An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

Congratulations!  You’ve just made a convincing win, trouncing your opponents in all three sets of federal races — President (won!), Senate (majority enlarged!), and House of Representatives (nibbled off a few elephants)

Now the hard work begins.

If you’re a Democratic Voter (notice that this is not the same thing as being “a Democrat”: your’e not an actual member of the party unless you actually do more than vote for them once every four years), then you have a golden opportunity to pursue legislative and executive programs will do wonders to uphold and further social justice.

Here’s the hard part:  how do you intend to afford it? (Awful truth here, you can’t tax your way out of this.  We have a 15-trillion-dollar economy.  You’d need to add a minimum of another 1.5 trillion in taxes — you’d be taking 20% of total GDP out of the economy.  That results in higher unemployment, hurting the people who need it most.  Yes, some of that money comes back in, but there are losses to friction.  Take five dollars from your left pocket (private sector), and put it in your right pocket (public sector).  How much money do you have?  Not five dollars.  More like four and some change — because the bureaucrats whose job it is to transfer the money?  They’ve got kids and have to eat, too.  And that’s assuming zero waste.)

The US is broke.  Don’t take my word for it.  Here’s 2010 in a nutshell.  Notice that, contrary to your buddies over at AddictingInfo, military spending is *not* the majority, or anywhere close.  The entitlements you hold near and dear to your heart are.  (Plus a surprising amount of mandatory spending at the Department of Agriculture — but you guys hate Monsanto, so that should be a cinch to tame, right?)

This challenge (how to afford the social-democratic state) is what the bright boys and girls in Europe have been trying to figure out for more than a decade.  It’s a problem. Europeans can generally spend more than we do on social justice, because NATO underwrites their defense bills (thus allowing them to spend much less GDP on defense, and more on social programs).  But even with that advantage, which we do not possess, since numerous weak countries depend upon us for security guarantees(*), their debt levels are growing rapidly and catastrophically.

Past a certain level of debt, a country only has two options — hyper-inflation, or default.  Both crush the working and middle classes.
So if we’re going to avoid looking like Greece, we MUST get the budget under control, as a pragmatic priority.  This is especially the case in state government — the “big blue” states are, by and large, utterly bankrupt.(**)

Yet, to govern as a Democrat, you need your eye focuses like a laser on social welfare and social justice.

This is the challenge of your time.  How can you deliver on both?
Europe can’t do it — they’re making the easy choices (which fail to solve the problem).

If Democrats want to succeed, you will need to figure out how to do much more, with much less.  That means serious, hardcore, dramatic innovations, and a slaughtering of sacred cows right and left.

Are you up to the challenge?  Rehashing bromides(***) won’t cut it — all that’ll do is give the Republicans another shot at reversing everything you’ve accomplished in 2016.  And if you fail, they will do so, just as Democrats seized power in ’06 and ’08 from the castastrophic mismanagement of government by Republicans who thought they had a “permanent majority.”

We’re waiting.  Let’s see what you’ve got.


*Yes, I agree that we’re waging too many wars, too.  But we are in the middle of a long-term, brutal war, and as citizens of conscience, we also cannot break guarantees we’ve made to other nations, for moral reasons, as well as practical ones.
**(Yes, more blue money goes to red states than vice versa, but a significant portion of that is because the federal government owns and operates a lot more Red State land than they do Blue State land, whether it’s military bases, or national parks.  Carping on spending-allocation isn’t the answer here.)

*** Remember, if Democrats are going to hold onto power, they MUST keep their “Blue Dogs” alive and in Congress.  This is where you failed in 2010, and why you lost the House of Representatives to the Republicans.  If you want to succeed this time around, you’ll need to do better.

Quote of the day from Megan McArdle

of whom I’m normally not much of a fan… but in this case, I like:

Your gut is not a good replacement for reasoning from first principles.

She’s having an argument over prostitution, and its legality/morality, etc.  I tend to lean towards the “legalize it” end, though I admit that I’ve heard some GOOD counter-arguments.  There’s an active comments section if you’re interested.

Huckabee not that bad, after all?

Heard a “traffic radio” interview with Huckabee.  I have to say I really was much more favorably impressed with what I heard this morning.  Although I doubt it will happen, I could as easily live with a Huckabee Repub candidate as I could McCain.

Chuck Norris likes, him, anyway…. but I think he’d actually be okay as a Veep, and it woudl be nice to have a FairTax supporter somewhere actually near K Street.  (I know I’m going to get plastered on that by some folks, but I still think it’s a better idea than our current mess, especially in terms of generating foreign investment).

