Civility at Saddleback

McCain Obama values interview photo

I watched a good portion the Saddleback Civil Forum last night. It was a decent showing for both candidates but McCain probably did the best in what was viewed by many conservatives as a possible ambush by a pro-Obama evangelical pastor at a forum conceived by a variety of ideologically questionable characters. Instead, McCain really fumbled only once and came across as a decisive, determined, focused, relaxed, and informed man of integrity.

If you missed it here is a good recap.

“Rick did an amazing job of asking the questions most of us would ask the candidates if we could,” said Jill Frick, 47, of San Clemente. “I just really liked how John McCain gave well-stated answers. He didn’t even have to think. He takes a stand. Barack has a charming personality. He didn’t always give the direct answer.”

As a good orator and a person with definite charisma, Obama almost always does well no matter what the venue though he is less sure of himself without a TelePrompter in front of him. That said, he did flub the ’evil’ and ‘abortion’ questions.

Obama went to great lengths to appear thoughtful and philosophical in his answers but too often that ends up coming across as indecisive and vacillating. Perception is often everything, and his answers lacked substance and tended to make him look like he’s still putting together a personal ideology at this stage in his life. If you are seeking the presidency of the United States I would hope that you’ve managed to cobble together a concrete, coherent world view by now instead of addressing each ideological and theological question as if you are considering it for the first time.

This was an important night for McCain. There are always questions whether he could go ‘toe to toe’ with the wonder boy from Chicago, but he laid many of those concerns to rest with this performance. I liked the unabashed conservatism that was expressed as well on many issues, and I feel better casting my vote for the man after watching him commit to several positions unequivocally and with passion. He did very well tonight and I was impressed with what he had to say. He needed to shore up his base while still appealing to undecides and independents and I believe he accomplished that. I found myself commenting and speaking back to him and the television tonight, which (though worrisome to some) is always a ‘good sign’ that he had my attention and that I was engaged by what he had to share with his audience and the American people. It was the best I have seen him to date.

McCain did a great job at winning over conservatives (which are overwhelmingly Christian in belief) last night. So the whole “McCain didn’t address faith enough” argument that is being peddled today fails for lack of a second. He actually addressed Christian concepts, faith and prayer (and therefore the Christian worldview) several times last night. Christians are not necessarily looking to put a Bible thumper in the white house but will be happy to put in a man who will reject socialism, not cheerlead the gay agenda, not promote abortion on demand at every stage of pregnancy and be willing to put some good Constitutionalist judges on the bench. That’s all they really want and if McCain can deliver that much he’ll be perfectly acceptable to everyone to the Right of Hillary Clinton.

We’ve seen what type of ‘faith’ and spiritual mentor Obama has been subscribing to over the last twenty three years so we aren’t impressed by any and all attempts by him to come across as some sort of spiritual, faith based person. The truth there has been exposed and we are not fooled.

Many on the Right seem to be very pleased with what they saw last night.

“I think Obama did very well (and he doesn’t need to win a majority of this audience, he merely needs to keep McCain’s support below typical trends). But this was McCain’s best performance in memory. For the first time I can think of in ‘08, at least, he comes across as the kind of guy a lot of conservatives can want to vote for, rather than merely settle for.” - Jonah Goldberg - NRO

And Mark Hemingway has a good overview of the forum that is well worth reading:

“But I also think that it’s worth noting that but I suspect he may be riding high for a while after tonight. “Obama wasn’t just bad, but that McCain was very good. He was the perfect balance of likable and serious. He also came across as informed, offered far more policy specifics than Obama, highlighted his faith as was appropriate to the setting, and almost everything he said bolstered his conservative credentials. (His comments on taxes and what it means to be “rich” were especially good in that regard.) I’d wager that for a lot of conservatives watching, McCain went from the enemy of my enemy to someone they felt good about voting for. He may yet foul that up."

You know it was a good night for the McCain campaign when the Obama camp begins to whine. According to Andrea Mitchell's reporting earlier today on Meet the Press, the only explanation the Obama campaign could come up with was foul play:

“The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.”

The gilded tint on the anointed one is beginning to wear off and the remarkable silence by the Mainstream Media about last night’s performances is striking. The McCain offer of offer of weekly town hall forums remains on the table--anyplace, anytime. But we now see why that offer has yet to be accepted.

The general election started for all intents and purposes last tonight. It will be an interesting journey from here on out.

Posted by David M. Huntwork at August 18, 2008 10:59 AM
Comments
Comment #258792

It would have been nice to have seen a forum talk to all of the candidates who have gone through the (unfair) process of getting their names on the ballot in enough states to mathematically be elected president.

Nah, silly that, can’t have non-republican or democrat views in any kind of discussion for president, how would they be able to deflect as easily?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 2:41 PM
Comment #258793

David -

McCain held the party line on what defines a marriage…and that makes me wonder something. If America had a constitutional amendment that restricted marriage to only between a man and a woman, then what about hermaphrodites?

You know, those who are born with both male and female sexual organs? Because if a hermaphrodite marries, then it would automatically be illegal, because it would still be a marriage to someone with the same sexual organs.

Would hermaphrodites have to get a government waiver in order to marry? Or would you tell them to, um, go ‘marry’ themselves?

And how about the ones with ‘AIS’ - Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome? Like the citizen on Good Morning America a week or so ago who has a vagina that is not connected to a uterus, but also has a set of testes internally?

How could this person possibly ever marry according to Republican doctrine?

Hey - I’m a Christian and no doubt about it (been a deacon for nearly ten years now), but if God truly meant marriage could only happen between a man and a woman, then why would He allow hermaphrodites and persons with AIS?

So much for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, huh?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 18, 2008 2:44 PM
Comment #258796

68% of Evangelicals, have polled as supporting McCain regardless. Thus, Obama’s task was not to convince Republican supporters to switch their party vote, but, to put to rest questions regarding his religious affiliation amongst those other 32% who may have had questions on this topic.

And that task, Obama performed perfectly. He left no doubt for an unprejudiced mind, that his religious affiliation is Christian, and that his faith guides him in his daily life as an imperfect human being who has found salvation in the endeavor to live by the teachings of his Christian faith.

McCain did very well for himself as well. For those who wanted to know a bit more about the character of these two men, I think they got some of what they were looking for.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 18, 2008 2:47 PM
Comment #258800

David, you say that Obama went to great lengths to appear thoughtful and philosophical … and often came across as indecisive and vacillating. I understand your point, but what value is decisiveness and certainty when one has not considered all the options and possibilities. You can say what you want about George Bush, but one has to admit, he’s a decisive man. Has that certainty and decisiveness really been a benefit to the nation, or would we have all been better off if w had been more thoughtful and philosophical, even if it came across as being “indecisive” and “vacillating”?
Issues are complex and often the short answers that appear “decisive” are just dumbed down responses that save you, the voter, the trouble of having to think a bit.
It was nice to see them on stage together. I wish Obama and McCain could have reached a compromise on joint appearances in a town hall forum that McCain had suggested.

Posted by: Charles Ross at August 18, 2008 3:01 PM
Comment #258806
but what value is decisiveness and certainty when one has not considered all the options and possibilities.

Does anyone else find this statement ironic in the comments of an article about a religious forum/debate?

Maybe it’s just me, it is hard to tell anymore…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 3:40 PM
Comment #258807

A joint appearance in some forum would be interesting, at least. I seriously doubt that McCains’ responses would be off the cuff and ad-libbed, as proven by this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/us/politics/18mccain.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

It can’t be considered a fair contest when one has such an obviously prepared-for and coached line of comments. I don’t think that McCains handlers can trust him out by himself that long.

Posted by: janedoe at August 18, 2008 3:41 PM
Comment #258808

All,

Blurting out answers without taking the time to think them through doesn’t sound like the kind of leadership we need today. Not that I’m voting based on how the candidates come across on T.V.

For me it’s issues. McCain has not put forward any kind of reasonable plan for paying off our debts. In fact, his promising to make the tax cuts permanent sounds almost like an anti-plan, if anything.


Rhinehold,

Not unless you think thoughtful and religious are contradictory terms. Unfortunately, it’s not just you - there are a lot of people that think like you do.

Posted by: Max at August 18, 2008 3:50 PM
Comment #258814

Max, blurting out answers in a benign scenario can be seen as ridiculous, or comical, or stupid. It’s McCain’s hair-trigger temper that should be a real consideration. The guy is just simply (ha..no pun intended) a loose cannon and we should be vewwwy afraid.

Posted by: janedoe at August 18, 2008 4:40 PM
Comment #258815
McCain has not put forward any kind of reasonable plan for paying off our debts.

Neither candidate has, unfortunately, which is a shame for our children. :/

Not unless you think thoughtful and religious are contradictory terms.

