Monday, April 30, 2012

Red States Better Hope Austerity Just Continues To Be a Republi-CON Con Game

Red states are to the U.S. what the PIIGS are to the European Union, and "austerity might be no more welcome here than it is in Europe."  Read The New York Times, How Richer States Finance Poorer Ones, which references "an interactive map that shows the incidence of government benefits by county, in total and broken down by type of program. One can click on a county to discover the amount of transfer income per capita in the county and the fraction of the county’s income represented by transfer payments. It appears that there are quite a few Greeces within the American borders."

Can you say oink oink NW Florida.

The Myth of Expansionary Austerity

UPDATE XI:  "[W]e’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless. And it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of error will end."  Read The New York Times,  Death of a Fairy Tale

UPDATE X:  The chart says it all.  From the Washington Post, The consequences of austerity in one chart?:

The article, quoting Joe Weisenthal, notes that the "UK was recovering on a fine trajectory right up until early 2010, at which point UK growth hit a brick wall. What happened in 2010? That’s when conservative David Cameron came to power with an agenda of reigning in the debt."

As I said beforeand before,Obama should call the Republi-CON bluff.

UPDATE IX: Just ask the PIIGGS, "austerity policies have been an utter failure." Read The New York Times, Pain Without Gain.

UPDATE VIII: "Despite meeting terms for bailout money [i.e. austerity measures], Portugal is going deeper into debt because its economy is shrinking." Read The New York Times, Portugal’s Debt Efforts May Be Warning for Greece.

So much for expansionary austerity.

UPDATE VII: "Look at Britain [or Italy or Spain] to see the tragic effects of a very bad idea." Read The New York Times, The Austerity Debacle.

UPDATE VI: "Once again, when politicians and policy makers decided to focus on deficits, not jobs, they proved Keynes right about a slump being the wrong time for austerity. " Read The New York Times, Keynes Was Right.

UPDATE V: From The New York Times, The Hijacked Crisis:

[The markets are] "signaling, as clearly as anyone could ask, that unemployment rather than deficits is our biggest problem. Bear in mind that deficit hawks have been warning for years that interest rates on U.S. government debt would soar any day now; the threat from the bond market was supposed to be the reason that we must slash the deficit now now now. But that threat keeps not materializing. And, this week, on the heels of a downgrade that was supposed to scare bond investors, those interest rates actually plunged to record lows.

What the market was saying — almost shouting — was, 'We’re not worried about the deficit! We’re worried about the weak economy!' For a weak economy means both low interest rates and a lack of business opportunities, which, in turn, means that government bonds become an attractive investment even at very low yields. If the downgrade of U.S. debt had any effect at all, it was to reinforce fears of austerity policies that will make the economy even weaker.

So how did Washington discourse come to be dominated by the wrong issue?

Hard-line Republicans have, of course, played a role. Although they don’t seem to truly care about deficits — try suggesting any rise in taxes on the rich — they have found harping on deficits a useful way to attack government programs.

But our discourse wouldn’t have gone so far off-track if other influential people hadn’t been eager to change the subject away from jobs, even in the face of 9 percent unemployment, and to hijack the crisis on behalf of their pre-existing agendas."

UPDATE IV: We are in a 'Great Contraction,' and problem No. 1 is too much debt.

"Until we find ways to restructure and forgive some of these debts from consumers, firms, banks and governments, spending to drive growth is not going to come back at the scale we need.

Our challenge now, therefore, is to deleverage the economy as fast as possible, while, at the same time, getting back to investing as much as possible in our real pillars of growth so our recovery is built on sustainable businesses and real jobs and not just on another round of credit injections"

Read The New York Times, Win Together or Lose Together, which quotes:

"Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard, who argued in an essay last week for Project Syndicate that we are not in a Great Recession but in a Great (Credit) Contraction: 'Why is everyone still referring to the recent financial crisis as the ‘Great Recession?' ' asked Rogoff. 'The phrase ‘Great Recession’ creates the impression that the economy is following the contours of a typical recession, only more severe — something like a really bad cold. ... But the real problem is that the global economy is badly overleveraged, and there is no quick escape without a scheme to transfer wealth from creditors to debtors, either through defaults, financial repression, or inflation.'

Re-read 'The Great Stagnation' about our broken political system.

UPDATE II: We are not suffering through a normal "business-cycle recession, in which the drop is quick, and the recovery is usually similarly swift. That is not what we’re in. That is not what financial crises are. And mistaking one for the other has, in his opinion, cost us a fortune.

Financial crises are not about the business cycle falling out of whack. They’re about debt. Lots of it. And that’s why they’re so resistant to efforts to speed a recovery. Whereas you normally get out of a recession by lowering interest rates and persuading consumers to spend, the period after a financial crisis is marked by consumers trying to dig out from under a mountain of borrowed money. You can accelerate that process, but it’s hard to do. But first you must correctly diagnose the problem. . .

'Debt de-leveraging takes about seven years. That’s the essence,' [Carmen Reinhart, now of the Peterson Institute for International Economics] says. 'And in the decade following severe financial crises, you tend to grow by 1 to 1.5 percentage points less than in the decade before, because the decade before was fueled by a boom in private borrowing, and not all of that growth was real. The unemployment figures in advanced economies after falls are also very dark. Unemployment remains anchored about five percentage points above what it was in the decade before.'"

