In Which I Write a Cranky Letter to Cathleen Decker of the LA Times

Subject: Yes, but why does it work?
Date: September 14, 2008 10:31:50 AM PDT

As your article (“Why do politicians fudge the truth? Because it works”) correctly points out, politicians lie because it helps them win elections. What your article fails to do, though, is to pose, and answer, the obvious followup question: Why does it work? And how is it that a politician can do what the McCain campaign has been doing for the last week and a half (that is, lie blatantly and repeatedly, even continuing to use the same lies after they have been exposed as such) without paying a price for it in terms of public support?

In part, they can do it because of lazy, irresponsible journalism that presents a false equivalence between two things that are not equal. The premise of your piece is that both the McCain campaign and the Obama campaign are engaged in what is essentially the same sort of dishonesty. That is objectively, verifiably false. The McCain campaign is being much more dishonest than the Obama campaign. In fact, the McCain campaign is being more dishonest than any presidential campaign I’ve seen over the past 30 years. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has been setting new standards for truthfulness. (I will grant you, given the nature of our political campaigns, that that is not a very high bar. But Obama is clearing it. Just as McCain’s tactics represent a new low.)

I don’t know why your article does such a poor job of portraying this reality. I don’t know if it is the result of incompetence and inexperience, or of a cynical decision-making process. I don’t know if you, as the reporter, were primarily to blame, or if the fault lies more with your editors. I do know this, however: As professional journalists in general, and newspaper reporters in particular, struggle to maintain their relevance in the marketplace of ideas, they can’t abandon their primary professional obligation: The accurate reporting of objective truth. Your article fails that test, and fails it badly.

John Callender


Subject: Re: Yes, but why does it work?
Date: September 14, 2008 11:53:19 AM PDT

The article includes 18 paragraphs on McCain misstatements, to 2 for Obama. Twice it says McCain has been more egregious. I don’t think the full story suggests an equivalence.
Thank you for reading and conversing.
Cathleen Decker
State Politics Editor
Los Angeles Times
Cathleen. Decker@latimes. Com

Subject: Re: Yes, but why does it work?
Date: September 14, 2008 12:59:50 PM PDT

On Sep 14, 2008, at 11:53 AM, Decker, Cathleen wrote:

> The article includes 18 paragraphs on McCain misstatements,
> to 2 for Obama. Twice it says McCain has been more egregious.
> I don’t think the full story suggests an equivalence.

Where does the article say McCain has been more egregious? I can see only one suggestion of that, not two, and the statement is made only indirectly:

‘Political innocents may wonder why a candidate like McCain, whose campaign is premised on what he calls “straight talk” — and to a lesser extent Obama — have veered from the flat truth.’

It’s not immediately clear what that “and to a lesser extent Obama” is referring to. Are you saying that Obama’s campaign has “veered from the flat truth” to a lesser extent than McCain’s? Or that Obama’s campaign is premised on “straight talk” to a lesser extent than McCain’s?

Again, as I stated in my email, this stops short of unambiguously pointing out the objective reality: McCain’s campaign is setting a record for lies, stating outright falsehoods in official campaign advertising and stump speeches, and doing so repeatedly, even after the claims have been publicly and authoritatively debunked by unaffiliated third parties. Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign is guilty of the occasional assertion that, while factually true, could be suspected of creating a misleading impression in voters’ minds. Those two things simply aren’t the same, yet they are presented as such.

Taking the article’s first 6 graphs, I definitely see a suggestion of equivalence. While it’s true that nearly all the specific examples given in the full article are of McCain falsehoods, and that this might lead a reader who is bothering to keep score to the conclusion that McCain’s sins are worse, the article does not state that objective fact — which you clearly are aware of — in clear, unambiguous terms. Why not? That point is central to what your article is _about_. To fail to state it prominently and unambiguously amounts to a lie of omission.

The Obama campaign has actually done a decent job of adhering to the high-road promises he made early on about how he would conduct himself. He has done so even in the face of some low-road campaigning from the Clinton campaign during the primary, and has continued to do so in the face of McCain’s post-convention lies. Yet you characterize the situation like this:

‘Both major party candidates for president vowed to run a different kind of campaign, implicitly promising a break from the spin-fests that past contests had become. But the close race and the tumultuous media environment in which McCain and Obama now find themselves appear to have crushed those notions.’

Yes: the campaign has crushed those notions — but only because the McCain campaign has done the exact opposite of what it promised to do, while the Obama campaign has largely remained true to its promise. To characterize that as the fault of the “close race” and the “tumultuous media environment” is to go out of your way to avoid stating the simple truth: This has happened specifically because the McCain campaign has chosen to blatantly violate the norms of presidential candidate truth-telling (such as they are).

I encourage you to think carefully about the role your own work is playing in this process. The McCain campaign would like to mislead low-information voters by making charges it knows to be untrue, counting on reporters like you to let them off the hook, as you did in today’s article. You owe your readers more than that. You owe them the truth. When you fail to give it to them (as you failed today), you let all of us down.

John Callender

80 Responses to “In Which I Write a Cranky Letter to Cathleen Decker of the LA Times”

  1. shcb Says:

    I’m glad JBC posted this today. I was reading it early this morning and forgot to bookmark it. I usually don’t bother bookmarking editorials masquerading as news storied like this they are a dime a dozen, but this one was so egregious I thought I was reading the transcript of a John Stewart comedy skit. Now I have it bookmarked. I’m sure Brent Bozell’s group is going to have a heyday with this one. The poor woman had to be shaking her head with John’s emails, thinking “what else does he want us to do?” my favorite part was

    The intent of a factually challenged argument could be anything from trying to force an opponent to respond in anger — thus alienating voters — to just planting a seed to flourish in voters’ minds. As Jackson said, the McCain campaign has barraged voters with the notion that Obama would raise their taxes. Even though Obama has pledged not to raise taxes on all but the wealthiest Americans, polls show voters now believe McCain’s claims.

    So it is a lie if you say Barry is going to raise taxes (congress actually sets tax rates) if he is only going to raise taxes on someone else? Who is the someone else? Isn’t that what they said during the French Revolution? We’re not going to execute the smart and rich people, only the really, really smart and rich people. The article also seems to forget, dare I say lie, that Barry also wants to raise taxes on corporations, maybe more people listened to Fred Thompson and his taking money from the other side of the bucket story than the Times thought.

    Damn redneck hicks and their homespun humorous analogies.

    This is getting fun.

  2. enkidu Says:

    Barry. I like that!
    Makes him sound more wonder bread, gee aw shucks middlton USA.
    I hear the GOOPrs call McBush Johnny Mac!

    As to who exactly Barry is going to raise taxes on, I have a link (see below). But first I’d like to ask a question: who knows more about McBush’s plan to tax your health benefits from your employer? For the first time in US history? Giant multi-trillion dollar tax increase iirc (not sure if this is one year or multiple).

    Here is a great graphic I linked to originally from the Washington Post on the two tax plans. The most interesting part takes a bit of work. Bottom line, Obama plans to raise the taxes of the top 1% of incomes and give tax breaks to everyone else. The work comes in when you actually take the time to calculate the average income that the tax + or – is calculated from.

    4.4% tax break (the largest in his plan btw) -269,364
    now divide the -269k by 4.4%
    the average income in this category is
    $6,121,909 (call it $6 million)
    officially qualifying these folks as ‘rich’ as per McCain (he declared anyone making $5 million or more to be ‘rich’, a pittance, as he and his wife are worth 20x more than those filthy hexamillionaire trash).
    So, for folks with income (not net worth mind you) around $6,121,909 and up, we are going to give you another +$269,364 (pocket change I know, just 4.4% Johnny Mac?)

    who among the readers even makes $250k? yeah

    At the top 0.1% of American’s tax bracket, we are unfortunately going to have to ask you to give up a bit of the tax breaks you folks have received under George Dumbya Boosh. We can’t finance tax breaks with debt any longer. Not really sorry about that. Anyway. If you don’t like it please move to Khazakistan or Poland or some ultra-rightist country and see how things go there… what? No way? OK then, time to pony up, there is a war on (or haven’t you heard?)

    So from your $6 million+ income we are unfortunately going to have to ask for another 11.5% for right now, until we clean up Bush’s fuckups. Cheers!

