Puppet Populists

Not even trying very hard to hide it:

If you liked University of Florida student Brandon Scott’s column last Sunday about the national debt, you also should enjoy columns by Dartmouth College student Thomas Wang and University of Wisconsin student Jennifer Pavelec on the issue. After all, they’re the same columns. The identical columns ran last weekend in newspapers in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. They each included the same first-person passage describing the student’s work with the Campaign to Fix the Debt and its “millennial arm,” The Can Kicks Back.After I was told last week about the column appearing under the byline of different writers in other publications, it was removed from The Sun’s website. Staff with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, who sent out the columns, said they were templates that were supposed to be personalized or otherwise reworded. The campaign’s vice president of communications, John Romano, said Scott ¬— an intern with the group — was not at fault.”This was an inadvertent mistake and the campaign takes full responsibility for it,” he said.

I’m glad it wasn’t a deliberate mistake.

It’s been obvious for a while that this grassroots uprising is fake. This is from February:

Fix the Debt is the most hypocritical corporate PR campaign in decades, an ambitious attempt to convince the country that another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner and that urgent action is needed. Its strategy is pure astroturf: assemble power players in business and government under an activist banner, then take the message outside the Beltway and give it the appearance of grassroots activism by manufacturing an emergency to infuse a sense of imminent crisis.
Fix the Debt’s stable of CEOs are a PR flack’s dream. Not only are they able to get meetings with everyone from John Boehner to President Obama; they can flood cable news with laughable messages of “shared sacrifice” and be treated with fawning respect. Fix the Debt’s David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, “brings serious financial muscle to the table” when he pushes “market credible solutions,” chirps The Wall Street Journal. There is no mention that Cote is a tax-dodging, pension-skimping hypocrite: Honeywell has a negative average tax rate of -0.7 percent and underfunds its employee pensions by -$2.8 billion, making Cote’s workers even more reliant on Social Security.
To foster the illusion of a grassroots uprising, Peterson has nursed what the National Journal calls a “loose network of deficit hawk organizations that seem independent but that all spout the Peterson-sanctioned message of the need for a ‘grand bargain.'”
In addition to throwing money at groups for national tours and town hall meetings, the 86-year-old Peterson is obsessed with creating the fantasy that young people care more about the national debt than their own. This time around we have The Can Kicks Back, complete with a mascot — “AmeriCAN,” a staffer dressed as a giant can — who in December taught former Senator Alan Simpson to dance “Gangnam Style.” This goofy press stunt went viral — Peggy Noonan labeled it “merry and shrewd” — and the group enjoyed puff pieces in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
Even Chelsea Clinton and George Stephanopoulos are in on the fix. In his latest effort to birth a group of bipartisan baby hawks, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $10,000 cash prize to the college student who creates the best project “designed to educate their peers on the effects of the nation’s rising debt.” Chelsea and George will judge the contest, along with Simpson and Bowles.
Fix the Debt has collected some 345,000 petition signatures, directed at Congress and the president. This sounds impressive until you learn that the goal was 10 million, and that some CEOs instructed their employees to sign — among them, the 130,000 employees at Caterpillar (it’s unknown how many did).
This strategy seems to be convincing enough for many media outlets. With a staff of eighty people and a $60 million budget, Fix the Debt “increasingly resembles a presidential race, with grassroots-style organizing and offices in places like New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Michigan,” writes Fortune.
“This is probably the most important phase as we see it,” gushes spokesman Jon Romano. “This is where we actually think something will happen.”

The worst part to me about the media/business interest obsession with the debt is it gets us off talking about stagnant wages and income inequality. Of course, maybe changing the subject from stagnant wages and soaring income inequality to how Social Security is ruining America is an additional objective of the campaign.

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151 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner and that urgent action is needed

    But still not a good enough reason to raise taxes.

  2. 2
    Chris says:

    The worst part to me about the media/business interest obsession with the debt is it gets us off talking about stagnant wages and income inequality.

    That’s why they’re doing it.

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    Hah! So true.

    Did the intern really not tell them to personalize the cut ‘n paste? They all have a bright future working for Rand Paul.

  4. 4
    Chris says:

    OT: apparently the meme circulating around the wingnut blogosphere is that the “Obama’s health care rollout is Bush’s Katrina!” is proof that the New York Times is liberal and Bush Derangement Syndromed, because it’s unfair to… Bush.

  5. 5
    Kay says:

    @Chris:

    It’s a lie that it’s “brave” too. It would be really brave to admit that no one really knows what to do about stagnant wages. It’s easy for politicians and media to yammer about the debt. The wage discussion is much, much harder. We’d have to get into trade policy and CEO pay and how we’ve devalued and demeaned front-line workers and their work and elevated managers and professionals. It’s a difficult discussion. There’s a ton of moving parts and issues and shifting alliances. Compared to that, cutting Social Security is easy.

  6. 6
    Suffern ACE says:

    Yep. As powerful as AARP is presumed to be, I doubt that it can make a few phone calls and get a few dozen high rolling power brokers to go to a retreat to think of ways to praise Medicare.

  7. 7
    Chris says:

    @Kay:

    And what’s even easier is cutting food stamps. Old people at least are a big voting bloc, and Social Security is something everyone wants to have at some point (as opposed to things like food stamps and Medicaid, which are for the “undeserving” that the Average Voter tells himself he’ll never be lazy or dumb enough to become).

  8. 8
    Cervantes says:

    Of course, maybe changing the subject from stagnant wages and soaring income inequality to how Social Security is ruining America is an additional objective of the campaign.

    “Maybe”? “An additional”?

  9. 9
    Chris says:

    @Kay:

    But yeah, “brave” has to be one of the most misused words in our national political media, and I know what a strong claim that is.

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Older low wage people sometimes bring me those Social Security statements that we all get in the mail periodically. It breaks my heart a little because I think they’re looking for reassurance that the thing is valid and guaranteed, akin to a contract.

    I do not know why these millionaire assholes insist on scaring people who are already terrified. They’re scared enough. Just stop.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Chris:

    “Brave” to these people is willing to stand up and be criticized by liberals on blogs. That’s real “purple heart” stuff in their eyes.

  12. 12
    Jennifer says:

    About the only positive thing I can see here is the mention that Peterson is 86 years old, which means he won’t be around to piss in the pool for too much longer.

  13. 13
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Lazy pieces of shit.

    Frankly, though, I think a lot of people are so acclimated to plagiarizing in school nowadays that it’s not really seen as a big deal anymore. You do the homework this week and we’ll copy off of you; next week, it’s someone else’s turn to do the work. The fact it gets transmitted to the ‘real world’ is no big surprise at all.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    Yup, that’s exactly why…and those are the true problems. Income inequality is a hallmark of third world status. There are some in the 1% who know this, but most of them do not care, because of IGMFY. These people need tumbrel rides.

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    Lazy pieces of shit.

    Frankly, though, I think a lot of people are so acclimated to plagiarizing in school nowadays that it’s not really seen as a big deal anymore. You do the homework this week and we’ll copy off of you; next week, it’s someone else’s turn to do the work. The fact it gets transmitted to the ‘real world’ is no big surprise at all.

  16. 16
    dmsilev says:

    What I don’t understand is what motivates someone like Peterson. He’s in his mid 80s, and you’d kind of hope that he’d find a less assholic way of spending his twilight years.

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jennifer:

    Peterson’s head needs to be one of the first to roll around in the basket. Followed closely by Tom Brokaw’s.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    I see what you did there.

  19. 19
    Tokyokie says:

    @Kay:

    It would be really brave to admit that no one really knows what to do about stagnant wages.

