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Mitt Swings for First, Steals Second

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The first debate is now recent history and we all get the pleasure of picking it apart piece by piece. There are lessons to be learned from the Denver debate for both sides and their supporters and we won’t really get to see if they are taken to heart until the next round (although we can predict Biden and Ryan were taking their notes as well). Yet, until the second debate comes, let’s talk about what we saw and didn’t see.

Coming into this most people already gave in to the fact we weren’t going to hear anything new or any truly solid information from either candidate. Over the years the debates have devolved into long commercial-free political ads for the two major parties, but that doesn’t mean the debates have no effect. The effect, especially in today’s instantaneous and continuing 24-hour news cycle, is the pundits and prognosticators run wild with second-by-second emotional reactions from viewers and handpicked focus groups. What we really get from this is not what people learn about policy choices or views of government growth and responsibility, but whether or not they felt emotionally connected to the candidate and how “presidential” they looked.

cc licensed, credit to Donkey Hotey

With that in mind, there are really two different outcomes to the first debate: Mitt won, Obama let Mitt win.

Through the looking glass of emotional reaction, body language and personality, Mitt swung for the fences and landed a solid first base hit. He came off as more confident, more secure and more on top of his facts. That’s why we see a lot of the initial reactions skewing towards him. Yet, there is the second way of viewing the debate, through what the candidates actually said and weighing that against reality. This gives a slightly different outcome.

Mitt lied. He lied his pants off and Obama failed to accurately and clearly call him on it.

Let’s talk about the big numbers that got thrown around, like the 5-trillion dollar tax cut that Romney says he is absolutely not in favor of. Obama went back to it over and over again, maybe once too many, but he was trying to hammer home that this was exactly what Romney has been campaigning on for the past eighteen months. Romney categorically denied that is the shape of his plan and said the tax cuts he proposes will be fully paid for by closing loopholes and ending deductions by the wealthy.

That all sounds nice when spoken from behind the podium, but when the fact checkers (you remember those…the people Romney’s campaign said they wouldn’t be run by?) looked into his claims the morning after the debate, they found Obama was indeed correct. The president mentioned that there are nowhere near enough loopholes and deductions to come even close to equaling out the amount of tax cuts Romney proposes. Those numbers have been looked over and over again by economists and they prove the president right.

Romney also tossed out a 90 billion dollar amount that Obama supposedly spent in one year on green energy handouts, which he followed up with the seemingly crushing factoid that almost half of those businesses have now gone bankrupt. That would be a crushing blow, if it were even close to true.

The 90 billion in question was actually part of the stimulus plan and was spread out over three years, not one. It also covered a lot more than just green energy loans, like a ton went to clean coal (which Romney supposedly is hugely in favor of) and another large amount went to nuclear waste cleanup (what a terrible way to spend money, right?). Roughly a third was actually designated for green energy startups which according to the folks who looked into it actually are only reporting a bankruptcy rate of four percent (possibly up to eight percent if counted in a certain fashion, but far, far from 50 percent). When his campaign was challenged on that this morning, they already began walking that back, saying Romney went off script and was incorrect.

This is partially to blame for Obama’s performance (and please pay attention to the “partially”). The president likely came ready to debate Romney on the viability and intelligence of the policy plans he’s been touting from the campaign trail for the last year-and-a-half, but when Romney hit the stage and ran quickly to the center, denying pretty much every program and campaign promise up to this point, Obama seemingly had no idea how to react.

As for him, Obama quizzically stayed away from huge attack lines, like the infamous 47 percent video and the widely disproven welfare reform lie Romney has been spouting for weeks on end. There were some huge openings the president didn’t take and that left many of his supporters scratching their heads. Maybe he didn’t want to come off too aggressive or maybe he just wanted to see what Romney was going to hit the stage with, either way, his plan (or lack thereof) made him come off as weaker and oddly disconnected.

To many this was Obama’s chance to knock Romney out of the race for good, but it felt like the president’s team is taking a different track. For Romney, this was his chance to prove himself on the presidential stage and show a more confident version of the man we’ve seen fumble along the trail. No matter the factual basis for much of what he said, he succeeded in that task and that’s why he gets to wear the sash, Winner of Round One.

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About Luke Goldstein

A writer, movie junkie and political nerd. Basically anything that tells a good story is enthralling to me.
  • Clav

    Nice piece, Luke.

    I do have one small bone to pick with you, though. At one point, you say Obama “…let Mitt win” as one of the two different outcomes for this debate; the other being “Mitt won.”

    Had Obama actually been on point, been working instead of appearing to be disoriented and confused through much of the program, I might agree with you. But it seems to me that by “Obama let Mitt win,” you were trying to say that Obama defaulted to Mitt, rather than he actually made a conscious decision to let Mitt take home the laurels.

    I love your title! The best I’ve seen in a while.

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    Hi Clav,

    First off, thanks for the kudos on the title. I felt really good about that one. It sometimes amazes me how much the title of a post stresses me out.

    As for Obama letting Mitt win, I felt it was an option after watching the debate, maybe fitting into the President’s affinity for playing “the long game”. It was possible that he came in just wanting to see where Mitt was going to attack from, letting him shoot as many arrows as he could in night one so there was nothing left for the next two to really grow on.

    But, as the days have gone by I think the evidence and responses even from the President himself shows that he just wasn’t on his game in any real fashion. I expect the next debate to be different since Obama will likely come in much stronger in order to regain some of his lost dignity. Round two will be much harder for Mitt I believe.

