Get Medieval on your ass

I’m loving the New Yorker Michele Bachmann profile everyone’s talking about, this especially:

The Bachmanns attended Carter’s Inauguration, in January, 1977. Later that year, they experienced a second life-altering event: they watched a series of films by the evangelist and theologian Francis Schaeffer called “How Should We Then Live?”

[…..]

The first five installments of the series are something of an art-history and philosophy course. The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s “David” and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world.

Any right-wing hack can say that everything was fine before Lady Gaga and the hippety-hop, but it takes a real conservative intellectual to blame it all on the Renaissance. I dig that kind of faux high-brow crazy talk, even though it scares the living hell out of me that one of our major parties may nominate someone who believes it.






262 replies
  1. 1
    chopper says:

    man, i tell people that the world started going to hell in a handbasket after david lee roth left van halen. this chick is bonkers.

  2. 2
    long ago says:

    It’s really just like that old Kenneth Clark series, “Civilization”, which so many of us watched on public tv as kids.

    Except, this video says, “Civilization? We’d rather return to tribalistic patriarchal despotism, thanks!”

  3. 3
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Me, I have grave reservations about the Neolithic revolution.

    How’s that whole agriculture thing working out for you?

  4. 4

    She should have read some books by the sequel son.

  5. 5
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    You should hear some of them go on about the Englightenment. Seriously.

  6. 6
    Eric S. says:

    @chopper: Some years back, oh FSM maybe 10 years now, I had a friend go to a VH concert that featured Sammy Hagar. His wife got him back stage passes. He wore a shirt that said “Who Died And Made You Dave?”

    On topic, I’ve known for a long time that at least one strain of the religious right found the Renaissance bad. I don’t recall them specifically pointing to art but vaguely talking around the sciences and the turn away from the bearded sky man as the problem.

  7. 7
    Mike Goetz says:

    Anybody against the Renaissance is against the Founders, the Constitution, and the entire idea of the United States.

  8. 8
    vtr says:

    Without the Renaissance, both Schaeffer and Bachmann would be Roman Catholics.

  9. 9
    eric says:

    didn’t the “Church” fund the making of those “human” images? Oh, it was the apostate church of papal idolaters. this is not gonna end well.

  10. 10

    After the Bronze Age the rot really set in.

    (I was going to comment about the fact he was standing next to a big naked statue, but why bother. Really?)

  11. 11
    Mike Goetz says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Growing our own food was the start of our downfall. We should be as baby chicks, drawing sustenance from God’s regurgiations.

  12. 12
    Cacti says:

    Well, they’re right in the sense that the Renaissance started western culture’s slow drift away from such godly practices as burning heretics at the stake.

  13. 13
    Yutsano says:

    @vtr: Heh. They’d still insist the Bible is their unvarnished truth written in the original English.

  14. 14
    Dave says:

    Things went to Hell once Jesus fed those dirty poor people on bread and fishes. Give them something for nothing and they’ll never learn!

  15. 15
    eric says:

    so, not only do i have to defend the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, i have to defend the cultural revolution of the 1560s?

  16. 16
    4tehlulz says:

    Shorter Conservatives: The printing press is the tool of the devil.

    FUCK LITERACY

  17. 17
    BGinCHI says:

    Do the Bachmanns think The Flintstones is reality TV?

  18. 18
    Davis X. Machina says:

    It’s funny. All they want is essentially is to revert to their own equivalent of sharia. They’d kill you before they owned to it, but they’re Christian Wahabis.

  19. 19
    gex says:

    Isn’t that when humanism entered the mix. Fundamentalists really hate the idea that you can find morality from sources other than your local daddy figure/authoritarian/God interpreter.

  20. 20
    Louise says:

    I highly recommend Frank Schaeffer’s book Crazy for God: Frank is Francis Schaeffer’s son and he tells the story of how his father ended his life attached to the religious right. The Francis Schaeffer who ran L’Abri as a free-thinking, loving community and who loved art of all kinds was basically seduced by his son into the far right religious movement in America — a decision his Frank deeply regrets.

    The book covers the documentary with the David statue, pointing out how they had to edit it so as not to show the genitals. Frank has a clue now that it should have been a sign of the insanity to come.

    If you peruse the book at a bookstore, be sure to use the index and find the Pat Robertson anecdote. Full-on nutcase material.

  21. 21
    moe99 says:

    As a former medieval history major, I’ve lately been reading CV Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War, after following Ta Nehisi Coates’ blogging about it. In her first chapter, Wedgwood discusses how the Reformation, which created the consitions necessary for a war of such long lasting magnitude and effect, was a reaction to the perceived secularism of the Renaissance. Nothing like history repeating itself on and on and on. Those Al Quaida types who cite the Crusades as reason for their behavior got nothing on the Xtians!

  22. 22
    aisce says:

    i gotta admit, this raised platform detail has me wondering where the guy was in relation to david’s fear shrunken member? eye level? waist level? did he accidentally end up gesturing too close a couple of times? did he pretend it wasn’t there?

    everything is ultimately about sex with these people, isn’t it?

  23. 23
    Dave says:

    Civilization cemented its pact with the Devil when Savonarola was burned at the stake.

  24. 24
    dmsilev says:

    It’s probably more that the Renaissance was a time when artists were able to produce sculptures that included men’s dangly bits.

  25. 25
    trollhattan says:

    Isn’t this Glenn Beck’s modus? Cite some random but prominant point in history then reverse-engineer a vastly complex scheme showing how it’s when everything done gone tits-up?

    “I need a fourth blackboard, stat!”

    IIRC he was doing some serious hatin’ on Woodrow Wilson for awhile. For sure, WW’s legacy was keeping me up late nights for years.

    Also, too, several friends are convinced the death of Western civilization began with the designated hitter.

  26. 26
    freelancer says:

    The Renaissance brought about the end of the Dark Ages, when religious mysticism held the most socio-political sway, and ushered in the Enlightenment. These fools want a new dark ages, a Republic of Gilead. They are the personification of Carl Sagan’s nightmare that he warned against in his final book “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”.

  27. 27

    @Dave:

    Savonarola:

    Hey, Savo tried to tell us. But did we listen to him?

    Noooooooo!

    And here we are.

  28. 28
    no video at work says:

    People should remember that Carter was an Evangelical Christian in the days just before they went batshit insane over politics. It is not surprising Bachmann was a follower.

    But, yes, the problems all started when we questioned God. You may see reason and science pulling us out of an age of misery, disease and early death but they know the truth. There was no war or sickness, no poverty and no want when people lived under the rule of the Church. right

  29. 29
    liberal says:

    …but it takes a real conservative intellectual to blame it all on the Renaissance.

    Heh. And up to now I thought they were merely pre-Enlightenment.

  30. 30
    Han's Big Snark Solo says:

    So are the “Good Old Days” for Republicans the Dark Ages?

    I thought it was the fifties they considered the Good Old Days. You know, back when the top marginal tax rate was over 90%, unions were strong and the middle class was thriving.

  31. 31
    R-Jud says:

    Hard-workin’!

    Two of Bachmann’s five children were born while she worked for the I.R.S., and all six former colleagues said that the primary fact they remembered about Bachmann was that she spent a good portion of her time on maternity leave—the I.R.S. had a fairly generous policy—and that caused resentment.

    “Basically, the rest of us that were here were handling Michele’s inventory,” one former colleague said. “In her four years, she probably didn’t get more than two, two and a half years of experience. So she was doing lightweight stuff.” A second colleague said, “She was an attorney here, but she was never here.” (Bachmann declined a request to respond.)

  32. 32
    eric says:

    In a world that values intellectual accomplishment or literacy of objective facts and theories, then the illiterate will be disenfranchised. So, if you are illiterate, you change the rules of the game to value subjective faith over all else, thereby assuring yourself the top of the pyramid. This is what happens during the Second Great Awakening, when itinerant pastors come to dominant established faiths because they opened the door to power over Scripture by devaluing book-learnin’ (e.g., Divinity degrees from Harvard) and valued ecstatic non-rational experiences.

  33. 33
    quannlace says:

    When the Neanderthal’s got pushed out by the Cro-Magnon’s . That was our first mistake.
    “”””””””
    Bachmann probably thinks the Pope was wrong for posthumously pardoning Galileo for all that blasphemous sun-is-the-center-of-solar-system stuff.

  34. 34
    liberal says:

    @trollhattan:
    Actually, there’s reasons to diss WW, particularly the fact that he resegregated the Federal workforce.

  35. 35
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @R-Jud: Look at this from a teahadi perspective. Not-working for the IRS is preferable, surely to working for the IRS. Taking those fashionable, but close-toed, jackboots out of circulation for a couple of years was a good thing, irrespective of the babies.

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    @R-Jud: Uh-oh. Someone is off the Christmas card list this year.

  37. 37
    Eric S. says:

    @moe99: On Wedgewood’s 30 Years War. I’ve seen Ta-Neshi blogging about it and have it on my “should read” list. Being a non-history major – not even a minor – do you think this book would be a good intro to the era?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  38. 38
    Jewish Steel says:

    The Middle Ages were hardly the golden age of capital, what with feudalism still humming along nicely. How can good conservatives countenance such an age?

    Unless…

  39. 39
    RSA says:

    it takes a real conservative intellectual to blame it all on the Renaissance.

    There’s only one true way to be born again.

  40. 40
    eric says:

    two questions: why was she working at all? and does she submit to the will of her husband? follow up: would that entail allowing him to call her Michael when they are procreating?

  41. 41
    Oaktown Girl says:

    Outstanding! This is so timely. On Netflix I recently watched episode 2 of Empires: The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance. In that episode extremist friar Savonarola starts telling everybody to light their books and art on fire cuz it’s evil. Sounds like batshit crazy extremist theologian Francis Schaeffer thinks everything would be just dandy today if only folks had just listened to Savoarola.

    I could totally see the Bachmanns wearing and selling “Savonarola was Right!” t-shirts.

  42. 42

    @Jewish Steel:

    The Middle Ages were pre-capitalist. About the time of the Renaissance, mercantile capitalism was just beginning to get a foothold.

  43. 43
    Loneoak says:

    Should we stop calling them the Confederate Party and start calling them the Feudal Party?

  44. 44
    Mike in NC says:

    @trollhattan:

    IIRC he was doing some serious hatin’ on Woodrow Wilson for awhile. For sure, WW’s legacy was keeping me up late nights for years.

