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Tilting at Windmills

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April 21, 2010

LOWDEN TRIPLES DOWN.... I really didn't intend to do three posts about this today, but Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden keeps pressing her cluck, I mean, luck.

To briefly review, Lowden, the favorite to beat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in Nevada this year, recently encouraged voters to "barter with your doctor." On Monday, Lowden reiterated and expanded upon this, praising a health care delivery system in line with "the olden days" when those seeking medical care "would bring a chicken to the doctor." Despite the mockery this had already received, she added, "I'm not backing down from that system."

This afternoon, the Republican candidate's spokesperson told Greg Sargent that the campaign is sticking by Lowden's argument.

"Americans are struggling to pay for their health care, and in order to afford coverage we must explore all options available to drive costs down. Bartering with your doctor is not a new concept. There have been numerous reports as to how negotiating with your doctor is an option and doctors have gone on the record verifying this."

The campaign's statement went on to blame Harry Reid because, well, just because.

There are a couple of angles to consider here. First, when Lowden's spokesperson says bartering "is not a new concept," that's true. But as Atrios explained, "All joking aside, there's a reason we no longer have a barter economy. It's tremendously inefficient."

Second, the Lowden campaign went on to distribute some kind of background document, hoping to prove that bargaining with medical professionals is possible. But as we've talked about, haggling with doctors is hardly the basis for effective care and cost controls, and for that matter, bargaining and bartering aren't the same thing.

In a purely political context, campaigns are rarely lost in April, but Lowden's position has quickly made her something of a joke -- and once a candidate is a laughingstock, it's very difficult to recover. One Nevadan has characterized this as a "macaca moment" for the Republican hopeful, and that under the circumstances, that seems more than fair.

Sue Lowden could have walked this embarrassing incident back many times, but she's now tripled down on a position that simply doesn't make any sense.

Lowden has had a year to come up with a coherent approach to health care policy, and she's failed rather spectacularly. We saw our first hint about this last month, when Lowden praised Medicare and condemned "government run health care" at the same time, and we're getting an even better sense of her confusion now.

Sometimes, candidates just aren't ready for prime time.

Steve Benen 4:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (69)

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Comments

Steve wrote: Sue Lowden could have walked this embarrassing incident back many times, but she's now tripled down on a position that simply doesn't make any sense.

Well, I think what's happening here is that now that the barter argument has shown to be patently ridiculous they're trying to collapse the distinction between the very different "barter" and "bargain" (or "haggle").

Look for them to use these words interchangeably in the future and act as if everyone has always used them to mean the same thing. Also look for them to disavow the chicken example.

Posted by: trex on April 21, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

could someone tell me how many chickens a heart transplant costs these day ... please include hospital stay plus doctors. and do you have to pay at the time you receive service or can you pay over time? and do eggs count?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 21, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Probably been done but:

Brian: How much? Quick!
Vendor: What?
Brian: It's for the wife.
Vendor: Oh, ehm...twenty shekels.
Brian: Right.
Vendor: What?
Brian: There you are.
Vendor: Wait a minute!
Brian: What?
Vendor: Well, we're...we're supposed to haggle!
Brian: No, no, no, I've got to get...
Vendor: What do you mean, "No, no, no"?
Brian: I haven't got time, I've got...
Vendor: Well, give it back, then.
Brian: No, no, no, I just paid you!
Vendor: Burt!
Burt: Yeah?
Vendor: This bloke won't haggle!
Burt: Won't haggle?!
Brian: All right, do we have to?
Vendor: Now look: I want twenty for that.
Brian: Ehm...I just gave you twenty.
Vendor: Now are you telling me that's not worth twenty
shekels?
Brian: No.
Vendor: Look at it! Feel the quality, that's not any of you
goat!
Brian: All right, I'll give you nineteen then.
Vendor: No, no, no, come on, do it properly!
Brian: What?
Vendor: Haggle properly, this isn't worth nineteen!
Brian: Well, you just said it was worth twenty!
Vendor: Oh dear, oh dear. Come on: haggle!
Brian: Uh, all right, I'll give you ten.
Vendor: That's more like it! Ten? Are you trying to insult
me? Me, with a poor dying grandmother? Ten!?