So, you don’t think that being decisive and certainty is a part of faith, which requires a person to believe despite a lack of evidence?

Faith is nothing if it is a certainty, don’t you think? What value is it if I say I have ‘faith’ that the sky is blue? No, I know it is, because it is proven to be. The uncertainty has been taken out of the equation. With faith, it must be a part of it for there to be any intrinsic value is moving beyond that unknowing to have faith.

But, not really time for a theology lesson I suppose…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 4:56 PM
Comment #258821

This was just released as their (Fact Check) take on the answers.

Saddleback Bloopers
August 18, 2008
Obama makes misleading claims about ethics legislation and abortion at a church-sponsored forum. McCain exaggerates his tax-cut proposals.
Summary
At a nationally televised forum at a mega-church in Southern California, we found these misrepresentations:
Obama claimed that “I worked with John McCain” on ethics legislation. In fact, the two worked together for barely a week, after which McCain accused Obama of “partisan posturing” and added, “I won’t make the same mistake again.” McCain later voted against the ethics bill that Obama supported, stating that it was written by Democrats with “no input” from Republicans.

Obama wrongly claimed that abortions “have not gone down” under President Bush. In fact, the abortion rate has gone down 9 percent, and the annual total has declined by more than 100,000.


McCain exaggerated the extent of his proposals to cut taxes. He incorrectly claimed he would give a “tax credit” of $7,000 per child, which would be seven times as high as the current credit. His actual proposal would gradually increase the current $3,500 exemption, which benefits high-bracket taxpayers most.

Note: This is a summary only. The full article with analysis, images and citations may be viewed on our Web site:

Posted by: janedoe at August 18, 2008 5:44 PM
Comment #258826

Here is something very interesting:
Go down to the second entry:
http://www.seeingtheforest.com/

Going a little further:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/17/15300/5629/128/569386

Posted by: janedoe at August 18, 2008 6:05 PM
Comment #258828

People are complaining about Obama taking his time in order to thoughtfully answer the questions, while McCain gave quick and concise, bumpersticker slogans. I guess not being in the “cone of silence” as McCain claimed, and more than likely hearing the questions ahead of time helped.

Posted by: pops mcgee at August 18, 2008 6:15 PM
Comment #258831

Jane,

Didn’t we already decide in the red column that we can’t use highly partisan links to substantiate anything here? Or is it ok to use DailyKos, but not something favorable to Republicans?

Oh, and what do the links have to do with the article?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 6:23 PM
Comment #258832

janedoe,

You might also want to read more of that summary you posted from Factcheck. I had already made mention of it in the red column when discussing Obama and his penchant for mischaracterizaions as well.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 6:27 PM
Comment #258834

I am already sick of the duopoly candidates. JMcC didn’t make a fool of himself, which is considered to be a good performance for a Rpblcn now. BHO is suggesting that he will have a conservative(Lugar and Nunn) foreign policy, and a more liberal domestic agenda. Smells like David Axelrod’s advice to me. Also, the acknowledgment about drugs and drinking looks like misdirection to me.

Incidentally, one of the big stories here is that Emil Jones Jr (one of a number of people who is the real version of what BHO pretends to be) is retiring from the state senate here. I wonder if he is planning on being rewarded for all those bills he let BHO introduce in the IL Senate that were written by other people, when helping him become a US Senator.

I suggest Saddlebrook for the next forum. Bring on the alligators.

I think the moderator was joking about the cone of silence.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 18, 2008 6:36 PM
Comment #258835

I dread the prospect of seeing another phony debate the likes we have had to endure over these last several presidential elections, with moderators asking asking for irrelevant generalities and the candidates delivering them.
I would enjoy seeing a conversation between the candidates, moderated only in the sense that a third party would move the candidates onto other topics once a subject is exhausted. Only with the candidates talking with each other could we really get an informed, detailed, deep look at how they feel. I think, McCain, to his credit, was a least driving toward that with his town-hall meeting suggestion, although, it too, seems a little too stilted and formal. My thoughts.

Posted by: charles Ross at August 18, 2008 6:46 PM
Comment #258839
Jane,

Didn’t we already decide in the red column that we can’t use highly partisan links to substantiate anything here? Or is it ok to use DailyKos, but not something favorable to Republicans?

Oh, and what do the links have to do with the article?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 06:23 PM

I don’t know who you have in your pocket, and I don’t know who the “we” is you’re having reference to. I’m not part of it, though. And in answer to your second question, the links are referencing an answer McCain gave to a question asked in the forum this column is discussing now!
It would indicate that McCain is blatantly lying about his “cross in the sand” story. Now, does that mean that there will be no more references to Fox news, or Hannity, or O’Reilly,etc. posted in the “blue column” ????

janedoe,

You might also want to read more of that summary you posted from Factcheck. I had already made mention of it in the red column when discussing Obama and his penchant for mischaracterizaions as well.

Posted by Rhinehold at August 18, 2008 06:27 PM


I didn’t leave out the part about Obama…was the summarized version and both of their misstatements were there. Posted by: janedoe at August 18, 2008 8:06 PM
Comment #258841

“Christians are not necessarily looking to put a Bible thumper in the white house but will be happy to put in a man who will reject socialism, not cheerlead the gay agenda, not promote abortion on demand at every stage of pregnancy”

Evidently, in the right wing version of Imaginationland, there are no Christians who are socialist, gay, or have had an abortion. I seem to remember something about some girls from a big Baptist church in Dallas, who got pregnant after some gathering, and the minister’s wife brought them all to an abortion clinic, so the church wouldn’t get a bad name from the shame of their pregnancies. There was also something about a minister consorting with hustlers, and the FLDS church is basically a socialist organization, but not in Imaginationland.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 18, 2008 8:57 PM
Comment #258853
John McCain gave well-stated answers. He didn’t even have to think.

Maybe he didn’t have to think because he was somehow magically allowed to still be outside in his limo when Obama was sitting there answering Warren’s questions? In other words, McCain had the ability to cheat, and plenty of time to come up with his answers. In which case, it can’t be considered a showcase for anything but an old man being dishonest.

The pastor later claimed to be very surprised by this turn of events, and had told the audience that McCain had been kept from hearing the questions by a “cone of silence.” Why are so many doubting that he was surprised that McCain wasn’t made to show up before Obama went up there on that stage, and therefore would have no chance to cheat? Maybe it’s because we’re very well aware that evangelicals don’t feel a twinge of conscience when it comes to lying and cheating in order to further their ability to put a political choke hold upon our government.
These people absolutely despise the First Amendment of the Constitution — it’s also why they like to trash the ACLU.

Anyway, I personally thought it was quite interesting that McCain said that if he were president he wouldn’t have nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, or John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court. Because aside from Stevens who had been previously appointed, McCain voted to confirm all of three of the other justices.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 18, 2008 10:02 PM
Comment #258856

At the Saddlebrook event, one of the three “wise people” that McCain claimed he would heavily rely upon if he was president was Rep. John Lewis - a Democratic Representative from Georgia who is a major figure from the black civil rights movement, yet Lewis really doesn’t know McCain at all.

Couple quotes from the link:

But even though McCain has now repeatedly cited Lewis as a role model and potential adviser, McCain has not established a relationship with the Georgia Democrat in the 22 years they have served in Congress together.

In response to McCain’s latest invocation of his name, Rep. Lewis said in a statement requested by Mother Jones, “I cannot stop one human being, even a presidential candidate, from admiring the courage and sacrifice of peaceful protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or making comments about it.” But, he added, “Sen. McCain and I are colleagues in the US Congress, not confidantes. He does not consult me. And I do not consult him.”

Seems like a case of shameless opportunism to me — and it also seems totally insulting toward Rep. Lewis, too.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 18, 2008 11:23 PM
Comment #258867

ohrealy,

I think he was joking about the cone of silence.

He was joking that there was an actual cone placed over the candidate a la the Maxwell Smart tv show of the sixties. He clearly meant McCain was sequestered and unable to hear the questions beforehand. The moderator already has expressed suprise that this was not the case.

Posted by: Max at August 19, 2008 11:20 AM
Comment #258870

Do we really believe that the surprise was genuine? And we know that McCain was asked one more question… that Obama was not asked.
So as much as the meeting was touted to be fair and equal, it was not.

Posted by: janedoe at August 19, 2008 11:36 AM
Comment #258873

McPain was so quick with his answers that if you watch the vid closely you’ll see him answer a three parter before the question is even asked.

Hmmm!?!?

