Friday, June 17, 2011

Weiner Gives Up

You know, he resigned, I'm not telling you anything new.

Do you think it was because he had sexual online discussions with some women who were not his wife? Was it because he lied when the first evidence appeared? Or was it because of his pull-no-punches progressive political style?

I'm all the way over here in France, where people apparently spend their time doing something besides watching television. I have not seen the video, but can't imagine a scene like this, described in the New York Times:
In a chaotic four-minute news conference at a senior center in his district, Mr. Weiner, 46, strained to be heard as a small group of hecklers hollered vulgar questions at him and called him a “pervert” while puzzled elderly constituents looked on.

Again, I'm a few thousand miles away, but I am not sure what this guy did. It sounds like he flirted and had sexually-toned conversation with women on the Internet, is that right? Sounds like they were all adults -- oh, he talked to lots of people about things other than sex, but he got into it with the occasional grown-up cutie, it sounds like. He sent some photographs of himself in his underwear, right? His communications were sexual, but I have not heard that he forced himself on women or that his Twitter followers were unwilling to have these sexual conversations with him, or that he paid money to have women perform sexual acts, or that he denigrated women, or that he was taking advantage of women who were subservient to him in the workplace. I have not even heard that he touched any woman, that he even saw them face to face. So what exactly was the problem? I mean, as far as doing his job. I understand that his wife is not going to like to find out what he was doing on the computer at night, what does it have to do with passing bills in Congress?

I have given all my talks and now will get to enjoy this visit to France. Today we are taking a train back to Paris. Last night we had a wonderful dinner with the people from the seminar, course after course, wine and cheese and salads and desserts and more wine and coffee and foie gras and perfectly cooked fish, in a restaurant looking out at the North Sea. It went on for hours, with interesting cheerful conversation and good people all around. Now it is time to throw our clothes back into the suitcase and head down to breakfast, followed by a long walk to the train station.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

France is a place that takes their meals seriously. People don't brownbag there and to make sure everyone in the country goes out to lunch every day, the government actually provides a lunch stipend to all citizens.

Why can't the socialists is America suggest something like that?

What's wrong with our socialists?

Here, the best we can do is the occassional Weiner roast!

June 17, 2011 5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm a few thousand miles away, but I am not sure what this guy did."

I think there are two things that are problematic here:

1. the stupidity

if this guy had tried to cover his tracks a little more, I don't think people would have been as disturbed by this

the way he behaved, however, was sure to be detected

so, people wonder if he is too reckless to be in the position he's in

I know that is counter to the media and politicians who claimed to be distinctly displeased by the dishonesty but, at the water cooler, and on the street, all I hear people say is: how stupid could this guy be?

2. harassment

the other thing is the breakdown of the relationship of constituent and public servant

the problem here is that he wasn't just some anonymous player on the net

he was a congressman and the women who contacted him originally were discussing matters in connection with his public service

instead, they got a Congressman hitting on them, and were, thus, robbed of their right to be part of the political process

that's really a form of sexual harassment

btw, an ex-girlfriend of Weiner's, who is now a political analyst at Fox News, originally defended him, both before and after he admitted he had done it, but this week changed sides after reading the text of the tweets because she saw how he took advantage of the relationships and said "you should be able to follow a Congressman on Twitter and not expect this kind of behavior"

she actually remained friends with him after their break-up and counseled him to be wiser long before this incident:

"I thought he was reckless in his dating life. I'd say you don't know who this women are. You need to be more careful."

It's probably better that this guy move on to something. I'm pretty sure he should be able to get a gig on a news show. He's smart and articulate.

Best headline of the last couple of weeks was a Post review of the cable news coverage:

"Elliot Spitzer discusses the Weiner affair on his talk show: AWKWARD!"

June 17, 2011 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Merciless mocking from Republicans hasn't put President Obama off his focus on the economy, as the White House insisted Thursday that the president is taking "enormously seriously" the hardships Americans are enduring.

"It's patently obvious that the president is focused on the economy," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Earlier in the week, at a jobs council meeting, the president said that "shovel-ready projects' weren't quite as shovel-ready as he thought. Then later, in an interview with NBC News, Obama suggested that ATMs were the reason why the employment rate was not rebounding as quickly as he had hoped.

"There's some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," Obama said.

"You see it when you go to a bank and ... you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller." the president said.

Republicans, who are ratcheting up pressure on Democrats this week by highlighting the first anniversary of what was once dubbed "recovery summer," roasted the president for the comment.

"I didn't do it," read a "guest blog" posted on House Speaker John Boehner's site. The blog was signed by "the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in your favorite convenience store near the Slurpee Machine."

In the satirical post, the ATM author blamed high taxes, burdensome regulation and excessive spending for the slow jobs report. "ATMs are tools that help make life a little easier."

On Thursday, Boehner joined Republican lawmakers to scold Democrats for their "failure" to stimulate job growth and called on them to work with Republicans on a new jobs plan.

Republicans are drawing attention to the administration's "recovery summer" campaign last June, launched at the time to highlight stimulus-linked projects. Following that campaign, the 9.5 percent unemployment rate continued to rise for the rest of the year, and as of May was still 9.1 percent.

That's not progress, Republicans say.

"Here we are on the anniversary of his administration's recovery summer ... and Americans are still asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?'" Boehner said. "The American people deserve some answers, but when it comes to this administration, it's clear that they don't have many."

