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  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I also have little power over the situation, but that's not what matters to me really.

    What I have been trying to hone is my ability to read between the lines and try to game out where things are headed (in my opinion this is one of those skills that's essential to last in politics).

    Given how much of myself I invest in following politics, and the extent to which politics is my personal passion (not too mention how competitive I am), I really enjoy trying to read the political tea leaves.

    It's a challenge where so many things in this world aren't.
    I've noticed that in this day and age, the power brokers are pretty transparent about what they want to do, and the direction that they're leading the country in. The skill is in determining when the language that they're using rests on different assumptions than expected.

    One example is the term "taxpayer." To the average American, that implies a sort of democratic notion of everyone who cuts a check to the government to contribute their share, be it fair or not. What I've come to believe is that this is not what politicians and policymakers like Grover Norquist mean by "taxpayer." To them, the term refers to those institutions and people whose tax contributions significantly impact total revenue. In other words, it refers to the very rich and large corporations. The impact of the individual tax contribution that the rest of us pay is so slight on the individual level so as to be negligible in policy considerations.

    The only other trick is in understanding how sociopaths and narcissists operate, and realizing that manipulation is the primary means by which these sorts of people can comfortably interact with the world around them.

  2. #152
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    One thing I learned in D.C. was that by and large, our leaders (whether I agree with them or not) are most often generally good people who are honestly trying to do what they think is best for the country.

    Sure there are bad apples out there, but as with most things we notice the bad ones while the normal majority kind of flies under the radar.

    Privately, most leaders will tell you how fed up they are with the boxes that the parties and the media paint them into. They are also usually realists who would rather compromise and toe the party line to get reelected and do what good they can privately in legislative circles while maintaining the public face of the good party soldier. (the current secret talks in the senate concerning the sequester are a good example)

    This can be applied to any group of people really. Take bankers for instance, while I do blame them for the stupidity of their actions leading up to the recession, I don't blame them for having any malicious intent generally. Sure like above there are some genuine bad apples that we all hear about, but I would think by and large most bankers go to work every morning and try to do as good of a job as they can.

    It's not the bankers job to regulate themselves... to expect that would be crazy.

    The only interest is self interest, and that interest always follows the incentives. I'd be quicker to blame our leaders for getting rid of glass-steagall and creating a legislative circumstance where the banks could go speculating with the county's mortgages. Anyone placed in the bankers position during the bubble would have done the same thing. If you went to work today and your boss told you that he wanted you to start doing something different that would make you and the company more money (without any idea about the negative consequences) you would do it, and not think twice about it.

    Those in congress who fought for the death of prudent financial regulation in the pursuit of greater campaign donations I do blame, but even then that blame can only extend so far because they could not have had any idea what was going to happen in the future (ie the bubble and recession).

    I'm much more comfortable blaming those in congress now for being too afraid to bite the corporate hands that feed them.

    But like I said, you can hope leaders will act in the best interest of the country without any regard to their personal incentives, but to expect that is kind of naive.

    I think the only real way to address this issue of corporate bedfellows in gov't would be to shift the incentives so that it would no longer be in a politician's best interest to jump into the pockets of corporate donors.

    Or we could just light the fires and start the revolution.

  3. #153
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    From the weekly standard:

    Too Big for Comfort

    Why we need to break up the banks.

    America needs to break up its biggest banks, but not for reasons likely to give a tingle to Occupy Wall Street’s remnant rabble (or its Great Everywhere Spirit, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts). This isn’t about some political exercise in election-year demonization. Bankers, as a class, aren’t villains. They’re not “banksters” grifting money from middle-income pockets. And they’re certainly not vampire squids on the collective face of humanity, as Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi has infamously described Goldman Sachs. And while it might be rhetorical overkill to say they’re “doing God’s work,” as Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein has put it, bankers do fulfill a critical economic function. Bankers, not bureaucrats, are supposed to be the efficient allocators of capital in America’s market-based economy. They connect people who have spare dough to those who need a bit of spare dough, such as entrepreneurs looking to start a business or companies looking to grow one. We need lots of successful banks, and we need smart folks to run them.