Posted by: Marysdude at August 19, 2008 12:15 PM
Comment #258882


If McCain was in his limo watching Obama answer the questions, that’s good politics. Politics isn’t about ethics, morals, or even truth. Politics is about presenting your propaganda and hoping it is accepted by more voters than the other guy’s propaganda. It’s about making promises even if you know that you can’t or won’t keep those promises. Politics is about winning.

Americans have a choice to make. A choice between a Democrat or a Republican. A choice between a neocon or a conpasionate conservative. If necessary, the Democrats and Republicans will team up to trash any and all other options. Most of the time they don’t have to team up because the MSM is more than willing to trash or ignore all other options.

There is no way in hell that either a Democrat or a Republican can represent the views of even half the people in this country. The people are forced to accept one or the other. Those who want neither are forced to accept the fact that they have no representation in the government.

Another thing that Marx was wrong about, at least in reguards to America. Religion is not the opiate of the masses. Self-interested mass consumption is the opiate of the masses. The job of both the Democrats and Republicans is to insure that we don’t run out of opiates and that the opiates are priced as high as the market will bear. Any president that does not fulfill his responsibility to feed the peoples addiction will be replaced.

Obama can win this election by speaking one little word three times, drill, drill, drill. After thoughtful consideration of course.

Posted by: jlw at August 19, 2008 2:08 PM
Comment #258894

I only watched part of the forum, but was struck by the difference in two answers.

Obama defined rich as an income over $250,000. McCain mostly avoided the question but sort of answered more than $5,000,000.

To me, that was significant.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 19, 2008 3:10 PM
Comment #258898

googleumpugus,

Depending upon where you live, Obama may be right and he may be wrong.

But my point is why do we care if someone is rich or not?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2008 3:54 PM
Comment #258899
McPain was so quick with his answers that if you watch the vid closely you’ll see him answer a three parter before the question is even asked.

Both candidates were given topics that would be asked of them. You don’t think that would be enough to infer from the beginning of the question what the topic would be about and then spout a prepared answer to the topic?

BTW, ‘McPain’ or ‘McSame’ is about as childish as calling Obama ‘Barry’ or ‘Hussein’. I believe that the terms we use to identify our opponents tell others a lot about ourselves…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #258926

We care, because the devil is always in the details. A tax cut that effects only the top 6% of the population isn’t a tax cut that means anything except to the rich.

This has been the game of the Republicans. Remember that horrible death tax? Who did it really effect?

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 19, 2008 6:07 PM
Comment #258927

BTW if you live somewhere that an income of 250,000 isn’t rich….I’d say you’ve lost sight of the meaning of the word.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 19, 2008 6:08 PM
Comment #258928

“Because aside from Stevens who had been previously appointed, McCain voted to confirm all of three of the other justices.” Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 18, 2008 10:02 PM

VV, why are you surprised that Mr. McCain is a man who does his duty as Senator and votes rather than obstructs as the dems in congress are so fond of doing when it comes to judges. Apparently Mr. McCain found these people, recommended by the President, capable of doing the job regardless of his personal political leanings or ambitions.

Rather than being surprised I would expect applause that a senator was able to put aside his personal feelings and vote for the person recommended by the president. Perhaps it is surprising as it is so uncommon on your side of the isle.

Posted by: Jim M at August 19, 2008 6:26 PM
Comment #258930

Jim M -

FYI, much of the legislation that our respective lawmakers vote for, and with which we strongly disagree, is NOT because the lawmaker in question agrees with that particular legislation, but because there’s a ‘quid pro quo’.

A good example is a Bush energy bill that Obama voted for. None of us liberals liked the bill, and McCain pointed at it as ‘proof’ of Obama’s hypocrisy.

But what was not so well known was that there was a provision in the bill to provide significant funding for alternative fuels and energy, which is pretty high on Obama’s list of priorities. He wasn’t going to get funding for it any other way, so he voted for Bush’s energy plan.

This is how we got the old saying that “Politics makes for strange bedfellows”.

And this is also why I haven’t spoken against Pelosi for not going forward with impeachment proceedings, or against her and Obama for supporting the FISA bill. I feel I can safely say that, given their druthers, they’d impeach Bush yesterday and throw FISA out the window. But there’s something up, and they’re not saying what. All we can do is give it time and hope, because just as time heals all wounds, time also wounds all heels.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 19, 2008 6:42 PM
Comment #258944

> But my point is why do we care if someone is
> rich or not?
> Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2008 03:54 PM

Because a pretty direct question was asked of them for a specific number. McCain basically evaded answering by making a joke.

Since they weren’t exactly the same questions, here is McCain’s:

“REV. WARREN: Okay, on taxes, define “rich.” Everybody talks about, you know, taxing the rich but not the poor, the middle class. At what point — give me a number. Give me a specific number. Where do you move from middle class to rich? Is it $100,000? Is it $50,000? Is it $200,000? How does anybody know if we don’t know what the standards are?”

Obama’s question was more succinct. Basically, give me a number.

“REV. WARREN: Okay. Taxes — this is a real simple question. Define “rich.” (Laughter.) I mean, give me a number. Is it 50,000 (dollars)? One hundred thousand (dollars)? Two hundred thousand (dollars)? Everybody keeps talking about who we’re going to tax. How do you define that?”

Posted by: Joe at August 19, 2008 10:56 PM
Comment #258948
Remember that horrible death tax? Who did it really effect?

It affect sensibilities of people who have a problem with double-taxation on anyone, even if it isn’t them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2008 11:15 PM
Comment #258950
BTW if you live somewhere that an income of 250,000 isn’t rich….I’d say you’ve lost sight of the meaning of the word.

Don’t move to LA then… A house there that cost about 125,000 here in Indianapolis or 45,000 in Des Moine can cost over 1,000,000… And believe me, a 125,000 house here is not for the rich by any stretch…

Do some cost of living comparisons.

But there’s something up, and they’re not saying what.

Spoken like a true partisan.

Yes there are things that hey could do, they have the majority in congress and senate and can’t seem to do anything, yet when the republicans held a SMALLER majority in both houses, they were responsible for all kinds of evil? Does anyone else not notice an issue with those sentiments?

Here’s an idea. Don’t pass a bad law. If you have the majority and you don’t vote for a bad law, a bad law is not going to be passed. It’s not hard to figure out, don’t you think?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 19, 2008 11:21 PM
Comment #258952
VV, why are you surprised that Mr. McCain is a man who does his duty as Senator and votes rather than obstructs as the dems in congress are so fond of doing when it comes to judges. Apparently Mr. McCain found these people, recommended by the President, capable of doing the job regardless of his personal political leanings or ambitions.
Oh, I didn’t say I was surprised, I said I thought it was interesting. And it was highly interesting to watch McCain pander to the Christians who were sitting in that Saddleback audience. I think he said exactly what he believed they wanted to hear, but that in reality if he had felt strongly about those justices being unfit to sit on the bench, he would have simply voted against them. After all, becoming a Supreme Court justice is a permanent, lifetime position, so it’s a vote which carries an important gravity going far beyond the opinion or the desires of the sitting president.


Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 19, 2008 11:52 PM
Comment #258961

Rhinehold,

That is a false comparison. Check out East LA or Compton. It’s prices aren’t so heady. Bel Aire and Malibu, yeah it’s kind of expensive. That explains a lot about your positions. It explains a lot about McCain. Typical partisan fudging. Let’s hide the real agenda.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 8:20 AM
Comment #258962

Rhinehold:

Sorry about your sensibilities. Perhaps you can buy a new 707 to assuage your poor put-upon elite’s hurt feelings. Nobles Oblige, my friend.

Thanks for your support of regressive taxation.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 8:24 AM
Comment #258971

googleumpugus,

Thanks for the example of ignorant debate. I find it good that occasionlly it be displayed for everyone to know what to avoid in the future.

Keep up the good work and your support for facism.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 11:07 AM
Comment #258977

Rhinehold -

You’re saying an income of $250,000 isn’t rich?!?!?!?

And you’re a libertarian who believes one should be responsible for one’s own financial decisions and station in life?

Are you sure you’re a libertarian?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 20, 2008 12:38 PM
Comment #258999

Glen said, “This is how we got the old saying that “Politics makes for strange bedfellows”. He was referring to congressional compromise.

Actually Glen, the saying resulted from our colonial days before the U.S. existed. The colonial capital was in Williamsburg Virginia and those elected to represent the colonies would assemble periodically to conduct business. Since they were away from home that would spend their nights sleeping in the taverns and inns. And, quite often there would be one or two strangers in bed with you. Thus, the saying.

Visit Colonial Williamsburg sometime and you will really enjoy the experience. Many thanks to the Rockerfeller family for providing the seed money to restore this glorious page from our history.

Posted by: Jim M at August 20, 2008 2:29 PM
Comment #259013

Glenn,

It depends, doesn’t it?