It’s official: Obama is an idiot.

Heard a campaign announcement today from the Obama campaign, in which Obama promised to, and get this…

~stimulate the economy by repealing corporate income tax breaks, thus paying for a middle-class tax cut

~repeal tax breaks on corporations moving overseas.  It’s ridiculous, and it’s got to stop

That’s right.  Obama is going to stimulate the economy by making it more expensive for corporations to produce goods and services.

I have a quick heads-up for Sen. Obama:  hey, dumbass, why do you think those corporations are leaving?  It’s because the US is no longer competitive on taxes.  Can you say Sarbanes-Oxley, kids?

Okay, so he’s not John “I piss on the Bill of Rights” McCain, and he’s not Hillary “we shall abolish the individual” Clinton… but I’m supposed to listen to this advertisement with a straight face?  Obama is spending money in order to discredit himself.

Clinton operatives falling on their swords again

by putting together hit-pieces and then disavowing them while the Senator issues campaign apologies?  Ben Smith at the Politico thinks it was completely unplanned… but this is precisely the sort of thing that characterized the Clinton administration’s War Room in the 90s, and led to such a hollowing-out within the administration.

Dowd points out the obvious

Not that Obama can occasionally score one on Clinton.  But that the Bushes seem to be squarely in favor of the “dynastic option.”

No surprise.  One of the odd things about the last sixteen years is just how chummy the Bushes and Clintons all are…

Ron Paul’s got legs?

Well, damn.  Looks like this guy might be for real after all… 3.5MM in 20 hours?  And it’s not like the MSM and the rest of the Republican field hasn’t already pretty much hit him with the 12-inchers… his numbers basically have nowhere else to go but up.

In the words of Darth Vader, “impressive…”

Whiny self-important putz wonders why his parents still worry about him masturbating, p3

Fair warning:  this post is chock-full of absolutely gratuitous viciousness.  If  you’re a nice person,  don’t read this.  Instead, visit the following link.  You were warned. (more…)

Presidential Debates: Obama/Edwards Tagteam?

This could get fun.

UPDATE: It appears to have legs, too. Weird. Usually anything that might be bad for Clinton gets instantly deep-sixed. Staffers beware: this is a real risk for Senator Clinton. “Take-down-the-leader” is traditional primary politics. Suggestions that this is unfair are going to come across as very whiny.

The conventional wisdom says that if “the men” pick on poor little Hillary, they risk turning off voters. But if they don’t do something, and do it impressively fast, they stand no chance of getting the nomination. And they can’t go after her on qualifications (because Obama and Edwards are themselves notoriously thin in the resume department).

So why not tag-team her on the real issue when it comes to the general election? Put bluntly, character is the issue with Senator Clinton, just like it was with her husband. Hillary’s a vicious, manipulative, conniving, two-faced bitch. And everybody knows it. The only difference is between those who support her because she’s their vicous, manipulative, conniving, two-faced bitch, and those who would crawl naked over broken glass to vote against her for just those reasons. (more…)

Megan McArdle p4wned by own commenters

What if you were M.A., bitched and whined about editors doing their job, and then your own fans kicked your ass in the comments section?

I deal a lot with editors — in particular, one or two very, very picky editors. They ask a stupid amount of questions, put in a stupid amount of clarification queries, and, quite frankly, occasionally make me fight tooth and nail not to get my work spiked. Why should M.A. be any different when she writes something stupid?

This is why the (L)ibertarians are screwed.

So long as Republicans, even junior members, keep posing gut-check-bold legislation on taxes, the Libertarian Party at large is going to be unable to undo the Reagan Coalition.

Of course, the other side of that coin is, well, since when was a Rockefeller Republican shy about encouraging voters to look elsewhere?

An Irving Boy Comments on the Immigration Scandal

There’s all kinds of sturm und drang going on, people worried about what’s going to happen with deportations out of Irving.