    In the middle it gets pretty interesting. Both plans ‘promise’ a 2% tax cut for people making an average of $135,000 or so. Personally, my income has fallen under Bush, so i don’t make $135k any more. I’d so much rather go back to the Clinton years where my income soared and I could have cared less what I paid in taxes (heck they’ll go and do something wonderful with that money like invent the internet or something! DARPA, Al Gore, information super highway? remember?)

    Instead we have the worst god damn atrocity on American soil EVER, a bungled retaliation (Osama bin Who?), a completely counterproductive invasion of Some Other Mr Bad Guy’s nation, with a open ended occupation so that Dick Cheney’s pals can get even more mega-rich off oil that is $150 a barrel and up (it’ll crest over $200 if we strike Iran). Our debt is soaring, the economy groans under the incompetent mismanagement and kleptocracy that defines modern Republicanism (Dems, meh, not strikingly better really, but better). Amazingly, the campaign centers around lipstick and faux outrage, lies and blatant, repeated slime and calumny.

    Stand up, fight this flood of lies with the god-damned honest truth and don’t mince words or metaphors. These people SUCK at government. Why the bleep should we keep putting a drunk in charge of the liquor? Enough.

    I am sure rwnj will savage me for straying from the topic, so here is the punch line (if you couldn’t figure it out before, being a bear of very little brain and all). McCain has been lying his Depends off saying Obama is going to raise everyone’s taxes. It is a lie. Your campaign is based on blatant, easily disprovable lies, Johnny McBush. Enough. You lose on all the important issues except that you were a POW and picked a woman for your veep (and what a nightmare that one is, check out her church, her Seccesh hubby, her utter cluelessness, corruption trail and earmarked pork)

    Go get em Barry! I’ve got your wing.

    And jbc, excellent post! Please don’t let this go. Fight the false equivalence of he said she said: they are out and out slimeball, no honor, Rove style lying. Fight back with the unvarnished TRUTH!

    This post is full of win.

  3. shcb Says:

    That’s all well and good but how does that invalidate my point

  4. enkidu Says:

    Bottom line, Obama plans to raise the taxes of the top 1% of incomes and give tax breaks to everyone else.


  5. shcb Says:

    Except raising corporate taxes, which raises taxes on everyone, even people that don’t pay taxes. Even if what you say is true, and ignoring the rise in corporate taxes, Obama is still raising taxes, this means the McCain ad is correct and the Times knows it so it is they who are lying.

  6. enkidu Says:

    You don’t answer my question: please tell me more about McBush’s plan to tax healthcare benefits. Would you like to know Alan Greenspan’s opinion of the McBush tax plan? I am sure you don’t.

    I present facts and figures, you present spin and bullshit. Can this get any clearer? The Rs are not dealing with reality: the spin has piled up into a Category 5 shitstorm but all you can do is whine about taxes on corporations? It’s the economy stupid.

    These folks shouldn’t be trusted with a spork, much less 6000 thermonuclear weapons, our laws and the Constitution (which dumbya once yelled was ‘jes a gawdam piecea paper!’)

    Please show me where Obama is lying about taxes. Please. No Macho Mike bull, please, just facts and figures, real data instead of the slime and smears. Thanks.

    With the colossal debt, foreign wars of invasion and occupation, giveaways to the richest Americans – please, just look at the graphic I linked to, it sure tells you who McBush is looking out for, those making an average of $6 million and up – with all these fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt R total fuckups to fix, the next president (R or D) is going to have to raise some taxes just to service the mushrooming debt.

    The road ahead is as rough as it has ever been, but there are two clear choices. Obama will work to bring us together and craft some working compromises. Move us forward. Or McBush/Impalin for 4 more years of the disaster that has been Rethuglican rule.

    btw jbc, that Cathleen Decker piece is being highlighted on TPM right now. Good eye. Who knows maybe the one librl on TeeVee may make mention of it? It’ll be drown in all the financial news, but if we do not stand and fight for the truth, then are complicit in the R stupidity and corruption.


  7. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    It’s the literal truth vs. the actual meaning. I think it’s wrong to say McCain is lying about Obama raising taxes. What the issue is, is the McCain campaign is again, targeting the low info voter with the Obama will raise taxes message. No one wants to pay taxes, so its an effective message.

    What I would like to know is, is there a calculation done showing what Obama’s proposed corporate tax increase will mean in terms of the ‘raising taxes for everyone’ as the overall ‘hit’ to the individual’s pocketbook? Something like the graph from kos?

  8. knarlyknight Says:


    I doubt there is a clear analysis of that readily available to us. shcb, as usual, is using an exaggerated Republican talking point to score points and he has not sought out or thought about the subject exept very superficially.

    A 5% tax increase on corporations DOES NOT necessarily flow through to a 5% tax increase on the consumers. It can be anywhere between 0% and 5%, and probably averages out to less than 2.5% when all things are considered.

    Whether or not a corporate tax increase is absorbed by a corporation or passed on to consumers depends on a host of other factors.

    The simplest of these factors are (1) the degree to which the taxed corporations compete with others, others who are not subject to the tax rate increase at all or not subject to it to the same extent (e.g. importers, individual entrepreneurs, etc.) – those not subject to the tax increase become more competitive by keeping their prices static and the corporations subject to the tax increases then have the choice of raising prices and losing market share or finding ways to absorb the cost; (2) the degree to which consumers will switch their spending from the taxed corporations (e.g. Walmart) to alternative goods (e.g. instead of buying a $2500 massage chair that the chair manufacturer and retailer has just passed on a 5% tax increase by raising the sticker price, a smart consumer might find a perky massage student eager to practice her craft on an ongoing basis at a fraction of the cost – ergo the demand for massage chairs fall until the manfacturer and retailer face facts and suck up some of the tax increase by narrowing their profit margins and/or becoming more productive and/or other means such as switching from certified organic deerskin leather to regular cowhide.)

    It might sound smart to the uninformed to state authoritively that tax increases on corporations get passed along to consumers, but that is wrong wing thinking.

    The truth is that some of it may, and it does have negative effects on the corporations being taxed, but whether or not raising taxes on corporations is a good thing or not depends on the strength and composition of the economy and the profits being earned by the particular corporations to be taxed and the degree to which they hold a monopoly over consumer choices.

    If shcb’s other statements about the economy being strong and doing better and that free enterprise / the free market reigns supreme under Bush’s leadership, then an increase in corporate taxes should have little consequence to consumer price indices. As usual, the Republican (i.e. shcb) talking points don’t mesh well with reality.

    If the economy is weak and consumers have little choice in where they buy their goods and services, then corporate tax increases will be a risky choice unless they are very carefully targetted. As usual, the true Democratic policy positions are more complicated than can be easily set out in a campaign blurb.

  9. enkidu Says:

    Obama’s plan lowers taxes for the vast majority of Americans. 99% of American’s will see an income tax break of some sort. More accurately, something like 95% will be lower, about 4% no change and about 1% will have a tax increase. You can say it is mostly a lie then that Obama is going to raise everyone’s taxes?

    Income taxes matter to my family. Corporate taxes don’t matter to me. Corporations can either absorb the new taxes or try to pass them on (their competitor who didn’t raise their prices will get more business, so I would say Corporations passing on even half the tax increase would be an exaggeration – anyone who wants to googledive this is welcome to set me straight).

    “The elimination of the exclusion would generate $3.6 trillion over 10 years, according to the McCain campaign, and that money would pay for the tax credits.” suuuuure it will ;-)

    “Any way you cut it, if you make health benefits subject to taxation, that’s a tax increase,”

    Good post knarly, please note I am not ra ra ra-ing the fantastic job the dems are doing, as they seem just marginally better than the Rs. Obama is the first post-partisan candidate that seems to be trying to rise above the muck and lies and turn us back from the abyss. I only hope more Americans see the truth.

  10. shcb Says:

    You all make good points that deserve vigorous debate. The are irrelevant to my point however. Enky, McCain’s tax plan has no bearing on this discussion. Knarly, you are right raising taxes increases expense, not price. Jayson, of course these ads are targeted to the under informed voter, an informed voter made their decision on this election years ago.

    The point is that you have all conceded Obama will raise taxes, so the LA Times saying McCain saying Obama will raise taxes is in itself a lie, making JBC’s complaints that the Times didn’t go far enough when they obviously went way overboard rather silly.

  11. enkidu Says:

    I see, so a discussion of Obama’s tax plan means you can’t talk about McCain’s?
    You don’t set the rules of debate.

    McCain is at the very least exaggerating or telling half truths to be as charitable as I can. I think it is a lie, you will disagree.

