Dale, don’t give up on us!

I just posted a reply to a comment on my Sunday column, and what I had to say was important enough that I thought I’d also publish it as a separate post. Hmm. That sounded pompous. What I mean is, it’s important in terms of explaining what this blog is all about (or what I would like for it to be about) that I thought I should make the statement a little more prominently.

The comment was from a blog newcomer called "Dale" who chimed in after a series of, shall we say, overheated remarks from some of my regulars. Here is his comment, in its entirety:

Mr. Warthen:

Good column today, much livelier than usual. In our house we agree
with your conclusion that we have to stay and finish in Iraq. Thanks
for cluing us in on Joe Lieberman’s remarks.

A few other thoughts:
This is my first blog visit. Based on the posts before me I’d say
you’re going above and beyond putting up with the stuff people say. If
blogs are limited to ranters, I doubt I’ll pick up the habit.

How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?

I’m a subscriber to the Economist too and agree that they do a good
job providing news. They’re pretty liberal but even so I think they do
a better job than the American media by presenting more facts and
also by providing both sides of partisan issues. Why do I learn more
about current US news by reading the Economist than I do by reading The
State or watching CNN?

Thanks again.

And here is what I had to say to him in reply:

Dale, please don’t be put off by the other comments — at least, not to the point of giving up on blogs. We need more comments from people who are put off by extreme partisanship and personal attacks. If that description fits, that means we need YOU.

I’m trying to create a space here where people with various opinions can interact in a civil manner. But I also let anybody have their say (I haven’t used my ability to delete comments once since starting the blog in May — except for cases when the same comment is published twice, because of a glitch in the software). But it is my hope that people who are open-minded, reasonable and respectful of others will ultimately flock to this space in sufficient numbers that they will help distinguish this blog from the all-too-many partisan screamfests out there.

In fact, in case you haven’t read them, here are a couple of my recent attempts to tilt at the madly spinning windmills of partisanship. If you agree with what I’m saying there, and you agree with Joe Lieberman, you might want to give this blog a chance for a while before giving up.

As for your question, "How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?"… well, that was one of the oversights by the media that my column was meant to address, to the extremely limited ability I have to address it. The only defensible answer to the question was that Mr. Murtha was rather dramatically changing his point of view, and Mr. Lieberman was not — thereby making the Murtha comments more newsworthy, according to the basic standards of news judgment. But his comments weren’t nearly as important as the play they got, or the reactions from other politicians, or the reactions to the reactions, or any of that other destructive nonsense that happens in the echo chamber inside the Beltway.

One more thing: Your assessment that The Economist is "pretty liberal" is spot-on, although possibly not in the way that you meant it. The Economist refers to itself as "a liberal newspaper." That is to say, it is "liberal" in the classic sense of the term. It is very libertarian, particularly in the economic sense — very free-market-oriented, opposed to the welfare states of Europe, etc. Of course, over here, people tend to call that "conservative," even though it’s technically wrong to do so. (And even in explaining itself, the publication occasionally uses the modern, popular sense of the term, as illustrated in the above-referenced link.) Therefore, Steve Aiken has a point when he disagrees with your characterization — although I have to differ with him when he seems (at least by implication, although I may be misreading him) to equate calling that publication "liberal" with calling people with whom one disagrees "retarded."

Of course, I now welcome responses to my response.

37 thoughts on “Dale, don’t give up on us!

  1. Lee

    Congressman Murtha provides the leftwing media with a former military hero who shares their warped view of our continuing success in Iraq:
    * 14 of 18 provinces under complete control
    * 30,000 terrorists killed
    * Most Al Qaeda leaders killed or captured
    * 600,000 tons of high explosives and chemical weapons captured.
    * Elections coming soon.
    * Saddam Hussein to receive a fair trial like he never gave any of the tens of thousands of Iraqis he killed.