    Sure we know what to do about stagnant wages. Raise them. Except that would likely mean cutting compensation for those at the top, and this we cannot do, because, FREEDOM!

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    Well, this is tangentially related to the notion that deserting coward vs. Hitler comparisons are unfair.

    To the guy who was an actual wounded in combat war veteran, Hitler.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tokyokie:

    FREEDOM!

    You mean FREEDUMB! of course. The rallying cry of the teabillies.

  22. 22
    Davis X. Machina says:

    …the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $10,000 cash prize to the college student who creates the best project “designed to educate their peers on the effects of the nation’s rising debt.”

    I don’t suppose a viral YouTube campaign along the lines of “You still have some stuff. It isn’t all ours yet. But together we can fix that.” is going to win the prize?

  23. 23
    Elizabelle says:

    Kay: I found the text the college kids plagiarized.

    Here’s the text of what Jennifer Pavelec submitted to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which pulled her column.

    Originally published as “A UW Student takes on the debt”:

    Young Americans of the rising millennial generation are well aware of the economic challenges facing our generation. Rising college tuition is leading to record high student loan debt, about $27,000 on average per person. Unemployment for young people remains in the double digits, about 12%, due to the lasting impact of the Great Recession. But the most threatening number to our American Dream is likely one you have not heard before: $200 trillion. That’s the true size of our national debt and the full tab our generation is set to inherit if nothing changes.

    I recently went to Washington, D.C., with the Campaign to Fix the Debt to make sure our elected leaders know that young people are counting on them to address this problem, not keep kicking the can down the road. That means finding common ground on long-term solutions and ending the madness of government shutdowns and debt ceiling showdowns.

    Change starts with leaders being open and honest about the problem we face. When politicians talk about our $17 trillion national debt, they are only referring to the amount of money our country has borrowed in the past –– not where we are going in the future. Our true national debt of $200 trillion, otherwise known as the fiscal gap, includes today’s debt, tomorrow’s unfunded obligations through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and the cost of interest payments. This is a crushing burden to be left to the next generation, and the longer we wait to deal with it, the more painful the solutions will be in terms of necessary tax increases and spending cuts.

    Further, beneath the surface of this pile of debt is an even more immediate problem –– an ongoing transfer of wealth from the young to the elderly. Since 1970, the share of the federal budget spent on payments to individuals (primarily health and retirement programs for seniors) increased from one-third to two-thirds, while investments in the future of the young have plummeted.

    At the same time, the increase in average net worth for seniors (over 75) outpaced that of young people (20 to 28) by 144 percentage points. The economic gap between generations is growing partially as a result of the way government taxes and spends, and young people have been getting a smaller and smaller slice of the pie.

    The status quo is the worst option for young people. That is why we must unite across the country and across the political spectrum to demand real reforms. The first step leaders should take is enacting the INFORM Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that would reveal the full size and intergenerational consequences of our country’s fiscal imbalance. Then leaders should take advantage of the budget conference process over the next few months to craft a more sustainable and generationally equitable federal budget through a “Grand Generational Bargain” that increases investments in our future, slows the growth of entitlement spending and reforms the tax code to raise additional revenue.

    As those with the most at stake, young Americans must be most involved in providing the political cover and pressure for elected leaders to make these tough decisions to reduce the deficit and grow our economy. Young people should get involved in nonpartisan, millennial movements such as The Can Kicks Back campaign to ensure politicians stop talking about their children and grandchildren and start listening to them. It’s time we start fighting together for our future.

    Jennifer Pavelec is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of The Can Kicks Back, the millennial arm of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @dmsilev: oh there’s some story he tells about his youth and communism and how his greatest gift to humanity will be wiping out the last vestiges of socialism from the planet. He couldn’t care less about the debt. He wants the private financial sector to have that pension money.

  25. 25
    Jamey says:

    Staff with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, who sent out the columns, said they were templates that were supposed to be personalized or otherwise reworded.

    Oh, well then, that’s different.

    God, they’re not even trying

  26. 26
    Jamey says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well at least Bush has received more accolades for his art…

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    Kay: try this link for what the college kids plagiarized — it’s the “Jennifer Pavelec” column the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pulled.

    I cannot get it through WordPress.

    http://www.credit-card-bank.bi.....ogle-news/

  28. 28
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Baud: It’s always been a problem. I had some training in paleography coming up the classical-philology ladder, and early in my teaching career I took a couple of batches of written homework and performed some simple analysis of common errors, basic stemmatics stuff, and discovered in a set of 56 homework papers, there were only nine separate originals.

    My pitch ever since has been “Make the xerox machine in the library the valedictorian — it makes copies faster and more accurately than any of the students…”

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    Kay: I found the text the college kids plagiarized.

    Here’s the text of what Jennifer Pavelec submitted to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which pulled her column.

    Originally published as “A UW Student takes on the debt”:

    Young Americans of the rising millennial generation are well aware of the economic challenges facing our generation. Rising college tuition is leading to record high student loan debt, about $27,000 on average per person. Unemployment for young people remains in the double digits, about 12%, due to the lasting impact of the Great Recession. But the most threatening number to our American Dream is likely one you have not heard before: $200 trillion. That’s the true size of our national debt and the full tab our generation is set to inherit if nothing changes.

    I recently went to Washington, D.C., with the Campaign to Fix the Debt to make sure our elected leaders know that young people are counting on them to address this problem, not keep kicking the can down the road. That means finding common ground on long-term solutions and ending the madness of government shutdowns and debt ceiling showdowns.

    Change starts with leaders being open and honest about the problem we face. When politicians talk about our $17 trillion national debt, they are only referring to the amount of money our country has borrowed in the past –– not where we are going in the future. Our true national debt of $200 trillion, otherwise known as the fiscal gap, includes today’s debt, tomorrow’s unfunded obligations through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and the cost of interest payments. This is a crushing burden to be left to the next generation, and the longer we wait to deal with it, the more painful the solutions will be in terms of necessary tax increases and spending cuts.

    Further, beneath the surface of this pile of debt is an even more immediate problem –– an ongoing transfer of wealth from the young to the elderly. Since 1970, the share of the federal budget spent on payments to individuals (primarily health and retirement programs for seniors) increased from one-third to two-thirds, while investments in the future of the young have plummeted.

    At the same time, the increase in average net worth for seniors (over 75) outpaced that of young people (20 to 28) by 144 percentage points. The economic gap between generations is growing partially as a result of the way government taxes and spends, and young people have been getting a smaller and smaller slice of the pie.

    The status quo is the worst option for young people. That is why we must unite across the country and across the political spectrum to demand real reforms. The first step leaders should take is enacting the INFORM Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that would reveal the full size and intergenerational consequences of our country’s fiscal imbalance. Then leaders should take advantage of the budget conference process over the next few months to craft a more sustainable and generationally equitable federal budget through a “Grand Generational Bargain” that increases investments in our future, slows the growth of entitlement spending and reforms the tax code to raise additional revenue.

    As those with the most at stake, young Americans must be most involved in providing the political cover and pressure for elected leaders to make these tough decisions to reduce the deficit and grow our economy. Young people should get involved in nonpartisan, millennial movements such as The Can Kicks Back campaign to ensure politicians stop talking about their children and grandchildren and start listening to them. It’s time we start fighting together for our future.