Read the Washington Post, Double dip, or just one big economic dive?

But whether it is a Republi-con double-dip recession or not, there is no argument that Republi-cons want Obama to fail, the American economy is just acceptable collateral damage to achieve that goal.

UPDATE: As I first stated in 2008, the economy is deleveraging. From The New York Times, We’re Spent:

"We are feeling the deferred pain from 25 years of excess, as people try to rebuild their depleted savings. This pattern is a classic one. The definitive book about financial crises has become 'This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,' published in 2009 with exquisite timing, by Carmen M. Reinhart, now of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Kenneth S. Rogoff, of Harvard.

Surveying hundreds of years of crises around the world, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff conclude that debt is the primary cause and that the aftermath is 'deep and prolonged,' with 'profound declines in output and employment.' On average, a modern financial crisis has caused the unemployment rate to rise for more than four years and by 7 percentage points. (We’re now at almost four years and 5 percentage points.) The recovery takes many years more."

And the article warns of the risk of austerity measures now:

"The easy thing now might be to proclaim that debt is evil and ask everyone — consumers, the federal government, state governments — to get thrifty. The pithiest version of that strategy comes from Andrew W. Mellon, the Treasury secretary when the Depression began: 'Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate,' Mellon said, according to his boss, President Herbert Hoover. 'It will purge the rottenness out of the system.'

History, however, has a different verdict. If governments stop spending at the same time that consumers do, the economy can enter a vicious cycle, as it did in Hoover’s day."

Of course, Republi-cons don't want an economic recovery just yet, even if unemployment remains high. It doesn't benefit their plans for the 2012 election, just as Bush couldn't admit the Iraq strategy failure until after the 2006 elections, even as soldiers died.

Another warning about the myth of expansionary austerity.

"The Irish, British and, soon, Greeks have bought into a misguided belief in austerity — that they can somehow cut their way to growth. In the United States, we have seen states and municipalities slashing head counts of teachers, cops and firemen. The “paradox of thrift” has morphed into a misguided economics of austerity. Hence, even when the private sector manages to create some jobs, its offset by public-sector job cuts." Read the Washington Post, Wall Street analysts and economists have this recession recovery wrong, which notes the economic downturn was caused by a credit-crisis, not an ordinary run-of-the-mill recession, "far rarer, more protracted and much more painful [and] different from other cycles" and bubbles.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Obama is President, OBL is Dead, GM is Alive, But What If Obamney Was President?

UPDATE:  Buy the bumper sticker at The NoBullU store:

OBL is alive, GM is dead, re-elect Romney!
A what might have been from

make custom gifts at Zazzle

GM would be dead, and OBL would be alive.  And how could Obamney claim otherwise, because as he said in 2007, "[i]t's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

Read the Washington Post, Obama campaign implies that Mitt Romney would not have killed Osama bin Laden.

Just one example of how old Obamney will haunt new Obamney in the next six months.

He won't be able to etch a sketch his way out of this one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WWJC ('What Would Jesus Cut?')

UPDATE IV:  The "Ryan budget, passed by the House, 'fails to meet' the moral criteria of the Church, namely its view that any budget should help 'the least of these' as the Christian Bible requires: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. 'A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,' the bishops wrote.

In fact, Ryan would cut spending on the least of these by about $5 trillion over 10 years — from Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and the like — and then turn around and award some $4 trillion in tax cuts to the most of these. To their credit, Catholic leaders were not about to let Ryan claim to be serving God when in fact he was serving mammon.
'Your budget,' a group of Jesuit scholars and other Georgetown University faculty members wrote to Ryan last week, 'appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.'"

Read the Washington Post, A faith-based lesson for Paul Ryan.

UPDATE III:  Would Jesus 'crucify the poor' to pay for military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy?  Read thew Washington Post, The Gospel according to Paul Ryan.

UPDATE II: It has been asserted "that compassion is 'best fulfilled through Christian charity and spiritual counseling, not government programs.' If this is an affirmation that religious charities have unique advantages over public bureaucracies, it is noncontroversial. If this is an assertion that charity and counseling can replace public programs that provide school meals, AIDS treatment or health care for the poor, it is dangerously oblivious to the real world. The scale of private efforts is not sufficient to meet the demands of public justice — which gives government an important role." So says Michael Gerson, Bush's chief speechwriter. Read the Washington Post, Two parties pray to the same God, but different economists.

UPDATE: Christians should to "emulate the life of Jesus — especially his concern for the poor and oppressed — and confront social ills like racial oppression and environmental pollution." Read The New York Times, Evangelicals Without Blowhards.

"The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends." -- Proverbs 14:20, King James Version

Read the Washington Post, Obama is urged by Christian groups to protect poor in debt limit fight.

Our Resident Pastor-to-the-Dictators (AKA Pastor Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Poppins)) has waged a campaign of fear, anger and hatred by hosting professional purveyors of hate. But I wonder why he never talks of the poor.

Did you know that the "Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both"?

Is the Answer Conservative Economic and Liberal Social Policies

"Amid all the grim economic news from Europe, it’s worth noting that there are also some success stories. Well, of course, you say: Germany. Okay. But there’s another conspicuous candidate, and it might seem surprising: Sweden. To many Americans, Sweden is a bloated, inefficient welfare state. But the reality and the stereotype don’t match."