Posted by: Ugh on April 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Eggs are chickens in the same way that fetuses are human beings. At least, fertilized eggs are chickens. This is a useful thing to keep in mind when the bills start adding up.

Posted by: Ethan on April 21, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

if she wants to be serious about this, the Democrats should spend a little time doing that as well.

if my local hospital needs a CT scanner - $1.5 million for a 64-slice model - how do i do that? will GE accept chickens for payment? or do i now have to spend my time -- time that I could spend with patients -- taking the thousands of chickens I've collected to the market and reselling them to get cash to pay for the CT scanner?

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 21, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow, i'm seein' her walk away from this stoopid craziness clean...her bein' a Repugnant.

They're supposed to say crazy stuff. Peeps are usta them sayin' crazy stuff...

Posted by: neill on April 21, 2010 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

>Lowden has had a year to come up with a coherent approach to health care policy, and she's failed rather spectacularly.

File under "That's not a bug, that's a feature".

Posted by: bartkid on April 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

LOWDEN/BROWN '12 !

Actually, I think Lowden & Scott Brown were just brought on board to make Sarah Palin look smart.

Posted by: Gummo on April 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

This "not a new concept" argument is a really interesting one and I suppose it gets at the heart of what modern movement conservatism is about. Nothing newer than 1920 or so can be permitted apparently.

I wonder if she would like to get rid of the military's current weapons and replace them with good, stout wooden clubs. A wooden club is "not a new concept" either and is about as sensible for a modern military as bringing a chicken to the doctor's office.

Some yahoo is going to listen to poor confused Sue, show up to a doctor's office with a chicken, and infect everyone with psittacosis, I just know it.

Posted by: Ted on April 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, but I don't think a Porsche-owning doctor is going to want a chicken or a pig as a fee for service. In fact I don't think he know what to do with them, have them slaughtered I suppose. Of course not too many Americans own chickens or pigs so they'll have to find something else to barter with.

Gold fillings perhaps?

Lowden deserves to be laughed at. She treated Ron Paul supporters in Nevada like dirt and stole away delegate slots they were going to earn at the state convention that year.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should tell the Dr. in Ocala (?) who said Obama supporters should go elsewhere. See if he likes the GOP any better now!

Posted by: molly bloom on April 21, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but you see, dollar bills are "fiat money", a sign of socialism. There's even a demonic eye floating over the pyramid on the one dollar bill. Sovereign citizens should refuse socialist Obama Democrat money and pay in gold or silver, and if they don't have any, chickens will do in a pinch. City slicker doctors who don't know what to do with chickens will have to trade them, maybe for guns so they can keep desperate patients away.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Watching the clip, what struck me was the condescension and sense of moral certainty with which Ms. Lowden uttered her profundities, as if talking down from a great height. Quite apart from her obvious stupidity, why would Nevada voters go for someone who patronizes them in that way?

Posted by: davidp on April 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

When my doctor comes to my house to recommend a poultice for my chronic aches, I'll be happy to give him a chicken in return.

Posted by: chrenson on April 21, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to make the image stick. From now on, she's "Chicken Sue" Lowden.

Posted by: petorado on April 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Watching the clip, what struck me was the condescension and sense of moral certainty with which Ms. Lowden uttered her profundities, as if talking down from a great height. Quite apart from her obvious stupidity, why would Nevada voters go for someone who patronizes them in that way?
Posted by: davidp

IIRC, she's another ex-beauty contestant type.

Seems to be part & parcel of the kind of person who goes in for that sort of thing.

Posted by: Gummo on April 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals put their faith in Obamacare, but wise conservatives trust in a flock of pullets and a shotgun.

Posted by: Al on April 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Sue Lowden could have walked this embarrassing incident back many times, but she's now tripled down on a position that simply doesn't make any sense."
—Steve Benen 4:10 PM

Well of course.
Real Republicans -- just like real Americans -- are never wrong, and thus never have anything to "walk back."*
And the reason real Americans and real Republicans are never wrong is that they not only "don't do nuance," they don't do "facts." That anti-American stuff is for the knowitall liberal elites. Real Americans, and real Republicans, just know what's right. God makes sure of that.
I'm surprised we have to keep explaining this to you -- but then again, you are all just a bunch of knowitall LIEberals, so I guess that's to be expected.

