Thursday, March 05, 2009

GO Obama

From yesterday's comment section:
do you think spending millions on preserving mice habitat in San Fran is worthy? How about trying to figure out why pigs smell? Contriceptives distribution. These all may be worthy (or not) but let us quit pretending this is a stimulus bill. It is a fullfilling the liberal shopping list they have been denied the last 12 years. --Hoosierboy

I've driven by those pig farms. Yeah, I think someone needs to figure out that problem. And yeah, I'm all for the distribution of contraception.

As for those itty-bitty mices with their itty bitty mice noses and feetsies and teethies, here's what Finch said:
There is no item in the stimulus package for a mouse habitat. The California Coastal Conservancy may get up to $30M for several wetland projects, one of which includes the home of the endangered salt marsh mouse. These projects would also benefit salmon, trout, ducks, etc. And since they involve the building of levees and islands, the projects could create up to 100 jobs.

You can argue whether the 100 new jobs figure is accurate. You can argue whether it's the most effective way of spending $30M. You can't make a case that there is a dime in the stimulus package for mice preservation.
I should probably do the research myself. But Finch is a pretty smart guy and I believe him.

And perhaps most importantly, if I were an unemployed single mom and got a maintenance job at the Mister Marsh Mouse House or if I got a job inputting data in the office of the Porkulus Odor Study Foundation or if I got a job answering phones at the Screw To Your Hearts Content Clinic, um ... yeah, I'd call it stimulus. I'd call it stimulus when she gets a paycheck and puts it right back into the economy by way of state and local sales tax and groceries and a new pair of shoes for her kid.

Build mag trains. Fund the arts. And please figure out the electric car thing already so we can stop paying to build indoor ski resorts in Dubai. I am really sick of my dollars floating on a sea of oil to build goddamn Dubai.

Of course I realize this may very well mean a tax increase for me and mine. So what? I'm fabulous.

I am SNOOPY DANCE HAPPY with the Obama administration. I am pissing straight up a rope with glee over this and this. I like what he's doing even if I don't like what he's doing.

And baby, I am not alone.


VideoDude said...


I am 100% agreement with you! Everyone in this country should feel the same. If Obama fails, we all fail!

hoosierboy said...

OK I was wrong on the funding for mice, it was mice habitat.

If you think taxing small businesses forcing layoffs of thousands is worth adding one or two art jobs, then so be it. The average voter is stupid, and votes according to his wallet, so things will look up for the GOP in 2010, if they can quit trying to be Democrats lite.

hoosierboy said...

Oh, and by all means lets build mag trains -- AMTRAK is working so well. Talk about failed policies...

Erin O'Brien said...

Amtrak? It there trouble with it? I just did a quickie news search and didn't see anything alarming. What's the Amtrak beef?

VideoDude said...


As Ronald Regan would say, "There you go, again." You have been listening to Joe The Plumber too much. The tax increase is on personal income tax over $250,000 a year, not small business. You really need to listen to someone else, instead of Rush, Hannity, Cunningham and FOX News. If raising income taxes can help to fix our economy then bring it on. Then at least it means I have an income to tax.

And again, I repeat, if these trains are so bad how come Gov. Jindal now wsnts one.

VideoDude said...

And when have any of the Republitards acted as Democrat-lites? They have been to busy being the party of "no" and the ass kissers of Rush!

Joe Scarborough (Conservative), this morning on MSNBC to the Republicans: "NO" is not a policy.

Erin O'Brien said...

It hasn't quite started yet, but it's getting close. PLEASE no name calling.

No one here is stupid or a tard.

Discussion, yes. Flaming, no.

All viewpoints are welcome here.

Anonymous said...

I recently had a mouse in my house and was forced to dispatch it by way of mouse trap. This has caused me considerable emotional turmoil (even though it was a clean kill, snapped right at the top of its vertebrae, quick and painless I suspect.) Nevertheless, I am all for providing suitable mouse houses to spare anyone else the trauma I have endured. Tax and spend.


VideoDude said...

You are right, Erin.

I apologize for name calling.

ajooja said...

Couldn't agree more.

I actually saw my first "Impeach Obama" bumpersticker today. I tried to speed up to the guy to flip him off but I couldn't catch him before he turned off.

(S)wine said...

it's so bloody refreshing to come here after several days off and read the same ol' arguments from the hoosierboys of the Internets. line by line, it's as if these people are robots. literally, they make me laugh. i can pretty much recite in union with them all their grievances.

pardon my generalization, but man are some Americans dumbfucks.

you can't get any shit done in this country. nothing gets funded when times are good 'cause it's pet projects and pork. who gives a fuck about art, it's pork. and nothing gets funded when times are bad because, fuck...who gives a shit about art and roads and natural habitats when we can't pay our bills. this fucking country has become so laughable. especially overseas. i have friends in various parts of the world and we're like the fucking keystone cops. no wonder people don't even wanna VISIT the states anymore. the exchange rate on the Euro is great, but who wants to deal w/us on their vacations, right? shit, i don't blame them.

the hoosierboys of the world are more worried about two guys getting married, meantime their fucking homes are in foreclosure, they have no health insurance, and no job. and Joe and John's wedding is apparently fucking up their lives; the fabric or the institution of marriage is being threatened. gimme a break.

yea. this is us. the brightest of the bright. we deserve all of this shit that we've dug ourselves into. i hope we can get ourselves out, but am not really banking on it.