Read the Washington Post, The Swedish model for economic recovery.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Watch Hedgehog News, Be Dumber Than the Ill-Informed

UPDATE II:  Here is Colbert's take on the silver spoon lie: where "Obama makes a cowardly statement about Mitt Romney's wealth, made all the more cowardly by the fact that he never said it." Watch The Colbert Report, Steve Doocy's Silver Spoon Subtext Reporting:

UPDATE:  The ignorance is due to all the Hedgehog News lies in the service to their Republi-con overlords.  Read the Washington Post, Fox News, Steve Doocy and the 'silver spoon' smirk

People who watch Hedgehog News, "the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). [Hedgehog] News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news." Read the reports of the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, Some News Leaves People Knowing Less and Many think US is bailing out Greece; NPR, Jon Stewart Out-Fox Cable News.

The first report quotes Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll, who says that "the results show us that there is something about watching. [Hedgehog] News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

Obama in 2012?, Another Forecast Model

UPDATE:  Don't put too much faith in predictive models based on older election results, says one commentator, because of the changed nature of the party coalitions.

"Today the party coalitions are much more stable, and the battle is fought almost entirely between the 45-yard lines of the field. We have not seen anybody win less than 45 percent in terms of two-party presidential vote in twenty years, and it has only happened once in the House vote (to the GOP in 2008). This means that both sides have secured a solid base of 45 percent, and the range from cycle-to-cycle in terms of two-party vote share is now half of what it once was: the average difference in two-party vote share from 1948 through 1984 was 10.9 percent; since 1988 it has only been 5.8 percent. What’s more, between 2000 and 2008 a total of 10 states voted Republican and Democratic for president at least once, but between 1964 and 1972 forty-three states voted for both sides at least once.

(In Congress, this transition from regional to ideological parties has created the polarization that Beltway pundits regularly bemoan. Really, it is just a consequence of 'Democratic' now meaning 'liberal' and 'Republican' meaning 'conservative.' Fifty years ago, that was not necessarily true.) . . .

This is a lesson not just for the wonky backwaters of predictive modeling, but a good lesson for moving forward through this presidential cycle. If the only real swath of persuable voters amounts to maybe 10 percent of the electorate, then we need to be careful in how we look at the horse race. After all, we are talking about a group of people that have virtually no partisan or ideological attachments, pay very little attention to politics, and often create the crazy swings we see in the horse race polls during the course of the cycle. They are at the least fickle and at the worst maddening, as they regularly tell pollsters they have settled opinions when in fact they do not!"

Read The Weekly Standard, 90 Percent of the Electorate Is Probably Locked In.

"Political scientists have long known that you can predict most of what will happen in a presidential election with just a few key pieces of information: how the economy does, for instance, and the incumbent’s approval ratings in the summer. If you have those two numbers — even before you know the opponent, the campaign strategies or the issues — you can usually call the winner.

What these models suggest, in other words, is that the ephemera of elections aren’t that important. Not that this stuff doesn’t matter at all: Elections are often close, and a few percentage points can mean the difference between defeat and victory. But these micro-scandals mostly serve to distract us from the things that really do matter. And I don’t want to spend the next seven months distracted."

Read the Washington Post, 'Scandals' don’t predict election results. But this formula might., which includes a forecast model that "uses just three pieces of information that have been found to be particularly predictive: economic growth in the year of the election, as measured by the change in gross domestic product during the first three quarters; the president’s approval rating in June; and whether one of the candidates is the incumbent.

And compare the results with The New Times forecast model discussed previously.

The Republi-CON Etch A Sketch Candidate

UPDATE VI:  Another move to middle, this one by a potential VP, "defending U.S. involvement in crises abroad," and admiting Obama's not doing such a bad job on foreign policy.  Read the Washington Post, Marco Rubio delivers foreign policy address with bipartisan tone at Brookings Institution.  

UPDATE V:  Shakin it up and makin that move to the middle:

First, a gay senior adviser, for the gay vote.  Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney adviser Richard Grenell faces backlash over tweets, sexual orientation

Next, Obamney, "who vowed to veto the Dream Act, went on the campaign trail Monday with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who favors some legal status for those who would be covered by the act. Romney’s campaign says his claim during a primary debate that the Arizona law was a “model” for the nation referred only to the electronic verification of immigration status. (Alas for Romney, he endorsed the Arizona law more than once.) His campaign also tried recently to disown Kris Kobach, an immigration hard-liner, before admitting that the Kansas secretary of state is an 'informal adviser.'"  Read the Washington Post, Romney won’t be able to shake immigration debate, which notes that "[a]ficionados of the Etch a Sketch will recall a certain flaw in the toy: If you use it often, some of the lines drawn no longer disappear when you shake the device, instead leaving an indelible trace of where you have been."

UPDATE IV:  The latest etch a sketch moment, appointment of a gay spokesman.  Read Mediaite, Anti-Gay Radio Host And Log Cabin Republican Argue Over Romney’s Appointment Of Gay Spokesman.

UPDATE III:  "Perceptions of ideological extremism are one of the few factors that influence voter perceptions of challengers, as George McGovern and Barry Goldwater discovered. So Romney persumably wants to move to the center on as many issues as possible, including the ones Democrats are pushing. And yet this isn’t easy, because Romney doesn’t want a civil war to break out in the GOP.