*except w/r/t Rush or Glenn

Posted by: smartalek on April 21, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

If you check out Ron Paul's discussion of healthcare on YouTube, you will find his views to be very similar to Sue Lowden's. He doesn't mention bartering, but that people would get all the medical treatment they need through the generosity of the community medical providers. You know, like back in the good old days.

Posted by: Dr. J on April 21, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

.
.
.
The next season of 'Pawn Stars' (set in Las Vegas!) would be a lot more interesting with a surgical theatre out back.

Maybe the AMA needs to add three pawn shop balls to the caduceus.
.
.
.

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on April 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"It is better to be silent and look a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." Mark Twain

Posted by: OKDem on April 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"When my doctor comes to my house to recommend a poultice for my chronic aches, I'll be happy to give him a chicken in return."

A poultry for a poultice? Sounds about right.

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Posted by: wyhdhdq on April 21, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but she's pretty enough to win beauty pageants and anchor the local TV news! Not only that, but she was married to Paul Lowden. You know Paul, right? He was friends with Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Joey Cusamano and Allen Glick. Please, whatever you do, don't do a Google search of those names. You don't want to know, believe me.

Posted by: Slothrop on April 21, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

While we're going backwards with paying for care, why not bring back leeches as care?

Posted by: TonyB on April 21, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

---
From now on, she's "Chicken Sue" Lowden.
---

'Foghorn Leghorn Lowden', the newest addition to the Looney Tunes stable.

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on April 21, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the politicians can figure out a way to take chickens and other useful livestock instead of monetary donations to their PACs. After all, doctors and medical providers must figure out how to pay their bills without being paid with money...I'm sure the GOP will have no trouble using goats to purchase private plane flights for Michael Steele.

Posted by: maggie on April 21, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Can I bring some chickens to the Vegas casinos?

They can always cook them for the buffet.

Posted by: Delmarguy on April 21, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

If Harry Reid hasn't already hired a guy to dress up in a chicken suit to follow her around from now to November he's an idiot. It's stupid, but it works. Maybe have him carry a sign saying: "How many of me for an MRI?" or something.... He can win this thing now, if he stays on this message & doesn't let the voters forget.

Posted by: ulrich on April 21, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

My partner's emergency heart surgery cost about $150,000. Since we're yuppies, we pay about $10.00 for a free-range, cruelty-free organic chicken.

That's 15,000 chickens to be divvied up amongst the surgeon, the hospital, the anesthesiologist, the nurses, the drug companies, and so forth.

Lotta cluck!

Posted by: Eeyore on April 21, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

This is so ripe for Jason Jones and a camera crew to visit medical facilities in Nevada with a crate of live chickens in a wagon.

Posted by: ghillie on April 21, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm...has anyone taken into consideration what "usiong chickens as currency" would do to the price of chickens?

Anyone at all?

What happens when Wall Street speculators get their hands on the chicken market---like they did with oil a year ago?

Now---extrapolate that to all foods...all services...all other goods on the market---and you'll begin to see what Lowden and her ilk are really up to....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 21, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

How many chickens does it take to get Sarah Palin to show up these days?

Posted by: maggie on April 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Once Obamacare ends the world as we know it, you won't be laughing about barter economies so much.

Free tip: start hoarding gold, women and sheep.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 21, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is so plucking awesome.

Posted by: Cazart on April 21, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's time like these that I'm really pissed I went to college instead of pursuing my lifelong ambition of becoming a sheepherder in Nevada.

Fuck, I would be like the guy who invented silent velcro with all the bartering power my herd of sheep would afford me. The Bill Gates of shepherding, a real innovator.

The only problem is those damn democrats would see my fabulous herd of sheep and start taxing my 'Cadillac' health plan, fuckers.

Is her bartering system limited to Health Care, because I wouldn't mind paying my taxes in wool, or handing the toll road attendant a lamb chop.

Posted by: ScottW714 on April 21, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

One Nevadan has characterized this as a "macaca moment" for the Republican hopeful, and that under the circumstances, that seems more than fair. -- Steve Benen

Harry Reid is too much of a gentleman to get into a cockfight with an unarmed opponent. Besides, he'd only end up with an egg on his face if he tried.

Posted by: exlibra on April 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

As it turns out, macaca tastes just like chicken.

