Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Psuedo-Ecnomics Round Up for 2012

Menzie Chin regales us with his list of the top 10 examples of economic malfeasance for CY 2012.

Time to emulate the media’s "year in review" pieces, with my own take on the most outrageous, nonsensical assertions presented in the guise of analysis. Here are my ten most hilariously deluded excursions into the fantasy world from my postings to Econbrowser. The inspirations range from (once again) the Heritage Foundation's analyses (where have you gone, Bill Beach!) to the ongoing search for hyperinflation/crowding out.

The Hunt for Gollum

The first part of this is rather slow moving, but overall it's really well done. It's a little over a half hour of movie, followed by several minutes of credits.  Every once in a while, the guy playing Aragorn almost looks like Viggo. The music is original but is totally compatible with with Howard Shore's LoTR sound track.  

Going to see the Hobbit movie tomorrow with several grandchildren.  Should be a great time.




Web Page

You Tube Link




Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bork's Deep and Abiding Influence

After his defeat as a Supreme Court nominee in 1987, Robert Bork gradually faded away from the public consciousness.  I can tell you, in the intervening 25 years, I probably gave him no thought at all.

But Bork had enormous influence on the modern interpretation of anti-trust law, perhaps single-handedly redefining the scope and purpose of anti-trust legislation.  Basically, Bork was pro-efficiency and anti-anti-trust.  He swallowed whole the bait-bucket of Chicago-economic-school ideas of market efficiency, and built the entire framework of his pro-trust belief system on that invalid foundation.

It seems fair to say that it is in large part because of Bork's influence that we now have trans-national mega-corporations with huge monopolies and oligopolies.  These corporations have no inherent loyalty to anyone nor anything.  In my view, the oligarchs that run them do not even have a general sense of loyalty to stock-holders, let alone the broader universe of sake-holders, who mainly exist to be exploited.

Efficiency, in and of itself is a good thing.  But it cannot be achieved in a vacuum - there are externalities that are largely negative.  For one thing, the efficiencies are mainly internalized and do not necessarily represent a more broadly efficient society.  Second, as a market gets concentrated, competition decreases and the pressure to improve, or even maintain status-quo efficiency slowly erodes.  This ultimately leads to a situation where big, lumbering, inefficient but extremely powerful entities control the economic and political landscape.  Yes, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big insurance, Big Finance, I am looking at you.

Perhaps worse, though, is the power asymmetry that results from size and influence.  Suppliers, customers, and the public at large are overwhelmed by the sheer might of these institutions, leading to even greater concentrations of power and wealth.

The end game is some version of economic collapse.  It happened in the 1930's, and - due largely to Chicago-style economic thinking, we've spent the last 40 years unlearning the lessons of that time - it happened again in 2008.

Most of the time, evil doesn't manifest as some cackling cartoon villain or mad-man on a murderous rampage.  It results, in a far more banal but far-reaching way, from the highly refined ideas of men like Robert Bork who value abstract concepts like efficiency over the effects the programs they institute over the lives of real human beings.

The Borking of Bork

After the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court was defeated by a 58-42 vote, his name was verberized into a neologism that was [and occasionally still is] used almost exclusively in the passive voice.

To be "borked" as his supporters would have it, is to be subjected to unfair criticisms based on distortions of your words, actions, and beliefs.   In reality, the borking of Bork consisted of subjecting him to valid criticism based on the precise meanings of his words, actions and beliefs.  Jeffrey Toobin explains.

Bork was “borked” simply by being confronted with his own views—which would have undone many of the great constitutional landmarks in recent American history. As Senator Edward Kennedy put it in a famous speech on the Senate floor, “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, [and] writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government.”

Was Kennedy too harsh? He was not—as Bork himself demonstrated in the series of intemperate books he wrote after losing the Supreme Court fight and quitting the bench, in 1987. The titles alone were revealing: ”The Tempting of America,” “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” and “Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges.” One of his last books may have summed up his views best. Thanks in part to decisions of the Supreme Court—decisions that, for the most part, Bork abhorred—the United States became a more tolerant and inclusive place, with greater freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination than any society in history. Bork called the book, accurately, “A Country I Do Not Recognize.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rabid Ferrets

The bloody, tattered remains of what was once known as a "progressive agenda" continue to straggle on in a state of diminished capacity, ironically only surviving at all due to the irrational actions of a rag-tag gang of "rabid ferrets." What a weird time we live in.

I'm starting to understand Chinese curses.