Dems are currently pushing votes on no less than three major issues, all of which are designed to force Romney to make difficult choices."
Read the Washington Post, The trap Democrats are laying for Mitt Romney.
UPDATE II:  It being general election Etch A Sketch time, watch Ann Romney become pro-choice as she says that politicians "need to respect choices women make." See The Daily Show, Mitt Needs Moms - Motherhood Is Hard, starting at the 1:15 mark.

And at the 1:50 mark, watch Obamney say just three months ago said that mothers should work.

UPDATE:  What will Obamney's position be on immigration, health care, global warming, abortion, foreign policy, or even stay-at-home mothers?  It depends.  Read the Washington Post, Which Mitt will we get?, which notes that "[t]he presidential debates shouldn’t be much of a chore for Obama this fall. He can just stand by while Romney argues with himself."

"In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on Thursday, the veteran conservative journalist Fred Barnes offered Mitt Romney some advice for improving his campaign, including the sensible (and one might also say humane) suggestion that on immigration, the presumptive nominee 'would be wise to move away from his harsh position in the primaries.'

Then Barnes included this fascinating sentence: 'According to a Romney adviser, his private view of immigration isn’t as anti-immigrant as he often sounded.'"

Read the Washington Post, Tell us more about Romney's 'private' views.

I'm sure this post will be updated regularly with more of Obamney's 'private' views.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Voters Can't Handle the Truth And the Candidates Know It

Will "campaign rhetoric make it impossible for [Obama or Obamney] to be effective if elected president?"  You betcha!  Read CNN, Campaign rhetoric may tie next president's hands

So "[t]o corral unexcited base voters, both campaigns must rely less on positive messaging (what can they say?) and much more on galvanizing dislike and antipathy of 'the other side.' The dueling dog stories do that job perfectly. Which is why you'll keep hearing about them through the long weeks of electioneering ahead."  Read CNN, Why Obama vs. Romney is becoming a dogfight.

150 Years Later

UPDATE VI:  One hundred and fifty years ago [April 24-25, 1862], "Admiral Farragut's momentous, and surprisingly bloodless, conquest of the Big Easy."  Read The New York Times, The Fall of New Orleans.

UPDATE V: Read also The New York Times, The Meaning of Bull Run.

UPDATE IV: One hundred and fifty years ago today [July 21, 1861] "the first major battle of the Civil War." Read the play-by-play of Bull Run at The New York Times, Where Ignorant Armies Clash.

UPDATE III: The South seceded over states' rights you say? Wrong. "Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states' rights -- that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery. " Read the Washington Post, Five myths about why the South seceded.

UPDATE II: One hundred and fifty years ago today [January 5, 1861] "armed secessionist insurgents from Mobile" overtook "Fort Gaines on the outer reaches of Mobile Bay." Read The New York Times, The Precarious Position of Lt. Reese, which notes that several months later, "as Charleston Harbor was lighted up during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, [Reese] was en route to Pensacola, part of a 500-man expedition headed to relieve Fort Pickens, which guarded the entrance to Pensacola Harbor and sat just 40 miles east of his previous post. The tiny garrison at Fort Pickens was one of the few forts to resist Confederate demands to surrender; with the timely arrival of Reese and the rest of the reinforcements, it managed to avoid the fate of Fort Gaines."

UPDATE: "One hundred and fifty years ago today [December 20, 1860] South Carolina declared its independence from the United States." For more on the intricate legal history that connected slavery to states’ rights — and how it led to secession, read The New York Times, Disunion: States’ Rights, but to What?

From November until April, follow the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

The Washington Post "commemorates the Civil War's 150th anniversary with commentary from experts, sesquicentennial news and an updating event calendar."

And The New York Times "revisits and reconsiders America's most perilous period -- using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded."

The Question Isn't Whether to Raise Taxes, It's Whose Taxes Will Be Raised

"Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Republicans are not against all tax increases. Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, thinks poor people might need a tax hike. . .

At the Politico event, Mr. Cantor was asked if broadening the base means tax increases for the poor. 'I'm saying that, just in a macro way of looking at it, you’ve got to discuss that issue,' he said. 'I've never believed that you go raise taxes on those that have been successful, that are paying in, taking away from them, so that you just hand out and give to someone else.'

There are many things wrong with this nonsense, but I’ll just point out one: Mr. Cantor and other Republicans who push this line have it exactly backwards. The problem is not that so many Americans don’t pay taxes. It’s that so many Americans are too poor to pay taxes."

Read The New York Times, A Dastardly Plot to Avoid Taxes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Economic Mess for Non-Dummies

UPDATE VI:  As noted many times before, the Great Recession, AKA Lesser Depression, was caused by credit default swaps, deregulation and lack of government oversight.  Watch the special FRONTLINE four-part series, Money, Power and Wall Street.

"FRONTLINE finds plenty of blame to go around (Goldman Sachs and CEO Lloyd Blankfein take a particular bruising), but is most devastating in its dissection of the chummy collusion between bankers and the government leaders who should have been watch-dogging them," just as I have been saying for years.

UPDATE V: Despite Republi-con myths to the contrary, "[t]he 2008 financial crisis was . . . caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street . . . permitting a calamitous concoction: shoddy mortgage lending, the excessive packaging and sale of loans to investors, and risky bets on securities backed by the loans." Read The New York Tiems, Financial Meltdown Was 'Avoidable,' Inquiry Concludes

UPDATE IV: Is it the best documentary of 2010. Watch the preview:

UPDATE III: "Wall St. moguls, Washington polls, government regulators, rating agencies, unscrupulous lenders, or unqualified borrowers—who is free from blame.

