Debating Jill

Jill Buck from the Flash Report ventured over here this week and there was considerable off-post discussion about nuclear power. Rather can continuing to post comments, I wanted to start a new post here. Jill is seeking common ground with us lefties, even if its only a square inch.

Jill references that she’s for limited government, so let’s direct the discussion there. I have asked Jill (and Matt Cunningham and other right winger bloggers/commenters) to name a Republican who has actually shrunk the size of government; I will take examples from state and federal government levels dating back 50 years. Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

We don’t have to go back far to note that Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s highly successful RE-GO program shrunk the size of the Federal Government to the days of the Kennedy Administration. So, to use Matt’s oft-noted terms of “Strawman” and “Red Herring,” GOP calls for limited government are like seeing a cougar in the wild; rare indeed.

  31 comments for “Debating Jill

  1. Northcountystorm
    January 24, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Dan– If the definition of shrinking government is reducing civilian federal employment, then at least since JFK you’d have to say both George I and George II, Nixon and Ford shrunk government. Of interest is that civilian federal employment went up during the Great Communicator’s term of office (as it did with LBJ and Carter).

    You are spot on that the biggest shrinker of government since 1961 — at least using federal civilian employment–was Bill Clinton.

    Of course, if your definition of shrinking government is shrinking spending, well, it’s hard to find anyone except Clinton who is not a drunken sailor, especially the current President who should be the poster child for the Club for Guns and Butter.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    January 24, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    My understanding is government expanded under Nixon, Reagan, Ford and Bush I & II.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    January 24, 2008 at 1:24 pm
  4. d'Anconia
    January 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm


    I just read your back and forth with Jill and I recommend you do the same. Did you notice how often you tried to change the subject? Every time Jill asks you to share some insights about *facts* concerning nuclear energy, you chose to take a shot at Republicans for something completely unrelated. Instead of giving her a dignified answer to her last comment in that post, you began this one which has already turned into a thread about smaller government instead of the original topic of the feasibility of nuclear energy/environmental policies.


    It’s hard to find common ground when the other side isn’t insterested in sitting at the table, but chooses to start a food fight instead. After you brush off all the food he’s thrown at you, if you’re still willing to try and find common ground, I commend you.

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    January 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Jill and I covered a lot of ground, but I felt the nuclear energy debate had run its course and wanted to move the debate to a new thread. And I kept it to an single issue that Jill brought up in her response. Sorry if you took offense, too bad.

  6. Jill Buck
    January 24, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Dan et al,

    I’m not the least bit offended. It gripes me when I can’t point to GOP leaders who have, by “real person” metrics, succeeded in shrinking the government, so it doesn’t bother me in the least to have this conversation with you, since I have this conversation with member of my own Party all the time. This is a great discussion point. And I say, let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past on either side of the aisle. Let’s demand better from our elected officials, regardless of their party affiliation.

    I still think there’s ground to be covered with the nuclear issue, but if that’s boring, I understand. Still…I think it’s a very important topic, and critical for good thinkers to formulate solutions around. I’m still concerned about what I witnessed at the CCC meeting I mentioned on your other blog (and I do apologize for the overly long string…that’s annoying, I know). Maybe we can talk about it some other time, but if there are people out there shutting down nuclear power plants for reasons that have nothing to do with economics or environmental concerns, it’s worth investigating b/c it may be detrimental to our country in the long run.

    Anyway, since we’re on shrinking the size of the government, and we all agree that it’s been a failed issue for some time, who has a plan to do better? I want to hear all about it. This is important.

    And one last thing, we have another piece of common ground…I get the sense that being an OC liberal is a lot like being a Bay Area conservative…a bit lonely. I can empathize. (:

  7. Northcountystorm
    January 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Dan and Jill: -Try the OMB.

    There was some shrinkage in GOP Administrations in terms of civilian employment. Not as much as under Clinton.

    My own take is that government expands the least when the President is of a different political party than that which controls Congress. it expands the most when both branches drink at the same political pond, irrespective of party.

    Clinton and Gore were more determined because they made it a campaign issue and it truly inoculated them from charges of “big government” which are seasonally thrown at Democrats by Republicans.

    They had a model which coincided with the Gingrich wing of the GOP’s desire for smaller government, especially when smaller government at the time was at the expense of congressional Democrats’ desires to expand certain federal programs.

  8. January 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    You’ve hit upon one falsehood that really irks me.
    Liberals in Orange County are not alone. How many counties in the nation have over 400,000 registered Democrats? We are in every city, in every precinct, and every part of OC. We provide financial contributions to candidates and liberal causes at all levels. We volunteer in great numbers for campaigns. Orange County liberals represent all ethnicities, both genders, all orientations, all ages, and all income levels. We are everywhere, Jill, even here in OC.
    Keep that in mind when writing.