    But America doesn’t need 20 banks with combined assets equal to nearly 90 percent of the U.S. economy, or five mega-banks​—​JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs​—​with combined assets equal to almost 60 percent of national output, three times what they were in the 1990s. That amount of complexity and financial concentration​—​which has grown worse since the passage of Dodd-Frank​—​is a current and continuing threat to the health of the U.S. economy. Now don’t blame market failure or unintended results of deregulation. Banks that big and complex and interconnected are both the unsurprising outcome of Washington’s 30-year expansion of the federal safety net and the cause of its ongoing existence. When you combine a “too big to fail” guarantee from Uncle Sam with the natural human tendency toward irrational exuberance, you have the key elements in place for another unaffordable financial crisis.

    Bubbles are nothing new. And the root cause of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 may have been no different than what drove manias for Dutch tulips in 17th-century Holland, shares of the South Sea Company in 18th-century England, or dot-com stocks in 1990s America. This time around, the vehicle for the market’s mania was an outbreak of cockeyed optimism about housing prices​—​among both lenders and borrowers​—​and their inability to ever decline. A new study from the Federal Reserve banks of Atlanta and Boston, “Why Did So Many People Make So Many Ex Post Bad Decisions: The Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis,” explains it this way: “Bubbles do not need securitization, government involvement or nontraditional lending products to get started. .  .  . If the problem was some collective, self-fulfilling mania, [a new round of regulations] will not work.”

    The supporters of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the study suggests, diagnosed and treated the financial crisis like it was an outbreak of malaria, a preventable disaster caused by a disease whose pathologies are well understood. Change this or that incentive via this or that financial regulation and the problem is far less likely to repeat.

    But that approach is as much a case of mass delusion as the one that afflicted all those owners in 2007 of sure-thing mortgage-backed securities or mini-mansions in reclaimed Nevada desert. MIT economist Andrew Lo reviewed 21 books about the financial crisis and concluded that “like the characters in Rashomon, we may never settle on a single narrative that explains all the facts; such a ‘super-narrative’ may not even exist.”

    Lo finds the empirical evidence for many so-called facts that influenced Dodd-Frank to be unclear at best. We all know, of course, that Wall Street compensation was too focused on making a quick buck from short-term trading profits. Yet Lo inconveniently points out that big bank CEOs’ aggregate stock and option holdings were more than eight times the value of their annual compensation, making it “improbable that a rational CEO knew in advance of an impending financial crash, or knowingly engaged in excessively risky behavior.”

    And a rational CEO of a key Wall Street player also knew that if he did make some cataclysmic mistake, Uncle Sam was there to cushion the landing. Indeed, the bigger the firm and the more enmeshed it was in the financial system, the more likely the government backstop would be there. The riskier banks were, paradoxically, the safer they were​—​at least for bondholders. So why wouldn’t “rational CEOs” try to increase their return on equity by lowering capital levels, increasing leverage, and finding new, profitable lines of business? They might be violating their duty to bank shareholders if they didn’t. “The consequence of expanding the safety net to an ever-increasing range of activities is to invite a repeat of our most recent crisis,” said Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of FDIC and former president of the Kansas City Fed, in a speech last year.

    But treating the financial crisis like a malaria outbreak uses the wrong model. Better, say the authors of that Fed bank study, to view the meltdown as a different sort of noneconomic catastrophe: “Science has a theory of why earthquakes occur, but quakes strike without warning, and there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Even so, policymakers can mitigate their consequences.” Or as Hayek might have put it, not only is government unable to predict the future, the world is too complicated for it to really have much useful understanding of what’s going on right now. Regulators are always a day late and a dollar short. Indeed, despite Dodd-Frank, the biggest banks still have a sizable funding edge over their smaller rivals. Markets still perceive them as too big to fail.

