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Many many years ago (before TV and when telephones were only black) I was a most reluctant and recalcitrant student of Latin.

I was in awe of (and loathed) those few classmates who could translate Latin gobbledygook with effortless ease.

I would surreptitiously buy a ‘trot’ (English translation) without which I would have never known that ‘Caesar divided Gaul into three parts.’

Heather is our own marvelous almost nightly ‘trot’ to the gobbledygook that we encounter daily on social media, the press, and TV.

Her translation of the current budget babel permits us facilely to understand the difference between President Biden and the boisterous Republican backlash.

Heather provides a handy antidote to the false facts of Tucker Carlson and his Foxy foo foo dust.

Heather has us ‘trotting’ down the track of relevant history to permit us to better understand today’s topical shenanigans.

Thanks to Heather, when I follow the daily news I can say

VENI, VIDI, VICI [I came, I saw, I conquered]

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Keith,

The gobbledygook authors of today and yesterday were Reagan and Republicans. It worked for a while honestly.

But, the truth is known now. Republicans are highly fiscally irresponsible and their massive deficits, starting with Reagan, did nothing for America and Americans and everything for 15 or so corporations and rich folks.

Then, those folks provide "campaign contributions" back to Republicans as dark money legally.

This incestuous feedback loop between "supply side" government which ramps up deficits and provides welfare to rich white folks is now obvious to anyone who is not drunk on Fox News.

HCR makes it all clear as a sunny day.

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RR who should have been impeached was and still is popular in the minds of many Republicans. He gave us supply side BS and it continued to not work for these nearly 50 years. Presuming Biden runs for reelection considering what he is proposing in his budget he should win in a landslide like FDR did against Hoover. Shifting the economy to the demand side will have enormous benefits.

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Why do you think he should have been impeached? I know why I believe it,how about your thoughts?

Iran Contra should have ended both him and HW, but worse was the deal he made pre-election with the Iranians to hang on to the hostages. I voted for Carter, Reagan was considered an unserious lightweight and a joke (yes he was given little chance of success), and Carter had an agreement to release the hostages. It’s well documented that Reagan made this deal, or the many people smarter than he, which was everyone, did it for him. No coincidence they were released on his inauguration.

And it was all downhill from there.

It will take longer than I have to live to get rid of this stupidity.

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For the same reason you mentioned, especially the Iran Contra scandal, probably the most egregious crime committed by a president.

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Until trump

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Yes, until trump. His list of crimes is long, but not as long as the time he should spend behind bars.

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Reagan should have been removed from office during his second term. Supposedly, everyone in the WH knew he had Alzheimers. The 25th Amendment presumably would have applied.

These days, people seem to have forgotten how loopy Trump was, especially toward the end of his time in office. Nobody had the courage to get him out of office even after he came close to starting a war with North Korea:

https://theintercept.com/2022/05/14/twitter-elon-musk-trump-nuclear-war-north-korea/

Worse was how close he was to starting war with Iran:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/11/us/politics/iran-trump.html

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Marycat, I know of nobody who has forgotten how loopy tFg was from day one, unless it is a result of convenience-induced amnesia or drinking the GOP Kool Aid. If time and a sane President have dimmed some of the trauma, his behavior since living in Florida and the increasingly alarming performance of the Republicans have done nothing but keep the flames burning. His "legacy" will take years for us to finally recover from and treat his tenure as anything but a destructive, toxic, criminal chapter in our history.

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Nixon screwed LBJ re the VietNam negotiations, and Reagan screwed Carter re the hostages. Daddy Bush screwed Dukakis With Willie Horton ad, and Baby Bush (with significant help from Cheney, Baker, and a multitude of dirty tricksters) screwed Gore. McCain brought out his big idiot gun (Palin) to best Obama and repubs have never recovered from the shame. Guess I shouldn’t leave out Hillary being screwed by, well, a horde of republicans. Of course, chump tried his best dirty tricks on Joe (Hunter b/s and anything that his evil cretins could dream up.) Anybody notice a pattern here? Watch out for the next chapter. It’s being conjured as we post.

BTW, Reagan was a better actor than I ever gave him credit for. Played the role way better than chump, who embarrassed us and his MAGAts, every hour of every day.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Jen I was not aware that Reagan’s folks delayed the release of the American hostages being held in Teheran on their way to Algiers, when American planes were awaiting them. Warren Christopher, Carter’s Under Secretary of State, was waiting in Algiers for the hostage release. He later told me that it was the Iranians who deliberately waited for Reagan’s inauguration to release the prisoners. This was an intended humiliation of Carter.

Reagan graciously permitted ex-President Carter to go greet the hostages (in Germany?)

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There were those who at the time thought it was a suspicious act. I was oblivious and young enough not to have realized it.

It’s on the same level as Nixon negotiating with the north Vietnamese to not end that war. Listen to the conversation between Everett Dirksen and LBJ about that. St Ronnie learned from Nixon how to win.

https://lbjtapes.org/conversation/treason

https://theintercept.com/2021/10/11/bani-sadr-reagan-iran-hostages-october-surprise/

We saw in real time the attack on the US Capital that we all know belongs squarely at the feet of trump. And yet two years later no accountability. No surprise that in the US it was difficult to prove Reagan’s October surprise issue. Personally I tend to believe my eyes.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Jen You tend to believe your eyes. I am reminded of an old Arab saying: “Never mind his eyes, my dear, watch his hands.” Actually I am inclined to believe Warren Christopher’s account of what he experienced at the Algiers airport regarding the Iranian release of the American hostages.

Years later I got to know Christopher quite well. Though he was not a ‘jolly chap,’ I was impressed by his integrity. (He had ‘trusting’ hands and a double breasted suit.)

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Nothing gracious about that toad. St. Ray Gun.

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Thank you Keith. I Believed Reagan won because he was able to delay the rescue.

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Mar 11, 2023·edited Mar 11, 2023

Eadie Historians should distinguish between opinions and facts. The actual release of the hostages occurred more than two months after Carter lost to Reagan. The country was in a dreadful stagflation, with unemployment moving towards 10% and inflation I also entering double digits.

The hostage situation was simply one aspect of what many saw as a ‘malaise’ in our country. Much of the Middle West had been characterized as the ‘Rust Bowl.’

Of course you are entitled to believe whatever, even though historical evidence may differ.

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Did not know that, suspicious of anything repub, but I was not back then. Thought they had learned their lesson with Nixon. Silly me…

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Thank you for giving the details. Only remembered them hazily (too angry at Reagan to remember).

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He should have been removed when he told The Federal Exchange, the Securities, The Exchange Commission, and the Department of Justice, to stop enforcing the anti-monopoly laws. We suffer under the burden of mega-corporations today.

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RR. Worst president ever. Worse than Trump as his legacy lives on, something 🤞🏼Trump’s won’t.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

John I taught President Reagan for over 20 years (1992-2013). Initially I was swayed by his unpresidential behavior and some silly/stupid things. However, over time, especially reading Lou Cannon, I realized that he was a most unusual president.

Matched against his 1981 ‘supply side’ cuts (passed with the help of post-assassination attempt sentiment) was the masterful 1986 tax reform bill, which few seem to remember. Also, he took a massive poll hit for several years, as he backed Paul Volcker’s draconian efforts to defeat stagflation.

The whole story of the contras in Central America is sordid. What Reagan knew and when he knew it is still being discussed, as Oliver North was riding high. Reagan was deeply concerned about American hostages held in the Middle East.

Historians are still debating whether Reagan or Gorbachev were the most significant in ending the Cold War. Whatever, it was an incredible role for ‘staunchly anti-communist’ Reagan.

For me, Reagan was far from being one of our worst or best presidents. Employing historical presidential analysis, he remains unique. As an historian I agree with many of my colleagues that Trump was the worst American president so far.