(S)wine said...

oh , i see the no name-calling rule. sorry. go ahead and erase my comment

Erin O'Brien said...

It's fine. It's emotional stuff.

I just don't want my site to turn into one of those flamefests I detest. And I am loathe to censor comments.

Erin O'Brien said...

Okay, all this stuff posted as I was writing my last comment.

I hate to censor comments so I'm leaving Alex's (aka (s)wine's) comment up, but please everyone, let's be polite with our anger.

VideoDude said...

By the way, For complete transparency, the item in the Budget for "Pig smell" was proposed by a Republican Senator from Iowa. It seems he has a lot of pig farmers in his district and people don't like the smell. I repeat a Republican Senator from Iowa. Check your facts before blaming everyhting on Obama and the Democrats. In fact, independent research shows that 40% of the "pork" in the budget was proposed by Republicans. Hmmmm!

Phil said...

"I am really sick of my dollars floating on a sea of oil to build goddamn Dubai"

Class, did everyone hear Miss O'Brien's comment? She's getting an A+.

There is no American Democratic Republic at this time. We are sharecroppers to a violent, misogynistic and failed culture that has our nuts clamped in drilling rig.

Erin O'Brien said...

A Republican comments on the state of his party.

Zen Wizard said...

You get a lot of pork when your congressperson is the speaker of the House. (Or even if the federally employed rodents aren't in her district per se, it was a "horse trade" for some other side deal she had.)

As a resident of Smyrna/Vinings, Georgia (formerly Gingrich) I could show you some highways and covered bridges that would make Caligula blush.

If we want the president to be accountable for signing bills that have subsidies for mouse habitats and contraceptives for Africa, we need a constitutional amendment that empowers the president with Line-Item Veto. (Clinton v. City of New York--thanks, Giuliani!)

VideoDude said...


Great article by Ed Rollins.


I agree totally!

hoosierboy said...

Nice job generalizing Swine, that is the open-mindedness we all count on. You have no idea regarding my position on ohnny and Jimmy getting married. If you are dying to know, I really do not care, it is none of my business, unless you want me to subsidize it in some way. Oh, I will say I could care less what some Overseaas asshat thinks about the good old US. If they do not like our country, the ycan stay home. Isn't it funny that so many of them jump at the chance to come here and work, though? You see, I can claim European friends too. I have made more than forty trips to Europe in the past few years. Not everyone agrees with your point of view over there either. I do have a job, health insurance, and my mortgage is paid. I got those things by working hard, getting an education, and making hard life decisions.

I do not care who proposes spending, my position is less spending and less interference by the Gov't is good. If a Republican wants to fund the pig smell study then he should be voted from office. If Jindel wants a choo choo then his state should pay for it.

Here is my challenge, outside of the Constitutionally mandated programs -- defense, interstate trade, Law enforcement etc. What does the Federal Government do better than the private sector? The Red Cross is certainly better at disaster relief than FEMA. Welfare and Education are rightly the purview of the States (read the 9th and 10th Amendments before you argue that one).

Arguing for less Government and more local control when necessary does not make me out of touch -- it has been a core argument since the founding of teh Nation (read up on the Civil War for instance). I might add, a quick study of history will point my position is that of Jefferson, who would spin in his grave at the Big Government policies of his Democratic Party.

Erin O'Brien said...

It only took three and a half years of blogging for some one to say "choo choo" on these here pages.

VideoDude said...


Deregulation and less government has worked great so far. Our first test of Deregulation was during the Regan era. Remember the S $ L Crisis?

Erin O'Brien said...

Here's my other big thing with "pork." The gov. spends its money in three places: the military, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

All the "pork" put together doesn't amount to a pea next to those three.

You want smaller gov, the first place to start is the Pentagon.

hoosierboy said...

I won't disagree, but welfare costs will dwarf those in the coming years -- we cannot afford SS and Medicaid already and adding a trillion here and a trillion there will only make things worse.

hoosierboy said...

"And since they involve the building of levees and islands, the projects could create up to 100 jobs."

Here is a question. If we did not spend that 30 million would those 100 people be unemployed? Do they already have jobs? Is a new business going to be created to do this work? Will they be Government employess and thus part of the union, so we can never get rid of them after the job is done? Will we only offer these jobs to the currently unemployed? Are they qualified or will we be building levees that will fail in the next big storm?

There is nothing wrong with questioning the garbage we are fed by the President, no matter which party he represents. No person I ever elected did everything right, and I bet your politician isn't so perfect either.

Charlie said...

Don't want your money going to Dubai via the gas tank? Ride a bike.

I am quite pleased to see so many people embracing 'trickle down' economics. Reagan would be proud!

Republicans, Democrats..generally same crap, different piles! (Few exceptions.)