UPDATE 12/21:  During the Shrub administration, I noted that the Rethugs were terrible at government, and a big part of the reason why was that they had such contempt for governance.

The rise of the vaccuous, know-nothing Tea Party movement, with their agenda of amorphous anger and unfocused hate, has made it worse by several orders of magnitude.  At least the Bush Rove cadre understood what the hell politics is, though they co-opted it to nefarious ends like pointless, unjustifiable war and an attempt to privatize Social Security.  The New Rethugs can't even comprehend what the hell politics is, but their party has gerymandered their way into a likely permanent majority in the House.

Charlie Pierce, brilliant as always, elaborates. [Though he did miss rabid ferrets]
There is no possible definition by which the Republicans can be considered an actual political party any more. They can be defined as a loose universe of inchoate hatreds, or a sprawling confederation of collected resentments, or an unwieldy conglomeration of self-negating orthodoxies, or an atonal choir of rabid complaint, or a cargo cult of quasi-religious politics and quasi-political religion, or simply the deafening abandoned YAWP of our bitter national Id. But they are not a political party because they have rendered themselves incapable of politics.

Read more: Wherein Democracy Mocks Itself - Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Over_The_Cliff_Already#ixzz2FhEOsd9Y



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sensible Gun Legisation Petition

I just signed the petition that can be found here.  It was sent to my congresspersons and the White House.  There is an opportunity to add some supporting text.  This is what I said.

I support Common Sense Legislation to End Gun Violence because human life is more important than ideology, business considerations, or the power of lobbyists.  The Sandy Hook tragedy is terrifying, but 34 other people get murdered by gun-users every day.  In the sweep of a month or a year Sandy Hook is just a blip.  But awareness is now high and emotions are charged, hopefully in a positive way.  Somehow it's never been the right time to talk about gun control.  Let that time be now.

 It's not much, but I'm doing what I can.

Letter to the President of the University of Rhode island

President Dooley -

I am increasingly concerned with right wing influence in academia. You can see this perhaps most plainly in Koch-funded ventures, such as the Economics Dept of George Mason University. But it manifests itself in many other large and small ways. The current witch hunt involving professor Loomis is a signal event in this phenomenon.

For this reason, I was deeply disturbed and disappointed to see this response come out from URI over your name.

The University of Rhode Island does not condone acts or threats of violence. These remarks do not reflect the views of the institution and Erik Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University. The University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and equitable culture that aspires to promote positive change.

Sir, you should be ashamed of your cowardice.

Professor Loomis' rhetoric might have been ill-advised, but no reasonable person could ever construe his words to be a threat of violence.

Clearly, I consider those who have called for Professor Loomis' head to not be reasonable people.

On the other hand, I'm hopeful that you are one.

A good way to convince the world of your reasonability and integrity would be to retract your equally ill-advised statement; and even better, issue a new one promising Professor Loomis your clear and unconditional support.

Thank you for your consideration to this important matter.

{I signed my real name
Along with address
And Phone No.
}


No Guns In MI Schools

In an uncharacteristic moment of sane concern for the actual well being of his constituents, Michigan's increasingly unpopular governor Rick Snyder vetoed the conceal-carry law that would have allowed guns into schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums, that was passed last Thursday in a marathon session of egregious over-reach by our lame duck Rethug controlled legislature.

Per the report in today's Freep, "Snyder acknowledged Tuesday that the Newtown killings factored into his decision."  Let me translate that for you. Following the "Right-to-Work" legislation passed that same day by these same lame scoundrels  no good, rotten, democracy hating sons-of-bitches, Snyder's popularity took a nose dive from 47 to 38%, with his disapproval rating now at 56%.  In the wake of Sandy Hook one can reasonably presume that signing this atrocity into law would have dropped his approval number into the low 20's.  Realistically, there is no way in hell he would have vetoed this if Sandy Hook had not happened in between.

This does not raise my opinion of this craven, crass elitist oligarch by the slightest increment.  This is merely an exercise in political opportunism by a rat whose ship is rapidly sinking.

Don't worry about his sorry ass, though.  When he gets bounced  in the next election, he'll have a cushy, high-paying job at some Koch-funded reich-wing think tank talking point generator.  The elites do have a way of taking care of their own.

In other news, The Wicked Witch Robert Bork is deadBoo-fricken-hoo.  In some tiny way, the world is now a slightly better, more humane and loving place.