    So your big bugaboos are a corporate tax increase, an estate tax break rollback and a capital gains tax increase from 15% to 20%? And Obama increasing the taxes of folks who have income (not assets) of over $6 a year… um who exactly is the elitist here?

    Hey how is the bushconomy going right now btw? Last week you were saying things are great. Reality has such a liberal bias, as every rwnj will tell you over and over and over.

  12. enkidu Says:

    that should be $6M or $6 million, not $6 (obviously)

  13. knarlyknight Says:

    Sorry shcb, you are flat out wrong. It was a good try to spin McCain’s lies the direction you want them to go, but the fact is you are backasswards wrong as usual.

    We’ve already reported on at least three other ads, in both Spanish and English, from Sen. John McCain’s campaign that distort his rival’s tax policy. The ads claim that, for example, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama would raise taxes “on the sale of your home” and that he has a “history of raising taxes” and that he wanted to raise taxes on “families” making just $42,000 a year.

    Claims like these have led us to say that McCain’s campaign is engaging in a “pattern of deceit” when it comes to describing Obama’s tax plan. This most recent ad fits right into the template.

    The above quote is the NICE stuff that had to say about McCain. Funny how the site is filled FULL of McCain’s campaign half-truth’s, lies, and deceipt and has only managed to find a couple of instances where Obama’s campaign has been misleading. My choice of words here are intentional, as it highlights jbc’s letter to Cathleen Decker:
    McCain’s campaign lies, half-truths, and deceipts are altogether on a different scale than anything that the Obama campaign can be accused of doing.

    Personally, I’d never vote for unabashedly dishonest people.

    For anyone not paying attention, this summarizes it all:

    “Sen. John McCain, with wife Cindy, right, told co-host Barbara Walters that Sarah Palin did not request “earmarks” as governor. In fact, she did request $198 million this year.”

    Two conclusions are possible: (1) McSame is a complete idiot (or senile) and not able to remember basic facts about his running mate. (2) McSame has no respect for truth and honesty and more to the point, his unabashed lying to the people makes it 100% clear that he has NO RESPECT FOR AMERICANS.


  14. knarlyknight Says:

    More to the point, from

    McCain’s new ad puts another stitch in what we’ve called his pattern of deceit on Obama’s tax plan. This one claims Obama and congressional Democrats plan to push forward “painful tax increases on working American families” and that they will bring about “years of deficits,” “no balanced budgets” and “billions in new government spending.”

    The ad is plain wrong about higher taxes on working families. In fact, Obama’s economic plan would produce a tax cut for the majority of American households, with middle-income earners benefiting most. As for “years of deficits,” exactly the same claim could be made about McCain’s program.

  15. knarlyknight Says:

    Also, don’t miss this part:

    the fact is both candidates’ economic plans would fail to bring an end to deficit spending, and by that measure, McCain’s is worse than Obama’s.

  16. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I was going to say something about the whole thing about lying in relation to the original post. If you look at the issue as being simplistic and binary, you can’t say saying ‘Obama will raise taxes’ is a lie. For this statement what you have is a fact fragment. Its part of a larger, more complicated truth, but when taken by itself, manages to achieve a context which is different from that the statement is implied in. The tax issue is actually a bad example of this though, a better one is Sarah Palin’s statement about the jet she had sold during her RNC speech. Palin says “I sold that jet.” “I put it on ebay.” Now a lot of people are accusing her of lying about selling the jet on ebay, which she can turn around and say ‘No, I never lied about that.’ which is the verbatim truth. The problem is though, this tactic is completely manipulative and disingenuous, we’re naturally lead to believe that she sold the jet on ebay. Both statements she made are true, when taken as separate utterances, but one establishes context for the other, a false context. Fortunately we have another term for this, which is bullshit. So if you want to apply specifics, sometimes the campaigns are lying, sometimes they’re just bullshitting us.

  17. knarlyknight Says:


    The original article jbc wrote about makes clear that in the eBay airplane story Palin was less than truthful but that McCain lied about it .

    McCain and Palin have emphasized her reformist credentials by saying she put the Alaska state plane for sale on EBay; McCain went so far as to say she sold it for a profit. Actually, the plane did not find a buyer on EBay and was later sold for a loss by a broker.

    You did do a nice job separating out binary fact fragments and distinguishing between bullshits and a lies. However, such splitting of hairs is unnecessary, read the link summaries and analysis to see McCain’s campaign’s clear pattern of deceipt and disrespect to Americans.

    Pointing out that this dishonesty to voters is really the ultimate in disrespect is like trying to get through to a battered spouse. He doesn’t really lie to me, it’s just a little bullshit, and when he takes my children and maims them in a foreign war, really it is for my own good… Makes one feel like screaning: “Wake the f*ck up!”

    At some point, American voters are going to have to say “ENOUGH!” and walk away from the abuse they have suffered at the hands of Rove, Bush, Cheney, McSame and Impalin. Tha alternative is a continued erosion of respect – both the respect of other countries and self respect – and a corresponding rise in both sympathy and self-pity.

  18. shcb Says:

    I think I’ve made my point on the taxes as well as I can. Let’s take a look at Jayson’s point. Every time a president gives a state of the union speech, or every time a candidate says he is going to do this or that, they usually can’t, congress has to pass almost every item a president says he is going to do. Are they lying? Well? Maybe a little, but if you understand the process you know what he has the power to do and what he doesn’t.

    Here is an example, Obama has said he will pay every college kid $4,000 in return for 100 hours of community service. That is 50 billion dollars per year forever, it is also 600,000 man years of labor. Now I don’t know if there is even that much volunteer time available, probably isn’t so of course certain classes will be eligible to be counted as community service so we will be paying these kids $40 per hour to attend classes that cost $40 an hour… you see where this is going, socialized college.

    At some point a congressman is going to stand up and say this is the biggest pork project ever, remember this is 200 time bigger than the bridge and it is every year forever. So if it gets defeated in congress provided it even finds a sponsor and makes it through committee. Did Obama lie when he said I will give these kids $4000? Well yes, but when you hear him say I will do this or that, he really means I will try and do this or that. Now that may not matter to the kid that was depending on that money when he voted for Obama, he may be crying in his beer that Obama lied but he didn’t, buyer beware.

  19. NorthernLite Says:

    Yeah, giving low-income kids a chance to go to college and be successful in life in exchange for giving back to their community is a really stupid idea.

    I’d much rather spend 120 billion dollars a year on a useless war.

  20. shcb Says:

    Obama’s program is for every kid, not low income, there are plenty of programs for low income kids including the Daniels fund that only provides the balance low income kids need after all other sources have been exhausted. They also help these kids find those other sources. All thanks to one really rich guy who was also a really nice guy, who owned a really big company, we miss him.

  21. NorthernLite Says:

    Obviously kids with well-off parents wouldn’t use the program as much.

    And the program you speak of doesn’t provide an opportunity for every single American kid who wants a shot at a better life. It’s a great program, but it doesn’t even come close to what Obama is proposing.

  22. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, you’re so wrong again that it is funny! How much longer are you going to continue this farce in support of Republican talking head fools?

    Yes, when a candidate makes a campaign promise to do something, the implied assumption is that they will propose the change in a Bill or whatever work their hardest towards ensuring that initiative has the support required to pass.

    However, does that mean such campaign promises are lies just like McSame saying that Palin listed her government plane on eBay and sold it for a profit when the fact is it was disposed of by other means at a loss? Of course not.

    And here is where you are so wrong it is funny. Does it mean that campaign promises are all lies, like your lie that Obama’s suggested program will PAY ALL KIDS (sic) to go to college in exchange for community service work, and that they will be paid $40/hr? Of course not.

    Here’s Barrack’s pledge:

    Make College More Affordable: Barack Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university. Recipients of this credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of public service a year.

    see “make college more affordable” at:

    So you are wrong. Again. It is not “paying kids to volunteer”.

    It is a tax credit, in other words instead of paying this money as tax, the maximum benefit of $4000 per kid (who does the 100 hours of service work) will go towards (offsetting) tuition costs. If tuition is less than $4000, the kid only receives a benefit up to the cost of tuition.

    Who will qualify, and who will be willing to do the 100 hours of community service?

    Certainly not ALL kids as you erroneously claim, I’d bet that 90% of the rich kids will not take this great opportunity and 95% of poor college kids will gratefully accept this bargain to direct their taxes directly towards their college tuition in exchange for helping their community through paid community service.

