Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Start Balancing the Budget, Vote Obama

UPDATE III:  "If we are going to have radical deficit reduction, the fiscal cliff may be the fairest, least harmful way it can be achieved. Expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, for example, would restore rates on the top 2 percent of earners to the levels they paid during the 1990s boom. Any likely deal would raise those rates less, and require either other tax increases or spending cuts to offset the revenue loss. (You can guess who’ll be hit hardest by those.)

Likewise, non-defense discretionary funding, which supports everything from national parks to Head Start — and which was already slashed in the 2011 debt-limit deal — would almost certainly face deeper cuts than those required in the sequester. . .

[I]f the New Year’s Day changes remain in full force — the result would be sacrifice shared broadly among rich, middle-class and poor, and between domestic and military programs. Any bargain proposed to avoid the fiscal cliff should be judged against that standard."

Read The New York Times, Bring on the Fiscal Cliff.   

UPDATE II: "Grover Norquist, who’s led the anti-tax movement on the right, similarly hailed the election as a victory and affirmation of Paul Ryan’s approach toward taxes and the budget."

Read the Washington Post, How Republicans are trying to look on the bright side today

Fiscal cliff here we come!

UPDATE:  "If all you wanted to do was to reduce the deficit as quickly as possible, here’s one very simple way to get it done: Go off the fiscal cliff.

Do so would result in about $720 billion in total austerity in 2013, and it would bring down the deficit that year in some of major ways, including $180 billion from income tax hikes, $120 billion in revenue from the payroll tax, $110 billion from the sequester’s automatic spending cuts, and $160 billion from expiring tax breaks and other programs, according to Bank of America’s estimates."

Read the Washington Post, The fiscal cliff would cut the deficit by $720 billion in 2013, but even deficit hawks hate it

"If the Obama administration were to really lay out their plans, they would go something like this. In November, President Obama will reiterate, clearly and firmly, that he will veto any attempts to extend the high-income tax cuts or lift the big, dumb spending cuts without finding equivalent savings elsewhere. In fact, as my colleague Lori Montgomery reports, they’re already reiterating that promise.

That veto threat is the center of the Obama administration’s second-term strategizing. The Obama administration believes – and, just as importantly, they believe Republicans believe — that they’ve got the leverage here. The Republican position on taxes is less popular than the Democratic position. The outcome of gridlock is much higher taxes, which is more anathema to Republicans and arguably cheering to Democrats. The big, dumb spending cuts, despite being poorly timed and inanely constructed, are very progressive in their effect, falling heavily on military spending while exempting Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare beneficiaries.

I’ve called this the GOP’s dual-trigger nightmare. It’s bad for the economy, but it also effectively ends our deficits with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts more progressive than anything any Democrat has dared propose. Republicans absolutely can’t let it happen. But the only way they can stop it from happening is to make a deal."

Read the Washington Post, Obama’s plan: Push Republicans off the fiscal cliff, which includes this comparison of various proposals to start balancing the budget:

You might remember, almost a year ago I discussed 'the GOP's dual trigger nightmare' and asked: Did Obama Con the Republi-CONs?

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Premarital Sex and Another Shotgun Wedding for the Palin Clan

UPDATE:  Well, that didn't last long, but long enough to silence the questions of family hypocrisy.  Read The New York Daily News, Track Palin and wife, Britta Hanson, file jointly for divorce after one year of marriage.  

You do the math: "Track Palin, the eldest son of Alaska's favorite hockey mom, is expecting a child with his high school sweetheart, Britta Hanson, just two months after their wedding. . . [But photos from a recent baby show for Britta show her] well into the second trimester, around six months, even seven." Read The New York Daily News, Track Palin, son of Sarah Palin, expecting child with wife Britta Hanson two months after wedding, which notes:

"Mom Sarah Palin has been a staunch defender of waiting until marriage. She pushed for abstinence-only education during her 2006 run for governor of Alaska."

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Good Summary of the Delusions of Our Local Pastor and His Friends

"It was both a good year and a bad one for conspiracy theories and theorists. For one thing, Neil Armstrong died. That was sad for many reasons; included among them is that now he’ll never be able to reveal the secret about the moon landing. On the other hand, it was a Presidential-election year, a particularly fertile time for conspiracy theorizing. People are fixated on an enemy, and they just need to take the next step and imagine all of the diabolical things that enemy could be up to. They certainly did plenty of that in 2012. Here are twelve of the highlights of the year's conspiracy theories. For the record, none of them are true."

Read The New Yorker, 2012: The Year of the Attack of the Gay Muslim Kenyan Divorcee President.

The article is a good summary of the delusion of those like our local Pastor Egomaniacal (AKA Pastor 2+2 Does Not = 4, Pastor Dred Scott, Resident Pastor-to-the-Dictators, Pastor Truthiness, and Pastor Poppins), and his friends at WND who just can't admit that Obama was  ever elected President.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Republi-CON 'Balanced Budget, Less Government' Fraud

UPDATE:  "For years, deficit scolds have held Washington in thrall with warnings of an imminent debt crisis, even though investors, who continue to buy U.S. bonds, clearly believe that such a crisis won’t happen; economic analysis says that such a crisis can’t happen; and the historical record shows no examples bearing any resemblance to our current situation in which such a crisis actually did happen."  Read The New York Times, Fighting Fiscal Phantoms.  

"So it turns out that federal spending is important to the economy after all. . .

Republican lawmakers demanded the cuts last year as part of their brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, and business lobbies have generally supported slashing the deficit. But now that the cuts are imminent, corporate executives seem to have realized that the last thing the economy needs is a large budget cut across the board. 

They’re right about that. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the combined impact of the automatic spending cuts plus the scheduled expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts — the so-called fiscal cliff — would cause the economy to contract in the first half of 2013. Some business leaders seem to think the solution is for Congress to act as soon as possible to avert the spending cuts and to extend all of the tax cuts. That would avoid an economic downturn next year, but it would also mean no progress toward long-term deficit reduction"

 Read The New York Times, Business Fears the Fiscal Cliff

Proving once again "Keynes’s basic point: slashing spending in a depressed economy depresses that economy further

It also proves that the Republi-cons are frauds.

BTW, since the 2010 elections I've been waiting for the promised balanced budget, but don't hold you breath because the Republi-CONs Con the Tea Party, there'll be no $100 billion budget cut, and let's admit the obvious, the Republi-CONs are not serious about deficits.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear God: It's Me, the Dog

A little post-election humor, from an email:

Dear God: Is it on purpose that our names are spelled the same, only in reverse?

Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God: When we get to Heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or will it be the same old story?

Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a Dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We love a nice car ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the 'Chrysler Beagle'?

Dear God: If a Dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad Dog?

