Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, November 27th, 2006.

Cute Animal News

conservatism, entertainment and popular culture, science

Off the whackjob charts — Media Matters reports that the Christmas warriors have taken cartoon penguin hostages.

Not content with their annual discussion of a supposed “War on Christmas,” conservative talking heads have taken on a new issue this season: environmentalist propaganda in children’s movies. CNN Headline News’ Glenn Beck and Fox News’ Neil Cavuto recently spoke out against Warner Bros.’ new animated children’s movie Happy Feet; criticizing the film for its alleged pro-environmentalist content. Media Matters for America spokesman Karl Frisch responded to the criticism, lambasting the conservative talking heads for their return to holiday-season absurdity.

“The idea that anyone would make such comments against a children’s movie about a tap-dancing penguin shows just how low the bar has dropped for what the media consider real news,” Frisch said. “Conservatives seem to have abandoned their traditional coverage of the supposed ‘War on Christmas’ for a ‘War on Penguins.’ “

Full disclosure: My daughter and I saw Happy Feet this weekend at the local IMAX cinema. My daughter is 26, btw. Except for the excessive number of rugrats in the audience, we had a fine time. Good animation, catchy music, Hugh Jackman doing an Elvis impersonation. What more could one want?

…in a November 17 entry on his weblog, conservative talk-show host Michael Medved referred to the film as “Crappy Feet,” and said it was the “darkest, most disturbing feature length animated film ever offered by a major studio.”

I take it Medved never saw Dumbo.

From the November 20 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:

    CAVUTO: Well, those cute little penguins in Happy Feet winning at the box office, earning more than $42 million. Now, in the movie, the penguins are starving, the fish are all gone, and it’s clear that humans and big business are to blame. Is Hollywood using kids films to promote a far-left message? Entertainment critic Holly McClure says yes and it’s wrong. Holly, so you thought it was over the top?

    McCLURE: Well, I did, Neil. I tell you. First of all, I went watching this movie thinking, “OK, great. A lighthearted, fun film. Love these animated pictures, and it’s interesting how realistic it looks.” And you get in there and you’re enjoying all the fun and frivolity, and, yes, it’s kind of a takeoff of the penguin documentary, and then along comes the subtle messages. And one by one they come in, and I felt like I was watching Dirty Dancing, penguin-style.

Perhaps McClure was watching a different penguin movie.

    CAVUTO: Well, you know, Holly, I saw this with my two little boys. And what I found offensive — I don’t care what your stands are on the environment — is that they shove this in a kids movie. So you hear the penguins are starving, and they’re starving because of mean old man, mean old companies, Arctic fishing, a big taboo. And they’re foisting this on my kids who, frankly, were more bored that it was a nearly two-hour movie, and they’re kids!

    McCLURE: Well, I’m just kind of curious. Were your kids scared or kind of bothered at all by the big walrus?

There was no walrus.

    Because I thought there were some pretty intense scenes. I don’t call this a toddler — a little-kid-friendly movie.

The penguins are chased around by leopard seals and killer whales, but nobody dies. (Unlike in Bambi.)

    … McCLURE: Well, what’s even more objectionable is the fact that they present all these things about man being mean, and taking the fish away, and the — you know, killing the wildlife and fish and penguins. And then furthermore, which, I don’t want to ruin anything for anybody, but to see penguins in an aquarium situation. OK, are we supposed to tell our kids then it’s not right to go to San Diego Sea World, or it’s not right to go to your local zoo, or it’s not right to have animals where you can go observe them? Should they feel guilty, then? I think the message is, “Yeah, we subtly put it in there.” But where does it stop? It doesn’t give you any solutions. So our kids should feel guilty, then, for enjoying to see wildlife, you know, in man’s environment?

My daughter commented after we left the theater that it was nice the humans in the film were not bad, meaning that they were not deliberately mean to the penguins. They just didn’t realize there were all these singing and dancing penguins that didn’t have enough fish to eat. (Should I post a spoiler alert? Oh, who am I kidding …) At the end people came to make a film of the singing and dancing penguins, the humans stopped taking all the fish, the hero penguin (Elijah Wood) gets the girl penguin (Brittany Murphy; not sexually explicit), and even the grumpy old penguin who didn’t approve of dancing (Hugo Weaving) was happy.