  1.  If you think the Irving Public Library should stop stocking Spanish-language material:  shut the fuck up and learn some history.  Both languages are traditional here, whether some folks like it or not.  Oh, and whether you like to acknowledge it, racist bullshit has a long history in this state:  our family still recalls how we were suddenly regarded as Type-IV demons simply for the crime of selling our house to a Mexican lady, thus letting “them” into that nice clean Dallas neighborhood.  Anybody who tries to deny that this crap happened is doing nothing but discrediting herself the minute she opens her mouth.
  2.  If you think that the Irving Police are a bunch of top-to-bottom racists who just can’t wait to screw over somebody who happens to be brown…. you’re close, but not quite there.  That’s Dallas.  Close, but very definitely not the same, and at least a few of those bad apples are in jail now.  Chill.  Oh, and a hot tip: if you’re going to be here illegally, try learning the language and blending in a little bit, as opposed to sticking out like a sore thumb because you refuse to so much as talk to anybody who’s not Mexican (even if they’re from the big Ecuadorian community we’ve got around Irving Blvd. —  I know it hasn’t occurred to your dumb ass, but your racism stinks just as badly as anybody else’s.)

But let’s sit here for a moment and actually think, rather than merely react.  Irving has something like a couple hundred thousand people in it.  And of the criminal and criminal-suspect population of Irving, something like 300 people per month are being referred on immigration issues.  Let’s do some math:

300/200,00=0.15% of Irving’s population is getting referred for deportation on a monthly basis.  This in a city that’s known to be at least 25% immigrant/foreign-born (a.k.a., why we have so many cool Mom’n’Pop restaurants from all over the place around here).  And that’s both older figures and the numbers actually being counted.  Considering that some folks are now saying that the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. may number 34 million, this means that there may be more illegal aliens in this country (not all of whom, but most, are Latino), than there are total African-Americans… recall, this is illegals, a.k.a.,  not counting U.S. citizens and legal residents from Mexico and Latin America.

What do those numbers tell us?  For starters, it tells us that 300 people per month is a drop in the bucket, and that if the local Latino population has specific allegations of unfair treatment, they should be brought forward (and of course it’s always possible).  At the same time, letting a bunch of power-brokers on an international level try to turn Irving into some kind of new immigration battleground is just stupid.

Ya know what?  Immigrating illegally is a crime, true:  but it’s also a pretty darned minor crime.  If Irving wants to keep an eye out for those parts of the population that are muggers, thieves, rapists, drunk drivers, what have you, and actually check on who they are… how’s that affect somebody who’s actually just going about their lives, except insofar as it lets folks who are playing a game know that the game’s being played?  So let’s all calm down, and not let the Professionally Aggrieved get our blood pressure up.  So, let the immigrants (like my family) speak English where English is spoken, and locals like me will be plenty understanding, and pick up a few words in the process so everybody can have a lower-blood-pressure, stress-free day.

Democrats return to traditional issues?

Okay, for starters, I find this story entirely understandable and plausible.  Political liberals would be nuts to sell out their constituents by not pressing on the issues from a liberal perspective.  To paraphrase “The Reverend,” your typical mainstream liberal-but-still-among-the-adults Democrat can’t really go anywhere else but to the base — the “moderates” are primarily concerned with their own pocketbooks, and thus are tax-averse, and Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid trying to pick up Republican base votes would be like Boy George playing at a Klan rally.  Ain’t happening.

I see this working in three directions:

  1. Republicans are generally right that this isn’t going to work out well in general elections — ‘tax and spend’ proposals are losers lately, and Bush sustained an amazingly low amount of damage from his recent SChips veto.  If Democrats/Real Liberals had more than a 20-something stake of the voting population, that’d be different, but hard-core liberals are simply outnumbered by hard-core conservatives, and the swing moderates and libertarians are very much in play this season.
  2. On the other hand, they’re also right to downplay Iraq in a big way:  for starters, most of the “adult” Democratic leadership would have gone in, too (and does anybody doubt that Senator Clinton Fn1 who can’t even manage to treat her Secret Service detail like human beings, would lose an ounce of sleep over spending soldiers’ blood?), and it’s only the snappy also-rans who are really daring to try to pull a Vietnam-Era guns-vs-butter campaign at this point.
  3. I also see a danger for the Republicans, however:  they had “the world in their hands,” and fundamentally proved that they were more interested in becoming a perma-power than in governing well.  The old Rockefeller Republican wing of the party, which doesn’t give a crap what its base thinks, is alive and well.  Between McCain-Feingold trampling on the Constitution and Bush passing both steel tariffs and a massive new unfunded entitlement, foreign policy is about the only reason I can think of why a voter would bother to hold one’s nose in order to keep the Dems out of power.   The Democrats “going liberal” in an old-school way isn’t going to help the Republicans if the voters recall their last election campaign and “where ya gonna go” attitude towards the voters.  The answer just might be, “out to dinner, and into gridlock, chump.”  And that definitely includes local congressmen.  At this point, larded up with pork as he is, I wouldn’t cross a room to talk to Pete Sessions (my local porkmeister, currently sucking an extra mil out of taxpayers just for an overpass designed to keep rich real-estate bankers from having to move their cars around uptown).