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The 1986 Tax Reform Bill was hardly what I would call “masterful”. It was billed as a tax simplification bill as it reduced the number of tax brackets from, I believe, 6 to 4. What it really did was reduce the top marginal rates for the rich and raise the lowest bracket minimum from 11 to 15% putting an additional burden on the lower and middle classes. It also got.rid of income averaging, a marvelous tool that allowed people on variable incomes, like commission salespeople, to average their income over 3 years adjusting for the ups and downs of their incomes in a fair way.

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Was it under Regan that County Hospitals in Ca disappeared?

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John may well be right in part (not sure how the both-sideism applies, he just claims it).

But he was responsible for the demise and increasing expense of higher education. “Why should I pay to educate those who oppose me?” Or something like that.

For exactly that reason, Ronnie. The dumbass. Sorry John, Reagan was an idiot. An interesting one, perhaps. Read his biography, which includes his time as a young lifeguard who would entertain at parties describing his lifesaving heroics. All of which were lies. The first trump. Well, maybe that was Nixon. Hard to tell.

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Yes it was. Both sides deserve credit for that one however. Yes, Reagan did close the mental hospitals in California leading to the tent cities we have today, but not before the ACLU brought suit that the mental facilities in California represented illegal imprisonment, the inmates being held without trial or representation.

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Yes, he turned out the mentally ill and gave birth to California's homeless problems. The Bay Area is inundated with homeless populations scattered all over the map.

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What do mean you taught Ronald Reagan for twenty years? Were you a teacher and had a class devoted to teaching students about him or were you actually trying to teach him something like reading and writing? Either way it makes no sense. I was born into a Republican family and fortunate to have had Dwight D Eisenhower as president during my formative years. As far as I’m concerned there hasn’t been another honorable and intelligent Republican in the White House since. After witnessing Goldwater’s run for President and witnessing what he was all about and then with Reagan getting elected I decided I could no longer vote for any Republican that was going to end up in Washington let alone a president. I remained a registered Republican thinking that at some point they would go back to serving the people and not the oligarchs. I would vote in the Republican primary for the least likely to win and then vote the Democrat. After the tragedy of TFG being elected I decided I decided I could no longer put up with that charade and have my name associated with the Republican Party. I ended up taking refuge in the Democratic Party and wishing they could be more aggressive in challenging or even questioning what’s going on with the Republican Party. Andy Borowitz, a writer for TNY Times, wrote a book called “Profiles in Ignorance”. How American Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber. Reagan was one of the first one he dealt with. I do believe that’s when this whole supply side economics, ultra conservative agenda kicked in and the country has been going down hill ever since.

****************

Yesterday I emailed you a comment but was told it didn’t go through.

Keith,

I thank you for the positive comment however everything I’ve read indicates that Hindenburg appointed Hitler to be Chancellor of Germany.

That’s all folks

Robert🙏🙏

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Robert, I've held that same opinion (of DDE being the last honorable Republican president) for my entire voting life. I was fortunate to be raised in a Democratic family, though my mother went over to the dark side with T****.

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Robert Thanks for your careful proofreading. “I taught Reagan’ was a short cut for saying that I taught the American presidents from Hoover to Obama.

Over more than 20 years I learned more and more about these presidents. Reagan was the most difficult to understand. Lou Cannon, who had followed Reagan from CA to Washington, provided the savviest insights. Ed Morris, who had won a Pulitzer for his book on Teddy Roosevelt, was chosen by Reagan to write his presidential bio.

Morris was flummoxed and finally had to invent a character in what I and many others found to be a disappointing biography. Some say that only Nancy really understood Ronnie, but others doubt it.

In class I was criticized by some students for being too tough on Reagan. Even today I am amazed by his successes and failures, without his having more than a gut instinct on key issues.

His budget director, David Stockman, acknowledged that the Reagan team hadn’t a clue about ‘supply side’ economic.

Is there a book on Reagan that you would recommend?

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I am curious what it was you “taught”. For twenty years? What exactly are you expert in, and what did you teach him?

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Jen As a history/economics professor for 23 years I taught a broad range of subjects related to American and world history. In Am Civ 2 I focused on the Great Depression up to the present. I also taught ECONOMICS FROM FEUDALISM TO THE PRESENT, SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EARLY JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM, THE WHAT VS. THE WHO: SOCIETAL DISCRIMINATION FROM PATRIARCHY TO THE PRESENT, and other courses.

As a former Foreign Service Officer, I also focused on the Cold War. As far as being an ‘expert,’ at particular moments I was ‘expert’ on modern Egypt, Congo, Chile, and international finance. Over time I morphed into becoming a generalist.

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It’s teacher jargon. Not “I taught American History, but “I taught Reagan.”

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Very good point. A likable evil is much worse than an obvious one.

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Are you sure???

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Harvey You have more confidence in the American electorate than have I.

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The current "battle of Federal Finances" is about spending and revenue. I am of the opinion that we should be spending a bit more to do the right stuff. And we should pay for it the way President Biden is suggesting.

But I also think that the $50 trillion which was transferred from us to the uber rich should be harvested for the public good. Like what if we asked for 1/2 of it back and solved the debt problem? Good idea?

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I'm with you, Bill. The far right screams about socialism but fails to understand that we live in a somewhat democratic socialist society. (Medicaid, Medicare...) Republicans use communist fear-mongering to make their base fearful of democrats. My guess is that most politicians/Americans don't really understand the difference between communism and socialism. If universal health care, free public college and drastic prison reform defines socialism, I'm all for it.

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Bill. What percentage of Federal taxes do the bottom 50% pay. The top 1%. The top 50%. 42%, 2.8% and 97.2%. If we want to spend 25% of GDP we need a lot more in revenue. Will it kill growth. Who knows. Read this. This is where we are going if our credit don’t freak first. https://nypost.com/2023/03/09/biden-budget-would-cause-national-debt-to-hit-nearly-51t-by-2033/?utm_campaign=iphone_nyp&utm_source=pasteboard_app

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

David, to explain your distorted Federal taxes point: “The top ten percent of households own 76% of all wealth in the U.S., while the bottom 50% of households own just 1% of all wealth.” And, “Since 2020, the richest 1 percent have captured almost two-thirds of all new wealth. According to a 2021 White House study, the wealthiest 400 billionaire families in the US paid an average federal individual tax rate of just 8.2 percent. For comparison, the average American taxpayer in the same year paid 13 percent.”

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

David Carroll, again. I point out:

𝗢𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘄𝗲 (𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗮𝘀𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸<𝗱𝗼𝘁>𝗰𝗼𝗺) 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗬𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗣𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗿 𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝗥𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁-𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗕𝗶𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗱𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝘆𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗶𝘅𝗲𝗱 (𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲) 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗯𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻 𝘀𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸𝘀.

Can you provide another (additional) more reliable (balanced) source for this opinion?

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David Carroll, I look forward to your posts of the NY Post stories that were critical of Trump’s tax cuts, which contributed significantly to the deficit. I suspect such stories don’t exist, because the Murdoch-owned post is just the print version of the Murdoch-owned Fox News. In the Murdoch universe, the deficit miraculously disappears when a Republican is president.

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“This incestuous feedback loop between "supply side" government which ramps up deficits and provides welfare to rich white folks is now obvious” — thanks for this one-liner that says it all and needs to be spread far and wide

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Hmmmm, perhaps it has now become obvious what “supply” the Republicans were talking about: Supply For Republican Grifters

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Ronald Reagan the “ lord and savior “ of the Republican Party. A fitting monument should be a urinal

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HRC should study economic history. She is totally off base and wrong. In her world Jimmy Carter was a leader and all was well. It wasn’t and growth exploded under Reagan with D/GDP ending at 42% vs an insane 125% today.

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David, please join the growing chorus of Patriotic Americans who are DEMANDING that Speaker McCarthy show us his budget proposal. “C’mon, Kev. Do your job..” You agree, right, David? The responsible, mature, even patriotic thing for Mr. McCarthy to do is to reciprocate and counteroffer Biden’s proposal, right?