Dear God: We Dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent IDs, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God: Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God: Here is a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good Dog:

1. I will not eat the cat's food before he eats it or after he throws it up.

2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.

3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.

4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.

5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.

6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.

7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'hello'.

8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table.

9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.

10. I will not come in from outside, and immediately drag my butt across the carpet.

11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room, and lick my crotch.

12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy', so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

 P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven, may I have my testicles back?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Romney Sings Concession!!!

A parody of "Romney’s concession speech in a cheery musical number currently making the Youtube rounds. The Gregory Brothers song, paired with real footage from Romney’s concession, pokes fun at the candidate’s wealth with lines like "I’m done pretending to have fun with the plebeians,' and 'besides, who on earth could possibly get by on $400,000 a year?'":

It's a great country! Where else would something like this be done and published freely and openly so soon after such a closely contested election.

Who Will Win?, the Final Stretch

UPDATE XIX:  "After disappointing results in Tuesday’s election, Mr. Priebus said that it was time for Republicans to become "'more tolerant of those with a math-and-science lifestyle.'"
Read The New Yorker, Republicans Consider Welcoming People Who Believe in Math and Science.

UPDATE XVIII:  And what organization had the most accurate polling?  Read Talking Points Memo, Public Policy Polling Deemed Most Accurate National Pollster In 2012, which notes that 'lamestream media' easily beat Hedgehog News.

As I said before, watch Hedgehog News, be dumber than the ill-informed

Channel surfing, I briefly watched Hedgehog last night and it was a hoot as the hosts realized reality trumped partisan delusion. Trump pun intended.

Hedgehog News brings to mind what George Orwell wrote in a famous essay, "In Front of Your Nose": "[W]e are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."  In this case, that battlefield was the 2012 election.

Speaking of Trump delusions, did ya hear about the Trump twitter meltdown, he even called for a 'revolution'You might remember that he's a birther and was once the next Republi-con celebrity candidate. 

UPDATE XVII:  Numbers (and facts) have such a liberal bias. 

Read the Washington Post, Guess what? The polls (and Nate Silver) were right., Forbes, Three Lessons From The Nate Silver Controversy, Bloomberg, Nate Silver-Led Statistics Men Crush Pundits in Election. , and The Atlantic, How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File, which notes that "Nate Silver was right. His ideological antagonists were wrong. And that's just the beginning of the right's self-created information disadvantage."

UPDATE XVI:  Try The New York Times, 512 Paths to the White House, which allows you to "[s]elect a winner in the most competitive states . . . to see all the paths to victory available for either candidate."  The interactive graph show that Obama has 431 paths to victory, Romney has 76, and 5 result in a tie, and each begins with who wins Florida.

UPDATE XV:  Here are several final forecasts for the Electoral College and, if any, the national two-party popular vote (Obama - Romney):

Jay DeSart and Tom Holbroo, Utah Valley University:  303 - 235 and 51.37 - 48.63%

Drew Linzer, Political Science, Emory University:  326 - 212

Sam Wang, Princeton Election Consortium: 312 to 226

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight at The New York Times:  313 - 225 and 50.8 - 48.3%

Politico.com:  303 - 235.

Real Clear Politics303 - 235 and 48.8 - 48.1.

According to Robert Erikson, a prominent forecasting specialist at Columbia, and his colleague Karl Sigman, the polls would have to be wrong by four points for Romney to win.  The article notes that a win by Romeny would be unheard of, '"[u]nheard of' doesn’t mean 'impossible,' of course, but it does suggest that Romney has tough odds to overcome Tuesday."

For other forecasts and predictions, read the Washington Post, Pundit accountability: The official 2012 election prediction thread.

UPDATE XIV:  "The polls, taken together, are typically pretty accurate. Systemic problems, while possible, aren’t likely. There are a lot of pollsters producing a lot of polls and each and every one of them has every incentive to try and get it right. When they converge, it’s typically with good reason. And right now, they have converged. The 3-4 percentage point error necessary for Romney to be the real favorite in this race is extremely unlikely.

Critics of the polls, meanwhile, tend to be self-serving. You don’t hear Romney supporters arguing that the cell phone users really are undersampled, and their candidate’s position is even more dire than it seems. Similarly, no prominent Obama supporters have argued that the polls are assuming an electorate that looks too much like 2008, and as such, are undercounting Romney’s likely support. Frankly, I’d be much more likely to take a critique of the polls seriously if it cut against the critic’s self-interest. But somehow, it never does.

Self-serving critiques can be correct, of course, but because they’re motivated by what the critic wishes to see happen, or what the flack needs the media to think is happening, they deserve to be treated with suspicion. And because the pollsters themselves have clear incentives, more expertise, and a deeper understanding of the data, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So here’s my prediction for tomorrow: The polls will prove to be right. President Obama will win with 290 electoral votes. I’m not extremely confident in the precision of that estimate: Some swing states are close enough that it’s entirely possible for a good ground game to tip, say, Florida into Obama’s column, or Colorado into Romney’s. Virginia is basically tied, and I’m giving it to Romney based on the assumption that challenger wins in a tie, but it could easily go the other way. So if Obama ends up winning with 303, I won’t be surprised."

Read the Washington Post, Wonkblog, The polls will be right and Obama will win with 290 electoral votes.

UPDATE XIII:  If Obamney is so confident that he's going to win, why, in the final week of the campaign, do his campaign ads have an air of desperation?  Read The New Republic, Chrysler, GM to Romney: Stop Lying and the Washington Post, Mitt Romney’s Kamikaze strategy and Romney video blames Obama for death of barbecue joint.

Also read the comments on the last article.  It seems Romney didn't do his due diligence, the restaurant had crappy food, bad locations, and health violations, and, to quote one former customer, was "a dirty dump".  Really, does Obamney really think the president of the United States is responsible for failed restaurants, and that he's our great savior?

UPDATE XII:  With a week until the election, the chart below shows "'the estimated probabilities of an Obama victory and current Electoral College forecasts (where available) from the political scientists Jay DeSart and Tom Holbrook, Stanford’s Simon Jackman, Emory’s Drew Linzer, Silver, Princeton’s Sam Wang, the British sports book Betfair, and the Intrade futures market (here and here).'"

Read the Washington Post, Nate Silver and the forecasting consensus, in one chart, which quotes Columbia Journalism Review, Pundits versus probabilities, The misguided backlash against Nate Silver, and includes this chart:

We''l know next week whether these forecasts are correct, and whether the  Republi-cons  are just trying to create their own reality again.

UPDATE XI:  "[O]n June 7, the closest states were Colorado, Ohio and Virginia, each of which slightly favored Mr. Obama. In Florida and North Carolina, meanwhile, we had Mitt Romney listed as a modest favorite.