    Jennifer Pavelec is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of The Can Kicks Back, the millennial arm of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

  30. 30
    Tokyokie says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: If you want to see the logical result of increasing income stratification, check out the response to the disaster in the Philippines, where nothing gets done unless those at the top of the food chain get a piece of the action. Aid is still not getting to the victims, because the absolutely corrupt political system has choke points throughout the bureacracy, with too many politicians able to skim the incoming relief or at least have their logos inscribed on the cartons containing the goods. (Don’t forget that former President Erap Estrada was skimming ransoms paid to Islamic terrorists who kidnapped Western tourists.) We caught a glimpse of this sort of horror with the Bush administration’s response to Katrina. The Philippine response is where this sort of politics is headed.

    You want to Fix the Debt? Put Pete Peterson and the rest of the banksters in prison and confiscate their ill-gotten fortunes, and tax the rich appropriately. But Peterson and his gang of thieves don’t want to Fix the Debt, they want to Screw the Poor.

  31. 31
    Baud says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    He couldn’t care less about the debt.

    That’s the thing. Although I don’t agree with it, I can’t say it’s outside the bounds of democratic discourse for people advocate for debt reduction. But that’s not what they really care about, because they would balk if the debt were reduced based on progressive policies.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    There you have it.

    Calls for a “Grand Generational Bargain”, because the students’ problem is Granny.

    Don’t look here, at the plutocrats and merely very well off hoovering up so much money that the rest of us face diminished opportunity. Don’t look at why we’ve got economic inequality.

    You should look up the kids who were willing to run this. They’re sheep who are nesting in think tanks. Economics and politics majors for the two guys.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @Kay: The unfortunate reality is that those asshole millionaires won’t feel any need to stop doing their various bits of assholishness until they are the ones who are scared. They won’t fear voters and they won’t fear laws; they know they have games the system enough to work around anything thrown at them. The only thing they’ll fear is a credible threat that someone will come and forcibly take their lifestyle from them.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Income inequality is a hallmark of third world status. There are some in the 1% who know this, but most of them do not care, because of IGMFY that’s what they want us to be

    FTFY.

    Listen to them talk about those right wing dictators we supported in the name of Cold War politics. They don’t describe them as necessary evils and “they’re bad but at least they’re not commies,” they describe them enthusiastically as saviors, “authentic national heroes,” “the spiritual equivalent of our founding fathers,” and the like. That’s not an accident. They might not phrase it as wanting America to have third world status (they’ll phrase it as “going back to before Teddy Roosevelt, before the socialists took over”) but that’s what it means.

  35. 35
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Elizabelle: it makes so much sense-public investments in the future. Of course they don’t mention what those are. I assume they mean cut granny off of Medicare and hope politicians come up with something to do with the savings. I hope they can. I’ll be too busy paying for my father’s medical bills to figure out these things myself.

  36. 36
    Bex says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: You can add David Gregory’s head to that list after his pronouncement last night on the NBC “News” that it’s not Obama’s Katrina. It’s Obama’s Iraq war. The TV barely survived what I threw at it. Time to pull the plug on NBC and CBS…and oh what the hell, ABC. All useless.

  37. 37
    Elizabelle says:

    FWIW, the Thomas Wang kid was bragging his op eds had been published in the Boston Globe.

    Couldn’t find that, but did see The Boston Herald had an article behind their paywall. Don’t know if this is the first paragraph, or a summary. Language is differently ordered from Jennifer’s, and this was published September 2:

    While it’s not rare to hear politicians talk about their “children and grandchildren,” they often forget to listen to them. Even as the nation sits on a debt of $17 trillion (and growing), Congress continues to pay more attention to the next election than to the next generation. That is why I recently visited Capitol Hill as part of a millennial-led campaign to refocus the discussion. I met with my elected leaders from New Hampshire to encourage them to put politics aside and find a bold, bipartisan fix. Millennials want more problem-solving, and less point-scoring.

    Published as “Millennials eye D.C. fiscal future” on BostonHerald.com

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Yep. Exposed to gas attacks in the trenches, wasn’t he?

    OT, but I wonder if he was always crazy or if that was what fucked with his head. (Could be both – he have had mental problems to begin with, but been pushed over the edge into full blown lunacy by the war).

  39. 39
    Feudalism Now! says:

    This goes along with Dylan Ratigan’s rant about the debt that is floating all over facebook. Idiocy.

  40. 40
    Kay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I’m actually personally quite frugal, so I would have been open to a discussion about spending, but I think they were dishonest from the get-go so I don’t trust them.

    I’ll happily talk about health care spending, including Medicare. I think that’s a real problem. When Vermont went to single payer they put spending controls in because they knew they’d get killed if they didn’t.

    What I won’t do is listen to people who conflate Social Security and Medicare, and that is what the Fix The Debt people do. That’s dishonest. It makes me question their motives. Take Social Security completely off the table and then talk honestly about our for-profit health care system. Now that would be “brave”.

    Also, just as a general political marketing matter, I think it’s insane to keep asking regular people who are just getting by to listen to lectures by CEO’s and millionaires and billionaires. Time for them to STFU and sit down for a while. Let someone else have a turn at the mic. I don’t think they’re my superior. I won’t accept a lecture from them.

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jamey:

    Can he do an apartment in an afternoon? Two coats?

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Kay:

    Pete Peterson firmly believes that the 99% should live and die in the dirt.

    That’s why he so hates Social Security and other “entitlements”.

    The only good entitlement, in Peterson’s mind, is something inherited directly.

    That prohibition of titles of nobility in the Constitution probably really bothers him, too.

  43. 43
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Kay:

    Also, just as a general political marketing matter, I think it’s insane to keep asking regular people who are just getting by to listen to lectures by CEO’s and millionaires and billionaires.

    Not a Calvinist, I take it…Outward signs of eletction, etc, etc.

  44. 44
    gene108 says:

    The worst part to me about the media/business interest obsession with the debt

    Is they ignore the budget surplus Bush & Co. inherited that was squandered on two rounds of tax cuts – the second of which only passed the Senate by VP Cheney casting the tie breaking vote – the Iraq war and other problems from the Bush era.

    They also ignore how jacking up the capital gains tax rate, amongst other taxes that directly affect the rich, would help reduce the debt.

  45. 45
    Eric U. says:

    Social Security shouldn’t be considered an entitlement. My Social Security taxes have been subsidizing assholes like Peterson’s taxes since Reagan’s time. Biggest scam they ever pushed through, tax-wise.

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    A lot of us old farts on SS are scared. But not all of us. I imagine that if I was 86 my take from SS would not be what mine actually is and it would be pretty hard to live on. Take any of it away and yes that is scary. And it’s not that my take is all that, I don’t get the max but I can pay rent and food. But if I had to be on Medicare and pay part of my SS for care….
    That’s why these assholes don’t stop. They look at what they have stolen for themselves and see that it is never enough to have that one last gold plated bathroom in their tenth house or the next bigger, faster personal jet so they won’t have to travel with the lower classes. And they are pissed about it. All that government money is more to steal.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    More like outward signs of a very real need to be flayed alive.

  48. 48
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    That prohibition of titles of nobility in the Constitution probably really bothers him, too.

    Pretty much.

    I don’t think conservative 1%ers are in it for the money. They have more than they can count, having more or less is an abstraction at that level, and the half who inherited it have never even lived without it and so have no idea what it’s really worth. At that level, it’s about power and status. (The more you deny to other people, the more your own is worth, and if anyone doesn’t accord you the proper respect for having these things, they have to suffer for it).

  49. 49
    handsmile says:

    @Tokyokie:

    I believe it’s gotten to the point where Petersen’s cabal could in fact change its name to “Screw the Poor,” and much of the Village media would applaud their candor, “a bold willingness to speak unwelcome truths.”