Just a quick look at comparisons tell us that a 250,000 combined salary for a family of 4 in San Fransisco is about the same as $135,000 in Indianapolis, IN, so less than 70,000 per year per individual, $128,000 in Knoxville, TN, etc.

Do you think that is a ‘rich’ salary?

Do you see why national minimum (and the upcoming maximum) wage laws are unconscionable and meaningless?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 4:20 PM
Comment #259026

on “support for fascism”

Top ten signs your country may be going fascist:
10. Protests are restricted.
9. Stealth empire building
8. Leaders profit from war.
7. Leader defies the constitution.
6. Elaborate surveillance
5. Political parties believe war is necessary.
4. Integrity of election results are suspect.
3. Media refers to people who disagree with the government as pro terrorist.
2. Torture is allowed, and prison camps operate outside the law.
1. Your leader is obviously too stupid to run a country, so somebody else must be handling that.

from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSuWCIYi7T4

Posted by: ohrealy at August 20, 2008 5:33 PM
Comment #259028

Yes, Rhinehold we do. If all you are doing is comparing selected house pricing…..great in depth analysis. Boy, you really fooled us.

Here’s a 4 bedroom house in Antioch (Bay Area) for $105,000. click here Only a moron would buy in a million dollar district on $250,000 income. It’s a phony analysis, like I said. Next? In Dallas I lived a couple of miles from Ross Perot. I didn’t have his income or own a house in is neighborhood. Is that really the best you can do?

Thanks for the insults. Thanks for not being able to refute my ignorant debate. It’s good to show what a so called libertarian really values. Advocating for tax breaks for the rich, that’s a Constitutional issue isn’t it?

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 5:48 PM
Comment #259030

BTW, an income of $250,000 places you in the top 5% of incomes in the US. Nothing elite there. Those poor San Fransicans probably have to skimp on blow jobs in the Tenderloin.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 5:57 PM
Comment #259035

Jim Kramer had some cogent remarks about the game that has been going on over the last few years in the markets. This election is about primarily two things: The New Robber Baron era and American Colonialsim. Americans seem to understand we’re on a wrong track. These are the two main rails. McCain is selling to the wealthy this exact same policy. Obama is promising change. I don’t know if Obama will deliver, but I know McCain will deliver more of the same.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 7:09 PM
Comment #259042

The current republican party is a fear monger, trying to scare people into thinking they are not safe, implying that the tax breaks are for ‘normal’ americans, and overall marketing fear. Don’t buy their commodity any more, it is time for justice to arrive for the orchestrated fear machine protecting nothing more than its self interest. This is why I am a democrat. We believe in social service, education, aleviating poverty, access to health care, justice and improving the lives of many over the profits of few. Now if that is socialism than call me a commie, but ask yourself if human exploitation is really the higher moral ground!

Posted by: Fear the Fear at August 20, 2008 7:36 PM
Comment #259044

“Do you see why national minimum and maximum wage laws are unconscionable and meaningless”
Rhinehold, no one has ever suggested on this board that a maximum wage law be enacted, and for you to suggest that government’s insistence on minimum wage standards is, somehow, immoral (unconscionable), is ludicrous. You just make yourself look foolish by writing such a comment.
I grew up in San Francisco and know it well. It is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in and there are very few people living in that town that make a yearly wage of $250,000 and up. If they were making >$250,000 they would be considered by just about any reasonable person to be rich.
You know, Rhinehold, just because you can write anything you want and post it on this forum doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to think.

Posted by: Charles Ross at August 20, 2008 7:56 PM
Comment #259051

Charles,
Thanks for your perspective. Sorry about the Tenderloin joke, I really need to start marking my sarcasm. I said it to add to the point that not all San Fransicans are gay, either.(not that there’s anything wrong with that:)) No offense meant to San Fransicans.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 8:39 PM
Comment #259055

Rhinehold -

It doesn’t matter WHERE you live in America, or even the world.

At the current value of the dollar, $250,000 per year should be MORE than enough to live well as long as one doesn’t try to live lavishly. If one lives as a wastrel, then it doesn’t matter if one makes MILLIONS per year, one will still go broke.

The funny thing is, that’s a libertarian philosophy (and a correct one) that I’m firing back at you! But it seems that you’re SO determined to cover up for McCain that you’ll desert your own political philosophy to do so!

Either that, or you realize that you screwed up in defending him on this particular issue, and would rather protect your pride by posting arguments against your own political philosophy than admit that you were wrong in defending McCain’s statement.

Personally, I think that it’s the second possibility, that you’re defending your pride, because I don’t think you’d purposely desert your own political philosophy just to support McCain.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 20, 2008 9:58 PM
Comment #259056
Yes, Rhinehold we do. If all you are doing is comparing selected house pricing…..great in depth analysis. Boy, you really fooled us.

Except I didn’t. I compared the cost of living in one area with the cost of living in another.

The Cost of Living Calulator at CNN Money shows what you have to make in one area to have the same lifestyle in another.

SO, as I said, to live like would in Indianapolis at 140,000 a year combined family income, I would have to make 250,000 a year in San Fransisco. Same type of house, same type of food, same time of entertainment, etc. The details are found at the link. For example “Using data provided by researchers at ACCRA, Inc., we compare key expenses in dozens of major cities. Costs include housing, utilities, transportation and health care.”

As for insults, if you check, you were the first to hurl. Excuse me for firing back, but that’s what you get when you sling mud, don’t you think?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 10:06 PM
Comment #259057
Rhinehold, no one has ever suggested on this board that a maximum wage law be enacted

Except it was already tried by FDR and Obama is now talking about windfall profits on companies making around 8% profits, while ignoring others making 20-30%, because they are his largest base, imagine that. How long before we end up trying the exact same thing that was tried in a much less ‘progressive’ friendly era?

I was told there was no chance that anyone would be telling people what they can and can’t eat either, but within two years it was happening. Just give it time and then come back and tell me when I’m right.

and for you to suggest that government’s insistence on minimum wage standards is, somehow, immoral (unconscionable), is ludicrous. You just make yourself look foolish by writing such a comment.

Except that isn’t what I said. I said that a NATIONAL minimum wage standard is. Setting a minimum wage at an arbitrary number that will only hit a percentage of the country at the right spot is either a) pricing people out of the market and causing unemployment or b) giving a boon to companies who can undercut and have de facto indentured servants.

If you want to be correct about it, the minimum wage in an area of the country should be tied to the cost of living in that area. A rural area should not have an 8/hr minimum wage if the cost of living doesn’t dictate and a more wealthy place should have a minimum wage above that.

Of course, that doesn’t help the national party keep power, does it? So, forget I mentioned it, I’ll let you get back to attacking your straw man…

I grew up in San Francisco and know it well. It is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in and there are very few people living in that town that make a yearly wage of $250,000 and up.

Individuals or families. Because according to ACCRA, INC, 250,000 is most likely about median. Maybe you should give them a call and find out where they are getting those numbers from then?

If they were making >$250,000 they would be considered by just about any reasonable person to be rich.

That’s your opinion. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, when is someone well off, when are they rich and, again, why does it matter?

You know, Rhinehold, just because you can write anything you want and post it on this forum doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to think.

Nor does it relieve you of the responsibility of arguing what I say and not what you think I say, or erect straw men to attack in my place.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 10:15 PM
Comment #259058
It doesn’t matter WHERE you live in America, or even the world.

At the current value of the dollar, $250,000 per year should be MORE than enough to live well as long as one doesn’t try to live lavishly. If one lives as a wastrel, then it doesn’t matter if one makes MILLIONS per year, one will still go broke.

Right. But is living well the same as ‘being rich’? You say ‘if one doesn’t try to live lavishly’, in my mind a rich person CAN live lavishly, it is the well off and middle class who have to ensure they are living within their means.

Perhaps it is just a problem with definition. Which I think was the point trying to be made at the forum… So many missed it though, in a rush to label their opponent. I love partisan politics!

The funny thing is, that’s a libertarian philosophy (and a correct one) that I’m firing back at you! But it seems that you’re SO determined to cover up for McCain that you’ll desert your own political philosophy to do so!

Not sure where you get that. I have only stated that in some parts of the country, 250,000 is not ‘rich’. It depends upon context and stresses my point that we should not be trying to make national judgements on local issues.

I also don’t understand the fixation on what someone else makes. Why does ANYONE care if someone else makes 250,000 a year? Or 1,000,000? If they are making that it is because the market bears it out. If someone is willing to pay someone that obscene amount of money, then someone, the ones with the money, SAY he is worth it. Who are we to step in and say that they are wrong?

Either that, or you realize that you screwed up in defending him on this particular issue, and would rather protect your pride by posting arguments against your own political philosophy than admit that you were wrong in defending McCain’s statement.