There were those who were outright crooks. There were those who failed to do due diligence. There were those who were simply greedy. There were those who were too dumb to see what was going on. What McLean and Nocera have written is an indictment of all the devils involved, and everyone involved smells of the sulfurous pit.

Read All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis.

UPDATE II: For other reviews of the movie, read:

San Fransico Chronicle, Who was responsible for the global financial collapse? Filmmaker Charles Ferguson finds out in "Inside Job"

Huffington Post, Will Inside Job Start a Popular Rebellion?
The movie is the economic horror film of 2010.

UPDATE: And still having a hard time understanding the economic mess. Then "you haven't seen "Inside Job," the new documentary about how our economic crisis evolved." Read the Washington Post, The economic crisis was an 'inside job'.

After watching the documentary, the writer concludes "trying to assign blame to either Democrats or Republicans is pointless. Everyone is culpable. From the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan deregulated banks, through the two Bushes, Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama, each administration has endorsed -- and each Congress has helped tweak -- laws and rules that made systemic abuses and the meltdown not only possible but, looking back, inevitable."

Still having a hard time understanding the economic mess. My previous post, Economic Mess for Dummies, not challenging enough. Then read Charles I. Jones, A Supplement to Macroeconomics (W.W. Norton, 2008), The Global Financial Crisis of 2007–20??.

Also still wondering who's to blame. Read, NPR, Planet Money, He Blames Greenspan.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Republi-CON 'Media Bias' Myth AKA 'Reporting Something I Don’t Like'

How did we get to the point that even Republi-cons are now complaining about the bias of right-wing media outlets like Fox News and National Review?

Last week in Delaware, The Great Lecherer told a "Tea Party crowd that 'CNN is less biased than Fox.' By deploying the media-bias charge against an institution developed to combat it, Gingrich [and others have] demonstrated just how meaningless the indictment has become."

Read The New York Times, The Boys Who Cried Fox.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Republican Meteorologist on Republi-CON Truthiness About Global Warming

"Climate science shows that over a long period of time, the statistics have changed. Things that used to happen a lot, like consistent winter snow cover, are happening less reliably. Things that happened every now and then, like droughts and wildfires, are happening more reliably. And things that almost never happened -- such as the 15,000 new U.S. temperature records in March -- sometimes now do occur. And they can’t be explained with purely meteorological reasoning.

The changes we’re seeing, far more than I can list here, seem like an accumulation of coincidences. Pieced together, reveal the full puzzle: There’s more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, and our emissions are largely responsible for keeping it there.

The millennium’s first decade was the warmest on record and included nine of the 10 hottest years. Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Less heat is escaping the top of the atmosphere in the wavelengths of greenhouse gases. For the first time, scientists have recorded both hemispheres are warming – and the global temperature spike can’t be linked to an astronomical trigger, such as solar variability. Great Lakes peak ice has seen a 71 percent drop since 1973. Winters are shorter. Lakes melt earlier. Plants are moving north.

Worldwide, 95% of land-based glaciers are losing mass. September Arctic sea ice has lost 10 percent of its area every decade. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are 30 percent more acidic. Flooding and extreme storms are spiking in frequency and intensity. Last winter was the 4th warmest on record, despite the cooling influence of a La Nina phase in the Pacific.

Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore. . .

How did so much of the Republican Party enter perpetual denial? We’ve turned climate science into a bizarre litmus test for conservatism. To pretend that heat-trapping gases can be waved away with a nod and a smirk is political fairytale. No harm. No foul. Keep drilling.

I’m a Christian and ultimately come to Christ through faith. With climate change no faith is required. There is a large and growing body of evidence. The way nature works applies the same to Republican and Democrat, Christian and Muslim, animal, tree and stone. Why do people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes? Luke 16:2 says "Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship."

Read Bloomberg Businessweek, Climate Change Has Nothing to Do With Al Gore.

And then explain what happens to 35 gigatons of CO2 each year.  

The Republi-CON 'We Are Better Than Europe' Myth

UPDATE:  We are the New Old Europe.

"Many countries have higher tax rates — and the United States has had higher tax rates — without stifling growth or encouraging the concentration of income in the hands of the very rich.

'In a way, the United States is becoming like Old Europe, which is very strange in historical perspective,' Mr. Piketty said. 'The United States used to be very egalitarian, not just in spirit but in actuality. Inequality of wealth and income used to be much larger in France. And very high taxes on the very rich — that was invented in the United States,' he said."

Read The New York Times, For Two Economists, the Buffett Rule Is Just a Start, which include this graph:

"The complexity of our tax code allows us to believe that we’re not a welfare state, but that’s false. . .

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently calculated how much each affluent country spends on social programs. When you include both direct spending and tax expenditures, the U.S. has one of the biggest welfare states in the world. We rank behind Sweden and ahead of Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Canada. Social spending in the U.S. is far above the organization’s average."

Read The New York Times, America Is Europe.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where's All the Republi-CON Self-Righteous Indignation Now

 "Rush Limbaugh's 'slut' comment is only the tip of the iceberg."

