Economics

Reason Writers Around Town: Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie in the Washington Post Asking "What's Next, Mr. President—Cardigans?"

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Writing in the Washington Post's Sunday Outlook section, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch and Reason TV/Online Editor Nick Gillespie give an appraisal of the president's suddenly imperiled domestic agenda, and ask whether he'll accelerate down the road toward Jimmy Carter, correct his course in the direction of Bill Clinton, or continue muddling along the road paved by George W. Bush. Excerpt:

Barely six months into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be driving south into that political speed trap known as Carter Country: a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets not just with failure but with scorn from political allies and foes alike. […]

The key to understanding Obama's predicament is to realize that while he ran convincingly as a repudiation of Bush, he is in fact doubling down on his predecessor's big-government policies and perpetual crisis-mongering. From the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists to gays in the military to bailing out industries large and small, Obama has been little more than the keeper of the Bush flame. Indeed, it took the two of them to create the disaster that is the 2009 budget, racking up a deficit that has already crossed the historic $1 trillion mark with almost three months left in the fiscal year. […]

In the same way that Bush claimed to be cutting government even while increasing real spending by more than 70 percent, Obama seems to believe that saying one thing, while doing another, somehow makes it so. His first budget was titled "A New Era of Fiscal Responsibility," even as his own projections showed a decade's worth of historically high deficits. He vowed no new taxes on 95 percent of Americans, then jacked up cigarette taxes and indicated a willingness to consider new health-care taxes as part of his reform package. He said he didn't want to take over General Motors on the day that he took over General Motors. […]

What the new president has not quite grasped is that the American people understand both irony and cognitive dissonance. Instead, Obama has mistaken his personal popularity for a national predilection toward emergency-driven central planning.

Read the whole thing, with accompanying timeline.

Update: Welch and Gillespie will do a live online chat about this story at the Washington Post's website at 11a.m. ET on Monday, July 19. Go here for details.

NEXT: Walter Cronkite, RIP

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  1. Awesome article. I’m golf clapping on the inside. I look forward to seeing how it is received.

  2. Great article, very well written and documented. (The documentation/citing of sources is what I like most about this site). I have a feeling I won’t be the only one forwarding a link.

  3. So, it’s all Obama’s fault. Gee, I thought it was a flaw or two in the market.

  4. Bill Clinton did not correct his course. He was thwarted by a Republican congress.

    -jcr

  5. The comment thread @ WaPo is pretty hilarious. I especially love how many liberals accuse Matt and Nick of simply trying to revive Reaganism, despite not even mentioning him and giving a fair amount of praise to Clinton.

  6. The comment thread @ WaPo is pretty hilarious.

    You nailed it….the comments there actually make the comments here appear to be sensible and moderate.

  7. Also, it is funny that libertarians are often considered moonbatty when, as That Guy pointed out, if you read the comment thread, the more “mainstream” partisans are plenty loopy.

  8. Reason is poised to take it to the next level! Excellent work.

    Unfortunately, the dualistically minded see everything through R and D glasses. But…yes, if Obama changes his playbook to Clinton’s, he’s far more likely to be successful.

    His current playbook is FDR’s, but the country has become far too skeptical of unchecked government and outright lies. So, BO is defaulting to the Carter model, which was a complete disaster on every level.

  9. There’s a reason that this is the only place on the internet where I post.

  10. One well sourced spot with all of the contradictions of the past few months. Perfect. Best article I’ve read in a while.

  11. The WAPO comments are bizzare. The responses seem to fall into one of several catagories.

    1. Nick and Matt are rightwing hacks and how dare WALPO allow such people a forum
    2. George Bush did it to
    3. The economy was bad when BO took office and how dare anyone criticize him after only six months.
    4. There were no facts or analysis in the piece (even though there were lots of facts and analysis).

    I didn’t see one liberal commenter who actually engaged Matt and Nick in any substantive way. I assume the people who comment on WAPO are educated and consider themselves to be high end liberals. Yet, none of them seem to have any command of the facts or issues. In their circles “you are a Republican” or “George Bush did it first” counts for a reasoned argument.

  12. Wow, that is the coolest thing I ever heard dude!

    RT
    http://www.anonymize.tk

  13. One need only look at a recent photo of Mr. Obama to see the stress he’s under.

  14. Great article. I only hope the Libertarian Party is prepared to embrace disillusioned Obama followers and show them the way.

  15. For all the libs that will eventually make their way over from the WashPo to this site and read the comments, I just want to state the following for the record:

    ed, that shit ain’t funny.

  16. “Instead, Obama has mistaken his personal popularity for a national predilection toward emergency-driven central planning. He doesn’t get that Americans prefer the slower process of building political consensus based on reality, and at least a semblance of rational deliberation rather than one sky-is-falling legislative session after another.”

    I would not have gone so far as to presume what “Americans prefer,” but the thoughtful ones probably do agree with the first part of this quote.

  17. The piece was spot on.Well done. My only quibble – I am less sanquine about the American electorate than Nick and Matt. I fear that – Abe Lincoln notwithstanding – you can fool most of the people most of the time.

  18. I went to the earliest comments on the article and was somewhat surprised at the favorable reception it got in the first few.

    But the “progressives” made up for it as it went on interestingly enough, though, as others have noted, did not actually refute anything. With only a few exceptions it seems that “it’s all Bush’s fault and you never complained about him”* passes for argument.