Boehner also questioned the economy's strength after Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a forum Wednesday that Democrats "own the economy" and "own the beginning of the turnaround."

"Taxpayers are footing the bills for more bureaucrats while small businesses are afraid to hire. Washington Democrats say they own the economy, and this is what their economy looks like," he said."

June 17, 2011 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Obama-Weiner Talk Show: CNBC 2013? said...

Aunt Beep was crowing about some poll yesterday that showed 45% would "probably" vote for Obama's re-election

you might not want to order the champagne and sparklers yet

that poll was based on the entire public, here's one of registered voters:

"PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-four percent of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for "the Republican Party's candidate" and 39% for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to Gallup's June update.

These results are based on a June 9-12 Gallup poll. Obama's re-election prospects on this measure did not appear much better in May, when his approval rating rose to the 50% level. Now that the rally in support for Obama is essentially over, the president appears to be in a weaker position against his as-yet-unnamed opponent."

June 17, 2011 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Enjoy your stay in Paris, Jim.

"Weiner, 46, strained to be heard as a small group of hecklers hollered vulgar questions at him and called him a “pervert” while puzzled elderly constituents looked on.""

Here Jim, I'll let Ken Tucker's Watching TV blog post "Anthony Weiner stars in 'Bye, Bye, Pervert!': Howard Stern, Bill O'Reilly, Rachel Maddow savage the jackals of the press" fill in the blank about the heckler.

"Anthony Weiner was driven from office by a combination of dumb behavior, bluenose political hypocrisy, and — most of all — media ridicule and ridiculously excessive coverage.

The TV media reshaped this narrative into a lurid soap opera complete with hectoring questions (from establishment news outfits) such as, “Where is your wife?” as though TV reporters expected — nay, demanded — that Huma Abedin appear at Weiner’s side as in a scene from The Good Wife, itself a piece of fiction rooted in real-life scandals. On Thursday, during Weiner’s resignation statement, Howard Stern writer Benjy Bronk once again took this to its greatest extreme by yelling out things like, “Bye, bye, pervert!” and “Will you maintain your hot physique and smooth sexy chest?” As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow put it this night, Bronk’s presence in the press pool offered “grossly appropriate, profane satire of what this controversy has become.” On Fox’s Hannity, guest Ann Coulter said, “Never have I loved Howard Stern more.”

When it comes to pinning blame for Weiner’s downfall, conservatives and liberals agreed on the primary source, although for different reasons. For Bill O’Reilly, “even though the American media tilts left, it will not tolerate being manipulated,” and thus, “the far-left Congressman was toast.” Rachel Maddow’s take was more trenchant. For her, Weiner was “not accused of corruption,” what he did was “not illegal” (it was “gross”), but the forced resignation had “less to do with his behavior than the media’s reaction to his behavior.”

Time-period competitors The O’Reilly Factor (Fox) and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC) both featured Benjy Bronk’s bellowed joke-questions prominently, even subtitling them onscreen to make sure viewers knew Bronk said, “Bye, bye pervert!” At a certain point in the news cycle on Thursday, Bronk himself became a news story, rating coverage in both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, among other outlets.

Bronk was almost a welcome relief — a blast of crude honesty — in comparison to the politicians who scrambled in front of TV cameras in recent days. Watching the nauseatingly pious calls for resignation by everyone from Democrat Nancy Pelosi to Republican John Boehner, it frequently seemed as though our TV screens might suddenly flicker and go dark, only to suddenly spring back to the bright light and images of TV spiritual charlatans such as Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell.

Too bad The Daily Show was a rerun on Thursday night; the hanging judge Jon Stewart has yet to render his final verdict."

June 17, 2011 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"TV spiritual charlatans such as Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell."

I personally was never a big fan of Jerry Falwell. I always thought of him the way I think of Oprah Winfrey now: I don't get the reason for the wild popularity.

Still, I think Aunt Beep's comment here is defamation.

How, exactly, was he a charlatan?

On other matters:

"While the New York Senate continues to debate same-sex marriage — and could vote Friday to make the state the sixth to redefine marriage — the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has released a survey that shows nearly two-thirds of Americans (62 percent) support marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman.

The scientific survey, sponsored by ADF and completed by Public Opinion Strategies last month, was part of a comprehensive examination of American attitudes toward marriage. In addition to the national survey, the research included 14 focus groups across the country.

“Americans recognize that marriage provides a strong foundation for a thriving society,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum. “The union between husband and wife benefits society — especially children — in unique ways that cannot be duplicated by any other relationship.

“Throughout history, diverse cultures and faiths have recognized this universally defined ideal as the best way to promote healthy, natural families for the good of future generations.”

Gene Ulm, Public Opinion Strategies partner and the survey’s director, said the numbers are not surprising, given that 31 out of 31 states have voted to support marriage.

“Forty million Americans in all — 63 percent of total voters — have voted to affirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” he said.

Raum said marriage is “the building block of civilization.”

“This survey,” he said, “along with the nearly 80 percent win rate in ADF marriage cases, shows the opposition has created an illusion of momentum, but not a real base of support.”"

June 17, 2011 8:47 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

So somebody from the Howard Stern show hijacked this important political moment to call Weiner a "pervert." How fitting. Weiner is a heterosexual middle-aged man who finds younger women attractive and sometimes loses his bearings when he's talking to a pretty girl -- wow, what a pervert.

