Monday, October 24, 2016

Romney and Exploitiation

Reading the transcript of Romney's infamous "47%" speech, I find this:
Oh, I just, we didn't talk about immigration today. Gosh, I'd love to bring in more legal immigrants that have skill and [unintelligible]. I'd like to staple a green card to every Ph.D. in the world and say, "Come to America, we want you here." 
Think about that. Romney would like countries poorer than ourselves to educate some of their citizens to Ph.D. level, and then have those people abandon their home countries to bring their expensively provided skills to the US, so those poorer countries gain nothing from their investment in educating those people, and the wealthy US would become the beneficiary of that investment.

We know the Romney business model: enrich his investors by leaving empty shells of companies behind, with workers losing their jobs, and often their pension funds.  This desire to exploit the investment in education made by other countries shares the same moral emptiness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Well, duh!

Brad DeLong quotes from an article by Jason Furman in the Financial Times:
But the post-crisis experience, as well as research on the effects of fiscal policy, is establishing a “new view” grounded in five principles:
  1. At a time when conventional monetary policy faces limitations in a world of lower interest rates, fiscal policy can be a particularly effective complement....
  2. In today’s conditions fiscal policy may... “crowd in” private investment through stronger growth....
  3. [In] advanced economies... under today’s economic conditions effectively crafted investments could raise output by more than they raise debt--reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio....
  4. Prolonged lower interest rates and economies operating below potential suggest that fiscal expansion should be more sustained....
  5. Fiscal policy is even more beneficial if co-ordinated more across countries...
To which my reaction (as a lay reader, not an economist) is: Well, duh!  Wasn't all that obvious (except maybe for  #5) seven years ago?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Potty Humor

Ah, the Engish, they love it so!

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Moscovian Candidate?

From Kurt Eichenwald:

"The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin?

The Russians have been obtaining American emails and now are presenting complete misrepresentations of them—falsifying them—in hopes of setting off a cascade of events that might change the outcome of the presidential election. The big question, of course, is why are the Russians working so hard to damage Clinton and, in the process, aid Donald Trump?"

Why, indeed!!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

More on GOP Sabotage

Jonatan Chait's interview with President Obama sheds more light on the Republicans' deliberate strategy of sabotage.

"When I came into office, my working assumption was that because we were in crisis, and the crisis had begun on the Republicans’ watch, that there would be a window in which they would feel obliged to cooperate on a common effort to dig us out of this massive hole.
Probably the moment in which I realized that the Republican leadership intended to take a different tack was actually as we were shaping the stimulus bill, and I vividly remember having prepared a basic proposal that had a variety of components. We had tax cuts; we had funding for the states so that teachers wouldn’t be laid off and firefighters and so forth; we had an infrastructure component. We felt, I think, that as an opening proposal, it was ambitious but needed and that we would begin negotiations with the Republicans and they would show us things that they thought also needed to happen.
On the drive up to Capitol Hill to meet with the House Republican Caucus, John Boehner released a press statement saying that they were opposed to the stimulus. At that point we didn’t even actually have a stimulus bill drawn up, and we hadn’t meant to talk about it. And I think we realized at that point what proved to be the case in that first year and that second year was a calculation based on what turned out to be pretty smart politics but really bad for the country: If they cooperated with me, then that would validate our efforts. If they were able to maintain uniform opposition to whatever I proposed, that would send a signal to the public of gridlock, dysfunction, and that would help them win seats in the midterms."
Smart politics, bad for the country.  Pretty much sums up today's GOP, until nominating Trump caught up with them.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week of Whoppers

So the New York Times has finally got around to chronicling a week's worth of Trump's falsehoods.

Perhaps they can follow the example of Steve Benen, who in 2012 posted a list of Romney's lies every week, and make "A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump" a continuing feature.

Update.
  I see Politico has chronicled a week's worth of falsehoods from each candidate, and come to this conclusion: "Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous."  (They calculate that Trump averaged one falsehood every 3 minutes 15 seconds in the five hours they examined.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Playing Skittles

Here's the tweet from Donald Trump, Jr. that has stirred up some controversy:


Let's unpack what it says.
"If.. I told you just three would kill you"

The meaning: I have certain knowledge that three of the Skittles in the bowl will kill you.