So, what philosophy am I arguing against again? I think I missed something along the way…

Did I make some policy statement about someone being rich or not being rich that I missed? I was making a point that definitions need to be agreed upon before they can be used against one another in a meaningful argument and not understanding the way the markets in other areas of the country change the cost of living when you start making those arguments doesn’t do anyone a service beyond making you feel better than someone else.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 10:22 PM
Comment #259059
Thanks for the insults. Thanks for not being able to refute my ignorant debate. It’s good to show what a so called libertarian really values. Advocating for tax breaks for the rich, that’s a Constitutional issue isn’t it?

When you get my argument correct, we’ll start debating it, ok? And again, you were the one who issued the first insult, so you might want to look up the word hypocrisy before recommenting.

But I wanted to take umbrage a bit with your obvious lack of understaing of what Libertarian values are…

For the record, Libertarians think that the income tax is immoral. First, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter in the least what someone else makes. If anything, we should be charging people fees and duties (taxes) based on what they use or what they could be using. Property taxes (to be used sparingly and only when other services can’t be matched up correctly) and taxes on things directly related to a good or service is the only way to fairly assess the costs of living in an area. And charity should be given freely by an individual, not forced at the point of a gun.

Now, if you want to debate THOSE aspects of Libertarianism, fine. But don’t sit there and say that Libertarians are for ‘tax breaks for the rich’ when want all income taxes done away with (wouldn’t that be tax breaks for all?) Or, I suppose, you could just keep acting superior and then pout like a puppy dog when someone gives you a taste of your own medicine… It’s up to you I suppose.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 20, 2008 10:29 PM
Comment #259071

Rhinehold,

You responded to MY issue about McCain’s non-reality, avoiding the issue based concept of wealth. You attempted to demonstrate that wealth was relative to zipcode. I demonstrated that was a false argument. If that insulted you, sorry. Rather than deal with the special interest attached to the Death Tax, you avoid the argument calling it double taxation. Any tax could be seen as a double tax.

You responded by calling my argument ignorant and offered no rebuttal. Could it be you have none? Thus it appears YOU wish to pout rather than demonstrate how $250,000 is poverty and an estate tax on the super wealthy is unjust.

I ask you, did you not argue, whether a Libertarian or a Zippity Do Dah, that wealth with regard to taxation wasn’t a problem in this thread? Now you attempt to redirect the argument to your notion of a use tax. When that is implemented it’ll be worth debating. McCain isn’t going to implement it.

The effect of your position, and why many Libertarians are simply seen as straw dogs for the Laissez Faire, wealth biased, special interests in this country, is to ignore the regressive tax structure that exists.

You and McCain are out of touch as to what wealth is, and out of touch with regard to taxes.

Income tax is not going to be abolished any more than Ron Paul or Bob Barr are going to be elected. So the effect of your anti tax speil is to aver for the rich.

You can continue to argue that you think $250,000 is not wealthy. And you can continue to believe Fringe politics will win. But this puppy will continue to nip at the heels of any Postman delivering this kind of phony argument.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 11:16 PM
Comment #259073

Rhinehold,

After reading your response to Glen I wonder if you are being obtuse or you really don’t get it.

Rich was used in the forum in regards to tax issues. The number Barrack used was significant to the tax cuts Bush implemented. The number McCain used was astronomical. As I said the devil is in the details. Defining rich WAS the question relative to tax issues.

Again NOWHERE in the US is $250,000 not rich. If the top 5% isn’t rich to you, what is? It isn’t as rich as $5,000,000, but that isn’t the issue.

I personally don’t care what someone is paid if it isn’t at the expense and detriment of others, but when you talk about wealth and taxes, it is all that has meaning. I guess if you are losing an argument about numbers, it’s convenient to avoid them.


Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 11:49 PM
Comment #259074

BTW, Ross Perot and I had a median income somewhere in the millions. I wasn’t the rich one. Please let’s not go down that phony mathematics road.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 20, 2008 11:53 PM
Comment #259076

“If anything, we should be charging people fees and duties (taxes) based on what they use or what they could be using.”


The incomes of regular people can’t support all of the services that we use. That is why social service agencies even exist. We support each other in order to progress as a whole. Without our social support we might as well be up in trees flinging crap at each other.

Can the single mother of three afford her share of the costs of education, health care, civic services like roads and sewage, and the thousands of other services that are possible because of our tax system? NO. Should she wallow in her own filth because she can’t afford a new sewage line? How else does it get paid for?


As far as ‘put a number on it’, it should be based on statistics, standard deviations, and percentages. The desparity is vast and growing. People really do live on $500 a month, as well as $500,000 a month. For the good and progress of our union a whole hell of a lot of taxes are needed. Sure there is wastfull spending of our money at times (like the ‘bridge to nowhere’ or Iraq) but consider the alternative: we would still live in the Dark Ages with no schools or libraries, a world ruled by intoxicating and oppressive religious doctrine.

Posted by: thrice throught at August 20, 2008 11:56 PM
Comment #259079
You responded to MY issue about McCain’s non-reality, avoiding the issue based concept of wealth. You attempted to demonstrate that wealth was relative to zipcode.

And it is. If you don’t think that cost of living makes a difference then I am not sure how to continue to respond to your arguments. When you avoid reality and argue in a fantasy land, it makes it hard to know what rules one is playing by…

I demonstrated that was a false argument.

No, you didn’t.

If that insulted you, sorry.

That didn’t insult me. The statement
Perhaps you can buy a new 707 to assuage your poor put-upon elite’s hurt feelings. Nobles Oblige, my friend.” did. So I responded in kind. And you got offended. That takes a special kind of hypocrisy right there…

Rather than deal with the special interest attached to the Death Tax, you avoid the argument calling it double taxation. Any tax could be seen as a double tax.

No, not any. But yeah, there is a lot of double taxation going on. I call it like I see it I suppose. If you pay taxes on income, then pay taxes on that same amount of money when you die, isn’t that taxing it twice? Or three times? Or more, depending?

And I’m against income taxes, surely you can see that I would be against death taxes as well?

You responded by calling my argument ignorant and offered no rebuttal. Could it be you have none?

Nope, it means that your argument, that I couldn’t understand what you were saying because I was an ‘elitest’, was ignorant. That was pretty much the entirety of your comment. Here, let me requote it in full!

“Rhinehold:

Sorry about your sensibilities. Perhaps you can buy a new 707 to assuage your poor put-upon elite’s hurt feelings. Nobles Oblige, my friend.

Thanks for your support of regressive taxation.”

No where did I support any regressive taxation, or any taxation plan at all. All I did was point out that 250,000, in certain areas of the country, is not ‘rich’. I will demonstrate this more completely later, but using the income of the entire US to say that an income in one small area of the country is not rich is comparing apples to oranges. What is made of that after the fact is a different story. I still don’t get why you even brought up estate taxes to me to begin with, I certainly didn’t mention them nor were they germaine to the one statement I made, but it appears you have a bee in your bonnet. Perhaps if you would restate your issue with my factual statement it would make things a little easier for others to follow?

Thus it appears YOU wish to pout rather than demonstrate how $250,000 is poverty and an estate tax on the super wealthy is unjust.

I have gone back and reread what I wrote a few times and I still don’t see anywhere where I said that ‘an estate tax on the super wealthy is unjust’. It is, but not because they are super wealthy but because the idea of taxing one’s income once is abhorrant to me, taxing a second time is just plain wrong.

But, then you change your argument, don’t you? Now you are saying ‘super wealthy’. Is 250,000 a year for a famliy of 2 ‘super wealthy’? By your line of commenting, you seem to think so.

Again, we need to agree to definitions and what they mean. You seem to have already made up your mind and don’t care what anyone else has to say on the matter though. Perhaps you could give us what YOU think is wealthy and what isn’t?

I ask you, did you not argue, whether a Libertarian or a Zippity Do Dah, that wealth with regard to taxation wasn’t a problem in this thread?

I asked you to tell me why it matters how much someone makes. Did you respond? I don’t see that anywhere, but let me continue.

It shouldn’t matter. Of course, we shouldn’t be taxing based on income, IMO, but even if we are, why does it matter if someone is making 5,000,000? Shouldn’t that person still pay the same rate? That’s still a huge amount of money, and most would say his ‘fair share’. Could he afford more? Sure. Is that fair? I guess it is, according to you. I don’t see it though…

Now you attempt to redirect the argument to your notion of a use tax. When that is implemented it’ll be worth debating. McCain isn’t going to implement it.

Why would he? He is about as interested in fixing anything as Obama is.