Now, McCarthy’s 2024 Budget Plan can be totally SUPPLYSIDESSHITE. Just put it down on paper!!!

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But....Growth of Federal debt:

under Carter +42.79%

under Raygun +186.36%

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But the denominator grew. The economy could handle more debt. Growth exceeded the differential between income and outlays in Reagan’s last years. Meaning debt as a % of GDP was in balance and contracting. In a growing economy debt will naturally grow along with economic output as long as governments are careful about spending. In recent years we have lost our way. https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/debt-to-gdp-ratio

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I absolutely agree that the Federal debt is too high. It could be reduced overnight by harvesting the money taken from the poor and given to the uber rich. I propose a redistribution of obscene wealth. A one time asset tax that would pay off the Federal debt.

Two benefits:

1. International investment in all things American would explode.

2. The uber rich would stop feeling so guilty about their theft of the National Treasure. They would be proud to have saved their nation and....they would have just one mega yacht instead of two. Accordingly, they would feel less ostentatious and be pleased.

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I think it is a brilliant idea to give a uber rich a pathway to feeling less ostentatious. That’s gotta be a hard pill to swallow every day

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Typical Republican response these days....”Let’s create a budget for FY 2024 by ripping apart Jimmy Carter.” Very productive!!

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Perhaps the reason that D/GDP has gotten so large is that so much of the “growth” is hoarded by the über-rich rather than put back into the real economy that we have to take on more debt in order to make up for all of the hoarding. Not an economist, but can someone do that math?

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Victor, are you wondering if the Rich Are Getting Richer? Are you wondering if the 2017 TCJA lowered the tax liabilities for the Super Rich and for Corporations, thereby lowering the revenue collected? Do you believe that the tax cuts “given” to many Americans will be cancelled in two years, but the tax cuts for the rich and corporations will not be “sunsetted?” (Not new - part of the 2017 TCJA.) Are you concerned that energy companies like EXXON have been recording record profits, which they turn around by buying back their stock, which, happily (for EXXON) has been going down.

Need some math?

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Paul,

I don’t think you understood my comment.

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Do you understand my comment? Can you answer my questions? How much math are you lacking, Victor?

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David, did you want to defend supply side trickle down Econ?

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David wants to complain without solution. Sound familiar?

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Dave Dalton, I love it. Complain Without Solution Republicans. As an answer to the characterization Tax and Spend Democrats.

There are people who say solutions don’t solve anything, there are no acceptable solutions. Complaining is all we need to do.

I know someone who thinks solar panels and windmills are bad for the environment because a lot of energy goes into their manufacture, and when they are worn out there is the problem of disposal. An answer would be to run the numbers. But that’s hard. Experts can’t be trusted to tell the truth. When you try to make things better, you only make them worse, that’s the philosophy. Especially if the way things are suits you just fine.

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Harvey George H. W. Bush called ‘supply side trickle down’ as “voodoo economics.” I simply described it as ‘trickle down your pants leg.’

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From one trot reader to another. I have "nullus anxietas" (no worries) written on blue painters tape stuck on my PC. It helps, somehow.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

When we moved to Wales because of serious technical problems in our plant (losing 4 million a month in 1980 dollars) two phrases were common responses "not to worry" which meant you are about to "lose you ass" and "that will take a fortnight" which means "maybe someday".

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Good t-shirt design

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In my books, it is "Nada to fear" "All be well".

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Mine says "Carpe Diem"... :)

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Kudos on the analogy. I never suffered through Latin - so no need for a "trot". But we sure used a lot of "Cliff Notes". Another lazy dodge to escape the real work of reading.

Heather's recaps of key events and pronouncements are artfully woven into an historical context that has never been a feature of the MSM. I treasure it. I am reading her "How the South Won the Civil War" which is a must read to understand how the MAGA movement evolved. It was not out of thin air. It's been simmering in the dark recesses of our nation since its founding.

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Boy howdy Montana is really into this states rights civil war stuff even if it spites their face & cuts off their nose. The sound bites by State congress critters give no content only foment. In the meantime bills proposed in State legislation work against the farmers that federal bills could help. These are bills re water. As they say here, "whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting."

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Meanwhile you send the only “practicing” farmer to Congress. Can he open his mouth there about climate change and get re-elected? I sent Jon Tester a donation the moment he declared that he would run again. His presence in the Senate in these times (climate change=food inflation) is invaluable.

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Like now it looks like he is trying to somewhat straddle the line although he put out a strong statement re the President's budget. I dont know if u live in a rural or red state but here it seems that it is about states rights on almost every issue & does not seem to register if it is good or bad for working class people, just the evil federal gov

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Thanks for the reminder Bill, definitely a book I want to read.

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“Foxy foo foo dust.” I’m going to use that!

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Kudos to all who studied Latin in high school... it was taught at parochial schools in the 50s and 60s, and gave those of us who attended a foundational knowledge of language. I understand your view, but I am more partial to 'Caveat emptor' when it comes to daily news and government in general. But then, I live in Massachusetts, where we have one of the most opaque governments that money can buy.

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Coming so late to the "party" that are the comments sections of HCR's Letters means that if I want to add a comment to a very lengthy thread, I have no earthly idea where it will slot in. It gets buried under all y'all's equally pertinent commentary. "Ita sic tunc", as they say.

To elaborate on Keith's comment, I have to admit I kind of came to Latin through the "back door". I didn't take it in school--I really wish I had--but have had extensive experience in languages that are/were derived from Latin. Four years of high school Spanish (I was pretty fluent), 2 years of college Italian (I felt I needed it for music and opera studies), one year of college French (I wish it had been more), 2 years of college German (it would eventually become my minor field of study when working on my Masters), one year of college accelerated Dutch (part of trying to present myself as a Fullbright candidate to study in The Netherlands--came close, didn't get it), and a course in Russian for Singers. In my professional career that took me to base myself in Europe for 18 years I regularly was exposed to and worked in foreign languages--I feel like I sang in just about every language under the sun! BUT, Latin was very often the common denominator in so many of these languages, even sometimes in Germanic, Scandinavian, or Slavic languages. My career also meant I sang countless pieces of vocal music, especially Renaissance-era music, that was in Latin ,so I was constantly translating. As a result, my comprehension of Latin came about through osmosis. Had I been able to BEGIN with Latin, I think all my subsequent years of language experience could have been made all the easier. Language STILL fascinates me to no end and I'm always looking up word roots in English, which really is the supreme "bastard" tongue of them all. We snitch stuff from everybody and make it our own! Anyway...just some mindless meanderings...pax vobis amicis!

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Quite impressive! Thanks for a fun journey! As a novice (1964), I was assistant to the choir director, so I learned to direct Gregorian Chant, which was always a thrill for me. Arsis and thesis instead of measured counting. Then Vatican 2 came mid novitiate and we had to have all English music by Christmas - what a trip that was, translating traditional music. Once we got out on mission, the guitar showed up, accompanying "folk" music of various levels of quality. We used to joke that "Sons of God" was merely "Here We Are" sung backwards!

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Kudos, Bruce for all your work with languages. Yes, there are many beautiful pieces of music in Latin. Sometimes when I am listening, I can actually hear a few words. I smiled at your description of English. I once took a course (on TV) on the history of English....fascinating.

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I wish I had learned so man languages as you have, Bruce. You mentioned the "bastard" language, so I would like recommend the book THE STORY OF ENGLISH by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. It is a companion to the PBS television series of years ago. Publisher is Elisabeth Sifton Books/Viking. First American Edition was published in 1986.

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This is the book I used when I took the class and watched the TV series.