I suppose PETA could complain that the film says animals are only worth saving if they are entertaining.

On reflection, I suppose one could say the film makes fun of religion. The penguins have a penguin religion that venerates a mystical giant penguin. And a penguin character named Lovelace (Robin Williams) is depicted as a cross between a television evangelist and New Age guru. (The main penguin characters go on a heroic quest to get one of those plastic six-pack ring holders off Lovelace’s neck. I won’t reveal how that turned out.)

You might also argue that the film promotes family values, since the penguins’ highest purpose in life is producing chicks. This is why righties got off on March of the Penguins, which is about penguins producing chicks. Jonathan Miller wrote for The New York Times (September 13, 2005):

“March of the Penguins,” the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is “the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing.”

Speaking of audiences who feel that movies ignore or belittle such themes, he added: “This is the first movie they’ve enjoyed since ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ This is ‘The ‘Passion of the Penguins.’ ”

In part, the movie’s appeal to conservatives may lie in its soft-pedaling of topics like evolution and global warming. The filmmakers say they did not consciously avoid those topics – indeed, they say they are strong believers in evolutionary theory – but they add that they wanted to create a film that would reach as many people as possible.

“It’s obvious that global warming has an impact on the reproduction of the penguins,” Luc Jacquet, the director, told National Geographic Online. “But much of public opinion appears insensitive to the dangers of global warming. We have to find other ways to communicate to people about it, not just lecture them.”

OK, but Happy Feet didn’t say a word about evolution, and I don’t recall anything about global warming. And Medved is OK with films that push his political ideas.

But if Medved was offended by Happy Feet, this news story ought to make his head explode:

Cetaceans, the group of marine mammals that includes whales and dolphins, have demonstrated remarkable auditory and communicative abilities, as well as complex social behaviors. A new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists, compared a humpback whale brain with brains from several other cetacean species and found the presence of a certain type of neuron cell that is also found in humans. This suggests that certain cetaceans and hominids may have evolved side by side. The study is available online via Wiley InterScience at

Could humpback whales be smarter than Michael Medved? Hell, there are goldfish smarter than Michael Medved.

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Civil War

Bush Administration, Iraq War

Today NBC declared that the Iraq conflict is, in fact, a civil war. Naturally, the Official White House Position is otherwise. This is from today’s press gaggle:

Q Do you maintain it’s still not a civil war in Iraq?

MR. HADLEY: Well, it’s interesting, the Iraqis don’t talk of it as a civil war; the unity government doesn’t talk of it as a civil war. And I think the things they point to when they say that are, one, that at this point in time the army and the police have not fractured along sectarian lines, which is what you’ve seen elsewhere; and the government continues to be holding together and has not fractured on sectarian terms.

But, look, the point is, it is what it is. There is a high level of sectarian violence. It is a challenge for the Iraqis. It’s a challenge for us. We need to be talking about a way forward and a strategy for dealing with it. And that’s really what the President has been focusing on and where we need to focus — how to deal with this particular challenge going forward.

Q — the President fears that were he to —

MR. SNOW: — (inaudible) — civil war? No, but you have not yet had a situation also where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power, but for territory. What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy — which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy.

Q Can I just follow on — isn’t the President’s fear that were he to acknowledge that it is a civil war that there would be a further bottoming-out of public support? There certainly have been Republicans and others who have said the public would not stand by for U.S. forces to be in the middle of a civil war. So isn’t there a political dimension to this that nobody wants to admit, including the Iraqis, that it is a civil war?

It goes downhill from here. Way downhill. I’m quoting some more just so you can appreciate the degree of deterioration.

MR. HADLEY: I don’t think Americans have any — I think they — through the media and other things, there is a high degree of awareness, obviously that there is a lot of sectarian violence. You know, you show it on your TVs and it’s in the newspapers. This is something that they’re well aware of and they’re obviously very concerned about it and want to know what our strategy is going forward, in light of this phenomenon — which has really served us, since February and the bombing of the Shia mosque.