    My favorite (of those I read – there may have been better among those I didn’t) was:

    MiriyamGevirtz wrote:
    Please ask Pres. Obama to stop funding the criminal banks and give the stimulus money to ailing small businesses so that they can rehire. hire anew. Restart Civilian Conservation Corps to replant trees foolishly cut for lumber for a non-existent need, and forbid cutting of trees anywhere and everywhere.

    That’ll put millions of people back to work.

    Hand out free tickets to plays that have been subsidized in the WPA II.

    which will revitalize our spirits.

    Hand out free passes for an emergency room visit already=====subsidized.
    7/18/2009 4:43:06 AM

    Just warms the cockles, don’t it? How could anyone still be a libertarian after reading that heartfelt plea.

    Another good one:

    Gatsby10 wrote:
    Those two are libertarians. It’s no wonder they’re beating on Obama.
    7/18/2009 7:17:06 AM

    You meanies.

    Mind you, the freepers and LGFers showing up didn’t help much. I especially loved the commenter who complained about you criticism of the Patriot Act and complained that Obama was reversing it. Pure comedy.

    *Odd that anyone still accuses anyone at Reason of that after nine years of Bushbashing. Not to mention the several paragraph of antiBush stuff in the subject article.

  19. Isaac,

    Actually, Ms. Gervirtz idea of giving the TARP money to small businesses isn’t really that bad. If you are going to give the money away anyway, small business would do more good with it than Goldman Sachs. After that sadly she goes off the rails. How can a person call themselves educated and smart and honestly believe there is no need of logging anywhere or anytime and that the CCC is a good use of money.

    I could forgive these people’s ignorance if they were so damned smug and sure that they are the smart ones and the rest of us are dumb.

  20. For all the libs that will eventually make their way over from the WashPo to this site…

    I don’t care what they think. Do you? Why?

  21. It’s difficult to enact any major change in this nation. Not so much because of the much-vaunted and wise institutional breaks built into our system, but because any given vested interest is going to work like crazy to prevent it. And because we have a host of gooffy virtually meaningless-because-all-purpose scary buzzwords they can rely on to effect near Pavlovian responses (“socialism!”).

  22. It’s popular for folks around here to say “if the New Deal had not been in place recovery would have occurred faster and better.” So I’m not sure why the Obamatoms can’t say “if the [stimulus/TARP/whatever] had not been in place things would have been far worse” without people here getting upste. It’s the same “what if” kind of argument.

  23. No I don’t really care what they think, but that doesn’t change the fact that that wasn’t funny. Racist humor rarely is.

    (oh, and for the love of Christ, don’t try to argue that wasn’t racist)

  24. “It’s difficult to enact any major change in this nation. Not so much because of the much-vaunted and wise institutional breaks built into our system, but because any given vested interest is going to work like crazy to prevent it.”

    You act like those vested interests are Martians who come to earth to do nothing but foil do gooder liberals trying to solve the worlds problems. Well, they are not. Those “interests” as you call them are real people making their needs and values being felt in government. It is called democracy. The reason we can’t get any “major change” in this nation is because what you call major change is in fact goofball centrally dictated plans sold to us by self appointed geniuses with dellusions of graduar. Major changes are more likly to do harm that good. The public is thus and rightly skeptical of them.

  25. Actually, Ms. Gervirtz idea of giving the TARP money to small businesses isn’t really that bad. If you are going to give the money away anyway, small business would do more good with it than Goldman Sachs.

    Well, John, yes, i suppose it is in a “goshdarnit, Frank Capra” sort of way.

    Her praise for the CCC is amusing, since I believe that anybody who’ve gone to a CCC project in the recent past realizes that practically none of them would have ever passed an environmental impact review.

    And anyone who doesn’t know that the timber and paper companies as well as the Forest Service aren’t planting more trees than are cut every year is well, just plain dumb. If there’s a legitimate complaint it’s in the management practices of the FS that are environmentally destructive and in some cases amount to a huge subsidy to timber interests.

    Actually I find the naive idealism of the likes of Ms. Gervirtz somewhat touching. Unfortunately they are appropriate sentiments in a fifth grade school student, not an adult.

  26. “No I don’t really care what they think, but that doesn’t change the fact that that wasn’t funny. Racist humor rarely is.”

    So if someone were making fun a Joe Biden and posted a rediculous picture of Spanky or Alf Alfa, that would have been racist to? Is Buckwheat an inherently racist character like say Sambo? Did anyone tell Eddie Murphy this when he was building his early career around Buckwheat impersonations?

  27. “Actually I find the naive idealism of the likes of Ms. Gervirtz somewhat touching. Unfortunately they are appropriate sentiments in a fifth grade school student, not an adult.”

    That describes many of the liberals I know. That the nasty authoritarian liberals like Kos. But the kind, generally well meaning harmless liberals like the ones that live in my neighborhood.

  28. Ugh. I agree with every sentence of this article.

  29. I can’t beleive I even have to argue this. Look, why give the opposition ammunition when you need not do so. Arguing whether or not likening someone to Alfalfa or Buckwheat is inherently racist is silly. But since you brought it up, yes Sambo and Buckwheat are in the same category.

  30. It’s difficult to enact any major change in this nation.

    Compulsory collectivism is like that.

  31. I’m amazed at how long liberals cling to their belief that everything is Bush’s fault even after he is gone. It reminds me of Animal Farm. “It’s Bush’s fault our town doesn’t have a windmill yet.”