  • Zingzing

    Actually, the title is impossible. You could stretch an apparent single into a double, but it wouldn’t be a stolen base.

  • Zingzing

    Correct me if I’m wrong… But that would take two separate plays, or two separate players…

    Anyway. Obama was probably flabbergasted by romney’s ridiculous lies and impossible promises. Maybe he was trying to give him enough rope and Romney somehow kept taking it.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    I’m with zing. Title doesn’t make sense.

  • Zingzing

    Maybe the title’s existence in the face of its impossibility is a comment upon how the left is feeling following that Romney victory. Ugh…

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Romney being so out of touch, maybe Luke meant that Romney ran directly to 2nd base without going to 1st first, then proudly patted his own back for syealing it?

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    ahem… stealing it

  • http://www.lukegoldstein.com Luke Goldstein

    In truth, zingzing is correct, the title in absolute baseball terms doesn’t work, which gives away the fact I don’t watch very much baseball. What I was trying to go for was I wanted to give credit to Romney for doing whatever intensive prep work he did to come out on that stage and be so confident. He deserves his fair share for not bumbling around as he has in so many previous occasions. Yet, once that credit is given (him making it to first) I felt his victory lap for how great he did that night was largely based on the complete mistruths he whipped out minute after minute. By refusing to actually debate the facts, he stole the attention and limelight, but didn’t really earn it, henceforth, stealing second,

    Like I said, I don’t watch much baseball. I wonder if I could have done a football one instead. “Obama fumbles, but Mitt gets penalty for excessive celebration”.

  • Leroy

    Romney was out of control, telling lie after lie. Thinkprogress counted 27 lies in 38 minutes. Maybe Obama just let him run on knowing that he was taking enough rope to hang himself, which he did. There’s no way anyone could vote for Romney after that display of deceit and dishonesty. Unless, of course, they are as deceitful as Romney and are willing to parrot Romney for political reasons.

    I’m not surprised that the rightist MSM has failed to point out Romneys lies, this should unmask the radical politics that have overtaken the commercial and public news and TV sources, beholden as they are to the riches of their owners.

    But what I found surprising and infinitely interesting is the blanket of news manipulation that settled over the internet. As I went searching for the truth about the mythical 90 billion of green handouts that Romney ascribed to Obama, I found every search engine smothered with repetitions of Romneys lie, told with delectation by rightist posters. Hundreds of followon posts and articles. So extensive that it reeks of pre-planned conspiracy.

    Of course the $90 billion scandal doesn’t pass the sanity test because republicans control the House, where all money bills must start. And if you know where to look you can bypass the search engines, which have become totally corrupt, whether by intention of Yahoo, Google, etc., or just by clever manipulation of the proclivities of search engines by SEO experts.

  • http://www.rosedigitalmarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I didn’t really understand the baseball thing anyway, but took the headline to imply that Romney tried to win the debate but by lying through his teeth and coming across as totally insincere actually lost it, as the poll bump Obama has had since the debate seems to confirm…

  • Leroy

    Romney is a methodical, intentional liar. He can’t claim he made a misstatement or a poor choice of words. Here are the repetitions of the lie Romney told about the mythical $90 billion to Green Energy:

    CNN Transcript


    ROMNEY: And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.
    ….
    But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1.

    22:22:05: ROMNEY: Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts. All right, I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and — and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on (inaudible) to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there.

    But you make a very good point, which is that the place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into — into green jobs. And I — look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.

    And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.

    To me, it looks like Romneys lies are pathological. I’m not a psychologist, but I was once married to a pathological liar.

    Electing a liar like that would be a disaster for the USA because of the extreme ends such people must go to in order to prove themselves.

  • Clavos El Buey

    Thinkprogress counted 27 lies in 38 minutes

    Only 27?? My,my Thinkprogress is slippping; one would think that, with their far liberal take on everything (it’s in their name — oh, sorry! “Liberal” isn’t the same as “progressive.” Ask any prog), they could have the reached the lie-a-minute threshold with any Republican; we all know the Republicans even lie about what they had for breakfast.

    Thinkprogress? Bwahahahaha!

  • Clavos El Buey

    zing and EB:

    You’re right about the title of course. As one who thinks sports are the modern version of bread and circuses, (but less entertaining — the lions always upped the ante), I should learn to continue ignoring everything about sports, as I have all my life.

    Mea culpa

  • Dr Dreadful

    I should learn to continue ignoring everything about sports, as I have all my life.

    Hmm. I seem to remember seeing a photo of you at a baseball game recently, Clav.

    Then again, I have observed that 90% of the crowd at a baseball game does indeed fastidiously ignore the proceedings on the field.

    And then of course there are the boats. Sailing is a sport.

    :-p

  • zingzing

    sport is an amazing thing. it brings people together (schools, cities, even nations, the whole world at times) and gives them something to argue about where, at least most of the time, it’s all in good fun. plus, it’s good for you (unless you get a concussion). you missed out, clavos. and i can’t believe someone who complains of bread and circuses would sell yachts to people… certainly that would be a bit hypocritical.

  • Clavos El Buey

    Hmm. I seem to remember seeing a photo of you at a baseball game recently, Clav.

    Then again, I have observed that 90% of the crowd at a baseball game does indeed fastidiously ignore the proceedings on the field.