    Reply
  2. Mary Rosh

    The answer you give to this question:
    “How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?”
    reflects your usual lack of integrity. The reason Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage, while Lieberman’s did not receive similar coverage, include:
    1. Lieberman didn’t say anything he didn’t say many times before. The only “news” was that Lieberman made some remarks. Anybody who was informed that Lieberman made some remarks on Iraq would instantly know what they were. Actually, all anyone needed to know was that someone pointed a camera at Lieberman. Anybody with that knowledge could instantly and reasonably conclude that Lieberman made some remarks on Iraq, and what the remarks were.
    2. The Republicans mounted a full-fledged attack on Murtha, with numerous Republican chickenhawks calling him a coward and pretending (as you have repeatedly done, with equal dishonesty) that anyone failing to support the administration’s position was failing to support our troops. That was certainly interesting and worthy of note.
    3. The American people aren’t interested in listening to the same “everything is great, everything is wonderful, victory is within our grasp, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel” feelgood platitudes that tumble out of Lieberman’s mouth. Those platitudes have been repeated for 2 years or more, and people are becoming angrier and angrier to have their intelligence insulted when they know that the reality is different. The reality is more like this:
    ********************************************
    By Sally Buzbee, The Associated Press
    Published: December 05, 2005 11:45 AM ET
    DUBAI (AP) The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big “setback” in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.
    Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops…
    ********************************************
    So Murtha’s remarks got play because they were evidently based on a consideration of the actual reality in Iraq.
    What I want to know is, why should anyone automatically assume that Lieberman’s remarks are entitled to the same play as Murtha’s remarks? Every viewpoint isn’t automatically entitled to equal weight. It seems to me that Murtha’s remarks should get more play than Lieberman’s, because Murtha’s remarks at least reflect consideration of what is actually going on, rather than reflexive support of chickenhawk fantasies. This is a serious problem that has been brought about by journalistic laziness. Instead of truth, instead of objectivity, lazy journalists strive for “balance,” that is, they seek to balance every viewpoint with another, opposing viewpoint. That’s why somebody like Dale, used to lazy, sloppy journalism, expects that anytime he hears a viewpoint that he disagrees with, it should be balanced with a viewpoint he likes.
    But maybe Dale took my advice and signed up to go to Iraq, to support the cause he favors with more than just words. It would certainly be more than you have ever done.

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  3. Dave

    A person can be partisan to a political party or a person can be partisan to a specific set of principles that can be defined as a cause. On this blog, I would offer that Mary Rosh the blogger is not really a Democrat partisan, as I don’t think the Dem party would claim ownership of her. Lee is not truly a GOP partisan as he has noted his dissatisfaction with the administration’s immigration programs. By definition, partisans have blind and zealous loyalty to something. So, what does all this concern about partisanship mean, or does it even matter? On a blog like this, what is wrong with people laying out their opinions, some factual and some intuitive, and everyone just take it or leave it on its own merit? By example, from what former Democrat Attorney General is doing in Iraq, I think he is either insane or a true American traitor. By posting that, am I now a rabid partisan? I don’t like the personal type attacks that occasionally filter into this blog but that kind of dialog usually says more about the attacker than the attacked. This type of blog is a great example of the First Amendment in action.

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  4. Mike C

    Dang it, Mary, we retards is havin’ trouble followin’ you again.
    Mickey Kaus, no neocon he, says that “[t]he press is pretending to be surprised by Murtha’s views even though he’s been a known, public Iraq War skeptic since at least a year and a half ago.” Kaus provides links to support his assertions. He finds the following by LA Times staff writer Maura Reynolds’ most egregious:

    And when President Bush decided to wage war on Saddam Hussein, perhaps no Democrat was a firmer ally.

    As Kaus correctly points out:

    Assuming Reynolds means the current President Bush and the current war (and shouldn’t she have said if she didn’t?) this is correction-worthy garbage. Murtha questioned the war in 2002, before it began.

    It looks to me that Murtha’s story was picked up as part of the fall offensive against the war by folks who don’t understand — a group that includes many journalists — and those who don’t want to understand — folks who suffer from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome):

    the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.