    If the $40 an hour gets you all upset because it is more than you earn, try to remember this: that the best opportunities many of these kids have received so far is to work a job for minimum wage (or to deal drugs and/or join gangs) and community service work does not include the time involved travelling to and from work, paid breaks, nor any employee benefits at all.

    Or for a little perspective, how much does your military now pay private contractors for work that used to be done by the army (hint: it is more than 4 times the wage of a army private – Blackwater Exec’s thank Cheney and Rummy!) or on a more global scale how does $40 / hr for a few thousand college compare to the costs of the biggest Socialist financial bailouts underway as part of YOUR reality after eight years of Bush’s Republican regime?

    A program cost to government of $40 / hr to college kids (by direct tax credit) will help offset wages in lower paying jobs, and is more certain to be an efficient means of redirecting the funds to where they are intended rather than an alternative program of providing the funding to community groups (because the funds could get eroded by the costs of administering the program.) So from the point of view of the community service providers they are gaining VOLUNTEERS because the service providers do not have to deal with employee salaries etc. -WIN and from the point of view of the kids, they are getting tax credits towards their tuition – WIN and from the point of view of government they have minimized governmnet program delivery costs, encouraged more community service work, and redistributed tax revenues from government coffers to support the education of some motivated and smart (to the extent that they qualify for college) kids who are otherwise at risk of being a liability rather than an asset to society and the economy -WIN WIN WIN WIN.

    The economy has drifted towards much lower paying service jobs over the past 25 years (try to keep up with the times) , so this boost while attending college may be just what is needed for qualifying kids.

  23. shcb Says:

    how the hell does your block quote differ from what i said!!!!!!!

  24. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Parallax view.

    shcb, I think you’re viewing this through the filter of ideology. knarly too probably. Reducing it to helping poor kids go to college, one one hand I think knarly is just looking at it like ‘hey, a tax credit, it’ll help some people get ahead’ you seem to be looking at it as the dreaded socialism.

    This is something I was talking about with ymatt a while back. As we’re right now witnessing financial failures that are verging on dragging us into a Second Great Depression. I’ve frequently wondered what exactly is so bad about socialism, or at least a socialist component to existing systems. I know we hated the USSR, but European style socialism isn’t Soviet style Communism by a longshot. We’re at a point where people are running out of places to turn for security except the government. We’re seeing the private sector fail over and over. Is socialism really anti-freedom? It’s not as though socialized medicine would just eradicate the Bill of Rights because socialist systems release a freedom-destroying particle or something… I feel like we’re hitting a point where people can’t stand on their own, even if they want to. Privatization and deregulation haven’t ended up making things better for the consumer, they’ve just made industry more predatory. We’re socializing failure right now as we speak, maybe we should think about socializing some success. Really you’re talking about paying for something with your labor, you’re just paying the government instead.

    You know, I’m all for individual philanthropy, but when you’re looking at people having to rely on the milk of human kindness, that’s not something you can count on, on a consistent basis.

  25. enkidu Says:

    rwnj – pay closer attention to modifiers like “most”

    I know you tighty righties are all OUTRAGED that Obama is forcing your precious snowflake to actually work (for $40 an hour? not bad!) and even worse working to help others?! What is the term you wingnuts keep using? “White slavery” (note – slavery is unpaid work) $40 sounds like it may be too generous, but I recall what being a starving student was like, so maybe it is a good deal to get some real work out of the slacker generation and help them plug in to communities and the way other people live. Broadens their horizons to help others (and don’t you love his assumption that we will be paying them $40 an hour to sit in certain – prolly damn librl! – classes)

    What I love is how OUTRAGED (see all those !!!1!!1!s?) rwnj is that Obama wants our populace to be highly educated (which btw correlates well with liberal views/voting/higher incomes) and competitive with the global workforce. I know you want ignorant morans who think the sun goes around the earth, noah’s ark was real and gwb is doing a great job, but reality just isn’t doesn’t jibe with rwnjobbery.

    You rwnjs fought Jim Webb’s new GI Bill (best $50 I ever gave to a campaign) tooth and nail but we won and you lost. Now all the GWoT veterans will benefit. God you rightwingnutjobs SUCK at governing.

  26. shcb Says:

    I give up!!!

  27. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I was just asking. I am not trying to pound on anyone here. It’s just a debate to me, none of it’s personal.

  28. knarlyknight Says:

    Jayson – thanks for the observations, your description of how I view it is mostly true; but I still want to answer shcb about the substantial ways that the quote differs from how he has been, uh, misrepresenting Obama’s plan.

    Enk – you made a mistake: it is not “rwnj” it is “wwnj” ;-)

    shcb, there are differences. Superficially it sounds the same, but as you envision how this would play out there are substantial differences. You also need to restrain yourself from envisioning a Soviet style inefficient socialist pork system. I’m sure there will be details in the program to prevent abuses where college kids (surplus to the needs of community service organizations) sit around waching the 100 hour run down so they can go collect thier tax credit. Even if that is not true,. really it is still inconsequential relative to the horrific Bush financial boondoggles with private military contractors and the like.

    Anyway, you asked for the differences so here they are:

    You said the program would pay all college kids $40 / hr. for volunteering.

    They are not paid $40/hr.

    They receive a tax credit in relation to tuition costs and subject to completion of 100 hours of community service work. If they do 85 hours of community service work they do not qualify for the program. In that case the tax credit is zero so obviously they are not being paid $40 / hr.

    The 100 hours of community service work is the minimum required to qualify, it is not a maximum, so if the community service work proves to be rewarding and they stay on beyond their required 100 hours community service, i.e. their introduction to community service, then the tax credit received will calculate out to a lower “hourly rate”.

    I think it is possible that many community service agencies will require agreements for more than 100 hours of work especially if substantial training is also required, and I would expect many college students would honor those agreements.

    Another point against your claim is that college kids with tuition below $4000 would receive a lesser amount.

    Also, you say it applies to all college kids. It does not apply to those who do not file income tax forms, nor does it apply to those who are unwilling to do the required 100 hours of community service work, plus there will be naturally occurring program limits. For example, in well-to-do college towns where the regional community service groups have all the help needed and can not use 100 hours of service from any more college kids. Under Obama’s plan, the unimaginable is possible: wait lists for available openings at community service organizations.

    It is “volunteering” (as you used the term in ridicule on another thread) ONLY from the perspective of the community service group, because they presumably only log the “volunteer” hours and do not have to do any “employee” type of financial administration (pay / holiday pay, health, dental coverage, pension, taxes withheld at source, etc.) From the college kids perspective, it is a service obligation to qualify for a government program.

    And Jayson’s comments are especially valid here, as this is the type of government program that has tangible long term benefits for a country.

  29. shcb Says:

    No matter how you guys spin this Obama wants to pay college kids way more than market rate for their labor, and call it volunteerism (community service, whatever).

    Jayson, I’ve been to Europe and Asia in the last year, I don’t want their lifestyle. Cradle to grave government subsidies may sound seductive, but it’s not for me. In Holland the guys told me the average Dutchman eats at a restaurant twice a year. My friend Jaap is a senior engineer like me, we are basically parallel, we both work for younger men that are both very sharp, he is a bit older than I am, he is 62. Jaap is at retirement age, but really doesn’t want to retire. The main reason is that for the last 30 years his only hot meal has been at the company cafeteria.

    We asked what the price of gas was and as close as we could convert it was about $12 per gallon when it was $3.00 here (China was just a bit lower maybe 2.85 at the same timeframe). When I asked Hans how they could afford to run the big tractors mowing weeds on the side of the road he said that diesel was about $3.00 per gallon, but property taxes on a car with a diesel engine more than made up the difference. Bart is my boss’ counterpart over there. He said taxes on his Land Rover were in the neighborhood of $6,000 per year since it is a politically incorrect car. I took him to Sears one day to buy some tools, he has a couple old WW II combat vehicles (American) and inch size tools are difficult to find. Mind you this was just a neighborhood Sears, he had never seen so many tools in one location in his life. Stores over there were cute and quaint, but didn’t have much selection.

    Socialism may be fine for Knarly, it may look good to you, but leave me out.

  30. knarlyknight Says:

    My, wasn’t that an intelligent post… (sarcasm) I think you’ve outdone yourself with denial and irrelevance this time shcb.

  31. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Asked and answered, I was just curious. I was also seriously just asking, not advocating a wholesale switch to a 100% socialist system either. At the same time though, we have to acknowledge that our current system isn’t doing at all well either.