    Okay, the pearl-clutchers might object to “Screw”; “Teach” may be preferred. With the obligatory citation of Matthew 26:11.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    …the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $10,000 cash prize to the college student who creates the best project “designed to educate their peers on the effects of the nation’s rising debt.”

    So generous. That’s a fraction of the stuff that Peterson finds under the couch cushions.

  51. 51
    Elizabelle says:

    The Nation did a series of articles on Fix the Debt last February.

    Stacking the Deck: The Phony ‘Fix the Debt’ Campaign

    Peterson has poured an estimated half-billion dollars into schemes so unpopular, so economically unsound and so obviously self-serving that even conservative politicians run from them, as the implosion of the Simpson-Bowles commission illustrates. So Peterson has repurposed his project into what Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Global Economy Project director Sarah Anderson calls “a Trojan horse” for “filthy rich tax-dodging hypocrites.” With a stable of CEOs, Peterson timed the launch of this new $60 million campaign to exploit the wrangling over the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and the sequester. Fix the Debt has signed up prominent Democrats and Republicans as spokespeople (many of whom have undisclosed financial ties to firms that lobby on deficit-related issues) and launched “astroturf” campaigns to create the fantasy that young people and seniors are concerned enough about debts and deficits to support Peterson’s austerity agenda.

  52. 52
    Patrick says:

    an ambitious attempt to convince the country that another cataclysmic economic crisis

    This from the same people who had no problem spending a $1 trillion on the Iraq war. One doesn’t have to be all that smart to dismiss these hypocrites.

  53. 53
    Kay says:

    @Ruckus:

    I think it’s crazy to cut Social Security. It should be the absolute last thing cut. They would have had a chance to get a lot more traction if they had taken that off the table, IMO. People need some dependable bottom line that doesn’t change. A ground level of security doesn’t make people risk-averse. It allows them room for risk.

    IMO, it’s part of the problem with having really wealthy people run this. They have a whole different capacity for risk-taking, because they’re insulated. They aren’t “like us” so stop shoving them in our faces.

  54. 54
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: If you’re 25, and just starting out, you’ll sell your soul like that — snaps fingers — for $10,000. Hey, tuition loans. I don’t applaud, but I understand.

    But what does that figure tell us about the souls of the people offering it? And about how they view the people they’re offering it to?

    Contemptible.

  55. 55
    El Cid says:

    “I loved it. It was much better than CATS. I’m going to see it again and again.”

  56. 56
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @handsmile:

    I believe it’s gotten to the point where Petersen’s cabal could in fact change its name to “Screw the Poor,

    Screw the Undeserving Poor.

    The problem is the macroecomic intuition of the average voter is identical to that of a 14th century Burgundian peasant. He goes out the door every morning not into a modern post-industrial economy, but into a morality play. He’s got good seats, too.

    So long as the right people win — hey, they look like him! — and the correct people lose, and the narrative arc squares with the stories in his head, and the production values are top-notch, he won’t even notice the corpses piling up.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I thought it was a low number too. They have 80 employees and a 60 million dollar budget and they want a PR marketing idea from some debt-burdened college student for $10,000. They also get free access to all the submissions they reject. They have a website where you can make your pitch for the chance at 10,000.

    They’re managed to come up with an employment idea that is cheaper than hiring temps. Disgusting.

  58. 58
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Kay:

    They’re managed to come up with an employment idea that is cheaper than hiring temps. Disgusting.

    More efficient. Which is the same thing as ‘cheaper’. Which is what will kill this civilization in the end.

  59. 59
    Anoniminous says:

    If the desire is to understand debt, credit, and money reading Prof. Graeber’s Debt – The First 5,000 Years is a necessity. A synopsis is here.

    Getting ready to re-read it in depth – checking references, reading his source material, etc. – but on the face of it he has destroyed the Neo-Classical, Austrian, Austerian, etc. basic analysis of debt, credit, and money by using actual data instead of mathematical and pseudo-philosophical fantasies.

  60. 60
    GregB says:

    Between this prick Peterson, the ever present fascist pub Henry Kissinger and Dick Effing Cheney, the ghost of Richard Nixon are going to haunt us forever it seems.

  61. 61
    MikeJ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Screw the Undeserving Poor.

    All poor people are undeserving. If they deserved more, they’d be rich.

  62. 62
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    Agreed.
    I recall from my last job on one trip sat next to a couple reading one of rush fatass’s books and in not even close to hushed tones talking about how uncomfortable they were and next time they would go first class. I really wanted to ask them why a couple of pompous arrogant assholes were traveling in steerage in the first place. But I am a very slightly better person.
    Now let’s talk about the move to Raise SS benefits. That’s the discussion I want. Mine can stay the same, but someone making the average amount of SS is poor, cat food too expensive poor. That needs to change. In 20 years my tune may change about my needs but today, I’m OK.

  63. 63

    @Chris:
    I disagree. They’re doing it for the ego rush. Fucking over the poor and lobbying the government to fuck over the poor and talking on and on about how important it is to fuck over the poor makes them feel awesome. It highlights them as Galtian Supermen, because every struggling poor person proves how incredible they must be to have gotten rich. It gives them an excuse to rub shoulders with high level politicians, so they can feel like they’re part of that group. Releasing PR campaigns makes them feel like they’re in charge of what Americans think. Oh, and hurting people for some abstract principle makes them feel like the only mature, brave adults in a nation full of foolish, greedy children.

    Incidentally, ‘brave’ means ‘this will hurt me more than it hurts you.’ It isn’t true, but it isn’t true when abusive parents say it, either. It’s just self-righteous ego oil. Emotional benefits can be much more powerful motivators than material benefits.

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:

    @Anoniminous:
    Actual data you say.
    Sacrilege that is.
    Bullshit fantasies always sound better than real life. And if you have far more money than sense then your life isn’t real, it is a fantasy.

  65. 65
    Eric U. says:

    for $10k, I wonder if I can get my daughter to write something for their contest. Would be funny to insert some easter eggs into it, like the fact that people are paying to lend us money

  66. 66
    Ruckus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    It’s the ultimate dick measuring contest. When you can purchase all the toys and realize that none of the stuff makes your dick grow one micron then you have to find another way to be better than the average dick. You have to be SuperDick.

  67. 67
    handsmile says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Hey, you’re (apparently) the Calvinist! Can any member of the poor be considered “undeserving”?

    (also too, kudos on the nicely rendered metaphor.)

    Which gives me an opening to recommend enthusiastically Jim Crace’s recent (and Booker short-listed) novel, Harvest.

    http://www.amazon.com/Harvest-.....0385520778

    Set in rural, pre-industrial England, it explores – simply, evocatively, hauntingly – social/moral changes wrought by economic development. Spoiler alert: the poors don’t win. I just finished reading it; utterly superb.

  68. 68
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Anoniminous:

    The Crooked Timber folks did a seminar on Debt. (Link is a Google search, because their own internal link to the seminar is hosed.)

    They found it rather…fraught. And they’re not pre-disposed to reject it on ideological grounds, or nit-pick it to death like Brad DeLong.

    Jacobin also had a long review articleby Mike Beggs that’s worth a read.

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    @handsmile:
    Re your spoiler alert.
    That really isn’t a spoiler. It’s not unexpected. Now if the rich had all been bitten by rabid dogs and died that would be a spoiler.
    Not to say it isn’t a very well written and entertaining and worthwhile read.

  70. 70
    Kay says:

    @Ruckus:

    I saw Sherrod Brown signed on, which didn’t really surprise me. I went to a county meeting/discussion with him and it was interesting what came up, and how far it was from the national discussion.