So it is a new element on the security scene; it is a real challenge to the government; it is something that the government needs to address. The unity government is clear and aware of that. And it’s a big challenge, and people understand that. So I think people are aware, they’re concerned, they want us to work out a strategy with the Iraqi government that offers the prospect of dealing with this problem. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.

Q Can you explain how something that started in February is a new phase?

MR. HADLEY: I said it is a new phase that started in February, and obviously we have seen more of it in recent days. I think one of the things one has to recognize is that while we call it sectarian violence, there is evidence, for example, that Saddamists, and particularly al Qaeda, are trying to foment and encourage the sectarian violence. You have heard it, you have read al Qaeda’s words — it was clearly part of Zarqawi’s strategy. We continue to see evidence that this is being something that is triggered in order to encourage the kind of effect it has the society.

So we call it sectarian violence — but I think one has to recognize that for certain Saddamists and al Qaeda, particularly, this is premeditated, this is a technique they are using. The effect of it, of course, is very destructive, it sets communities against one another. And it is something that we have addressed. It is, as you know, largely centered at this point in Baghdad. We have been trying to address that through a Baghdad security strategy. We have been through two phases. And I think the answer to that is, at this point, it has not proceeded well enough or fast enough. And, therefore, one of the subjects on the agenda is what is a better approach to the challenge in Baghdad.

So it is new, that appeared in February; it is something we have been dealing with and trying to adapt to with the Iraqi government. But, again, we have not done well enough or fast enough to be satisfactory to Prime Minister Maliki and his government, or to the President. That’s just the facts.

Oh, give up, Hadley. Or just read the press releases. From NBC’s First Read (via Froomkin):

The White House is objecting this morning to descriptions of the Iraq conflict as a civil war. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, ‘The violence is primarily centered around Baghdad and Baghdad security and the increased training of Iraqi Security Forces is at the top of the agenda when [Bush and Maliki] meet later this week.

That doesn’t make sense either, but at least it’s succinct.

I was semi listening to Hardball today and I do believe I heard Tony Blankely argue that if Iraq is in a civil war, that would prove President Bush’s policies were wrong. Therefore, it isn’t a civil war.


Edward Wong wrote in yesterday’s New York Times:

Some Bush administration officials have argued that there is no obvious political vision on the part of the Sunni-led insurgent groups, so “civil war” does not apply.

In the United States, the debate over the term rages because many politicians, especially those who support the war, believe there would be domestic political implications to declaring it a civil war. They fear that an acknowledgment by the White House and its allies would be seen as an admission of a failure of President Bush’s Iraq policy.

They also worry that the American people might not see a role for American troops in an Iraqi civil war and would more loudly demand a withdrawal.

No shit.

But in fact, many scholars say the bloodshed here already puts Iraq in the top ranks of the civil wars of the last half-century. The carnage of recent days — beginning with bombings on Thursday in a Shiite district of Baghdad that killed more than 200 people — reinforces their assertion.

Mr. Fearon and a colleague at Stanford, David D. Laitin, say the deaths per year in Iraq, with at least 50,000 reportedly killed since March 2003, place this conflict on par with wars in Burundi and Bosnia.

As Michael Ware told Wolf Blitzer, “If this is not a civil war, Wolf, I don’t want to see one when it comes.”

Update: I should have paid for attention to Hardball; I missed this part (from Think Progress).

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The Civilian War Footing Act

Bush Administration

Damn the New York Times and its bleeping subscription wall — everybody should read Bob Herbert’s column today. I’ll quote some of it.

[Update: I see that the entire column has been posted by the Tennessee Guerilla Women. I appreciate this, but sooner or later the New York Times will send lawyers and make them stop.]

Americans are shopping while Iraq burns.

The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight. …

… There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.

Representative Charles Rangel recently proposed that the draft be reinstated, suggesting that politicians would be more reluctant to take the country to war if they understood that their constituents might be called up to fight. What struck me was not the uniform opposition to the congressman’s proposal — it has long been clear that there is zero sentiment in favor of a draft in the U.S. — but the fact that it never provoked even the briefest discussion of the responsibilities and obligations of ordinary Americans in a time of war.