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Sweet sweet comment Keith! I am a member too of the black phone generation and I too studied Latin. The first report card I failed with about as miserable a mark as one could achieve. But I stuck with it at my mother’s “request” for five years and it remains in my mind as one of the two or three most valuable course areas I studied.

I’m sure you downplay your own Latin accomplishments to make your elegant analogy to Heather’s writing. I cannot believe how this amazing professor meets the demands of teaching her huge class day after day, month after month, year after year. In my former church, a person would be canonized for half her effort.

Today I am reflecting on the fact that many important historical eras have had a zeitgeist from which a mass movement would spring, combined energy would flow, and matters that seemed to be not even open for question we’re toppled, often in a short while. The Socialist movement in the 1870-1930 era was one such, overthrowing the unquestioned privilege of a tiny few and bringing education, recreation, the vote and reforms to working conditions that paved the way for the rise of a propertied middle class, many of whose members were beneficiaries of the efforts of powerful unions. The gilded were well aware of the zeitgeist of the times very early on - by the time their world turned they were, less surprised than the majority who won today.

I’m trying to determine if there is the possibility for a nearly all-encompassing zeitgeist in America today. With the Internet dividing and subdividing us ceaselessly until we are virtually atoms, it becomes a more difficult possibility to imagine. With the deep-rooted individualism fed to children with their baby, Americans are suspicious of anything that resembles a common mood and community energy to bring it about. The Trump movement certainly produced its own zeitgeist - a re-awakening of a class which had despaired of being heard. There was also the requisite opposition and the violent culminating struggle.

Sadly, it has not proven cathartic or decisive for America. The class which opposed Trump and narrowly survived his weaponization of power is now busy mopping up, in my imagination, a giant room, but always having to work around those from the former time who Dreamstill hanging around, not understanding that their peak has crested and broken into tiny wavelets.

Trump is still on the edges of the scene, vainly trying to recapture the old magic. But he is saddled, even by his followers by the weight of the baggage his broken personality exposed. He will never win the Presidency again, but annoyingly no one will emerge to escort him from the room to aid in its cleanup. There are other candidates to be sure, Dull-Santis (credit to Maureen Dowd), “primus inter pares” at the moment, but surely not a person who can create another rising tempest among his followers.

It is evident that the room will remain frumpled, even as President Biden takes a second term, a likelihood i am extremely grateful for. Nobody ever mentions a value of his increasing years, but beyond accreted wisdom there is another. He is, I am sure, looking to his legacy and it’s not what we hear in this Linked-In world. Joe wants to face his Creator with clean hands, showing he has done his damndest to exemplify the beatitudes. And so, I believe he will become even more progressive in his (expected - nothing is certain in a country which frequently finds a reason to ride off madly in all directions) second term. There will be no zeitgeist under Biden, but there will be monuments thereafter.

And so, we sit in a state where there is relatively no domestic news of consequence.

Biden produces a budget. McCarthy sputters. This is a card game where one player has seen every contest and the other has not even a shaky grasp of the rules. But the latter has a majority in one house and spite inside. He will likely force it to be watered down - yet another postponement of a return to sanity.

The debt ceiling will pass - we have tge voyeuristic excitement of watching a MAGA diehard die hard. Prediction: it won’t be Margory Taylor Greene. She has anointed herself the next Chosen One and bears watching. As an aside, I am mightily tired of the inevitable reference to her as being chained at the hip to “Jewish space-lasers. That was a gambit, a tactic to raise awareness. She has never believed in that, I am sure. She believes only in herself and thus bears watching.

Jenna Ellis is censured by a judge, evoking yawns from women. Surely this parvenu deserved the modern day moral equivalent of burning at the stake. She did what she did when it *mattered*. The one day wonder of a censure seems painfully inadequate.

The Republican Committees fail, lamentably but humorously. Still, this just adds another layer of bitter hatred to the the two poles of America.

Breaking news: Trump is about to be indicted. We sit bolt upright. Then we find out it is the weakest of charges, possibly just a misdemeanor. Thanks for coming gang. Trump will treat it as a fundraising gift. Nobody in America is much interested in the financial machinations to hide payment to Stormy Daniels for services rendered.

As we sit in these smothering doldrums, I am reminded of the call to arms in that great 19th century philippic/promise:

“Mine eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord.

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.

His truth goes marching on.”

That could only come in a new zeitgeist.

--------------

Tiny point. I write a SubStack “Cancel the American Dream”. It is the lifeblood that keeps me full of energy as my years dwindle. 34 people read it. This is either an indication of the good sense of the American people or the fact that it is simply not known. I apologize humbly if this sort of log rolling is in exceedingly bad taste on Professor Richardson’s forum. But my sons keep telling me, “You gotta advertise Dad”. And I hate Twitter.

If I am wrong to have done this, please reprove me - but gently. :)

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Eric, people (need to edit myself here) flog their stuff here all the time. The only one that irritates me is the one who just lists a whole lot of urls to whatever it is he/she/it/they do. I pass on. You, on the other hand, draw me in with your writing, and I was about to go check your substack out when you so subtly and apologetically put yourself forward. See you there. Afraid I can't afford the extras, but I am interested in including your thoughts in my daily ponderings.

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Just saw this comment after my email went out to you. Thank you for your kindness.

I noticed you’ve set up a SubStack, but haven’t posted yet. I subscribed in the hope that you will. :)

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Eric, thank you. I, too, am not aging gracefully... the rage is barely controlled.

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You had me hooked at “black phone generation,” the kind without a glass screen.

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Carol And the party line, when my dad shouted to my sister—‘Get off the phone, I am awaiting an important call.’ Also, during the summer my mother would call the operator to speak to Mrs. Erdman. The nosy operator would say, ‘Mrs. Erdman is having lunch with Mrs. Hunter.’ This was long before NSA intercepts.

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Ave, Keith. Excellent post, from “trot” to “foo foo dust” to your wonderful last sentence tying it all together.

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KR Were you smitten by my ‘trotting?’ Nice riding outfit in your photo!

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More smitten by your outstanding writing :) but any horse analogy gets an A+ from me!

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My Italian husband had, I think, six years of Latin. He has an endless supply of quotations for every occasion. When he speaks Latin, with his Italian accent, it actually sounds like a real, living language. It’s beautiful.

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KR My recollection is that there was a great hullabaloo in the 1960s when the Catholic Church permitted services to be given in English rather than Latin. Some purists argued that church goers needn’t understand the service—rather simply enjoy the imagery. A few American churches have gone back to the Latin service.

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My parish is closing as a normal parish, and will be used by the Maronite community. With the “bonus” for us that the new pastor can do a Latin Mass. Umm no thank you, I don’t want to erase Vatican II! Not that I go to church anymore, I’m done with the Catholic Church, but still. I can’t remember the Latin Mass, I was too young, but my husband does. He’s a bit older, and I think they changed later in Italy. It’s my impression that the very most conservative Catholics (and that’s saying something) are in favor of returning to the Latin, mirroring our national trend of erasing any progress achieved in the last half century.

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Vatican 2 began when I was on the cusp of adolescence. I was a long time altar boy and had to memorize all the responses. The Church before V2 was monolithic and saturated in ritual. I expect that people older than me found that, at its best, it had a meditative quality. You were meant to feel your place in the world as a tiny part of God’s creation. That is entirely gone now. So many of us do *not* feel small. There is a sense many have that their role in life is to be as big and bold and noticed as possible. My elderly sister-in-law said succinctly to me one day, “Nobody is humble any more”.

I appreciated the intent of V2 and how catholic. Mass was now the same wherever you were. Much good was accomplished. But the modernization was flapping around the edges - the Church grievously erred in not re-examining some of its infallible dogma. And then I discovered how corrupt much of it was and I could stay with it no longer.

But I remain enchanted with the music, art, and philosophy that the Church has been imbued with over two centuries. Sadly, it falls far short of the sum of its parts.