I think Weiner's behavior was inappropriate and wrong. Given that he is married, he should not be flirting and talking up sexual stuff with women other than his wife. But jeez, of all the politicians and religious leaders, athletes and entertainers who have been accused of rape, domestic violence, adultery, buying the services of prostitutes, trying to pick up gay men in the airport, snorting meth with a gay prostitute, having affairs with their staff and shuffling money around to buy a cover-up ... a forty-something guy sends a picture of himself in his underwear to somebody and he is driven out of office? That is insane.

More than anything Weiner was hung out to dry by his Democratic "colleagues." His tough progressive stance was annoying to them, his principles were clear and he expressed them without watering them down, and the leading Democrats much prefer to start their negotiations in the middle and shift right, conceding by increments until they are literally to the right of Barry Goldwater's classical conservative position. They should have stood up for Weiner when he was in trouble, they should have immediately compared his schoolboy nonsense to the seriously immoral criminal activities of powerful Republicans, circled the wagons around him, and fought to protect him. Instead they let him crash and burn, and the GOP is going to use his PG-17 faux pas to embarrass the entire Democratic Party.

I didn't try to watch the video through the hotel's wifi connection, but I get the picture. Thanks for filling me in, Bea.


June 17, 2011 12:16 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

This AP article on the civil marriage equality issue in New York is very interesting.

This passage from the article, concerning one of the undecided newly-elected Republicans from a very conservative district, is telling:


Grisanti, 46, has had just a few months to consider what will likely be the most difficult vote of his career.

"It's something I think about almost every second of every day in the last couple weeks," he told his hometown Buffalo News. "If I take the Catholic out of me, which is hard to do, then absolutely they should have these rights ... it has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with my own personal beliefs."

So Senator Grisanti is trying to figure out whether to be theologically correct or morally correct. (Theology is how we view God; morality is how we treat other human beings.) I hope he concludes that the latter must always take precedence over the former. For what good is theology if it leads to immorality? Some churches teach that people are unable to make wise decisions, so they must rely on the church to do their thinking for them. But no concept is more un-American than that.

June 17, 2011 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Theology is how we view God; morality is how we treat other human beings."

this is wrong, david

I'm surprised someone who attends a congregation where the God of the Torah is worshipped would say this

morality is distilled in the Ten Commandments

the first four involve one's relationship with God, the last six involve one's relationship with men

if you overemphasize the former, you become a self-righteous terror

if you overemphasize the latter, you become a secular humanist terror

taking away from God's word always leads to terror

on the Weiner, all joking, jesting, hype and satire aside, Jim really is right- this guy's sins really were trivial compared to some, both Dem and Repub, who have survived

but, again, I think the perception of reckless stupidity was more damning than the moral dimension to most of the public

anyway, I doubt he will wind up begging for food:

"Washington, DC always embraces a good sex scandal, but the end result is generally a ticket out of town. Hollywood, on the other hand, is often much kinder to its illicit drama participants.

Now-former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned on Thursday weeks after an accidentally-tweeted crotch shot began a run of revelations that introduced the term sexting to the mainstream, has already gotten a major job offer to turn his scandal into a sort of meta comedy.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Doug Ellin, executive producer of "Entourage," has offered Weiner a guest star spot on the show, in which he'd play himself. As of yet, there's been no response from the embattled former New York representative, Ellin said.

If it's the camera that Weiner is suddenly worried about, he has another potential job opportunity. In a letter published on The Huffington Post, Hustler founder Larry Flynt is offering Weiner a job in the company's internet group.

"I cannot emphasize enough the genuineness of this offer. We are a serious corporation which, as you know, has been heavily involved in the political environment of this country for over thirty-five years," Flynt wrote to Weiner. "Our key missions have consistently included the crucial fight of battling hypocrisy within the federal and state governments. Flynt Management Group, LLC and Hustler Magazine have been dedicated to decades of serious political commentary. Just as we do not undertake insincere political crusades, we do not make insincere job offers.""

June 17, 2011 3:11 PM  
Anonymous watching civilization decline said...

GENEVA -- The United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people on Friday in a declaration hailed by supporters including the United States as a historic moment.

Members of the U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly voted in favor of the resolution, against strong opposition from African and Islamic countries.

"You just witnessed a historic moment at the Human Rights Council and within the U.N. system with a landmark resolution protecting human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people," U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters after the vote.

Couched in diplomatic language, the resolution commissions a study of discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, the findings of which will be discussed by the Geneva-based council at a later meeting.

The proposal went too far for many of the council's 47-member states, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Speaking on behalf of the powerful Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva said the resolution had "nothing to do with fundamental human rights."

"We are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation," Ambassador Zamir Akram said.

Nigeria claimed the proposal went against the wishes of most Africans. A diplomat from the northwest African state of Mauritania said it was "an attempt to replace the natural rights of a human being with an unnatural right."

The resolution passed with 23 votes in favor and 19 against, with 3 abstentions, including that of China. Backers included the United States, the European Union, Brazil and other Latin American countries.

June 17, 2011 3:45 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

You know, Jon Stewart's coverage has been hysterical, really really laugh out loud funny.

Like when he questioned why Weiner would call Bill Clinton to apologize...

"What ? for what ? Copyright infringement ?"

I have started tivo'ing it. really funny.

June 17, 2011 6:51 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

"taking away from God's word always leads to terror"

The problem is that different people have different beliefs concerning what God's word is. If everyone agreed to leave it to the 10 Commandments, then maybe we could all get along. (Nothing there about barring same sex marriages.)