Taxing personal income over $250,000 **DOES** affect many small businesses. Most small businesses operate as sole proprietorships, subchapter S corporations, limited liability companies (LLC's), or partnerships. In each case, the income is reported on the owner's 1040. Check out 1040 instructions for Schedule C and page 2 of Schedule E. Relatively speaking, there are very few small companies operating as a C-corporation -- where income taxes are paid at the corporate level.

Cheers, homeys!

VideoDude said...

Charlie said: "Republicans, Democrats..generally same crap, different piles! (Few exceptions.)"

I agree. You are right!

Anonymous said...

video dude -- we agree


Harry Finch said...

Hoosierboy - those are fair questions.

Alan states said...

I don't love everything he is doing, but for the 1st time in 8 years, someone is doing SOMETHING. I blame the congressman who added the pork, not the guy trying/HAVIG to compromise, to get some results.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

"Build mag trains. Fund the arts. And please figure out the electric car thing already so we can stop paying to build indoor ski resorts in Dubai. I am really sick of my dollars floating on a sea of oil to build goddamn Dubai."

I've been to Dubai. I've seen the indoor ski slope (it's not a resort, BTW, it's a slope inside the Mall of the Emirates - I have pictures should you care to see them). And the U.S. is not the only nation or entity that is building Dubai - other gulf states (to include Iran) is invested in Dubai, as are the Russians (my contacts there told me the Russian Mafia, but I have no way of corroborating that), Europeans, etc.

"You want smaller gov, the first place to start is the Pentagon."

The Department of Defense exists not to govern, but to fight our nation's wars and conflicts when directed by our civilian leadership. The DoD also doesn't set its own budget - it asks for funding, and then our Congress, which under the Constitution has the authority to authorize expenditures decides how much the Pentagon will get. How much DoD get determines what programs get funded, e.g., weapons, operations and maintenance, personnel, etc.

It's also worth noting that the DoD is subject to the civilian "leadership" or lack thereof - we answer to civilian authority. If you want to blame bloated defense budgets on someone, I suggest you point fingers at Congress - and on both sides of the aisle.

Have no fear, though. I'm confident that somewhere along the line Pelosi and people of her ilk will declare a "peace dividend" or other such nonsensical prattle. The cuts in defense spending will come then so that she and others like her can fund whatever dubious programs they see fit to.

In the meantime, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will lack the spare parts, ammunition, etc. to train properly (usually, these are the first things that are affected - trust me). We'll be back to the days when I, as a company commander, could not get .50 caliber ammunition to train and qualify my soldiers on the M2HB Machine Gun (this was the largest casualty inducing weapon in my company, and a critical element of our ability to defend our sector of the Brigade Support Area perimeter). Of course, when Clinton told us we needed to go to Haiti for ... uhh, I'm thinking ... anyway, the skies opened up with ammo. Unfortunately, only one of my gunners had ever fired his weapon, let alone qualified it. So basically, I had a lot of ammo to give guys who were unqualfied according to Army regulations to operate that particular weapon. Nice.

After it was called off, I again requisitioned ammo, and was again told it wasn't available. I guess a peace dividend was again declared, and mice were living happily somewhere as a result.


philbilly said...

Kee-rist! Pig smell is out of control because factory farms are out of control. Back when small farms were the mainstream, pig farmers and their families stood at the back of churches. They were not shunned, there was just a code of civility in those communities that suburban and urban America will never see again, if they ever did.

Local farm to market networks reduce environmental risks, food contamination, fuel costs and circulate money within regions.

In the meantime, cover the pig and cattle shit EPA containment ponds with sealed canopies; low cost, off the shelf; then introduce customized bacteria to turn the shit into bio-methane, in turn to bio-methanol for stationary fuel cells, modified diesels and the renewable catalyst for biodiesel production.
Seriously, how fucking helpless have we become?

garrett said...

Erin, I hate to see you pimping terrible economics. But that is exactly what you did in this piece.

Erin O'Brien said...

Yep phil, Americans likey cheap pork!

Garrett, I'm not pimping anything. This is just my opinion.

And you or me or anyone else here has no idea if this is terrible economics. It might be. It might not.

The old fat rich white guy deregulation thugs have steered us into unknown waters. No one knows what the hell's going to happen. I just hope we come out in one piece on the other side.

VideoDude said...

One things for sure, trickle down economics, cutting taxes on the rich, and deregulating the banking industry, did not work! Our government needs to try something new. Oh right, they are!

Anonymous said...

Daniel Gross has a great commentary on the proposed increase in taxes over $250K in Slate today. I would recommend it for the doomsayers who think returning to the pre-Bush tax rate will be harmful. Consider the reduction in capital gains that remains in place and consider what a large portion of income that is of the wealthy, those who don't rely upon wages for income.

I would add that it appears only government has the resources or ability to keep the banking system functioning at this time, both through capital injections and regulations (hopefully). Without credit from a functioning banking system, any discussion of recovery, in my opinion, is unrealistic. jemison

Zen Wizard said...

It's tough to call, "pork" on a Stimulus package--"pork" does, in fact, "Stimulate" the economy.

I hate to go there with it, but the term "pork barrel" was invented in the antebellum period, when slaveowners would have production contests with groups of slaves--e.g., "Can group A plow more acres than group B? Oh great here's your pork barrel!"