  9. RHackett
    January 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    And one last thing, we have another piece of common ground…I get the sense that being an OC liberal is a lot like being a Bay Area conservative…a bit lonely. I can empathize. (:

    Then you’ll appreciate this comment I was given by an OC politico. Being a republican in OC was akin to being a Catholic in Italy. Even the mobsters in Italy are Catholics. And oddly some of the more unsavory political types in OC just so happen to be republican.

  10. January 24, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Why are we even playing their game? Debating who shrunk government more is conceding their point, that it is somehow good or desirable to shrink government. That is nonsense. The size of government is not remotely relevant to how effectively it operates. Republicans want us to believe that smaller government is better, although one would have thought that the experience of Hurricane Katrina proved them wrong once and for all.

    I don’t know what Jill’s thoughts are on nuclear power, although as she’s associated with the FlashReport I can only surmise that she thinks it’s a wonderful idea. Once she figures out what to safely do with the waste, maybe we can have serious discussion about it.

  11. Jill Buck
    January 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I meant no offense. I’m proud to say that Bay Area Republicans are everywhere as well, and we are intensely active. But we have no state senators and only one state assemblyman from the entire Bay Area, and I don’t always feel that the races at that level are as issues based as I like them to be. When districts are drawn to purposefully put one party or the other in the insurmountable minority, it’s not as likely that everyone’s view points will be heard. Frankly, I’d like to see more 50/50 match ups in every race in the state…it would be much more interesting and inclusive.

    What do you all think about that?

  12. January 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Jill, the notion you tried to float here, that the Bay Area has no Republican representation because of districting, is totally wrong. There is no way to draw a district based in the 9-county Bay Area that will give you a Republican majority without extreme gerrymandering. (Which is of course the entire point of your party’s desire for redistricting “reform” – to gerrymander away CA’s Democratic majority). Of course you want to see “50-50 races” – Republicans have not had parity with Democrats in voter registration in our state for decades.

    Once upon a time the Bay Area had a lot of Republicans. Republicans represented SF – yes, evil, awful San Francisco – in Sacramento into the late 1970s. Other parts of the Bay Area elected Republicans to Congress up to the late 1990s.

    But it wasn’t redistricting that ended the career of the Bay Area Republican. No, it was the fact that voters themselves, in the same districts that were always there, rejected the extremism and radicalism that your party stands for. Over the course of 30 years the Bay Area went from a purple region to a deep blue place, just as your party moved inexorably rightward.

    The same will happen in Orange County. It’s been under way since the 1990s, and is going to accelerate in the next 5-10 years. It should be a great time to be an OC Democrat.

  13. Jill Buck
    January 24, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Yeesh…did Hurricane Katrina really make you want MORE government, or just more effective government? Bigger government doesn’t mean better government, Robert. I think I know how to spend my money better than most politicians, and I’d rather keep as much of it as I can. There are reasons that Americans decided to form a government when they came to the new world, and for those reasons, it is justifiable that we pay fair taxes for the services we allow government to perform on our behalf. But when the majority of the people don’t agree on what our tax money is being spent on by government, then I think it’s time to cut spending and taxes. Maybe some of you’ve got plenty of money, so maybe it eases your mind to know that your taxes are going to help some program you wouldn’t bother to volunteer for…but for me, I’ve got 3 kids to raise, and I’d much rather roll up my sleeves in my community as a volunteer than outsource that work to a government agency who wastes my money.

    There are legitimate functions of government…and then there is just plain wasteful spending. I think we need to get down to brass tacks in the budget process, and figure out which of the latter we can cut.

  14. Jill Buck
    January 24, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Okay, Robert, since you believe that there is a migration of thought toward your party, then why has my assembly district continue to bleed Democratic registrations at one of the highest rates in the state? We’re seeing an exodus from both parties in our Bay Area registration, but the acceleration rate is much higher among registered Democrats than it is among Republicans. How do you explain that?

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    January 24, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    “Why are we even playing their game? Debating who shrunk government more is conceding their point, that it is somehow good or desirable to shrink government.”

    Robert — thanks for chiming in; I used the shrinking government argument to make a point that Republicans say they are for smaller government and limited government intrusion when their actions and record reflect the opposite. I don’t see this as an exercise in playing their game, but pointing out they don’t play the game either. Republicans have grown the federal government to its largest size ever and as far as intrusion in our lives, thank the Patriot Act, Domestic Surveillance, and denying Gays and Lesbians the same rights straights enjoy.