Now an important Romney supporter "on team Mitt" is threatening Obama and calling Democratic women brain-dead, soulless idiots and varmints.

Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney should denounce Ted Nugent, for women's sake

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make Your Own Tax Code

UPDATE:  Businesses make changes to the tax code all the time, it's called lobbying.  Read the Washington Post, Want lower tax rates? Hire a lobbyist., which notes that there is no direct "evidence linking the lobbying to the lower tax rates. But it would be fairly odd if they were spending all that money and getting nothing." 

So much for the the Republi-con 'it'll be easy to balance the budget' myth

 Just in time for tax day, read the Washington Post, Make your own tax code, which states:

"Think you could writer a better tax code than the one we've got? Here's your chance: The fine folks at Splitwise have a very cool interactive tax graphic where you can change the marginal rates on different income groups and eliminate various deductions and see the effect on the deficit. Go nuts."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Palin What Might Have Been

"Would Sarah Palin have given Mitt Romney a tougher fight than Rick Santorum did?"  Read The New York Times, The Palin Counterfactual

In any case, it sure would have been a gift to comedians.  Read The New York Times, Come Back, Sarah Palin!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Republi-CON 'It'll Be Easy to Balance the Budget' Myth

UPDATE:  Here is another example by a local Republi-cons

"Two projects totaling $3.5 million proposed by state Sen. Don Gaetz for Escambia County have been listed as 'budget turkeys' by Florida TaxWatch.

Those projects are:

» Port of Pensacola: $2 million for bulkhead repairs and other port improvements to make the port competitive in securing job-creating businesses.

» Baptist Health Care Lakeview Center: $1.5 million to provide graduate and under graduate training in caring for mental illness and substance abuse in rural and underserved areas of Northwest Florida."
Read the Pensacola News Journal, Florida TaxWatch labels three local projects labeled as 'budget turkeys'.

As I say each show, I'm waiting, where's the balanced budget. But don't hold you breath because the Republi-CONs conned 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.

Here are two examples, one local (our local elected officials are all Republi-cons), the other national, read the:

Pensacola News Journal, Library budget solution delayed, which discussed the effort of our local County Commission to cut the West Florida Public Library System's budget by 72 percent, and

Washington Post, GAO warns Congress again about Postal Service, which notes that the "Postal Service is losing billions of dollars annually amid declining mail volume and increasing labor costs . . . [but Congress has] delay[ed] the Postal Service’s move to a five-day delivery schedule by two years and [requiring] the agency to downsize, rather than close, its processing facilities."

Friday, April 13, 2012

More on That Fundamentalist Subculture of Ignorance

As noted before, there exists in the country a fundamentalist subculture of ignorance that embraces 'discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas'. Many are Republi-cons. Case on point, from the Washington Post, Tennessee Republicans throw a wrench:

"Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has allowed the Republican legislature's creationism bill — also known as the 'monkey bill,' after the famous 1925 Scopes Trial, also in Tennessee — to become law.  The new law allows schools to teach creationism and to point out 'flaws' in  such a  widely held scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and is man-made."

Next up for the Republi-cons, the theory of gravity.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Republi-CON Fear, Anger and Hatred Payback Time

Here are two good stories to start ya off, read :

U.S. News & World Report, "Dogs Against Romney" Upset Again, which notes:

"Dogs Against Romney, a grassroots organization formed after founder Scott Crider discovered Romney once strapped the family Irish Setter, Seamus, to the roof of a station wagon for 12 hours, says the GOP front-runner can't seem to avoid associating himself with animal cruelty. [See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican party.]

"I don't think Mitt Romney is purposefully trying to do that, but I think he should more careful about who he aligns himself with," Crider says.

Romney will earn donations at a lavish campaign fundraiser Monday hosted by campaign donors Fred and Marlene Malek. Mr. Malek, the president of Marriott Hotels and former finance committee co-chair of John McCain's presidential bid, was once affiliated with a gruesome animal cruelty case.

A 2006 story in the Washington Post detailed how in 1959, Malek was one of five men arrested for killing and barbecuing a dog in a Peoria, Ill. Park."

And Time, The Story Behind Lawrence O’Donnell’s Apology to Mormons, which explores claims that "Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it. Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it, which Mitt Romney says he believes."

As noted before many times before, fear, anger, and hatred is a great campaign strategy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Isn't It Over Yet!

UPDATE XII:  He's not the best candidate or the most conservative candidate, but the Republi-cons now believe with some of their heart that, now more than ever, someone should run, and after checking if "anybody else jumping in, no, did you check, last chance, okay," the settle on Obamney.  Watch The Colbert Report, Settling for Mitt Romney:

UPDATE XI: Obamney "is ahead in the Republican delegate race. But what does he need to do to clinch the nomination? Use the interactive calculator below to determine how well Mr. Romney must do in order to get a majority of the delegates or to just prevent anyone else from getting a majority of delegates," at The New York Times, Romney’s Magic Numbers.

UPDATE X: When "asked on CNN whether he is concerned that Romney might be forced by his Republican opponents to take extreme positions during the primary that could alienate moderates in a race against President Barack Obama [Eric Fehrnstrom, a trusted Obamney advisor replied:]

"I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign, everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."

Read the Washington Post, 'Etch a Sketch' comment creates new doubts about Romney.