    I was dragged there, though I was curious to see the new, “state of the art retracting dome” stadium, if only because once again, public money built a place to do business for a multi millionaire. The “new’ stadium? Boring — no lions, no christians used as bait.

    Sailing is a sport

    When racing, yes. Otherwise, it’s a leisure activity.

    I don’t race. I don’t even watch events such as the America’s Cup; they bear no relation to what I do.

  • Clavos El Buey

    i can’t believe someone who complains of bread and circuses would sell yachts to people… certainly that would be a bit hypocritical.

    Huh?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    Speaking of the America’s Cup, my wife and I were just celebrating our 20th in San Francisco, and they were having some of the preliminary runs for the Cup while we were on a tour boat ride (it was Fleet Week there) – and watching the competitors was a definite treat. The last I saw of it, the U.S. Oracle boat was behind the Italian Prada boat (there were two of each), but there was one in front flying one of the Scandinavian flags. It’s really something watching how fast those boats can go just on wind power.

    Two other notes. There was a furniture store we saw that made me feel old – it said “We sell 20th century furniture”. Grrrr. And there was a bum on the sidewalk wanting handouts – his cardboard sign said “I saved a bunch by switching to Geico”. I gave him a couple of dollars for creativity.

    That, and we walked the Golden Gate bridge. When we got to the south end, the Blue Angels flew directly overhead in formation…so I just had to tell the wife that yes, I arranged it just that way for our anniversary. It made for a really memorable trip!

  • Dr Dreadful

    The America’s Cup is going on again? It was in San Diego – can’t have been more than about 10 minutes ago. I remember it well because I made the mistake of deciding to take a detour round by the marina.

  • Zingzing

    Clavos: “Huh?”

    Ignorance? If you consider sport to be a superficial means of amusement, what then are yachts? Just because they’re rich boy toys doesn’t mean it’s any different. And if sailing is an acceptable “leisure” activity (I get seasick too much for that to be true for me), what’s wrong with sport… For the vast majority of us, it’s all about the fun, whether we’re watching or playing. That said, I recently joined an amateur soccer league, and playing goal was pretty damn stressful, to be honest. Got scored on by a girl. I shouldn’t have felt humiliated, but human psychology is a messed up thing. It didn’t help that she celebrated like she had just won the world cup.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zing –

    Don’t feel bad. I remember my ship pulling in to Perth and about a dozen of us happened upon a girl who was playing chess in a park…with about a dozen chessboards. You see, she was part of the Australian Junior National Chess Team (or something like that), and she took on all twelve of us at the same time, walking from board to board for each move…and proceeded to beat the living snot out of all of us.

  • Clavos El Buey

    My “huh?” had to do with your comment about selling yachts being hypocritical.

    Nobody I know considers taking their boat out for a weekend or afternoon cruise as “sport.” Races are another matter, but I don’t hang around with racers, so can’t vouch for them.

    And finally, there is no practical reason for owning a yacht. We all need shelter in which to live. Most of us buy a relatively modest suburban house; a few who are rich — really rich (Hollywood stars often fit in this group) buy a house that’s 20 or 30 thousand square feet. No one needs such a house, but everyone needs some kind of a house, so at least a slight case can be made for “I need a house,” because we all do.

    But a yacht? A yacht is one of a VERY few things one can buy that has no practical use whatever: there is NO reason you MUST have it; it serves no useful purpose, and unlike clothing, shelter and food, we can all get along just fine without one.

    If the thing is so utterly unnecessary and ultimately useless, how can it possibly be hypocritical to sell it? Hypocrisy of what???

    Merriam Webster Online says:

    Definition of HYPOCRISY

    1
    : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

    I have feigned nothing in my declaration of my total disinterest in sports — nothing. And I don’t see how my selling of yachts in any way compromises my declaration of that disinterest.

  • Zingzing

    So you are disinterested in bread and circus because you’re too busy providing it. You’ll note I didn’t say “sports” in that sentence. (it was just a little jab, don’t waste too much of your time getting all indignified… after all, sites such as this are just bread and circuses.)

  • Clavos El Buey

    So you are disinterested in bread and circus because you’re too busy providing it

    I didn’t say that, but whatever, zing.

    Your envy of the well off is laughable, zing; you should get a life.

  • zingzing

    “I didn’t say that, but whatever, zing.”

    i don’t think you realized what you were saying… but that was the point.

    “Your envy of the well off is laughable, zing; you should get a life.”

    your malice is unfortunate, clavos; you should calm down. seriously.

    (you sneer at the the great unwashed stupid sports fans, and i’m the one who needs to “get a life”? maybe you should get a clue. i’m not saying you have to like sports or anything, but your tone was pretty dismissive… not that that’s unusual, as you prove again with #25.)

  • Clavos El Buey

    your malice is unfortunate, clavos…

    Malice??? You wear your heart on your sleeve, zing. For years, you’ve given off indications of your dislike and envy of moneyed people. In fairness I have to say you’re not unique in that regard; it’s an attitude that’s almost universal among the libs/progs.

    you should calm down. seriously

    Funny. My wife thinks I’m too calm — uncaring even, she thinks.

    “I think she knows me better than you, zing,” Clavos said calmly but coldly.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    dislike and envy of moneyed people…it’s an attitude that’s almost universal among the libs/progs.

    No, Clav, that’s not it. We don’t mind people being wildly successful – after all, how many liberals and progressives disliked Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, not to mention most of quite-moneyed Hollywood?