  32. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, I see plenty of German and dutch tourists in Western Canada – getting off cruise ships to see some of our City, or skiiing in winter or taking guided horse / river rafting / other backpacking tours in the Rockies. From what they say, being a machinist in germany ain’t such a bad gig, neither is a city worker in Holland both also get more than 6 weeks holiday a year. You gas calculation is a little off, I think it was about $10 a gallon, but they don’t have to drive the same distances as we do and their transit is actually good. If their owning of a range rover is too expensive, by goodness they might have to drive a VW passat instead. Gee schucks. Also, these “socialists” actually can go out to restaraunts more than once or twice a year. Your posts and anecdotes are getting more farcical. See where you took this thread? What a joke.

    And I thought we were straying away from the topic at hand (i.e. the obvious deceipt of McCain’s campaign as set out in jbc’s post and clearly visible in the analysis at ) when we started to focus on Obama’s plan to make college more affordable by helping to cover only about a two-thirds of tuition costs only.

    What a joke. Enough of this Republican nightmare.

  33. shcb Says:


    You said earlier that private foundations and charities may not be there when you need them, how many thousands of words have been written here on this little site about the lack of response of FEMA during Katrina? In Obama’s plan Enky quoted that one half the cost of tuition will be available, that is what a fifth or a quarter the cost of school? How does that help that poor kid?

    Read up on the Daniels Fund, when they decided to institute this program they didn’t want to just pile more money out there, Bill was always an innovator and he was no different here. They found there were many under privileged kids that could get almost enough money to go to school through government and private aid but in many cases they fell just short enough that they couldn’t go, or scholarships were only for the first year, that type of thing. So all the money they spend goes just to fill that gap. Private institutions just do a better job.

    I started writing this before your last post Jason, to address your last post. I think it was good ole Winston Churchill that said Democracy wasn’t the best conceivable system, just the best possible system. I think capitalism is the same. I know you’re not espousing Swedish socialism, somewhere in between. If on a scale of 100 with Rand style capitalism being 0 and North Korea communism being 100 I would say America is about 30, Canada 40, Holland 45 or 50 and Sweden 70. I’m only talking economics here. I would like to see America about 25.

  34. knarlyknight Says:

    Hey shcb,

    Are you trying to make us laugh???

    First off, if N Korea is 100 then Sweden is below 50, Yes they are at least that different. Also, Sweden’s economic freedoms are similar to Holland’s and not really all that different from Canada’s. Sweden and Holland are a little less “Randy” than Canada, but we are influenced more and more by the USA.

    Second, Canada and the USA are waaaay closer than your wrong wing nut jobs have led you to believe, it’s sad from both your perspective and mine that this is so, but the facts are that our overall our economic freedoms are almost the same. Except I got health care with little choice about it and you can choose to go without! We might have some governmetmonopolies o deal with, but you guys have more criminals (think Enron) and idiots (think sub-prime lending). I’d say we’re slightly better off on that comparison.

    Third, who cares what you think, you are wrong about nearly everything. Here’s how a couple think tank studies rank your economic freedoms and other freedoms.

    Their conclusions are different than yours, and I’m anticipating further hilarious denials of reality and maybe even support from your wrong wing nut job buddies Leftbehind and Teacher Vet (my they’ve left you hahnging a long time lately, eh?) That’s for the better, on the insanity scale if Leftbehind is a 100 and JBC/ymatt are zeros, you fall in around the Sweden range.

  35. knarlyknight Says:

    “governmetmonopolies” ?

  36. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    On the shcb scale I’d like to see us at a 35. In concrete terms I’m in favor of a higher level or regulation than currently exists.

    For the FEMA example though, that isn’t the point I was trying to make. FEMA failed during Katrina because of political cronyism, the people running it didn’t have any idea what to actually do. This doesn’t equate government run=bad performance, privately run=good. If people heading the alphabet soup agencies actually had to know something about what they were doing to get the job, that kinda thing would happen less. That’s like saying since we didn’t do so hot in Vietnam we should abolish the armed forces and go with pmc’s instead.

    My point for the private charity institutions is that while I applaud their efforts and think they’re wonderful, you’re still counting on there being an Andrew Carneigie or similar character being around to help you. Again though, this is to say the option of some kind of non-private college fund isn’t bad. Whether Obama’s plan is viable or not is another issue to me.

  37. shcb Says:

    I’ll agree with that to a certain degree, we obviously have a different view of what the role of government is but just by degree it seems. The main point I was trying to make when I used that example was that what a politician promises is more times than not something they can’t deliver by themselves, checks and balances. So when one of your uninformed voters later cries that the politician lied to him it was more the voter being foolish to believe the politician.

    By some looong stretch this equates to Palin artfully combining two sentences that each are true but put together have a different meaning. This is why I like to read the transcripts of speeches, but most people just don’t take the time. So the question is did she cross the line of deception? (rhetorical question to you guys). I think she did. In her speech in Denver a couple days ago she was careful to only say she “put the plane on ebay”. Obama was here yesterday, I listened to some of both speeches, they were just standard stump shows with local references inserted in the appropriate slots.

  38. shcb Says:

    As to Obama’s plan, again all he can do is submit it to congress, in his speech in Colorado Springs a month or so ago he said “when I’m president I will…” my question is was that misleading to the blue collar voter in the rust belt who votes for him because he thinks Obama can actually deliver on the promise of supplying his kids with $16,000 by merely being elected. I think it is. But not as deceptive as Palin running those two sentences together. But neither is egregious enough to invalidate their candidacy.

  39. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Objectively I agree that it really is foolish for Presidential (or any other) candidates to get up and say ‘I am going to do…’ It’s something they should really not say, but it would seem subjectively saying ‘If I am elected I will propose legislation that…’ The candidate that said that would be a target for ridicule for not being confident or some similar nonsense. I also agree that most people, especially the low info voters, take it as promise. We even talk about campaign promises. Weighing the relative nature of falsehoods I’m not sure entirely where to put this. It seems to me on one hand we should all be smarter than this by now. Personally I tend to think in terms of ‘If my guy wins then maybe he can do some of that stuff, which would help.’

    Subjectively I look at it as a case of there are some outright lies and some really misleading phrasing, the low end of which I see sitting the campaign promise. Going back to that then, I still see more of the outright lies coming out of the McCain campaign. If Obama wins and someone buy’s a jet ski with their child’s college savings because they think 16k is coming down the pipe, that’s just outright foolishness. All the campaign promises are going to be lies if you hear them as ‘so it is written, so it will be done.’

  40. knarlyknight Says:

    There is another difference that you are overlooking. Palin was trying to deceive people about something in the past, so in this case the truth is known with certainty. (When McCain talked about the same issue he crossed another line and outright LIED in saying she listed it on eBay and sold it for a profit when in fact it was sold elsewhere at a loss. But ENOUGH about that liar.)

    Obama is speaking with confidence about something that he intends to do. The fact, if you are to be believed, that he said that he “will… ” to me indicates he is staking part of his reputation on getting that item passed. Is it a lie? Time will tell. If he fails and thus it is a lie, voters can determine the consequences at that time as reflected in his approval ratings and their willingness to believe anything else he says. From a cynical perspective, Obama saying “I will…” on this issue indicates to me one of two things. The first, and most likely, is that he is certain that he can get the initiative passed hell or high water. The second (and less likely given Obama’s good record on issues of character to date) is that he has calculated the costs of not being able to meet this pledge as being minor or that he can get at least some parts of it established.

    Recognizing that there is a big difference between blatant LIES about easily verifiable past events (e.g. Palin and McCain’s LIES) vs. making promises to do something in the future is a very basic ethics question. It is a little disturbing that you are even trying to equate the two as being anywhere the same in scale.

    Blatant LIES about easily verified past events indicates a high degree of disrespect to the intelligence of the listener, an arrogance in that the LIES thinks they are somehow not subject to even the most basic social consequences of their blatant pathological lying, and simply a deep flaw in thier character. I think that is why Bush’s approval ratings are near record lows for any president and that when he speaks (i.e. “America’s economy is strong”) most of the country rolls their eyes and tunes him out. He’s lost all credibility.

    As for Obama’s future tense statements of what he “will…” do, doesn’t your question apply at least as much to McCain as to Obama, and is not this confident manner of speaking about campaign promises a long established tradition by all candidates since the beginning of history?