Posted by: CT on April 21, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm---My neighbor is a doctor and his wife has been hankering for some pygmy goats to mow their field. Next time I get sick I'll give it a try. Why do I think he's not going to think it's such a hot idea--even if he is a card carrying Republican?

Posted by: celeidth on April 21, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, a $100 bill doesn't come with your choice of Original Recipe or Extra Crispy and two sides.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on April 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Can SOMEBODY please think about the chickens?

Posted by: threegoal on April 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to make the image stick. From now on, she's "Chicken Sue" Lowden.
Posted by: petorado

how about
Cluck Cluck Lowden or
Cheep Lowden.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really sorry that my mind goes here, but when I think "barter with your doctor" my first thought for what a poor person has to barter with...

...rhymes with 'cluck'.

I suppose she /is/ from Nevada, and it's a medium of exchange there...

Posted by: eyelessgame on April 21, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, doctors will want to ensure an annual IRS audit, justifying the taxable value of their paltry poultry income - "Honestly, it was no bigger than a fryer!" Smaller government, indeed, Madame Teabagger.

Posted by: KP on April 21, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Whaddya know, for the first time ever, the advertising spam is on target! There's our solution, guys, pay your doc with black-market Nike sneakers! Everybody wins!

Posted by: T-Rex on April 21, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all

She's got nice hair...

Posted by: koreyel on April 21, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

As it turns out, macaca tastes just like chicken.

Macacadoodledoo!

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on April 21, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of a Wanda Sykes HBO Special.

Handjob for a Boniva?

Posted by: ashton on April 21, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is whether Nevadans will hesitate to vote for someone who is clearly an idiot. Not long ago, Nevada, Arizona, Virginia among other states were considered "trending blue", but these days they seem firmly in the grips of the tea partiers.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 21, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

All the mockery is fun and probably the best response to such idiocy, but it would hurt to also remind people why it is idiotic.

One thing to remember is that back when barter and bargaining were a common practice for doctors, they frequently weren't very well paid. In most cases, the doctors didn't take livestock or services in trade for medical care because they prefered it that way. They did it because they had a committment to not turn anyone away and because many of their patients simply didn't have any cash to pay.

I seriously doubt many doctors would go along with such a system now. It certainly is not going to be an option for major surgery where the patient would have to negotiate rates and payment methods with one or more surgeons, an anesthesiologist, the hospital and so on and so forth.

Finally, insurance companies (and government run programs like Medicaid and Medicare) already negotiate prices, or in some cases use their buying power to dictate major discounts. If there were any real cost savings to be had from such a system, the "magical free market" should have found them already. How in the hell is the individual patient with less bargaining power, and frequently with an urgent need to buy the service going to do better?

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 21, 2010 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Mrs. Lowden is a business owner. It is fair to ask if she would take a chicken in exchange for her product. What would one chicken buy at her business? Why hasn’t she done this in the past? Does she have any thoughts on the efficiency that a money exchange economy brings to the market?

Posted by: Robert Abbott on April 21, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Just think when the chickens molt, "Leghorn Sue" or "Chicken Sue", she can get her hair coiffed and nails donein exchanged for feather ticks.

Posted by: Ted76 on April 21, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

My niece is a plastic surgeon. She gave the local Porsche dealer's wife a new set of tits; the dealer gave her a serious break on a new Porsche. Exactly the sort of thing Lowden is talking about. Or maybe not.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on April 21, 2010 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

There are tax consequences even to bartering. How the hell is a doctor supposed to pay taxes on chickens?

Posted by: Paul in NC on April 21, 2010 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

whenever Lowden opens up her pot-piehole talking about bartering for healthcare with chickens, why do I keep thinking about Quayle?

Posted by: slappy magoo on April 21, 2010 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

As the law of unintended consequences is iron and universal, what we'd see in the barter-for-MRIs economy is that pretty quickly the medium of exchange would expand beyond chickens, goats, and other barnyard critters. How long before doctors start demanding payment in the form of access to a heart patient's cute and nubile 18-year-old daughter, for example? If human nature is any guide, it'll take about two weeks. It'd put new meaning into "taking one for the family."