    “Save Social Security!” and “where is the farm bill”? Rural base Democrats, all of whom worked hard for him and really adore him :)

    He doesn’t win Ohio based on this county, it’s only about 8000 votes for (any) Democrat, but I suspect the Social Security message he’s hearing is the same in the urban counties any Ohio Democrat relies on.

  71. 71
    LosGatosCA says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    ‘Screw your own 99% selves’ is more like it.

    In Jay Gould’s day, 50% could be hired to kill the other 50%, now it seems 75% can be hired (more cheaply) to just commit suicide

  72. 72
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @LosGatosCA:

    In Jay Gould’s day, 50% could be hired to kill the other 50%, now it seems 75% can be hired (more cheaply) to just commit suicide

    Steven PInker is right! Violence is decreasing!

  73. 73
    Eljai says:

    I’m not surprised that George Stephanopoulos would be involved with these asshats, but I’m disappointed in Chelsea Clinton.

  74. 74
    some guy says:

    the local editor who pulled this, Nathan Crabbe of the Gainesville Sun, is a decent enough chap, and for a sensible Centrist his editorial explaining why he had pulled the piece of astroturf was a classic “Newspaperman does’t like being lied to” takedown of UF student Brandon Scott. This kid is part of the College Republicans and it’s great to see him raked over the coals on so many national blogs. Of course the kid has a long and rewarding career in front of him in Wingnut welfare think tanks.

  75. 75
    cckids says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $10,000 cash prize to the college student who creates the best project “designed to educate their peers on the effects of the nation’s rising debt.”

    I’ve got 2 kids in college, about to be home for Thanksgiving break. I should get them to work together on this. Something marvelously snarky to show up the actual facts about the debt & how it isn’t Apocolypse Nigh. They could use 10K.

    I’m fairly sure they’d give me that look (we all know the one), and just change the subject.

    Edit to add: We could just lift some ideas directly from the FixtheDebt website. And add some “personal” details. That’s the ticket!

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I agree, but… I feel like that pretty well lines up with what I meant by “power and status” thing (especially the “status” part of the equation).

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    At some point you’d think that people living on SS would recognize that conservatives are trying to screw them, with little to no gain for their neighboring conservatives and a lot of gain for the uber rich. And that all(almost all?) the conservative groups have sugar daddies at the top with ulterior designs on their lives. Except I don’t get the rich conservatives money deal with SS. They don’t contribute to it, it doesn’t come out of the pittance of taxes they can’t avoid. The only way they have is to privatize it and steal what workers put into it. That’s a pretty desperate way to get to be a SuperDick.

  78. 78
    Suffern ACE says:

    I look at my fridge and realize that soon I will need to buy food again. So I’ll buy food, but that won’t stop me from buying food two weeks from then. Every two weeks for 50 years. I think if I project that out, I might be 350,000 in food debt. How will I ever pay that? Wouldn’t it be prudent for me to scale back my food with the goal of eliminating that expense in 5 years?

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @handsmile:

    Can any member of the poor be considered “undeserving”?

    If you’re rich, yes. (As demonstrated by the Marquis de Mittens).

    The closer you get to the bottom, the more likely you are to find people splitting hairs about who is or isn’t a “deserving” poor person.

    But even at the bottom, you still get people with food stamps, public schools, Medicaid and government scholarships in their past who unironically insist that “nobody handed me anything!” and go off on rants against all the moochers who won’t pull themselves up.

  80. 80
    Comrade Nimrod Humperdink says:

    I’m actually watching the KU/WVU game right now because I haven’t seen the Jayhawks all year, and if Cole hasn’t been beaten into indifference he’s gotta be blowing a gasket. The ‘Eers are getting kicked around by a Charlie Weis team.

  81. 81
    Keith G says:

    @Eljai:

    I’m not surprised that George Stephanopoulos would be involved with these asshats, but I’m disappointed in Chelsea Clinton.

    That apple didn’t fall far from the DLC tree.
    @Kay:

    I saw Sherrod Brown signed on, which didn’t really surprise me. I went to a county meeting/discussion with him and it was interesting what came up, and how far it was from the national discussion.

    I want Sen. Brown to run for the presidential nomination in 2016. His voice is the one Democrats need to rally around. His messaging has been the best of any Democrat.

  82. 82
    Elizabelle says:

    @some guy:

    I saw a picture of Brandon where he was going for the “Matt Drudge in a fedora” truth-tellin’ look.

    All of these kids are willing puppets. It’s very sad.

    Thomas Wang sounds like a kid with some idealism, but he’s gone wrong on his ideology.

    Any of these college students/recent grads are Paul Ryan fankids. They think they are smarter than they are.

  83. 83
    some guy says:

    I wonder if Tim Geithner, from his new position at Warburg Pincus, can be cajoled into joining Fix the Debt. He would make an awesome spokesmodel.

  84. 84
    Elizabelle says:

    We need to put Fix the Debt and their enablers (Morning Joe crowd, Politico) in the point and laugh category.

    They need to have their Ted Cruzathon Green Eggs and Ham moment.

    It can happen.

  85. 85
    Elizabelle says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Think of the youngs if you’re eating.

    They cannot stand the status quo. Not one more minute. For shame, Suffern.

  86. 86
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Hahahahahaha Gainesville Sun HAHAHAHAHAHA

    It couldn’t run in the student paper because somebody would’ve gotten a failing grade for that. And considering the bilious “opinion” they (the Alligator) run… wow.

    Nice confirmation bias for the Yoho voters who think the Sun is the gul-durned liebrul* media.

    *accent recreated here may not be authentic, hurr hurr–I mean for one thing, Southerners don’t do that midwestern euphemism thing when they cuss

  87. 87
    Keith G says:

    @Elizabelle:

    It can happen

    But it seems unlikely to happen until there are loud, aggressive, and focused voices in opposition to that message that. Paul Krugman is always on message, but he is not enough.

  88. 88
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Okay, the previous aside to my comment was a lie: I have heard Southern super-Christians utter such beauts as “son of a biscuit eater!” and use “bump” for “fuck” (and I don’t mean jokingly as in “bump uglies”, I mean as in “bump this!”).

    It weirds me out so much I started retaliating by pulling out some urban Catholic Italian shit that I had never in my life used up North–“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!!”

  89. 89
    Anoniminous says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Thank you for the links.

  90. 90
    Tommy says:

    My parents and a few of my friends have more money then they can spend in a lifetime. Many of them are not what you’d call liberals.But push them and they think they should pay MORE in taxes. They wouldn’t even notice it. They tend to think we need a basic social safety net and if anybody should pay more they should. And if somebody ought to get tax breaks it should me somebody like you or me. I mean give me a tax break I will spend the money. My parents, it would just sit in some investment.

  91. 91
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    Frankly, though, I think a lot of people are so acclimated to plagiarizing in school nowadays that it’s not really seen as a big deal anymore. You do the homework this week and we’ll copy off of you; next week, it’s someone else’s turn to do the work. The fact it gets transmitted to the ‘real world’ is no big surprise at all.

    Their attitude makes me think “Future Rand Pauls”.

    ETA: @Baud: win.

  92. 92
    trollhattan says:

    Speaking of open grifting, our area COC convinced the county–teetering near bankruptcy quite recently–into kicking in fifteen large for this.

    Susan Peters, chairwoman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, set up the annual “State of Sacramento Forum” hosted by the Sacramento Metro Chamber on Friday. The crux, she declared, was addressing “why suburbs deserve our continuing support as a legitimate lifestyle choice.” The crowd of 250 chuckled.

    Just who is saying that suburbs are not a “legitimate lifestyle choice”?