Pretty much the same could be said about the race today. In fact, our projected leader in all 50 states is the same as it was at our launch of the forecast in June."

Read The New York Times, Oct. 28: In Swing States, a Predictable Election?

UPDATE X:  "A straightforward read of the polls suggests we’re likely to see Mitt Romney win the popular vote and Barack Obama win the electoral college — and, thus, the presidency. But most pollsters don’t think that will happen."

Read the Washington Post, Will Romney win the popular vote but lose the presidency?

UPDATE IX:  As of October 25, just 12 days before the election, there is not "any continuously updated model that shows Romney ahead. Nate SIlver’s model gives Obama a 71 percent chance of winning. Sam Wang’s meta-analysis predicts 293 electoral votes for Obama. Drew Linzer’s Votamatic predicts 332 electoral votes for Obama."

Read the Washington Post, Where the 2012 presidential election is right now, which in addition to the election forecast models, summaries the national and state polls, the campaign ground games, enthusiasm, early voting, and the momentum narrative.

For earlier updates (July-October), see Who Will Win?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who Won the The 2012 Presidential Candidate Wife Cookie Contest?

UPDATE II:  "Polls — who needs them? You want election-picking accuracy? Try World Series winners, school-kid polls, 7-Eleven coffee cups and more."

Read the Washington Post, Who will win the election? A few un­or­tho­dox indicators., which including the Chia hair growth forecast, the Redskins rule, and the Halloween mask predictor, as well as the cookie test below.

UPDATE:  And with "just 287 votes separated the two women, [the] smallest margin ever, the winner is . . .  Read Politico, Michelle Obama wins cookie contest.  

Was it the white and dark chocolate cookie made with "two sticks of butter and a stick of Crisco" or the "the 'healthier' non-Crisco, non-flour, heavy-on-the-oats M&M cookie?"

And which cookie was from which wife?

And did you know that "all winners since 1992 have ended up living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave—except Cindy McCain, whose borrowed recipe for oatmeal-butterscotch cookies beat Michelle’s lemon zest shortbread in 2008."

Read Time, Obama Wins Crucial Cookie-Related Precursor to Re-Election.

Friday, November 2, 2012

God Must Love Obama and Want Him Relected

UPDATE:  More proof that God must love Obama and sent a hurricane to rescue his campaign: "In a surprise announcement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy had reshaped his thinking about the presidential campaign and that as a result he was endorsing President Obama."

Read The New York Times, Bloomberg Backs Obama, Citing Climate Change

Unemployment is closely related to presidential approval ratings and G.D.P. growth, which, as noted before, are two of the three factors important to the outcome of the election.

And "[t]he unusually warm winter in the United States gave payroll employment numbers a big boost this year. How big? Macroeconomic Advisers estimates that the warm weather, with below-average precipitation, boosted payroll employment in February by 72,000." (Read the Washington Post, How an unusually warm winter boosted the economy.)

Ergo, God must love Obama.

I am sure Pastor Poppins of Pensacola would agree.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Republi-CON Team Rape

Colbert "enlightens his fellow conservatives on rape's approval rating" because "[c]ome on, they're kind of asking for it."  Watch the Colbert Report, Richard Mourdock's Rape Comment:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Did The Bailout and Stimulus Work?

UPDATE II:  "The reason the fiscal cliff is such a threat to 2013?s economy isn’t that it’s too little deficit reduction — it’s that it’s too much all at once, totaling about $720 billion, or 5.1 percent of GDP in a single year, which could throw the economy into recession.

Republicans agree on that. Democrats agree on that. And in agreeing on that, both sides appear to be embracing an argument that’s been rather contentious in recent years: that fiscal stimulus boosts short-term economic growth and budget cuts hurt it."

Read the Washington Post, Worried about the fiscal cliff? Then you’re a Keynesian.

You can bet that if the Republi-cons win the election, budget deficits will no longer be an issue.

UPDATE:  "Increasingly, the evidence suggests that the United States has come out of the financial crisis of 2008 in better shape than its peers — because of the actions of its government." Read the Washington Post, The U.S. economy is recovering well

You betcha.  Read the Washington Post, Does this graph prove the bailout and the stimulus worked?, which notes it was your "garden variety, severe financial crisis," and while the policy response wasn't perfect, it worked, as these graphs show:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who Will Win?

UPDATE VIII:  "In recent days, the vibe emanating from Mitt Romney’s campaign has grown downright giddy. Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily. (“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”)

This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy."  Read New York Magazine, Romney Says He’s Winning — It’s a Bluff. 

Also, read The Atlantic, Despite a Strong Debate Campaign, Romney's Path to 270 Remains Steep,  which notes "[n]ational polls show a tight race, but the campaign has stabilized and the map still favors Obama. . .

If Obama carries Ohio and Wisconsin, where he is ahead in most polling, he gets the 270 with one electoral vote to spare, so Romney could sweep Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and New Hampshire and still come up short. No matter how you cut it, Ohio is the pivotal state, and it isn't just the history of having gone with every winner from 1964 on and with no Republican ever capturing the White House without it.

To be sure, this race is so close that it clearly can go either way, but the Obama electoral path looks less steep than the one Romney must traverse, and the final debate seems unlikely to have altered that fact."

UPDATE VII:  If forecasts are correct there are now only seven of an original nine battleground states left to be decided: "Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Wisconsin."  Read Politico, 2012: The battle for 7 states

From below you'll note that the swing state most likely to flip to Romney was North Carolina, and it is expected to.  However, it appears that Nevada will not. And according to that earlier estimate, if Romney can't win Ohio, Wisconsin, or New Hampshire he won't get at least 270 electoral votes.

UPDATE VI:  For up-to-the-date polling on the election and who is favored to win, see Real Clear Politics, General Election: Romney vs. Obama, which includes links to Electoral College predictions.

UPDATE V:  "Four stories are at the heart of any campaign. If you understand them, you know who controls the message — and with it, perhaps the election. These stories make up what campaign strategists call the 'message grid,' which has four quadrants. The first two comprise the positive stories the candidates are telling about themselves; the other two feature the negative stories each candidate is telling about the other.

In some elections, one quadrant of the grid dominates the conversation — for example, when the economy or a candidate is particularly strong or weak. Campaigns jostle for position on the grid, trying to emphasize the stories they prefer and to alter elements of the stories their opponents are effectively telling. In 2008, the stars were aligned for a new and exciting candidate to tell a story about hope and change after eight years of fear and loathing, skillfully turning his 'different-ness' into an asset.

But 2012 is not 2008. This year, the stories President Obama and Mitt Romney can tell about themselves are just not that compelling. In contrast, the stories they have to tell about each other are far more powerful."