  32. I’m with Cab on this one. The picture was uncouth.

  33. It’s popular for folks around here to say “if the New Deal had not been in place recovery would have occurred faster and better.” So I’m not sure why the Obamatoms can’t say “if the [stimulus/TARP/whatever] had not been in place things would have been far worse” without people here getting upste. It’s the same “what if” kind of argument.

    Probably because in the first case there has been several intervening decades worth of analysis, with specific and coherent arguments backing up that position.

    In the second case there is no data, analysis, or coherent argument to back up the position. You may as well be saying that if Obama hadn’t been elected, Earth would have been invaded by aliens and all of us would have been anally probed.

  34. How can a person call themselves educated and smart and honestly believe there is no need of logging anywhere or anytime and that the CCC is a good use of money.

    Or that forest acreage in the US has been steady for more than a century. Goddam! People sure love to opine on crap even though they are completely uninformed about fecal matter issues.

  35. But since you brought it up, yes Sambo and Buckwheat are in the same category.

    I often see accusations of racism that are completely unwarranted (I’m looking at you Reverends Sharpton and Jackson).

    That said, I concur wholeheartedly. The character Buckwheat was deliberately demeaning to blacks, so full of stereotypical nonsense so common in US culture from that era it makes even an cynical bastard like myself cringe in embarrassment.

  36. There’s something remarkably pathetic about a douchebag like Gillespie, who never takes off his Chess King leather jacket, criticizing someone else for suggesting that people should wear an extra layer.

    I look forward to Gillespie and Welch’s next rhetorical masterpiece, “What’s next, Mom — clean underwear?”

  37. “Or that forest acreage in the US has been steady for more than a century. ”

    Maybe, but an acre of new or regrown forest is not necessarily the same, environmentally speaking, as an acre of old forest.

  38. Cab | July 19, 2009, 10:46am | #

    …that doesn’t change the fact that that wasn’t funny. Racist humor rarely is.

    The image is funny, period. It’s iconic. The actor was successful in the role because of his talent. He made millions laugh. Why disparage his achievement so, Cab? Would you ban all controversial references to the past? Maybe we could start with The Birth Of A Nation and work our way through Our Gang and Gone With The Wind. What about The Jeffersons? Are you offended by that show as well? Showing a black face isn’t racist. Making the pronouncement that an image meant to portray Obama’s rough road ahead in a humorous light, is, in my opinion.

  39. Thanks for that article. Hopefully it will attract some new whipping boys to the site. The current crop of trolls isn’t trying hard enough.

  40. The thing I find truly sad, and will make defending Americans even harder for me, is the partisan hackery. The knee jerk partisan responses for or against the whole article are pathetic. With so many points brought up about so many people you would think most people would find a point to argue and a point to agree with. But no, instead it’s straight to an argument of “WE RULE!” and “YOU SUCK.” They’re all like trained fucking chimps.

  41. John H.

    Could you elaborate on this new acreage difference in trees? Enviromentally speaking, of course.

  42. Even if everyone isn’t agreeing with the article, I’m glad so many people are reading it. I thought the Washington Post was only read by the people that write it.

    It infuriates me how liberals dismiss the article using their only dissenting opinion: “They’re right-wingers, whether what they say is true or not, they are evil so ignore what they say.”

  43. James Ard,

    Be careful what you wish for . . .

  44. “Or that forest acreage in the US has been steady for more than a century. ”

    Maybe, but an acre of new or regrown forest is not necessarily the same, environmentally speaking, as an acre of old forest.

    Maybe? You looked at the corporate shill produced report (U.S. Department of Agriculture) I linked to, right? What’s next? Maybe evolution is proved?

    But by golly, you’re right! New growth forests are not the same as old growth forests. They are home to different species of endangered wildlife.

    Thanks for cluing me in Jon H! BTW, what’s your plan for creating new old growth forests? Mine is patience.

  45. The thing I find truly sad, and will make defending Americans even harder for me, is the partisan hackery. The knee jerk partisan responses for or against the whole article are pathetic. With so many points brought up about so many people you would think most people would find a point to argue and a point to agree with. But no, instead it’s straight to an argument of “WE RULE!” and “YOU SUCK.” They’re all like trained fucking chimps.

    It’s “sports bar politics”. dhex get’s credit for coining that very apt term.

  46. Maybe, but an acre of new or regrown forest is not necessarily the same, environmentally speaking, as an acre of old forest.

    You mean that new trees will sequester carbon at a higher rate?

  47. Maybe, but an acre of new or regrown forest is not necessarily the same, environmentally speaking, as an acre of old forest.

    Since I’m a tree hugger I’ll elaborate some, but probably not completely to the OP’s liking.

    Old growth produces a larger amount of biomass than new growth. Old growth also provides a biodiversity that still isn’t understood.

    From a resource stand point new growth provides a better resource than old growth for harvesting.

    It should be noted that old growth in this case is the truly old growth like coastal redwoods. Many of the logged areas that some call old growth have been burnt out several times in the last 100 years, and are truly not old growth.

    If you are interested in the research Steve Sillett is currently one of the leading researchers for the Coastal red wood old growth and the Eucs in Australia. (largest trees in each hemisphere) He’s also a really kool person along with his red beareded sidekick Dr. Van Pelt.

    A decent TED video about Sillett’s work in canopies.
    Not completely relevant to the question, but still neat.
    I think I will go climbing today.