    Now Woodrow Wilson has to share billing with Jimmy Carter as one of history’s greatest monsters. Didn’t Glenn Beck also take to denouncing Teddy Roosevelt, long a pillar of the Republican establishment, as some kind of DFH for busting a few monopolies and setting aside some parks where the logging and mineral barons couldn’t go?

  45. 45
    Rosalita says:

    @chopper:

    @Eric S.:

    you’re right, there was a monumental shift when DLR left, and Van Haggar never did it for me. Too bad DLR was such a dick they did make some epic music together.

    on topic: did you all see the Newsweek cover with the wild eyed picture of Bachman? and the title?

  46. 46
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    And Francis Schaeffer was one of the relatively sane ones..

  47. 47
    Suffern ACE says:

    @vtr: Yes. Certain protestants were all for the Englightment when they were “Dissenters” in England, but let a few Rockefeller Baptists and Caregie Presbyterians into powerl and, and it’s all “Don’t question who’s running things behind the curtain. That’s too humanist for us.”

  48. 48
    gogol's wife says:

    All I can think is that my New Yorker is coming today and I’m going to have to resist reading this thing or my b.p. will really go through the roof.

  49. 49
    jwb says:

    @Davis X. Machina: You’re sounding like M_C!

  50. 50
    eric says:

    @gogol’s wife: read it in tongues

  51. 51
    beltane says:

    @Jewish Steel: Yes, avarice was a much frowned-upon sin in the Middle Ages. Back then, the torments of hell were usually portrayed in art as waiting for those guilty of economic, not sexual crimes. Also, Bachmann and all the rest of our “salvation through faith” tongue-speakers would have been certainly burned as heretics, not without reason.

  52. 52
    freelancer says:

    Andrew Sullivan just came in his pants.

  53. 53
    Yutsano says:

    @freelancer: Brain bleach to be handed here immediately please and thank you.

  54. 54
    Tony J says:

    Ah, the Renaissance, when a previously ascendant Christendom, tragically depopulated and socially traumatised by the Black Death, was infected by dangerous foreign thinking so contagious that the Holy Roman Catholic Church itself was corrupted into licenciousness and heresy, forcing good northern European Christians to wear silk and tolerate bum-sex until Martin Luther nailed his foreskin to the church door to make a point.

    That may or may not be a direct quote from the documentary.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Actually, there is a school of thought that we should all revert back to hunter gatherer mode.

    How this is going to be accomplished with 6 billion of us is a problem left to the imagination.

  56. 56
    Chris says:

    The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s “David” and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world.

    It also represented a turn away from the era in which Europe was an ass-backwards butthole, essentially the Soviet Union of its day, and a turn towards the civilization we have today.

    Oddly, the U.S. Constitution these guys love to masturbate to was not a product of the “God-centered world” that existed before Rennaissance art.

  57. 57
    Dave says:

    obama on tv right now extolling virtues of republican ideas, i.e. payroll tax cut. god. fail.

  58. 58
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Linda Featheringill: @beltane:

    Easy now, it’s almost as if you guys are saying that our current economic system was not bestowed on us by a Loving Creator.

    But it’s still the Best of All Possible Worlds, right? Guys?

  59. 59
    Martin says:

    Well, the good news is that people usually stop caring about this philosophical bullshit when their retirement portfolio is down, oh, look – 9.14% in 5 days.

    Don’t care about the Renaissance or whether Obama is introducing foreign substances to my precious bodily fluids. There’s a whole bunch of people looking at their 12 month retirement plans turning into 36 month retirement plans.

  60. 60
    gbear says:

    I’d say that civilization died when The Beatles signed off on the script for Help!

    That, plus Michelangelo was gay.

  61. 61
    jwb says:

    @Dave: The images on your TV may not be what they seem.

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One of the unquestionable downsides to lower infant mortality rates is that people like Michelle Bachmann live long enough to reproduce.

  63. 63
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Dave: The announcement that property is, in fact, theft, postponed yet again, I take it.

  64. 64
    moe99 says:

    @Eric S.: It’s well written. What tickles me is her conclusive summaries of the appearances and and personalities of the players of the time. I don’t know how she just knows that these folks are as she describes, but who’s going to come back 500 years from the past to dispute it? She wrote it in 1937 or 38 in the run up to WW2 and a number of historians post WW2 have traced the rise of Nazism back to this huge trauma that the Thirty Years War inflicted on the German psyche, so for that it is also interesting to read. I know this probably doesn’t answer your question but I’m only a quarter of the way through it.

  65. 65
    chopper says:

    @R-Jud:

    lol, it’s like hearing about ayn rand on medicare and cashing those SS checks.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    Oddly, the U.S. Constitution these guys love to masturbate to was not a product of the “God-centered world” that existed before Rennaissance art.

    I’m sorry but these people actually believe that the Founders were all Jeebofascist nutcases just like them.

  67. 67
    Martin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    How this is going to be accomplished with 6 billion of us is a problem left to the imagination.

    I think we’re supposed to hunt and gather each other, actually.

  68. 68
    chopper says:

    @quannlace:

    i was going to go with ‘taming fire’, but that one works too.

  69. 69
    Chris says:

    @Loneoak:

    Should we stop calling them the Confederate Party and start calling them the Feudal Party?

    Isn’t that what the Confederacy was? Society ruled by big landowners who go off and play soldier while their serfs make them rich?

  70. 70
  71. 71
    beltane says:

    @gex: The Renaissance marked the emergence of Christian Humanism, and was largely, except for its scientific component, supported by the RC Church. As I’ve said many times, our modern day fundies have little relationship to traditional Christianity, even the Christianity practised in the darkest years of the Dark Ages. These people simply lack the intellectual fire power of their predecessors. Their concept of salvation is very American. Like our fast food culture, our religious culture is based on instant gratification, large portions, and poor quality. One makes people morally unhealthy while the other makes them physically unhealthy, that is the only difference.

  72. 72

    This species has been fucked since we went bipedal. Lower back problems are the true source of all moral decay.

  73. 73
    wrb says:

    @Dave:

    obama on tv right now extolling virtues of republican ideas, i.e. payroll tax cut. god. fail.

    The problems with the Firebaggers displayed so succinctly, so perfectly.

    (need an alternative to “Firebagger/liberal/left”, because they aren’t necessarily more liberal or to the left than more results-oriented people, and they aren’t all associated with FDL)

    What alternate form of stimulus do you think is more likely to pass the house?

    Should the people losing their jobs, housings, savings everything celebrate your protecting them from moral hazard of accepting imperfectly efficient relief?

  74. 74
    Citizen_X says:

    Going back to the Medieval mindset? Okay, I’ll play.

    (Looks at picture of Bachmann.)

    …WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    You know, the refutation of the entire concept of “intelligent design” has to do with bipedalism…because it’s obviously NOT intelligent the way we’re put together.

  76. 76
    Butch says:

    Anyone else getting the feeling that the author of the article was actually pulling her punches, knowing that she’s going to be covering the Bachmann campaign and has to be on the same plane (as in jet, not reality plane) as Crazy Eyes?

  77. 77
    chopper says:

    stock market’s going off a cliff, also.

  78. 78
    Reality Check says:

    Carter was a Jesus Freak. Of course Baachman liked him.

  79. 79
    bjacques says:

    Why is that woman on TV yapping about philosophy and not in the kitchen fixing me a chicken pot pie?

    Creating shoggoths was a terrible idea. We’ll be paying for that one until the stars are right again, some vigintillions of years hence.

  80. 80
    Chris says:

    @beltane:

    Their concept of salvation is very American. Like our fast food culture, our religious culture is based on instant gratification, large portions, and poor quality.

    When you put it that way, it’s sadly accurate.

  81. 81
    sherparick says:

    Since I am, unfortunately, in the same demographic group as Michelle (not) my belle, this quote alerted me to her BS (and the current lame stream media on Cable and Broadcast inability to cover it).

    In the spring of 2009, during what appeared to be the beginnings of a swine-flu epidemic, Bachmann said, “I find it interesting that it was back in the nineteen-seventies that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat President, Jimmy Carter. And I’m not blaming this on President Obama—I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

    Uh, Michelle, it actually occurred under Gerald Ford, not Jimmy Carter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1.....u_outbreak Admittedly this is a nit on her Mount Everest of error, but so typical of how she interested in telling pushing the narrative of “conservative truth” as opposed to the reality.

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/repor.....z1USjOf8RJ

  82. 82
    Dave says:

    @wrb: Republicans keep making demands on Obama, is it literally illegal for him to reciprocate? He’s not obliged legally or morally to keep pushing their failed ideas, either.

  83. 83
    Martin says:

    @Citizen_X: I bet she weighs the same as a duck.

  84. 84
    Rommie says:

    The market’s getting too close to the Wingularity and falling into it.

  85. 85
    Suffern ACE says:

    @chopper: Yep. And it looks like a lot of European banks as well as Bank of America are going to go Poof if something isn’t done soon. Bloomberg was calling the ECB facility to buy Spanish and Italian bonds a bazooka, so we know that we’re doomed. We’ll know if its serious if Congress comes home before Labor Day. Otherwise, I can’t imagine anything that would unite us massess here more quickly if there is another TARP proposal.

  86. 86
    Reality Check says:

    Fun fact: Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also campaigned for Carter in ’76.

  87. 87
    Reality Check says:

    So, how many years until the Euro collapses? What’s the over/under?

  88. 88
    Martin says:

    @beltane:

    Like our fast food culture, our religious culture is based on instant gratification, large portions, and poor quality.

    That quote needs to be preserved for future generations.

  89. 89
    Scott P. says:

    The Middle Ages were pre-capitalist. About the time of the Renaissance, mercantile capitalism was just beginning to get a foothold.

    I guess it depends on exactly how you define “capitalism” but the mercantile banking houses of Italy all got their start in the 13th and 14th centuries.

  90. 90
    Superking says:

    I think this is fairly common among the right. Check out the Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization: http://www.amazon.com/Politica.....8;sr=8-1#_

    The blurb on the front says:

    Bet your college professor never told you:
    How the “Enlightenment” yielded tyranny and war
    . . .
    How the Middle Ages were the real “Age of Reason.”

  91. 91
    wrb says:

    @Dave:

    What is the more effective stimulus that would pass the house?

    What do you propose that would help people now?

  92. 92
    Martin says:

    Wow, the Dow is just tanking. -556. Shades of Sept 2008.

  93. 93
    Bruce S says:

    I credit this in a twisted way in that it lays their anti-Enlightenment agenda flat out on the table.

  94. 94
    Reality Check says:

    Prejudice against the Middle Ages is bigoted and historically ignorant. Protip: if anyone calls them the “Dark Ages” they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. It’s the equivalent of calling American Indians or African tribes “wild savages”.