In the Committee's report, Bork is portrayed as an opponent of civil rights legislation, a critic of decisions banning racially restrictive covenants and of bans on segregation, a critic of one person/one vote, a critic of decisions upholding bans on poll taxes and literacy tests, and as a judge who took a limited view of the Equal Protection Clause.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in a School Yard

Today a psychopath attacked school children at their school with murderous intent.

He wounded 22, but there were no fatalities.

This happened in China, where, due to the lack of readily available guns, he had to use a knife.

It's still a huge tragedy, but the parents of these children will be seeing them in recovery rooms, not morgues.

I am not making this up. Google it.

Also note, you almost never read about drive-by knifings, or innocents getting caught in the cross-stabbing.

Yes, people kill people. Guns simply make it a whole lot quicker, easier, more efficient and indiscriminate.

It's why we don't go to war wielding swords.




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Conversation with a Conservative

A couple of weeks ago reader Cooljazz (no relation) left a long and detailed comment at the post where I asked Romney supporters to explain their preference.  I've hoisted his comment from the archive and will give it a detailed response.

Cooljazz said:

The Democratic Party has the perception of pandering to liberal social issues, i.e. immigration, woman's rights, same sex marriage, etc. I consider this to vote buying where democratic candidates gain support from special interests (groups organized on specific social issues) in exchange for promises to pursue those interests. In general I consider this to be a weakening of national moral fiber, which is a precursor to mob rule.

I am bothered by the ability of special interests groups, via undisciplined media, to distort political issues such that rational discussion cannot take place. The Susan Komen Foundation and Family Planning debate or UAW support of Matty Maroun's opposition to the International Trade Crossing are excellent examples of where special interests were able to distract and confuse the public. It is difficult for me to support the Democratic Party because I do cannot find common ground and even my willingness to compromise on issues is polarized by special interests groups. Essentially, by voting for the Democratic Party, I feel compelled to give up on my principals.

For instance, if I vote down proposals to change the Michigan constitution to add additional protections for unions then I must be a right-wing conservative pushing "right-to-work" legislation. This is not the case but I will be darned if I can have a rational conversation on this issue in my neighborhood Coney, which is mostly populated by retired UAW automotive employees. I am not necessarily against universal health care but I think it would have been more appropriate to identify means to bring down the cost of rising health care than to push legislation that might exacerbate the situation. I believe in the institution of marriage but might compromise on civil unions, depending on whether I perceived this to further weaken the family structure. In short, voting for the democratic party would push me further into hypocrisy than I can tolerate.

Alternatively, the Republican Party resonates better with my Christian views and beliefs. By virtue of having a position, conviction or religious perspective, I can then debate the merits of proposals that support or detract from this foundation. This foundation base is not something I find in the Democratic Party, other than a sense of fairness, which I believe is a primary objective of the Democratic Party. This platform is why I don't think that the Democratic Party will accomplish much in the next four years, which I may expand upon later assuming that this discussion is of any interest.

Before I even start, it should be plainly obvious that I am in near total disagreement with almost all of this.

I'll also reiterate that what I am looking for is a way to comprehend the conservative position.  I'm seriously astounded that intelligent, educated, thoughtful people of integrity - and I know Cooljazz to be just such a person - can support what the Republican party has degenerated into, and specifically an arrogant squirmy ethical chameleon like Willard Romney.  I will state my opposition to Cooljazz's arguments as forcefully as I am able, but I am not foolish enough to think I can change anybody's mind.

My response:

You first paragraph describes a perception of Democratic pandering. Let's first agree on what pandering is.   From Wikipedia we get this: "Pandering is the act of expressing one's views in accordance with the likes of a group to which one is attempting to appeal. The term is most notably associated with politics. In pandering, the views one is verbally expressing are merely for the purpose of drawing support up to and including votes and do not necessarily reflect one's personal values."

So I have to say you are badly mistaken in this accusation.  Do you really believe that Dems, in general, are less than serious about the issues you mentioned?  In fact, a fundamental difference between  progressives (not that all Dems are) and regressives (which, unfortunately all modern Rethugs seem to be) revolves around issues of human rights.  If you can see questions of immigration, women's rights and gay marriage being decided on the basis of granting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all, as opposed to repressing the rights of certain targeted groups, then we can come closer to an agreement.

Further, I can think of no greater panderer in recent history than Mitt Romney, who first, has never taken a principled position on any issue (this is also true of previous candidate John McCain), and second, in the debates reversed himself on almost every issue that was addressed, while espousing positions on several of them that were in direct opposition to his own platform, as presented on his web site.  If this is a weakening of national moral fiber, then the guilt clearly lies with Mitt Romney and his team.  You don't see this kind of shape-shifting from Dems.