  48. You mean that new trees will sequester carbon at a higher rate?

    Actually from a biomass point, if that is a decent measure of sequestering CO2 (not completely researched), old growth is multiple times better at such things than new growth. But the effectiveness isn’t completely understood, so to argue one way or the other would be a fallacy.

    The level of “stuff” in large old growth trees is amazing. Too bad you have to ninja climb them (it’s illegal to climb in most parks) or be a researcher with a permit to climb them.

  49. Huh? He has the hunter guy(Van Pelt) from Jumanji as his sidekick? Strange.

  50. Thanks for cluing me in Jon H! BTW, what’s your plan for creating new old growth forests? Mine is patience.

    There are studies in the works to produce reiterations and epiphytes artificially in some trees.

  51. hmmm,

    What do you do for a living? I’m very interested to know.

  52. Huh? He has the hunter guy(Van Pelt) from Jumanji as his sidekick? Strange.

    lol. He’s a Humboldt College researcher along with Sillett. He looks more like a red bearded Santa in a tree.

    He also does some incredible, true to life, drawings of Redwood trees

  53. Actually from a biomass point, if that is a decent measure of sequestering CO2 (not completely researched), old growth is multiple times better at such things than new growth. But the effectiveness isn’t completely understood, so to argue one way or the other would be a fallacy.

    The level of “stuff” in large old growth trees is amazing. Too bad you have to ninja climb them (it’s illegal to climb in most parks) or be a researcher with a permit to climb them.

    I had heard that sequestration rate peaks then declines with age, due to survival rates and reduction in growth rates etc?

  54. Not to beat a dead horse, but the Buckwheat thing was kinda racist.

    The current crop of trolls isn’t trying hard enough.

    Maybe they are trying. Maybe they just suck. And, of course, a dozen terrible trolls are actually far more annoying than a couple consistent ones.

  55. hmm,

    Those drawings are pretty badass.

  56. Art-P.O.G.,

    You’re so “2000 and late”. We’ve moved on to Jon H.’s comments now. Keep up. 😉

  57. Naga, I think your precognition is getting the best of you…it wasn’t that long ago. 😉

    Jon H.’s 11:59 post is B+/A- level trollery. Good job.

  58. Well, it has been a bit spotty lately. Anyways . . .

    Jon H. gets a mere C from me. Good form but he wavered a bit. A good troll combines form and function. Form is writing style. Function being assholiness.

  59. “Maybe, but an acre of new or regrown forest is not necessarily the same, environmentally speaking, as an acre of old forest.”

    Judging by that statement, you sir/madam, are a cull.

  60. cull: a tree of such poor quality that it has no merchantable value in terms of the product being cut.

    Ratdog for the win!

  61. sports bar politics. I like that Sad but true/

  62. Served any Governors yet, Naga?

  63. What do you do for a living? I’m very interested to know.

    I’m currently a full time student wasting money on a few useless degrees (accounting, finance, and management). But heh I want them. I spent 13ish years, while my wife finished grad school and figured out what she wanted to do, working as an arborist and forester in a primarily urban setting and have owned a business in the same field. I still work in the field in some capacities and help maintain a few private gardens. I like trees, flowers, and such. I like climbing trees and have both worked as a climber and climb recreationaly. I also read most of the research dealing with trees from the old growth studies mentioned by Sillett to issues with urban forestry.

    I had heard that sequestration rate peaks then declines with age, due to survival rates and reduction in growth rates etc?

    I haven’t read more than 2-3 studies dealing with trees and global warming issues. The topic tends to get so convoluted I try to stay away from it. I was just pointing out that the biomass in a 3000 year old redwood (not all leaf) is enormous when compared to newer growth. Again I think the issue hinges on definitions like old growth, and species. It is far from a simple look a graph with a peak. (that isn’t a jab)

    Those drawings are pretty badass.

    The badass part is that those are actual trees, measured in increments and climbed by the artist. It’s as accurate as you are going to get.

  64. There were several in my restaurant but only one I recognized. Kaine from Virginia. His party bought three Bergstrom Pinot Noir’s. $165 a piece. Thanks citizens of Virginia!

  65. John said, “You act like those vested interests are Martians who come to earth to do nothing but foil do gooder liberals trying to solve the worlds problems. Well, they are not. Those “interests” as you call them are real people making their needs and values being felt in government. It is called democracy.”

    John, those do-gooder liberals are making their values and needs felt in government. Just because you differ in opinion with them doesn’t make it less democratic.

  66. I must have glossed over the first comment. The irony is so thick in that one comment alone nothing even compares from that point on.

    Those who call themselves patriots should be ashamed of themselves for not supporting the country, the president, and the measures that are absolutely necessary to straighten out the disaster that he inherited from Bush, Cheney and all of the other naysayers.

    Shame on you for turning your back on your country just for perceived political gain.

    Didn’t the GOP call it unpatriotic to oppose Bush policies? I’d assume this was sarcasm, but I fear it isn’t.

  67. “John, those do-gooder liberals are making their values and needs felt in government. Just because you differ in opinion with them doesn’t make it less democratic.”

    That is true. But MNG is claiming that nothing big ever gets done because “interests” whoever they are blocking the common good. Bullshit. Those interests collectively are the common good. MNG is just whining that people object to policies he likes.

  68. hmmmmm,

    It’s kinda tough to call. WellfedFed is definitely a powerhouse in the sarcasm game. I’m withholding any outright judgement of the commentors over there.