What frustrated me was that even some people who acknowledged Rangel’s basic purpose responded with ponderous explanations of why a volunteer army is better than a conscripted army. Of course it is. That’s not the point.

Rangel’s point is that the burden of fighting the war is falling disproportionately on poorer Americans than richer ones. Whether the draft is the way to make things equitable is debatable, however. As Katha Pollitt writes,

Supporters of the draft are using it to promote indirectly politics we should champion openly and up front. It’s terrible that working-class teenagers join the Army to get college funds, or job training, or work–what kind of nation is this where Jessica Lynch had to invade Iraq in order to fulfill her modest dream of becoming an elementary school teacher and Shoshanna Johnson had to be a cook on the battlefield to qualify for a culinary job back home? But the solution isn’t to force more people into the Army, it’s affordable education and good jobs for all. Nobody should have to choose between risking her life–or as we see in Abu Ghraib, her soul–and stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. By the same token, threatening our young with injury, madness and death is a rather roundabout way to increase resistance to military adventures. I’d rather just loudly insist that people who favor war go fight in it themselves or be damned as showboaters and shirkers. I’m sure the Army can find something for Christopher Hitchens to do.

To me, however, the point is not about equitably sharing the burden of fighting. The point is that there’s something obscenely decadent about a nation that can perpetrate a war outside its borders as casually as you might order pizza.

Herbert continues,

With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. …

… This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. While shoppers here are scrambling to put the perfect touch to their holidays with the purchase of a giant flat-screen TV or a PlayStation 3, the news out of Baghdad is of a society in the midst of a meltdown.

I say the draft is not enough. In fact, I’ve thought up a whole new way to get the nation to pay attention to what it’s perpetrating — The Civilian War Footing Act. The Act’s provisions would kick in automatically whenever U.S. troops are involved in a military action lasting more than 30 days or in which even one U.S. soldier, marine, or sailor has died.

The Civilian War Footing Act could reinstate the draft, whether it’s needed or not. The military could choose not to accept any conscripts it really doesn’t need or want, but perhaps we could require that conscripts at least report for a physical. Make ’em think about it, in other words. But here are the more important provisions:

Gas rationing would kick in automatically, needed or not; anyone who burns more than a tank a week is going to have to be inconvenienced. Taxes would increase across the board to pay for the war’s actual cost. On top of that, at least one hour of prime-time television programming would be pre-empted every evening for either war news or a bond drive telethon. This pre-emption would be random, so that you’d never know if your favorite program will be on or not.

Every citizen between the age of 18 and 75 (not already in the military or subject to the military draft) would be subject to a national lottery. The “winners” would be required to report for duty at a military hospital to care for the wounded, or unload and accompany coffins to the soldier’s families. The period of service could be short — two to four weeks –but no exemptions except for serious health issues would be allowed. Only a small part of the civilian population would ever be called, but the fact that it could happen to anyone ought to weigh on peoples’ minds.

(I thought about using voter registration rolls for the lottery, but decided that might discourage voting. The patriotic duty deadbeats who don’t even bother to vote ought not be given a pass.)

The purpose of the Civilian War Footing Act is to be a big, fat, stinky foot in civilian faces: Pay attention. There’s a war going on in your name and with your implied consent. Are you OK with this?

Bob Herbert continues,

Iraq burns. We shop. The Americans dying in Iraq are barely mentioned in the press anymore. They warrant may be one sentence in a long roundup article out of Baghdad, or a passing reference — no longer than a few seconds — in a television news account of the latest political ditherings.

Since the vast majority of Americans do not want anything to do with the military or the war, the burden of fighting has fallen on a small cadre of volunteers who are being sent into the war zone again and again. Nearly 3,000 have been killed, and many thousands more have been maimed.

The war has now lasted as long as the American involvement in World War II. But there is no sense of collective sacrifice in this war, no shared burden of responsibility. The soldiers in Iraq are fighting, suffering and dying in a war in which there are no clear objectives and no end in sight, and which a majority of Americans do not support.