The effect of your position, and why many Libertarians are simply seen as straw dogs for the Laissez Faire, wealth biased, special interests in this country, is to ignore the regressive tax structure that exists.

No tax system in place will ever ben progressive enough for progressives and you know it. Remember, FDR attempted to tax all income over 100,000 at a rate of 100%. I wonder if THAT rate would have been progressive enough for today’s progressives?

Of course, it helps to remember that at one time only the top 1% of the incomes in this country were taxed at all. It was FDR that first taxed the middle class… But that is a digression I shouldn’t make I suppose…

You and McCain are out of touch as to what wealth is, and out of touch with regard to taxes.

Why? Please explain to me why I am ‘out of touch’ as to what wealth is? Because I understand that different parts of our country have different costs of living? Therefore it is hardly fair to say that X amount of income is the same the country wide?

Income tax is not going to be abolished any more than Ron Paul or Bob Barr are going to be elected. So the effect of your anti tax speil is to aver for the rich.

That’s your opinion. I will continue to fight for my principles. Apparently I should be a pragmatist and enjoin a principle of envy as my political view…

You can continue to argue that you think $250,000 is not wealthy. And you can continue to believe Fringe politics will win. But this puppy will continue to nip at the heels of any Postman delivering this kind of phony argument.

Thank you, I will. In fact, here are some actual numbers for you.

San Fransisco 88,000 Median based on HUD numbers. Hud will help low income homeowners with incomes up to 140% of that income level in California purhcase homes. That puts ‘low income numbers’ to about 125,000.

Now, compare that with Indianapolis, IN, where the median income is 65,000 and no allowances are given for cost of living requirements like in California, and we see a disparate difference don’t we?

So, low-income assistance from Fannie Mae in San Fransisco is 125,000, in Indianapolis 65,000.

But that’s not the end.

The median pay for a SR Software Engineer is 104,375 a year. Bonus on that is 9,500 for a total of 113,875. Now let’s say he is married to a Project Manager (at another company, no peeing in the company pool!), that median income is 95,789 and a bonus of around 5,000 for a total income of 100,789. Adding them together we now have a combined family income of 213,875…

The same couple in Indianapolis, IN, for example, would combine to about 150,000…

Now, are they rich? That’s an awful lot close to that 250,000 mark… Can you tell me without any hesitation that these people are part of the ‘super wealthy’ and should be taxed at a greater rate? Do you understand what the cost of living is there? When the people who work at the McDonald’s there are making nearly twice what the national figures for minimum wage are, when it costs two to three times more than an Indianapolis, IN to just find housing?

You know, it’s attitudes like yours that cause the most strife in this country, IMO. The politics of envy should never be watered or allowed to grow, yet it has taken root in the one party that, at one time, would never have let it see the light of day. That is why I left the party, that philosophy became the one driving the policy decisions and instead of accepting that we are all individuals, started looking at greater class division as a way to keep themselves in power.

You’ve done a wonderful job, keep it up. Nevermind the damage that you and your cohorts on the right are doing to this country as you bicker about what is and isn’t rich as if either of you have any real idea. Meanwhile, those of us that just see people as people will continue to struggle our way through, trying to do what is best for our families and maybe put together a buffer to leave for them when we pass on so that they might not have to work so hard to help their children with the same.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 12:38 AM
Comment #259080
but consider the alternative

I don’t think you have. That’s the real problem, you see it one way or the other and don’t accept that humans are smart and might find a third, fourth or even more options than the two you present.

If it weren’t for people tell people like you that you were wrong, we wouldn’t be eating tomatoes today… Yes, an obscure reference, but it fits. We all used to think that all ‘red berries’ were dangerous and never to eat them. But some people who realized that the two choices (eat and die or not eat and live) weren’t valid and looked for other options found that there was more than they were being told.

And yes, they were ridiculed as well.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 12:42 AM
Comment #259081

Oh, and btw, I never said that there should be no taxes. Though that is the usual response I get… I said that there should be no income taxes.

RIF

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 12:44 AM
Comment #259082
The incomes of regular people can’t support all of the services that we use. That is why social service agencies even exist.

Regular people now, is it? You know you are advocating forced charity, right? Charity at the point of a gun? How very enlightened of you.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 12:46 AM
Comment #259090

Rhinehold,

As I said the median income/house price is a useless number in this type analysis.

The only value you are using to make cost of living radically different zip code to zip code is housing prices. Housing prices are largely based on two things. Location and the pool of buyers. In some locals multimillionaires buy up property. Once again, you are falsely using masses of large prices to falsely inflate cost of living. But you know that. Ross Perot and I have a large median income. It is a meaningless number.
I demonstrated there is reasonably priced houses, but, of course, you ignore those facts, and continue to weave a fantasy.

You are insulted because I suggested buying a plane to assuage rich people’s hurt feelings and your sympathy for them? Why? I’ll play my violin as you explain that one. I love using hurt feelings as part of an argument.

Is a Software engineer and project manager rich? Yes, if they generate 250,000 dollars of income between them. They can live a lifestyle that ONLY 5% of people in the US can afford. They don’t have to buy a house on the Fisherman’s Wharf, even though they probably could if they chose to.

All other costs are about the same Nationwide.

Should money matter and is it a symptom of envy? No, it isn’t envy, Rhinehold, and I’m not insulted that you suggest it is. My feelings aren’t hurt. It’s just another false argument.

We are discussing money. You can say it’s about accomplishment, skill or whatever, but it isn’t. It’s about those that recieve the most benefit from our society having a duty to pay their fair share. They benefit more and should pay more. In some instances they do. In many, they pay less. Even Warren Buffet agrees with that. He still runs his company offshore, though.

If this were a discussion about replacing the current tax system, I might agree with you (Though I doubt it), but it is about which viable candidate revealed his inclination to be an advocate for the wealthy by avoiding an answer and choosing an astronomical number.

Your misdirection is what I disagree with. Your advocacy of “principles”, in this election and this world means, in this discussion, you continue to aver for the rich. You are free to do so.

Being pragmatic is not being envious, it’s dealing with reality, rather than idealized fantasy about fairness. Look around you, the rich, beyond living a luxurious lifestyle, are treated differently with regard to taxation in this country. We won’t even delve into the treatment of wealth in the court system.

If it causes someone a little sleep and strife, it should. I’m not sure where you get “my cohorts on the right”. It is you agreeing with McCain that bothers me, even though you claim you don’t. I’m sure he avoided the question on the same “principles”. I’m sure Marie Antoinette thought the same way, as well.


Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 9:24 AM
Comment #259094
The only value you are using to make cost of living radically different zip code to zip code is housing prices.

The fact that you can make that statement shows a complete lack of understanding of how this country’s economy works and essentially invalidates your entire argument.

Taken into account for ‘cost of living’ includes taxes, food, heating, work routes, mass transit, energy, etc.

In many, they pay less

And more ludicrius statements. They may pay less than you THINK thsy should pay, but there is no doubt they pay more.

If someone is making 100,000 a year and paying 28% income tax, they are paying 28,000 in taxes. If they are making 250,000 and only paying 20% in taxes (which is NOT the case and you know it) they are still paying 30,000. Now, in what math system is 30,000 less than 28,000? But the fact is that they both pay the exact same on everything up to 100,000, then the other person pays a higher percentage for everthing earned in that top tier.

Please explain to me how rich pay ‘less’ in taxes than the middle class.

The fact is that the top 1% of our country pays over 20% of the taxes collected. And you want that to be even more. And I’m not necessarily against it, because I say if you are going to have income tax, which I don’t think we should, it should only be on the rich. But the reality if doing that is that it gets passed on to the middleclass and poor anyway. But it makes us feel good, doesn’t it?

As for my helping the rich, it’s a ridiculous argument and intended to quiet people who disagree with you.

the rich, beyond living a luxurious lifestyle, are treated differently with regard to taxation in this country.

How so? The top-earning 25% of taxpayers (AGI over $62,068) earned 67.5% of the nation’s income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (86%). The top 1% of taxpayers (AGI over $364,657) earned approximately 21.2% of the nation’s income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 39.4% of all federal income taxes. That means the top 1% of tax returns paid about the same amount of federal individual income taxes as the bottom 95% of tax returns.

So, how are the rich getting by with not paying ‘their fair share’ again?

As for your cohorts on the right, the left and right in this country do a little dance each election year, in case you missed it. By pitting the voters against each other, they can promise to solve the problems that they generally create by voting them in over their opponent. Real ideas, change and principles are thrown out the window, just as you suggest I do, because it will ‘help the enemy’. The enemy is the duopoly currently running the country, not the left or the right but both.