Read the Washington Post, The candidates’ message: I might be so-so, but the other guy is terrible.

UPDATE IV:  Read the Washington Post, Forecasting the election: Most models say Obama will win. But not all.

UPDATE III:  "[T]he campaigns themselves don’t much care about national polls. They’re focused on 8-12 battleground states. That’s pretty much all they care about. And they have a lot of information on what’s going on in those states. . .

[The] list the swing states from most likely to flip to Romney to least likely to flip to Romney:

    1. North Carolina
    2. Iowa
    3. Florida
    4. Colorado
    5. Virginia
    6. Nevada
    7. Ohio
    8. Wisconsin
    9. New Hampshire

Their conclusion:

'What’s striking about this list is if you give Romney the Top 4 (NC, IA, FL, and CO) that only gets him to 250 electoral votes. And if you give him the next two on the list (VA and NV), he’s still one short of 270 (bringing us to that 269-269 tie). That means he has to put one of Ohio, Wisconsin, or New Hampshire into the mix to get past 270. Bottom line: Romney’s map to 270 is more than doable, but it’s also a high-wire act.'

Read the Washington Post, Romney’s tough road to 270.  

UPDATE II: National polls show Obama leading Obamney by an average of 1.3%.  But a more complicated analysis estimates Obama's lead at about 3.5%.  Why?

Because, the "United States of America is a constitutional republic made up of 50 states and the District of Columbia."

Read The New York Times, State and National Polls Tell Different Tales About State of Campaign.

UPDATE: The latest prediction, from the Washington Post:

"The first look at the 2012 FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast has Barack Obama as a very slight favorite to win re-election. But his advantage equates to only a two-point lead in the national popular vote, and the edge could easily swing to Mitt Romney on the basis of further bad economic news.

Mr. Obama remains slightly ahead of Mr. Romney in most national polls, and he has had a somewhat clearer advantage in polling conducted at the state level. Mr. Obama would be about 80 percent likely to win an election held today, according to the model.

However, the outlook for the Nov. 6 election is much less certain, with Mr. Obama having winning odds of just over 60 percent. The forecast currently calls for Mr. Obama to win roughly 290 electoral votes, but outcomes ranging everywhere from about 160 to 390 electoral votes are plausible, given the long lead time until the election and the amount of news that could occur between now and then. Both polls and economic indicators are a pretty rough guide five months before an election."

For an in-depth analysis of the 2012 general election, read The New York Times, Election Forecast: Obama Begins With Tenuous Advantage.

And for a "killer calculus of the president’s re-election chances," read these prior posts, Obama in 2012 and Obama in 2012?, Another Forecast Model.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Economist Ideal Candidate

"Recently, the smart folks over at NPR’s Planet Money decided, just for kicks, to ask five economists from across the political spectrum to design their dream candidate for president. Essentially, they wanted to know, what are the policies that virtually all economists will endorse, at least in principle?

Here’s the resulting platform:

    * Get rid of the tax deduction for mortgage interest on homes, raising about $90 billion.

    * Get rid of the tax benefit for employer health care, raising $184.5 billion.

    * Eliminate the corporate income tax. Entirely.

    * Reform the entire tax code so that we tax consumption (in a progressive way) rather than income, in order to boost growth.

    * Put a tax on carbon emissions.

    * Legalize marijuana–just tax it and regulate it."

Read the Washington Post, Economists design their dream candidate. But could he ever get elected?

Who is the Real Obamney?

UPDATE IV: "After an evening of light-hearted jabs, President Barack Obama returned to his cutting criticism of rival Mitt Romney Friday, accusing the GOP nominee of forgetting the hard right positions he took during the GOP primary in order to seem more moderate.

Obama, speaking at a rally in the Northern Virginia suburb of Fairfax, told the crowd his opponent was suffering "Romnesia" after seeming to change his position on contraception, coal, equal pay, and taxes."
Read CNN, Obama diagnoses 'Romnesia'

UPDATE III:  "Scrubbing one’s brain clean of previous positions has been Mitt Romney’s stock in trade. In fact, his foreign-policy speech Monday to the Virginia Military Institute was one long gargle-and-rinse of the candidate’s previous positions.

Last year, Romney called the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya 'mission creep and mission muddle.' On Monday, he accused Obama of declining to use 'America’s greatest power to shape history' and of eschewing 'our best examples of world leadership' in that same corner of the world.

Last year, Romney said American troops 'shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.' On Monday, he spoke of that same conflict as a matter of the utmost national importance, saying the route to 'attacks here at home is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.'

Last year, Romney reversed his earlier support for the Iraq war, saying, 'If we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction . . . obviously we would not have gone in.' On Monday, he was back to his original view, accusing the Obama administration of an 'abrupt withdrawal' from Iraq and portraying the situation there as part of 'a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair.'

Just a few months ago, Romney said 'there’s just no way' to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians because Palestinians are 'not wanting to see peace.' He said it was necessary to 'recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem.' On Monday, he said he would 'recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security' with Israel.

Rub-a-dub-dub! Four positions got scrubbed."

Read the Washington Post, A scrubbing on foreign policy.

Read also, Slate, Mitt Romney’s Most Dishonest Speech

UPDATE II:  "Romney isn’t an ideological moderate. He’s a pragmatic executive. When he needs to govern from the center, he does. When he needs to lurch to the right, off he goes. So if you want to know how he’ll govern, don’t listen to what he says. Look at who he has reason to fear."  Read the Washington Post, Moderate Mitt isn’t so moderate.  

UPDATE:  Old Obamney couldn't win, so meet new Obamney, who has a history "of shifts, equivocations, and reversals, coupled with ongoing revisions of his image and his autobiography". Read New York Magazine, Can Obama Discredit the New Romney.  

Is he the "severe conservative" he claimed to be in the primary, or the 'spirited' moderate who threw the tea party under the bus by denying policies he promised before the debate?

Read the Washington Post, Romney’s personality shift; Slate, In Domestic Debate, Mitt Romney Shakes The Etch-a-Sketch; The New York Times, Entering Stage Right, Romney Moved to Center and Moderate Mitt Returns!; New York Magazine, The Return of Massachusetts Mitt

During the debate I was reminded of what The Great Lecherer, aka Newtenstein, said of Obamney:  "Lincoln once said if a man won't agree that two plus two equals four then you'll never win the argument because facts don't matter, Romney's the first candidate I've seen who fits the Lincoln description."

Obamney has proven he is just another Republi-CON.

Monday, October 22, 2012

You're So Wonderful, Not

UPDATE IV:  "Imagine a presidential candidate who spoke with blunt honesty about American problems, dwelling on measures by which the United States lags its economic peers. . .