They are dying anonymously and pointlessly, while the rest of us are free to buckle ourselves into the family vehicle and head off to the malls and shop.

I don’t think most of these people are “bad” people. They’re spoiled; they’re indifferent; they’re clueless. Many of them probably don’t think there’s anything they can do to stop the war (Democracy? What’s that?) so they tune it out.

But the provisions of The Civilian War Footing Act will see to it they can’t tune it out. And if a majority of Americans don’t want to be inconvenienced, they have to stop the war. And the politicians who started the bleeping war had better have a bleeping good excuse, or their careers are over.

I’d like to think that if the U.S. faced a genuine threat, Americans would respond and do whatever it took, as long as it took, to save our country. But starting a war is a serious matter that requires serious consideration. I would have thought that, after Vietnam, the nation would know better than to allow itself to be railroaded into another foreign quagmire, but here we are again.

Clearly, we need to learn to think twice about war. And if the alleged threat is more hypothetical than imminent, then let’s learn to just say no.

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Righties Are Stupid, Episode 3,047

Bush Administration

This rightie blogger thinks he already has a “personal” Social Security account. And even though he believes he already has a “personal account,” he agrees with President Bush that establishing “personal accounts” will fix the system.

Surber usually isn’t one of the dumbest wingnuts — just average, I’d say — but he dropped off the IQ scale entirely this time.

It’s possible that he does know how the system works and is just playing some kind of semantic game to snark at Atrios. But it ought to be obvious even to an idiot that Atrios is talking about the private investment accounts President Bush wants, so if Surber is just playing with semantics that would make him not only stupid, but a stupid asshole.

That said, Atrios’s post does beg some questions between “carve outs” and “add ons” and whether the Dems ought to make any moves whatsoever in the direction of personal Social Security accounts. The discussion started with a post on The Economist advocating a “grand bargain.” Brad DeLong explains:

Back in 1998, 1999, and 2000 there was a deal to be struck: bring the existing Social Security system back into balance with a combination of (small) tax increases and (moderate) future benefit cuts, and supercharge it with add-on private but regulated and insured personal accounts. But neither Gingrich, Hastert, Armey, Delay, or Lott were interested in such a deal–it would give another substantive public-policy victory to Bill Clinton, you see. After 2000 Bush was interested in–well, it was never clear what Bush was interested in, for different advisors said very different things, and Bush never proposed a plan.

But the deal that was there to be struck in 1998, 1999, and 2000 is still there to be struck, if program design and decision-making can be moved out of the White House to locations with credibility.

In this case, as I understand it, the add-on private accounts were not expected to solve the Social Security program’s anticipated shortfalls, but would just provide an additional source of income for seniors without changing the nature of the system itself. The system itself would still require some other kind of revenue increase to keep it going. Carve-out accounts would be something else. The idea behind carve-outs is that redirecting money coming into the system into private investment accounts would somehow magically solve the system’s solvency problem. But even if these private accounts did well, redirecting the money would require the government to borrow trillions of dollars from somewhere else to pay the Social Security benefits already committed to. Paul Krugman explains:

Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining. The Wehner memo talks of borrowing $1 trillion to $2 trillion “to cover transition costs.” Similar numbers have been widely reported in the news media.

But that’s just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.

The add-on accounts advocated by The Economist are, I think, just supposed to be a good-will gesture in the spirit of bipartisanship. Matt Yglesias writes:

…there’s sort of no telling what sort of foolish things the Democrats will agree to, but I say no, no, no to this. For one thing, while stonewalling on administration priorities may work out okay if you’re in opposition, it actually works way better if you’re actually in charge on the Hill. In the minority, you don’t need to agree with administration proposals, but you do need to deal with them on some level. In opposition, administration proposals can simply be dismissed out of hand. And, indeed, any proposal that involves “carve out” private accounts should be rejected out of hand. Such accounts are poor public policy (increasing the riskiness of retirement at a time of generally growing riskiness, increasing inequality at a time of generally growing inequality) and the political proof is in the pudding — opposing them wins elections, proposing them loses elections.