I also never said that I agreed with McCain, you did. All I ever stated was that 250,000 in some areas of this country is not what I would consider rich. I’ve proven this and you refuse to accept it, fine. We’ll agree to disagree. But keep your straw men in your pocket.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 11:18 AM
Comment #259098

Rhinehold, your math and your understanding of how the tax system works is a little off. If someone earns $250 K and pays %20 out in taxes, the result is not 30 K but 50 K. Also, your use of %28 in your example; that is top rate for that income level, it is not the percentage charged on entire income. Some one who is earning enough money to have part of it taxed at the %28 level is probably only paying 16-18 percent in actual taxes.
I’ve always had a personal definition of what rich is that probably contradicts what I’ve stated in previous posts: Rich is when you have money coming in at a faster rate than you can spend it to support the lifestyle you wish to have.
Also, a person who cannot remember how many houses he owns (a John McCain comment “I’ll have to get back to you on that”), is probably rich, don’t you think? (as his Barack Obama with his recent book deal “The Audacity of Hope” (I still don’t know quite what that means)

Posted by: Charles Ross at August 21, 2008 12:09 PM
Comment #259101
I’ve always had a personal definition of what rich is that probably contradicts what I’ve stated in previous posts: Rich is when you have money coming in at a faster rate than you can spend it to support the lifestyle you wish to have.

So, anyone working towards building a savings account and planning for retirement is rich?

Also, a person who cannot remember how many houses he owns (a John McCain comment “I’ll have to get back to you on that”), is probably rich, don’t you think?

Yes, I would say so, but what is that number, since that seems to be the focus of the detracters.

As for my math, I was throwing numbers in for just a quick example, it wasn’t meant to be taken ‘as things are’. Yeah, I did say 30,000 didn’t I? Not sure why.

But someone making enough to pay 28% is paying the lower amount on the income up to the limit of that level and then the rest is taxed at the 28% rate. I don’t necessarily agree with that, it should be flat (or non-existent, but that is another issue) but I’m not sure how someone says that someone who is rich pays less in taxes than someone who is middle class…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 1:03 PM
Comment #259103

Since I live in Berkeley, I just wanted to back up what Charles Ross said.
Rhinehold is wrong. People who are making $250,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area are indeed considered RICH. Housing is expensive here, but the prices have been high in this region ever since the mid 1970’s. Mostly the prices have been driven up by demand because so many people want to live here (it really is a wonderful place). Unlike other parts of the country, the average person who wants to buy a home here has to scrimp and save for a very long time in order to come up with the downpayment (“no money down” mortgages aren’t something you’ll find here), and when people do finally do manage to buy, they don’t generally entertain the thought that they’ll ever be able to pay their homes off completely.
Currently because of the terrible state of the economy and the mortgage crisis, home prices in this area have fallen steeply: 29% in the past year alone. These kind of steep fluctuations are nothing new to Bay Area folks, but we do happen to be very sensitive to the true state of the nations economic situation as a result of such figures.

Meanwhile, befuddled multimillionaire John “More Wars” McCain, the man who believes that five million dollars is the threshold that needs to be reached in order to be wealthy doesn’t even know how many homes he owns.
Btw, he’s just come back with a little more clarification on the topic of the wealthy:

“I define rich in other ways besides income. Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they’re billionaires.”

Oh, how sweetly and touchingly philosophical of John $520 Ferragamo Loafers McCain. I wonder which one of his seven mansions he was sitting in when he thought up that wee pearl of wisdom.

Barack Obama, the self-made “celebrity-elitist” who clawed his way up from nothing by his own intelligence has now just Hit Back Hard.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 21, 2008 1:26 PM
Comment #259105

Well, I guess my only response to that is that the rich certainly do pay most of the taxes. It’s ‘cause they have most of the money, isn’t it?
The feds need to “right size” income and expenditures to bring the yearly budget into balance. The argument that the reason we have a yearly federal deficit is that “spending is out of control” is simplistic. It is an overall false statement with some elements of truth to it. 80% of this budget is non-discretionary. Our current deficit and total national debt have nothing to do with entitlements, as payments into the system are running a surplus. We have a deficit primarily because of the tax cuts enacted earlier in the decade, huge increases in defense spending and huge increases in interest payments to the national debt.

The solution: Wind down the war in Iraq over a two year period or so, end the add-ons to unrelated bills (earmarks), increase income taxes on the top level, increase cap gains and dividend taxes, maybe not as add-on’s to top level tax rates but at least to 20-22% from the current 15%.
We’ve had, at best a mediocre recovery from the economic malaise prior to 9-11 and from 9-11 itself. We have run the government another four trillion dollars into debt in the process. If John McCain is going to be president, he needs to distance himself from this record, from comments that “we’re all just a bunch of whiners” and try, try to remember exactly how many houses he does own.

Posted by: charles Ross at August 21, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #259107

Rhinehold,

I know you aren’t a particular supporter of John McCain, and you are correct that both parties use the divide and conquer techniques.

If upper income folks paid the tax table share of income, or other revenue streams, I wouldn’t be arguing about the rich not paying their fair share. But the reality is they don’t. They use their wealth to pass legislation that fills the tax code with loopholes and then hire accountants and lawyers to assure they don’t pay their share. The recent GAO report was indicative of this problem, though flawed and incomplete.

This isn’t new. Why McCain’s and Obama’s answer struck me, was it clearly defined their agenda. Will Obama make taxation a more fairly distributed burden? I honestly doubt he’ll make significant inroads. I do think he is aware of the sentiment of the country and the perils of the economic consequence of continuing the current out of balance condition of tax burdens.

I think McCain clearly states his intent to continue to seek favor on behalf of the well to do. It is his party’s constituency. Yes, there are wealthy Democrats seeking favor as well, but I do believe Obama can sell a fairer vision and is much more likely to do so.

Nader would probably do even more, but he won’t be elected.

I think this economic gulf IS a major issue. I think it lies behind the invasion of Iraq. Economic advantage to old guard energy money was at the root of this, IMHO. I think it lies behind what Jim Cramer described as a Laissez Faire SEC and our current burst bubble.

Of course candidates will talk about anything but this. Obama has addressed this, but it isn’t his major thrust, as John Edwards made it his. We’ll see a watered down version of this after the election, unless economic conditions cause much greater turmoil.

Americans sense this problem, but most are really turned off by economic details. I think it is clear of the two choices we have, who is more likely to make decisions that are tilted more toward most Americans, rather than this powerful and elite few. I realize you fear a rise in deficit raising “social programs”, and perhaps justifiably. I don’t get that sense from Obama. It isn’t his legislative record. (unless you mean healthcare)

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #259108

BTW, When you cite the top 1% paying 20% of the tax, you might want to mention they hold 90% of the wealth.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 1:49 PM
Comment #259113

Ok, when working from the top of your head you’re prone to make mistakes. I boo-booed.

I was referring to wealth rather than income, and I still got that wrong.

The most common measure used, and the most understandable is: what share of total wealth is owned by the richest households, typically the top 1 percent. In the United States, in the last survey year, 1998, the richest 1 percent of households owned 38 percent of all wealth.

The top 5 percent own more than half of all wealth.

In 1998, they owned 59 percent of all wealth. Or to put it another way, the top 5 percent had more wealth than the remaining 95 percent of the population, collectively.

The top 20 percent owns over 80 percent of all wealth. In 1998, it owned 83 percent of all wealth.

This is a very concentrated distribution. The bottom 20 percent basically have zero wealth. They either have no assets, or their debt equals or exceeds their assets. The bottom 20 percent has typically accumulated no savings.

A household in the middle — the median household — has wealth of about $62,000. $62,000 is not insignificant, but if you consider that the top 1 percent of households’ average wealth is $12.5 million, you can see what a difference there is in the distribution. Things are even more concentrated if you exclude owner-occupied housing. It is nice to own a house and it provides all kinds of benefits, but it is not very liquid. You can’t really dispose of it, because you need some place to live.

The top 1 percent of families hold half of all non-home wealth.

The middle class’s major assets are their home, liquid assets like checking and savings accounts, CDs and money market funds, and pension accounts. For the average family, these assets make up 84 percent of their total wealth.

The richest 10 percent of families own about 85 percent of all outstanding stocks. They own about 85 percent of all financial securities, 90 percent of all business assets. These financial assets and business equity are even more concentrated than total wealth.


Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 2:12 PM
Comment #259114

goog:

I think this economic gulf IS a major issue. I think it lies behind the invasion of Iraq. Economic advantage to old guard energy money was at the root of this, IMHO. I think it lies behind what Jim Cramer described as a Laissez Faire SEC and our current burst bubble.

Yes, I absolutely agree. No reason to be humble about it though, when it’s so obvious.

Of course candidates will talk about anything but this. Obama has addressed this, but it isn’t his major thrust, as John Edwards made it his. We’ll see a watered down version of this after the election, unless economic conditions cause much greater turmoil.