    Chamber president Roger Niello [owns one of the area’s largest auto dealership chains] said we must “pay attention to the health and vitality of our suburbs because that’s where our citizens live.” Just who is saying that we should not “pay attention” to the region’s suburbs?

    The whole event, orchestrated by Niello and Peters, with $15,000 in Sacramento County taxpayer money, set up a straw-man argument, attacked it and proclaimed victory. Suburbs rule!

    Meanwhile, the real elephant in the room, the need to have thriving neighborhoods throughout the region – in the urban core, small cities and suburbs – got only lip service. For $15,000, we expected better. We need a full range of choices for people, in different cycles of their lives, at different levels of affordability. Let’s have an honest dialogue about that.

    The title of the event was “Suburbs: Popular and Politically Incorrect, The Importance of Having Prosperous and Livable Suburban Communities.” The speaker was Joel Kotkin, who has made a career out of controversy and self-promotion.

    He delivered. His predictable one-sidedness came across in his renaming of the talk as “Is Suburbia the New Hell?”

    He asserted that California is heading in the direction of “densifying,” that it is “not going to build any more suburbs.” He claimed California has declared a “war against suburbia,” that people are indoctrinated in schools, and the media follow this “party line.”

    Kotkin alleged that California has taken “the economic view that we’re so creative and brilliant” that we don’t need manufacturing or an industrial base. In fact, he alleges that we’re “determined to wipe out what is left.”

    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/.....rylink=cpy

    I’ll be watching for this Kotkin feller to team up with local education griftress Michelle Rhee anytime now.

  93. 93
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I want Sen. Brown to run for the presidential nomination in 2016. His voice is the one Democrats need to rally around. His messaging has been the best of any Democrat.

    He hasn’t shown the slightest bit of interest in doing so, and I want a populist bloc in the Senate. We’re building a newer one: Brown, Franken, Warren. That’s how I look at it.

    He’s the senior Senator from Ohio and he’ll have a lot of power going forward. Too, I think he loves his job. I once asked him if he missed the House (the Senate seems so rule-bound and stodgy and he’s very informal and straight-foward) and he seemed genuinely hurt and insulted :)

  94. 94
    PeakVT says:

    @some guy: I hear Larry Summers is looking for a job, too.

  95. 95
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Elizabelle: wow, why did I read that bolded bilge

    exaggerating about the national debt, like rabid assholes

    attributing the age wealth gap to tax policy and entitlements when it has fuck-all to do with that

    stoking politics of resentment, when in fact young people often benefit from inter-generational wealth transfers

    Want a really salient wealth difference? Look at white and black household assets. What could possibly address that? IDK…regulation? oooga boooga Lowered unemployment rate? Horrors!

    Honeywell has always sucked and their products suck… didn’t they have some investor cheating scandal a couple of decades ago, too?

  96. 96
    Tommy says:

    @Kay: Amen to that. I have come to think we need better folks in the House and Senate. As we can clearly see now, Obama can’t really get anything done.

    Heck I am all in with Rachel Maddow. Even more important what is happening in my state.

  97. 97
    Chris T. says:

    Aha, there’s the problem: it’s not “Fix the Debt”, it’s “Fux the Debtors”!

  98. 98
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Why the focus on homework? In the 1950s written assignments were done in the classroom on copybooks. Aside from math or math-based homework (practice makes perfect there) and music practice (preferably in a sound proofed room in the early years, fa fa!), homework is a scheme to favor cheaters and students with rich parents.

    /worked 2 jobs at all times from junior high through the end of undergraduate

    You know what else? Those kids cooperating in study groups are actually learning social skills they’ll need later in life (not necessarily on the job, though…). Of course, they can learn the same stuff if they’re directly involved in student clubs. So it’s not a total loss is what I’m saying. But while the study group is benign there’s less benign stuff going on out there when there’s pressure to cheat–including threats and coercion between students.

  99. 99
    Tommy says:

    @Another Holocene Human: I am no expert on the tools teachers use now, but my brother went back to college recently (I was in college in the late 80s) and he had to submit all his papers through a computer program that ran a check on it. If he lifted something off the Internet it would have been flagged before it ever got to the professor.

  100. 100
    Betty Cracker says:

    @some guy:

    UF student Brandon Scott

    Goddamn it! As if the Gators didn’t have enough to be ashamed of this year with the shitty football team!

  101. 101
    Kay says:

    @Tommy:

    I think Democrats should focus on state races in off-years and let the state candidates bring along the Congressional candidates (if there’s a governor’s race) but no one will listen to my crackpot ideas :)

    They have to face the fact that “help us hold onto our majority in one chamber!” (or whatever) is just not a terribly exciting or compelling situation. Stop fighting it. Give in to reality and go around it.

  102. 102
    some guy says:

    @PeakVT:

    maybe Citibank will take him back?

  103. 103
    some guy says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    well, give Brandon Scott one thing, in one story he was quoted as saying he supported removing the cap on taxable income for Social Security. heresy!

    and yes, the gators are sucking bigtime this year. The Ole Ball Coach is gonna really spank them tonight!

  104. 104
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I insert name here must defend these insert name of group who are simply exercising their right to express opinions unpopular with insert name of liberal media outlet.

    The fact that these opinions of insert name of group happen to be almost verbatim copies of letters written by a conservative think tank just demonstrates how natural these positions are. All of you here at insert name of blog or other forum insinuating otherwise are obviously just better at editing the form letters you get from George Soros.

  105. 105
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Chris: OT, but Hitler tells all in Mein Kampf. He was severely beaten daily by his step father as a child. As a result, he was a juvenile delinquent and became obsessed with not being dominated. His family had some holler-level endogamy going on (despite rumors that they were part Czech–they lived in now-Czech Republic but were ethnic Germans… after WWII, this ethnic group was forcibly resettled in Germany), and long before Eva Braun the press revealed that Hitler was living with a younger female cousin whom he abused horribly.

    He was really a typical authoritarian–think Bircherite paranoid nut who raves about all the things that disgust him, and a terrible, violent person in his personal life.

    Bush Jr has the touch of the charlatan to him, but Hitler’s own instability seemed to be his charisma. He got his start on soap boxes ranting and raving. In the cut-throat world of right wing fascist nut job organizations he became king by backstabbing his fellows one by one. Since it’s always projection, now you know why backstabbing was his favorite topic. He also did that paranoid thing of combining all his enemies into one–Socialist-Bolshevik-Jewish backstabbers. Except of course for his good buddy the German Army Doctor in his WWI unit who saved his life. He was a good Jew. Some of his more fanatical lieutenants in the Nazi party bemoaned this Tendenz for Aryans to have “good Jews”. It got in the way of the work….

    It’s said that when Hitler didn’t get his way with Mussolini during the Nazi invasion of Austria that he had a fit where he threw himself on the floor, began foaming at the mouth, and starting chewing the edge of a carpet. It earned him the name Teppich-fresser.

    The more you know.

  106. 106
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay: I’m a big fan of Senator Brown, and it always makes me laugh to remember two wingnuts who made asinine mistakes when trying to criticize him — Rush Limbaugh, who wrongly assumed Brown was black (because “Sherrod,” I guess?) and that dingbat who “busted” a newspaper columnist for hugging Brown, only to learn the columnist is Brown’s wife.

  107. 107
    Tommy says:

    @Kay: I don’t disagree. I love in a large blue state. My district is more purple, but not like a lot of places in this nation. Folks are stunned when I tell them I live in a town of 5,500 people, rural. But I have bus and rail service.We just built a $60M high school. My towns public buildings are all wired with fiber. I say this cause we can have “nice” stuff. I have faith my local politicians will provide for my district more then those in DC.