If you are bothered by the influence of special interest groups, I recommend you look into and then do some serious thinking about the K-Street lobbying organizations and their vice-like grip on the Republican party.  The beginning of your second paragraph ought to be addressed to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and the vast right-wing media machine funded by the Koch brothers and their rich allies, and think tanks, and the regressive agenda put forth by the American Legislative Exchange Council.   To relate special interest influence and media over-reach to the Democrats or any pursuit of a progressive agenda is a serious misunderstanding of the bought-and-paid-for contemporary American political landscape.  I have to wonder where you get your information, and to what extent you are being misled by the kinds of grotesque reality distortion that is characteristic of right wing media.

I don't think your examples are particularly cogent.  Maroun's attempt to distort the state constitution went down in flames, so it's hard to see how the public was confused. And I think you have the Komen issue exactly backwards - it was anti-abortion crusaders who distorted and misinformed.  More broadly, misinformation and distortion are now characteristic of, and in fact [along with blatant voter suppression and gerrymandering] vital to the success of Republicans.  Look also at the bait and switch tactics of the governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Florida who campaigned as moderate and reasonable, but have implemented the extreme regressive ALEC agenda.  How is this not a violation of principles - both yours and theirs?

As it turns out, by not supporting the state constitutional amendment to protect unions you have enabled the "right to work" actions just rammed through the lame duck session here in MI - with no public debate or support.  Note that Snyder was never in favor of this - until he was.   Note also that "right to work" states always have lower salaries, poorer working conditions, worse safety records, and a lower standard of living. This action is very bad for Michigan.  In fact, the middle class life style you and your family have been able to enjoy, and the benefits, holidays and vacations we took for granted while we were working together came to us - even in our salaried positions - because of the bargaining power of unions.

Regarding health care, all credible studies indicate that the ACA will lower health care costs by a considerable margin, not exacerbate them as you have suggested.  In fact one great way to even more effectively lower health care costs would be to get the non-value-added for-profit insurance companies out of the loop.

On the gay marriage issue, I challenge you to demonstrate how gay marriage in any way threatens the institution of marriage or family structure.  I don't have stats at my finger tips, but I think the record shows that same-sex couples have success rates no worse than hetero couples, and actually have more stable family structure.

So where is the hypocrisy of voting Democratic?

On the religion issue, I have to wonder how a party so strongly influenced by a rich elite, that fosters blatant greed, places material things above people at every opportunity, not only sanctions but is enthusiastic about torture, and is willing to wage war - the greatest evil ever visited upon humankind - on flimsy or totally trumped-up pretenses can resonate with anyone's Christian values.  What I see in the message of Jesus is love, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity to the less fortunate, a strong disdain for wealth and materialism, and an admonition not to judge others.  Also, he healed the sick - for free, if I have this right.  These values are essentially 180 degrees away from the Republican platform and belief system.

I would like to see you consider these things when you debate the merits of proposals that support or detract from your religious foundation.

To your last point, if this administration doesn't accomplish much in the next four years, it will be directly and specifically due to the obstruction of the most recalcitrant and disloyal congress in the the post civil war history of our country.  Their stated goal since the 2008 election, under the direction of Rush Limbaugh, has - quite openly - been to make Obama fail.  Anything tragic that happens to the country, like derailing the economy, is mere collateral damage, and not worth thinking about. Plus, since it happens on Obama's watch, they'll be able to blame him. [I think enough people are starting to see through this that Obama was able to be re-elected.]  To my mind, this goes far beyond hypocrisy and partisanship and constitutes actual treason.  Note that nothing even remotely like this has ever been perpetrated by Democrats.  Or by Republicans either, prior to 1992.

My assessment is that starting with Gingrich's contract on America [though the roots of this really go back to Nixon and Atwater], the Republican party has set a course that has veered off the legitimate political map to a terra incognita of repression and intellectual nihilism that defies alignment with any valid political ideology, and has culminated in the willful ignorance and de facto insanity represented by the tea party.

I welcome your response.

I also invite any interested reader to participate.  But I warn you that any comment that displays the slightest disrespect to either of us will be deleted immediately and with extreme prejudice.