    So how do you (a) make the financial system more shockproof when the next economic earthquake hits, (b) reduce the likelihood of expensive taxpayer bailouts, and (c) ensure the banks themselves don’t cause the next crisis? Hoenig, for one, would only allow banks to engage in traditional activities that are well understood and are based on long-term customer relationships so borrowers and lenders are on the same page: commercial banking, underwriting securities, and asset management services. Banks would be barred from broker-dealer activities, making markets in derivatives or securities, trading securities or derivatives for their own accounts or for customers, and sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds. The result would be banks that are smaller, simpler, safer. Not only would they be less likely to spark financial crisis because management would know government might let them fail, the cost of failure to taxpayers would be less.

    Of course, some will argue that we need large, complex financial institutions and that their very existence is proof of that. Who are the know-it-all breaker-uppers to say we don’t? But that size and complexity is itself more a result of crony capitalism than of market forces. It’s little wonder, then, that the preponderance of the evidence is that all the supposed benefits from supersized banks and their economies of scale are outweighed by the risks of disaster they generate. Take this 2011 study from the University of Minnesota: “Our calculations indicate that the cost to the economy as a whole due to increased systemic risk is of an order of magnitude larger than the potential benefits due to any economies of scale when banks are allowed to be large. .  .  . This suggests that the link between TBTF banks and financial crises needs to be broken. One way to achieve that is to break the largest banks into much smaller pieces.”

    There are other options, of course. We could just put a hard cap on bank size. But there’s no clear evidence what that size limit should be. Besides, while the failure of a big bank creates a big economic impact, it’s not necessarily size that makes a bank potentially dangerous as much as what a bank does. Others want to treat systemic risk as an externality like pollution and tax it. Nothing wrong with that in theory. Former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman proposed just such a plan and would have used the revenue to cut corporate taxes. The riskier the activities the bank engages in, the higher the tax. But this again requires too much knowledge on the part of regulators to precisely gauge the riskiness of activities or assets and levy an appropriate tax. Again, Hayek. A risk tax also creates new opportunities for Wall Street lobbying.

    What about just getting Washington out of the banking business entirely? No deposit insurance for investors. No Federal Reserve as a lender of last resort. Lenders would be more vigilant, bank execs more scared, moral hazard eliminated. But explaining to the American public the need to do away with these two longtime features of both the American economy and advanced economies globally would take time, time we may not have. And if a crisis should occur, politicians would still be strongly tempted to start cutting checks. And America cannot afford another economy-crushing financial crisis, not now and probably not for years. In 2007, publicly held federal debt as a share of national economic output was 36 percent. In 2012, it will be roughly double that level, 73 percent, and likely heading even higher. And once you add what Uncle Sam owes in social insurance entitlements, total U.S. debt is bigger than the entire economy, 103 percent of GDP. That amount of indebtedness is well past the 90 percent level identified by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff as a serious drag on long-term growth. And like the debt, unemployment is also already at an intolerable level and likely to remain historically high for years to come given the slow pace of recovery.

    Also unlike those ideas on libertarian wish lists, breaking up the banks has some actual legislative momentum thanks to JPMorgan’s huge trading losses on its botched hedging strategy. Banking analyst Jaret Seiberg of Guggenheim Securities’ Washington Research Group calls a bipartisan bank breakup movement along the lines Hoenig outlines both a “serious threat” and the top issue facing the sector for the rest of the year. “The Republican response to Dodd-Frank’s overkill is to break up the banks. The far left also wants to break up the big banks. The issue with the JPMorgan hedging mess is that it empowers the far left and the far right to pursue their agendas while the silent majority in the middle ducks for political cover.” In fact, what banking analysts call a “serious threat” should strike those outside the management of big banks​—​left, right, and center​—​as a “serious opportunity.”

    Breaking up the biggest banks would allow markets to work better, by cutting down on crony capitalist rent-seeking by big money from big government. It would also reduce the moral hazard created by Washington’s too big to fail policy. Ending too big to fail isn’t a policy conservatives should shy away from​—​even if some on the left support it too.

  4. #154
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    One thing I learned in D.C. was that by and large, our leaders (whether I agree with them or not) are most often generally good people who are honestly trying to do what they think is best for the country.