If Obama wins and Democrats can manage to win a decent majority in Congress, the ever widening gap in economic disparity we’ve seen during the Bush years won’t stand a chance of being ignored. Nor will addressing these issues be necessarily be watered down.

Americans sense this problem, but most are really turned off by economic details.

Middle class and Poor Americans don’t just “sense this problem” they’re feeling our economic problems directly, and have been really struggling for some time now.

I realize you fear a rise in deficit raising “social programs”,

Unlike true conservatives of the old school Goldwater vein, Neocon Republicans and Libertarians are anarchic plutocrats who feel free to ignore all of the needs of average Americans, and intend to do away with ALL social programs.
Dog Eat Dog, America Belongs To The Rich, War For Profit, Everything For Profit. These are the ideas that sum up their viewpoint.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 21, 2008 2:14 PM
Comment #259118
The recent GAO report was indicative of this problem

No, I disagree with that assessment. The GAO report you are referring too, I believe, was about corporate income taxes, not personal. In fact, the reason most S corps show no taxes is because they are actually passed on to the owner who reports them as income taxes.

But that’s a disagreement for another day.

I realize you fear a rise in deficit raising “social programs”, and perhaps justifiably. I don’t get that sense from Obama. It isn’t his legislative record. (unless you mean healthcare)

He has already promised, at least once, to keep spending the money we are spending in Iraq (via a deficit) on another program. So yeah, I think it is pretty clear that the notion of bringing our deficit under control is out the window with either candidate.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 3:29 PM
Comment #259119
The top 20 percent owns over 80 percent of all wealth. In 1998, it owned 83 percent of all wealth.

Wouldn’t this suggest, then, that things have gotten better during the Bush administration than during Clinton? 3% of the wealth moved from the top 20% to the bottom 80%? Or am I misreading what you just wrote…

The bottom 20 percent basically have zero wealth. They either have no assets, or their debt equals or exceeds their assets. The bottom 20 percent has typically accumulated no savings.

Now, why do you think that is? I believe this is a combination of many things, not just the tax code or anything that the government has any control over. But I also see that with company taxation, that cost of business gets passed on to the purchases of the products in what we call ‘embedded’ taxes. It has been calculated to be 23% of every dollar of a good or service is taxation being passed on. So the poor, who we should be helping, end up paying these taxes…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 3:36 PM
Comment #259121
Libertarians are anarchic plutocrats

No, they aren’t. Thanks for playing.

(Anarchists are for no government. Libertarians are not for the elimination of government. Anarcho-capitalists, who sometimes call themselves Libertarians, are anarchists).

Basically, you’ve just done the equivalent of me calling all progressives communists. I think we can both agree that that debate technique is not ‘helpful’.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 3:38 PM
Comment #259125

So Rhinehold, you make six figures don’t you. So put off by the term ‘regular people’ you must be as out of touch as Johnny Mac. I am in the field of psychology and we use statistics to make many definitions. Normal means anything between the bottom 5% and the top 95% of whatever measurement. Using income, the top 95th percentile of USA households in 2003 was close to $160,000. (I know it is wiki but I don’t have time to dig that much deeper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:United_States_Income_Distribution_1967-2003.svg)

Hence any household making more than that amount, would be exceptional, not necessarily rich but exceptional. Now, an $80,000 is a lot of money, but it can not provide for the plethora of services that person uses like roads and schools. Pay a doctor, teacher, police man, the farmer and whatever other services you need and that 80K dries up fast. Do you know how much a broken leg costs without insurance to fix? But currently our taxes go to these services so we can educate and protect ourselves and our neighbors.


As far as ‘forced charity’, stop using services paid for by taxes, stop flushing your toilet and tell me how it works. In medieval London they would throw their filth out their windows onto the street because they didn’t have the social support. It stank for miles they say. Is that what you want.

An aside, ‘forced charity’ is a real thing, but not something our country uses. Move to an Islamic state and you will learn about forced charity.

Posted by: thrice througt at August 21, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #259126
No, they aren’t.

Yes, they are anarchic plutocrats. Of course they don’t ever want the anarchy to have a chance to reach behind the wealth threshold. But they plan on making all of the American Brahmin caste fat enough to pay for the armored cars, and the gated communities, and all the heavy security that will ensure that can never happen.
Not quite there yet, but they’re working very diligently on it.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 21, 2008 4:00 PM
Comment #259127
So Rhinehold, you make six figures don’t you.

Um, no. Why do you assume that?

As far as ‘forced charity’, stop using services paid for by taxes, stop flushing your toilet and tell me how it works. In medieval London they would throw their filth out their windows onto the street because they didn’t have the social support. It stank for miles they say. Is that what you want.

Apparently you don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about or you wouldn’t be making that statement…

I am not an archist and understand that we have infrastructure services that need paid. No one is saying we don’t here, so why it keeps being used as an argument confuses me, but perhaps I’m just easily confused.

An aside, ‘forced charity’ is a real thing, but not something our country uses. Move to an Islamic state and you will learn about forced charity.

No, I can experience here in the good ol’ US. When you forcibly take property from one person and give it to another person soley based on the fact that they don’t have as much property as the other, that is forced charity.

And the majority of the federal budget is made up of this. What a country.

Helping others should be a responsibility that we all bear. But it should be born freely, not by force. Make paying into these programs voluntary and I have no problem with them. It won’t change how much I spend on charity, I will continue to help those who need it above and beyond what I pay in taxes because that’s my responsibility. Would you?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 4:04 PM
Comment #259128
Yes, they are anarchic plutocrats.

Nope, wrong. Have anything to back up your assertion other than an obvious lack of what Libertarianism is?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 4:08 PM
Comment #259151

Rhinehold:

These numbers are from an interview of NYU professor Edward Wolf in 2003. He said most of his data was derived from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances. 2004 is the latest data published. I haven’t taken the time to review that.

In the interview Wolf states that most middle class wealth is derived from home values and that the variation in stock market increases versus home valuation explains a lot of the variation. His main thrust was that historically we’ve had a decrease in wealth inequality from 1929 through 1975, and a sharp rise since that time.

I’m not sure the data indicates a great deal about presidential influence.

I agree that business taxes are passed on to consumers.

To be honest, I haven’t read the GAO report, but it is my sense that many small business owners, of whom I know a few, while paying significant tax, also avoid significant tax by loopholes in the tax code. Defining income becomes a game and sometimes comes unhinged from real wealth. One multimillionaire I know only pays himself $45,000 a year.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 7:54 PM
Comment #259154

BTW, Rhinehold, thanks for the debate. You always give as good as you get. I learned a thing or two, hopefully others did as well.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 21, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #259269

>I will continue to help those who need it above and beyond what I pay in taxes because that’s my responsibility. Would you?


Posted by: Rhinehold at August 21, 2008 04:04 PM

Rhinehold,

Do you honestly believe all these programs that take your money by force just sprang from the well of someones’ immagination?

The only folks who were taking care of their charities were the poorest, and they did not have enough to go around. People starved or went without care, and that’s why these programs came into being. Yes, some take advantage of your ‘generosity’, and some programs grew out of the ‘Peter Principle’, but being abused does not equal not being necessary.

I have no idea how many needy people there are in our country, and probably don’t want to know, but if there is one, it is too many. Because the richest (or nearly the richest) nation on the face of the earth should not have at its foundation, homeless, poor and crippled citizens…it just ain’t right.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 23, 2008 12:32 PM
Comment #259283

I wouldn’t give a dime to the charity industry. It is just about a total scam. People at the bottom, the sick, disabled, mentally ill, veterans, victims of discrimination, victims of corporate crime, victims of violent crime should not be given charity, they should be provided an avenue to justice and compensation for the many wrongs that have been inflicted upon them.
Rhinehold, you say that giving to charity is your “responsibility”. What exactly does that amount to if at the same time you would make taking care of the bottom few percent who need it simply an option? Is there such a thing as voluntary responsiblity?
I want taxes taken from me that assure laws and regulations that provide a living wage to people, no matter what line of work they do, everyone should receive adequete health care, not as an act of charity at an emergency room, but because, as you say, it’s our “responsiblity”, I want to pay for a first class education system that serves everybody, not just the “w”s of the world who slip into a great school cause of their daddies name (If there were ever an poster child for someone needing and receiving charity, it’s George W. Bush),
Also, your statement that the majority of the federal budget involves a transfer of money from the rich to the poor really reveals your ignorance of exactly what is going on. Go look at the breakdown of the federal budget (I know you haven’t done this). Rich people get a free ride in this country. They always have.

Posted by: charles Ross at August 23, 2008 1:54 PM
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