Only if one believes that human beings are too unevolved to be able to act morally without the threat of a vengeful God does it make sense to put a whole panoply of supposedly unchangeable rules --some ancient, some not, but all insisted upon by a clerical establishment -- ahead of common decency toward everyone.

Theresa, I agree with you about Jon Stewart. He has the capacity to help all of us keep a good compass in a crazy world.

June 17, 2011 9:55 PM  
Anonymous why BO won't be re-elected said...

"President Obama is sacrificing economic growth and job creation in order to placate organized labor. And as the crisis of the welfare state deepens, he is trying to enlarge the entitlement system and exacerbate the entitlement mentality.

The president has declined to submit for congressional approval the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia already negotiated and concluded by the Bush administration.

On May 4, the administration announced that, at last, it was ready to proceed with congressional ratification of the agreements. On May 16, however, it announced it would not send them until Congress expands an entitlement program favored by unions.

Since 1974, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) has provided 104, and then 156, weeks of myriad financial aid, partly concurrent with the 99 weeks of unemployment compensation, to people, including farmers and government workers, and firms, even whole communities, that can more or less plausibly claim to have lost their jobs or been otherwise injured because of foreign competition. Even if the injury is just the loss of unfair advantages conferred, at the expense of other Americans, by government protectionism. And even if the injury results not from imports but from outsourcing jobs. TAA benefited 50,000 people at a cost of $500 million in 2002. In 2010, it cost $975 million for 234,000 people. Its purpose is to purchase support for free-trade policies that allow Americans to benefit from foreign goods and services, and from domestic goods and services with lower prices because of competition from imports.

The basic TAA still exists. But the administration’s stimulus included TAA in its policy of increasing spending almost everywhere in the hope that
stimulus-level spending could be made permanent. Which is what Democrats who do organized labor’s bidding are trying to do: Forty-one Democratic senators are supporting Obama’s demand that the stimulus-level TAA spending, which expired in February, be resumed before the trade agreements will be submitted.

A government borrowing $58,000 a second cannot afford Obama’s policy of Stimulus Forever, and there is this problem with TAA at any level: It is unjust to treat some workers as more entitled than others to protection from the vicissitudes of economic dynamism."

June 19, 2011 10:04 AM  
Anonymous why BO can't be re-elected said...

"Consider a hypothetical Ralph, who operated Ralph’s Diner until Applebee’s and Olive Garden opened competitors in the neighborhood. With economies of scale and national advertising budgets, those two franchises could offer more choices at better prices, so Ralph’s Diner went out of business. Should he and his employees be entitled to extra taxpayer subventions because they are casualties of competition?

Why should someone be entitled to such welfare just because he or she is affected negatively by competition that comes from abroad rather than down the street? Because national trade policy permits foreign competition? But national economic policy permits — indeed encourages, even enforces — domestic competition.

In 2001, when approximately 80,000 people worked in 7,500 music stores, the iPod was invented. Largely because of that and other technological changes, today only about 20,000 people work in 2,500 music stores. Should those 60,000 people be entitled to extra welfare because they are “victims” of technology? Does it matter if the 60,000 have found work in new jobs — perhaps making or selling electronic devices?

In 2008, Americans bought 1.4 billion books made of paper and 200 million e-books. Soon they will buy more e-books than paper books, and half the nation’s bookstores will be gone. Should the stores’ former employees be entitled to special assistance beyond unemployment compensation?

Reactionary liberalism holds that existing jobs must be protected with policies that reduce the economic dynamism that would mean a net increase in American jobs. So the dreary probability is that even if the TAA entitlement were re-enriched to stimulus levels, Democrats would again move the goal posts, concocting new objections to the trade agreements.

Most Democrats oppose such agreements but lack the courage to express their controlling conviction, which is: Organized labor, which represents just 6.9 percent of the private-sector workforce, must be appeased, even if doing so injures other American workers or Americans who would be workers if policies such as TAA did not impede economic dynamism."

June 19, 2011 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Obama's repeating mistakes of the Great Depression.

Didn't they teach history at Occidental College?

June 19, 2011 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You just don't get it do you? I suggest you scroll down to the Weiner, Viewed from Over Here thread and read the history lessons from David and me in the comments section there.

You might also want to check out this Wiki page on Trade Adjustment Assistance. It reports:

"Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers, provides a variety of reemployment services and benefits to workers who have lost their jobs or suffered a reduction of hours and wages as a result of increased imports or shifts in production outside the United States. The TAA program aims to help program participants obtain new jobs, ensuring they retain employment and earn wages comparable to their prior employment...

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms provides import impacted companies with professional guidance, business recovery plan development, and cost-sharing for outside consulting services. Eligibility is established along similar lines, with companies showing that there has been a recent decrease in sales and employment, in part due to customers shifting purchases away from the applicant and to imported goods. The ARRA of 2009 expanded eligibility to service firms as well as the traditional manufacturing companies that had been the sole focus of the program. This expansion for service firms and workers is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2010 [it did expire then], and the program would revert back to the pre-ARRA structure without a vote to extend the authorization.

The responsibility for administering the TAA for Firms program is delegated by the Secretary of Commerce to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). EDA, through a national network of 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs), provides technical assistance on a cost-shared basis to U.S. manufacturing, production, and service firms in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico."