I guess the immediate question is that we are supposed to be attacking the record (since modern tabulation methods) unemployment.

Let's say you gave me $50-million, and said, "Employ as many people as you can!"

I would open 50 TGI Friday's or something, and hire waiters, cooks, maitre d's and bartenders, etc.

$50-million that only employs 100 people would seem to be inefficient. In the Great Depression, they hired some people to dig a ditch--and others to fill it back up. As ridiculous as that is (and I believe the French Foreign Legion did the same thing), it seems that is more efficient than rodents in a swamp.

Of course this--and contraception for Africa--is crap that some congressman was been whining about for years, and now he or she is finally getting it as a quasi-bribe to vote for the whole bill.

That is the sleazeball way Washington works.

Kirk Jusko said...

Unless it's spent overseas, all government spending is stimulative, as are all tax cuts. They're just not all EQUALLY stimulative.

Erin O'Brien said...

Now I am stimulated.

Kirk Jusko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Jusko said...

Don't waste all your ammunition on Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. The so-called "liberal" media ain't much better.

Zen Wizard said...

Wasn't Limbaugh supporting Obama over McCain at one point? Or am I just trippin'?

If were correct, then Limbaugh would have no moral center, and would just be a knee-jerk contrarian who disagrees with whoever looks like they will be in power to stimulate radio ratings and charge more for advertising...

...that can't be right...

Harry Finch said...

A small reminder: Social Security is not Welfare. It is a self-funded program (through taxes, yes, but taxes specific to building the trust fund) that loans money to the government (via the purchase of bonds). Social Security is not a burden on the federal budget; it only appears that way because the government must make good on its promise to repay what it has borrowed.

garrett said...

Just for kicks, I'll throw in my opinion on Limbaugh: he has zero credibility for criticizing Obama's fiscal profligacy because I think he supported basically everything that Bush did (wars and other horrible government spending), and Bush increased the size of the federal government by an incredible amount.

But just because he has zero credibility doesn't mean he's not right on the Obama spending proposals.

Blah blah blah, right?

VideoDude said...


I am not sure if Rush supported Obama over McCain, but in December 2007 he said if John McCain gets the nomination..."it will be the end of the Republican Party as we know it".

Kirk Jusko said...

For all the talk of it eventually going under, Social Security currently takes in much more money than it gives out. The overages are used to shore up the rest of the budget. If you were to cut Social Security, we'd have an even bigger deficit than we do now. We'd also have an even deeper recession, as a lot of old folk's spending habits would be severely curtailed.

Social Security is also funded through a flat tax, which is regressive, so all those working poor who don't pay "income" taxes gets socked nonetheless.

Kirk Jusko said...

Oh, by the way, I know I said don't waste all your ammunition on Rush, but Matt Taibbi called him a fat, pill-popping idiot on Hardball last night. It was hilarious!

Velociman said...

Shouldn't we fix the economy before we go on a king hell spending binge? Spending what you don't have is stupid, reckless, and irresponsible. So is being an unemployed single mom. Neither situation just "happens". Cause and effect, Erin. We ignore it at our peril.

Erin O'Brien said...

Kim, I wish I could introduce you to a friend of mine with 2 little kids. Her oh-so-upstanding-in-the-community husband is divorcing her. He's the one who wanted kids, but when he found out one was LD, he put the kids through paternity tests to "make sure" they were his.

They were, but, hey, who could blame a guy for sending out a Hail Mary.

He's fought tooth-n-nail to give as little as possible in child support and custody sharing.

She's busting her ass to find any work she can to keep the kids in play dough and peanut butter.

Ever meet a widowed mom? Bush and his filthy little business in Iraq produced plenty of them.

Not all single moms are Bristol Palins.

You can read my previous comments on the spending and economy.

VideoDude said...

That is the Republican chant now: Do nothing and it will all get better by iself!

I just love how they suggest that unwed mothers and unemoployed workers are at fault.

This is another rant of "Boss Limbaugh" and the rest of the Rebpublican parrots.

What about the worker who worked their butt off for years only to haver their comapny shut down and moved over seas? Or the woman who gets a divorce and has to raise her children by herself. It must be nice to sit in your mansion on the hill, wearing your rose colored glasses!

We tried to do nothing to fix the ecomomy before, it was called Regan-nomics (S & L Crisis) and the George W. Bush administration (Total collapse of the world ecomomy). Thanks.

VideoDude said...

Oh, and by the way, we did try the small central government idea once. It was called the Confederate States Of Amercia. Do some research about it, it didn't work out so well!

Velociman said...

Erin, please spare me your sob story about one particular instance. If this guy is a cad she can take him to court. You can't outlaw asshole behavior, nor is it my job as a taxpayer to do his job for him. In fact, it's not my job to take care of anyone else I don't have personal responsibility for. Nor is it your job to tell me it IS my job. Just because it makes you feel good to demand so much of others doesn't mean it's right, or fair to the others. What ever happened to freedom of association? I don't want to associate with losers.

Erin O'Brien said...

Here you go, Kim.

VideoDude said...

I guess it is better to let people starve and die on the street.