    I will agree that Joe Lieberman is more predictable than Murtha, but that’s only because one can’t be quire sure what Rep. Murtha will come out with next. Eighteen months ago he wanted to increase the number of troops in Iraq; now he wants to pull our troops out immediately. Who knows, perhaps next he’ll call for a timetable for withdrawing our troops form Japan and Germany; haven’t we tried long and hard enough to get those countries to enter the community of nations?
    Lieberman is noteworthy simply because he’s one of the few Democrats at the national level who has consistently supported the war. His remarks, like Senator Clinton’s, are notable during this fall offensive because they seem to represent a very small minority of their party. They certainly seen to stand apart from the party’s manstream:

    Saying the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

    The party’s foreign policy gurus are trying to develop an alternative policy to Bush’s, but when even Ambassador Holbrooke says, “I’m not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy. It’s not something that you can expect in a situation that is moving this fast and has the level of details you’re looking for” it looks to me like the party will continue to flail for some time, Is BDS the only thing they have going for them? If so, they’re likely to tip over to the dark side that so filled with hate that they’d like nothing better than for America to fail abroad.
    At least some of the chickenhawks are having fun at suppressing dissent.
    I note Dave’s musings on partisanship – a blind and zealous loyalty. As a run-of-the-mill atheist conservative-with-a-libertarian bent independent veteran who believes in peace through superior firepower, I find that simplicity in thought and action is a virtue. Partisans have to believe too many contradictory things, so I’ll pick and choose in a coherent fashion what I’ll take a stand for. Ramsey Clark is the kind of guy I stick into the category of “don’t have to pay attention to any more.” He joins Pat Robertson, George Galloway, Al Sharpton, and a whole host of others who’ve proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they inhabit their own little Oz and should not be disturbed.
    In the context of the war, Christopher Hitchens describes quite well the contradictions some anti-war folks have to believe to carry on as they do. It can’t be easy being partisan.

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  5. Mary Rosh

    “Dang it, Mary, we retards is havin’ trouble followin’ you again.”
    That doesn’t surprise me.
    “Mickey Kaus, no neocon he,”
    I think that when you start calling on the Hairless Hack for support, your argument is pretty much shot.
    “Assuming Reynolds means the current President Bush and the current war (and shouldn’t she have said if she didn’t?) this is correction-worthy garbage. Murtha questioned the war in 2002, before it began.”
    Yeah, here’s what he is quoted as saying:
    “Bush’s father ”had his coalition built before he came to Congress,” Murtha says. As a result, most of the Persian Gulf War ( news – web sites)’s cost was shared
    by U.S. allies. Those nations shouldered more than $53 billion of the $61 billion war burden, according to the White House budget office.
    This time, ”it will all be expended by the United States,” says Murtha, the top-ranking Democrat on the House panel that funds the Pentagon ( news – web sites). He says another war with Iraq would cost at
    least $50 billion. Other estimates put the price as high as $200 billion.”
    “Murtha says a key reason for questioning a second Iraq war is strategic. He’s worried that it would cost the United States not only money and lives, but also important allies. By moving without international
    support, Bush could alienate Arab allies, and ”we could lose access to the intelligence we need to fight the war on terrorism.”
    Hmmm, sounds like Murtha was justified in his skepticism. Pretty prescient, if you ask me.
    It’s intereting that you refer to “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” How is it that opposition to Bush can only result from mental illness? Can’t opposition to Bush stem from his lies, his corruption, the 2100 dead American soldiers, the hundreds of billions wasted in the war, the billions of dollars stolen from Iraq by chickenhawks and their offspring, the disgrace that the Bush human rights violations have brought on America?
    There is, of course, no such thing as “Bush derangement syndrome;” your use of the term is merely another instance of your trying to give special place to your own unsupportable arguments by trying to place contrary arguments outside accepted discourse.
    Why is it that when people who disagree with you point out that you are dishonest and retarded, their criticism is somehow beyond the pale, but you yourself feel free to question the sanity of the 57% of Americans who oppose the Iraq war.
    ” As a run-of-the-mill atheist conservative-with-a-libertarian bent independent veteran”
    You’re not libertarian, unless the “liberty” you refer to is the liberty to collect $1.35 in federal handouts, subsidies, and services for every $1.00 you pay in federal taxes. Tell you what, why don’t you figure out your federal taxes, take 35% of that, and send it to a few randomly chosen citizens of states like California, New Jersey, or Massachusetts. Then you can really be libertarian, instead of just calling yourself that. And you won’t have to take charity from those poor, benighted souls.