    What you’re not getting is that you’re seeing a function not of envy, but more of empathy. When we see those who are successful but who do not look down upon the less fortunate in disdain or disgust, we have no problem with them at all. However, when someone who is very wealthy looks down his nose at us and makes assumptions that it’s “all our own fault” that we’re not rich like them, we give the same disdain in return.

    It’s like the old saying – you get what you give. When someone is rich but still treats Joe Everyman as an equal, he gets no grief from us. However, when a rich man says “middle income is about $250K a year” and “don’t make loans for college, just get the money from your parents”, we know that person’s very much out of touch with the 99%, much less the 47%. Remember, Romney protested for the Vietnam War, but sent none of his sons to do military service. Joe Biden’s son is still on active duty.

    btw, I know that ’empathy’ is not the right word, but I can’t think of a better word to denote reciprocation of attitude at the moment. Any suggestions?

  • Clavos El Buey

    after all, how many liberals and progressives disliked Steve Jobs or Bill Gates,

    Both Libs/Progs.

    after all, how many liberals and progressives disliked…most of quite-moneyed Hollywood?

    Again. Libs/Progs — about 98-99 percent.

    I (mostly) don’t dislike my own kind, either, Glenn.

    [Now if I can just figger out who are “my kind…” Nah.]

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Are you claiming that liberals and progressives as a whole disliked Gates and Steve Jobs?

    AND you’re claiming that ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of liberals and progressives dislike ‘quite-moneyed Hollywood’?

    If you really believe these, then can you prove it with anything more than by cherry-picking and poisoning the well?

    I don’t think you can. I think you’re just saying it because to allow otherwise would show the glaring error in your ‘disdain’ claim in #27. You and I have had our rhetorical knock-down-drag-outs, but these claims are beyond the pale and utterly false.

  • Clavos El Buey

    Are you claiming that liberals and progressives as a whole disliked Gates and Steve Jobs?

    AND you’re claiming that ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of liberals and progressives dislike ‘quite-moneyed Hollywood’?

    Damn, Glenn, you sure do misinterpret a lot!!!

    Just the opposite, Glenn. I’m saying that Libs/Progs like those people! Why? Because they are Libs/Progs too!!

    In short: Gates and Jobs both are/were libs/progs, and:

    98-99 percent of the “quite-moneyed Hollywood” are also libs/progs.

    As such, they are in somewhat of a minority among the wealthy; in my work (and the wealthy I deal with are almost exclusively from the corporate segment of wealthy society, with a smattering of “Old Money” thrown in) my clients are close to 100 percent conservative, and I think that as a group, wealthy people tend to lean more to the right than the left.

    Y con eso tienes mis dos centavos.

  • Zingzing

    Clavos, I don’t dislike rich people simply because they’re rich. I dislike rich assholes simply because they’re assholes. I dislike non-rich assholes for the same reason. You ever see me lash out at a rich person simply for being rich? Or was it something they said or some attitude they displayed? I think you know the answer.

    You even get at it in your response to Glenn. I like some rich people, I dislike others. It’s got way more to do with the things they say and do than the size of their bank account, although money is a corrupting influence in some people, as you must admit. The lack of money can also be corrupting.

    If you’re taking my criticism of you selling yachts while poo-pooing the distractions of the hoi polloi as a criticism of rich people, or yachts, well, you missed the point. You’re neck and wallet deep in the bread and circuses. Maybe you think you’re pulling the wool over or something, but it seems either hypocritical or arrogant… Say you don’t particularly like sports, fine, but the editorial on the rest of us wasn’t necessary, was it?

    And yeah, malice. Maybe your wife does know you better than I, but I know three things: you pity those who like sports as fools for being suckered by such distractions, you sell (and enjoy) similar distractions for a living (and personal leisure), and you made a silly assumption about me and handed out a fourth grade insult to grind it in. Also, I’ve known you longer than your current wife, and trust me when I tell you that you’re not always placid and unfeeling… There’s a human soul in there underneath all that reptile.

  • Zingzing

    And now a simple “thank you for putting me in my place, zing,” would be much appreciated. Even if you finished that with “of course, my place is on this big fuck off yacht.”

  • Zingzing

    And then wish me a good time when I travel down to dc this weekend to attend the redskins-Vikings game. I will have a very good time indeed if Black Jesus busts his hellfire up the gut of the tackles for a scamper to Calvary hill (the end zone) once or twice. Never mind that a ticket to an NFL game costs about as much as a trip to disneyworld these days.

  • Clavos El Buey

    There’s a human soul in there underneath all that reptile.

    Nope, I don’t have a soul; I don’t believe they exist.

    And yachting is decidedly not a “bread and circuses” activity: those who engage in it are not being entertained by the emperor to keep them out of trouble and off his back. The one is low brow, the other anything but.

    But you know that.

  • Zingzing

    Take it to mean “a certain amount of humanity” then.

    As for your second point, what people do for leisure is up to them. I find sport to be good for the body and mind, and friendly competition is much preferable to the type of competition our cut-throat society usually offers. It’s also nice for drinking. I see your point as far as “the emporer” goes, but let’s not confuse status symbols for anything but slavery of an equally insidious nature. Yachts are like backyard swimming pools… Something you throw money in only to find yourself scrubbing green gunk out. And really, i see very little in yachting that is high brow (other than the price tag), but I see plenty of artistry and beauty and drama and human achievement in sport.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Me – after all, how many liberals and progressives disliked Steve Jobs or Bill Gates,

    You – Both Libs/Progs.