[Talk of American exceptionalism] may inspire some people and politicians to perform heroically, rising to the level of our self-image. But during a presidential campaign, it can be deeply dysfunctional, ensuring that many major issues are barely discussed. Problems that cannot be candidly described and vigorously debated are unlikely to be addressed seriously. In a country where citizens think of themselves as practical problem-solvers and realists, this aversion to bad news is a surprising feature of the democratic process."

Read The New York Times, The Opiate of Exceptionalism

UPDATE III: "The Anthony Weiner story is really about narcissism." Read The New York Times, The Online Looking Glass.

UPDATE II: "America needs to adjust its message to college graduates." Read The New York Times, It’s Not About You.

UPDATE: American 'exceptionalism' "discourages compromise, for what God has made exceptional, man must not alter. And yet clearly America must change fundamentally or continue to decline. It could begin by junking a phase that reeks of arrogance and discourages compromise. American exceptionalism ought to be called American narcissism." Read the Washington Post, The myth of American exceptionalism.

"Americans’ tendency toward overconfidence is corroding our citizenship" and may be responsible for our unwillingness "to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe." Read The New York Times, The Modesty Manifesto.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Obamney Snow Job

The Obamney campaign was asked "to substantiate their claim that his policies will create 12 million jobs during his first term. The results were, as the kids say, LOL-worthy.

One study said a Romney-like tax plan could create 7 million jobs. The only problem? That was over 10 years, not four years. Worse, the study assumed that a Romney-like tax plan would be completely paid for and would happen in an economy at full employment. Neither is likely.

The next study was a Citigroup Global Markets effort that projected 3 million energy-related jobs. The only problems? It was over eight years, not four. Oh, and it wasn’t evaluating any of Romney’s policies at all. It was actually looking at current trends and policies — which is to say, Obama’s policies.

Then there’s the 2 million jobs that a 2011 International Trade Commission report estimated we could create if China stopped violating our intellectual property rights. This study wasn’t looking at either Obama or Romney’s policies, and no one thinks that any U.S. president could get Chinese businesses to respect American patents.

So Romney’s claim of 12 million jobs over four years breaks down to 7 million jobs over 10 years in an economy that’s already at full employment, 3 million jobs over eight years that have nothing to do with any of Romney’s policies, and 2 million jobs if China suddenly became very, very respectful of U.S. intellectual property laws."

Read the Washington Post, The Romney campaign’s job math is just as bad as its tax math.

"[T]he true Romney plan is to create an economic boom through the sheer power of Mr. Romney’s personal awesomeness. But the campaign doesn’t dare say that, for fear that voters would (rightly) consider it ridiculous. So what we’re getting instead is an attempt to brazen it out with nakedly false claims. There’s no jobs plan; just a plan for a snow job on the American people"

Read The New York Times, Snow Job on Jobs

More of Those Republi-CON and So-Call Christian Family Values

"Conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza was forced to quit as president of an evangelical Christian college in Manhattan after it came to light that he became engaged to a young woman while he was still married.

D’Souza, 51, had brought his 29-year-old fiancĂ©e to a religious conference, and they shared a hotel room.

His resignation from The King’s College was announced Thursday by Andy Mills, chairman of the institution’s board of trustees.

A former Ronald Reagan aide, D’Souza is a best-selling conservative author and director of the controversial documentary “2016: Obama’s America” — which cast a critical eye at the President’s upbringing and early influences."

Read the New York Daily News, Conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza steps down from Manhattan evangelical Christian college after unholy tryst

I guess his CONservative success went to his head (the little one that is).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Republi-CON CONcern for the Poor

Who stopped by a soup kitchen on his way to the airport for a 15 minutes photo op washing clean dishes?  Read the Washington Post, Charity president unhappy about Paul Ryan soup kitchen ‘photo op’, which includes this video showing the shameless political stunt:

A perfect metaphor of 'the GOP disrespect for the poor.'

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Republi-CON Budget Con

The Republi-cons can't even explain their budget proposal to their media cronies at Hedgehog News, "[i]t would take me too long to go through all the math."

But "the problem isn’t that the math on their plan takes too long to detail. It’s that the math on their plan can’t be done. Or, it can be done, but when you do it, you get answers the Romney campaign doesn’t like — for instance, that the tax plan will either raise taxes on the middle class or add to the deficit."
Read the Washington Post, This is how you quickly do the math on the Romney-Ryan tax plan

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wizard of Republi-CONism Strikes Again!

UPDATE VII:  His job is not to worry about 'those people'.  From the Washington Post, Brutal new Obama ad features Mitt Romney and the 47 percenters:

"The Obama campaign has not sent this ad to national reporters, but I’m told it will air in the seven key swing states. It is a brutal shot at Mitt Romney’s videotaped remarks about the freeloading 47 percent — it features nothing but audio of Romney’s own words, accompanied by pictures of veterans, workers, families with children, and other 47 percenters:

The ad concludes on these words: 'My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.'"

And he needn't worry that it will be his job not to worry about 'those people'. 

UPDATE VI:  Willard "Mitt Romney stands by his secretly taped stance that half of Americans are mindless moochers who don't pay income tax"  Watch The Colbert Report, Mitt Romney's Secret Video, as he shows Obamney how to deliver his message to the freeloaders and moachers with a little more penache:

UPDATE V:  The Republi-con Party "has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride."  Read The New York Times, Disdain for Workers.

UPDATE IV:  And just who are those '47 per-centers'?  More likely than not, Republi-cons.  Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” problem — in 2 maps.  

UPDATE III:  "The candidate needs to stop talking.

Talking includes 'issuing statements' and 'approving this message.' Talking includes making faces that could be interpreted as expressing an opinion. This extends to talking at fundraisers and talking in private and reading books to your grandchildren. This includes making remarks that you thought were off the record. There is no longer any such thing as off the record. You are a candidate for public office. If it were possible, your thoughts and your eerie clown-dreams and the rare occasions when you lusted in your heart would be on the record. If you ever open your mouth, you must assume that everyone who disagrees with you is listening. So avoid the problem altogether. Don’t open your mouth.

This will create a few problems, sure, but it will solve more. Yes, the debates will be a little awkward, as President Obama speaks candidly and at length on a variety of subjects, and Mitt Romney just stands there silently looking presidential and occasionally making a hand gesture of polite disagreement. But it cannot possibly be worse than the present state of affairs."

Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney needs to stop talking

UPDATE II:  "Mitt Romney’s comments on the 47 percent of Americans who make too little to pay income tax and 'will vote for this president no matter what' are causing him some political problems this morning. But could they cause him any electoral problems? Is he really insulting anyone who would already be willing to vote for him?