Velociman would you feel any different if the woman was a war widow? Or is that her fault, too? I thought the Republican ideals were base on christian principles, love thy neighbor, charity and all that!

VideoDude said...

A former Republican speaks out:

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

I've met a widowed Mom. Her name is Alicia Buehring, wife of LTC Charles "Chad" Buehring, KIA, Iraq, 26 October 2003. I served with Chad for over a year at the Special Warfare Center, knew him for more than five years, and his loss hit me deeply. Later, in Baghdad, I went to the place where he was killed. Not a good day.

Was Bush's "filthy little business" any filthier than any other war we've ever been involved in? I don't think so. War, in my experience, is by nature a filthy, nasty, disgusting thing, the worst man can indulge in. To term the war in Iraq as any more "filthy" than any other war we've prosecuted is convenient, but spurious in my view and experience. Did we call our actions in Somalia, under Clinton, "filthy?" People died there, does it make it less "filthy" than what happened in Iraq? How about Panama? World War II? Korea? Vietnam? They're all filthy in their own way if you ask me as a combat veteran.

As to the woman Erin references ...

She should pursue her rights in the courts to the fullest extent possible. A man who abandons his kids physically and financially is, IMHO, less than a man. He and his wife may not get along, but that doesn't mean the kids should endure the pain they inflict on each other. As I see it, he helped bring them into the world, he bears the responsibility for seeing that they're cared for.

This being said ....

I agree with velociman that it's not my job to take care of anyone else I have no personal responsibility for. Nor is it the job of the federal government, the local government, etc. More importantly, it is not the job of the government to make me take care of them. Should I choose to help them, I will (and trust me, I have helped any number of folks in any number of ways throughout the years). But the government shouldn't tell me that I have to via taxes, etc.


VideoDude said...

If we don't help these people, do you think they will just disappear.

Like I said before, we tried doing nothing, cut taxes on the rich and deregulated the banking industry and our economy has collapsed.

Now the sub prime loans also contributed to this mess but it was not the only cause.

Small central governemt does not work. For Reference Look up: (Confederate States Of America)

(S)wine said...

Just a simple thought here: "personal responsibility" as mentioned by Velociman up above, actually extends to everyone and everything. When we realize that we're all connected, then we might have a start to something good.

Erin O'Brien said...

You nailed it, Alex.

This is not Obama's test to fail or pass, it's ours--yours, mine, and Kim Crawford's as well.

People who are out of work do not want help. They want an honest job.

garrett said...

This is really important. This is a note to folks arguing that it's "not their job" to pay taxes to support people who need help.

There is a MUCH better argument to make your point than that. And it is simply this:


The government can NOT, absolutely and demonstrably can NOT accomplish the goals of curing social ills.

Never has, and never will.

The war on poverty is and has been an abject failure.

This is a great tragedy of democracy, and especially in the U.S. since the "New Deal."

Politicians seduce voters with impossible promises ("creating jobs" and "ending poverty" and so on). The seduction is successful -- the politicians get elected -- but the promises are impossible to keep and so the programs fail.

At great HUMAN and economic cost.


Anyway, I'd recommend making the argument that "it doesn't work" instead of the argument that it's not fair for the government to make you pay taxes for their social programs because making the "it doesn't work" argument should stop people like our friends here in this set of comments from suggesting that you lack compassion.

P.S. It is ALSO theft, for one set of people - the government - to force people to give up their property - taxpayers - so that the government can give it to other people - tax recipients, but for the reasons noted above, that's not the best argument, in my view.

Stick with "it doesn't work" and do your best to win that argument instead.

Not HUH? Uh-Huh! said...

So you would rather see people homeless and starving on the streets, right? That should help with the ecomomy. We will definitely be hiring more Police!

What can we do? Doing nothing and Deregulation didn't work.

Billy Buck Beale said...

This is Billy Buck Beale and you are listening to station WLTH, the right radio for right-thinking Americans!

A special treat for you folks today--We're simulcasting on Erin O'Brien's blog! And let me say I am shocked, offended, and just a bit sickened by the socialistic, communistic, bolshevistic, syndicalistic, Islamofascistic, and Unamericanistic pinko red (but not red state) propaganda being spewed forth by this porno hippy chick and her brainwashed fellow travelers!

Of course, private property is sacred! Of course, private property is sacrosanct! Of course, private property is soveriegn! Let me tell you, whenever a bird, butterfly, bat, or Goodyear blimp
flies over my property I pick up my Uzi and do my humble best to blow them suckers right out of the sky!

After all, they're trespassing!

This has been Billy Buck Beale of WLTH radio, the right station for right-thinking Americans! God bless, goodby, and good riddence!

Erin O'Brien said...

Hello all.

Your hostess is speechless.

Harry Finch said...

Are there no prisons?

And the Union workhouses?

The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?

If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

It's not my business. It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly.

-from the Words & Wisdom of Mr. Ebenezar Scrooge

Erin O'Brien said...

The power of fear amazes me.

garrett said...

Responding to "Not Huh? Uh-Huh" up above ...