"After talking to Satan about Rick Santorum, [WaPo] was lucky enough to secure an interview with an Etch a Sketch about Mitt Romney." Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney and the Etch a Sketch.

UPDATE IX: Jeb Bush is tired of the whole thing also. Read Read The New York Times, Jeb Bush Backs Romney and Urges End to G.O.P. Battle.

UPDATE VIII: So much for the hope of a brokered convention.

"Mitt Romney’s big victories in Illinois and Puerto Rico this week have expanded his lead over Rick Santorum by roughly 60 delegates, putting him ahead by 300 delegates over all.

Increasingly, the nomination race is entering an endgame stage in which it is less a two-man contest between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum than one that pits Mr. Romney against himself. How certain is Mr. Romney to get the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican nomination? And if he gets them, how soon will he do it?"

Read The New York Times, G.O.P. Nomination Becoming a One-Man Race.

UPDATE VII: "Whatever weaknesses people ascribe to Romney or Santorum as candidates, the Republican race is turning on the economic and religious divides in the GOP coalition. That’s why states like Illinois, Michigan and Ohio are difficult for Santorum and states like Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee were hard for Romney." Read the Washington Post, Santorum-Romney battle reveals stark divide in the GOP.

Read also, USA Today, Contention, confusion mar Missouri caucuses.

UPDATE VI: "Now that the Republican presidential field has been effectively whittled to two, each of the front-runners has laid out a detailed plan to beat the other.

This much is clear: Whoever wins is going to win ugly."

Read the Washington Post, Whether Romney or Santorum wins, the road to the nomination will be ugly.

UPDATE V: Obamney "is still the Republican front-runner by virtue of the delegates he relentlessly piles up. But [Obamney] keeps failing to bring this slugfest to a close. No matter how much he panders and grovels to the party’s right, its supporters will never see him as one of their own.

One senses that the conservative ultras are resigned to having to vote for [Obamney] in November against President Obama. They are determined not to vote for him twice, using the primaries to give voice to their hearts and their guts. They will keep signaling their refusal to surrender to the Romney [Obamney] with its torrent of nasty advertisements and its continuing education courses in delegate math designed to prove that resistance is futile.

The more they are told this, the more they want to resist. . .

But having decided to run, [Obamney] must wage a campaign of denial. He buries his old Massachusetts self and misleads about what he once believed. He even tries to run to Santorum’s right. Recently, he denounced Santorum for voting in favor of federal support for Planned Parenthood, a group to which [Obamney]’s family once made a donation. It is an unseemly spectacle.

Bush’s efforts to craft a 'compassionate conservatism' friendlier toward those in the political middle collapsed into ruins years ago. This year’s Republican candidates almost never speak Bush’s name. It is to Santorum’s discredit that he did not dare defend his perfectly defensible vote in favor of Bush’s No Child Left Behind education program. Santorum, too, fears the pitchforks wielded by those who see any exertion of federal authority as leading down a road to serfdom.

And so it is on to Illinois, the next place [Obamney] has to win to keep the resistance at bay."

Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney meets 'peasants with pitchforks'.

UPDATE IV: From the Washington Post, 5 lessons learned from the Alabama and Mississippi primaries:

“Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s dual wins in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday night hands his campaign some real momentum although he continues to fall further behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the race for delegates.

What did we learn — or, more accurately, re-learn — from the votes last night in the South as well as in Hawaii and American Samoa? The five biggest lessons from the votes are below. . .

1. It’s a two-man race . . .

2. The math is the math . . .

3. ...But perception matters . . .

4. Illinois=Battle Royale . . .

5. It’s a game of 'Survivor' now . . .

Santorum is already pointing to the March 24 Louisiana primary where he will now be heavily favored and, as we have written before, April looks to be Romney's best month yet in terms of the state’s set to vote. May holds good news for Santorum. June looks to be a good Romney month.

In short, the next three months could well amount to the equivalent of two boxers standing in the middle of the ring exchanging haymakers with neither man able to knock the other one down much less out. Both will have to weather bad patches in which a series of losses will force them to live off the political land for a time. Both will have streaks in which they appear to be unbeatable."

UPDATE III: What should The Great Lecherer do? He "lost the only chance he had at creating a rationale for his candidacy. [He] is a great rationalizer, so it will be interesting to see how he explains his current circumstances. Unless he admits he is staying in the race to help Romney, there is no point to his campaign."

Read the Washington Post, Is Mitt Romney still inevitable?

UPDATE II: "Once again, Americans are waking up to headlines about multiple primary-night victories for Rick Santorum over the man who is still widely considered to be the most likely Republican nominee this year, Mitt Romney.

But Mr. Santorum’s victories on Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi raise a pivotal question: Can he build on his night of triumph to emerge as a true alternative to Mr. Romney and a credible standard-bearer for his party, or will he remain just an obstacle for Mr. Romney to maneuver past on his inevitable path to the 2012 Republican presidential nomination?

The answer will in no small part depend on what Newt Gingrich does from here. Late Tuesday night, at least, Mr. Gingrich indicated he would not drop out, vowing to continue on “toward Tampa,” where the party will hold its convention in August. In that case, Mr. Santorum will continue to share the anti-Romney vote and see his chances dim that much more.

If Mr. Gingrich changes his mind in the light of day — or is marginalized in the remaining primaries by conservative voters who judge that their cause is better served by rallying around a single rival to Mr. Romney — Mr. Santorum will get the “two-man race” he says he can win.