Actually, yes. The Tax Foundation put out this helpful map of the states with the highest and lowest percentage of people who don’t file income tax returns. The biggest non-filing states are — except Florida and New Mexico — solid red states:


Three of the states with the lowest number of non-filers are solidly conservative: Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming. Two, New Hampshire and Virginia, are swing states. All the rest are solidly Democratic, including half of New England. All told, Obama gets 50 electoral votes from the 'maker' states to Romney’s 9 — 17 are tossups — while Romney gets 96 electoral votes from the 'taker' states to Obama’s 5, with 29 as tossups.

Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney will probably get 95 electoral votes from ‘moocher’ states. Obama will probably get 5.

UPDATE:  "For what it’s worth, this division of “makers” and “takers” isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly.

So 83 percent of those not paying federal income taxes are either working and paying payroll taxes or they’re elderly and Romney is promising to protect their benefits because they’ve earned them. The remainder, by and large, aren’t paying federal income or payroll taxes because they’re unemployed. But that’s a small fraction of the country."

Read the Washington Post, Romney’s theory of the “taker class,” and why it matters.

"Who are these [so-called Republi-con] freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture. Americans haven’t become childlike worshipers of big government. On the contrary, trust in government has declined. The number of people who think government spending promotes social mobility has fallen.

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.

Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact."

Read The New York Times, Thurston Howell Romney.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anybody But Obamney

"There is no love for Mitt Romney in today’s papers. Both The Post and the New York Times have polls showing the Republican presidential nominee trailing President Obama in Florida and Ohio. And there appears to be no love for Romney out on the hustings.

As the clip from 'Morning Joe' shows, after Romney thanked his running mate Paul Ryan for a rousing introduction in Ohio, the crowd started chanting 'Ryan! Ryan!' And then the unfortunate happened. 'Wait a second,' Romney said turning to the crowd before directing them with his hands. 'Romney-Ryan! Romney-Ryan! Romney-Ryan! There we go. All right.' The scene was so painful, 'Morning Joe' host Joe Scarborough muttered, 'Sweet Jesus' through his face-covering hands."

Read the Washington Post, No love from polls or people for Mitt Romney.  

Or watch the clip,

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Save Us, Sarah, Save Us!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Obamney's Dilemma: Damned If He Doesn't Explain, Damned If He Does

"Mitt Romney might still win this election, but he’s now stuck in a trap that will be difficult to escape. Americans are rejecting his argument that they should view their choice mostly as a referendum on Obama’s economic performance, because they blame the sluggish recovery on the magnitude of the mess Obama inherited from George W. Bush, and believe things will get better in Obama’s second term. That is putting pressure on Romney to be more specific about why his alternative, such as it is, would spark a faster recovery than is occurring under Obama.

But Romney can’t be too much more specific about that alternative, because it risks reminding voters of the degree to which his policies resemble those of the aforementioned George W. Bush, under whom the meltdown happened in the first place."

Read the Washington Post, The trap that has ensnared Mitt Romney

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are You a Moocher?

"[A]ccording to 2008 data from the Cornell Survey Research Institute reported Monday in a Times opinion piece, that 96 percent of Americans have taken part in government benefit programs in one form or another."

Read The New York Times, How Many Government Programs Have You Benefited From?

The Obamney Welfare Hypocrisy

Obamney's father was an illegal Mexican immigrant who received public assistance.  Read NPR, Welfare Wasn't Always A Dirty Word In The Romney Family

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Do You Know When a Politician is Lying?

UPDATE:   Democrats "suffer from self-deception (such as a reluctance to credit improvements under a Republican president), but today’s Republicans seem disproportionately untethered to reality."

Read The New York Times, It Takes One to Know One.  

His lips are moving:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Will Win, Continued

Obamney is "behind in most election-forecasting models. Political scientist James Campbell rounded up 13 of the most credible efforts to predict the election outcome: Romney trails in eight of them. He’s also behind in Nate Silver’s election model, the Princeton Election Consortium’s meta-analysis, Drew Linzer’s Votamatic model and the Wonkblog election model.
But I didn’t realize quite how dire Romney’s situation was until I began reading 'The Timeline of Presidential Elections: How Campaigns Do and Don’t Matter,' a new book from political scientists Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien.

What Erikson and Wlezien did is rather remarkable: They collected pretty much every publicly available poll conducted during the last 200 days of the past 15 presidential elections and then ran test after test on the data to see what we could say about the trajectory of presidential elections. Their results make Romney’s situation look very dire."

Read the Washington Post, The Romney campaign is in trouble.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The So-Called Tea Party Has Been Co-Opted by the Republi-CON Establishment

"It’s a story as old as time: two opposing families are brought together when members of each are married.

The Capulets and the Montagues, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, the Hatfields and the McCoys (oh, wait…).

Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has arranged one hell of a political marriage. And in the process, he has cemented his own status as one of the preeminent political survivors of our time.

McConnell announced Thursday that his 2014 Senate campaign will be run by Jesse Benton, who just happens to be a former top aide to Ron Paul — the libertarian congressman that has tangled with the Republican Party establishment for years — and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who trounced a McConnell-endorsed candidate in a primary just two short years ago."

Read the Washington Post, Mitch McConnell + the Pauls = A political marriage made in heaven?

They have been assimilated by the Republi-con collective.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Obama Calls the Republi-CON Bluff to Balance the Budget

UPDATE V:  The only thing holding Obama back is a lack of will to confront the Republi-cons.  Read the Washington Post, The Green Lantern theory of the fiscal cliff.  

UPDATE IV:  Did you know that the Ryan budget would cut $897 billion from the federal government budget?

Since Obamney "has committed himself to keeping the Pentagon budget (Function 050) at 4 percent of G.D.P. By 2050, that would leave zilch under the Ryan plan for such separately funded programs as Veterans Benefits (Function 700); the administration of justice, including the F.B.I. (Function 750); Education, Train and Social Services (Function 500), and pretty much anything else."

Read The New York Times, The Ryan Sinkhole.  

UPDATE III:  The Naive-ocrats have finally gotten the chance to call the Republi-con budget bluff, and they are all-in.

"[T]o paraphrase H.L. Mencken, is that the Obama administration knew the fight they wanted, and now they’re going to get it good and hard.

Putting the Ryan budget at the center of the 2012 election has the tactical benefit of forcing Republicans to defend an unpopular proposal; more important, it has the long-term strategic benefit of potentially discrediting the Ryan budget as a political document. Prior to Ryan joining the ticket, a Romney loss seemed likely to strengthen the Republican Party’s conservative wing, because the defeat would be blamed on Romney’s moderate past. Now, if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses, it will vindicate skeptics of the party’s rightward shift, potentially strengthening the party’s moderates. That could produce a more cooperative opposition for Obama to work with in a second term.