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I, too, am old enough to remember the Latin Mass, from my days as an altar boy. "Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti.... " but am done with the Church, too.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

My most common Latin declension: flunko, flunkas, flunkat.

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Love it! Three years of high school Latin and when in doubt, I added Latin ending to English word. Amused the nun who taught me; didn’t increase my grade.

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Semper ubi sub ubi!

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John Thanks. You would have been one of my Latin classmates who I held in awe (and loathed).

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Keith, I loved Latin. Semper ubi sub ubi is a sophomoric Latin joke, funny when I was 15.

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During a high school class in Latin, one of my male classmates was asked by the teacher to tell her the parts of the word Facio. So he, who later in life became a lawyer, told her facio, facere, fuc*it. The class got it, but I think the teacher, who was pretty old, did not.

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I loved Latin. I learned “Villa est villa Romano”, “Et tu Brute” and “cur en la callia” or something like that. Pink Floyd brought it all home to me with “Tempus Fugit”, however the jury is still out. Voire Dair

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Hilarious! I managed to pass Latin by the skin of my teeth and was lucky not to lose them in the process!

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Pat Mr. Easton, my Latin teacher, was thrilled when I completed my third and final year of Latin. I was ecstatic! “Skin of my teeth indeed!’

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Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres--Caesar

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I am so new to really learning history that I don't have much to offer in this conversation. But I just wanted to tell you how fun it was to learn that you were in awe of and loathed....me! I took four years of Latin and in my senior year I participated in Auxilium Latinum translation competitions! Alea iacta est...the die is cast!! And we are on our way to saving democracy!

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Chappy (short for Chappaquidick on Martha Vineyard) I really don’t loathe you for your natural linguistic skill. I lacked that, but was a moderate numeric whiz.

It was only when I joined the Foreign Service that I forced myself, often ‘til 2 am, to become reasonably fluent in French. Subsequently, once in the Congo I had to interpret for a French diplomat, because he had trouble understanding Congolese French that lacked subjunctures and other linguistic paraphernalia.

Years later, when I was engaged in global bond credit ratings, in Paris I had to take over from a French investment banker from Lazard who, while skilled linguistically, did not understand the complex switch operations of a financial manager in Switzerland.

After a slow start, Spanish gradually was a joy. In Chile I ended up interpreting and being a parador (punster in Spanish). Alas, that was nearly 60 years ago and today I am mono-lingual.

I have still maintained my numerical skills.

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Keith, I have been told that in Chile people speak Spanish in at least three different ways. Do you agree?

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Mar 12, 2023·edited Mar 12, 2023

Richard Chilean Spanish is distinct. I could always identify a priest who was ‘Castilian’ (or Colombian. He spoke pure, slow Spanish. In Santiago the Spanish was rapid. In the provinces, they spoke a distinct Spanish, especially in the Aurucanian and Mapuche areas. In fishing villages, the Spanish was different—clipped with numerous ‘modisos.

When I first arrived in Chile, I sought to improve my Spanish by watching TV. Mexico-Spanish-dubbed films were useless. Local news shows were much more helpful. I also read lots of newspapers for the slang.

I arrived in Chile with Foreign Service Institute Spanish. UGH! From the outset, I refused to speak English with Chileans. In was a rough initial months. Ultimately, I was an interpreter, a punster in Spanish, and could effortlessly be interviewed. In Spanish.

I studied Chilean history and at one time was adviser to the Christian Democrat honchos, who evidently had not studied their constitution as assiduously as did I. This led to some fascinating moments.

When I returned to live in New York City, Puerto Rican Spanish seemed a foreign language.

Alas, 60 years later I am ‘mono language.’

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Keith, love your post, the first one of the am for me. I am smiling about Latin. I do confess that I did not understand English grammar until I took Latin. Then could I ever diagram sentences...remember that. Also for some reason, I can remember the first words of Caesar's conquest of Gaul in Latin. I also discovered that the neighbor, who was supposedly a first rate Latin student did in fact have a trot..never heard that word being used. Our poor Latin teacher in 10th grade was losing it and confused classes. But she did teach us to sing Jingle Bells in Latin.

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Michele My recollection of the song (pardon my crude translation) was:

Jingle Balls, Jingle Balls,

Caesar is coming to town

Give him a hug from Cleopatra

Or he’ll burn your city down.

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I love it.....I think it started and pardon my spelling: tinniat, tinniat, tintinabulum.

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Caesar ad sum iam forte,

Brutus et erat,

Caesar sic in omnibus,

Brutus sic in at

If you aren’t familiar with this gibberish, just sound it out.

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Jim I would have relished studying Latin with you!

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Thanks for the Latin class flashbacks! I was fortunate to get “Cs”.

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True. D is for diploma!

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Keith, fast forward and going deeper than budget matters, Regulators seized the deposits of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) today. This financial wreck raises major macroeconomic matters as well as policy decisions in the short, mid & long term.

SVB was (past tense) the major Tech Start Up funder in CA & also was a major financier of the Life Sciences Start Ups that populate La Jolla California & other Bio Centers in the US. SVB's massive low yield Treasury notes & other very low interest paying investments caused this important player to collapse. Gone over the last 6 days in a huge cloud of dust with a wide impact diameter.

Good timing on Biden's Budget Plan which answers many systemic problems over the next decades. New Deal 2.0. Aqua vitae.

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And you translated it. Next: “All Gaul is divided into three parts.” All I can remember is Gallia ...tres partes divisa est.” But I taught French verbs using the method my first Latin teacher taught for doing Latin verbs. Could teach 14 tenses in 10 minutes and for some students it was their first grasp of grammar that was fun.

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Thing about all the tenses and moods and such is it would prepare one for learning Russian or Greek! Talk about complicated!!

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Good one, Keith! Here's some more Latin for you "et tu Brute'." BTW, way back in 1958 and 1959 I took two years of Latin in high school. One thing about those coursed was that years later I better understood pronunciations of the Romance languages of Spanish, French, and Italian.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Guys... today was a good day. For people who care about social and economic progress, at least. I'm one of those people and I'm feeling good. You should too. 

I feel good - and you should too - because in President Biden we have a leader who isn't backing down and isn't pulling punches. No, he is not a showboat. He never has been. He doesn't need to be. We've been so starved of consistent, careful, patient, shrewd leadership that we've forgotten what it looks like. This man has stood for pretty much the same things for half a century in public life. Most of that half century was spent having our potential wasted and undermined by neoliberal trickle-down nonsense and retrogressive pandering, the opposite of everything he stood for, yet he has clearly never lost his optimism for our potential. He's wanted to be President since he was in high school. He has run several times, the first time before I was born. None of those tries came even close to being successful. Even as Vice President, no one ever really took him seriously enough as a leader. "Respectable," sure. "Likeable," definitely. "Conseqential," no. "Inspiring," you jest. 

Yeah, well, look who actually ending up being President after all. When the chips were really, really down, look who actually had the secret sauce to pull us back from fascist takeover. Look who has actually strung together two of the most consequential years of policy of that last half-century, and right after a plague too. Look who stands poised to be the one to define the next half-century in stark opposition to the last. Look who stands to be the linchpin turning the entire globe back towards democracy, and on the way to a sustainable planet.  Joe. And he did it all without raising his voice too much, or waving his arms around gratuitously. 

So... yeah. The old guy has waited this long for his dream job, and is *this* close to literally shifting the nature and trajectory of global democracy. He's not retiring, he's not reconsidering, he's not going to go along to get along, and he's certainly not going to give any of these bozos another damn budget cut just because they keep finding new ways to preen and whine. At least not without a fight. Please.

If I was Quevin, I'd be getting ready to Quiss my Quorporate-owned Queester buh-bye. 