I'm guessing there are about 100 Skittles in the bowl, though Mr. Trump has used the figure 1,000

So in his scenario, 0.3% of the Skittles are known to be deadly.

To apply the analogy to Syrian refugees, Mr. Trump would need to have certain knowledge that 0.3% of them are known to be deadly terrorists.

Does he have that certain knowledge?
And has our pusillanimous press even thought to ask him that?

But to continue unpacking:
"Would you take" - I assume he means "eat" - "a handful?"

Presumably analogous to the US taking at random some proportion of Syrian refugees.
And if  0.3% of Syrian refugees were deadly, as Mr. Trump appears to claim, that would indeed be a concern.

But we do not take Syrian refugees at random.  There is a long drawn out screening process.
So to continue Mr. Trump's analogy, we should add:

"And if I told you we had screened out the Skittles that would kill you, would you take a handful?"

If I enjoyed eating Skittles, well yes, I would.

And if common humanity impelled me to give refuge to  
" your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."


...well, yes, I would.

Update:
Chris Hayes and Ken Burns discuss the subject.








Sunday, August 21, 2016

One More Press Fail

“I’m a truth teller,” the Republican nominee told CNBC on Thursday. “All I do is tell the truth."

Needless to say, CNBC didn't bring up Trump's record of falsehoods so their audience would be properly informed.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Another Democratic Fail

Zack Beauchamp lays out clearly why the $400 million paid to Iran was not "ransom".

But the right is on the offensive with claims that the payment was a ransom.

A simple response would be for the administration to point out that the $400 million would have been paid to Iran even if Iran held no hostages.  The only link was holding up the payment until Iran followed though on a separate deal to free hostages.

But I've yet to hear the administration or Democratic pols make this very simple statement, while the "ransom" claim continues to fester and be widely spread.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shame On You, The Atlantic!

While I'm no fan of Bill O'Reilly, I'm also no fan of dishonesty from his opponents in making rhetorical points.

The Atlantic has an online post with this heading:

                How Abigail Adams Proves Bill O'Reilly Wrong About Slavery
and  purports to prove that with this excerpt from one of her letters:
Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, ... to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast.
 Notice the ellipsis after the word "cloathing".  As you can see from the reproduction below, the entire sentence reads:
Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, or fit for Mayfare, to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast, Such is the case of many of the inhabitants of this place.
Now we can see what Mrs. Adams was really saying.  A careful reading of her words show that she is pivoting from  a description of White House work habits to a generalization about slavery: that all of them, whether "half fed and destitute of clothing" (in truly wretched condition) to "fit for Mayfare" (fed and dressed well enough for Mayfair, London's most fashionable district) have the same thing in common - they "labour, while the owner waches about idle".  She is saying nothing one way or the other about the condition of slaves working at the White House.

Leaving out the "fit for Mayfair" section completely distorts Mrs. Adams' meaning.  The Atlantic should be ashamed.



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1964

Watching the American Experience program 1964, I was struck by two related items:

Barry Goldwater's famous line: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

And his reason for voting against the Civil Rights Act:  he believed that Federal Government intervention in enforcing equality in employment and accommodation was too extreme, and that equality for African-Americans in the South should be left to come about by gradual evolution.

Or, as far as liberty and justice for African-Americans went, extremism in the defense of liberty was a vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice was a virtue.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Empty Slogan

So John McCain is urging the GOP to unite behind Donald Trump.

So much for his campaign slogan of "Country First."

Update 8/3/2016.
At least Meg Whitman is responsible enough to put country first.
"While acknowledging she diverged from Mrs. Clinton on many policy issues, Ms. Whitman said it was time for Republicans “to put country first before party.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Once Again, the Democrats' Rhetorical Deficiency

As I suggested when the Democrats lost the senate in 2014, they have only themselves to blame for not making their case with simple but accurate descriptions of Republican obstruction.