    Sure there are bad apples out there, but as with most things we notice the bad ones while the normal majority kind of flies under the radar.
    Very true. At the same time, decisions and ethics are heavily influenced by the structure in which people operate.

    Privately, most leaders will tell you how fed up they are with the boxes that the parties and the media paint them into. They are also usually realists who would rather compromise and toe the party line to get reelected and do what good they can privately in legislative circles while maintaining the public face of the good party soldier. (the current secret talks in the senate concerning the sequester are a good example)

    This can be applied to any group of people really. Take bankers for instance, while I do blame them for the stupidity of their actions leading up to the recession, I don't blame them for having any malicious intent generally. Sure like above there are some genuine bad apples that we all hear about, but I would think by and large most bankers go to work every morning and try to do as good of a job as they can.
    I agree that most bankers and politicians aren't malicious in their activities. The problem is that a person becomes institutionalized in these circumstances. Decisions of questionable ethics are often made because of the narrow-minded focus on the health of the organization. This gives the few who do get their rocks off on making others miserable the cover they need to screw with people while escaping punishment. This institutional view also affects ideological beliefs, leading toward a conflation of the institutional interest with the general interest.

    It's not the bankers job to regulate themselves... to expect that would be crazy.
    But they swore up and down that they could regulate themselves better than the government could. From Friedman up to 2008, the insistence was that the bankers, who were experts on monetary issues, were far more capable of regulating the system than detached bureaucrats.

    The only interest is self interest, and that interest always follows the incentives. I'd be quicker to blame our leaders for getting rid of glass-steagall and creating a legislative circumstance where the banks could go speculating with the county's mortgages. Anyone placed in the bankers position during the bubble would have done the same thing. If you went to work today and your boss told you that he wanted you to start doing something different that would make you and the company more money (without any idea about the negative consequences) you would do it, and not think twice about it.
    Yes, the owner is ultimately responsible for leaving the gate to the mad dog's pen open. Even so, the mad dog still needs to be taken out back and shot.

    Those in congress who fought for the death of prudent financial regulation in the pursuit of greater campaign donations I do blame, but even then that blame can only extend so far because they could not have had any idea what was going to happen in the future (ie the bubble and recession).
    Sure they did. Any reasonable student of economic history could see exactly what would happen with the commingling of deposits and investment funds. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what would happen when banks could monetize debt from thin air.

    I'm much more comfortable blaming those in congress now for being too afraid to bite the corporate hands that feed them.

    But like I said, you can hope leaders will act in the best interest of the country without any regard to their personal incentives, but to expect that is kind of naive.
    Yes. This is why the system will never improve, given the status quo.

    I think the only real way to address this issue of corporate bedfellows in gov't would be to shift the incentives so that it would no longer be in a politician's best interest to jump into the pockets of corporate donors.

    Or we could just light the fires and start the revolution.
    A and B are not mutually exclusive.

  5. #155
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Until conservatism matures enough to make the break with capitalism its just going to be the shadow cast by big business and just as reprehensible as liberalism.

    People wonder why I've got religion and tradition instead.

  6. #156
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    From the Daily Beast:

    Jeb's Governance vs. Grover's Agitation

    John Avlon writes in CNN that Jeb Bush is not the only Republicans who no longer wants to be constrained by Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge:

    The angry defensiveness of the statement, the thinly veiled threats and thuggish imagery, has all the signs of someone who worries that he might be losing a rational argument.

    As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It's not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge's effective veto of deficit reduction plans "ridiculous" when talking with Erin Burnett on "OutFront."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, "We're so far in debt, that if you don't give up some ideological ground, the country sinks."

    Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators -- from Maine's Susan Collins to Iowa's Chuck Grassley to Wyoming's John Barrasso -- and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.

    The bottom line is that a growing number of Republicans are deciding to throw off the ideological straitjacket to get serious about actually reducing the deficit and the debt. It is a courageous move at a time when cultlike group-think dictates that the pledge must be signed or your political career is dead in the water.

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It'll sound more believable if it wasn't an election year. Though I applaud them for saying that. Let's see if they can hold their word.