12/13 Update:  This week the Lame duck Rethug congress in Michigan, in addition to  the "right-to-work" legislation mentioned above also passed - without any public support or input - 1) an emergency manger law nearly identical to one tossed out by the voters in a referendum just last month, 2) some of the most draconian anti-abortion legislation in the country, and 3) laws allowing guns to be carried in schools, day-care centers, stadiums, and churches.  [Vetoed by Snyder] What could possibly go wrong?  After all, we aren't Connecticut.

None of this represents the will of the citizens of Michigan.  In fact, it is distinctly counter to it. What you see demonstrated here, even beyond craven partisanship, is the right wing contempt for democratic principles and disdain for governance that have characterized the Rethug party for the last two decades.

This is what you get when the Rethugs have power.  They don't govern; they rule.  They are the deciders, and democracy be damned.   This is just part of why I say that it is virtually impossible for a decent person to be cynical enough when thinking about the Rethugs.  You are just very reluctant to put your mind in a place where you can face their rampant evil.

I mentioned Rethug nihilism above.  Here it is described in lurid detail by a genuine conservative, and devout Christian who realizes how thoroughly loathsome the Rethugs have become.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sad Obit

Today, we lost a great musician and composer and a thoroughly wonderful human being.

He would have been 92 tomorrow.

Let us all dance unsquarely while we may.




As a humanist, he was at the forefront of integration, playing black jazz clubs throughout the deep South in the ’50s, a point of pride for him.
"For as long as I’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me,” he once told the Tribune.
"Frankly, labels bore me."
                           --From The Chicago Tribune obit.


~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Today we lose one more
Great - He gave us the sound track 
For life's Unsquare Dance


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Logic Boat


XKCD:


Answer to question in panel 4:

Because you are a Stark.

Oh - and by the way, Winter is coming.


ALL IN!

Is it just me, or is this book title now an unfortunate double entendre?




UPDATE:  This takes it to a whole new - and unfortunately, much lower - level.

H/T to nanute. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Nation, Divisible

We are a country not just divided, but fragmented along axes of race, age, religion, economic status and geography.  There are now 15 States where citizens have filed petitions to secede from the Union.  "These include Louisiana (which led the charge), the Republic of Texas, Kentucky, Colorado, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Oregon."  I don't know which is number 15, but I'm gong to guess Oklahoma. 

I'm not going to get flip about it.  While these petitions have virtually no chance of achieving anything, it's important to remember two things:

1)  You never hear anything like this when Republicans win.
2)  All but 4 of these states represent the (since 1965) solid Republican South.

Another geographic dimension is urban vs rural.  When I do get flip, I say Obama won everywhere that people outnumber cattle, deer, goats or alligators.  This comes distressingly close to being the truth.  Look at the electoral map of just about any State.  I like to consider Ohio, since it is my home State and in many ways represents the U.S. in miniature.  But pick a State at random [or Texas in particular] and you'll probably see the same scenario.   The Ohio electoral map shows that Obama carried 16 of Ohio's 88 counties.  Half of these are strung along the Lake Erie shore, four more are contiguous in the densely populated north-east corner, and the other four contain Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and Athens.

I'm not ambitious enough to undertake the study, but I'll hypothesize that Obama's vote percentage in each county is directly proportional to the total population - and this in a State where the counties don't vary much in physical size.  Consider that Lucas Co. [essentially my home town, Toledo] with 198,000 votes cast went for Obama by 64 to 34%, while Mercer Co. along the IN border with 21,000 votes cast went for Romney by 77 to 22%.  You can find these kinds of results all over the country.

Another divide is along education level.  Among the 15 States with the best public school systems, Obama carried 13, while among the 15 States with the worst public school systems, Romney carried 12.  I see this as a big component in the recent Republican war on education.  One thing you develop as a result of good education is a set of critical thinking skills, which then give you the ability to see through nonsense peddlers like Rush, Trump, and the whole Fox roster.

All of this tends to make me pessimistic about our nations future.  But I see rays of hope amidst the great divide.  Even in Georgia, which went 53 to 45% for Romney, you find Obama winning by huge margins in Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, and Albany.

Plus, another thing is happening that you have to see a country-wide county level electoral map to notice.



There is a blue streak that starts along the Mississippi river valley where Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi converge and runs almost continuously through Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas to join with the blue States along the coast.

I call it the band of sanity running through the South, and it might just represent an opportunity for progressives to build on going forward.

Cross-posted at AB

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Predictions and Results

Now that Florida is in - having been won by BHO by a resounding 0.6%, and it's all over, I can have a look at my predictions.