Anybody disagree on the assessment?

Fn1Sorry folks, but Sen. Obama’s campaign is imploding in a major way, and it’s entirely self-inflicted wounds — precisely the predictable gaffs that one expects from any Democrat foolish enough to take Hollywood money and players seriously.  He’s not going to get the nomination.

Anecdotal evidence on immigration?

And a good point on why anecdotals remain important…

Dreamworlds, RIP

Not only, as TCS Daily points out, is it time for “back to basics” on financial matters, but, so long as we’re puncturing all sorts of wishful thinking by suggesting that maybe saving is a good idea after all, let’s pop this little wet dream:

Which moron said that you could save 10% of your salary per year, and have enough to live on for the rest of your retired life?

I’d like to meet that guy and thank him… with a 2×4. That’s almost as bad as the dork who goes around on his radio show saying that you don’t have to save if you’ve invested in the same fund for years in a row, because your shares are diversified in time. As if anybody gives a crap what you paid for a share: when it comes time to dump it, you get what people are willing to pay, less brokers’ fees.

But, I digress. Let’s say 30 years of working. Hey, yeah, basic mathematics! You really think you can keep anything other than a “mournful pasta” lifestyle if you’re going to live an extra 15 past retirement (a reasonable bet nowadays), if you only have three years’ savings? Okay, that’s a bad number. What if you got a “career-quality job” at age 25 and were never unemployed?

How many fifty-somethings do you know with four and a half years’ savings in the bank? And what’s the average credit-card debt running at nowadays? 7-10k?
Of course, the Baby Boomers will simply assume that they’re entitled to suck off the rest of our salaries to cover for the fact that they never bothered to save. That’s how the Congress-critters managed to pass a NEW trillion-dollar-and-growing entitlement this administration. But that gets in trouble, too, because of demographic drops. It’s going to be:

  1. Social Security folds (or is effectively gutted) along with other entitlements
  2. The economy goes right into the toilet b/c the politicos buy votes by trying to spare their constituents the price of their decision-making
  3. Or the retirement age jumps dramatically.

Personally, I’m hoping for #3. Social Security was never, outside of Boomer pipe dreams, meant to fund twenty years of retirement. And I’m willing to put my generational mouth behind it, and have a ten year jump to 75, starting for workers under the age of 40. (Now, age-based discrimination is something else, but let’s hunt one species at a time)

Why am I picking on the Boomers? Because collectively, they’re the ones who have had decades to do what has to be done, and have instead generated the kinds of debt and lack-of-savings numbers you keep hearing about in the financial news. And in case you haven’t checked them lately, the numbers are grim.

If you don’t have several years’ worth of salaries either saved, or else invested in a way that can be made liquid in a crisis without losing double-digits’ worth of value… now would be the time to start doing some math and making some choices. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.

  1. I’m late finding a career. “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise,” I get thirty years to productively save.
  2. I’m planning on living to 100, because I at least one relative who’s done it and I figure medicine will make this reasonable.
  3. 30 years of working, to fund 35 years of retirement at current income.
  4. I must plan for the likelihood that politicians are going to force me to pay an ever-increasing percentage of my paycheck to fund previous generations’ retirement.

No dice.

At this rate, my spouse and I must, at minimum, max out a 401k, and be prepared to live on one salary, saving the other one. Sure, compound interest rocks. Unfortunately, so do monetary inflation and occasional financial cycles… unless you want to bet your livelihood that you don’t have to cash out while an Enron is going on. Of course, if everything stays pretty, and your mortgage is long out of the picture, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be just fine, because your rising medical expenses will gradually replace the disappearing mortgage expenses.

There are lots of ways to quibble with that, many of which are much more optimistic. That’s okay. Please, feel free to chime in and slap this down. Because at least that’s quibbling and calculating… not dreaming.

We can survive driving used cars and hitting garage sales for the fun of the bargain-hunt.  But the daydreaming has got to go.

  • Featured Eyeballs

  • What’s today again?

    July 2020
    M T W T F S S
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 135,314 hits
  • Recent Comments

    Cults and Context |… on So, about that Bruce Jenner…
    Cults and Context |… on Yes, I AM, in fact, looking at…
    Cults and Context |… on How The Internet Says “D…
    Kat Laurange on Hungarian Military Sabre …
    Kat Laurange on Rose Garden! The Home Edi…