  69. Hmm,

    No. I don’t think that post was being sarcastic. I good liberal friend of mine had a facebook post on the tea parties saying how those people had no right to protest because she was called unpatriotic for objecting to the Iraq War. That statement is of course idiotic on about 20 levels (mostly because it assumes that the Tea Party protestors were the same ones who called her unpatriotic and even if they were that doesn’t make it right for her to engage in the same conduct). But sadly, that kind of thinking seems to be pretty common among Obama supporters.

  70. John, it’s simply a difference of opinion on what the common good actually is. I kinda doubt you and mng are going to agree on it.

  71. Cab | July 19, 2009, 10:46am | #

    No I don’t really care what they think, but that doesn’t change the fact that that wasn’t funny. Racist humor rarely is.

    (oh, and for the love of Christ, don’t try to argue that wasn’t racist)

    Was it racist when Saturday night live made the same sort of joke?

  72. IMO, big changes don’t occur in this country because we don’t have the collective patience to let a plan run its course. Any plan, from either party. The battle cry of towing the lion in the name of patriotism just doesn’t work anymore as our views become more diverse.

  73. Why the hell am I seeing the phrase “towing the lion” on this site lately?

  74. “John, it’s simply a difference of opinion on what the common good actually is. I kinda doubt you and mng are going to agree on it.”

    No we won’t. But both he and I ought to agree that both sides are made up of real people with legitimate reasons to think they do rather than referring to the other side like they are some disembodied group of people trying to harm the country.

  75. dbcooper, I don’t even know how it started but it has become a bastardized running joke.

  76. “The battle cry of towing the lion in the name of patriotism just doesn’t work anymore as our views become more diverse.”

    Our views were always diverse. There were always lots of dissenters in this country. You just don’t hear about them because the winners write history. Whether it be copperheads during the civil war or isolationists during World War II, the country was never as united as the history books claim it was.

  77. dbcooper, I don’t even know how it started but it has become a bastardized running joke.

    Well hell, I’ve got a late night in the lab, I might just have to waste an hour or two tracking down the origin. Was it maybe some used by some flyby troll on a thread here?

  78. dbcooper,

    “Towing the lion” is a phrase that has more meaning . . . elsewhere. It’s usually used in jest by posters from that other site. Except brotherben. I think it was coincidence that he used it.

  79. dbcooper,

    It is of course a reference to misap of “toeing the line”. I honestly don’t know where it came from or if someone actually wrote towing the lion.

  80. The earliest use of it on here was:

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/131496.html

    Warren | February 4, 2009, 2:52pm | #
    Was that in English? I could swear that he said something that sounded like English, but it made no sense the way I heard it.

    It doesn’t have to make sense. Gergen is just towing the lion for the establishment.

    Naga, by other site, did you mean lew rockwell?

  81. dbcooper,

    Nope. I can’t divulge the name. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

  82. Not that I’m a respectable member or anything. I stumbled across it. I seem to be tolerated if nothing else.

  83. Naga Sadow, my use of the phrase was intentional. I’m not completely out of touch just yet.

  84. As long as we’re bitching about fashion statements –

    If I see one more photo or videotape of Obama with his shirt sleeves rolled up I won’t be held responsible for any CRT/LED or plasma display that results.

    We get it dude. You’re working your ass off. You don’t need to roll up your sleeves for a Q&A session with fawning “town halls” or media reps. You may be right in your assessment that Americans are stupid, but at least some of us see through that image massaging bullshit.

    I just had to get that off my chest.

  85. Nope. I can’t divulge the name. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

    Nope, but now I kind of do.

  86. J sub D,

    I’m questioning your jadedness, sir. Even I got over such things after dealing with it nonstop post Katrina.

  87. I know it’s fashionable to be jaded about any and all government programs, but I’d like to clear up some of ignorance about the Civilian Conservation Corps and its mission.

    Its main goal was was to save a generation of unemployed, single, young men from shiftlessness, despair and delinquency. Enrollees earned $30, keeping $5 with the rest going to their families. These young men, 70 percent of whom were malnourished when they enrolled, went from despair to feeling a sense of great pride and responsibility that they could help their families and do useful work. In addition, CCC camps pumped more than $5,000 each month into nearby communities.

    Enrollees learned every trade imaginable, and were pioneers in modern wildlife and fire management. They had a higher literacy rate and more education than their non-CCC counterparts. A decade’s worth of young men from the CCC brought those skills as well as organizational discipline to combat in World War II and post-war America.

    If that’s not enough, the CCC built significant infrastructure in those economic engines ($13.3 billion to local economies) that we call national parks – in fact they literally paved the way for the dawn of auto travel. Much of what they built is protected as part of our national heritage and still used by millions of visitors a year.

    The story of the CCC seems to me to be one that is reflective of American values across the board – concern for our youth, building a skilled and modern workforce, preserving our national heritage and investing in our nation’s future.

    I shudder at the kind of America you people envision that you actually embrace the alternative narrative in spite of easily researchable facts.

  88. “We get it dude. You’re working your ass off. You don’t need to roll up your sleeves for a Q&A session with fawning “town halls” or media reps. You may be right in your assessment that Americans are stupid, but at least some of us see through that image massaging bullshit.”

    I object to the whole idea that him working hard is even a good thing. The hard workding Presidents always seem to be hard at work fucking something up. In contrast the more leasurely Presidents (Eisenhower and Reagan come to mind) didn’t screw near as much and put forth an image of being calm and in control. Obama increasingly looks frazeled, angry and paniced. That is not a good thing.