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Yup, the 'Banana Republicans' lost most of their real talent either in the 2022 primaries or to retirement. The result is a very shallow bench. They are now being out-classed at every level in the House. The Democrats, on the other hand, just seem to be going from strength to strength. It shows in Biden's leadership, their incredibly competent House Committee members, and discipline in the Senate. This 'Democratic deep bench' will continue to build and bear fruit long into the future.

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"because in President Biden we have a leader who isn't backing down and isn't pulling punches."

Yes we do! Much better than "Yes we can!"

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Why the dis for Obama, who passed a health care bill for the first time ever despite the constraints that hobbled previous attempts. Who passed reform of the financial system and bailed out the economy. Were these exactly what I wanted? No, but he had only 2 years of a friendly Congress and a GOP pledged not to govern but to destroy him. Biden could not due what he is doing without Obama.

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I'm also going to say that I have two "issues" with the Obama Presidency. One is that I believe he was the best Republican president since Eisenhower, the second is that the election of a Black man ripped the scab off the wound of racism, which was not "healed" by the activism of the 1960's but allowed to fester until what was underneath was revealed. Obama did quite a lot for the country and was, I believe, one of our better presidents. He was not able to advance policy in his first two years, and lost the chance for more progress in the 2010 election.

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I think he was too cautious and that may have been in part, because he was the first black president. I agree that his presidency brought forth loads of noxious racism out of the woodwork.

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I definitely think Obama's caution was due to being the first Black president. He didn't want to give those monsters ammunition, but just by virtue of his existence the ammunition was there. If he had been more forceful, he would have completely fulfilled all of their "angry Black man" fantasies and it would have been even worse. I loved him and love him still, and begrudge him nothing. He was in a no-win situation from the get-go.

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I suspect you’re right!

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What happened with Obama- the rubbing off the scab from our underbelly of racism and misogyny- was probably inevitable, more a matter of when. We have been through this rigamorole several times, and it just may turn out in the long run that this might run it down. Obama was not at fault for the failures in his years in office. In fact, I think he set a standard for us to live up to, once we get past lowball McCarthys and McDonnells and Carlsons and Greenes and, heaven help us, Reagan et all.

We can keep picking at the scab so it keeps oozing and we can have a good time poking at what we think the cause is (forgetting that we keep picking at the scab), or we can start doing the things we need to do to start the healing. For a while we seem to be getting closer to that. Then off we go on yet another group rant and wail. God, it is getting old. Same thing over and over.

Then somebody posts something actually relevant to what HCR is writing about and we get back on track. I scan for those moments and for those folks whose insights feed my hopes and show me a little of their path forward. We keep going back and forth. Some days I give up and just go back and reread Heather's letter, to remind myself of why I am here. Still learning.

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Ally, I recommend the British small newspaper The Canary, which I get online. They give us real news and often expose the racism, sexism, mysogeny (sp?) the UK and the rest of the world has. You might check them out.

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Thanks for the suggestion!

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Scrowel

Do not discount the backroom Biden support that Obama received

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In my not so humble opinion, Obama was too young and inexperienced. Like Kennedy he was elected too soon. We fall in love with these gorgeous young men with their oratory skills and HOPE! But it's the old warhorses like Johnson and Biden who know where the bodies are buried, that can work the system.

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Because Obama sort of routinely “dissed” Biden.

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It’s true. Obama needed Biden and Biden grew as Vice President. Thank you for asking the “dis” question.

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Will in Ca

As a kinda old guy, I watched closely as Joe Biden worked behind the scenes to provide Obama with the the institutional Congressional awareness Obama lacked. I paid attention to his strengths in foreign policy and got a gut feel that he was a streetwise fighter for the principles of the Everyman in us (Thanks Jackson). When he was pushed aside in 2016 cuz it was Hillary’s turn, I thought that was a huge tactical error and when he ran in 2020, I was on board immediately. I was stunned by the pushback he got then from some Democrat camps, disappointed in the polls that followed the propaganda confusing his stutter with incompetence and now the suggestion that he’s too old to lead in 2024

I love his retort, “ just watch me”. In Michigan that’s akin to “stand back, hold my beer”

My best hopes for his performance are coming to fruition, a man, a leader of the people. He’s one of us, not one of them and we’re lucky he’s who he is

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Stand back. Hold my Strohs!

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Or Shorts, or Bells, or Right Brain, or

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Will & Dave, well said is an understatement. Thank you

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I can not just hit”like”, for I love your posting, Will. Hope you can hear my applause all the way from Maine.

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I especially love the sly, canny way he's able to box them into a corner without being a dick about it. He's really won this old broad over. (I'd originally been afraid he was too bland and old. HA! Well, I haven't been afraid to say I'm wrong in many years, and I'm sure happy to have been wrong about THAT. :D )

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Love that last line - your mouth to deity-of-your-choice's ears, Will! Hope is springing eternal here.

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Super analysis, Will!

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“Show me your budget,” President Joe Biden is fond of saying, “[and] I’ll tell you what you value.”

A GREAT line.

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It is a great line, because it's simple and it's true. The misers bemoan a lack of funds from dawn til dusk, but they somehow always seem to dig up some quarters from between the couch cushions when it comes to their preferred splurge.

The best line today was actually from Hakeem Jeffries, who quipped that the Repubs' budget "is in the witness protection program."

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I am proud of Hakeem Jeffries. He is standing strong and expressing himslf with clarity and dignity and truth for us.Thank you.

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A great line indeed!

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Today had a plethora of good lines.

"Hypocrisy is the hangover of an addiction to attention."

~ Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz (D-FL 25)

https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1633861071894368266?s=20

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Jesus said it. Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Once again, this President shows his faith in his reasonable actions, thoughtful practice, and compassion and empathy. Respect is given!

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Four houses, constant vacations, Hunter, grandchildren that run up credit card bills and won’t work...nobody in the family making any real income or contribution. Living like a Kennedy. Where does the loot come from? Joe.

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Ah yes, kinda desperate there, David. I thought a little better of your tact than this, Am I surprised or disappointed? Not really, but your persistence is noted

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Glad I have you all thinking about it :)

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You should harder or better

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President Biden did what many who had working class childhoods did (do). When they get a bit of money beyond living expenses, they buy houses. It’s a safe investment. The way Joe Biden handled his stutter and the loss of his first wife and daughter, plus his daily trips from DC to Delaware to raise his boys, is an example to anyone who is striving to do well and good.

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Ok. On $180 grand a year he ;)... Interestingly Joe grew up on the same street as my Grandfather in Scranton... I know “ his story” well. None of us bought extra houses with excess cash. In an Irish Catholic family there was never any. Too many tuitions etc to pay. Do you think for a minute Merrick Garland or the AG in Wilmington will ever even peak at Joe, Hunter and Jim? Believe what you want...

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See, Heather, you laid out a very good reason why I have a hard time feeling sorry for Mitch McConnell’s fall. I have said it before...the man is evil. He’s a clever chess master but he is the devil incarnate.

Biden beat Qevin to the punch by releasing his budget. Qevin has nothing but disdain for Biden and the Dems. That’s because he has nothing to share. The R’s haven’t bothered to do a budget because they are too busy dodging bullets on the so-called weaponization committee. Jordan was brilliantly called out by Plaskett and Swalwell today. He looked like the fool he is. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

IS he a clever chess master though? Like, chess involves actually juggling various maneuvers to achieve an eventual goal. McGrovell just says no to everything possible. He don't play chess. He don't even play checkers. He's just hiding the checkers board on a higher shelf in the closet so no one can play. While every liberal shakes their fist and yells "Damn it, I forgot to buy a stepstool again! How DOES he outwit us so masterfully with his evil schemes?!?"

If I was in the Senate, I'd be dropping a banana peel dipped in WD40 every time I walked by his office. Totally by accident every time, obviously. I'm careless with my fruits and oils like that.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

And you are a complete peach, Will! What MM is wily about is controlling the flow of RNC dollars to encourage "unity" in his caucus...that's his "chess" strategy. He also has his fingers in every possible container in Kentucky and elsewhere to make sure the river of money continues to flow.