But if Obama loses, Republicans will have won the presidency with a mandate to enact a deeply conservative agenda. Left to his own devices, Romney might have been a relatively pragmatic and cautious president. Instead, the Obama administration’s three-year effort to enshrine the Ryan budget at the heart of the Republican Party would prove to have been a crucial push toward enacting that budget into law."

Read the Washington Post, The White House’s huge gamble on Paul Ryan.

Actually, I bet that even if the Republi-cons win they won't even try to balance the budget, proving my theory it is all a con job.

UPDATE II:  It is "impossible to overstate how central the unjustified label of 'fiscal conservative' is to the Ryan brand and the GOP’s strategy."  Read the Washington Post, Recognizing Paul Ryan’s ‘tell’ when he is trying to avoid something.  

UPDATE:  "[H]ow will a Romney administration make its budget math add up? . .

[Obamney made] outlandish budget promises in order to win a Republican primary, . . . [and now he] is disavowing Ryan’s Medicare cuts mere days after naming him to the ticket?

This is simply not a credible budget plan, and Romney’s fast retreat from Ryan’s most unpopular cuts makes it even less credible. And yet Romney, who has never released the specific cuts that would make his numbers add up, repeatedly touts it on the campaign trail, and the media dutifully reports his promises to cut federal spending by more than $500 billion in 2016, and in fact to balance the budget by the end of his second term, which would require far larger cuts than what I’ve outlined here, despite the fact that everyone basically knows these cuts aren’t credible and will never happen.

I’m not sure what alternative there is, exactly, except to say, as clearly as possible, Romney’s budget plan is a fantasy, and it will never happen."

Read the Washington Post, Romney’s budget plan is a fantasy.  

I've been challenging Naive-ocrats to call the Republi-con bluff and balance the budget with tax cuts, a delusional fantasy of made-up facts and figures. 

You may remember, in 2003 the "prescription drug bill, creating a new federal entitlement that eased the financial burden on seniors while securing drug industry profits at taxpayer expense, with the legislation’s cost – $62 billion in 2010 alone, 12 percent of the federal government's Medicare's costs – covered by the same device used in the Romney and Ryan tax plans: a magic asterisk promising that somehow the numbers would work out.

The vote was contentious, with many conservatives voting against it. Ryan voted in favor. In doing so, he announced that he was a player. . .

The appetite for fantasy – the will to believe the magic asterisks really work – will be enormous. Ryan, the conservative icon, is the ideal emissary to inform the party's true believers that not everyone in this large, pluralistic, complex nation wants to dismantle the federal government at this particular moment. When you wish upon a magic asterisk, not all your dreams come true."

Now we'll get to see if the public really wants to dismantle the federal government.

But if "the [Romney-Ryan] ticket loses, the loss will discredit the Ryan budget, and empower those in the Republican Party who want to pivot back to the center."  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Are You Better Off? You Betcha!

From Bloomberg, Are You Better Off? Take a Look at the Stock Market:

"Do you remember the news four years ago? Banks collapsed, markets cratered, companies struggled to make payroll and millions of people lost their jobs. Your retirement savings were decimated, the value of your house plunged, credit was unobtainable. Politicians dithered and economists argued. Only confusion prospered.

Against this background, it’s surprising to hear Republicans returning to Ronald Reagan’s classic debate question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” To anyone whose memory extends a full electoral cycle, the answer is clearly yes. . .

When assessing our politicians, what matters isn’t just the here and now. It’s at least as important to consider how well we are set up for tomorrow, next year and the decades that follow.

This distinction is particularly important in assessing the aftermath of the last recession. The anxiety that gripped us in late 2008 wasn’t born out of a typical cyclical decline that hurts for a year or two before the economy returns to growth. Rather, it was a fear that something more fundamental had changed, altering our whole economic trajectory.

Only a forward-looking indicator can pick up both this fear and its ultimate resolution. Unfortunately, most economic statistics tell us only what happened last month, last quarter or last year.

The stock market, by contrast, is obsessively focused on the future. When investors decide whether to buy a company’s stock, they aren’t just thinking about its current earnings (if they were, a company like Twitter Inc. would be worthless). They are trying to figure out what its future earnings will be, and what that stream of income should be worth today. Their collective judgment, while far from perfect, tells a compelling story about how America’s prospects have changed over the past four years." 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rosie Ruiz Republicans

UPDATE:  Lyin Ryan "has always resided in a counter-factual universe. He is a product of the hermetically sealed right-wing subculture. Many of the facts taken for granted by mainstream economists have never penetrated his brain. Ryan burst onto the national scene with a dense, fact-laden attack on the financing of Obama’s health-care bill that was essentially a series of hallucinations, pseudo-facts cooked up and recirculated by conservative apparatchiks who didn’t know what they were talking about or didn’t care. His big-think speeches reflect the influence of fact-free conservatives and collapse under scrutiny."  Read New York Magazine, Since When Did Paul Ryan Become a Liar?  

Another great op-ed from an economist and professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, and the winner of the 2008 the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Paul Krugman.  Read The New York Times, Rosie Ruiz Republicans, which states:

"Remember Rosie Ruiz? In 1980 she was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon — except it turned out that she hadn’t actually run most of the race, that she sneaked onto the course around a mile from the end. Ever since, she has symbolized a particular kind of fraud, in which people claim credit for achieving things they have not, in fact, achieved.

And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics.

This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Still, that’s quite a story, so let’s talk about it first.

It started when Hugh Hewitt, a right-wing talk-radio host, interviewed Mr. Ryan. In that interview, the vice-presidential candidate boasted about his fitness, declaring that he had once run a marathon in less than three hours.

This claim piqued the interest of Runner’s World magazine, which noted that marathon times are recorded — and that it was unable to find any evidence of Mr. Ryan’s accomplishment. It eventually transpired that Mr. Ryan had indeed once run a marathon, but that his time was actually more than four hours.

In a statement issued by a spokesman, Mr. Ryan tried to laugh the whole thing off as a simple error. But serious runners find that implausible: the difference between sub-three and over-four is the difference between extraordinary and perfectly ordinary, and it’s not something a runner could get wrong, unless he’s a fabulist who imagines his own reality. And does suggesting that Mr. Ryan is delusional rather than dishonest actually make the situation any better?

Which brings us back to the real issues of this presidential campaign.

Obviously nobody cares how fast Mr. Ryan can run, and even his strange marathon misstatement wouldn’t be worth talking about in isolation. What makes this incident so striking is, instead, the way it resonates with the essential Rosie-Ruizness of Mr. Ryan’s whole political persona, which is built around big boasts about accomplishments he hasn’t accomplished.