These TAA retraining and retooling programs are precisely the types of government assisted programs for **both individuals and businesses** that helped lift us out of the Great Depression. Industry tooled over into the war effort for World War II and soon the Great Depression was history.

Since Feb. 2011, TAA funding has ended for the service industry so service workers and firms are on their own again. Is it a coincidence that the US unemployment rate has ticked up again after five steady months of decline?

You might also want to brush up on another bit of US history here: United States home front during World War II and learn that:

"Many controls were put on the economy. The most important were price controls, imposed on most products and monitored by the Office of Price Administration. Wages were also controlled. Corporations dealt with numerous agencies, especially the War production Board (WPB), and the War and Navy departments, which had the purchasing power and priorities that largely reshaped and expanded industrial production....

In 1944, unemployment hit an all time low of 1.2%.

Historical facts demonstrate that FDR's policies, like Obama's, are the ones that will get us out from under the economic malaise caused by GOP's policies intended to shrink government so it may be drowned in the bathtub.

After years of the GOP in power, FDR inherited a high and rising unemployment rate, and after years of the GOP in power again, Obama inherited a high and rising unemployment rate too. Continuing GOP policies back in the 1930s would have been as harmful as continuing GOP policies would be now. History shows us what will get us moving forward again, stimulus spending and lots of it.

June 19, 2011 1:18 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"History shows us what will get us moving forward again, stimulus spending and lots of it."

Bea. Seriously ?
You think we should do that with the national debt the way it is ?

Even if you confiscate ALL of the money the "RICH" make you still don't have enough to wipe out the national debt.

How you would suggest we pay for "stimulus spending and lots of it"....

China is going to stop loaning us money !

Drill our own oil as opposed to letting Cuba/China take it out of the gulf (no you don't approve of that)...

WE ARE BROKE. What about that don't you understand ?

June 19, 2011 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I understand that when you are seriously in debt, you do not reduce your income and expect to pay it off. Investing in helping unemployed US citizens and shuttered businesses find new ways to work and be successful benefits us all in the long run.

Tell us Theresa, now that you are paying college tuition, have you and your husband cut back on your income, expecting that will cover the extra cost to your family's expenses? Would you be willing to borrow money to invest in your daughter's future?

June 19, 2011 3:34 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

My company has cut back on my income, giving all the sales people like me impossible quotas and impossible growth. And since 1/2 my income is commission, it has seriously cut back on my income - to the tune of 30K. Which is really difficult when you are trying to pay for college. The company knew they could get away with this because the economy was so poor that no one would leave. We have made changes, like insisting my daughter transfer to UMD because it is such a great deal for in-state tuition. And yes, the alternative was sweetheart get a loan or transfer.

We have cut our vacations way back, I don't have the a/c on today (we have only run it for a couple of weeks so far this summer when it was 100 degrees), and I buy my and the kids casual clothes at Target or Sams. I no longer shop at Safeway, we go to Sams.....

And yet Jim, in a govt job paid for by my tax dollars, is in Paris. And one of my good friends, an NIH employee is getting a trip to Europe also paid for by my 70K of tax dollars.

Bea, they will not get any more money out of my husband and I by raising the tax rates. We have already had the conversation. If they try to get more money out of us we will simply get divorced. And get remarried when the rates go back down. I can't afford to pay anymore in taxes without selling my house or not paying for the kids college, neither of which is an acceptable alternative.

Therefore, if the Bush tax cuts expire, rather than give the Federal govt 20K more a year, I will pay them 15K less.

Tax rates go up to unscceptable levels people do drastic things to get out of them....

and guess what, my good friend from highscool also in the same situation I am, will do the same.

And we will be able to get Pells Grants for our kids.

You need to fix the tax code Bea, not just raise the rates.

Or the impacts may surprise you ...

Research Laffer curve at some point, why don't you ?

June 19, 2011 5:12 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

How long do you think unemployment benefits should continue by the way ?

Because I think 2 years is WAY TOO long....

6 months was about right.

How long do you believe they should continue ?

June 19, 2011 5:16 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...


I will advise my daughters NOT to make the choices I made.

Don't bother continue to work when the kids are little - even though it is impossibly hard - because the government isn't going to let you keep the extra income you make by working, they are just going to tax it away from you.

So don't bother. The extra income on 200K after you pay the necessary babysitter is 10K.

Not worth the time with your children.

why kill yourself both working when the government simply believes you are working to give THEM more money, NOT Your own family.

And as for RICHARD's snide comment that "well it is hard to have sympathy for someone who pays more in taxes than most familys income"


Including your darn salary, Richard - aren't you a teacher ????

June 19, 2011 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You just don't get it do you?"

yes, I do

Obama is blocking free trade agreements whose negotiations were concluded years ago, even though these would lead to job growth

he refuses to submit these agreements for job approval unless Congress approves more stimulus spending

this after three years of stimulus spending has failed

Keynesianism is failing now as it did in the 30s and 70s

June 20, 2011 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Theresa, I am sorry this recession has hit your family so hard that now you have to pull your daughter from what I can only assume is a private college and do without A/C 24/7. But from your recent comments you still had your membership at your "upscale health club in Bethesda" and had a camping vacation up north at some fancy beach resort town so all I can say is we all make our choices about what we spend our finite family resources on.

The good news is you don't have to choose between catfood for dinner and halving your medications every day. You and your husband have decent paying jobs and can afford to put food on the table and a roof over your family's head. If I was you, I'd be counting my blessings.