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  6. Mike C

    Mary –
    I did not object to your calling me retarded, this blog’s proprietor did. As for questioning sanity, I thought I limited to the BDS-ers, but if you believe that I included you, you are welcome to that belief.
    Everybody else –
    Mary’s last paragraph repeats her refrain that we in SC receive more in federal spending than we pay in the form of taxes, so something is terribly wrong, unfair, and unbalanced. SC gets $1.35 for each $1.00 paid in federal taxes.
    In that past I’ve asked her to consider why this might be the case.
    Here’s the answer. As a poorer state, SC (median household income $39,326) residents pay less in federal income taxes than those who live in a higher income state like Connecticut (median household income $55,970). (Income data 2002-2004 courtesy of the US Census Bureau.) Note that for a specific annual salary, an individual would pay the same amount in federal taxes regardless of what state she lived in. There is no unique geographic subsidy that residents of the Palmetto State benefit from.
    As a poorer state, SC has a greater percentage of citizens eligible for Medicaid and other federal programs designed to support the poor. Thus SC’s poorer folks receive a subsidy.
    As a Southern state, SC has a greater percentage of active duty and retired military personnel. (The methodology of census data collection credits the home state of active duty personnel with the income they earn regardless of where they are stationed.) These pension and salary payments are not welfare nor are they something special that SC receives, but they are federal outlays.
    Social security also counts as federal spending, providing almost $600M to SC retirees in 2003. SC has a slightly higher percentage of the population collecting Social Security than Connecticut does according to the Social Security Administration.
    You can find more details in this paper prepared for the state of Illinois. SC sure looks like a piker compared to Montana ($1.73), West Virginia ($1.72), Mississippi ($1.69), and North Dakota ($1.65). But the fact that this method credits Washington DC with $6.71 for every dollar paid in federal taxes shows how screwy and imprecise this comparison is.

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  7. Mike C

    One point war-opponents make repeatedly is that Bush 41’s coalition was bigger, better, broader, stronger, and had fewer calories than Bush 43’s. Now I’m not a conspiracy kind of guy except to the extent that I knew that tin-foil hats are a government conspiracy long before most did, but I am intrigued that just about everybody who was anybody back in the late 1990s and early 2000s was getting a piece of the Oil For Food scam Saddam had engineered. Its tentacles even reached to the Punjab.
    Say what, old bean? India’s opposition party is demanding the resignation of ex-foreign minister Natwar Singh, now a minister without portfolio, for his role in collecting vouchers for four million barrels of Iraqi oil and arranging an equal amount for his party, the ruling Congress Party. (India has a metric system of government — a parliament — which means that one needs a play-by-plan announcer and a scorecard to keep track.)
    While ostensibly run by the UN to sell Iraqi oil and purchase foodstuffs for the Iraqi people, the Oil For Food program turned into a system generating kickbacks to Saddam’s regime and payoffs to those Saddam tried to influence. Saddam Hussein illegally made billions of dollars while Iraq was under strict United Nations economic sanctions. More than 4500 companies from 60 countries were involved according to a report issued by Paul Volker, former US Federal Reserve chief and now leading an investigation of the UN. But so far UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, his kid Kojo, and others associated with the scam are still on the street. Kofi does say that he’s sorry that the scam happened while he was in charge; he still wants a second term.
    Many countries are taking Volker’s reports of wrongdoing seriously. For example, Switzerland is fining companiesproven to have given kickbacks to Iraq.
    Links to UN/Volker and US Senate reports on the Oil-for-Food scam are here. Coincidentally, most of the contracts
    went to Russian and French individuals and companies
    , with Russia the clear winner even though France certainly led in the number of diplomats and politicians receiving stipends.
    Whoa! Weren’t France and Russia the two main opponents Bush faced in the UN Security Council in the run-up to the War in Iraq? That’s as coincidental as Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
    Then again, if some dirty work is ahead, I’d prefer to have the Brits and Poles at my side to the French and Russkies. Nothing personal, you understand, just a matter of trust.