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Citizen United root cause

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

I read that "Citizen United root canal."

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Will from California, you truly make my day! I love when you comment. You remind me so much of my 28 year old son. So smart, so articulate, so witty!

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IMHO Jacketless JJ has to be one of the most off putting characters in all of Washington. It is weird that whatever it is about him for all of my years as a political wonk I find him to be the biggest jerks I have ever witnessed in Washington. JJ+DJT= despicable.

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Absolutely! Moscow Mitch is the reason we have all these MAGA federal judges now. He LOVED it while it was going on.

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"I'm ready to meet with the Speaker anytime—tomorrow, if he has his budget. Lay it down. Tell me what you want to do. I'll show you what I want to do. See what we can agree on. What we don’t agree on, let’s see what we—we vote on.”

Gotcha!

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This morning’s Letter highlighted Biden’s 2024 budget, ‘…which advances a vision of the United States based on the idea that the government should invest in workers, families, and infrastructure to increase the purchasing power of those on the “demand side” ‘…over a stark contrast to the theory of the Republicans since the 1980s, that the government should cut taxes and slash government spending to free up capital for those at the top of the economy…’. The Republicans strongly favor the “supply side”—…with the idea they will use that money to invest in new business that will then hire more workers’. (Letter)

This morning, Paul Krugman, an Op-Ed columnist, distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York covered the same ground as HCR’s Letter.

‘So, about President Biden’s budget: The starting point for this budget is that Biden’s people evidently view deficits as a source of concern, but not a crisis. Overall, Biden’s budget proposes increasing social benefits on a number of fronts even in the face of rising debt. It nonetheless proposes to reduce the budget deficit, but only modestly — yes, it claims to shrink the deficit over the next decade by almost $3 trillion, but that’s less than 1 percent of G.D.P.’

‘How can Biden reduce deficits while expanding social programs? Mainly by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, with an assist from cost-cutting measures in health care, especially using Medicare’s bargaining power to reduce spending on prescription drugs.’

‘Are Biden’s numbers plausible? Yes. Notably, the economic projections underlying the budget are reasonable, not very different from those of the Congressional Budget Office. The projections even assume a substantial but temporary rise in unemployment over the next year or so.’

‘Now, even economists like yours truly, who have been fairly relaxed about budget deficits, generally believe that at some point we’ll have to do more than this. We’ll need a much broader effort to bring down health care costs, and we’re also going to need more revenue than you can raise solely by taxing Americans with very high incomes. But Biden’s plan is a step in the right direction.’

‘What about the Republicans? They claim to believe that rising federal debt is a major crisis. But if they really believed that, they’d be willing to accept at least some pain — accept some policies they dislike, take on popular spending programs — in the name of deficit reduction. They aren’t. The Vought proposal calls for preserving the Trump tax cuts in full, while also avoiding any politically risky cuts in defense, Social Security or Medicare.’

‘Yet it also claims to balance the budget, which is basically impossible under these constraints. In fact, even with savage cuts to Medicaid and drastically reduced funding for the basic functions of government, Vought is able to claim an eventually balanced budget only by promising that tax cuts and deregulation will cause a big rise in the economy’s growth rate. Tax cutters often make such claims; they never, and I mean never, deliver on their promises.’

‘What I find a bit puzzling is why Republicans are still rallying around this stuff. The modern G.O.P. gets its energy from culture war and racial hostility, not faith in the miraculous power of tax cuts and small government. So why not give up on the ghost of Reaganomics? Why not come out for a strong social safety net, but only for straight white people?’

‘Part of the answer may be that the party still needs money from billionaires who want to keep their taxes low. But it also seems to me that the peddlers of right-wing economics have done an extremely good job of marketing their wares to politicians who don’t know or care much about policy substance. That Vought proposal, as I said, looks a lot like Paul Ryan’s plans a decade ago — but it’s titled “A Commitment to End Woke and Weaponized Government,” and somehow manages to mention critical race theory — which is not exactly a line item in the budget — not once, not twice, but 16 times.’

‘In any case, where we are now is that Biden is offering a basically reasonable fiscal plan, while Republicans are talking meanspirited nonsense.’ (NYTimes) Gifted link to this Opinion is below.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/opinion/republican-biden-budget-plan.html?unlocked_article_code=hrKb7Uy-faNZDl8OI8Puz1wG-0UfHnLtidl7R3cVPxfn6V7CcjnSMDQgi577pgEUB9_8lqon9I_FyDBCyt1XOde36RdB2n24GJfWRsmX-poT_zQiX5M-hkJ2ogsYGDzKhx0flHFBziHuJ47MmwGyy7Y_qhi_gl7Jsmi3HrhEc-ajTzSXdX0zK6TeH_97mtXGpZJpBIVL5mY2dbh6c2mT_Khs7x7fV74ZJ2S-EKW9AZe4xeKRhlzKOlgu2nE8N3bWC9IZJnnEKrOhGvYaldnNBACHP_wxwL7zwV327WnPMKoJ5ZxurB7istApTNVllBfw53dOjyGg5Sr2AppeYTts5QNtK9xpkQ&smid=url-share

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Hi Fern! I agree that Biden's budget is only a small step in the direction we as a nation need to go in. At least there is enough talent on the White House team to craft a budget that both addresses the values they profess and at least starts to address the fiscal and real world realities extant today. The Republicans have offered no alternative - literally.

I am not an economist. I have some knowledge of healthcare finance, enough to know that the prices of goods and services offered by most hospitals bear no relation to their actual cost ($75.00 for two Tylenol, for example). Until what is charged for healthcare goods and services is brought more in line with reality, and until what is expected of healthcare is also made more reasonable (Obamacare took a step toward this by insuring millions of people - getting hospitals off the hook for treating the uninsured), nor real progress will be made in this area.

I have a feeling other sectors of our economy (the financial sector comes to mind) share this same condition of service charges bearing little relation to real costs. This is all just a symptom of a very deep brokenness of the way wealth is perceived and managed in this culture. Thanks Fern, for your post.

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From the bit of reading that I've done recently on the topic, the entire "for profit" heath care "industry" really is something that needs to be dismantled.

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ya think??

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“Hammer, meet the nail”

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NYT has some opinion pieces re the high price of insurance programs. Our health care system needs a major overhaul that will require bipartisan effort instead of resistance. Here in Mt when I post something re better health care for all I get socialist, communist etc. "not my responsibility" I reply that u would rather support CEO salaries. Keeping the federal government out of anything &everything seems to be more important than ones own welfare. VA hospitals seem to be the exception

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Here is my example about high medical charges. On Monday I had a heart ablation for a-fib which had been controlled for several years with medication. FLBlue authorized the hospital estimates at $128,000 plus for a single day outpatient procedure, not including what i think will be a surprise, the anesthesia bill. So far the procedure seems to have remedy my situation, and time will surely tell, so I am grateful for that. I do not know yet what the final FLBlue payments on that amount will be, but I am sure it will be interesting.

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Nancy, do you have a healthcare advocate to help you reduce or eliminate this charge? Sometimes, social workers can be helpful or recommend patient advocates who can do so.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

RN Patient Advocates specializing in health care charges, insurance and copays can be really helpful, too. SO glad that the ablation is working for you Nancy!

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Care emoji

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Fern,

Krugman was and remains always in favor of US Government deficits if they are paid to NY Banks.

Krugman came to fame during the 2008 crisis as he, near daily, in his NY Times column, advocated for huge government deficits to bail out NY Banks. His influence was real since both Bush and Obama followed his advice and spent trillions of dollars of debt on a small number of banks and people who were already wealthy.

Then, as if on the books debt was not enough, Krugman also advocated for off books purchase of the worthless mortgage bonds from banks by the Fed. Those worthless mortgage bonds, about $5 Trillion worth, REMAIN on the Fed books today.