  89. John, it’s simply a difference of opinion on what the common good actually is. I kinda doubt you and mng are going to agree on it.

    Even with agreement on what the common good is, there can be widely separated views on the best way to achieve it. If you accept that some policies are actually counter-productive to their stated goals (don’t we all?), agreement on aims certainly doesn’t preclude animous disagreement over policy.

    Libertarians want folks to have well paying jobs and the end of racial discrimination just as much as team blue does. We just think their prescriptions have the opposite effects.

    We’re generally right in our assessment. 😉

  90. Errrr . . . jackiebinAZ . . . what the fuck are you talking about? Isaac questioned about how not cutting down trees ever would put millions back to work.

  91. Naga, Art, I take it back.

  92. Jackie,

    I shutter to think what people like you would make America look like if you had your choice. First, you are right, the CCC did do some nice things. But it did it at the cost of taking millions of young men out of the job market and sticking them in miliary like collective camps all over the west. All those skilled and educated men could have been out rebuilding the economy. Yes, some of what they built was nice, but it was built at a cost to the private sector. If the CCC was such a great idea, why don’t we just have a CCC for all sectors of the economy? Why not just set one up for building cars, computers, and everything else? If people don’t want to join, why not just draft them?

    Collective planning and control doesn’t work. IT may appear to work in a few cases but that is only because you never see the opporunity cost of what it took to make things. Perhaps you think living in the wilderness in a government work camp is your idea fun. But, I the rest of us politely decline.

  93. James Ard,

    Take what back?

  94. Wishing for new trolls.

  95. …and were pioneers in modern wildlife and fire management.

    That’s wholly false. Their fire practices have lead to a dire situation in many forests and their management practices were haphazard at best. The NPS has been woefully lacking from financing to preservation in comparison to privately managed lands.

    The expenditures of the CCC were enormous compared to the reward.

  96. Very wise of you, my friend. The devil you know being better than the devil you don’t and what not.

  97. Not that Jackie is destined to become a troll. But that was a hard read.

  98. I shudder at the kind of America you people envision that you actually embrace the alternative narrative in spite of easily researchable facts.

    I tend to shudder at the lack of actual research and analysis of any subject outside that of Wikipedia. Or worse the absolute lack of intellectual honesty when looking into such historic events in order to mold or highlight an outcome that fits a political view. Of course, this isn’t easy and requires a little more than regurgitating collected facts.

  99. “The expenditures of the CCC were enormous compared to the reward.”

    Exactly. Gee, if you police up a few million able bodied young men and spend enough money putting them to work doing something, you end up with some nice things. So what. The White Sea Baltic Cannel was a pretty impressive feat of engineering, but hardly worth the cost.

  100. John, the important thing to the left is that the millions of able bodied men are put to work. The end justifies the lack of means.

  101. brotherben,

    When I asked the rethorical question that if the CCC was so great, why not just do it for every other sector of the economy, a whole bunch of people who should know better go “hey, that is a good idea”.

  102. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

    We had respectable members? Good riddance.

  103. My apologies if I offended you or anyone of your statute, robc. How about “a lot of respectable members”? Better we just ignore what I posted anyway.

  104. Cannel

    Is that what you get if you cross bread a channel with a canal?

    I wont normally criticize spelling expect in an RC/Joez rule kind of way, unless I have no idea what the fuck word the person was going for. I know it was one of those two, but Im still not sure which.

  105. cross bread

    Speaking of RC’s Law…

  106. How about “a lot of respectable members”?

    Im stunned we ever had any.

  107. John, the tragedy is that lotsa folks want the government to institute change because of the perception that corporate and private business is unwilling to change. (yes my grammar sucks,
    but i still love her) Of course, it is acknowledged that greed is the driving force behind the lack of change that would result in the greater good. The reality seems to be that because of taxation, over-regulation and the pay to play culture in the D.C., it is very difficult for change to be made, even if it were desired by the corporations and private business owners. Even a sometimes belligerent trolltard like me can see that BIG government is responsible for a great deal of the problems in society today.

  108. RobC,

    The white sea Baltic Canal was a notorious Stalin era project built by slave labor.

  109. How about “a lot of respectable members”?

    Im stunned we ever had any.

    Hey you cocksucking douchebag, I’m a respectable member.

    Heh heh, I said “member”.

  110. you cocksucking douchebag

    Im only one of those.

    I’m a respectable member.

    Ditto for you.

  111. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

    I hope you aren’t referring to this dump:

    It jumped the shark when grylliade was created and most of the reasonable commenters left.

    It is kinda funny if you are.

  112. Who in hell would want to track down the respectable former members of H&R?

  113. Nothing against TWC, Stevo or any other potential content enhancer.

  114. Thanks citizens of Virginia!

    You owe me.

    I’m with robc. We had respectable members? Who the fuck? The only frequent commenter i can think of offhand who stopped posting here is joe, and i KNOW you don’t mean him.

    So I’m not sure why the Obamatoms can’t say “if the [stimulus/TARP/whatever] had not been in place things would have been far worse” without people here getting upste.

    Government action: the ultimate tiger-repelling rock.

  115. Update: Welch and Gillespie will do a live online chat about this story at the Washington Post’s website at 11a.m. ET on Monday, July 19. Go here for details.

    Isn’t Monday the 20th and today the 19th?