I'm sorry shopping at Sam's Club seems to be a problem for you. For decades we shopped at discount stores and even at thrift stores for second hand clothes.

According to the numbers you threw out in your Sunday afternoon vents, you and your husband either make $200K or $450K. Whatever it is, let me be the first to thank you, Theresa, for the taxes you pay and the three families your taxes help support. You are welcome for the three families my private company has provided jobs for over the years, turning them into tax-payers too.

Also, congratulations on what seems to be improved sisterly relations now that you see the value of your sister's choice to stay home with her kids during their formative years rather than pursuing the almighty dollar.

Of course I'm familiar with the Laffer curve. "C" is the sweet point on the Laffer curve where there is the highest possible government revenue generated by the lowest possible tax rate. The Laffer curve says when taxes are too high OR TOO LOW, revenue will fall off.

But I also realize that today's GOP behaves as if there is no sweet spot taxes should not fall below and as if there is no danger of revenue depletion from cutting taxes too low. They see more of a diagonal straight line that is high on the low values and low on the high values rather than a curve ending in low values on both ends. Today's GOP acts as if every tax cut will raise revenue, when in fact, Mr. Laffer and his curve disagree.

When Laffer drew his curve, the top tax rates were around 70%. Today the top rate is half that at 35% and it's not enough. What history tells us is that 39.6% is a pretty sweet "C" spot for the top bracket. With a 39.6% top tax rate, we experienced a period of sustained growth and low unemployment that turned the federal buget that had been in deficit for decades into a surplus before being reversed again by the Bush tax cuts that sent us into a deep economic recession second only to the Great Depression.

June 20, 2011 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What history tells us is that 39.6% is a pretty sweet "C" spot for the top bracket. With a 39.6% top tax rate, we experienced a period of sustained growth and low unemployment that turned the federal buget that had been in deficit for decades into a surplus"

you're the only one being told this by "history", aunt beepity-beep

taxes were too high then, aa demonstrated by the fact that we had a surplus

there were many other factors at the time that were unique to that time and created by the legacy of Ronald Reagan

if taxes were 35% back then, we'd have had a balanced budget, which is optimal

June 20, 2011 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

you're the only one being told this by "history", aunt beepity-beep

Which hole have you stuck your head in causing you to be so miserably uninformed? I am far from the only one heeding the FACTS of history.

Bloomberg reports Greenspan Says U.S. Should Let Bush-Era Tax Cuts Expire:

"...We should “allow the Bush tax cuts to expire,” Greenspan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today, calling the economic crisis “imminent and dire.” We should “put the rates back to where they were during the Clinton administration,” he said..."

ThinkProgress reports Top Reagan Economic Advisor: Return To Clinton-Era Tax Rates Would Not Hurt Economic Growth:

"...the idea that higher taxes impede or retard economic growth isn’t generally backed up by the facts. Bloomberg News interviewed Joel Slemrod, who was is an economist at the University of Michigian and is a former senior economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan, about the issue. Slemrod pointed out that high tax countries tend to perform well economically and said that returning to Clinton-era tax rates in 2013 would not harm the economy:

“High GDP countries are high tax countries,” said Joel Slemrod, an economist at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “That doesn’t mean high taxes cause the high GDP.” [...] Slemrod, who served as senior staff economist for President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, said raising taxes today would be risky because the economy remains fragile. But given the economy’s performance in the 1990s, returning marginal rates to their Clinton-era levels in 2013, as Obama proposes, wouldn’t be, he said. “It’s just hard to say that’s the kiss of death for economic growth,” Slemrod said."...

And on 60 Minutes, David Stockman "blast[ed]the "religion" of tax cuts embraced by the GOP..."

CBS News also reports:

"...One Republican brave enough to go public is David Stockman, President Reagan's budget director. He says all the Bush tax cuts should be eliminated - even those on the middle class.

And he says his own Republican Party has gone too far with its anti-tax religion.

"Tax cutting is a religion. What do you mean by that?" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Stockman.

"Well it's become in a sense an absolute. Something that can't be questioned, something that's gospel, something that's sort of embedded into the catechism and so scratch the average Republican today and he'll say 'Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts,'" he explained..."

June 20, 2011 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Repaired link to Bloomberg Greenspan Says U.S. Should Let Bush-Era Tax Cuts Expire

June 20, 2011 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Stockman?

His sympathy with Keynesian economics is old news- by decades

economic theory bypassed him long ago

Joel Slemrod?

don't recall him

I'm sure there's a reason for that

oh, yes

Alan Greenspan

he favored Bush's tax cuts

his advocacy of revoking them now is specific to our circumstances now, to be charitable, and political, to be truthful

be reaching back to the Reagan era, and dredging up discredited characters, you prove my point

and even these guys weren't saying there's a 39.6% "sweet spot"

they are just giving their two cents about what we should do now

that's not alot

June 20, 2011 1:43 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Theresa said: And yet Jim, in a govt job paid for by my tax dollars, is in Paris.

Theresa, let me explain, though your pettiness does not deserve it. I have worked for the federal government since 1994. I have worked up the ladder into a middle management position, and after so many years my vacation benefits are pretty good. I work extra hours during the week so I can use credit hours for time off when I need it, instead of using annual leave. So when a vacation opportunity comes along, I have leave saved up.