    Jill — our current government is outsourcing a significant amount of services that used to be conducted by government workers. And I’d like to point out that the majority of people, American citizens, 70 percent of us in fact, want us out of Iraq. If we take the $2 billion a week we’re spending there, we can give every person in the country quality affordable healthcare. I have two kids to raise as well and would like not to have to worry about my son being drafted to fight an unjust war we’re in built on a premise of lies. I realize this has little to do with the “smaller government” argument, but as far as better government goes, I wouldn’t trust the Republicans to tell me the time.

    On your last comment to Robert, both major parties are losing voters to DTS status. But Republicans in this state account for only one-third of all registered voters. Your party screwed the pooch by denying DTS and independents the chance for GOP candidates in the coming primary election; a position advocated by Flash Report Publisher Jon Fleischman.

    The interesting part Jill is we (you and I) actually have a great deal in common. Funny how we’re on opposite sides of the fence

  16. Northcountystorm
    January 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    The shrinking government point was raised by Dan to disprove a GOP attack, not necessarily to recommend shrinking government.

    But I submit most people would not support a bloated government and government should–where possible–be as cost conscious and efficient as the private sector strives to be. Jill, you may be right that bigger government doesn’t necessarily mean better government. But your Party needs to understand that the reverse also follows: less government doesn’t necessarily mean better government. The result of the clash of these positions is supposed to give us the correct size of government. Sometimes that works and sometimes that does not.

    As for the OC versus Bay Area situation: I tend to agree with Robert that a large part of the reason for the placement of Bay Area GOP legislators on the political endangered species list is the rightward tilt of your Party and its legislative wing. Lest Robert and Democrats take too much comfort in that recall OC in the late 70’s. 4 of the 6 assembly seats were Democratic, one full and one partial congressional seat and one state senate seat were Democrats. And like Robert observed for the Bay Area, in the OC it wasn’t reapportionment that did in the Dems.The voters in those same district rejected–one by one– the big government/quotas/welfare/big unions/gun control philosophy they thought the Democrats were advocating. They went hard for the Reagan Revolution and by the 1986 election had wiped out all Democratic officeholders. The Democrats crawled back in Orange County in part because of reapportionment, in part because the Tom Umberg of the 90’s was a formidable candidate, Loretta Sanchez pulled off an upset in a Democratic year nationally and ran hard every election after that, the Republicans decided to say adios to the Latino vote with their prop 187 advocacy and Lou Correa-he who offends so many on the left–held on by an eyelash the senate seat here.
    I’m not so bullish on Democrati prospects in the OC—a new reapportionment could just as easily wipe out the three Democratic seats as add one more.

    And Jill, I’m all for reapportionment reform for congressional seats when you get Texas, Florida, Georgia and some other states to do the same. But it will always be hard to have 50-50 seats given communities of interest. A fair plan that preserved communities of interest would increase the number of competitive seats but not by a huge amount.

  17. Jill Buck
    January 24, 2008 at 9:50 pm


    We’re only on opposite sides of the fence if we let people tell us we are. Yes, there are bedrock principles of each Party that distinguish our positions – though I’m not sure how many of either sides’ leaders adhere to those bedrock principles – but at the end of the day we are parents, taxpayers, Californians, Americans and humans. I refuse to let people who make money from political conflict tell me who I can have a reasonable and rationale discussion with.

    You guys have raised some really good, cerebral points that have been far more interesting and stimulating for me than some of the shallow grandstanding rhetoric I find out there, that really doesn’t satisfy my need for discourse. Disagreement, debate and well-intentioned questioning are just more my style of learning than one-sided same ‘ole, same ‘ole.

    Thanks for sharing some cyberspace with me for a couple of days. I really enjoyed it! I’ll be back sometime, actually anytime you want, but I’ll leave you alone to be with each other for a while. (:

    Take care!


  18. Dan Chmielewski
    January 25, 2008 at 5:25 am

    I have to say Jill, I have enjoyed this too. ON resdistricting, I find a hard time of Republicans thinking some seats will be competitive when they only hold a third of the number of registered voters.

  19. Jill Buck
    January 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Hey, Dan…I’ll bite…(:

    Right now, DTS voters comprise 19% of the CA electorate, and at the rate that both parties are losing voters to this designation, we may soon have a state that is divided into thirds – which would make redistricting a whole new process. It’s amazing to me to see this burgeoning group of CA and U.S. voters without a platform or a leader…as far as I know, this hasn’t happened in politics before. If the current trend continues, the DTS voters will need to pick a color, b/c we may not be a blue or red state in the very near future.

  20. January 25, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    So, to use Matt’s oft-noted terms of “Strawman” and “Red Herring,” GOP calls for limited government are like seeing a cougar in the wild; rare indeed.


    While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I should point out you aren’t using those terms correctly.