The starting point for a responsible approach to the federal budget is, in the short term, bringing the ruinously costly Iraq War to as speedy a conclusion as possible. Next is rescinding the bulk of Bush’s tax cuts. Next would be looking toward some increase in taxes on gasoline or carbon emissions. Reform of the country’s wildly inadequate health care system (implicating, among other things, Medicare and Medicaid) should always be a priority. Minor adjustments to the Social Security tax and payout formula could prove necessary in the future depending on what happens to immigration and productivity, but needn’t be a high-level priority. Carving private accounts out of the system should remain off the table and certainly Democrats have no business collaborating in any such endeavor.

Atrios was talking about the carve-out program President Bush tried to sell. Brad DeLong responds here. As I see it, the question is whether there is any reason for Democrats to consider an add-on program, and DeLong thinks there might be.

However, I doubt an add-on program would appease the righties. Richard Stevenson wrote in the New York Times (March 7, 2005):

On the other side, supporters of Mr. Bush’s approach said there was no chance that add-on accounts could be the basis for a deal.

“There is no support whatsoever among conservatives in the House and the Senate for add-on accounts,” said Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian research group that has promoted private investment accounts for two decades. “The whole point is transforming the Social Security system from a system where people are dependent on the government to one where people can save for themselves and accumulate wealth on their own, and add-on accounts don’t do anything to transform Social Security.”

On top of that, many Democrats fear that add-on accounts would open a door over the long run to accounts drawn from payroll taxes.

“It’s a dangerous concept for those who say they support Social Security,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal research and advocacy group that opposes Mr. Bush’s approach. “Private accounts, whether financed out of the Social Security system or financed out of general revenues, are still a bad substitute for guaranteed Social Security benefits. So anyone who thinks add-ons are a solution should think twice because they really are a Trojan horse.”

But it is exactly that possibility – that add-on accounts might pave the way for accounts carved out of Social Security – that might make the concept politically viable as a compromise, Professor Patashnik of the University of Virginia said.

“If you ideologically want to transform Social Security and thereby begin changing F.D.R.’s legacy and the welfare state, the question is whether add-on accounts will help you or hurt you,” he said. “Would it be a failure because the existing Social Security system remains in place and you haven’t carved anything out of it? Or will add-on accounts become popular and develop a constituency, so that young people who have less trust in the government than in the marketplace ultimately pressure Congress to increase the size of the accounts relative to Social Security?”

So I’m with Atrios — no private accounts attached to Social Security. If the government wants to initiate some kind of forced savings/investment accounts — and I’m not saying it should — these accounts should be in an entirely separate program.

For more than you ever wanted to know about Social Security, see eRipost. See also the Century Foundation and Paul Krugman.

Sabastian Mallaby weighs in.

Judging from the hints flying around Washington, the administration sees how to bridge this divide. Democrats may be allergic to personal Social Security accounts, but they are enthusiastic about other ideas for personal retirement accounts that just don’t have “Social Security” in the title. …

… while Republicans have been pushing personal retirement accounts as part of an entitlement fix, Democrats have been pushing personal retirement accounts because they worry about worker insecurity. By enlarging the debate so that it’s about savings in the era of globalization rather than just Social Security, negotiators can conjure up the common ground that was missing during the 2005 train wreck. Personal accounts need not be merely the alternative to the traditional Social Security benefit. They can simultaneously be the alternative to the nation’s outrageously regressive system of tax breaks for saving and a way to help ordinary people build nest eggs. When personal accounts become both of these things, perhaps Republicans and Democrats alike will back them.

Mallaby ignores the fact that the wingnuts really, truly want to destroy Social Security. They’ve desired this since the FDR Administration. This has nothing to do with the flaws or merits of the program; they just want to get rid of it on principle. They’re not going to stop. The Dems could offer up a wonderful personal retirement account program separate from the Social Security System, and the wingnuts will still want to destroy Social Security.

An if the Democrats offer a progressive personal retirement account program that mostly benefits working and middle-class Americans, not the wealthy, the wingnuts will hate that, too.

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