For Mr. Ryan, as you may recall, has positioned himself as an icon of truth-telling and fiscal responsibility, while offering policy proposals that are neither honest nor responsible. . . "

Friday, August 31, 2012

That So-Called Republi-CON Leadership

If you listened closely, both Christie and Ryan used their campaign speeches to point out that Obamney is not the right man to elect because he lacks leadership and follows the polls.  Read the Washington Post, A very strange argument for Mitt Romney, which states:

"Chris Christie and Paul Ryan hit the same themes. We have hard choices facing us. We need leaders who won’t flinch before those choices. Leaders who won’t be deterred by the polls. Leaders who won’t compromise their principles. Leaders who won’t duck the tough issues. Leaders who won’t hide the hard truths.

That description arguably works for Christie and Ryan. That’s their brand, even if it’s selectively applied. But whether you love Romney or you hate him, do these lines really sound like a description of him? Is his political history really that of a bold, poll-defying, truth-talker?

Ryan was emphatic in his speech. 'So here is our pledge. We will not duck the tough issues,' he promised. 'We will lead.'

Christie was no less forceful. 'It’s easy for our leaders to say, ‘Not us, not now’, in taking on the really tough issues,' he said on Tuesday. 'And unfortunately we have stood silently by and let them get away with it.  But tonight, I say enough.'

Here is what Romney, so far in this campaign, has said. No changes to any entitlement programs for any seniors for the next 10 years. No specifics on how quickly his Medicare vouchers will grow for future seniors. No specifics on which tax breaks he’ll eliminate in order to offset the multi-trillion dollar cost of his tax cuts. No specific plan naming the cuts he’ll make to reach his $7 trillion target. No specifics on how he’ll equalize tax treatment of employer and individual health care. It is a campaign based on the principle of 'not us, not now.'

'Real leaders do not follow polls,' Christie continued. 'Real leaders change polls.'

And perhaps they do. But so far, the Romney campaign appears to have followed quite a number of polls.

In 2009, Romney wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he advised President Obama to apply 'the lessons we learned in Massachusetts' to his health-care reform. Among those lessons was that 'using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.' That is to say, among those lessons was to include an individual mandate in the plan. Romney later said the mandate was 'unconstitutional.'

In February, Romney said, 'The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.' In April, under fire for opposing the auto bailout, Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s top communications adviser, said, Romney’s 'position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them to hear that. The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney’s advice.'

Tonight, Ryan said Obama didn’t do enough to 'correct' the housing crisis. Romney’s initial position on housing was, 'Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.' Later, he said, 'The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real. There’s going to have to be a much more concerted effort to work with the lending institutions and help them take action, which is in their best interest and the best interest of the homeowners.' The campaign never released an actual housing policy.

During the debt ceiling debate, Romney remained silent for months on end. Critics — including on the right — joked that he’d joined 'the Mittness protection program.' Then, after the deal was struck and Congress was about to vote, he released a statement saying, 'while I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.' It is hard to see that episode as either a display of tough leadership or indifference to polls.

Indeed, it’s difficult to think of a single issue where Romney has defied the polls to tell his party something they didn’t want to hear. He raised his hand when Bret Baier asked the participants at a Fox News debate whether they’d oppose a deal that include $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes. He backed off his once strongly stated belief that global warming was caused by humans. He moved from being pro-choice to pro-life, and from holding 'progressive' views to being 'severely conservative.' . .

[I]f you’re looking for a guy who doesn’t duck the tough issues, who never obscures the hard truths, who tells you the unpleasant facts you don’t want to hear, who isn’t deterred by the polls, Romney isn’t your guy."

No Surprise, A Republi-CON CONvention of Lies

UPDATE V:   Lyin Ryan delivered "a speech that is more about big ideas than it is about facts -- ideas like 'Lying is handy.'"  Watch the Colbert Report, Paul Ryan's Misleading GOP Convention Speech:

UPDATE IV:  Obamney proved once again that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  Read the Washington Post, The trends behind Romney’s numbers, which notes that while he didn't lie, his claims were misleading. 

UPDATE III:  Don't take my work for it.  Read Fox News, Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words, one of which was dishonest, noting that "to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech."

UPDATE II:  And a critique of the lies continues, after reading, watching and re-reading Ryan's speech, and using a 'definition of 'true'" that is loose, not "for arguments that were ironclad. It was just for arguments — for claims about Obama’s record — that were based on a reasonable reading of the facts, and that weren’t missing obviously key context. . .

Ryan’s claims weren’t even arguably true. You simply can’t say the president hasn’t released a deficit reduction plan. The plan is right here. You simply can’t say the president broke his promise to keep your GM plant open. The decision to close the plant was made before he entered office — and, by the way, the guy at the top of your ticket opposed the auto bailout. You simply can’t argue that the Affordable Care Act was a government takeover of the health-care system. My doctor still works for Kaiser Permanente, a private company that the government does not own. You simply can’t say that Obama, who was willing to follow historical precedent and sign a clean debt ceiling increase, caused the S&P downgrade, when S&P clearly said it was due to congressional gridlock and even wrote that it was partly due to the GOP’s dogmatic position on taxes.

Oh, and here’s one we missed: 'You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business. But this president didn’t do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.' The stimulus — which was the administration’s major job creation package — came before health care. It was their first priority. That’s simply inarguable. . .

This has been a central challenge during this election. The Republican ticket, when it comes to talking about matters of policy and substance, has some real problems – problems that have nothing to do with whether you like their ideas. Romney admits that his tax plan “can’t be scored” and then he rejects independent analyses showing that his numbers don’t add up. He says — and Ryan echoes — that he’ll bring federal spending down to 20 percent of GDP but refuses to outline a path for how well get there. He mounts a massive ad assault based on a completely discredited lie about the Obama administration’s welfare policy. He releases white papers quoting economists who don’t agree with the Romney campaign’s interpretations of their research.

All this is true irrespective of your beliefs as to what is good and bad policy, or which ticket you prefer. Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true.

I don’t like that conclusion. It doesn’t look “fair” when you say that. We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both."

Read the Washington Post, A not-very-truthful speech in a not-very-truthful campaign.  
UPDATE:  The consensus is that the Ryan speech "was a stunning display of dishonesty. In the twelve hours since Ryan gave his address, Slate, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, the Boston Globe, the New Republic, the New Yorker and the Associated Press have run scatching critiques.

The leading fact checkers — Politifact, Factcheck.org and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler — have followed suit."

Read the Washington Post, Will Paul Ryan's dishonesty matter to voters?

Of course, what did you expect, even the Obamney campaign declared that it was "not going to let [their] campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."

The article states that "Ryan started this race with a reputation for honesty. He’s on his way to losing it."

But I think he was a  Republi-con all along, his reputation only proved how good he was at conning people.

Read The New Yorker, The Paul Ryan Speech: Five Hypocrisies