So, Krugman advocated for both public deficits to bail out NY banks AND for the Fed to "buy" those worthless mortgage bonds from banks "at market".

The consequence? Banks, in 2008, as they were failing, paid out huge bonuses to their wealthy NY employees.

Basically, Krugman assisted NY Banks in one of the greatest theft of government funds in the history of the world.

I cannot say I read Krugman much anymore. Let us say, his credibility is somewhat questionable.

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'U.S. economic policies

In the early 2000s, Krugman repeatedly criticized the Bush tax cuts, both before and after they were enacted. Krugman argued that the tax cuts enlarged the budget deficit without improving the economy, and that they enriched the wealthy – worsening income distribution in the US.[112][154][155][156][157] Krugman advocated lower interest rates (to promote investment and spending on housing and other durable goods), and increased government spending on infrastructure, military, and unemployment benefits, arguing that these policies would have a larger stimulus effect, and unlike permanent tax cuts, would only temporarily increase the budget deficit.[157][158] In addition, he was against Bush's proposal to privatize social security.[159]

In August 2005, after Alan Greenspan expressed concern over housing markets, Krugman criticized Greenspan's earlier reluctance to regulate the mortgage and related financial markets, arguing that "[he's] like a man who suggests leaving the barn door ajar, and then – after the horse is gone – delivers a lecture on the importance of keeping your animals properly locked up."[160] Krugman has repeatedly expressed his view that Greenspan and Phil Gramm are the two individuals most responsible for causing the subprime crisis. Krugman points to Greenspan and Gramm for the key roles they played in keeping derivatives, financial markets, and investment banks unregulated, and to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed Great Depression era safeguards that prevented commercial banks, investment banks and insurance companies from merging.[161][162][163][164]

Krugman has also been critical of some of the Obama administration's economic policies. He has criticized the Obama stimulus plan as being too small and inadequate given the size of the economy and the banking rescue plan as misdirected; Krugman wrote in The New York Times: "an overwhelming majority [of the American public] believes that the government is spending too much to help large financial institutions. This suggests that the administration's money-for-nothing financial policy will eventually deplete its political capital."[165] In particular, he considered the Obama administration's actions to prop up the US financial system in 2009 to be impractical and unduly favorable to Wall Street bankers.[131] In anticipation of President Obama's Job Summit in December 2009, Krugman said in a Fresh Dialogues interview, "This jobs summit can't be an empty exercise ... he can't come out with a proposal for $10 or $20 Billion of stuff because people will view that as a joke. There has to be a significant job proposal ... I have in mind something like $300 Billion."[166]' (Wikipedia)

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Thank You Fern. This is the Krugman I remember. I would also like to know the sources of the “assisted Ny Bank in.....theft” opinion.

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I also asked Mike S. for his sources. You will note that I posted more about Paul Krugman's work as an economist.

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Yes. And I appreciated your sourced post countering his remembrance of Krugman. Again, thank you.

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Thank you, MLRGRMI, for following this crucial economic divide that has stolen from the poor and middleclass to give to the rich. The National Review as with our country's right-wing knows Krugman to be a brilliant opponent, and Krugman has differed with Bernie Sanders, but for Mike S, to state that Krugman has lost credibility could not be further from the facts of the matter.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Mike The ‘rescue’ of our economy in part through banks in 2008 is more complicated than you describe.The sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers set the stage for a collapse of our financial system—-commercial paper, derivatives, and normal bank-to-bank daily transfers.

When AIG became the next likely failure, the Fed and the Treasury frantically struggled to figure out how to stop a massive financial collapse. Extraordinary measures included buying bonds at the New York Fed to provide instant liquidity.

What would you have done back then? Read Alan Blinder on those frenetic days.

As for Paul Krugman, as an MIT Sloan Fellow I was first aware of Krugman, who, publicly, was second fiddle to Professor Lester Thurow. As time passed, Thurow was wrong on every one of his major economic pronouncements. By contrast, Krugman was being more and more distinguished in his economic work, culminating in the Nobel Prize in Economics.

I have found, over the years, that Krugman is the soundest economist to follow on the opinion pages. [There was another NYT economic columnist in the 1960s-1980s who was also my economics mentor—have his books, Leonard Silk (?)—who was spot on.]

Krugman continually sprinkles basic and advanced econometrics in his columns. On occasion he discusses why/how he was misled by some of his recent predictions [rise & fall of inflation was one of his latest]. Krugman also has been cautious about predicting a forthcoming recession, while Chicken Littles had been screaming recession.

Who do you prefer for your economic assessments?

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Keith, complicated indeed. I watched, devoured a documentary called Inside Job that timelined the subprime/ derivatives meltdown in a way regular people could understand. That led me to The Big Short book (movie was ok). The insidious nature of mathematicians using complex equations to rig the bond markets outside the very understanding of regulators coupled with the symbiotic relationship of the regulators (Moodys et al) getting their paychecks coming FROM the regulated is obscene

Predicting the outcome was impossible. Fixing the disaster in real time was one of pure miracle that depended upon the “confidence” that the entire system would not fail. This REQUIRED that THE GOVERNMENT prop up institutions vital to cash flow; otherwise confidence collapses and the economy tanks. Bitter medicine for a layman to take in, but necessary. We dodged a huge bullet

Links to follow

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Where is Sandy Lewis in these comments anymore?! Miss him! He would have a thing or 2 to say!

https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/former-wall-street-maverick-sandy-lewis-is-an-adirondack-agitator/Content?oid=18420897

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Yes!! MaryPat and Fern, you’ve read my mind. What a fascinating bird, Sandy. Hoping he’s well, here or among the bright stars.

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Mar 11, 2023·edited Mar 11, 2023

I have thought of Sandy several times in the past two months. His age and health immediately come to mind. He is missed.

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To my mind, too. Hope all is well.

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A firebrand think maker

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

Keith.

I don’t really have a favorite economist.

However. One of the reasons we do have a high national debt includes the philosophy of Krugman.

What if. We had just let the economy fail after 8 years of Republican policy instead of “soft landing” it. ???

What if the pain had been so bad no Republican was elected for 40 years. ???

Maybe people would be laughing at Fox News now?

One consequence of the giant bailout: the exceedingly poor Republican policy outcome was partially obscured.

Now forgotten.

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Mike, I believe the human suffering incurred using the “let it fail” philosophy is too great a gamble in order to “prove” that Republican policies are failed. The crash landing of collapsing the economic pump is a risk too far

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Dave I fulsomely agree! The idea that the Dems simply let the economy fail after four years of Trump and that this would kill the Republican chances for 40 years is the most bizarre (and inhumane) economic initiative that I can imagine.

In such a scenario I and zillions of other Americans would blame Biden/Dems as modern day Hoover/Reps.

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Yeah, questionable credibility. Like all Nobel prize winners. Now tell us the economic theories which you do agree with, and how that theory would have had a different outcome.

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Please provide your sources.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

As to Paul Krugman accomplishments as an economist the following is from Investopedia, 'Paul Krugman is a Neo-Keynesian economist, Nobel laureate, academic, author, and media columnist, known for his work on international trade theory and economic geography. Considered one of the world's most influential economists, Krugman is renowned for redefining existing theories of international trade and either founding or co-founding several new disciplines in international economics, from New Trade Theory (NTT) and New Economic Geography (NEG) to models of financial crises and exchange rate movements. In 2008, Krugman was the sole recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity." The link to Investopedia 's 'Who Is Paul Krugman? What Is He Known for?' is below.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/paul-krugman.asp

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Thanks for sharing this Fern.

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I share this on my fb page . It was a good read

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Great, Carole, of you to spread the truth. Please read Keith's response as well, it is excellent. Cheers!

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Yes I did. Lots of very knowledgeable& respectable people post here

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