  95. 95
    priscianusjr says:

    @freelancer:

    The Renaissance brought about the end of the Dark Ages, when religious mysticism held the most socio-political sway, and ushered in the Enlightenment. These fools want a new dark ages, a Republic of Gilead. They are the personification of Carl Sagan’s nightmare that he warned against in his final book “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”.

    It’s OK as rhetoric; as an actual account of history it doesn’t make any more sense than what Schaeffer, sr. said.
    Both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (in fact every period in history) were extraordinarily complex episodes and contained both positive and negative aspects, largely the same aspects as found in any other period, including today. Although today we do have iPod.

  96. 96

    Oddly, the U.S. Constitution these guys love to masturbate to was not a product of the “God-centered world” that existed before Rennaissance art.

    Fah! Next you’ll tell us that Rambo Jesus didn’t exhort his followers – who were all the wealthiest members of society – to judge everyone and then frag them.

  97. 97
    chopper says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    certainly the fed is going to push QE3 soon.

  98. 98
    Reality Check says:

    The “God” of the Founders was a Deist God. Even the ones that did attend church were mostly Southern Episcopalians and New England Congregationalists, not exactly bible-thumping fire-and-brimestone types.

  99. 99
    priscianusjr says:

    @Reality Check:

    Prejudice against the Middle Ages is bigoted and historically ignorant. Protip: if anyone calls them the “Dark Ages” they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. It’s the equivalent of calling American Indians or African tribes “wild savages”.

    I think this may the first time I ever agreed with you, Mr Check. Now crawl back into your hole.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    @Martin:

    bouncing a bit now, but who knows.

    down 15% the last 2 weeks tho, that’s harsh.

  101. 101
    John Puma says:

    But, but, but … the Renaissance gave us “real” Christianity = Protestantism!!!

  102. 102

    @chopper: O, if only we had listened to Jane Hamsher, this could have all been avoided!

  103. 103
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Unreality Check:

    You’re preaching to the choir on this one. Bachmann doesn’t believe this. She thinks that the Founders were all bible thumping idiots just like her.

  104. 104
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Davis X. Machina: And they mostly don’t know enough about the world to understand what “Christian Wahabis” might even mean. But you’re dead on with that description, which they would fight to the death over if they understood it.

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @Tony J:
    I like your interpretation. It is as clear an explanation of history as any I’ve known.

    That may or may not be a direct quote from the documentary.
    I’ll take it under advisement.

  106. 106
    priscianusjr says:

    @beltane:

    As I’ve said many times, our modern day fundies have little relationship to traditional Christianity, even the Christianity practised in the darkest years of the Dark Ages. These people simply lack the intellectual fire power of their predecessors.

    I’m something of a student of the MA and the Ren. You are absolutely right.

  107. 107
    Reality Check says:

    Any Protestant that says they practice the “real” Christianity cracks me up. A Church founded 1500 years after Paul can’t seriously claim to be the “original” Christianity or even close to it. If you’re not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Coptic, you have no business even trying to claim that you have anything but a vague connection to ancient Christianity. At least the Mormons are honest.

    Not that I think those sects are exactly like ancient Christianity either, but they’re closer to the mark than Billy Bob’s Full Gospel Baptist Storefront Church.

  108. 108
    srv says:

    it takes a real conservative anti-intellectual to blame it all on the Renaissance.

    Fixed that for ya.

    This is a battle over rationality, empiricism and scientific method’s place in society and politics. No more, no less.

  109. 109
    beltane says:

    Reality Check is absolutely correct here. Perhaps the Apocalypse is neigh.

  110. 110
    PurpleGirl says:

    @trollhattan: Even though I know very little about baseball, I’ll agree with your friends that the end of civilization began with the designated hitter rule. Why not? It’s as plausible a reason as any.

  111. 111
    Martin says:

    Huh. I knew that a reduction in the nation’s credit rating would be applied to other public credit ratings (states, munis) but I didn’t realize it would also be applied to private credit ratings:

    Technically, if S&P were to follow its own rules, all four remaining “AAA” companies would be downgraded on Monday. That’s because all credit raters follow what’s known as a “sovereign ceiling,” in which no company can borrow on better terms than its own country.

    I wonder if there’s more downgrades still to come, or if they’ll be given exceptions. It’d seem odd for those companies with vastly more cash than debt (like MSFT) to not get an exception.

    I’ve not seen any states downgraded yet. There’s usually half a dozen or thereabouts with AAA ratings.

  112. 112
    Ruckus says:

    @beltane:
    Comment of the year material, this is.

  113. 113
    Reality Check says:

    @Martin:

    France will be downgraded soon. S&P pretty much has to do at least that to be taken seriously now.

  114. 114
    nellcote says:

    @Dave:
    He called for extending payroll tax cuts AND unemployment insurance. His point is that these are gooper ideas so why are they opposing them.

  115. 115
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The intrinsic difficulty of passing major White House legislation even with a majority in Congress is saving a lot of people’s retirements today.

    You can watch CNBC and see your not-privatized Social Security not-taking a beating.

    Remember, Republicans get everything they wanted through Congress, because they aren’t wimps. Certainly that’s what I think whenever I see the monument in town to soldiers killed in Reagan’s invasion of Nicaragua. Bully pulpit, etc.

  116. 116
    4tehlulz says:

    Speaking of medieval: Politico claims that Slick Rick is announcing his candidacy in SC this Saturday.

  117. 117
    me says:

    @chopper: Meanwhile US Bond rates continue to fall. Guess investors like AA+ rated debt after all.

  118. 118
    Reality Check says:

    There’s good news in all of this: gas prices will plummet.

  119. 119
    Dave says:

    @wrb:

    More effective stimulus would be, uh, anything. Pour money into my pocket!

    Obviously this wouldn’t pass the House. The House doesn’t represent me, I guess! But, Obama doesn’t represent me then, either, if he quiesces, if he won’t make the demand.

    Guess what! He doesn’t!

  120. 120
    ppcli says:

    @Dave: As usual, I wish there were a consistent message, but since we have to accept that we’re not going to get that from this administration, the payroll tax cut is probably the best choice from a bunch of horrible options. We need to get money back into the economy somehow. We’re not going to be seeing any direct stimulus. At least this would get money into the hands of the people who need it most, and will most likely spend it. It uses the regressive character of the payroll tax to good advantage.

    Also it puts the Republicans in the position of needing to block a tax cut if they want to prevent recovery efforts.

  121. 121
    PanAmerican says:

    @4tehlulz:

    His sugar daddy got killed in a car accident yesterday.

  122. 122
    Chris says:

    @Reality Check:

    Any Protestant that says they practice the “real” Christianity cracks me up. A Church founded 1500 years after Paul can’t seriously claim to be the “original” Christianity or even close to it.

    Wow – I actually agree with this too.

    Not that it lets the Catholic Church or any of the “old” religions off the hook, not that I’m saying Protestantism’s worse, or whatever. It’s just that having seen something of that culture during college, it’s a pet peeve of mine the number of evangelical churches that pop out of the ground and go “oh, we’re just returning to the original way Jesus practiced religion, maaaannn” because they can’t be arsed to come up with a coherent doctrine of their own.

  123. 123
    Martin says:

    @me: Well, I think this is being misread.

    The downgrade had nothing directly to do with the debt, but was directly related to Congress’s behavior. If they’re willing to threaten default to get what they want, then investors have good reason to be leery of our debt. By the same token, if Congress is so unwilling to deal with problems in good faith, what hope do investors have that Congress will step up and deal with the economy?

    It would seem that following S&Ps lead, the markets are officially responding to the GOPs threat to destroy the economy in order to ensure that Obama not get re-elected.

  124. 124
    Chris says:

    @Martin:

    The downgrade had nothing directly to do with the debt, but was directly related to Congress’s behavior. If they’re willing to threaten default to get what they want, then investors have good reason to be leery of our debt.

    This.

    Surprisingly, people are less inclined to loan you money if they know you’re going to use it as a political football.

  125. 125
    ericblair says:

    @Reality Check:

    France will be downgraded soon. S&P pretty much has to do at least that to be taken seriously now.

    Yeah, why not, assuming anybody actually took them at their word in the last decade anyway.

    Which leads to the question: what and who are these sovereign ratings actually for? It’s not like nobody’s heard of this “US Government” outfit, and needs to look them up in the book to see if they’re good for their debts before you lend them any money. If you haven’t got information a million times more detailed on the US treasuries market then is reflected in a three-letter rating, you shouldn’t be let near a checkbook, much less an investment portfolio. Like everyone was living under a rock before Friday and didn’t realize what was going on in Congress, until those bright boys at the S&P figured it out from watching the teevee?

    The only real functions I can see for ratings agencies for extremely well-known debt like this is to provide an avenue to manipulate markets through screwing with the ratings, and cover for banks and managers to follow the herd so they can be safely wrong with everybody else.

  126. 126
    Judas Escargot says:

    @me:

    Once again, the bond market shows itself to be reality-based and (reasonably) impervious to spin.

  127. 127

    @4tehlulz: The countdown to a photo of his youngest daughter crying beside a podium begins.

  128. 128
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Citizen_X: Pitch perfect and brilliant.

  129. 129
    Reality Check says:

    @ericblair:

    The downgrade wasn’t aimed at the market. It was aimed at the Super-Duper All-Star Extra Special Ultra-Congress.

  130. 130
    Jewish Steel says:

    @4tehlulz: This is good news for, uhh, Texas?

  131. 131
    Culture of Truth says:

    Bonfire of the Vanities, baby!

  132. 132
    Martin says:

    @Reality Check:

    France will be downgraded soon. S&P pretty much has to do at least that to be taken seriously now.

    Why? Has France threatened to not repay their debt? Ok, they have a high debt to GDP ratio, but France’s GDP per capita is almost 50% higher than Greece’s and they have a government that isn’t threatening to fuck everyone over in the name of ideological fundamentalism. By all observation, France seems to actually be able and willing to deal with their problems, rather than just throw up their arms and say ‘oh well, I guess the next 3 generations are fucked because we can’t possibly raise taxes on private jet owners’.

  133. 133
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    I’ve seen that look every day for the past 24 years. She’s begging for SUPER COKE!
    .
    Give it to her, Marcus!
    .
    .

  134. 134
    Tony J says:

    @Ruckus:

    It’s just silly, isn’t it? The Renaissance brought maths to Europe, real maths, the kind that let European engineers push forward the boundries of science and turn a Chinese toy into the tool that would let Europe conquer the world. It broke the deeply conservative stranglehold that Europe’s feudal elite had on society and made space for movers and shakers who were all about the money available from trade and what it could buy you in terms of power.