I am in France because I was invited to give three plenary addresses to groups of computational intelligence researchers. We are staying a few extra days to enjoy this fascinating country. I wouldn't call this a "business trip" but it is a lot of hard work putting together those lectures and dealing with all those people, zig-zagging back and forth across the country on the trains from town to town. Now we are taking a few days in Paris, enjoying this remarkable and even overwhelminig city. Sorry, Theresa, I earned it.

Even with a nice government job, my family does not live a life of luxury and I wasn't sure how we could pull this off. I was able to afford this vacation because of a small amount of money I inherited when my father died a few months ago. Don't worry, you aren't paying for it.


June 20, 2011 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds great, Jim

when opportunity knocks, answer quickly

life is too short to do otherwise

seems like being a recognized expert in this swarm theory should have some commercial applications that could be profitable

ever consider a consulting business or some type of patent based on it?

btw, if you're still in Paris, roam the streets late at night

sometimes, a car comes by and drives people back in time

June 20, 2011 4:41 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

No, anon, I don't consult or have any patents or make any money off the swarm intelligence algorithm. If things had gone differently I might have an academic position and do those sorts of things; as it is I am a civil servant with an avocation that allows me to be involved with a vigorous research community.


June 20, 2011 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, the Michael Crichton contribution was kind of cool

maybe you could think of some wild sci-fi story based on the concept and make bank

just throwin' out ideas so ignore me if I'm being annoying

also, don't organizations usually reimburse your costs if they ask you to speak?

didn't you go to China and Australia also

June 20, 2011 7:09 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I feel like I earned my money too Jim. But the govt takes an enormous amount of mine, and since I am not incorporated, I can't hide it like Bea does....

I would just like to keep more of the money I worked very hard for....
also for years. Also working my way up the corporate ladder.

Why is it that you are entitled to your govt perks from working for the federal govt for years, but believe that my income should be taxed away from me ?

I know, because the ALL Powerful govt gave that benefit to Jim, and thus it's okay. but private income must be taxed away, can't make too much of that !

Little bit hypocritical, perhaps ?

June 21, 2011 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that the government workforce will take a hit from the current debt reduction talks, both in terms of benefits and staff cutbacks

one thing to keep in mind though, Theresa, is that we will all probably be affected

we are fortunate to live in an area that doesn't suffer as much economic stress as most parts of the country

mainly because the government sucks so much wealth out of the heartland and pumps it into the DC region

that may change soon

June 21, 2011 10:55 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

I think the simple reality is that most people will see their real income decline in the next few years. Certainly, the federal pay freeze is, given even the relatively low rate of inflation, a real pay cut.

The same is true of all workers whose dollar income does not move up.

For those in the public and private sectors who will have to pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums, that amounts to a pay decrease, as well. (All the blather about, for example, public school teachers needing to pay a higher percentage for their insurance to match what other public sector workers have been paying is quite misleading. Each group has a compensation package. Any reduction in that package -- whether in salary or benefits -- is, in fact, a reduction.)

Except for those at the top of the economic ladder (and that does not include any civil servants), we all are in for tougher times. Much of the rest of the world has caught up to us economically, and, given technological advancements in transportation and communication, most of those countries can undersell us. If we, as a society, choose to compete by lowering worker compensation to actual dollar levels in China or India, for example, then we would create great instability at home. And with less buying power among Americans, the advantages that have been gained by foreign exporters will be lost, creating a downward spiral of consumption (and therefore profits)abroad as well as at home.

There are no silver bullets out there.

One more note about federal employees. My story may not be typical, but it is not uncommon. When I graduated law school in 1973 and went to work as a litigator for the federal government, I made a choice to make far less money than I could have going to a big law firm. At many stages in my career -- having learned lawyering with the federal government -- I could have gone to the private sector with those skills and made multiples of what I earned with the feds. Indeed, even though I am a senior litigator, second year associates at DC law firms -- just two years out of law school or clerkships -- make more than I do, and, after a few years make huge amounts more than I.

I personally do not feel that this is a raw deal. I often semi-joke that I am not underpaid -- the other lawyers are just overpaid.

The biggest advantage of my job is that I answer not to clients' narrow pecuniary interests, but to the public at large, through their elected representatives. That, and understanding that I could have a secure and comfortable retirement at the end of 40 years of public service (not having to have to have made more money to put away and invest), is the compact I and others have made with the society at large.

That is the context in which I view the once occasional, and now frequent, attacks on public servants. And, having saved literally (and I do mean lterally) billions of dollars for the federal taxpayers in my work, I do find the attacks ill-informed and annoying.

June 21, 2011 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...


Over the years you have let Vigilance readers know you and your husband pull in nearly $5,000 a week but now you complain bitterly about your inability to maintain the lifestyle you grew accustomed to before the Bush recession hit.

And after publishing your late night tirades about your sister's decision to stay home raising her kids rather than working outside the home, you suddenly embrace that choice she made.

Now you have published your and your husband's plan for tax evasion here on Vigilance for all to see (Hellllllooooooo! Is anyone from the IRS watching?) and then you accuse me of hiding income like the people you hang out with tell you they do.

Get a grip, Theresa, and you might want to remember when you point a finger at someone, multiple fingers point directly back at you.