    The only significant difference in this respect I see between Obama and McCain’s comapaign is that McCain’s campaign has been making regular, ongoing deceptions about easily verifiable past events; but Obama’s campaign has made few if any such claims and retracted them when the falsehood is pointed out. Contrast that to the audacious (and contemptuos practice) of McCain’s campaign in continually repeating false claims even after the truth is known.

    I’m not making this up, the campaigner’s blatant lies are well documented at By far the overwhelming majority (95%?) of lies come from McCain and his campaign.


  41. shcb Says:

    That’s a good point Knarly on is about the future and one the past which is why I made the point that I was making a looong stretch. I’m looking into the Factcheck people, there seems to be some conflict of interest with Obama and factcheck. At this point it doesn’t look like factcheck is saying anything untrue like media matters is prone to do but it doesn’t surprise me that you won’t find a bunch of stuff on Obama there.

  42. knarlyknight Says:


    yeah I know, you see a conspiracy around every corner and blank out completely on the big ones & I tend to see the bigger conspiracies and not see all the little ones that you say are there.

    we said much the same thing, but you did it more clearly, in only two paragraphs and diplomatically. After re-reading both I find I agree with what you wrote 100% and have potential objections/ further clarifications to my post. Keep posting please…

  43. knarlyknight Says:

    I can’t decide if McCain is stupid or trying to be politically expedient, both of those, or something else. I do know he is a blatant liar, and because of that I won’t listen to him any more. Joe Biden on the other hand…

    “Whatever happened to the guy who denounced the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in a time of war and said it was immoral. Whatever happened to that guy? That guy I used to know? He’s gone,” Biden said. “John McCain is profoundly out of touch.”

    “Senator McCain at 9am yesterday said, yesterday morning, he stated again — quote – ‘the fundamentals of this economy are strong,’ he said to boos from the crowd of 3,000. At 10 o’clock, as we Catholics say, John had an epiphany. John said the economy is in economic crisis.”

    “Now what happened in one hour between the economy being sound and an economic crisis looming? Well, John had a political realization, not a policy conversion.”

    “Where was it yesterday when he talked about all these issue? Today, he’s talking about the greed of Wall Street. Yesterday, the day before, a year before, two years before, he was on Wall Street heralding the fact that he was proudly shredding whatever regulation and oversight that in fact were to manage these markets that now he calls greedy.”

  44. shcb Says:

    A quick note to Obama’s tax plan, he has proposed increasing Social Security taxes, this would affect many more people than the very rich so John McCain was correct, LA Times wasn’t.

  45. enkidu Says:

    fact: it was SOP in AK to put state property on ebay long before Sarah Palin was in the saddle… claiming she did something she didn’t (I placed that thing on ebay… she sold it for a tidy profit!) is – dare I say it? – a lie.

    shcb, interesting link from last year
    His plan was to adjust the cap on SS, so that wealthy people paid more. Horrors!

    Now imagine if Phil Gramm (McCain campaign co-chair and the architect of the deregulation of the securities industry which resulted in the current melt down) and George dumber than a box a rocks Bush were to have been successful in privatizing SS.

    Republicans SUCK at government anything!

  46. shcb Says:

    so has Obama’s plan to increase taxes changed in the last year?

  47. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, You have just been pwnd by Enkidu.

    Enk, you are so right, Republicans suck at governing (unless the purpose of governing is to transfer public assets and reveneus to themselves and a select group of their wealthiest supporters, in which case they do very well.)

  48. shcb Says:

    the securities problems we are having now started in the Carter administration, not that any Republican since then has helped, in fact the current Bush made things worse. It was over regulation, not deregulation.

  49. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    That’s really funny, because every financial analyst is talking about how the investment banks were unregulated, unlike commercial banks. I even heard one specifically mention some laws Clinton removed.

  50. enkidu Says:

    Credit default swaps and derivatives were championed by McCain co-chair and lobbyist extraordinaire Phil Gramm (the same guy who had to be locked in the outhouse for a few weeks after he said America had become a nation of whiners… that guy)

    Currently these things are imploding because there was no regulation rather than being over-regulated. Please, face reality. It is ugly after 8 years of the bush kleptocracy, but for God’s sake we have to face this and work on it together. Stop blaming Carter and Clinton for everything will you? The robotic “its the Dems fault!” screetched over and over is so 20th century.

    – – – – –

    Hey did you hear that the McCain camp is claiming McCain created (dare I say invented?) the Blackberry! Seriously folks, they are actually saying this crap with a straight face… amazing.

    Asked what work John McCain did as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee that helped him understand the financial markets, the candidate’s top economic adviser wielded visual evidence: his BlackBerry.

    “He did this,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters this morning, holding up his BlackBerry. “Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that’s what he did.

    of course if you scratch the surface at all you come to realize that McCain was on the wrong side of nearly every decision relating to wireless networking and its rise. Plus, why is he sending our jobs to that Canadian company RIM!?!?!

  51. shcb Says:

    enkidu Says:

    world oil prices have dropped 40% in one month, heck of a job Bushie!

  52. enkidu Says:

    yup, just in time for the election!

    gas is still $3.70 a gallon here

    and oil was $18 a barrel under Clinton

    the stock market is off almost 1000 points in three days

    what new miracles will Johnny Mac invent for us next?

  53. NorthernLite Says:

    I also heard on our news up here that in Afghanistan, the Americans are really steppin up their efforts to locate Bin Forgotton. Witness the uptick in bombings inside Pakistan.

    Finally throwing more effort into finding him just before the election…wow.

  54. enkidu Says:

    I hear we killed the AQ #2 guy!!! (yet again ;-)

  55. shcb Says:

    I was going back through the posts on this thread and found a huge lie Obama is telling. Enky said that 95% of Americans will get an income tax break (Enky didn’t say “income” but Obama is). That is impossible since 40% of Americans don’t pay income taxes. Now I know Enky is an honorable man so I’m sure he is being faithful to Obama’s statements. By virtue of being liberal Obama is blessed with superior intelligence so the only conclusion we can make is he is lying. What kind of despicable man deceives the most vulnerable of the poor, imagine those poor people depending on tax relief to make a down payment on a new plasma TV only to find out they don’t pay anything to get relief from. It’s just sad.

    The regulation that got this ball rolling in the financial failings was the government telling lenders they had to allow more home loans to less and less qualified borrowers, it started with Carter and has been expanded through most all administrations since. I remember Bush the younger giving a speech after 911 saying he was expanding this program to jump start the construction industry, it worked but I remember thinking at the time we will pay for this in the future, the future is now.

  56. NorthernLite Says:

    Um, if you don’t pay income taxes, then it’s impossible to recieve an income tax cut.

    Therefore, 95% of people who pay income tax, will get a tax cut.

    I’ll give you an ‘A’ for effort though.

  57. knarlyknight Says:

    Yes, ‘A’ for effort, ‘F’ for content and not doing his homework, for a final grade of F+. There is no mark for style, but I especially liked the way he presented the goofy lie theme, embellished it with a suggestive yet even more ridiculous image of poor people expecting plasma tv’s from the government & then abruptly changed the subject to a more sober analysis of selective financial regulatory changes. It’s a ruse right out of Cannity and Holmes – an unwary “viewer” would absorb the first bit (i.e. 1st paragraph) and then unconsciously (and wrongly) give its nefarious conclusions the same weight as the more sober second bit (2nd paragraph.)

    Now, the regulation thing… funny (in a diabolically weird sort of way) that he’d choose “got this ball rolling” as a metaphor and then go back and say the Carter administration was the one who kicked it first (FYI for anyone here who is too young to remember, Carter’s administration came a while after the John Quincy Adams administration.)

    That “ball rolling” metaphor is garbage. No ball was rolling. That is another pathetic example of a Republican using simple nonsense to frame a debate so it shows the parts that make Republicans look less stupid rather than finding a frame that illustrates the whole picture truthfully.

    Better metaphores would be that changing mortgage regulations at various times over the span of 30 years is placing more and more heavy objects on a table, until eventually the table gives way; or, injecting more and more stimulants and steroids into your horse to make her carry heavier loads faster until she finally collapses in exhausion. Carter’s admin. might have been the first to give the horse a little stimulant so it would work faster, but it was clearly Bush’s administration who replaced the water with bourbon and started injecting her with crack cocaine.

    Had Enough?

    In contrast, Canada took part in adding a little caffeine to our donkey’s oats so it too could carry heavier loads faster, but our regulators probably were not subject to the same political pressures and made some responsible decisions, one could say conservative decisions, at about that point. Your horse has now passed out cold across the street, but our donkey is still working well on the extra caffeine, although the smell of our horse’s flatulence and vomit is making it a little sick.