Even then, his chances of stopping Mr. Romney could come down to difficult delegate math."

Read The New York Times, Road for Santorum Depends on the Next Move by Gingrich.

UPDATE: "Ever since he swept three contests on a single night in February, Rick Santorum has argued that the Republican presidential nomination battle is effectively a two-man race between himself and Mitt Romney. Tuesday’s primaries decisively turned that claim into reality. Now Santorum must prove that ideology can trump electability with GOP voters who are hungry to defeat President Obama in November.

Santorum’s victories in Alabama and Mississippi once again shook up the Republican contest, although they may not have fundamentally altered its trajectory. Even in losing the two primaries, Romney has still won more states and still holds a significant lead in the race for delegates.

But with former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) unable to win either state in his home region, Santorum clearly earned the opportunity to try to consolidate the party’s conservative base, which has been resistant to Romney’s candidacy. The former senator from Pennsylvania must now convince Republicans in other regions that his brand of conservatism would make him a stronger nominee against Obama.

Santorum will have three chances in the next week to demonstrate that he can win that argument and that he can defeat Romney. The most important will take place on Tuesday in Illinois. The primary there could become a rerun of the battles Romney and Santorum waged in Michigan and Ohio. Santorum fell just short in both. That makes Illinois pivotal to his hopes of overtaking his main rival.

Before that, caucuses will be held Saturday in Missouri, where the former senator won a beauty-contest primary last month. On Sunday, Puerto Rico will hold its primary. Santorum and Romney will both campaign there beforehand."

Read the Washington Post, Rick Santorum hoping ideology will trump electability.

It's all part of the Republi-CON civil war between the establishment and the angry base (AKA 'peasants with pitchforks').

"It’s hard to say who is going to win in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday night. Polls in these states have a poor track record, and they project a close race anyway, although Rick Santorum is somewhat off the lead lap in Mississippi.

But if the confusing polling situation makes pre-election analysis more challenging, it ought to make analysis easier after the fact. Tuesday night’s contests are mostly about who wins — and not who clears some arbitrary bar based on pre-election expectations.

There are six possible permutations of the winners in these states, assuming that we regard victories in Alabama or Mississippi as being interchangeable. We will consider each possibility briefly down below.

Permutation #1: Mitt Romney Wins Both States . . .

Permutation #2: Newt Gingrich Wins Both States . . .

Permutation #3: Rick Santorum Wins Both States . . .

Permutation #4: Romney and Gingrich Each Win a State . . .

Permutation #5: Romney and Santorum Each Win a State . . .

Permutation #6: Santorum and Gingrich Each Win a State . . ."

Read The New York Times, What’s at Stake in Alabama and Mississippi.

Which Poltical Party Maintains That a Health Care Responsibility Law Is Unconstitutional, But Torture Is Not

Can you say Republi-CONs.

To understand why, read the Washington Post, The Supreme Court vs. the Commerce Clause, which notes:

"Wickard v. Filburn is the case in which the federal government fined Roscoe Filburn for growing wheat in excess of the quotas set out in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. They also forced him to destroy the excess wheat, even though he said it was only for personal use. The Supreme Court backed the government. Key quote:

    Even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce and this irrespective of whether such effect is what might at some earlier time have been defined as ‘direct’ or ‘indirect.’

This is, I think, the most honest way to present the argument. Based on existing precedent, the individual mandate is clearly constitutional. Free riders in the health insurance market clearly have 'a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.'"

The read The New York Times, Bush-Era Torture: A Dissenting View, which comments on a memo that Bush administration ignored, and later "tried to collect all the copies of [the] memo and destroy them":

"We know that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their lieutenants did not like dissenting viewpoints. The justification for the invasion of Iraq depended on the muzzling of anyone who doubted the existence of weapons of mass destruction, and for the most part political appointees fell into line—Jack Goldsmith excepted.

Now there’s evidence that another important voice in the Bush administration resisted certain, shall we say, constitutional excesses. Philip Zelikow, a high-ranking State Department lawyer, argued in a Feb. 15, 2006 memo that international law prohibited waterboarding and other so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' by any American official – whether he was a military interrogator at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, or a C.I.A. operative at a 'black prison' hidden in some foreign country."

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Republi-CON 'Carter & the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Caused the Housing Crisis' Myth

As I've said over and over and over and over again, it's a lie.

It's a regular Republi-con zombie lie.

And the only way to kill a zombie is with a head shot, preferably followed by a corpse burning.

Read the Washington Post, No, the affordable housing push didn’t cause the subprime crisis, which reference an earlier article, Barney Frank didn’t cause the housing crisis and now a new study published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, Did Affordable Housing Legislation Contribute to the Subprime Securities Boom?

That study concluded:

"No. [Using] a regression discontinuity approach to investigate whether affordable housing policies influenced origination or affected prices of subprime mortgages . . . [and] merged loan-level data on non-prime securitized mortgages with individual- and neighborhood-level data for California and Florida[, w]e found no evidence that lenders increased subprime originations or altered pricing around the discrete eligibility cutoffs for the Government Sponsored Enterprises' (GSEs) affordable housing goals or the Community Reinvestment Act. Our results indicate that the extensive purchases of risky private-label mortgage-backed securities by the GSEs were not due to affordable housing mandates."