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  8. Mary Rosh

    Mike, yes, everyone in the states that depend for their survival on federal largesse always has some excuse about why they’re really paying their fair share, all appearances to the contrary, and the excuses always depend on speculating about portions of the equations. It’s always Medicaid and Social Security, isn’t it; it’s never farm subsidies, public works projects, or anything like that.
    16.7% of the population of Connecticut get Social Security benefits, versus 17.7% of the population of South Carolina. Connecticut gets 65 cents in federal expenditures for every $1.00 in federal taxes they pay, compared to South Carolina’s $1.35. You can’t make that work out by pointing to Social Security.
    But I take it that you’re not interested in working out the reality so that you can pay your fair share; you’re only interested in making excuses for why you shouldn’t have to.
    Why am I not surprised?

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  9. Lee

    So Mary, tell us which South Carolinians you would remove from various welfare programs in order to get South Carolina down to only receiving $1.00 of federal money for every $1.00 of federal taxes collected from the state’s citizens.
    South Carolina, like most Southern states, has an influx of federal dollar because it has more citizens in the military, and more military bases. That’s what liberals really hate.

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  10. Mary Rosh

    Lee, I’d end farm subsidies, I’d rework public works projects so that each state received the same proportion of public works money as it contributed in federal taxes, I’d charge fair value for all use of federal land, water, and other resources, and I’d rework military expenditures so that they were based solely on the defense needs of the United States and were not used as a way to funnel federal money into particular communities.
    The whole reason for the South Carolina’s disproportionate share of federal money is military expenditures, yeah, sure it is. Another weakly reasoned, poorly evidenced “explanation” of why South Carolinians take so much more out of the federal government than they put in. You know, other states have significant military installations too, California has a lot of military installations. How does that work into your calculations (as if you had done any)?
    Anyway, let’s approach it from another direction. Does South Carolina, really and truly, represent a net economic positive to the United States, or a net economic negative? For that matter, does the South as a whole represent a net economic positive or a net economic negative?

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  11. Mike C

    Mary –
    Stay away from the subsidies just for a moment and look at the income side. Residents of Connecticut pay more in federal taxes because their incomes are higher.
    Here’s the median household incomes and effective income tax rates, based on my swag using 2004 tables:

    CT $55,970 16%
    SC $39,326 12%

    For simplicity’s sake, if we assume that each state has the same population / number of households (1 million), we find state total income to be:

    CT $55,970,000,000
    SC $39,326,000,000

    Using the progressive tax rates from above, I compute taxes paid as follows:

    CT $8,955,200,000
    SC $4,719,120,000

    Assuming that for a whole host of reasons the federal household subsidy is $6,500, each state receives the same amount: $6,500,000,000.

    For CT, divide $6,500,000,000 by $8,955,200,000 to arrive at 0.723
    For SC, divide $6,500,000,000 by $4,719,120,000 to arrive at 1.378

    I noticed that CT has a slightly lower percentage of retirees than SC does. Climate may play a role, but CT’s death tax, a/k/a estate tax, may play a role in encouraging the wealthy to beat feet before they day. People are rational.
    I conclude that the difference lay primarily in the taking side, not the subsidy side. I do, however, welcome your quantitative analysis.
    Your words about the Palmetto State’s contribution to Vespucciland hurt, cut deeply. I am a resident by choice, having been born in the Windy City and lived in many areas of the US as well as abroad. I ended up here in part because my wife is a native of Columbia. But the state’s contributions are manifold. It was one of the founding colonies, it has contributed more than its fair share of blood and treasure to the nation’s defense, and serves as at least one example of what proud folks of lesser means can accomplish. It’s time for the state to shine. Too many of its sons and daughters have left the state to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. My aim is to help create an environment locally where these offspring can thrive.
    Lest I be misunderstood, I don’t think that the state should retract its gift to Chicago and the nation, Jesse Jackson. Let lying dogs sleep.

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  12. Dave

    Mary, with your belief in central planning it appears you missed a golden opportunity with the Soviet Kremlin. The Puerto Ricans would really have a problem with your formula, since they pay almost nothing into the federal till. Then there is the issue with the western states, like Montana, Wyoming, etc. where the feds own as much as 40% of the land.