Obama carries FLA by a slim margin.  Actual was 0.6%  Check.  Determined voters overcame suppression.  Good on them!

Wins Ohio by at least +6.   Actual 1.9%   Not even close.  Way less than the '08 margin of 5%.  I am totally baffled by this result.

BHO gets at least 303 EV; 330 looks attainable. Actual 303 with FLA hanging, 332 now that it's captured.  Nailed this one, but I can't take much credit.  All I had to do was believe the people who know what the hell they're talking about.   Note who did NOT do this.

Obama in the popular vote by +3.5%. Actual 2.5%.  Ack.  This really is distressingly close.  If demographics are going to make the Rethugs obsolete, they'd better get at it, PDQ.

Third party candidates collectively get under 1% nationwide.  Nope.  With BHO at 50.5% and  Randall Boggsomney at 48.0%, that leaves 1.5% to be distributed among the few, the hopeless, the turd party candidates.

About 100,000 deluded fanatics write in Ron Paul.  Who knows.  I don't know how to check this out, but I do feel pretty good about it in view of the 1.5% going to "other."

Sharrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren both win.   Check and Mate.  Brown by 50.3 to 45.1,  Warren by 56.7 to 46.3.  These are pretty comfortable wins, but not slam dunks.  In each case a lot of outside $$$$ were behind the Rethug. Who can say how much influence that had.  Thankfully, money did not rule the day.

There is some musical chairs in the Senate, but no net change.  Sometimes I'm happy to be wrong.  Dems pick up 2 seats.

Dems pick up 5 to 10 in the House.  Missed on this one.  Dems are currently up 2, with 6 seats still unconfirmed, but, alas, most of these are leaning R.  11/29 UpdateThis just in.  Every race decided late went to the Democrats, who picked up 8 seats, right in the middle of my estimate.  How 'bout dat!

Tomorrow the recriminations begin - Republicans will claim Romney lost because he is either "not a true conservative" or "not conservative enough." Only one of these is correct.  Oh, yeah.  Check.  OK, this was too easy.  Really, could there have been any doubt?   But at this point, I'll take it.

 The lesson is not to be less conservative. The lesson is not to be found in purging social conservatives. The lesson is in taking a look at how the radicals won: Yes, there was the fear element. There was the devil-you-know element. But there is also the fact that all of what they say seems plausible and even not all that radical, because it has been in our cultural milk. Because while they may obscure some of the details and make it all sound mainstream, at the same time they are bold and confident about the extreme positions they believe in. That’s what we’ve got to be.
                                       - Kathryn Jean Lopez

I will continue to be amazed that any decent, intelligent, educated human being would vote for this lying odious unprincipled elitist chameleon.  Well, yeah, but predicting my own mental state is not really a huge challenge for me.

Most of the time.


Hoisted from the Archives (and the OTHER 47%)

Four years ago today, on my Tumbler blog that was never read by anyone, I posted what I am about to repost here today.  Though this is in a way a continuation of the anti-Sarah Palin rant that got me blogging in the first place, you can almost just plug in Paul Ryan and not lose much continuity.

Except  for the title, of course.

The Perils of ‘Populist Chic’

In my idle moments I wonder what is to become of the Republican party?  I think the political process needs differing points of view, brought together by right-minded, clear thinkers.  On a good day, from this clash of ideas can come balance and something approaching the truth.

But that is for later.  For now, the country has gone so far off track, we need united resolve to get back on course.  I believe Obama has the skills and character to make a serious attempt, and he’ll need the cooperation of both houses of Congress.  For now, at least, the Democratic sweep is the best thing that could have happened in this election.

Meanwhile, the Republican party needs a long walk in the wilderness, to search for its soul.  It cannot be with the hijacking Bushite neocons, who have violated every legitimate conservative principle.  If it is with the religious right, then God help us all.  One of our country’s founding principles was the avoidance of theocracy.

Sadly, though, Sarah Palin remains the darling of the Republican party - as unbelievable as it seems after their defeat.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/07/poll-64-percent-of-republ_n_142284.html

She represents not only theocracy, but a particularly vapid and dangerous brand of anti-intellectual populism.  The same kind of populism displayed by Hitler.

Here is an article about the intellectual decline of the Republican party.

Notable quote:
There was a time when conservative intellectuals raised the level of American public debate and helped to keep it sober. Those days are gone. As for political judgment, the promotion of Sarah Palin as a possible world leader speaks for itself. The Republican Party and the political right will survive, but the conservative intellectual tradition is already dead. And all of us, even liberals like myself, are poorer for it.