  108. 108
    Mike in NC says:

    Here’s a great line from the introduction of “Pity the Billionaire” by Thomas Frank:

    Before 2009, the man in the bread line did not ordinarily weep for the man lounging on his yacht.

    I lost track of the number of pricks like Mitt Romney who wanted the US auto industry to collapse so that the shareholders and Wall Street parasites could pick over the scraps.

  109. 109
    Betty Cracker says:

    @some guy: Probably, but the ‘Cocks have been inconsistent this year too. I’m a UF alum, so I always root for the Gators, but the ‘Cocks are my second favorite team because my grandma went there. She’ll be calling to bust my chops if the ‘Cocks win.

  110. 110
    Tommy says:

    @Betty Cracker: One of my clients is in Cleveland. His know Brown’s wife cause she has written several stories about his store. He says Brown is just who you think it is.

  111. 111
    Keith G says:

    @Kay: All that you said is true and I agree with it. I was under no allusions that Sen. Brown would be successful in such a run. My notion here is that we need a strong activist voice from the left to make a run to test our ability to market our values to the larger country and to build linkages and infrastructure between the growing communities of liberals I see in the country.

  112. 112
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I think when Hitler is not just invoked but ends up leading to a really detailed historical discussion it’s called Doris Kearns Godwin’s Law.

    Not that I’m complaining.

  113. 113
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    It’s hard to be a conservative with facts always getting in the way.

  114. 114
    zoot says:

    the old ‘the intern did it’ canard is a real hoot. NO ONE IN THE REAL WORLD lets interns do anything without thoroughly reviewing it. Anyone who was responsible for interns and actually let their work out without checking and OWNING it would be fired on the spot.

  115. 115
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @some guy: Yesterday’s Gainesville Sun had an ACA article on the front page with website glitches and dropped coverage on the first page and several paragraph about people rushing to get coverage for the first time in years and succeeding buried at the bottom of Page 6.

    There was also a front page bullet point listicle thing about physicians at risk of suicide right below the crack. I’m not sure why this was the most important news of the day–the only local tie in was the new memorial garden for families of suicide victims, but I had thought that was for everyone in the county–but rest assured plenty of big stories were back on page 4 or 5 or page 2 of local, like an appeal by the local police to get possible victims of a fraud scheme to come forward, no possible reason to put some of that on the front page, I mean, it’s only ASO, fuck those assholes, right?

    It wouldn’t be Alachua County if thieves didn’t laugh at us… all the way to Miami or Atlanta to count their winnings.

    The Op/Ed pages were exceedingly lame although they did run a good editorial cartoon for once and the Sun editorial was okay, better than the Alligator’s for the same day. I wondered what the wingy owners were thinking with their weaksauce syndicated columns, such as the seemingly promising attack on Sarah Palin’s War on Christmas that was poorly written, meandering and confused. I know liberal papers used to have dumb conservative opinionators to make conservatives look bad and suspect this might have been the motivation, but knowing how weird conservatives can be and how confused the article was, they might have been nodding their heads, “he makes some good points, he’s like a rural Richard Cohen, run it”.

    I don’t read these papers daily, but they came into my hands and I had time to kill.

  116. 116
    Yatsuno says:

    @Anoniminous: The Wiki article of the synopsis made me gag a little. It implies he’s a Communist (which he may well be) in a wink-wink nudge-nudge kind of way. I know it’s Wiki and WYSIWYG, but seriously.

  117. 117
    some guy says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    yeah, we gave up our sub to the Sun two years ago, so just the web for us. Their web editor is really bad, and besides Nathan Crabbe, all their editors are outright assholes. They actively discourage comments, and ban people for the slightest thing. The new owners seem determined to drive that puppy inot the ground. Really a shame, as when I first came here in the late 90s it was a halfway decent paper.

  118. 118
    JustRuss says:

    We already “Fixed the Debt” once. Then we elected W and it was back to “Hello, deficits!” Look, I get the fact that we’re exceptional so when it comes to health care we can’t look at what every other civilized nation on the planet is doing, but for fucks sake, how has Everyone Who Matters managed to forget that 13 years ago the US of God Bless America was running a surplus?

  119. 119
    Tommy says:

    @Another Holocene Human: My local paper is to like the right of the WSJ. They are just hammering the ACA and Obama (as they always do). I wish they’d give me a few column inches cause I am in the 5% that got their coverage dropped. Cause well, it was a terrible plan. I am getting a much better plan for a lot less money, even without any government aid.

    I realize maybe that isn’t how it is working out for everybody else, but it is working for me. I am not a selfish person, but gosh darn it something is working for me the way it is supposed to and I am very happy about that.

  120. 120
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Why the focus on homework?

    Damned if I know. I’ve worked at prep schools that had statutory minima of homework per class per night, like that was a good thing. And I’ve had parents complain about the lack of written homework.

    Apart from memorizing vocabulary — immersion’s not an option in what some folks call ‘dead’ languages — I don’t assign written homework much at all any more.

    Language is at least as much a ‘what you can do’ thing as a ‘what you know’ thing, and you assess it by watching it be done, live, right in front of you….

  121. 121
    debbie says:

    Doubtless, this is the ALEC School of Journalism at work.

  122. 122
    Mike G says:

    Are these even real people? “Brandon Scott” sounds like a snotty blue-blazer Young Republican name straight from central casting, and Thomas Wang brings to mind the kind of movies Repuke businessmen pretend they don’t watch in hotel rooms.

    Unfortunately, Hugh Jass and Amanda Hugginkiss could not get their cut-and-paste essays printed.

  123. 123
    Tommy says:

    @JustRuss: Yes we did. And how did we do that, we had an economy that generated taxes. My little rural town has some of the best schools in the state, heck the nation.I have bus and rail service. All public buildings are wired with fiber optics. In 2000 my town had 5,500 residents. In 2010 8,700. We can’t build houses fast enough. Businesses opening.

    And that means more tax revenue. Why we are running a large surplus. This isn’t rocket science.

  124. 124
    bemused says:

    The Pete Petersons of the world remind me of trash and cat hoarders, just substitute money and power, combined with excessive self worship and entitlement, superiority issues. They are addicted to assholery.

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @Tommy:
    You’d think it was rocket science considering how many don’t have a clue.

  126. 126
    Tommy says:

    @Ruckus: I could rant on this topic for hours. Heck my town is not liberal. Last year the co-op we get our power through told us we needed to upgrade our powerlines. It wasn’t cheap. I recall going to a city council meeting and folks were pissed. Why were we debating spending millions. Our city manager said something I will never forget. People like nice things, nice things cost money.

    So we just rewired the entire city in under six months. Seems folks like cheap power. So they move here. They pay property taxes. They start businesses that generate revenue. Then we improve the city and more folks move here. And that process starts again.

  127. 127
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tommy:

    I love in a large blue state.

    TMI, Tommy.

  128. 128
    Mike G says:

    The worst part to me about the media/business interest obsession with the debt

    Don’t worry, as soon as there’s a Repuke in the White House again you won’t hear a peep about it for at least four years, until the next Democratic presidency.

  129. 129
    MikeJ says:

    @bemused:

    The Pete Petersons of the world remind me of trash and cat hoarders, just substitute money and power, combined with excessive self worship and entitlement, superiority issues.

    I think it was Fred at slacktivist who made the point that money is a tool. If you met somebody who had a million salad forks in their garage you wouldn’t think that was admirable, you’d think it was nuts.

  130. 130
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    @Chris: Third world countries have very high inequality and no public education. Exactly what is being attempted here. Why do the conservative elites hate America?