    Without the Renaissance, Europe would have ended up a closed and backward civilisation run by blue-blooded throwbacks who didn’t want a single thing to change. In essence we would have been a blonder China. Good luck getting your European settlement of the New World up and running when the people with all the money don’t want to let their serfs out from under, and only go to war when it’s approved by the Universal Cathiolic and Apostolic Church.

  135. 135
    Yevgraf says:

    Look at the background of Paul Coughlin, the guy in charge of sovereign ratings at S&P – he’s one of Santelli’s teatards, in a big way.

    The fucker is doing some heavy manipulation, and needs a beatdown in a serious way. That page 4 “blame congress thing” is just for show – S&P is trying to take out Obama, and is willing to crush the world economy to do it.

  136. 136
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Dave:

    obama on tv right now extolling virtues of republican ideas, i.e. payroll tax cut.

    “Republican ideas” championed by notorious conservative Robert Reich?

    The only way out of the vicious economic cycle is for government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy — spending more in the short term in order to make up for the shortfall in consumer demand. This would create jobs, which will put money in peoples’ pockets, which they’d then spend, thereby persuading employers to do more hiring. The consequential job growth will also help reduce the long-term ratio of debt to GDP. It’s a win-win.
    __
    This is not rocket science. And it’s not difficult for government to do this — through a new WPA or Civilian Conservation Corps, an infrastructure bank, tax incentives for employers to hire, a two-year payroll tax holiday on the first $20K of income, and partial unemployment benefits for those who have lost part-time jobs.

    (Source: “Vicious Cycles,” RobertReich.org, 25 July 2011.)

  137. 137
    gex says:

    @Rommie: Turns out if you enable innumerate, ignorant, fundamentalist extremists, it’s a bit hard to control them or make them do what is good for your bottom line. Who knew?

    Oh yeah, lots DFHs, but who listens to them?

  138. 138
    Reality Check says:

    @Martin:

    You don’t pay much attention to the markets, do you?

    Money quote from the Bloomberg article:

    http://tinyurl.com/3mjdple

    France is more expensive to insure against default than lower-rated governments including Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Mexico, Czech Republic, the state of Texas and the U.S.

  139. 139
    me says:

    @Martin: That would make sense if people weren’t buying US bonds.

    The two-year yield fell as much as six basis points to a record low 0.2283 percent. The five-year Treasury yield slipped 16 basis points to 1.09 percent. As Treasuries rallied, credit- default swaps insuring U.S. debt for five years rose one basis points to 56.5, according to data provider CMA, compared with a more than two-year high of 64 on July 28.

    0.23%, now that’s a low return. Seems only the stock market is following S&P’s lead and the stock market follows any lead it can find.

  140. 140
    Chris says:

    @Tony J:

    In essence we would have been a blonder China.

    I still like my Soviet Union analogy better.

  141. 141
    Culture of Truth says:

    Surprisingly, people are less inclined to loan you money if they know you’re going to use it as a political football.

    Except actual lenders don’t seem too concerned.

  142. 142
    ericblair says:

    @Dave:

    More effective stimulus would be, uh, anything. Pour money into my pocket! Obviously this wouldn’t pass the House. The House doesn’t represent me, I guess! But, Obama doesn’t represent me then, either, if he quiesces, if he won’t make the demand.

    The House doesn’t represent any of us, that’s pretty damn clear. You just said yourself that any actual new spending is dead on arrival. You’d rather he stuck to a demand that has no chance of passing and would ensure that nothing gets done; Obama moved to option B and presented a stimulus option that doesn’t work as well but has a decent chance of passing.

    You’d rather go forward with a zero percent chance of getting a full loaf, and Obama would rather go forward with a good chance of getting half a loaf. That pretty much sums up most of the 200+ comment threads around here lately.

  143. 143
    Yevgraf says:

    Can I point out that there wouldn’t be so many wild market swings if the tax rules and institutional culture of the markets didn’t favor short term thinking about stock price.

    A dividend/profits oriented tax code and market would favor “buy and hold” investments.

  144. 144
    Brachiator says:

    @ppcli:

    As usual, I wish there were a consistent message, but since we have to accept that we’re not going to get that from this administration, the payroll tax cut is probably the best choice from a bunch of horrible options. We need to get money back into the economy somehow. We’re not going to be seeing any direct stimulus. At least this would get money into the hands of the people who need it most, and will most likely spend it. It uses the regressive character of the payroll tax to good advantage.

    Of course, this plays right into the GOP’s hands. Unlike the Making Work Pay Credit, the payroll tax cut goes to wealthier Americans as well as to lower income people. So it is not going into the hands of those who need it the most.

    The payroll tax cut was originally a conservative idea, as it allows them to chip away at Social Security (the money to make up the payroll tax cut has to come from somewhere since the cut will not affect benefits calculations). The GOP will inevitably come around and ask for a permanent extension of the payroll tax cut, or for other changes to Social Security.

    Some progressives think that Obama is being cagey in trying to tie an extension of the payroll tax cut to an extension of unemployment benefits, but he is fighting on GOP turf, and the payroll tax cut will add about $100 billion and more to the deficit.

    It’s not just that the Democrats don’t have a consistent message. They don’t have a coherent tax policy, which is absurd given the economic problems we are having. The Republicans don’t have one either, but I don’t expect anything from them other than their persistent message of deregulation, followed by tax cuts for the wealthy.

  145. 145
    Martin says:

    @ericblair:

    The only real functions I can see for ratings agencies for extremely well-known debt like this is to provide an avenue to manipulate markets through screwing with the ratings, and cover for banks and managers to follow the herd so they can be safely wrong with everybody else.

    Investors benefit significantly from an independent ratings agency, otherwise everything turns into a hedge fund. Fund manager having trouble boosting returns for their fund? “I’ll just dump money in this shitty company that I can get a 9% bond yield on and call them a AAA bond”. An independent ratings agency protects investors from that sort of behavior by eliminating a certain conflict of interest with the fund administrators.

    Now, the question of ‘Do our ratings agencies work properly’ is a different and valid question, but I would say that for the most part they do, when there is no conflict of interest between the raters and what they are rating. And that’s what blew up the CDO market – the raters, in order to keep their business flowing apparently were uprating derivatives. That problem needs to be fixed, but that problem generally doesn’t exist with government debt.

    I can think of some good improvements to the current system (a blind match between raters and requests for ratings, for example, and a government-run rater to establish a baseline on corporate debt) but otherwise, I can’t come up with a better way of doing this.

  146. 146
    Yevgraf says:

    Seems only the stock market is following S&P’s lead and the stock market follows any lead it can find.

    Those stock market followers are the retards that get the fees for professionally managing the mutual funds that you’ve been larding up your 401K with, together with the retards that get handsomely rewarded for managing union and public employee pensions.

  147. 147
    Martin says:

    @me:

    That would make sense if people weren’t buying US bonds.

    Actually it explains that as well. S&P isn’t rating our bonds, but our Congress. Which is more likely now – bond defaults or economic stagnation? I’d say the latter always was, but we now have someone weighing in saying “Forget about anything out of this Congress” and the markets are looking at the GDP and jobs numbers and realizing that the teatards aren’t going to allow Congress save their stock performance, but bonds at least are safe for the next 18 months.

  148. 148
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Well, better to laugh than to cry.

    This reminds me of my favorite silly photograph (of which I own a copy) — sorry I could not find a google image for you guys.

    Anyway, there is a group of elderly nuns looking at Michaelangelo’s David and one is gesturing to what looks like David’s naughty bits, with the caption — “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like”.

  149. 149
    me says:

    @Martin: You might be right but notice the 5-year bond is falling too.

  150. 150
    Epicurus says:

    @Martin: Does it not then follow that she must be made of wood? It “wood” explain a lot!

  151. 151
    Martin says:

    @Yevgraf: Can’t get rich without volatility and since the rise of the derivative market, volatility has become a feature, not a bug.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve made as much off of derivatives as I have off of stock holdings. I’ve gotten 10,000% returns in 6 months with derivatives. Imagine what someone who really knows what they’re doing could do there?

  152. 152
    Alex S. says:

    The early Michelle and Marcus Bachmann remind me of Tobias and Lindsay Fünke.

  153. 153
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    RE:obama on tv right now extolling virtues of republican ideas, i.e. payroll tax cut.

    “Republican ideas” championed by notorious conservative Robert Reich?

    A payroll tax cut has also been championed by conservatives. It’s part of their attack on the Social Security system.

    Back during the 2008 campaign, the pundit Robert Novak wrote about how John McCain could use a payroll tax cut to his advantage (McCain’s Payroll Prize).

    As part of Democratic obsession with making a progressive tax system still more progressive and redistributing income, Obama actually would raise the $97,500 cap on the payroll tax, and his $500 tax credit would not change payroll tax withholding for employee or employer. There is an open field for John McCain, if he has the wit and will to enter it.

    Most economists at the time thought that it was a bad idea.

  154. 154
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    I wonder how they treated folks with persistent migraine headaches back in the Middle Ages? Probably not a good idea to mention the visual hallucinations, the authorities might get the wrong idea. Best not to tell anyone else in the village either. They might stick a carrot on your nose and dress you up a bit, just for a bit of fun.

  155. 155
    Nutella says:

    My favorite bit in the New Yorker article is Marcus B insisting that the reporters tell him personal details about themselves so he can ‘analyze’ them and then refusing to answer any questions himself.

    Also that he has a master’s degree in counselling from Pat Robertson’s C.B.N. University.

  156. 156
    Woodrowfan says:

    actually civilization began to go wrong when Yoko split the Beatles..

  157. 157
    Martin says:

    @me: So is the 10 and 30. But the dow lost 35% under Bush Jr. Nasdaq fell 41% over his 8 years. Fucked up policy can do a lot more harm than paying out 2% over 10 years. Gold is up $50 today alone. Investors are fleeing risk of losses, not risk of lower gains. At least bonds won’t lose you money.

    We’re into budget cycle as soon as Congress reconvenes. If we’re back to govt shutdowns (likely) then bonds are safe, but the broader economy? Well, it’s not going to help, lets put it that way.

  158. 158
    Chris says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I wonder how they treated folks with persistent migraine headaches back in the Middle Ages? Probably not a good idea to mention the visual hallucinations, the authorities might get the wrong idea. Best not to tell anyone else in the village either. They might stick a carrot on your nose and dress you up a bit, just for a bit of fun.