  8. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    I agree that most bankers and politicians aren't malicious in their activities. The problem is that a person becomes institutionalized in these circumstances. Decisions of questionable ethics are often made because of the narrow-minded focus on the health of the organization. This gives the few who do get their rocks off on making others miserable the cover they need to screw with people while escaping punishment. This institutional view also affects ideological beliefs, leading toward a conflation of the institutional interest with the general interest.
    And the entity known as the so-called "market" that is often used to justify all of this is but an extension of the institutionalization beyond particular organizations. It operates on the same principles. It's no one's fault (e.g. executive largess, etc), it's what everyone does.
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  9. #159
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    From CNN:

    Jeb vs. Grover: Battle for GOP's soul



    This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.

    The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today's hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist's absolutist anti-tax pledge.

    That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.
    John Avlon
    John Avlon

    On one side is a vision of the Republican Party that is committed to reaching out beyond its base with a focus on governing responsibly in the national interest.

    On the other side is a Republican Party driven by ideological activists and special interests, elevating pledges over principled but pragmatic solutions.

    The Norquist pledge commits signers to oppose all tax increases on individuals or businesses in any circumstances as well as changing deductions or credits unless they are revenue neutral.

    This skirmish started when Bush was asked about the pledge: "I ran for office three times," he explained. "The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed the pledge. I cut taxes every year I was governor. I don't believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people."
    Grover Norquist talks about taxes and Jeb Bush.
    Grover Norquist talks about taxes and Jeb Bush.

    The common-sense statement was regarded as a shot across the bow to Norquist, who quickly went on CNN's "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer" to push back, saying that Bush had "stepped in it" and "really misspoke and insulted Romney" because Mitt Romney had fallen in line and obediently signed the pledge.

    Escalation occurred this week when Bush said, "Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad -- they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party -- and I don't -- as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground." He added, "Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time -- they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," saying that Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."

    This statement has the advantage of being both opinion and fact. Reagan achieved his administration's agenda through cooperation with liberal Democrat Tip O'Neill, the House speaker. There were deep philosophical differences between the two but also a capacity to work together.

    Both Reagan and Bush -- and for that matter even Barry Goldwater -- would be accused of violating a number of litmus tests currently considered deal-breakers by conservatives. But let's look closer at one in particular: taxes.

    Of course, Reagan championed lower tax rates, but he also signed off on a number of smaller tax hikes to help address revenue shortfalls and most importantly backed a bipartisan 1986 bill that closed loopholes as part of a simplification plan that raised revenues to help deal with the deficit.

    This inconvenient fact is often denied by Norquist and other activists because it is their prime objection to attempts to find a "grand bargain" on deficits and debt, along the lines of the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission.
    We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.
    President Ronald Reagan

    In pursuit of a reality check, take a look at this quote: "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary, and that's crazy. It's time we stopped it."

    That might sound straight out of President Barack Obama "Buffett Tax" playbook -- which conservatives routinely attack as "class warfare" -- but in fact it is the sainted Reagan speaking in 1985.

    Add to that the fact that the first President Bush backed a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that included a 2-to-1 spending cut to tax revenue formula and you have the kind of data that drives Norquist nuts.

    Here was his response to Jeb Bush on this front: "There's a guy who watched his father throw away his presidency on a 2:1 (ratio of spending cuts to tax increases) promise. ... And he thinks he's sophisticated by saying that he'd take a 10:1 promise. He doesn't understand -- he's just agreed to walk down the same alley his dad did with the same gang. And he thinks he's smart. You walk down that alley, you don't come out."

    The angry defensiveness of the statement, the thinly veiled threats and thuggish imagery, has all the signs of someone who worries that he might be losing a rational argument.

    As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It's not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge's effective veto of deficit reduction plans "ridiculous" when talking with Erin Burnett on "OutFront."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, "We're so far in debt, that if you don't give up some ideological ground, the country sinks."

    Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators -- from Maine's Susan Collins to Iowa's Chuck Grassley to Wyoming's John Barrasso -- and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.