    Me – after all, how many liberals and progressives disliked…most of quite-moneyed Hollywood?

    You – Again. Libs/Progs — about 98-99 percent.

    You mean you really don’t see how easily the above can be misinterpreted? In the first comparison, with the word “both”, where is the delineation between “both” applying to Gates and Jobs instead of Libs and Dems…because ‘both’ denotes ‘two’, and both of those are groups of two.

    In the second comparison, where’s any indication whatsoever that your “98-99 percent” applied to Hollywood and not to the Libs/Dems? There is none.

    Furthermore, in both cases, I asked the question “HOW MANY”…and you gave answers that – if interpreted as I did – directly answered the question, whereas if the answers are interpreted as you meant, do not directly answer the question, but instead use a somewhat oblique approach in order to claim that my questions did not apply.

    The only indication in your post that support what you say you meant was “I (mostly) don’t dislike my own kind, either, Glenn.“, but even that doesn’t make a great deal of sense unless the reader ALREADY understands what you referred to in the previous answers.

    In other words, it’s as I’ve told my sons on several occasions – it doesn’t matter how right you believe yourself to be if you cannot properly communicate your statements in a way that others could be reasonably expected to understand.

    That said, your reply that Gates, Jobs, and Hollywood are Libs/Dems and that’s why they don’t face the disdain of other Libs/Dems…simply doesn’t work. Why? Because your claim that Libs/Dems have an almost universal dislike and envy of wealthy people is a broad-brush statement that in no way allowed for the many liberals who are quite wealthy.

    You use your clientele as an example – but guess what? Most liberals and Dems don’t know them and have never heard of them…but all of us have certainly heard of Gates and Buffet and most of the Hollywood stars. If we had that ‘almost universal disdain and envy’ of the wealthy that you claim, then we’d hate them, too.

    And one last thing, Clav – that ‘disdain and envy’, even if your claim was true, is hardly limited to one side. I’ve got perhaps twenty conservative friends, but precisely three liberal friends (my wife, my youngest son, and one other person)…and while I see just about as much envy by my conservatives as I see among liberals (in other words, NOT MUCH), I see lots and lots of disdain by my conservative friends.

    So please be careful with that broad brush, especially when it sticks as much to your side as to the other side.

  • Clavos El Buey

    Read the MSM, Glenn, The disdain and dislike of the rich is palpable. There is a campaign against them the likes of which has never before occurred in my lifetime.

    Even the president is disdainful of the rich; hell, he’s the point man in the war on the rich — as he assiduously courts them for donations. He’s good at it, too; he’s collected more plata than any other president in history. Kind of ironic in light of his ineptitude and laziness in the performance of his job. But he collects money like a magnet, and (most of the time) campaigns like a well-oiled machine. However, his performance inside the oval office? What little he’s there instead of on the golf course? Not so much.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Gee, Clav – feeling threatened, are we? Has it ever occurred to you that the “war on the rich” which is worse than it’s ever been in your lifetime is because the income disparity is worse than it’s ever been in your lifetime?

    Has it ever occurred to you that throughout ALL history, probably the single greatest contributor to social unrest is income disparity?

    Did you even take notice when the top 1% got ninety-three percent of all income growth in 2009-2010? And you’re defending them? Oh, good grief, man! The greater the income disparity, the greater the potential for social unrest. Think back to the French Revolution.

    Clav, it’s as I pointed out in this article – (1) in the macroeconomic view, the vast majority of taxes are NOT wasted, but is cycled through the economy in any number of ways, through any number of businesses and industries…in fact, the only money that is truly wasted is that which is sent out of the country (like to the Caymans or to Switzerland) or when value is lost in the stock market (or physically destroyed); and (2) just like conservatives say, taxes ARE wealth distribution, and that is a very good thing since most of the really big companies out there (except for in the financial sector) got their start by someone in the lower- or middle-class doing something in their garage or in a brick-and-mortar storefront. Once this is understood, Clavos, it becomes easy to understand that the rich are NOT the job creators – it’s the middle- and lower-classes who take a leap of faith.

    How you can think that it’s right that we charge only 15% taxes on capital gains on somebody’s interest earned while they’re sitting on the beach, while we charge 35% on someone’s earnings when they’re physically busting their butt each day, I don’t know – because regardless of how they’re earned, they’re ALL EARNINGS and therefore taxable!

    Clavos, you don’t need every penny you get, and neither do I. But neither you nor I are poor. The poor, on the other hand, DO need every penny they get. That in a nutshell is why it’s wrong to coddle the oh-so-vilified rich and look down your nose with disdain at those who are not so fortunate.

  • Clavos El Buey

    How you can think that it’s right that we charge only 15% taxes on capital gains on somebody’s interest earned while they’re sitting on the beach, while we charge 35% on someone’s earnings when they’re physically busting their butt each day, I don’t know

    Because it’s already been taxed at that 35% rate, when it was earned.

    And if the gov were to attempt to tax unearned income at that or a higher rate, the natural reaction of the owner of those funds would be to bury them in a Mason jar in their backyard, where they would do no one any good. By keeping the taxes on unearned income down at the 15% level, the government encourages the owner of those funds to invest them, an action which puts the money back in circulation, helps industry create more jobs, and on and on. Tax those already taxed funds heavily, and they will simply be taken out of circulation; the government will receive NO revenue from them, and no one else will receive any benefit from them either — no purchases of capital goods, no construction of new, expanded facilities, no new jobs — nothing.