    The real solution is to downsize the federal government so the money flowing into the federal pot is only enough for national defense and little else. Then the argument of who gets more of the “pork” is lesened.

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  13. Mike C

    Dave –
    Economist Milton Friedman describes the Hong Kong economic miracle as an absence of planning. John James (J.J.) Cowperthwaite, a Scotsman and disciple of Adam Smith, was Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 to 1971.
    During a visit to Hong Kong in 1963, Friedman asked Cowperthwaite about the paucity of statistics on Hong Kong economic activity. Sir Cowperthwaite answered, “If I let them compute those statistics, they’ll want to use them for planning.’’
    Friedman’s point is that Hong Kong’s prosperity grew so rapidly simply because it was not planned, but allowed to happen.

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  14. Lee

    I never met an urban liberal yet who knew what a “farm subsidy” was, other than a diversionary slogan. The biggest farm subsidy I can think of is how tobacco farming subsidizes all those government welfare programs which fail to cure poverty.

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  15. Mary Rosh

    Mike, so what you’re saying is that South Carolinians don’t earn enough to pay the federal taxes necessary to pay for the services and payments they receive from the federal government, so they are obliged to take handouts extracted from people in Connecticut? I grant you that, but I don’t see how it contradicts the point I was making. Which is, chiefly, that South Carolinians don’t pay as much in federal taxes as they receive in subsidies and services from the federal government, so that it is difficult to see how anyone in such a condition can legitimately call himself a “libertarian.”

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  16. Mary Rosh

    Lee,farm subsidies are payments collected from the taxes of urban liberals, for payment to farmers who are unwilling or unable to make a sufficient living by producing goods in quantities desired by the public, at prices which the public is willing to pay.

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  17. Lee

    Most of the farm price support programs I know about are paid for by assessments on farmers, as a form of insurance. But I only grew up on a farm.
    Why don’t you describe an actual farm subsidy paid for by urban taxpayers? The indirect subsidies to ethanol producers that Tom Daschle pushed through don’t count.

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  18. Herb

    If you want to know something about farm subsidies, have a look at this: 
      Go to the article "African Decries Greedy Yanks." The cotton barons referred to are members of a family who control about 30,000 acres of farm and ranch land. The father and children all have their own mansions, which would be fine except that they’ve amassed their little empire at taxpayers’ expense, putting neighbors out of business in the process, and to the detriment (to some extent at least) of folks like these in West Africa.

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  19. Dave

    Mike C., I wonder if Mary continues her whining about farmers while she is stuffing her face with the food that the farmers provide? Let’s see, farmers export food products and the metropolitan people of Conn. export what – insurance mostly. Now there is some food for thought.

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  20. Mary Rosh

    Dave, I never have understood that line of reasoning. What you are saying is that _______ produce ______, and people use the _______ that _______ produce, so that no one should ever criticize _______ for anything. You can put anything you wish into the blanks, and it comes out the same. And no matter what you put into the blanks, the argument makes no sense.
    I’m aware that farmers sell food and that people eat food. What I don’t understand is why this fact entitles farmers to handouts. Why should I have to pay extra taxes to keep a so-called “businessman” from being required to earn a living by selling goods in quantities people want to buy, at prices they are willing to pay? Why can’t farmers depend for their income on their own initiative and industry? Why do they have to have handouts? What entitles them to handouts? And aren’t handouts bad for them? Who knows what they could accompish if they had to make their own way, rather than depending on handouts taken from taxes paid by people in Connecticut?
    All farm subsidies do is distort the agricultural market. There’s plenty of food available; we can get as much food as we want from third world countries. Imagine what would happen if we ended farm subsidies tomorrow. Plenty of small third world farmers would see markets opened up, millions of acres of excess agricultural land in the U.S. could be put to other uses, and a huge number of Americans conditioned to a life of dependency would get the push needed to make them realize that it is possible to survive by the fruits of one’s own labor, by selling one’s work on an open, competitive market!
    People in South Carolina could, for the first time, begin practicing self reliance, instead of just talking about it, the way you do.