First, I did intend to include the following truths in my earlier comment: I care VERY MUCH about the homeless and other people in desperate circumstances. That's exactly why I labeled the current situation where we look to the government to "help" a "tragedy" (because it doesn't work, all it does is make the problem worse and also create all this division between people about how it ought to be done and whether it ought to be done and all that noise).

Also, and this is, again, very important:

America has not had anything even approximately resembling a "free market" or "deregulation" since at least the 1930s and probably since at least 1913 (when the Federal Reserve was founded).

Any politician or economist (or whoever) that says the current economic tragedy is the result of a failure of the "free market" is either ignorant or lying.

If you think otherwise, take a moment and try to imagine any activity you undertake that is not influenced in some way by the federal government. I can't think of anything on my end...

In other words, we ain't "free" these days (and neither is the "market"), and we haven't been for a mighty long time.

At The Retired Army Guy said...

"Waterboarding is torture," Holder said earlier Monday, in a speech to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. "My Justice Department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it," he said.

Until, of course, the next terrorist attack happens on our soil. Then Obama and his merry band of "we're above it all" men will have to revisit their policies in very hard, illiberal terms. What will they do then? It is a difficult, moral, and ethical dilemma. Do they do whatever needs to be done, however distasteful it might be, to protect American lives? Or do they cowtow to the ACLU and others, risking more lives. If it's me, I say do what we need to do, and twice on Sunday. Yes, a shitty thing, but I don't think there's an alternative.


Not HUH? Uh-Huh! said...


The fact is, beginning in 2001, our former president with the help of an all Republican congress, eliminated the safeguards put in place after the great depression.

Eight Years later...


Torture is wrong! Under any circumstance! Our country and the world, in the past, has tried, convicted and executed people for torture.

We are Americans, we don't torture!
There is a little item called the Geneva Convention. All civilized countries abide by it.

Erin O'Brien said...


I've been harping about what you just said forEVER. But even I have to admit, although it took decades to dismantle the Glass Steagall act, it was Clinton that signed off on its final demise.

But make no mistake, although there were some blue dots among them, it was the Republicans and the bank lobbies that took apart every safeguard our lawmakers put into place to ensure the Great Depression would never happen again, which is why I STILL want to chew Hank Paulson's dick off.

Erin O'Brien said...


The word is hubris.

Not HUH? Uh-Huh! said...

Thank you for the clarification, Erin. I stand corrected.

Another for Al and Torture:

Every expert, military or otherwise, has stated time and time again. Torture does not work. Information received using torture is unreliable!!!

garrett said...

It doesn't matter whether it was Bush 41, Clinton, or Bush 43.

All those guys are Establishment politicians. (And I'm not trying to be confrontational when I say this, I promise, just honest: so is Obama. Goldmans Sachs was his largest campaign contributor, for example.)

Establishment politicians look after the special interests that got them their gig -- bankers.

And the way they do it is with the Federal Reserve system. The Federal Reserve system is the real evil in all this. And the Federal Reserve was created by the banks for the banks.

The politicians are NOT the friend of us ordinary folks.

Whatever your tax bracket.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Not Huh, Uh Huh,

OK, let's assume for the moment that torture doesn't work. What is the alternative? Do you have one? I suspect not. Then what do you do? Hope that out of the kindness of their hearts that they offer up information on the next planned terrorist attacks? Promise radical Muslim extremists all the falafel and shwarma they can eat if they'd just let us know where the next attack will occur and when?

Is the information obtained under torture unreliable? Perhaps. I've not seen any study or information out there that says it's any more unreliable than that obtained under other circumstances. Sure, John McCain and others who suffered terribly in the hands of the North Vietnamese espouse this view, but you have to remember that the key is not that you don't talk - McCain and others will tell you that everyone has their breaking point. The key rather is not to give them anything of use. Any former POW will tell you that is what they tried their best to do to within their ability to do so.

Again, until you or anyone else can suggest not only an alternative but one that will work, I believe that the methods of interrogation used by our government should be commensurate to what we're trying to prevent, e.g., another terrorist act on our soil.

As T.R. Fehrenbach noted in his book, This Kind of War (the book was about Korea, and subtitled "A Study in Unpreparedness"), war is a hard an illiberal business. It takes hard, illiberal men and women to prosecute it using what most in a liberal society would term brutal, abhorrent, etc., take your pick. The conventional logic that a liberal society (and I'm not referring to Republican or Democrat here, merely what most would consider a decent, normal society) embraces doesn't apply within the context of war. There are no prizes for second place; not everyone is a winner; those who prosecute war to its fullest, terrible extent usually come out as winners.

More importantly, those who have the will to win (see the North Vietnamese) will endure any hardship for however long to achieve their goals. The foe we're facing has learned these lessons, and trust me, they will stop at nothing to win. But if we continue to think that we can negotiate with the enemy we face (like Obama negotiating with the Taliban - that's like anyone the Nazis considered untermensch negotiating with Hitler), that we can reason with him, we will, I submit, surely lose.

You note that most civilized countries abide by the Geneva Conventions. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda and the Taliban don't. Until we wake up and figure out, truly figure out the threat we face, the debate over what needs to be done and how we do it will continue. In the meantime, more Americans and innocents around the world will lose their lives. They will lose them due to the misguided and uninformed views of amateurs with no experience in how to defeat an enemy, the same one whose ultimate goal is to eradicate the U.S. and anyone else who opposes them from the face of the earth.