    I have a sister who sometimes faints when there she’s in a large crowd and no air conditioning or anything to keep it cool. Since that doesn’t happen as often as all that, the only times it’s happened have all been in churches.

    Church attendance = fainting… wonder how the priest would interpret that one.

  159. 159
    SensesFail says:

    I will never understand how these religious conservatives can keep the whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, destroy-the-social-safety-net, gimme-mine-and-screw-you philosophy simultaneously with the teachings of Jesus.

  160. 160
    ppcli says:

    @Brachiator: I more or less agree, I just don’t see any better option. I don’t see how the Making Work Pay Credit gets through the House as it stands. (“40% / 55% / 89% of all Americans PAY NO TAXES!” on Fox news 24/7 etc.)

  161. 161
    Nutella says:

    @SensesFail:

    Very selective reading of the infallible Bible. You do remember the story about Jesus throwing the Democrats out of the temple to make more room for the money-changers, don’t you?

  162. 162
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Yevgraf:

    Can I point out that there wouldn’t be so many wild market swings if the tax rules and institutional culture of the markets didn’t favor short term thinking about stock price. […] A dividend/profits oriented tax code and market would favor “buy and hold” investments.

    Big fan of a per-transaction tax here, indexed somehow to how long the asset was held.

    Even at a few cents per, this would do a lot to rein in nasty things like automated HFT trading and excessive shorting. Plus then, the market really would have fuck-all to do with the 80% of society that doesn’t play (ie as a source of revenue).

    Call it the “financial freedom assurance fee”, if you like, to avoid having to use the T-word. But it’s the best, simplest, practical fix I can think of that doesn’t involve bullets or rags soaked in gasoline.

  163. 163
    Chris says:

    @SensesFail:

    I will never understand how these religious conservatives can keep the whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, destroy-the-social-safety-net, gimme-mine-and-screw-you philosophy simultaneously with the teachings of Jesus.

    People have been stabbing, slashing and burning their doctrine of love and redemption into people for two thousand years. So…

  164. 164
    jl says:

    @122 Martin
    I am puzzled about all the fuss over the market patterns today, which are about the same as the market patterns have been for almost a month, which is the time frame over which the relevant new news has come in on the prospects for future recovery in the real economy.

    And the new news on the prospects for recovery in the real economy is that it will be even weaker than expected a few months ago, and the probability of a double dip has noticeably increased.

    And this produces both a falling stock market and rising bond prices (and falling interest rates on new debt).

    And, as many have predicted, the S and P rating mean exactly nothing for the bond market for US treasury securities.

    They do mean something bad for state and local, and later on, for consumer debt. And from the senseless babble I heard on the news earlier this morning, more emphasis on ill advised short term government spending cuts.

    I am an optimistic sort, so have been hoping for the best case, which would be a 1939 stasis of barely noticeable recovery. But the incompetent and corrupt S and P nonsense my tip the US into another 1937 moment.

  165. 165
    Reality Check says:

    @Martin:

    Someone didn’t read the debt ceiling bill if they think that there’s going to be a government shutdown when Congress reconvenes.

  166. 166
    PeakVT says:

    @SensesFail: They don’t care about what Jesus said. It’s the nuttier bits of the Old Testament that really turn them on.

  167. 167
    wrb says:

    @Brachiator:

    A payroll tax cut has also been championed by conservatives

    That is the point. It is a form of pretty efficient stimulus (multiplier around 1.2 vs. 1.6 for infrastructure spending and .3 for extending the Bush tax cuts) that Republicans will have trouble voting against. If they do vote against it they’ve dramatically illustrated that they won’t even support their own ideas that would help the suffering.

    It is depressing how both sides have become such fundamentalist ideologues: if an approach has ever been associated with one side it is infected.

    Sometime a solution is just technical, engineering not religion: it will help, the non-crazy on both sides should support it.

  168. 168

    Well, anyone who has been to Rome would be SHOCKED at all the statues of nekkid people all over the city. And I’m not even talking about in museums, I’m talking all of the famous fountains all over the place, there are pen1ses and nut sacks and titties absolutely everywhere. Truly shocking.

    I blame it all on the Trevi Fountain, I really do.

    :-)

    In other news, the Congressional page program is ending. To save money.

    I find that odd. I mean, I don’t know how much money the program costs, maybe it’s huge, but when you’re sinking billions of dollars into a sand hole in the Middle East, this strikes me as chump change. But what do I know.

  169. 169
    Judas Escargot says:

    @SensesFail:

    I will never understand how these religious conservatives can keep the whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, destroy-the-social-safety-net, gimme-mine-and-screw-you philosophy simultaneously with the teachings of Jesus.

    As someone else pointed out yesterday (sorry, again I can’t remember), they’re not really Christians. Their Paulites.

  170. 170
    R-Jud says:

    @SensesFail:

    I will never understand how these religious conservatives can keep the whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, destroy-the-social-safety-net, gimme-mine-and-screw-you philosophy simultaneously with the teachings of Jesus.

    It’s simple. They ignore him.

  171. 171
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Brachiator: If it’s been championed by pundits on the left _and_ on the right, it’s probably more An Idea than A Conservative Idea Obama Has Grasped In Order To Stab Progressivism In The Back And Send Us All To Hell.

  172. 172
    chopper says:

    @Martin:

    exactly. bonds may not beat inflation, but it’s still better than cash. precious metals are good but gold is clearly in a bubble, and if we go full-on recession it’s likely to pop. last time it dropped about 30%.

  173. 173
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    Their They’re Paulites.

    FTFM. FYWP.

  174. 174
    Grace51 says:

    @Louise: I read this book and found it a great read and enlightening; they indeed sold their souls, but then it kept the money rolling in.

  175. 175
    Trinity says:

    OT – WTF is going on in London?

  176. 176
    Ruckus says:

    @Yevgraf:
    Isn’t this pretty much Warren Buffet’s investment plan? Long term investments and profits. It’s not like he hasn’t made money at it.

  177. 177
    Martin says:

    @jl:

    I am puzzled about all the fuss over the market patterns today, which are about the same as the market patterns have been for almost a month, which is the time frame over which the relevant new news has come in on the prospects for future recovery in the real economy.

    Normally I wouldn’t worry much about this sort of pattern. It’s not unusual for the markets to go soft during August, but this has been a notably consistent trend here. The Dow has dropped almost every day since July 22 and we’re currently off 14.5% since then. That’s not normal, and it’s not normal to go that many trading days without some kind of correction, and rather than perk up, the market seems to be digging ever faster.

    I am an optimistic sort, so have been hoping for the best case, which would be a 1939 stasis of barely noticeable recovery. But the incompetent and corrupt S and P nonsense my tip the US into another 1937 moment.

    I’m optimistic as well, but I don’t think the S&P rating is either incompetent or corrupt. I think it’s an institutional reinforcement of what we’ve been saying about the GOP since 2008 – they’re going to stick a shiv in this economy and they don’t care who gets hurt. Had we all been credit raters here, we’d have said the same thing for largely the same reason.

  178. 178
    someguy says:

    London? Some of the revolutionary behavior Freddie wants. It’s not leftism per se, but maybe it’d do to get the right center government knocked out of power; retaliation for police brutality as I understand it. Students & kids using social media to flash rob all over town. Kinda like Egypt, but with less understandable accents.

  179. 179
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Loneoak: I’ve called them “Medieval-Americans” for a few years now.

  180. 180
    R-Jud says:

    @Trinity: It’s also just kicked off here in Birmingham. Fuck.

  181. 181
    liberal says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    Big fan of a per-transaction tax here, indexed somehow to how long the asset was held.

    Why does it need to be indexed? Most proposals I’ve seen set the tax rate at something pretty small. Holding an asset over any reasonable amount of time, and you won’t pay too much tax.

    Only special provision that needs to be made is for market makers, IIRC.

  182. 182
    jwb says:

    @Martin: The problem with this hypothesis is that we’ve had essentially no material change in US politics for at least two weeks, arguably for three months ever since the Republicans threatened default, so the markets should have been gradually pricing that risk in instead of making the run that it did. You could argue that the extent of the brinkmanship changed the environment, but that was clear last week. Whatever change has happened, I don’t think it had to do with new information, but rather with how money people are viewing the information that they already have: Europe is a mess and the ceiling standoff suggests that the US government is not likely to be able to make any substantive moves to prevent a slide back into recession. So the market is currently pricing in the risk of recession.

  183. 183
    PeakVT says:

    @Judas Escargot: A transaction tax doesn’t need to be holding-time-adjusted because in most markets the level necessary to tamp down short-term trading would be trivial for long-term investors. Making it time-dependent would also introduce a complication that would make markets less … for lack of a better phrase, price-transparent.

    ETA: What happened to that relief rally?

  184. 184
    Brachiator says:

    @ppcli:

    I more or less agree, I just don’t see any better option. I don’t see how the Making Work Pay Credit gets through the House as it stands. (“40% / 55% / 89% of all Americans PAY NO TAXES!” on Fox news 24/7 etc.)

    I hear you. Unfortunately, as long as Obama and the Democrats are content to react to GOP initiatives and accept their overall policy as the end point, they are going to continue to end up on the losing side of the debate.

    And at some point, they are going to start losing many who are not diehard committed Democratic voters. Because the obvious question for some will be, “if you concede that the GOP ideas will help the economy, why don’t we just vote for the Republicans instead of Democrats?” Many people are not frightened of Bachmann and the other GOP crazies, or calculate that their lives won’t be much affected by them if they get into office.

    It’s funny how often the economic conversation starts out with, “Bring me the best of everyone’s ideas,” and ends up, “Well, we just had to settle for the worst of the Republican ideas.”

    Ultimately, it’s up to the Obama Administration and the Democrats to come up with better options. That’s kinda what they promised, not simply to serve as blockers against the insane wing of the Republican Party.

  185. 185
    jl says:

    @175 Martin,

    If I put on my super duper cynical tin foil hat (which I may be doing more often) then I agree with you, the S and P ratings downgrade was not incompetent at all.

    Not only the GOP may be behind it, but also the banks and financial companies who need low and falling interest rates to maintain the book value of their bad fixed income assets.

    The current system of crony corporate capitalism, as expressed in the continuing ‘extend and pretend’ policy has driven a huge wedge between the incentives of the ‘too big to fail’ financial firms and the real economy. The downgrade may be an example of that wedge.