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  21. Brad Warthen

    Looks like I’m agreeing with Mary on something — that farm subsidies are a problem, and need to be reduced or eliminated. Of course, we’d have to do it carefully so as not to radically interrupt the supply of food and fiber. But the most recent Farm Bill was one of the most absurd current examples of federal overspending.
    Where I don’t agree is on the idea that every state should receive precisely what it contributes. The money needs to go where it’s most needed. NYC needed federal money to recover from 9/11; the Gulf Coast needs help now. Coastal and border states and those with international airports need more Homeland Security money than those states without those characteristics, and so forth.
    If every state received according to its contribution on domestic spending, then what would be the point in sending the money to Washington in the first place? Aside from what is needed for the national defense, regulating interstate commerce and a few other essentially federal tasks, the rest of the money should just stay in the states, rather than making the expensive round-trip to D.C. and back — UNLESS the government is going to distribute those taxes according to some criteria other than how much each state contributed.
    The hope — all-too-often vain, of course — is that those criteria will be rational ones, rather than political. And one of the most political criteria of all is the one about demanding that your state get a dollar back for a dollar sent in. If rational criteria apply, sometimes you’ll get more, sometimes you’ll get less — according to where the Congress decides it is most needed.

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  22. Mary Rosh

    Oh, I don’t dispute that South Carolina needs the excess federal dollars it receives. Without federal handouts, South Carolina’s economy would collapse. I agree with you that homeland security money should be distributed according to the presence or absence of threat, and the value of the assets to be protected. It isn’t, though. Instead, it has turned out to be another means of shifting money from citizens of liberal states to citizens of conservative states.
    I don’t object to financing handouts for people who would otherwise go hungry. What annoys me is the ingratitude. People from South Carolina, Alabama, Montana, Wyoming, and other states which are absolutely dependent on federal handouts and subsidies and using federal resources for less than their value, strut around talking about “self-reliance” and complaining about the welfare and medicaid payments they pretend their tax dollars are financing.
    I think that if you’re going to talk about self-reliance and preach it to other people, you should at least BE self-reliant. That’s all I ask.

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  23. kc

    The only defensible answer to the question was that Mr. Murtha was rather dramatically changing his point of view,
    No, he wasn’t. Don’t you read the news?

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  24. Lee

    We real liberals want all taxpayer subsidies to end, not just a few that don’t enrich ourselves.
    Phony reformers prefer to talk about “farm subsidies” instead of these:
    * Mayor Bob’s slush fund subsidizing millionaire Larry Wilson’s business ventures.
    * Taxpayer subsidies of education, housing, and medical care for Bantus and illegal immigrants.
    * Taxpayer subsidies of Air South and a host of buzzword business shells that have sprung up around USC’s Innovista.
    * Food Stamps
    * Public education
    * Public transportation running on 83% taxpayer subsidies
    * College loans to marginal students who flunk out
    * College tuition tax credits and grants
    * Small business loan interest subsidies.
    * Subsidies for ethanol, solar power, wind power, etc.

    Reply
  25. Mary Rosh

    “Yes, kc, I’ve read the reports you’re talking about regarding Mr. Murtha’s previous doubts about the war — but I didn’t see them until after posting this.”
    This is an example of the laziness that is, besides your lack of integrity, the key factor that makes you a failure as a journalist. WHY didn’t you see the reports before posting? They were available. No exigencies forced you to post before you had time to do research.
    No, you posted because you wanted to make a point, and it was pure laziness that kept you from doing the work necessary to find out if the point you were making was grounded in reality.

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  26. Lee

    What bothers Mary most is that Brad keep looking beyond the media label put on Murtha as a “former hawk now against Bush’s war in Iraq”, and found that Murtha:
    1. has not been a “war hawk”
    2. has been talking about his imagination of discontent and weariness among combat troops, not reality, because Murtha has had little contact with any real troops.

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  27. Steve Aiken

    I daresay Murtha has had more contact with the troops doing the actual fighting in Iraq than Bush or Cheney. As of the date he made his public statement on the floor of the House, his district had suffered a death total 2.7 times the average for all congressional districts in the U. S.