    And these days, it’s not just the rich who own stock in public corporations, millions and millions of middle class workers do as well, through their IRAs and 401Ks; if the taxes on unearned income are raised, all of that investment (and consequent stimulus of the economy) will disappear as well.

  • Clavos El Buey

    That in a nutshell is why it’s wrong to coddle the oh-so-vilified rich and look down your nose with disdain at those who are not so fortunate.

    Damn, Glenn, how can you say that with a straight face? The “poor” in this country, thanks to the generosity and caring of the rest of our society, are showered with enough “entitlements” from the government so as to allow them to enjoy a better life than the working middle classes of most (NOT all — don’t get your hackles up) other countries in the world.

    You know the Philippines well: my home is a country in Latin America, and I travel the rest of that region frequently. Both of us know from first hand experience and observation, that that is true, and it is true in whole continents elsewhere as well. I know hard-working “middle class” people in a number of LatAm countries whose lifestyle and living conditions are much inferior to those of many a ghetto dweller in this country.

  • Igor

    @40 – Clavos El Buey: is specious in many ways. It’s just a repitition of old tired weak rightest arguments.

    “Because it’s already been taxed …” this is so obviously bogus that I’m surprised anyone recites it.

    Every dollar that flows in the economy has already been taxed many times. By the time a dollar is paid to the oil field laborer it has already been discounted by his employer for profits that are discounted by taxes, just as every dollar that has flowed in from sales has been multiply taxed.

    If we were to truly adopt a system that said a dollar could only be taxed once we’d never be able to budge.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Because it’s already been taxed at that 35% rate, when it was earned.

    WRONG. It’s NOT being taxed a second time. That is a BOGUS argument. What’s being taxed is the INTEREST…and all interest, just like any paycheck, is STILL earnings and subject to taxation.

    And look at Igor’s observation:

    If we were to truly adopt a system that said a dollar could only be taxed once we’d never be able to budge.

    Truer words were never said by any economist.

    And let’s get to this comment:

    Damn, Glenn, how can you say that with a straight face? The “poor” in this country, thanks to the generosity and caring of the rest of our society, are showered with enough “entitlements” from the government so as to allow them to enjoy a better life than the working middle classes of most (NOT all — don’t get your hackles up) other countries in the world.

    Don’t compare the life of the poor in the U.S. to most of the rest of the world – compare them to the rest of the first-world nations – apples to apples. Compared to the poor in the rest of the first-world nations, being poor in America truly sucks, especially since the phrase ‘getting paid a living wage’ seems to be a dirty word among conservatives, never mind that Adam Smith himself said that every job should pay enough for a man to feed, clothe, and house his family and send his children to school. Today, Adam Smith would be tarred and feathered and condemned as a communist socialist fascist Nazi by American conservatives.

  • Clavos El Buey

    You know, I just realized something Glenn. Based on the way you try to shoot down with your tired old argument, “compared to other first world nations,” anything I bring up as being good about America, it’s finally dawned on me that you think America is a pretty lousy country too — just for different reasons.

    You say,

    Compared to the poor in the rest of the first-world nations, being poor in America truly sucks…

    Aside from the fact that they have to live in America and amongst Americans, how does being poor in America “suck,” by comparison?

    According to The Encyclopedia of the Nations, this sounds remarkably like the life of the poor in America:

    Despite being a wealthy country, Italy suffers from serious inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources. These dramatic statistics stand out: in 1998, 2,558,000 families (11.8 percent of the total) lived in poverty, which is equal to 7,423,000 individuals. The figure was even higher at the end of the 1980s, when families living in poverty represented 14 percent of the population. Once again, the contrast between north and south could not be clearer, with over 65 percent of impoverished families living in southern regions. The gap between the rich north and the impoverished south continues to increase, as does the depth of poverty itself. Of those classified as poor, elderly people living on a simple state pension make up 53 percent of households living in poverty. Their numbers, however, are steadily decreasing, to be overtaken by the working poor. This phenomenon, which looks likely to become a permanent feature of Italian society, affects couples with one or more children, where only one parent works, is under 40 years old, and has few qualifications and, thus, low earning power.

    As a result of Italy’s generous welfare state, the great majority of poor families do not live in extremes of squalor or deprivation. Essential needs provided by the state include basic health care and education, clean water supplies, and housing. Moreover, extensive family networks help those living in poverty to feel less isolated and are sometimes a source of financial help. However, it is extremely difficult for families in poverty to improve their circumstances, and over 70 percent of households classified as poor in 1994 remained poor 2 years later.

    The fact is, Glenn, despite all the hand wringing and wailing by you Progs, the poor in America are well off by comparison to much of the rest of the world — except, of course, for their having to live amongst Americans in America.

    And according to this NYT article, things aren’t all that good in France and other EU nations, either:

    While direct comparisons are difficult because of different standards, the Labor Department estimated that 7 percent of single adult workers in the United States earned less than the poverty threshold in 2009 of $10,830 in 2009, up from 5.1 percent in 2006.

    France fares better than most European countries, at 6.6 percent, but perhaps nowhere is the phenomenon more startling. While the country seems to exude prosperity, the number of working poor is up from 6.1 percent in 2006, and experts predict it will grow.