Erin O'Brien said...

Is the information obtained under torture unreliable? Perhaps. I've not seen any study or information out there that says it's any more unreliable than that obtained under other circumstances.

So, why use torture again?

On war, that brings me back to the damn oil. If we never went over there and fucked around because of the damn oil--and I'm talking way way back whenever we first started going over there and fucking around because of the damn oil--they wouldn't give a damn about us.

Not HUH? Uh-Huh! said...

The alternative is we don't torture! It is useless! It doesn't work! It is immoral!

If we don't hold ourselves to a higher standard, then we are no different than those we oppose.

I am not trying to just be arguementative, I just believe in the principles this country is supposed to stand for. Nuff said!

garrett said...

Erin is absolutely right - my view - in her last post in this thread. Woot!!

So is "Not Huh? Uh-Huh!"

Al, your "ends justify the means" argument is wrong. Plus because blowback is real, the "ends" don't even accomplish the means, but instead make the opposite more likely.

I'm also not trying to be argumentative, and I'm also advocating a position in this post (and my others in this thread) entirely consistent with the principles on which the U.S.A. was founded.

Kirk Jusko said...

All those nuclear weapons we've got don't seem to be helping us much in the War on Terror.

For that matter, they don't seem to be helping Pakistan, India, Israel, Britian, etc, in their own individual wars on terror.

Since they're not much help, maybe we should think about cutting some of those.

If nothing else, we could balance the budget.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

I'll answer folks individually.


I would like to think that you'd agree that until we develop an alternative to fossil fuels as a primary source of energy (something I think we need to do, most tick, BTW), a free flow of oil is in not only our national interest but that of most of the world, no? The Chinese in particular would go belly up without it, as would Europe and a lot of other places.

Second, the first Gulf War was not about oil per se - it was about allowing Saddam Hussein to control almost all of it. You'll note that when it was over, we came home very quickly, did not occupy Iraq or Kuwait. If it was about oil and our unfettered access to it, we'd still be in Kuwait (the second war is another matter, and one I won't address here). And they don't give a damn about us anyway, until someone like Hussein invades their country and they need our help - I was there, trust me on that one.

So why use torture again, as you say? Again, offer me an alternative that has even the remotest prospect of succeeding, and I'll stipulate the point. Until such time that you do, my position remains as stated above.

Not Huh! Uh Huh!,

Apparently you didn't read my response. Again, wars are not won by playing fair all the time. It is a dirty, nasty, miserable business (I know from personal experience). This being said, the American military, particularly in the information age has a reputation for remarkable restraint vis a vis our adversaries (with some exceptions as we all know, but they are not the norm - they arethe exception - 99.9% of our men and women in uniform honorable, decently and well in very trying circumstances). But the people we are up against neither appreciate this restraint or understand it. In fact, many of them look at it as weakness. It is the very fact that we do hold ourselves to a higher standard that makes us look weak in their eyes.

Of course we try to uphold the very principles upon which this country was founded. But extraordinary circumstances, unfortunately, call for extraordinary responses and solutions. It's not what we as a people would wish for, but there's no escaping it as much as we'd like to. These people are not going away - no amount of being nice, treating them like they're at Club Med, etc. is going to persuade them to see our point of view. We are infidels, decadent, the enemy of everything they stand for. As I've said, they're not stopping until they achieve their goals or die trying. Once again, if you have a better idea for obtaining the information required to prevent terrorist attacks, I'm all ears. Until then, my position remains as stated above.


I couldn't disagree with you more. The goal of interrogation is to obtain information that will give one an advantage against one's enemies. If we are able to prevent the death, say, of 3000 Americans who did nothing wrong other than to show up for work on a September morning in 2001, isn't it worth it? I've noted that it is a moral and ethical dilemma, and not one to be taken lightly. But in the absence of an alternative, what else can we do? Do we let 3000 people die so we can say, "we're morally superior to these guys," or do we do what we have to to protect our fellow citizens? Everyone here knows how I feel about it, and I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I will say that it is a difficult decision to make for those responsible to make it, regardless of party affiliation.


Not HUH? Uh-Huh! said...


I respect and thank you for your service to our country. Because of men and women such as yourself, I can sit in my home and spout my beliefs. I agree to disagree.

You are right I would not want to be the one who has to make that decision!

garrett said...

Al - OK. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Al The Retired Army Guy said...


Now back to your regularly scheduled politically charged discussion ... ;-)


VideoDude said...

Isn't it funny the party that calls itself the party of "God", doesn't believe in basic human rights.

And all the "Godless" liberals are for them...hmmmm!

I agree with the Libs. Torture under any circumstance, for any reason, anytime, anywhere is WRONG!

You can't have moral beliefs and then turn them off when it is convenient. That is called Hypocrosy!

The standard should not be to judge ourselves by our enemies, but by our own moral beliefs.

I respect anyone who has served in our military, but there is a difference between fighting on a battle field and torturing a helpless, defenseless prisoner.