  116. Too bad you have to ninja climb them (it’s illegal to climb in most parks) or be a researcher with a permit to climb them

    Holy crap! A permit to climb a tree?

    I think I’ll be using that as an example of bureaucracies run amok from now on.

    -jcr

  117. It’s probably a combination of liability and damage to trees.

  118. It’s probably a combination of liability and damage to trees.

    Probably. Both reasons being complete bullshit doesn’t mean that your assessment is wrong.

    Of course there should be no liability involved if some fuckin’ idiot hurts himself climbing a damned tree.

    It should also be apparent that climbing a mature tree causes no measurable harm.

    We’re from the government and we’re here to help. *sigh*

  119. the important thing to the left is that the millions of able bodied men are put to work.

    More to the point, the left is delighted that those people are put to work in the service of the collective. That’s what makes it truly evil.

    -jcr

  120. A Presidential address from next year:

    “My fellow Americans, we need to control health care costs. So I’m asking each of you: rather than go to a hospital when you’re ill, just put on an extra sweater.”

  121. I agree with the idiot part, although hurt is going to look more like dead when the first limb is 80 to 100 feet in the air.

    It should also be apparent that climbing a mature tree causes no measurable harm.

    That is actually somewhat wrong for a few reasons. It doesn’t take much to do significant damage to trees. Now, large trees are of course fairly robust, but most people do not realize that the majority of the water in trees moves up through the vascular cambium, which can be as little as 1/8 inch below the surface. People climbing trees with climbers or gaffs(not Joe Biden) can do some pretty decent damage. I’ve seen Oak wilt move into a city block wiping out the entire block and traced it back to one private tree that was spiked to be trimmed during spring when the beetles are active.(there are more variables than the spiking and trimming) Not to mention some of the old growth trees have ecosystems that are fairly fragile. You can save your local city a fortune in tree costs (if they plant trees) by keeping the mowers and line trimmers away from the trunks and not mulching a foot up the main stem. Basically it’s easier than you would think to fuck up a tree.

    The permit thing is a bit of a moot point. Anyone with the gear and skill to get into an old growth tree would more than likely be careful not to do any damage.

  122. If the CCC was such a great idea, why don’t we just have a CCC for all sectors of the economy?

    For God’s sake man, don’t give them ideas!!

  123. Speaking of commenters leaving, what happened to Reinmoose?

  124. That is true. But MNG is claiming that nothing big ever gets done because “interests” whoever they are blocking the common good

    The less the government gets done, the better. Especially if its big.

    Pick up Friedrich Hayek’s book from the 1940s. The need to “get things done” led to very bad people coming to power in the 20th Century, and the things they did “for the common good” turned out to be some of the worst atrocities humankind ever witnessed.

  125. In this thread where we may possibly attract some new meat we should probably not be discussing deserters.

  126. Deserters will be shot!

    They probably all voted for Obama anyways.

  127. “In the second case there is no data, analysis, or coherent argument to back up the position. You may as well be saying that if Obama hadn’t been elected, Earth would have been invaded by aliens and all of us would have been anally probed.”

    Obama’s election hasn’t prevented the anal probing by aliens. They obviously haven’t gotten around to you, yet.

  128. I finally got around to reading some of the comments at Washington Post.

    Why is it that everyone who comments at mainstream publications have no brains?

  129. Holy Jesus. I just listened to the first segment of Meet The Press with secretary Sebelious. If you need a reason to fucking hate lying bitches, here it is. My bullshit meter has never suffered the stress it just did.

  130. How long has Hit & Run had comments anyway? Early 2000’s or so?

    I recently found the print edition of Reason at a bookstore and, while I appreciated the physical sensation of holding it, I missed the H & R peanut gallery.

  131. Obama’s election hasn’t prevented the anal probing by aliens.

    No, I believe IRS agents are technically from this planet.

  132. “Magical realism” — I like that.

    That’s as close as we’ll get to see President Obama called an Orwellian bullshitter in an MSM article.

    Well, done, boys, there’s redemption for you yet.

  133. “The key to understanding Obama’s predicament is to realize that while he ran convincingly as a repudiation of Bush, he is in fact doubling down on his predecessor’s big-government policies and perpetual crisis-mongering.”

    Obama is doing a lot more than that.

    Bush was at fault for creating a major new entitlement program (prescription drugs) and going along with a lot of excessive government spending.

    But he never attempted anything remotely comparable to the massive government power grabs in virtually every aspect of life in this country that Obama is trying to do with, his cap and trade bill, the socialized medicine bill, new education entitlement bill, the labor “card check” bill and a great many other things.

  134. The article they wrote is the key to understanding these two “swinging conservatives’ (oops! I mean swinging LIBERTARIANS–there is an invisible difference which has to do with recognizing Sarah the Quit Bull as a Major Thinker).

    You see, it took two of them, and saving energy is stupid.

    Why? Because they are “wild and crazy guys” who just powned that stuffy Obama!!! They got him so good they almost lost their Aviator Glasses and Fonz’ Jackets!!!!

    Hey…Reason.

    Where is Victoria Jackson when you need her? Writing articles under the Gillespie Welch Forever 1979 Banner.

    What a pethetic article, site and set of comments.

    Obama is lucky to have enemies like you.

  135. You appear upset. Here are some bunnies to help with that. (RIP Ooolong)

    Did you really use “powned.” I’m afraid I am going to have to grammar nazi you on this. The gaming version of “owned” is “pwned.” As in, “Your noob ass just got pwned and teabagged.”