  131. 131
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I don’t think he’s right for that, though. He’s a genuine legislator. His big issue is trade. Since all Republicans and 3/4 of Democrats are not “fair traders” and he is, he’s rare.

    I see the value in an “advocate run” but isn’t he more valuable actually moving/blocking legislation?

    I would warn you a little too, Brown is wonkish in (formal) speeches and debates. He’s very good on television in an informal setting but he genuinely knows a lot about the areas he’s interested in and he isn’t particularly “populist” as a speaker or debater. He sounds like a Senator. He’s just as likely to get far into the weeds on, say, sugar subsidies as he is to do any ringing endorsement of general liberal values. I think he’s great and I STILL don’t know that he’d make a stand-out liberal advocate in a Prez campaign.

  132. 132
    Tommy says:

    @MikeJ: When my grandfather passed away my parents inherited more money then they could spend in a lifetime. They quickly realized they wanted to give it all away. To me. My brother and his family. Organizations. They just felt they didn’t need to hoard the money.I mean how much is enough?

    Now don’t get me wrong, they bought a few things most folks couldn’t afford. But my mother likes to note that when they were dirt poor, dad finishing is PhD in the 60s, they couldn’t afford to eat. My dad’s parents could have helped, but didn’t.

    She notes she’d like to see me, my brother’s family, causes she cares about benefit from their money while they are alive.

  133. 133
    raven says:

    Go Dawgs!

  134. 134
    Anybodybuther2016 says:

    @Eljai: @Eljai:

    I’m not surprised that George Stephanopoulos would be involved with these asshats, but I’m disappointed in Chelsea Clinton.

    Why are you surprised? Operation Ratfuck started when “that one” dared to challenge and beat the patron saint of the pumas. I don’t trust any of the Clinton’s and millions of people feel the same which is why she will never be president.

  135. 135
    Kay says:

    @raven:

    What is the game, Raven? I’ll do a “sports” thread. That should cover it! :)

  136. 136
    bemused says:

    @MikeJ:

    So true.

    In my corner of the country, I remember when it was considered very tacky for the very wealthy to be conspicuously flaunting their expensive homes, cars and other purchases, not just by regular wage earners but many of the wealthy families too. I don’t see too many of those centered wealthy families anymore. I think most of have died out.

    Regular folks still sneer at local wealthy showoffs but they don’t seem to have the same feelings towards huge corporations or the 1% “out there”, far away from their neck of the woods. They think liberals are just picking on them. It’s a very strange disconnect.

  137. 137
    raven says:

    @Kay: Auburn, the oldest rivalry in the south. They were terrible last year and are now 9-1 and looking forward to Bama., Look right past us!

    eta, Don’t put up a thread just for me. I can’t blog much in games like this. I was glad I spent the day re-doing the yard becaus I’m nervous as a cat crapping ground glass!

  138. 138
    Kay says:

    @raven:

    Well, it’s combined. Liz Cheney and you.

  139. 139
    Tokyokie says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Of course, in language classes, if you don’t keep up with the material, you’re going to be lost when the curriculum is building on the pronoun use and the like you should have learned in the early weeks of the class. I never took an immersion class, and have thousands of flashcards lying around that I used for vocabulary and irregular verb conjugations. How do immersion language teaching methods get around that?

  140. 140
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Tokyokie: They don’t, not really. Bookless programs like Pimsleur manage by dint of repetition, but they suffer in scope, because there’s a tradeoff. Visual stuff is faster than aural stuff. It just is. I have shoe-boxes of flash cards in the hall closet for half-a-dozen languages. My students have to make them — I grade whether they exist or not, as well as the quizzes they support.

    Real move-there-and-hear-it-everywhere immersion works, but as for the rest, there’s a lot of ways to emulate the flashcard, but it’s still a flashcard under the hood. Even Rosetta Stone — a super-sexy set of flashcards, when you look hard at it.

  141. 141
    fuckwit says:

    Debt is a huge, huge, huge problem for millenials. Not the national debt, but their STUDENT DEBT. That’s the crushing debt which is making them miserable. Due to a college tuition bubble. And the fact that there are no fucking jobs, and the income inequality that results from that.

    I would love to poll people who think “the debt” is a problem and find out how much actual debt they have. I’m willing to bet that the debt that is the real problem is their own, not the government’s.

  142. 142
    Anoniminous says:

    @Yatsuno:

    All in a day’s slander for the 1%. Can’t have the proles go around thinking, can we?

  143. 143
    Chris says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    Frankly, though, I think a lot of people are so acclimated to plagiarizing in school nowadays that it’s not really seen as a big deal anymore. You do the homework this week and we’ll copy off of you; next week, it’s someone else’s turn to do the work. The fact it gets transmitted to the ‘real world’ is no big surprise at all.

    Cynically speaking, success in the real world is so often based on cheating of some kind that learning to do it in school is practically an education in itself. Learn to work with your classmates on homework assignments and copy off of each other in class, and in twenty years you’ll be doing the same thing and it’ll be called “insider trading.” Learn to cheat while the teacher’s not looking, and when you’re grown up you can get your friends in politics to underfund the EPA, IRS, ATF or whatever so that they don’t have the resources to “look” and see you breaking the law. Etc.

    And it doesn’t even have to be grand stuff like that or white collar crime; it can be as simple as bullshitting a job interview, which everyone expects you to do and most of the people you ask will outright tell you to do. The grown up world really doesn’t value honesty and integrity to the extent that we try to inculcate in kids.

  144. 144
    Joel says:

    Jesus Christ, these guys are pathetic.

  145. 145

    @Davis X. Machina: @Tokyokie:

    Repetitio est mater studiorum, after all.

    Now that I’ve made it through two years of Latin and Spanish I’m really beginning to see what works and what doesn’t. I still give out written homework – a page of Latin here, a couple pages of fill-in-the-blank there – but I try to never give more than 30 minutes a night and to emphasize that they should split up the workload.

    On the other hand, I quiz the shit out of them, and I have slowly gotten very good at emulating the Jesuit sensibility of short, punchy, direct quizzes.

  146. 146
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    …hope politicians come up with something to do with the savings.

    We know exactly what will happen to those savings… more tax cuts for the 1%.

  147. 147
    RSA says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    I think a lot of people are so acclimated to plagiarizing in school nowadays that it’s not really seen as a big deal anymore.

    I wonder if the universities will take this up? It’s outside the scope of ordinary classroom academic plagiarism, but it doesn’t make Florida, Wisconsin, or Dartmouth look very good.

  148. 148
    Matt says:

    Counteroffer for Peterson: we’ll make a “grand bargain” that if you STFU we’ll only expropriate HALF of your fortune. Because after all, if you’re concerned enough to starve grannies over the deficit surely having to settle for a half-sized pile of cash to fap on top of is just “shared sacrifice”.

  149. 149
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mike G: lord knows UF has no shortage of blue blazer wearers, even in utterly inappropriate weather

    even spotted a bowtie on an under-21 male the other day

    yeesh

  150. 150
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Chris: The grown up world really doesn’t value honesty and integrity to the extent that we try to inculcate in kids.

    A kid being honest is an insult to these people. Only the over-40 (or over-60, depends on the context) have “earned” the right to be honest and have integrity. (Or at least CLAIM to have integrity, since on some issues, some clever studies showed that older people are big fat liars.)

    Also, hiring managers what a super star for free, but barring that, they’ll take the “confident” bullshitter, even if the asshole is a total drain on their operation. His attitude flatters the hiring manager, and that’s all that counts.

  151. 151
    Elizabelle says:

    @Lector Peregrinus:

    I wish I had taken Latin.

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