  58. knarlyknight Says:

    * not “our horse’s”, should be “your horse’s”

  59. shcb Says:

    But of course you guys don’t understand the issues enough, now there’s your problem. Mortgage companies used a technique called redlining, they would target geographic zones of a city as high risk loans. The interest rates would be higher if you lived in these areas, or loans wouldn’t be given at all. Now this was before computers so these methods made sense. They of course ended up targeting ethnic areas so it was seen as discriminatory. In the name of political correctness this practice was stopped. Through the years either regulations were dropped or added to keep including more and more people to the homeowner’s list, this was seen as way to make America stronger by making more people homeowners, a noble cause, not without merit. We just went a little too far. We always assumed real estate would continue to grow in value, the government speculated,and over a long period of time it does. But people were taking seconds and thirds to pay for vacations, buy cars etc. using long term money to pay for short term items, this is probably what you are talking about when you blame this on deregulation. All these factors and more set people up for a fall when prices on houses fell a bit. I’m not blaming Carter, we’ve had several Republican presidents since then, we’ve had several republican congresses since then, they didn’t stop this bad practice, they expanded it. It just started in the Carter years.

    The sleight of hand Obama is using is he is going to give everyone $1000 and call it a tax cut. So the people that don’t pay taxes will just be getting another welfare check. Of course if we aren’t making more money through growth of the economy we will just increase the debt to pay for the balance of this expenditure minus the transfer of wealth from the rich. This is just an extension of the Bush administration’s economic incentive checks or whatever he called them. If we do have growth in the economy we may not add to the debt, but we will also be slowing the repayment down.

  60. shcb Says:

    just to be clear Knarly, I agree with your analogy.

  61. enkidu Says:

    I basically stopped reading after the first lie shcb: please go back and read my very first post where I talk about the INCOME tax cuts and raises that Obama is planning. The entire discussion is about INCOME taxes. I use the term INCOME tax SEVEN times in that post! When I used a clip from my post to answer you in my second post it clearly says INCOME. wtf is wrong with you? Seriously, have you seen a doctor? You shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car with that low an IQ. Or use sharp objects. Certainly your wit is as dull as can be.

    Please, if you are going to waste all these precious electrons, at least get the facts straight. The graf I linked to is about INCOME taxes.

    And then your post about us poor poor librls just bein too dang stoopid to unerstan… why anyone responds to your nonsense is increasingly mysterious to me. btw my dad was harping on the whole “we gave home loans to ni… errr ‘minorities’ ats the problem!’ is just so wrong it makes my teeth hurt. I suspect he has been listening to that AM hate radio bullshit.

    Derivatives, credit default swaps, Phil Gramm, meet google. It was a completely unregulated ponzi scheme and with no regulatory framework to regularly ask “so what do you have in assetts to back these notes up?” and “lets see the books” it grew until the scheme could no longer find a greater fool (now the taxpayer is the fool holding the piece of big shitpile).

    The truth is that no one is blameless, but the largest part of the blame sits squarely at Phil Gramm and his merry ilk’s door (for the love of God, his wife was on the board of Enron, one of the first of these deregulation disasters). More deregulation and more tax breaks are not the answer. The pathetic parroting of hate radio memes is just mind-bogglingly stupid. These markets were entirely UNregulated thanks to Phil Gramm and co. I don’t hold the Ds blameless, but credit or blame needs to be apportioned in reality, not some fever dream of racist right wing radio bullshit.

  62. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    You know, people in the financial sector should all be licensed after this debacle, so like lawyers, doctors and pilots they can all face losing their livelihoods completely for grotesque irresponsibility. There’s a legislative step I could support.

  63. Craig Says:

    John, I think the article is written pretty accurately and makes its point about how facts have been distorted and why. You seem to want an editorial piece that would make the point that McCain’s campaign is far more dishonest. Your letter, frankly, reads like a typical political partisan who wants a journalistic piece to read more like an opinion article, that says “Candidate X is bad and Candidate Y is good”.

    Even though the content of the article clearly gives indirect support for Obama (by setting up its premise about how distortions are used so much in political campaigns and then using mostly examples of McCain’s falsehoods), it sounds like you need a headline for it that reads “MCCAIN IS A BIG STINKIN’ FAT LIAR” to be happy. Which would be fine if it was an editorial piece.

    Anyone who reads this article will likely see that as the main takeaway from the story anyway, although in less dramatic tones.

    But when you are going to quibble about what the reporter means by using the phrase “and to a lesser extent Obama” in a sentence that clearly states that McCain is the bigger abuser of the “flat truth”, you come off sounding like a typical partisan who wants to see any grey in a comparison wiped out.

    Another example of partisan logic is the stating of assumption as fact. By saying that it is an “objective reality” that “McCain’s campaign is setting a record for lies” you are stating a subjective opinion as a provable objective point. A record? In what exact way? Have you researched decades campaign histories to come up with the data points that prove this objective reality?

    Add those kind of things together, plus a somewhat condesending tone, and its no wonder you received a rather short and stiff reply.

  64. knarlyknight Says:


    I had much the same thoughts as Craig in reading your letters, but couldn’t see how to set out those thoughts as positive, constructive criticism – especially since, unlike Craig, I agree with your basic premise.

    Nevertheless, Craig did a pretty good job…

    And Craig, JBC did title the post with a disclaimer, i.e. “Cranky Letter”. In your criticism, you seem to be assuming that jbc wanted his letter to be effective in changing the reporting of the LA times, or at least that one reporter. Maybe you should check that out, it may be true or jbc might think that to be a hopeless goal. Perhaps all it was ever meant to be was a Cranky Letter that might elicit a response that would generate some discussion here about the reporting of LIES.

    John, any comment on the purpose of your letter?

  65. NorthernLite Says:

    Jayson, that’s actually a really good idea – to license that sector of the economy.

  66. knarlyknight Says:

    NL, Jayson – If licensing were in place it would not have prevented the current historic level of debacles. The causes are that regulators made bad rules, not that the players were derelect.

    Licensing the financial sector may still be a good idea, but that would be for other reasons. Besides that, doesn’t the financial sector already have some forms of licensing?

  67. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I view the precipitating event, giving out the “ninja” loans to people something that should result in a termination of license and criminal prosecution. I’m thinking more of the mortgage crisis than the current investment bank failures, that’s all.

  68. knarlyknight Says:

    Breaking News: “Treasury Secretary Paulson says “hundreds of billions” of dollars are needed to resolve U.S. financial crisis.”

    Okay, let me work through this to understand who gets these hundred of billions of dollars? i.e. who gains, who loses?

    1. Government changes lending rules so that lenders are allowed to make increasingly risky mortgage loans (no down payments, introductory low interest rates, loans to high risk applicants, etc.)

    2. Based on forecasts of ever increasing housing values, these mortgage loans were bundled by the lenders and sold to other investors as premium investments.

    3. The mortgage lenders were paid a high value for the mortgage bundles, so they are laughing all the way to the bank. (Well, actually they are the bankers.)

    4. Investors loved these bundles because they paid high returns relative to their risk ratings (ultra-low risk, because they were backed by solid and ever-increasing real estate values); so the low-risk base of investment firms’ portfolios became heavily weighted in these mortgage bundles.

    5. Mortgage loan defaults increased, foreclosures and for-sale listings of homes skyrocketed with a predictable plunge in housing prices. Government does nothing because foreclosures and bankrupcies on a personal level are personal responsibilities and besides, offering help in the form of low interest government loans so that people in crisis could make their mortgage payments (& indirectly maintain housing prices) would just be rewarding / compensating people for their stupidity.

    6. The plunge in housing prices made the investment firm mortgage bundles lose most of their value; realization sets in that top dollar was paid to lenders for bundles of crap. Because of these bad investments, even iconic investment firms become insolvent and thus people with shares in these investment firms (and with mutual funds that contain the bundled mortgage packages) have lost an enormous amount of wealth.

    7. The US government finally wakes up and realizes that knocking out the investment firms is certain to result in another great depression. So government steps in to pay top dollar (i.e. “hundreds of billions of dollars”) in taxpayer money to investment firms that are essentially insolvent (i.e. now government does reward / compensate for stupidity.)