  21. Dan Chmielewski
    January 25, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Very good Matt, but my metaphor applies…and you do overuse the terms anyway and its a source of great amusement at Drinking Liberally.

    Jill, there are more Democrats than Republicans and I do admit my party is bleeding members, but your party is hemoraging them. Pick up the latest Newsweek and read the cover story. DTS voters and independents are siding with Democrats more than Republicans.

    Jill, I’m sure we agree on the big things, like family, friends, and faith. But we are on opposite sides of the fence about the role government plays in our lives.

  22. Dan Chmielewski
    January 25, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Matt — your response to my limited government was indeed a red herring and a straw man, as you pointed out I misused the phrases without disputing my point.

    A red herring is a metaphor for a diversion or distraction from an original objective.

    Red herring may also refer to:

    Kipper, a fish having been dried, smoked, and salted
    Red herring (plot device), intended to distract the audience from a more important event
    Red Herring (magazine), a magazine focused on the new technology businesses
    The Red Herring (magazine), a comedy magazine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada
    Red herring fallacy, a logical fallacy in which one purports to prove one’s point by means of irrelevant arguments
    Red herring prospectus, a preliminary financial prospectus offering a new stock (in red type)
    Red Herring Artists, an artist’s collective based in Brighton, England
    Red Herring Surf, a brand of surfwear in Tasmania, Australia
    Red Herring, a character in the cartoon series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.

    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw man argument” is to create a position that is easy to refute and attribute that position to the opponent. Often, the straw man is set up to deliberately overstate the opponent’s position.[1] A straw man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent’s actual argument has not been refuted.[2]

    Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it.[3] It is occasionally called a straw dog fallacy, scarecrow argument, or wooden dummy argument.

  23. January 25, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    …and you do overuse the terms anyway and its a source of great amusement at Drinking Liberally.

    I wouldn’t have to over use the terms if you and others would stop sending so many straw men, armed with 50-caliber red herrings, over the top.

  24. January 25, 2008 at 5:57 pm


    You should read the definitions you just posted, and you’ll see neither apply to the very simple point I made about your initial use of the terms.

  25. dumbal
    January 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    matt answer the points posted! quit trying to frame the discussion towards points that don’t make you and your wingnuts look stupid!

  26. Bladerunner
    January 25, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    If Matt Holder can make it over to Drinking Liberally maybe Jubal can as well. It would be a pressworthy event. Invite Martin.

  27. January 26, 2008 at 11:15 am


    I did. Dan hauled out the whole red herring and straw man thing, not me. I was responding to him.

    BTW, I linked to this posted from OC Blog and posted my thoughts on it there.

    But Dan’s basic point seems to be that when Republicans had control of the White House and Congress, they didn’t do what they’d always said they would do: reduce the size of government.

    The Democrats, on the other hands, promise to expand the size of government, and they succeed in keeping that promise — which isn’t hard, since it is the inherent tendency of government to grow.

    As for the the Clinton example you libs love to tout, you routinely forget (with the notable exception of folsk like Northcountystorm) that that occurred with a GOP Congress. When he had a Demcoratic Congress, Clinton raised taxed and attempted a massive expansion of government.

  28. January 26, 2008 at 11:16 am

    If Matt Holder can make it over to Drinking Liberally maybe Jubal can as well.

    Drinking Liberally falls on Mrs. Jubal and I’s date night. Much as I’d love to hoist a couple with you guys, Mrs. Jubal takes preference.

  29. Dan Chmielewski
    January 26, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Bring her; I brought my wife to the last one even though she’s a DTS

  30. Dan Chmielewski
    January 26, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Matt —
    Clinton inheireted a fiscal mess from G.H.W. Bush in 1993 and attempted to provide healthcare to everyone, something most industrialized nations do today, and even Newt Gingrich admits he was hasty about helping to kill “Hillarycare” back then. Clinton raised taxes because he had to. Debt service was a major strain on the economy. But by raising taxes, the deficit turned to a surplus and we had the longest string of economic growth in our history.

    Yes it was a GOP congress, but Al Gore led the entire RE-GO initiaitve (Gore spelled sideways) with little input from the Republicans. Most of the efficiencies were found via executive branch functions and simplfying regulations. You have to admit, RE-GO was far more successful than anything the GOP did while they held power.

    And under W with a Republican Congress, the growth of the federal govenment surpasses even the wildest dreams of LBJ and FDR; you can’t put that back on the Dems.

  31. RHackett
    January 26, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Clinton raised taxes because he had to. Debt service was a major strain on the economy. But by raising taxes, the deficit turned to a surplus and we had the longest string of economic growth in our history.

    Exactly. Twelve years of record deficits run up under the oversight of Reagan and Bush the smarter.

    Because of the present Bush, the next President will have no choice but to do the same.

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