There is no alternative, there is no compromise.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Isn't it funny the party that calls itself the party of "God", doesn't believe in basic human rights.

And all the "Godless" liberals are for them...hmmmm!

I agree with the Libs. Torture under any circumstance, for any reason, anytime, anywhere is WRONG!

You can't have moral beliefs and then turn them off when it is convenient. That is called Hypocrosy!

The standard should not be to judge ourselves by our enemies, but by our own moral beliefs.

I respect anyone who has served in our military, but there is a difference between fighting on a battle field and torturing a helpless, defenseless prisoner.

There is no alternative, there is no compromise."

Video Dude,

Sorry, you're wrong. The Republican party doesn't call itself the "party of God," though Hamas does. If you don't believe me, visit I've searched the site, and have yet find any reference to Republicans referring to their party as the "party of God." If you can find one, please post it.

Everyone has "moral beliefs," such as they are. We'd all like all of our wars to be clean, easy, and casualty free affairs where everyone marches down Fifth Avenue to a ticker tape parade, you know, where everyone involved fights fairly according to an agreed set of rules. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different. If you've ever fought in a war, you'd know this. It isn't fair. The other guy doesn't care about your morals. His whole goal is to kill you. Period. To many of our enemies, the ends indeed justify the means. This is the hard reality I personally believe most Americans are not willing to accept.

There is no alternative? OK, so I guess we just allow the bad guys to hand us our ass then, right? This is, IMHO, the alternative if we do nothing.

Compromise? Not with the folks we're facing. Trust me.


VideoDude said...

You're right, war is messy and bloody.

Torture is not war and vise versa. I am not going to insult your intelligence by quoting from the dictionary, but you need to look up the difference between the two. While your at it, re-read the U.S. Bill Of Rights, U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention.

You either believe in human rights for all at all times or you don't. You can't just selective decide to follow your morals only when it is convenient.

My morals are mine and I don't use my enemies standards for my own. If, Hamas, the Taliban or Al-Qeada think torture is okay, than that is between them and their God.

And it may not be in writing, but many times I have heard a Republican refer to the Democrats as "Godless" and "immoral".

I have said this many different ways. Let me try it one more time.

TORTURE IS WRONG! TORTURE IS IMMORAL! TRUE AMERICANS DO NOT TORTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We can never hope to defeat our enemies, if we are no better than them.

I am done for awhile. I am tired of beating my head against a brick wall.

VideoDude said...

When I said compromise, I meant we cannot compromise our morals...EVER!!!!!!!!!!

Al The Retired Guy said...

Video Dude,

I have read the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, am well versed with the Geneva Convention after 20 years in our Army. The 8th Amendment to the Constitution ensures that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." I guess this is what you're talking about. Only problem is this applies to U.S. citizens, not prisoners of war, enemy combatants, etc. So I looked at the Geneva Convention. From Article 17

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

You'll note the use of the term "prisoner of war." As far as I know, those at GTMO and elsewhere are termed "enemy combatants." I also found this:

Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

The enemy we face doesn't have a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance," nor do they conduct "their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

In fairness, Al Qaeda and others could use the convention and argue just the opposite. The only problem is that they are not a signatory to the convention (they are not a nation state as much as they may purport to assert this). The rules don't apply to them, and they pretty much do any horrible thing they want.

In our case, we've argued that they are not an "armed force" that most nation states would recognize as one. Therefore they are not recognized as POWs per se, and the rules here don't necessarily apply.

I guess at the end of the day I'm saying that our war against terror requires us to do things that go against the very fiber of what it means to be an American. It requires this if we truly wish to win. The enemy we face is far different from the one we faced in World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Sure, those enemies had their "moments" of brutality (some would argue all their moments were brutal). But the threat we face is like no other we've ever faced.

Basically, I would summarize it like this: To win against this enemy, we have three options when figuring out what to do. These choices are shitty, shittier, and shittiest. The only issue is figuring out the level of shitty.

That's it for me on this issue. Folks here know well where I stand.


VideoDude said...

I promised myself I was done with this.

Al, I am sorry, your point is mute.

So, we have a "WAR ON TERROR", but when we catch the "soldiers" from the other side they are not "Prisoners Of War" but "Enemy Combatants". Sounds like Bush\Cheney semantics to me. Makes me wonder if this term was used to circumvent the Geneva Convention.

Although, my arguements were off, your right. My point was: We are a counrty who is supposed to believe in human rights for everyone at all times. You can keep posting your "facts" from now until the end of the time. TORTURE IS WRONG! TORTURE IS IMMORAL! Notice, I no longer state torture doesn't work. That doesn't matter either way to me.

Once again, I don't give a damn what the terrorists do or how they run their lives. If we adopt the procedures of the enemy, then we are no better than them! I judge my morals by myself and my friends, not my enemies.

AMERCIANS DON'T TORTURE!!!!!!!! Readm the Bible!!!! Humans don't torture other humans!! Ask yourself this: "What Would Jesus Do?"

We are both repeating ouselves now. I am willing at this point to agree to disagree. You are not going to change my mind and I am not going to change yours.

I'm Done!