This is the final paragraph, and the first clue I had that the writer wasn’t a conservative.

http://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB122610558004810243.html?mod=article-outset-box#articleTabs%3Darticle

The comments tab accompanying the article will take you into the dark cave where the Palin fans lurk.  Their unabashed love for Palin, and forthright contempt for Obama are astounding.  These people display the worst of partisanship - the idea that one of ours is right and good, always; and one of theirs is wrong and bad, always.

Good luck, Barack.  This is 47% of the country you will soon be governing.

Well, what happened is that the Rethugs sold themselves figuratively to the insane Tea Party and literally to Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.  It came pretty close to working.  But I firmly believe that the Rethugs were done in by their own over-each.  I'm astounded by how close the vote count was in my beloved Ohio.  It could be that a back-lash to Romney's flat-ass idiotic anti-Chrysler last minute campaign ads energized Ohio Dems, and that voter suppression energized them in both OH and FLA, where people stood in line to vote past 2:00 a.m. Wednesday.  [It's obvious that this is part of the Rethug's make-it-hard-to-vote strategy.]

About 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, when it was all over except the wailing, gnashing of teeth and a two hour wait for the Romney to concede, I posted this on my FB page.

I want to thank the Republican party for all their voter suppression and intimidation efforts, mid-game rule changes, war on women, nomination of bat shit crazy tea-party candidates, inexplicably stupid campaigning in the closing moments, and unidentified billionaire super-pac funding, without which the lethargic Democratic party would never have mobilized enough to re-elect President Obama.
The lesson of 2010, re-emphasized here, is that if we show up, we win, and if we don't the Rethugs win.  It's that simple.  We outnumber them, but - with their hot buttons, dog-whistles and fear-mongering, they have a highly motivated base composed of angry white men, religious fanatics, racists, the stupid, the insane, the ignorant, and the easily swayed, who will come out and vote for them in force. The utter dependability of these cadres gave the Rethugs the luxury of not having to think in any sensible way about policy or the actual practice of governance.  And that has been their demise.  Amid all the post election finger-pointing and recrimination, the Rethugs have not been able to realize that their vacuous policies of trickle down rich-coddling, anti-science war on information, war on women, and contempt for half the country are not a recipe for success.  And they are not going to get it, because their world view rests squarely on denial of reality.

What I was hoping for back in '08 was that the Republican Party would get its groove back and become the sane and responsible party that it had not been since at least the time of Nixon.  That was a forlorn hope then, and remains so now.  For the good of sane conservatives - if such there be - the nation, and indeed the world, the Rethug party must be destroyed.

And this will be no loss.  Genuine conservatism is now well represented within the Democratic party.  There is a huge vacuum on the political left.  But our system simply cannot accommodate more than two parties.   For it to manifest itself, the Rethugs have to disappear.
Tomorrow will not be too soon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ohio and Florida Don't Matter

Playing around at 270towin.com yesterday, I discovered a scenario where Obama would win the EC without winning either Ohio or Florida.  You can see the map view at this link.  I've left OH and FLA unclaimed, along with NV, CO, IA, NC, and NH.  At that point, BHO has 260 EV, and only needs 10 more.  This would involve the very uncertain prospect of carrying VA.

Given all of that, any two of NV, CO, IA or NH would give BHO the victory.  Alternatively, NC could do it, all on it's lonesome.  The narrowest win would be to get NV and NH, landing on exactly 270.

For Romney to eke out a victory, he would have to almost run the table, taking FLA, OH, NC AND all but 1 of the other in-play states.

As it turned out, Obama got VA by 50.8 to 47.8 and swept all of NV, CO, IA and NH, while Romney took NC by the close margin of 50.6 to 48.4.

As it stands now, with FLA still up for grabs, Obama has 303 EV and retains the presidency.  If FLA comes in, his EV total will be 332.

He also takes the popular vote by 50.3 to 48.1, a margin of 2.2 points.

For an election in which old white male demographics are supposedly the Republicans last refuge, this is distressingly close.

UPDATE: As it turned out, and as Johnathon Bernstein pointed out, Obama would have won even without VA.  Because CO + NH = 13 = VA, carrying CO and NH is another route to exactly 270, even without OH, FLA, VA, and NC.