    In France, half the nation’s workers earn less than $25,000.

    The median monthly paycheck is $2,199, 26 percent above the average for the entire European Union. But the high cost of living and the difficulty many people face securing affordable housing (home prices have surged 110 percent in the last decade, and most rentals require large advance deposits), leaves a growing number out in the cold.

    So the poor are suffering everywhere; in some places less than others, including America. On a worldwide basis, their suffering is growing, owing to the increasing weakening of the world’s economies, particularly those based on a socialism model. Ironic, isn’t it that the very system that aims to help them the most is the root cause of their deteriorating status?

  • Clavos El Buey

    this is so obviously bogus that I’m surprised anyone recites it

    Well, as you’ve repeatedly observed in the past Igor, I’m stupid.

    But, I worked long and hard to get that way, and I’m not giving it up until they pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

    However, I can spell (I never wasted so much as one day in a public school):

    “It’s just a repitition [repetition] of old tired weak rightest [rightist] arguments.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    Your reference about Italy said:

    However, it is extremely difficult for families in poverty to improve their circumstances, and over 70 percent of households classified as poor in 1994 remained poor 2 years later.

    So let me get this straight – in ONLY two years, nearly thirty percent of poor households were no longer poor? And you’re using this as proof that Italy’s really bad off???? I’m not sure if realize that such would be a heck of a talking point for ANY incumbent president: “In only two years almost thirty percent of our poor households were no longer in poverty!”

    I can hear you cussing right now. Gotta think these statistics through, y’know?

    Now let’s compare those Italian stats to this:

    At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) – a country famous for its class constraints.

    Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

    Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

    Note that this study quotes time frames a heck of a lot longer than two years!

    Now go to this page – the darker the color, the LESS the income inequality…and the lighter the color, the greater the income inequality. America’s color is yellow, worse off than every other first-world nation on the planet.

    Clav, I agree with you that most of our poor are not that bad off – most of our poor have a roof over their heads, not to mention. You and I have both seen firsthand what real poverty is, and just how bad it can get. But that is not a reason to say that our poor “have it good enough already” – for two reasons. One, as I stated above, the greater the income equality, the greater the risk of social unrest – it’s the same in any nation in history. Second, the simple fact that all non-OPEC first-world nations are socialized democracies should in and of itself tell you that generally speaking, the better off the middle- and lower-classes are, the better off the nation will be as a whole.

    And the ability of the rich to get ever richer has ZERO positive impact on the growth of the nation as a whole…for if that were indeed the case, then the nations with the greatest income inequality – and NOT the socialized democracies – would be the first-world nations of the modern world.

  • Clavos El Buey

    in ONLY two years, nearly thirty percent of poor households were no longer poor?

    A good point, and it brings to mind how badly America handles that problem, when you consider that the percentage of people living below the poverty line in these Untidy States of America has fluctuated no more than a few points above and below 15% since shortly after the Great Society program was put in place; and that, during much of that time, this was the richest country in history???

    that is not a reason to say that our poor “have it good enough already”

    I never said that, Glenn. I never even came close to saying that; I don’t even think it. What I do think is we make some stupid mistakes with our entitlement programs, including not demanding work in return for payments, not making repeat single mothers submit to education regarding all the issues surrounding the problem, not permitting poor youngsters to drop out of school, means testing — especially whites (more whites are below the poverty line than any of the other races in this country; I believe more than a few of them are gaming the system), etc.

    And the ability of the rich to get ever richer has ZERO positive impact on the growth of the nation as a whole

    Just not true, Glenn. I’m not rich, Glenn, but as I’m still working (and will until the Grim Reaper says, “Stop!”), my nest egg continues to grow, albeit modestly. As it grows, I invest it in companies likely to grow and whose stock is likely to increase in value. I didn’t invent that; it’s what the rich do, and those investments often (though not always, but more often than not) are used by well-run companies to grow, and that growth benefits many entities: the shareholders, of course, the executives who receive performance bonuses and promotions, the employees, who receive pay raises and in many cases, bonuses as well as promotions, people looking for work, because expansion of a company almost always results in a need for more staffing, even the goddamn government gets a piece of the action: increased revenue means increased taxes.

    True, not all companies are well run, and some are downright criminal, but if the majority weren’t straight arrow, this country would not have enjoyed the growth it has experienced throughout its history.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Just not true, Glenn.

    Again, if protecting the ability of the rich to get even richer were as much of a factor as you seem to think it is, then the nations with the greatest income inequality, with the greatest gaps between rich and poor, would be the first-world nations, whereas those nations with the smallest gaps would be the third-world nations.

    The economic realities of the nations all over the world disprove your belief.

    What I do think is we make some stupid mistakes with our entitlement programs,

    If work is offered, you’d find that most people on welfare who are able to work would gladly take it! But there are those who are unable to work – take the single mother with multiple kids – are you going to make her work, too? If so, then who’s going to provide care and supervision for the kids while she’s at work, especially if she has not other family or reliable friends to count on?

    As far as “making single mothers submit to education”, that’s also really, really simplistic. If you’ll check, the red states are the ones with the highest teenage pregnancy rates – they’re also the ones that resist having sex ed in school, providing contraception, ensuring availability to abortion, et cetera. Really, Clav, it’s MUCH cheaper for the taxpayer to provide all of those socialist problems than it is to have such high teenage pregnancy rates with all the concomitant problems. That’s not to say it’s not a problem in blue states, but we’ve less of a problem than red states.