I suggested that referring to Republican governors' refusal to set up health care exchanges could be called what it was: political spite.  And now the same term could be used to describe the Republicans' refusal to consider the very moderate candidate that President Obama nominated to the Supreme Court.  But the Democrats seem incapable of taking note of George Lakoff's insight:
Liberals try to persuade through reason and facts while conservatives use metaphorical stories and that is why, Lakoff argues, conservative politicians are more successful at motivating voters than liberals are.
Why are Democrats so incapable of coming up with pithy and telling terms that would put Republicans on the defensive? So frustrating, when it's clear there are simple phrases readily to hand.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Missed Opportunity

On April 10 President Obama was interviewed by Chris Wallace of Fox news,  Here's part of their exchange:

WALLACE:  -- about Washington, about Wall Street.
Do you feel any personal responsibility that eight years after you came into office, there are millions of people out there who still feel cut out --
OBAMA:  Yes.
WALLACE:  -- from the decisions that affect their lives?
OBAMA:  Well, there’s no doubt that I feel frustrated about it.  My whole, you know, operating assumption, in terms of our democracy, is the more people are involved, the more they know, the more they are involved, the more responsive our government is.
WALLACE:  So why do all these people, Democrats and Republicans?
OBAMA:  Yes, I think that, I think it comes out of a couple things, Chris.  Number one, we’re still shell-shocked from what happened in 2007, 2008.
We’ve now had more than six years straight of job growth, and cut the unemployment rate down to 5 percent.  But, people lost homes, lost jobs, lost life savings.  And they still don’t fully know how that happened, and was the system fixed in a way that they can have confidence in.  I also think that --
(CROSSTALK)
WALLACE:  So, have you fixed that in eight years?
OBAMA:  Well, actually we’ve done a better job than I think most people give us credit for.  
WALLACE:  I don’t mean fixed the system.
OBAMA:  Yes.
WALLACE:  I mean fixed the perception.
OBAMA:  Well, the perception is going to be changing over time, as people see results, as they get more confident.  
There was the opportunity there for President Obama to point out that for purely political reasons the Republicans voted down the 2011 Jobs Act that would have significantly helped speed the recovery from the 2007-8 downturn, and that the GOP obstructionist refusal to aid the ailing economy meant more unnecessary suffering for the unemployed and under employed.  The Fox News audience doesn't hear enough about Republican obstructionism - this was an opportunity to enlighten them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Obama's Success

Fareed Zakariah offers another counter to my expression of disappointment in President Obama:

In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition - See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpuf
In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpuf
 In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.

The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.

Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.

Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.

Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.

In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpufv
In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpufvvv
In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpuf
In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpuf
In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama explained that Ronald Reagan had changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most telling, his opposition.
The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first black president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully to the crisis on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.
Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans now having health insurance. While the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.
Then, there is the transformation of America’s energy policy. The administration has made investments and given a variety of incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s term as president, solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3000 percent.
Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the last two decades, that limits America’s involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries like Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.
- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion-op-ed-commentaries/20160408/fareed-zakaria-a-transformational-president#sthash.6mDwhb1T.dpuf

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fire Up the Helicopters!

In the face of slow growth and risk of recession, Kemal Dervis of the Brookings Institution states the obvious:

But policymakers have one more option: a shift to “purer” fiscal policy, in which they directly finance government spending by printing money – a so-called “helicopter drop.” The new money would bypass the financial and corporate sectors and go straight to the thirstiest horses: middle- and lower-income consumers. The money could go to them directly, and through investment in job-creating, productivity-increasing infrastructure. By placing purchasing power in the hands of those who need it most, direct monetary financing of public spending would also help to improve inclusiveness in economies where inequality is rising fast. 
Helicopter drops are currently proposed by both leftist and centrist economists. In a sense, even some “conservatives” – who support more public infrastructure spending, but also want tax cuts and oppose more borrowing – de facto support helicopter drops.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Let His Voice Be Heard!

So Wayne LaPierre is refusing to participate in CNN's townhall meet on gun violence and the president's executive order on background checks.

But no matter: CNN can just play the recording of Pierre's testimony before Congress for his opinion to become part of the discussion.




Update:  But of course, CNN didn't......