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  28. Lee

    How could anyone honestly claim that “Murtha has had more contact with the troops doing the actual fighting in Iraq than Bush or Cheney.”
    There have been quite a few South Carolinians killed in Iraq. That doesn’t mean that Steve Aiken had contact with them.
    The Democrats have a big problem in that they only have a few members with any military credentials, however dusty and irrelevant they may be to Iraq. When they try to use that for more than a sound bite, people start to investigate the actual knowledge and sincerity of the spokesman, and it often is weak.

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  29. Dave

    Steve, Murtha is from a deepwoods PA area loaded with deer hunters and highly patriotic Americans. Johnstown itself has been in a semi-depression since the late 50’s when the coal mines started shutting down. I would bet his own approval rating is way down with his white flag waving cut and run ideas. He actually proposed moving our troops to Okinawa for rapid deployment to Iraq if needed. I respect his military service. But his ideas belong at Disney with Goofy and friends.

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  30. Steve Aiken

    Dave: You may well be correct as to whether Murtha’s popularity is down. I don’t agree with his withdrawal. But his combat service gives him a superior right to get a respectful hearing.
    Lee: If you were a serviceman from Murtha’s district and you wanted to talk to someone in Washington, you’d have a much better chance of getting your congressman on the line than of talking either to the Prez or the VP. Bush and Cheney only talk to or listen to those who agree with them.

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  31. Lee

    If I lived in Murtha’s district I would have no representative to call.
    Murtha’s former military service obviously has been of no value to him regarding Iraq, judging by how misinformed he seems to be. Surely he is not just being dishonest in his sedition, like the other Democrats who supported war when Clinton was piddling at it.

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  32. Lee

    Brad, you claim to dislike the latest Farm Bill, and agricultural subsidies. Would you have voted to remove Food Stamps from the Farm Bills and abolish iw and the WIC program?

    Reply
  33. Brad Warthen

    Food stamps and WIC would hardly be the place where I’d start. I’d start with subsidies for commodities that don’t need to be propped up — with “need” defined as “in the national interest.” And note that I didn’t talk about entirely eliminating anything right away, but would instead take a measured approach to avoid radical interruption to supplies. That’s the pragmatic, nonideological way — in contrast to your ideologically loaded question.
    And isn’t it passing strange that Mary objects to my having accepted her side’s version of events, which was that Mr. Murtha was this major hawk who had dramatically “seen the light.” Even stranger, given the things she says about me, is the way she assumes that I am omniscient. That’s the only way that I could always know that there is something else out there that I have yet to uncover, but I decline to do so out of “laziness.”
    Either that, or she defines as “lazy” anyone who fails to stop everything, do a Lexis-Nexis search, and pore through the thousands of entries available on Mr. Murtha, JUST IN CASE what I’ve read previously is incomplete (and remember I’ve got no reason to suspect that at this point), BEFORE writing a quick reply to a comment on a posting on my blog.
    If there’s anyone else out there who sees that as the standard you want from this blog, please give me a show of hands. I have a 60-hour-a-week job and plenty of other responsibilities in my life without ever writing a word on this site. Neither I nor anyone else could meet the standard set out above, so if them’s the rules, it’s bye-bye, blog.
    Oh, and by the way: My original POINT was and remains correct. That WAS “the only defensible answer to the question” of why Mr. Murtha got the coverage he did. The fact that it wasn’t a huge departure for him makes such coverage indefensible.

    Reply
  34. Lee

    But the primary stated purpose of Food Stamps and WIC is to prop up the prices of commodities. If the surpluses disappear, FS and WIC programs are supposed to end, just as the food stamp programs of FDR ended when WW2 ended the surpluses.

    Reply
  35. Richard Saunders

    “This is an example of the laziness that is, besides your lack of integrity, the key factor that makes you a failure as a journalist.”
    Is this really necessary? Even if this crap were true, what does it add to the discussion?
    I salute free speech and enjoy different viewpoints – even if some viewpoints make no sense – but it seems that we may need 2 discussion threads: 1 for those who wish to discuss real problems and potential solutions and 1 for folks who just want to yell, scream, and call each other names.

    Reply

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