    That, and you don’t keep a single mother from having more kids by showing her “all the issues surrounding the problem” – hell, she’s LIVING the problem and knows it better than you do! The best way to help is by providing her education that can help her work and make money while providing day care for her kids. After all, which really costs more – to just pay welfare while she struggles to feed her kids, or to get her some education so she can work and help pay for the day care for her kids (and get her some badly needed self-esteem while she’s at it)?

    “Not permitting poor youngsters to drop out of school” – again, this is more of a problem in the solidly red-state South than the rest of the nation. Don’t get me wrong – I do wish we could have truant officers prowling the streets, but where can you find a school district willing to pay for truant officers when they’re struggling just to pay teachers? You’ve got to be willing to pay premium prices for premium results. That, and not too many truant officers would be eager to go to the inner cities (or out to the boondocks, for that matter) to enforce attendance – too many guns.

    I don’t have much of a problem with means testing, but again, it’s not so simple – every situation is different.

    You also said:

    A good point, and it brings to mind how badly America handles that problem, when you consider that the percentage of people living below the poverty line in these Untidy States of America has fluctuated no more than a few points above and below 15% since shortly after the Great Society program was put in place; and that, during much of that time, this was the richest country in history???

    Are you sure it’s because of our oh-so-evil social safety net? I ask because of this list of nations by percentage living in poverty. France’s is at 6.2%. Switzerland is at 6.9. There are some wild swings and some of the data is old, but the list makes it fairly obvious that generally speaking, socialized democracies have lower rates of poverty.

  • Clavos El Buey

    Glen,

    I don’t even know where to begin. As usual, you completely missed the points I raised, couched your “responses” within the framework of your own preconceptions, and blithely moved on to the next misconception. The only thing missing was your usual erroneous assertion that you had refuted all my points.

    Interestingly, you seem to have contradicted yourself within that one comment however. In your second paragraph you say, “But there are those who are unable to work – take the single mother with multiple kids – are you going to make her work, too? If so, then who’s going to provide care and supervision for the kids while she’s at work, especially if she has not [sic] other family or reliable friends to count on?” And you then turn around two paragraphs later and write, “After all, which really costs more – to just pay welfare while she struggles to feed her kids, or to get her some education so she can work and help pay for the day care for her kids (and get her some badly needed self-esteem while she’s at it)?”

    So which is it? Should the single mother with a litter be made to work and the state provide her day care or should we simply continue with the present system because it’s cheaper the way it is now? At no point was I advocating taking the less expensive route; for one thing, i think that if welfare recipients are required to work, we will, before long, find their numbers diminishing significantly.

    But your worst miss was at the end. My point was not that the “safety net” (talk about euphemisms!) is the reason our poverty level is so low or even that the net is the reason for the unchanging level of poverty as a percentage of the total population. On the contrary, the “safety net” has done nothing either to lower the rate of incidence of poverty, nor to help government aid recipients to escape their plight; it simply maintains the status quo — unendingly, and without providing anything more than bare subsistence level financial aid. And and no one within the government even acknowledges the fact that the “safety net” does nothing to reduce poverty in any way.

  • Clavos El Buey

    And another thing, Glenn: I’m getting tired of your constant barrage of cheap shots which attempt to put words in my mouth. An example from your last “comment:”

    “Are you sure it’s because of our oh-so-evil social safety net?”

    I have never characterized aid to the poor as evil. Ineffective, yes. Evil no.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    On the contrary, the “safety net” has done nothing either to lower the rate of incidence of poverty, nor to help government aid recipients to escape their plight; it simply maintains the status quo — unendingly, and without providing anything more than bare subsistence level financial aid. And and no one within the government even acknowledges the fact that the “safety net” does nothing to reduce poverty in any way.

    That’s why I posted links to the poverty rates of other nations. France – which has a much more comprehensive social safety net – has a poverty rate less than half our own…and France is not alone in that respect. The link I gave didn’t list the rates in the Scandinavian nations, so here:

    Norway – 4.5%
    Sweden – 7%

    I couldn’t find one for Finland, but I did find a list of nations by level of child poverty…and of course the more socialized nations had much lower levels of child poverty.

    The point, Clav, is that America does not have nearly as great a level of socialization as does the rest of the non-OPEC First World – Republicans and conservatives have fought tooth-and-nail against socialization for decades, remember? It seems that when a conservative hears the world ‘socialism’, all they can think of is the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”, never mind that the USSR was about as much a socialist republic as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a democratic republic.

    Most of those nations with greater levels of socialism have lower rates of poverty than America does, and almost ALL of those nations have much lower levels of child poverty.

    While this does not conclusively prove that socialized democracy is better for the overall economy of a nation, this does strongly indicate that its track record of economic success for the people of that nation is at least as good as what America’s peculiar brand of capitalism – and the people are generally healthier, too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @50

    In his defense, Clav, you surely must realize that Glenn has no inkling as to how offensive he comes across in the written medium. And I’m certain he writes not like he speaks, for he writes mostly to impress himself, not his communicants which are his intellectual equals. Otherwise, he surely wouldn’t have made it to his ripe age for having been stubbed to death time and again in the local tavern or some dark alley.

    A symptom, I say, of a self-educated man who has never been exposed to an academic environment.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Congrats on winning Monday’s “Pot Calling the Kettle ‘Black'” Award, Roger.