    8. Immediate Results: No change for people who default on their mortgages, they suffer the consequences. Lenders are fine, they sold the crappy mortgage bundles as if they were gold. Owners of investment firms are rescued (i.e. they sell ownership shares of their investment firms to government at a high price relative to its now-low value.) Government (ie. shcb, jbc, Enkidu, and all other Americans) have paid top dollar for investment firms that are not worth anything on paper because of their large holdings of crappy mortgage bundles – hundreds of billions more added to government debt under Bush’s watch.

    9. Hopes and Fears: Hope that economy weathers the storm, housing prices recover quickly, and government can sell their shares in these investment firms without much of a loss, GDP growth continues, $ value is stable and current wealth is maintained. Fear that economy languishes further, government fiscal options are limited by its excessive borrowing for wars and these financial bail-out packages, GDP stagnates and dollar falls dramatically lowering real wealth of Americans for an extended period (i.e. the duration of Obama’s 4 year term!)

    So, is this basically what’s going on or what?

  69. shcb Says:


    Your pretty close, add to number four that these loans were perceived to be safe because the Fannie and Freddie were quasi governmental (as AIG is now). These entities grew way past their stated mission as these things tend to do, social security for instance. They grew to the point that the perception they were safe became the reality.

    To a degree your number one point was that lenders were forced to make increasingly risky loans not allowed. If they didn’t give increasingly risky loans they risked losing the license, for lack of a better term, to offer loans from Fannie and Freddie. Understand this was a gradual progression that started in the Carter administration. This is political correctness gone mad.

  70. enkidu Says:

    why don’t you just come out and say they gave loans to n… errr

    its what the wwnjs are screaming about right now
    go ahead, just shout it out, it’ll make you feel beter

    Fannie and Freddie were not quasi governmental, they had a different loan ‘window’ that is all (and very low to non-existent levels of oversight/regulation)

  71. shcb Says:

    We’re all adults here, we can say the word, yes they gave loans to negros and Mexicans, simply because they were negros and Mexicans. Not because they were credit worthy. Government agencies also give small business loans to minorities, including women, last I checked women aren’t even a minority. Call me a racist, go ahead, you’ve called me worse. So you’re all crying that these loans went bust because these un credit worthy people defaulted on the loans because politicians gave them money they didn’t deserve and couldn’t repay because they were seen for their race and not as people.

  72. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb, Thanks for your additions to my 9 points. I’m always surprised when we agree on a basic set of facts like that. Now I wonder if we agree on the editorializing; is there anything in the following link you strongly disagree with (other than the excessively biased choice of words):
    www .

  73. shcb Says:

    He’s a little over the top but I agree with his sentiment. I don’t agree with him on his blaming Bush or anyone in this current administration except maybe for AIG and maybe Bear Stearns. The Fannie and Freddy problem has been festering for decades. So if you will allow me to take his finger pointing out of article, I would essentially agree.

    The real blame in this belongs to congress and in some ways they played the same game as the industry they were regulating on one hand and deregulating on the other. Enky and I were discussing “the greater fool theory” on an earlier thread. That is where you take on a bad loan because you know it will be packaged and sold to someone else, the greater fool, they buy it knowing there are bad loans in the package but don’t care because they are going to sell it bundled… In this case congress passed laws at least some of them thought were bad laws because they knew they would be replaced in two years and…

    There were also many different agendas at work here, social engineering, propping up markets and economies when maybe we shouldn’t have. There was corruption at the upper levels of Fannie and Freddie, and then everyone trying to save their own little corner of the kingdom till finally it collapsed.

    Now to AIG, we have nationalized this huge company but I’m withholding judgment for now. One of the first things to happen when I became politically aware was the bailout of Chrysler. That one turned out good. But Chrysler had a plan and a dynamic leader; they just ran out of cash. This is completely different. But we’ll see. If the government breaks up AIG and sells it there could actually be a profit made on the part of the Washington. But it has set an unsettling precedent.

  74. enkidu Says:

    “don’t agree with… blaming Bush or anyone in this current administration except maybe for AIG and maybe Bear Stearns”

    teh stupid it burns!

  75. enkidu Says:

    so giving loans to people who had no income, no job, no assets now securities is aok ifn they be white folk, but negroes and mexicans an its caused this here financial meltdown?

    Explain how negroes and mexicans made a credit default swap market that was several times the total US GDP?

    Sometimes your ridiculousness gets to be downright scary (that and the overt racism, oh and the violent rhetoric, and the propensity of the wwnjs to violence and mayhem).

  76. shcb Says:

    No, it’s not right for no matter what color folk. The credit swap is a different but related issue. It was ok I suppose for the government to help some underprivileged folks, they should have had good credit though. The problem came when the program was continually expanded until the government controlled the industry. Then congress had the leverage to use the industry to further all their own agendas. Liberals could use it for social engineering, conservative could use it to regulate the economy, both sides could use it to for god only knows what. In the end standards just kept getting lower and lower.

    I heard a couple of young women (28-32) at my granddaughter’s soccer game discussing the “crisis” this weekend. One of them was a realtor. The other asked how people were buying houses with this housing crisis. The realtor replied incredulously, that people had to have good credit and, gasp, had to actually make a down payment. My wife was there so I had to hold my tongue, but I so wanted to get into that conversation. Unbelievable.

  77. shcb Says:

    But to answer your first point more clearly, no it is not ok to give anyone a loan when they have no job or no income. That is just common sense.

  78. enkidu Says:

    this comment seems to be held up for some reason
    here it is again with the link protected by KnarlyJuice®
    – – – – –
    go ahead, just shout it, it’ll make you feel better
    we’re all adults here, right?

    it’s all the fault of them ______s, ____s and ___s!

    and of course has nothing to do with bush, mccain, phil gramm or anyone else on your side (of course)

    btw – markets do better under Democrats
    average return under Ds +11% better than Tbills, average under Rs +2%
    but then again reality has such a liberal bias donchaknow

    note – this is BEFORE the recent implosion in the financial markets
    perhaps by the time boosh is done wrecking things (will they steal all the Os off the keyboards?) the R number might be in the negative… heck of a job mr hoover

  79. enkidu Says:

    Oh, one more thing about blaming ‘minorities’ for the wall street clusterfuck – Rick Davis, McCain’s Campaign Manager was once the president of the Homeowners Alliance. Here, in his own words from their 2004 annual report:

    “We have an opportunity in the next decade to increase minority homeownership and significantly reduce the minority homeownership gap,” Davis is quoted saying here. “The future of the housing market rests heavily on the economic success of minorities. Homeownership is likely to grow faster among minority Americans in the next decade if all the stakeholders in the housing industry work together to make it happen. The Homeownership Alliance is working toward this goal.”

    I would bet that minorities are defaulting on their loans at about the same rate as other groups in the same income categories. If you can show me hard data that the Them are responsible for the $45 trillion dollar swaps market collapse and so on, perhaps I’ll change my mind.

    Nope it’s all Jimmy Carter and Billybob Clinton’s fault! ;-)
    this guy should be selling apples on a street corner

  80. shcb Says:

    Davis’ remarks are correct, with the black population being the most upwardly mobile section of our population and the Hispanic population the fastest growing those segments are the most likely new customers.

    I’m not sure what the rates for foreclosures is, just looking briefly I didn’t find anything that jumped out at me, but that wasn’t my point. The political correctness of giving minorities that didn’t qualify for loans previously also included white people that couldn’t qualify either. It’s not the ethnicity that made people credit risks, it was their education, lifestyles, intelligence, and work ethics. This is the problem with political correctness. Someone looks at numbers, and says 50% of whites own homes and only 30% of blacks own homes, something must be done! We need to know why there is a discrepancy, if there is discrimination then let’s fix it. If there are rational reasons for the discrepancy then leave it alone.

    The way it appears to me in this case is there was discrimination in the lending industry, redlining for instance and just plain old fashioned “he’s black, no loan” discrimination. But after they fixed that nannyists didn’t get the target they wanted because there was some legitimacy to the discrimination, a large portion of the black population simply wasn’t credit worthy. If the number of homeowners was 30% before, it was maybe 35% after, the nannyists wanted at least 50%. So they started lowering the bar to capture more of that 15% of 13% of the population, what they got was more of all sections of the population, whites included, none of them credit worthy by traditional standards. (this was of course a fool’s errand because as they captured a certain percentage of new black homeowners they also captured the same percentage of white homeowners so the they were chasing a target that ran faster than they could run)

    This is how it got started, then all the other things that happened, happened, the credit swapping and such were to either dilute the worsening problem or to take advantage of this huge chunk of nationalized industry.

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