  186. 186
    IrishGirl says:

    @Chris: I think it’s important to also acknowledge that even back in Michelangelo’s days there were various groups within the Catholic church that had a serious problem with the “new” art because it was too “earthly”. All Francis Schaeffer was doing was recycling an argument created during the Renaissance in the first place. Funny how modern evangelists can agree with Catholics when its convenient for them, isn’t it?

  187. 187
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    WTF? Reality Check said three reasonable things in a row. Stop defying my expectations and say something like “Pentecostals are teh best monotheists evar.”

  188. 188
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Reality Check:

    Someone didn’t read the debt ceiling bill if they think that there’s going to be a government shutdown when Congress reconvenes.

    Someone didn’t read Mitch McConnell’s lips if they’re so certain there won’t be.

  189. 189

    From the New Yorker article

    Today, one of the leading proponents of Schaeffer’s version of Dominionism is Nancy Pearcey, a former student of his and a prominent creationist. Her 2004 book, “Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity,” teaches readers how to implement Schaeffer’s idea that a Biblical world view should suffuse every aspect of one’s life. She tells her readers to be extremely cautious with ideas from non-Christians. There may “be occasions when Christians are mistaken on some point while nonbelievers get it right,” she writes in “Total Truth.” “Nevertheless, the overall systems of thought constructed by nonbelievers will be false—for if the system is not built on Biblical truth, then it will be built on some other ultimate principle. Even individual truths will be seen through the distorting lens of a false world view.”
    When, in 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Bachmann what books she had read recently, she mentioned two: Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” a jeremiad that accuses liberals of lacking patriotism, and Pearcey’s “Total Truth,” which Bachmann told me was a “wonderful” book.

    Discuss.

  190. 190

    This is a Tweet worthy of this blog:

    “If you’ve been disappointed by the President, what does he need to do to win you back? 800.989.8255, talk@npr.org, @totn”

    TOTN = NPR’s Talk Of The Nation

  191. 191
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    Martin @156:
    Bizarrely, Reality Check is right here. It’s like someone else is posting to this one thread. One of the sneaky things that made the debt deal a shit sandwich for the Tea Party, not us, is that it includes a budget and takes away their next chance to hold a hostage. I don’t know how long it lasts. It’s possible there are no ‘hostage’ points left, and I’d VERY much like to find out.

  192. 192
    shortstop says:

    the hippety-hop

    Could be time to see that movie again.

  193. 193
    Jim Pharo says:

    You say “feudalism” like it’s a bad thing!

  194. 194
    burritoboy says:

    You guys are far too self-congratulatory about the Renaissance:

    1. “It broke the deeply conservative stranglehold that Europe’s feudal elite had on society” It was the middle ages that the republican city-states flourished. Conversely, it was precisely during the Renaissance when most of the major monarchies of Europe were established (Hapsburgs, Tudors, Bourbons, etc). The city-states rapidly declined during the Renaissance.

    2. “The Renaissance marked the emergence of Christian Humanism, and was largely, except for its scientific component, supported by the RC Church.”

    Insofar as we’re considering “Renaissance” to be the recovery of ancient texts, this process had been underway within the medieval universities since the 12th century. Thomas Aquinas asked his friend William of Moerbeke to undertake the translation of Aristotle. The major legal academics had begun to recover the Roman law in the 11th century. Etc.

    In addition, the rebirth of science also happened in the Middle Ages. Such scientists as Albertus Magnus, Witelo, Roger Bacon, the Oxford Calculators and numerous others were not only primarily clergy, but were being encouraged by the highest authorities – Albertus was eventually made a bishop, for instance.

    The RC Church was the primary sponsor of scientific research until the 18th century.

    3. “The Renaissance brought about the end of the Dark Ages, when religious mysticism held the most socio-political sway, and ushered in the Enlightenment.”

    The Middle Ages were often more rationalistic than the Renaissance. The Renaissance was when such things as hermeticism, neo-Platonic mysticism and numerous other occult themes became popular. The Dark Ages had ended roughly 500 years or more before the Renaissance began.

    4. “I guess it depends on exactly how you define “capitalism” but the mercantile banking houses of Italy all got their start in the 13th and 14th centuries.”

    That’s commerce, and the Middle Ages were all about the resumption of commerce in Western Europe. Capitalism is a product of the Enlightenment.

    5. “Well, they’re right in the sense that the Renaissance started western culture’s slow drift away from such godly practices as burning heretics at the stake.”

    Actually, witchcraft hysteria, the Inquisition and so on were all primarily Renaissance and early modern phenomenon. Medieval scholastics primarily argued that magic simply did not exist, while many Renaissance figures were precisely into alchemy, neo-Platonic mysticism, numerology, Kabbalah and so on.

    6. “It also represented a turn away from the era in which Europe was an ass-backwards butthole, essentially the Soviet Union of its day”

    The Soviet Union was a unified, highly coerced tyranny ruling over vast territories and numbers of people. There were simply no medieval governments like that. Not, of course, that medieval governments couldn’t be tyrannical – many of them were. But their level of technology and low level of government organization meant that even the worst medieval tyrant controlled only tiny amounts of territory and small numbers of people. Medieval Europe was composed of hundreds of small states, ranging from tribal states to feudal monarchies to advanced city-state republics. Most medieval writers supported monarchy, but also insisted that the monarch should listen closely to the Parlement or Parliament. A figure like Stalin was essentially unimaginable to them.

  195. 195
    R-Jud says:

    @someguy:

    London? Some of the revolutionary behavior Freddie wants. It’s not leftism per se, but maybe it’d do to get the right center government knocked out of power; retaliation for police brutality as I understand it.

    That’s certainly the case in London, but what’s happening here in Birmingham tonight is totally about breaking and stealing shit. They’re targeting Adidas, Apple, cell phone shops.

    There are helicopters going over us every few minutes now. Whee!

  196. 196
    peaceweaver says:

    One Medieval feature not mentioned thus far: only the “little people” paid taxes. Aristocrats (=hedge fund managers) paid none. This is the holy grail.

  197. 197
    Norwonk says:

    It’s like hearing the old munk Jorge in The Name of the Rose:

    Let us return to what was, and ever should be the office of this abbey: The preservation of knowledge. Preservation, I say. Not “search for”… Because there is no progress in the history of knowledge, merely a continuous and sublime recapitulation.

  198. 198
    chopper says:

    @Martin:

    man, that was a brutal day. volume was pretty nuts. S&P off 6.66%. between that and the blood-red lake in texas, i’m ready for the apocalypse.

  199. 199
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    The world may be coming to an end but I got my UGA football tix today! WOOF!

  200. 200
    Martin says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I mean, I don’t know how much money the program costs, maybe it’s huge, but when you’re sinking billions of dollars into a sand hole in the Middle East, this strikes me as chump change.

    The page program not only cost money, but it has added more than its share of complications to Congress.

    And there’s no rule that you can only tackle your financial to-do list in order of largest to smallest. Everyone else on earth tackles it as much in order of easiest to hardest.

  201. 201
    wrb says:

    @Brachiator:

    Because the obvious question for some will be, “if you concede that the GOP ideas will help the economy, why don’t we just vote for the Republicans instead of Democrats?” Many people are not frightened of Bachmann and the other GOP crazies, or calculate that their lives won’t be much affected by them if they get into office.

    What will happen if ideas aren’t enacted now the stimulate the economy is that Republicans will take over government, immediately stimulate the economy (both sides have ideas that would work) and prove, in the eyes of the public, that their ideas are better. Battle of ideas lost due to purity now.

    It’s funny how often the economic conversation starts out with, “Bring me the best of everyone’s ideas,” and ends up, “Well, we just had to settle for the worst of the Republican ideas.”

    That is just inevitable when Republicans control the house.

    Ultimately, it’s up to the Obama Administration and the Democrats to come up with better options. That’s kinda what they promised, not simply to serve as blockers against the insane wing of the Republican Party.

    They can come up with great ideas to run on but if they cann’t bring about improvement now they will likely lose.

  202. 202
    Reality Check says:

    @peaceweaver:

    WTF?? The vast majority of the “little people” in the Middle Ages were subsistence farmers who had nothing of value to be taxed!

  203. 203
    chopper says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    oh, there are still hostages to be taken. some of them sound innocuous, but are a real punch to the kidneys when it comes to revenue. like the gas tax.

  204. 204

    At Oral Roberts, Bachmann worked for a professor named John Eidsmoe, . . . as Eidsmoe’s research assistant on his book “Christianity and the Constitution,” published in 1987. Eidsmoe explained to me how the Coburn School of Law, in the years that Bachmann was there, wove Christianity into the legal curriculum. “Say we’re talking in criminal law, and we get to the subject of the insanity defense,” he said. “Well, Biblically speaking, is there such a thing as insanity and is it a defense for a crime? We might look back to King David when he’s captured by the Philistines and he starts frothing at the mouth, playing crazy and so on.” When Biblical law conflicted with American law, Eidsmoe said, O.R.U. students were generally taught that “the first thing you should try to do is work through legal means and political means to get it changed.”

    “Christianity and the Constitution” is ostensibly a scholarly work about the religious beliefs of the Founders, but it is really a brief for political activism. Eidsmoe writes that America “was and to a large extent still is a Christian nation,” and that “our culture should be permeated with a distinctively Christian flavoring.” When I asked him if he believed that Bachmann’s views were fully consistent with the prevailing ideology at O.R.U. and the themes of his book, he said, “Yes.” Later, he added, “I do not know of any way in which they are not.”

    Eidsmoe has stirred controversy. In 2005, he spoke at the national convention of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a defiantly pro-white, and anti-black, organization. (Eidsmoe says that he deeply despises racism, but that he will speak “to anyone.”) In Alabama last year, he addressed an event commemorating Secession Day and told an interviewer that it was the state’s “constitutional right to secede,” and that “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.” In April, 2010, he was disinvited from a Tea Party rally in Wausau, Wisconsin, because of these statements and appearances.

    Bachmann has not, however, distanced herself, and she has long described her work for Eidsmoe as an important part of her résumé. This spring, she told a church audience in Iowa, “I went down to Oral Roberts University, and one of the professors that had a great influence on me was an Iowan named John Eidsmoe. He’s from Iowa, and he’s a wonderful man. He has theology degrees, he has law degrees, he’s absolutely brilliant. He taught me about so many aspects of our godly heritage.”

  205. 205
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    A transaction tax? And put a damper on the churn, and actually allow investments to behave like investments, and not bets at one of Donald Trump’s hotels in Atlantic City?

    Someone please get me a fainting couch!