  136. Obama’s election hasn’t prevented the anal probing by aliens.

    Those aren’t aliens. They’re ACORN volunteers.

    -jcr

  137. No we won’t. But both he and I ought to agree that both sides are made up of real people with legitimate reasons to think they do rather than referring to the other side like they are some disembodied group of people trying to harm the country.

    Actually I’d argue that the dynamics of how politics actually works in democracy makes it inevitable that each side will form into “special interests” that have some selfish agenda or other at stake, and hence makes it vitrually impossible for the “common good” to result from the political process.

    That why markets are superior systems for regulating human behavior, and why government powers, in a democracy just as much as any other system, should be severely restricted.

  138. Well put, Hazel Meade.

  139. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

    Urkobold?

  140. Art-P.O.G. | July 19, 2009, 1:22pm | #

    Not to beat a dead horse, but the Buckwheat thing was kinda racist.

    How’s this? Better?

    So sum up:
    Before.
    After.

  141. Macaulay Culkin’s only offensive as a grim reminder of Chris Columbus’ mediocrity. I think context is the key.

  142. “MNG is claiming that nothing big ever gets done because “interests” whoever they are blocking the common good. Bullshit. Those interests collectively are the common good. MNG is just whining that people object to policies he likes.”

    This is true to some degree, but of course it’s also true John that some people have more influence than others, and when a small yet highly influential and organized group of people block the interests of the majority, then that is problematic to me and many others. I think a lot of that is what prevents a lot of change rather than broad based rejection of the change.

  143. context is the key

    Yep. Black guy showing discomfort. Exactly my intent.

  144. Avert your eyes, delicate libertarians: Eddie Murphy is a racist !

  145. “…the interests of the majority…”

    And just exactly who is qualifed to determine what that is?

  146. Thanks tj, very enlightening.

  147. “What a pethetic article, site and set of comments.”

    And yet you are somehow completely incapable of coming up with any sort of substantive refutation of what was said.

  148. some people have more influence than others, and when a small yet highly influential and organized group of people block the interests of the majority, then that is problematic to me and many others.

    I didnt realize you opposed the Senate that strongly.

  149. Great article. Well said.

  150. “That statement is of course idiotic on about 20 levels (mostly because it assumes that the Tea Party protestors were the same ones who called her unpatriotic and even if they were that doesn’t make it right for her to engage in the same conduct). But sadly, that kind of thinking seems to be pretty common among Obama supporters.”

    Classic. A sentence bemoaning a sweeping generalization followed by a sweeping generalization.

  151. “Towing the lion” is a phrase that has more meaning . . . elsewhere.

    Nope. I can’t divulge the name.

    Better we just ignore what I posted anyway.

    Weeping jeebus on a stick, Naga, we get it. You’re in the super-secret club that you’re under strict instruction not to mention except every fucking day.

  152. Thanks for the rational appraisal of the president’s flawed performance by Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie. I’m surprised the WaPost published this piece but I do hope it will receive some attention before this administration completely falters.
    Is Reason ready for the Obot trolls that will continue to plague you for the next few months?

  153. Hey…Reason.

    Where is Victoria Jackson when you need her? Writing articles under the Gillespie Welch Forever 1979 Banner.

    We drink now…right?

  154. Is Reason ready for the Obot trolls that will continue to plague you for the next few months?

    They go away when we call Obama a chimp, or something like that.

  155. some people have more influence than others, and when a small yet highly influential and organized group of people block the interests of the majority, then that is problematic to me and many others.

    Hell, I didn’t realize you opposed the Constitution that strongly.

  156. Is comparing him to Carter supposed to be an insult? I’d much rather live in a country where Carter’s policies succeeded and where my entire youth was not dominated by dangerous Republican criminal half-wits bludgeoning the US population with economic quackery and expensive, unnecessary foreign entanglements, an increased police state, plutocratic tax policies leading to unsustainable debt, all the while not doing a goddamn thing about global warming, healthcare, prison reform, infrastructure improvement, the widening income gap, or anything useful.

    But thank goodness we were saved from scary words like socialism and “central planning” (what other kind is there?) with the clever deployment of Reagan’s charming smile and Bush’s dry-drunk frat boy personality that was so comforting. Oh the horrors of being having someone in the oval office who’s not a completely useless degenerate.

  157. mmm…tony, I lurve it when you talk dirty. C’mon, tell me the story about the “Republican criminal half-wits bludgeoning the US population” again. Sexy.

  158. 4/10.

    One of your weaker efforts, Tony.

  159. Ever wonder where all the more respectable members of HnR went?

    Given the way posting drops off after 5:00 around here, I’d have to guess that they lost their jobs.

  160. I’d much rather live in a country where Carter’s policies succeeded…

    What makes Tony’s comment especially amusing is that it was the Democratic leadership in the Congress that most seriously undercut Carter.

  161. I loved the article. I loved the WaPo comments better. People really do baffle me with their ignorance.

    To reason editors: was the online discussion a planned affair or was it only instated when the comments kept on coming?

    I do ever so enjoy when reason gets more limelight.

  162. Great article!

    Man the comments are amazing. I am still astonished how narrow minded the liberals posting on WaPo are. If you aren’t liberal, you are obviously an illiterate redneck GOP’er.

    No room for a 3rd party there, and certainly no room to think critically about something

    (it kills me how many people are screaming that the “free” market should be regulated to death there. If they only knew how unfree our market really is…)

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