.).  Pelosi seems a little disoriented, though, as I’ve just received another official DCCC email from her (dated 7/23) begging for more dough.  Maybe they’re just looking at it as a fundraising opportunity now.

Here’s a great example of the DCCC’s style of identity politics, courtesy of James Carville.  Probably not written by Carville, but at least signed-off by him.  Key phrase here is “fat cat.” I’ve gotten a few other emails from Carville (via the DCCC), and he seems to really enjoy using this phrase to insinuate that the Republicans are exclusively prone to corporate interests and the interests of other big donors.  I’m sorry, James, but neither party has a monopoly in that area.  (bolds mine)

Dear XXX,

There are just a few hours left to deliver a huge victory for President Obama and a devastating blow to the Republicans.

At midnight tonight, the FEC deadline hits and we will have to report how much money we have in the bank. As of now, we’re still $43,124 away from hitting our million dollar goal.

If we hit our goal, that means the media is gonna judge that President Obama still has momentum on his side when it comes to health care and everything else. If we fall short, they’ll be saying that Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, with the over $14 million they just raised for Republicans, are stealing our thunder.

Contribute $5, $10 or more to the DCCC’s Million Dollar Match campaign. If you give by tonight’s deadline, House Democrats will chip in two bucks of their own money for every single dollar you give.

There are just a few hours left to tell good ol’ Newt and Sarah that their fat cat money is no match for what grassroots Democrats can do. We’re just $43,124 away from hitting our million dollar goal.

Contribute now.

Sincerely,
James Carville

This was actually sent June 30, 2009.  A little old, I know, but good to see what is being sent out from the DNC and DCCC, official entities of the Democrat party, on a regular basis.

In a June 22 letter, Carville also wrote (bolds mine):

The Republicans called on none other than Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin to headline their big fat-cat fundraising dinner and claimed to raise over $14 million dollars in one night!

That’s right — $14 MILLION.

You know what I say? Thanks, but no thanks – how about you get back on that bridge to nowhere, Sarah.  We don’t need you or any of your fat cat friends who are rooting for President Obama to fail.

Again, the “fat cat” insinuation.  And get your facts straight, Palin didn’t order up the “bridge to nowhere.”  I think we need an internet ombudsman.  Oh yeah, that’s us!