  206. 206
    Culture of Truth says:

    You guys are far too self-congratulatory about the Renaissance:

    I say we get John McCain on the phone and settle it from someone who was there

  207. 207
    jl says:

    @184 IrshGirl

    The Catholic Jansenists were the result, and the Jansenists were, as I understand it, a kind of adoption of goofy Calvinist doctrines into Catholicism. One of the good points of Catholicism, as far as it being able to maintain a consistent theological doctrine, is that there is a clear chain of religious authority that can decide what is a heresy and what isn’t. So the Jansenists got proclaimed heretics, and were persecuted. That is not good from my modern degenerate ungodly liberal secular view, but at least it was easy to know who was who.

    IIRC, the Jansenists were also into sexual panic and repression, and had a weaknesses for authoritarian situations that promoted human misery, and constant shame and generally feeling bad due to liberal application of what some Catholic writers call ‘overscrupulousity’

  208. 208
    Reality Check says:

    What’s more, IRRC (it’s been a long time since college) aristocrats were, in fact, the ones who paid the taxes, though they used euphemisms for them like “free gifts” (and later one merchants did too in the form of tolls etc.) The monarchs and the Church didn’t.

  209. 209

    Sorry about the long copy/pasta job. I wanted to cut out the non-crazy but I couldn’t find much

  210. 210
    chopper says:

    what’s also funny, the S&P is down 6.66% and the dow is down 5.55%. the nasdaq, well that just took a plain-old shit.

  211. 211

    Stock market dropped over 600 points today.

    Perhaps now would be the time to tell Rick Perry to stop praying?

  212. 212
    kuvasz says:

    Personally, I blame the decline of Western civilization on the implimentation of the designated hitter by the American League, in 1971. After that, the whole fucking world turned to shit.

  213. 213
    Judas Escargot says:

    @jl:

    Not only the GOP may be behind it, but also the banks and financial companies who need low and falling interest rates to maintain the book value of their bad fixed income assets.

    Maybe… but they downgraded Fannie and Freddie, too. That will slow down housing sales even further, leaving those same banks stuck with underwater properties for even longer.

    And, as already noted, local and state governments will suffer even more. No new roads, schools, libraries, etc.

    So we’ll get no housing recovery, no infrastructure spending, and even less revenue in coming years (since rotting assets result in less tax income).

    Risking paranoia here… but if you wanted to break America’s back while she was down, this is pretty much how you’d go about it.

    So, as the lawyers say, cui bono?

  214. 214

    @Martin:

    And there’s no rule that you can only tackle your financial to-do list in order of largest to smallest. Everyone else on earth tackles it as much in order of easiest to hardest.

    President Obama? Is that you?

  215. 215

    @kuvasz:

    Believe it or not, my 80-year-old mother in law has conservative friends who say it all went to shit when school districts started supplying children with books, free of charge.

    Which I think was somewhere around 1945 or so….

  216. 216
    drkrick says:

    People should remember that Carter was an Evangelical Christian in the days just before they went batshit insane over politics. It is not surprising Bachmann was a follower.

    People should also remember that the Robertson/Falwell Liberation Front had no problems with Carter and were pretty indifferent to other people’s abortions until the Carter Administration started talking about pulling the tax-exempt status from the various post Brown v. Board seg academies and their post-secondary equivalents like Bob Jones University.

  217. 217
    kth says:

    comments tl;dr, and it’s probably already been noted, but Francis Schaeffer is a hugely unsung “hero” in extremist right-wing history. He’s basically the guy who persuaded evangelicals to take up the abortion issue (before about 1978, they simply didn’t care).

  218. 218
    trollhattan says:

    @Rosalita:

    Just saw it!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ml?hpid=z4

    I’m going to forgive Tina B. several of her recent sins after this doozy. Crazy eyes!

  219. 219
    Martin says:

    @chopper:

    man, that was a brutal day.

    Yeah, but my main holding hit my price target to buy options, so I’m in tomorrow morning. If my guess is right, in 6 months I’ll have college covered for one kid. If I’m wrong, I’ll hear it from the wife and be back on peanut butter for lunch every day next year.

    I missed the lake in Texas, but we get a cool condition here called ‘red tide’. It’s a red algae bloom, but at night it luminesces when it’s disturbed, so if you take the boat out (a canoe or kayak is best), you leave a glowing trail wherever you disturb the water. And swimming in it is freaky as hell, as well as the glowing green waves at the beach. We had a really strong tide about 2 summers ago and it was bright enough to read by.

  220. 220
    chopper says:

    @jl:

    ah, the jansenists. my father had (he’s passed away, i’m sure it’s still in the house somewhere) an original or very-close-to-it copy of the augustinus. it definitely was from the 1600s. not in good shape tho.

  221. 221
    chopper says:

    @Southern Beale:

    the more that dude prays, the drier texas gets. maybe he should start praying for texas’s budget, cause it aint gonna get any better now.

  222. 222
    Poopyman says:

    @gocart mozart:

    Sorry about the long copy/pasta job.

    You’re making me really hungry for a good fettucine, and I could use a good carb overload to help ease the pain of my 401k.

  223. 223
    Xenos says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Me, I have grave reservations about the Neolithic revolution.

    Was that not the whole point of the Cain and Abel story?

    In any case, the transition from hunter to farmer is really bad for the teeth. Man, did people get unhealthy at that point!

  224. 224
    Carbon Dated says:

    One hopes that “Shoot, aim, score!” enters the BJ lexicon …

  225. 225
    Chris says:

    @drkrick:

    People should also remember that the Robertson/Falwell Liberation Front had no problems with Carter and were pretty indifferent to other people’s abortions until the Carter Administration started talking about pulling the tax-exempt status from the various post Brown v. Board seg academies and their post-secondary equivalents like Bob Jones University.

    It still staggers me a bit that Bob Jones University waited until the year 2000 to allow interracial relationships on campus.

    But somehow there’s no ties between the old segregationists and the religious right, and no one will protest their innocence louder than them. What, us? How can you say that? After all, we’re pastors just like Martin Luther King! Yeah…

  226. 226
    Josie says:

    Yup, It’s popcorn time.

    http://www.statesman.com/blogs.....day_t.html

    I’m looking forward to a debate featuring Perry and Bachman.

  227. 227
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    Mmm. It’s all an oversimplification where ‘taxes’ doesn’t describe things accurately enough to be useful. The peasants at the bottom got to keep only as much of what they produced as their lord felt like. The lord’s duties to his lord varied wildly. One of the most important aspects of the medieval period was the growth of cities, which were outside the feudal system. People got to more or less keep what they produced and you began the first glimmers of a middle class since Rome.

    As has been pointed out several times in this thread, people mistake the Medieval period, roughly 1000AD to 1300AD with the Dark Ages, roughly 500AD to 1000AD.

  228. 228
    drkrick says:

    @Reality Check:

    If you’re not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Coptic, you have no business even trying to claim that you have anything but a vague connection to ancient Christianity.

    It’s almost impossible to overstate the conflicts between the theologies of those three churches, particularly around the question of who or what Jesus actually was. If any of them bear even a passing resemblance to Christianity as practiced in the first 100 years or so after the crucifixion (and I highly doubt it) it can only be one. It’s pretty unlikely that any of ancient Christianity survived Constantine and Nicea.

    Although the though of Jesus talking theology with Falwell or Bachmann or Martin Luther or the Pope is pretty amusing: “So you think that has anything to do with anything I taught? Really?”

  229. 229
    Linnaeus says:

    burritoboy has the right of it. There’s a lot of misunderstanding of both the medieval and Renaissance periods out there.

  230. 230
    nellcote says:

    @Ruckus:

    Buffett called out S&P on their bs. So S&P downgraded Berkshire Hathaway aka Buffett. Somebody needs to seriously look into whose running S&P.

  231. 231
    Jager says:

    @Reality Check: No their “Lords” simply took part of their crops as a ‘tax”

  232. 232
    Brachiator says:

    @wrb: RE: A payroll tax cut has also been championed by conservatives

    That is the point. It is a form of pretty efficient stimulus (multiplier around 1.2 vs. 1.6 for infrastructure spending and .3 for extending the Bush tax cuts) that Republicans will have trouble voting against.

    It’s not a very effective stimulus at all. It hasn’t worked so far, for example. This kind of nonsense comes from economists who do not know how to move beyond their simplistic little formulas and look at the impact of their ideas on real people in the real world. From LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, in discussing the CBO analysis of the payroll tax cut:

    But the CBO didn’t take into account the damage done to Social Security by making yet another component of its revenue stream conditional…. The employer tax cut fails to address the fundamental drag on hiring, which is the lack of consumer demand.

    And the bottom line is that the payroll tax cut violates Obama’s supposed principle of maximizing tax cuts for the middle class. It also adds fuel to the Republican fire to kill Social Security by every means necessary: cutting benefits and cutting funding.

    If they do vote against it they’ve dramatically illustrated that they won’t even support their own ideas that would help the suffering.

    The idea isn’t just to help the suffering, but to get the damned economy working again. Some Democrats seem to think that identifying someone who is suffering and throwing a tax credit on them is the same thing as effective tax and economic policy. It’s not, not by a longshot.

    It is depressing how both sides have become such fundamentalist ideologues: if an approach has ever been associated with one side it is infected.

    No. It is that some policies don’t really work. And also that the long term GOP strategy is to kill Social Security.

    Sometime a solution is just technical, engineering not religion: it will help, the non-crazy on both sides should support it.

    The payroll tax cut doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have a job and skews a higher portion of its benefits to wealthier taxpayers, who are already making out pretty well. Sometimes what appears to be a solution is not really one at all.

  233. 233
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Reality Check: Taxes could be paid as a share of the crops. An example: the farmer had 40 bushels of wheat, well the king claims 28 of them.

  234. 234
    Poopyman says:

    @nellcote: This only further diminishes S&P’s credibility, and therefore influence. Or would in a rational world. Yes, an investigation is called for, but that requires both a will and resources. In a just world resources would already be stretched, with all of the investigations that should be going on at this point.

    Hopefully the markets adjust accordingly without waiting for a non-existent investigation.

  235. 235
    Edo says:

    @Chris: Doesn’t work well. The USSR was needlessly terrible in lots of ways, but it was a serious world power and on the cutting edge of quite a few sciences for long enough to bring the first man back from space.

    Barring the Renaissance, I doubt we’d have done that well.

  236. 236
    jl says:

    @184 burrito boy:

    Religious superstition, withcraft, and such like nonsense, leading to repression and civil strife predates the Renaissance.

    You are probably right that hysteria over witchcraft was not a big Catholic thing until the late middle ages, and started among secular authorities, but it does go back to the late middle ages, probably as a result of the catastrophes of the plague and 100 years war.