Posted by: bluestatedon on April 21, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

My niece is a plastic surgeon. She gave the local Porsche dealer's wife a new set of tits; the dealer gave her a serious break on a new Porsche. Exactly the sort of thing Lowden is talking about. Or maybe not.

That's the sort of health care reform that works for the GOP's real base, the haves and have mores.

Posted by: AK Liberal on April 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is all lots of fun(I haven't read all the posts, to this point), but it seems that if this person, Lowden, is ever interviewed by an actual person/journalist or opposing politician, the questions are very simple: Do you have an example of a medical doctor/establishment that exchanged/bartered for livestock, personal or professional services in exchange for said medical services? What is the procedure? How is it tracked in the system? How does the medical professional reimburse for ancillary products and services related to the medical procedure? Is this a universally available process or an occasional service under special circumstances?

All the how-many-chickens-for-a-gall bladder surgery is fun and heaps ridicule on the proponents of this system, but it totally avoids the confrontation with the proponent of this system. Just ask her to give examples in the modern world of how this has worked...not how it might work.

Pretty simple.

Posted by: st john on April 21, 2010 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Soooo, how would this "bartering for healthcare" work at an emergency room?

Posted by: The Oracle on April 21, 2010 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

The thing to remember here is not just how fucking stupid this is, but that this is how they want the world to operate. They want some people to have to offer chickens to doctors in exchange for critical medical care. They also want to go back on the gold standard, get rid of social security, disband the SEC, etc. It's all of a piece. They want us to live 100 years ago.

Posted by: superking on April 21, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The only explanation for this is that she's way ahead in the polls and starting to get a little...(wait for it...wait for it...)...COCKY!

Posted by: BattleCobra90000 on April 21, 2010 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

I got a good chuckle about this being Chicken Sue's macacca moment. But another way of looking at it is that its her Marie Antoinette moment. Instead of sniffing "let them eat cake," she's dismissively looking at the rabble that is this nation's middle class and spewing "let them pay for healthcare with chickens."

Posted by: petorado on April 21, 2010 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bring a chicken to the doctor, the Youtube Mashup:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZezfjWox5s

Posted by: wag on April 21, 2010 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

St John, the problem with asking for examples is that they are easy to find, as isolated examples:

- Business owners or professionals trading valuable goods or services for expensive but non-emergency medical treatment.
- Doctors accepting whatever the patient can ofer in cases that are basically nothing more than providing a face-saving cover on charity.
- Various types of activist groups going out of their way to make barter work as a statement against government, taxes, monetary policy or the consumer economy.

What you won't find any doctors, clinics or hospitals that consistently do more than a tiny fraction of their business in barter, or any model by which greater use of barter makes a practical alternative to comprehensive health care reform.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 21, 2010 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, so that is why I have been reading about chickens all over the web. I wondered what the hell everyone was talking about.

Posted by: ellie on April 21, 2010 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Soooo, how would this "bartering for healthcare" work at an emergency room?"

It's simple, you just have to have a ready supply of chickens on hand at all times. There's a fortune to be made in fabricating and selling mobile chicken coops that can be towed behind a bike or a car. There are also designs in the works for mini-coop backpacks holding 5 chickens. Five chickens will generally be enough to at least get you into the emergency room, giving you the time to call a friend or family member for the backup coop. Plans for mobile pig and goat pens have run into road-blocks due to the cantankerous nature of the beasts, as well as their much larger size.

Posted by: bluestatedon on April 21, 2010 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

I called her office and asked where I could get healthcare surgery for a chicken and they hung up on me. Not very helpful.

Posted by: hicks on April 22, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

'Not long ago, Nevada, Arizona, Virginia among other states were considered "trending blue", but these days they seem firmly in the grips of the tea partiers.'

Blueness depends on two factors: median income and population density. The latter takes care of itself, so it can be ignored in this context. If the Democratic Party were what it purports to be, it would focus most of its resources on getting control of purple-state legislatures and making those states union-friendly; the rest would follow. But it isn't. Which is why BHO kicked Nevada in the teeth with this "don't go to Las Vegas" comment.

This leads back to why Lowden makes perfect sense.

People living in a subsistence-level society are willing to accept subsistence-level payment. The modern political system is about guiding us back to a subsistence-level existence.

Posted by: Forrest on April 22, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

laughing chicken stock.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 22, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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