    The bottom line is that a growing number of Republicans are deciding to throw off the ideological straitjacket to get serious about actually reducing the deficit and the debt. It is a courageous move at a time when cultlike group-think dictates that the pledge must be signed or your political career is dead in the water.

    The choice between Bush's and Norquist's vision of the Republican Party is ultimately no contest at all. It's the difference between responsible governance and agitated activism, a growing party or a shrinking one. And of course in the end the only pledge that really matters is the Pledge of Allegiance.

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    From Politico:

    Crusty Alan Simpson takes the bulls— by the horns

    Don’t piss off Alan Simpson because he won’t stand for that bulls—.

    The former Republican senator from Wyoming gave up on political correctness a long time ago, and at 80, he hasn’t gotten any softer. His favorite word of choice? That’s right: bulls—.

    Simpson now spends his time promoting his Simpson-Bowles fiscal reform proposal and has, this past month alone, whipped off sharp-tipped letters to political opponents who’ve sparked his ire.

    Here are some “highlights” from two recent missives against the California Alliance for Retired Americans and Social Security Works, respectively:

    “The American public is tired of hearing bulls— and mush, and are thirsting for the truth.”

    “The folks at the California Alliance of Retired Americans and others of their ilk shriek like gut-shot panthers whenever someone dares to suggest any rational changes to Social Security or Medicare.”

    “What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the ‘greedy geezers’ like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this bulls—.”

    We decided to call Mr. Simpson to discuss his, er, creative use of language.

    “Who me? No … ” Simpson joked, fully aware of his reputation. “I have a view of life: You’re allowed to be called a fool, an idiot, a son of a bitch, but never let them distort who you are, and if anything triggers me, it is to be called a bigot without a single shred of evidence in any part of my life.”

    (Simpson was referring to a Huffington Post op-ed written by Social Security Works co-directors Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, who accused Simpson of bigoted language on four separate occasions. Simpson later responded: “This has reached the point of the pathetic, absurd and wretched excess. And your accusations of ‘bigotry’ on my part are nothing more than pure McCarthyism.”)

    “I said that’s just bulls— and I meant that,” Simpson said.

    In a political climate that hears occasional clarion calls for civility, Simpson finds his blunt language effective, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

    “I grew up in Wyoming working in irrigation, working in fields with guys. Hell, they could quote Shakespeare or teach you to play cribbage or tell you the worst possible jokes that you could ever imagine. So that’s part of my DNA. And the word ‘bulls—’ is so clear to me that when I go around the country talking about the debt, I very clearly say, ‘Pull up a chair. I don’t do bulls— or mush and I want to tell you where your country is heading and why nobody is paying attention.’ And people listen.”

    “I could use something from ‘As You Like It’ or some sonnets from Shakespeare, but they don’t hear that. But they hear the word ‘bulls—’ and I say it as clearly as I can and I say it often and even if it infuriates, at least they stop long enough to hear what you’re saying.”

    It’s a strategy Simpson thinks more politicians ought to employ.

    “Why would any citizen with half a brain listen to a politician in this structured time with what they know is going on with America, with the cliff coming, and how can anyone sit there and listen to a politician say, ‘We can get this terrible thing solved without touching precious Medicare, precious Medicaid, precious defense’? That is disgusting. And people sense that, and they know what it is: That’s bulls—.”

    Simpson also rejects the idea that, as a public figure, being verbally attacked is an acceptable workplace hazard.

    “I’m not going to sit here and listen to that sh—,” said Simpson, who reeled off a litany of awful, profane names he’s been called over the years that he asked us not to include in our article. “I’ve been called everything and anything, but I’ve always felt that an attack unanswered is an attack believed.”

    Not everyone agrees with his approach — especially his own family.

    “The people telling you not to respond are the people who love you the most: your mother, your father, your spouse, your brother, your sister. They’re saying, ‘Al, you’re not going to get down to their level, are you?’ I say, ‘Pal, people in this atmosphere will believe anything, and that’s my name they’re talking about. It’s not yours.’ And I woke up one morning many years ago and I said that’s my name being distorted and I’m not taking that crap, and I would come out of the woodwork and blast. And I never lost an election.”

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