June 21, 2011 1:35 PM  
Anonymous not Beatrice again said...

chill out, Bea

Theresa's points about the confiscatory taxes we are forced to pay is right on and it's very easy to go bankrupt on that income level in DC

the vacation benefits Jim talked about don't seem excessive compared to that given by private companies so Theresa's comments were, uncharacteristically, a little over the line

your self-righteous rant, however, makes everything else seem like a love-in

why don't you get an iron skillet and take your frustrations out on Uncle Bobo?

June 21, 2011 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...


You must be confusing me with Theresa, Anon.

Theresa is the frustrated one who's crying the blues that $5K a week isn't enough to live on (a point you agree with her on). Why don't you offer her the frying pan for her spouse and one to your spouse too?

If you and Theresa think families "go bankrupt on that [$250,000] income level in DC," what do you propose we elevate the poverty line to since "the 2011 HHS poverty guideline for a family of 4 is $22,350."

Beau and my meager income has been down 50% since 2008 and we still manage to get by without bellyaching like poor little rich girl Theresa.

Here's a tip for Theresa. You can cancel your TIVO subscription to save a little money. Full episodes of The Daily Show can be viewed at for free anytime you want to watch them.

June 21, 2011 2:44 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

actually my husband purchased a lifetime subscription to Tivo when it was first released, therefore, no monthly fees....

I never said we were at poverty levels Bea, I said it was difficult to put kids through college with all the taxes.

I have complained about the structure of a tax code that encourages folks to get divorced. Hello ? why do we want a tax code that encourages women to stay home and NOT work ? that is EXACTLY what our current tax code does, and if the Bush tax cuts expire, makes it almost mandatory that in upper middle class families one of the spouses quits .....

Do you believe Bea, that folks work to give the money to the govt ? Perhaps that is why we have such a fundamental misunderstanding. Because I work to make money for MY family. First and foremost.

As to my sister, she lost her home. HER decisions contributed to her losing her home. And Bea, until you are willing to share exactly how much Federal taxes you made on your businesses 100K of income, I am not sharing anymore. And by the way, getting divorced to save 35K a year in taxes IS PERFECTLY LEGAL. Have at it, TELL THE IRS. Becuase you know what, if I go down that path if the idiot Obamites like Bea insist on raising the tax rates on W2 income folks who happened to married, DON"T have Bea's corporation like tax exclusions, you can believe I will not only tell the divorce judge, we will issue a press release and tell the whole world

Happily married couple of 23+ years getting divorced for tax reasons, intend to stay abstinent and seperated (yes guess what folks can do that) for a year and then resume cohabitation though divorced.

Thank you US tax code. you won't have to tell the IRS bea, I intend to THROW IT IN THEIR FACE.

and by the way, I am in California right now, so 12:40 my time, AND I work during the day which is why I am not posting (most of the time) during working hours.... when Jim's blogs tend to appear.

June 22, 2011 3:50 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

It's Robert Theresa, not Richard, yes I am a teacher, and no, you don't pay any of my salary.

June 22, 2011 3:56 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

actually robert, if you are a public school teacher, yes I do.
so does every taxpayer.

where do you believe the money comes from ?

Well, "Obama has it in a stash somewhere, when he gets elected he is going to give it to us"....

really ????

Where do you believe your salary comes from Robert, if not the taxpayers ????

June 23, 2011 3:04 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Try not to worry, Theresa, although you seem to be built for it worrying about things like who gets to take a costlier vacation than you. Maybe one day you'll decide if your sister was right or wrong but I know my full time presence during the early years of my children's lives could never be replaced by some sticks and bricks. Some moms worry more about the home we create for our children than the house we raise them in.

The only time Beau and I ever turned tax cheats into the IRS was back in the early 80s when two former (we severed those ties after 8 months) business partners insisted on using the corporation as their personal piggy banks, kind of like the friends of yours you've told us about who use their corporations to pay personal expenses and cheat on their taxes. The IRS thanked us and said that former business partners is how it gets most of its info on tax cheats.

Apparently far outside of your circle of friends, there are a few of us honest business people who think it's important that businesses pay their fair share of taxes to the help pay for the good works of the greatest nation on Earth. There are even millionaires asking to have their tax rates raised to do a bigger part to help right the economy that has nearly tanked, a concept apparently anathema to you.

June 23, 2011 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are even millionaires asking to have their tax rates raised to do a bigger part to help right the economy that has nearly tanked, a concept apparently anathema to you."

hmmm...why don't they start a facebook group of millionaires to pledge to leave of all their wealth to the U.S. government?

oh, that's right

they have already started a group of billionaires to leave half their money to charity

even they think the government will waste the money

benevolence belongs in private hands not the hands of the government

otherwise, you have Aunt Beep-style socialism

Aunt Beep and Uncle Bobo, just enjoyin' the grubs of the forest

June 23, 2011 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Not from the taxpayers of Montgomery County, darling. I don't work there.

Where does your money come from, except from your clients?

I work hard at my job, and I get paid for my services, just like you do.

Here's my question: Is it really our money, or are we not just borrowing it from God?

ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ θερίζουσιν οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας, καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά:

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. (Matt. 6:26)

We should all worry a little less about what is ours and how we can keep it; I don't think it's really ours.

June 23, 2011 12:50 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Money is only good for what it can buy Robert.
In my case I want to keep my money to put my kids through college.

That is hardly a goal anyone can find objectionable.

June 23, 2011 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Putting your kids through college is a positive thing, definitely. I support you in that. It amazes me how expensive education has become.

June 24, 2011 12:05 AM  

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