    The inquisition got into the witchcraft business after it did not have enough heretics to keep its original business model going.

    So, I think you are too down on the Renaissance.

  237. 237
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jager: They also owed a certain number of days or weeks each year to working on the Master’s lands or whatever projects the master thought they should work on.

  238. 238
    Xenos says:

    @nellcote:

    Buffett called out S&P on their bs. So S&P downgraded Berkshire Hathaway aka Buffett. Somebody needs to seriously look into whose running S&P.

    Now that might make for an interesting defamation case. Discovery could be quite fun for that one…

  239. 239
    wrb says:

    @Brachiator:

    The idea isn’t just to help the suffering, but to get the damned economy working again.

    No concern for the suffering at all?

    So what can pass the house now that will do a better job of getting the economy working?

    Is there a passible form of stimulus that has a multiplier greater than 1.2?

    The payroll tax cut doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have a job

    ;

    Except by creating jobs

  240. 240
    Chris says:

    @Edo:

    @Chris: Doesn’t work well. The USSR was needlessly terrible in lots of ways, but it was a serious world power and on the cutting edge of quite a few sciences for long enough to bring the first man back from space.

    Good point.

    Spain might be a better example of a “blonder China.” In the 1600s, greatest European empire in the world. In the 1900s, backwards-ass dictatorship living in NATO’s shadow. And refusing to adapt to the modern world probably had quite a bit to do with their fall.

  241. 241
    wrb says:

    It’s not a very effective stimulus at all. It hasn’t worked so far, for example.

    How do you know this?

  242. 242
    Chris says:

    @Jager:

    @Reality Check: No their “Lords” simply took part of their crops as a ‘tax”

    Sounds familiar. The Little People do the work, but their boss only leaves them with enough to survive and takes the rest off their hands.

  243. 243
    pk says:

    Things really went to hell in a hand basket after the Big Bang.

  244. 244
    Reality Check says:

    @Chris:

    The serfs got military protection in exchange, which is no small thing in the Middle Ages.

  245. 245
    drkrick says:

    The payroll tax cut doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have a job and skews a higher portion of its benefits to wealthier taxpayers, who are already making out pretty well. Sometimes what appears to be a solution is not really one at all.

    No tax cut helps anyone who doesn’t have a job, but the payroll tax is a flat rate from dollar 1 up to $106,800, which means a similar benefit for about 80% of taxpayers and a decreasing one as you climb the top 20% of the income distribution. Not ideal, but about as good as I can imagine getting through this Congress.

  246. 246
    burritoboy says:

    “Let us return to what was, and ever should be the office of this abbey: The preservation of knowledge. Preservation, I say. Not “search for”… Because there is no progress in the history of knowledge, merely a continuous and sublime recapitulation.”

    Which is a quote from a modern novel about the Middle Ages, not an actual source. Most people of that time, including clergy, would not have agreed with the statement. Since such figures as Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste (also eventually made a bishop), Theodoric of Frieberg, Witelo and many other prominent scientists had been dead for decades or even centuries by 1327, with Aquinas having been made a saint in 1323, it’s hard to view the quote as anything more than Eco’s need to have nominalism portrayed as the only rational viewpoint of the time. More accurately, at that moment, the “conservative” viewpoint would have been Thomist. And it’s hard to depict Thomists as some sort of obscurantists.

  247. 247
    burritoboy says:

    “The Little People do the work, but their boss only leaves them with enough to survive and takes the rest off their hands.”

    Not to be defending feudal lords, but it’s not completely accurate to portray the relationship in quite that one-sided of a way. Many noble families obtained power by essentially being sort of explorers in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. Europe was so under-populated that much of the land was simply uninhabited. Noble families started a very large number of new cities, towns, villages in what had been wilderness and encouraged increasing cultivation of the land.

  248. 248
    peaceweaver says:

    Yeah, the serfs paid protection to the “Chivalric” class. And that class got to rape and pillage the serfs next door.

  249. 249
    jake the snake says:

    @bjacques:

    Creating shoggoths was a terrible idea. We’ll be paying for that one until the stars are right again, some vigintillions of years hence.

    What do you do, when Cthulhu is clearly the lesser evil?

  250. 250
    burritoboy says:

    “You are probably right that hysteria over witchcraft was not a big Catholic thing until the late middle ages, and started among secular authorities, but it does go back to the late middle ages, probably as a result of the catastrophes of the plague and 100 years war.”

    Most medieval intellectuals thought witchcraft didn’t exist – oh, people might delude themselves into all kinds of imaginary hysteria, but magic simply is impossible under Thomism. In addition, denial of witchcraft’s existence is common in Christian thought (including denials from Augustine). Charlemagne declared capital punishment as the penalty for those who persecuted witches, and explicitly stated that witchcraft does not exist. It’s quite possible that it was in fact the Renaissance, which was considerably more interested in deciphering the hidden secrets of nature, led to the upswing in worries about witches as Thomism declined.

  251. 251
    LosGatosCA says:

    I think they may be overlooking the countervailing force of the time – Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition.

    Any era that brings waterboarding, the rack, and mass genocide in the name of the church can’t be all bad.

  252. 252
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    If it’s been championed by pundits on the left and on the right, it’s probably more An Idea than A Conservative Idea Obama Has Grasped In Order To Stab Progressivism In The Back And Send Us All To Hell.

    Sorry, I don’t think that Obama has stabbed Progressivism in the back. But I do think that the GOP would gladly send the middle class to Hell.

    My point is pretty simple. Obama yields too much to conservatives, and when he says he favors letting tax cuts for the rich expire, but agrees to extend them, he provides the GOP with political advantage. By accepting compromises that champion and extend GOP policies, it makes it harder to undo them.

    Further, Obama and the Democrats lack any coherent alternative. And it’s not enough to say it doesn’t matter because the Democrats do not control Congress. They are not providing the American people with a clear vision of tax policy that might help move the economy ahead. It is not sufficient to claim that if the Democrats magically get a majority, then they will come up with something. Later. Down the road. Maybe.

    I fundamentally disagree with Obama’s idea that you let “both sides” get a little bit if the GOP side is a bunch of bad ideas that promote an oligarchy.

    I think that this is the wrong approach when the economy is stuck. The GOP policy under Bush created a disaster. The compromises agreed to under Obama (and the stimulus) held the disaster in check, but has not moved us forward.

    And when people suggest that this is the best deal that Obama could get, I can agree with the political assessment, but still think that it does not hurt the economy. The compromise was like coming up with 6 buckets of water. An understandable compromise, but not enough to keep the house from burning down.

  253. 253
    Delia says:

    @burritoboy:

    The fascination with the occult also played a much larger role in the Scientific Revolution than anyone wanted to admit for a very long time. Newton’s work on alchemy was much more extensive than his work on physics. The discovery of his alchemical writings in (I think) the 1970s created quite a sensation. He corresponded with John Locke on the topic. He also believed in the Hermetic tradition, a mystical religious cult that supposedly reached back to ancient Egypt and conferred special knowledge and powers to its adepts.

  254. 254
    skippy says:

    actually, the world changed (for the worse) on 8-8-88

  255. 255
    Brachiator says:

    @wrb: RE: The idea isn’t just to help the suffering, but to get the damned economy working again.

    No concern for the suffering at all?

    The Obama compromises have created more suffering. I don’t think the Democrats have a large enough vision of where they want the country to go. The talk about letting the tax cuts on the rich expire because of some hazy idea of “shared sacrifice,” but then say, “Never Mind.” Seems to me that someone still ends up sacrificing, and it ain’t the rich.

    So what can pass the house now that will do a better job of getting the economy working?

    Probably nothing. So no reason to give the Republicans anything.

    Is there a passible form of stimulus that has a multiplier greater than 1.2?

    Wrong question. The idea of multipliers as currently tossed around is largely irrelevant to the current stagnant economy.

    RE: The payroll tax cut doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have a job.

    Except by creating jobs

    It has not created jobs so far. It will not create jobs. And even if it did, the value of jobs created does not equal the revenue loss.

    By the way, real world economics. On Saturday, I was in the area near a community college. Weekend activity used to be pretty lively. I noticed a Johnny Rockets closing at 7:30 pm. The place was empty. A Chinese food place next door was doing a little business. At the Starbucks, people were nursing small orders to use the Wi Fi. Other shops even more moribund. Not a lot of economic activity. What I see, and hear from business people and others is that things are getting worse.

  256. 256
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Brachiator:

    On Saturday, I was in the area near a community college. Weekend activity used to be pretty lively. I noticed a Johnny Rockets closing at 7:30 pm. The place was empty. A Chinese food place next door was doing a little business. At the Starbucks, people were nursing small orders to use the Wi Fi. Other shops even more moribund. Not a lot of economic activity.

    Not to go too far down on your anecdote, but it’s probably in between terms at the CC, which could explain the lower weekend activity.

  257. 257
    Ruckus says:

    @Brachiator:
    As a small businessman I would have to agree that things are getting worse. And that’s from a pretty crappy base of the last 3-4 years. Not everyone is doing badly but the one’s I know all agree that business is not doing so good. When someone asks I say I’m still here. Surviving. Barely. Most say that’s pretty good from what they hear.

  258. 258
    moe99 says:

    @burritoboy:

    Aristotelian thought had flowered long during the middle ages, but it had reached an end–it was the introduction of Platonic philosophy that was one of the major catalysts of the Renaissance. And the transfer of math and the sciences from the Moslem world (their religious authorities clamped down on higher learning at this point) to the Western universities.

  259. 259
    burritoboy says:

    “Aristotelian thought had flowered long during the middle ages, but it had reached an end—it was the introduction of Platonic philosophy that was one of the major catalysts of the Renaissance.”

    While it is true that interest in Plato revived in the Renaissance, Thomist philosophy had already been in decline for quite a while by the time of the Renaissance. Far more important is nominalism and the debates around conciliarism (closely connected to nominalist philosophy).

  260. 260
    Paul in KY says:

    @moe99: There was a huge trauma that WW I inflicted as well. Average Germans never knew that they were getting their asses kicked in the last year of the war. Heavy press censorship kept those details out of sight.

    That fact allowed Hitler to peddle his ‘Jews stabbed us in the back’ BS about WW I.

  261. 261
    Paul in KY says:

    @me: Not in Philadelphia, Mississippi! Huh?

  262. 262
    Paul in KY says:

    @chopper: I’d look for that & try to preserve it. There’s probably some money in a tome from the 1600s.

Comments are closed.