Update 2:  Actually, the number in update 1 should be 272.  Math is hard.  Especialy before breakfast after a short night.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Predictions

I'll go out on a limb and say that despite the gonzo voter suppression efforts, Obama carries FLA by a slim margin and wins Ohio by at least +6, as the latest Romney lie barrage backfires. BHO gets at least 303 EV; 330 looks attainable. Obama in the popular vote by +3.5%. Third party candidates collectively get under 1%. Nationwide, about 100,000 deluded fanatics write in Ron Paul.

Sharrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren both win. There is some musical chairs in the Senate, but no net change. Dems pick up 5 to 10 in the House due to Tea Party backlash, but still are in the minority.

Tomorrow the recriminations begin - Republicans will claim Romney lost because he is either "not a true conservative" or "not conservative enough." Only one of these is correct.

I will continue to be amazed that any decent, intelligent, educated human being would vote for this lying odious unprincipled elitist chameleon [picture Randall from Monsters, Inc.]



For my ultra-long shot I'll say sometime in the next year Chris Christie completes his epiphany and changes parties. [Not really - this one is fantasy land stuff. But I do think Obama and a competent FEMA response to Sandy gave him one hell of a jolt in his partisan-hackery circuit.]

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Freeloaders

I have to believe that Republican voters are largely motivated by a hatred of taxation and a contempt for those who they consider to be freeloaders on those tax dollars.

So it is more than a little bit ironic that Republican strongholds are leaches sucking money out of the Democratic States, where, coincidentally, people are more urban and well educated.

"There is a very strong correlation, then, between a state voting for Republicans and receiving more in federal spending than its residents pay to the federal government in taxes (the rust belt and Texas being notable exceptions). In essence, those in blue states are subsidizing those in red states. Both red and blue states appear to be acting politically in opposition to their economic interests. Blue states are voting for candidates who are likely to continue the policies of red state subsidization while red states are voting for candidates who profess a desire to reduce federal spending (and presumably red state subsidization)."

 In this map, red states are net recipients of federal spending, blue states are net donors.


In this map, red represents republican and blue democrtic electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election.



Pretty amazing.

Willard

I tried to picture Mitt Romney this morning, but the only image I could conjure was of a chameleon drawn on an Etch-a-Sketch. nestled in a huge pile of Thousand Dollar bills.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Employment Report

I just left this comment at CI, and am posting it here as a hedge against deletion.

As Spencer reported at Angry Bear:

"The unemployment rate ticked up from 7.8 to 7.9.  But this may actually be a bullish development because it stemmed from a 578,000 jump in the labor force.  A large increase in the labor force may mean that people are more optimistic about employment prospects and are rejoining the labor force."

http://www.angrybearblog.com/2012/11/the-employment-situation.html

Per Calculated Risk;

"This was another encouraging employment report. The 171,000 payroll jobs added in October, plus the 84,000 in upward revisions to the August and September reports, suggests decent job growth recently."

'Not all the news is good. U-6, an alternate measure of unemployment, only declined slightly to 14.6%. The average workweek was unchanged and average hourly earnings decreased slightly."

Employment/population ratio up slightly.

Number of part time worker for economic reasons declined.

Unemployed over 26 weeks declining sharply.

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/11/employment-encouraging-report-also-more.html


Not a stellar report, to be sure, but I don'tt see any good reason to emphasize the negative.

Cheers!
JzB

Why NOT Balance the Budget?

On 10/30, in an open thread at AB, I posted a summary of my experience (up to that time) in commenting at Confounded Interest, a blog by GMU Prof Anthony Sandler.  The CI post in question has since been taken down.

This generated an interesting discussion (that I unfortunately lost track of) with some links to good information that I don't want to lose.  Keeping a link to that post is one of the reasons for this post.

Another is to show some interesting data that mcwop provided:

1817-1821: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 29%. Depression began 1819.

1823-1836: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 99%. Depression began 1837.

1852-1857: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 59%. Depression began 1857.

1867-1873: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 27%. Depression began 1873.

1880-1893: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 57%. Depression began 1893.

1920-1930: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 36%. Depression began 1929.

1998-2001: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 9%. Recession began 2001

2004-2007: U. S. Deficit Reduced 61% (from $413B to $160B) Great Recession began 2008

I had read somewhere (attribution lost) that balancing the budget was the route to recession, with IIRC a six for six record.  The above list show 8 such examples.

Food for thought.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Open Question to Romney Supporters

If you're going to vote for Romney, either you must like him as a candidate, be such a die-hard Republican the candidate doesn't matter, or hate Obama so much you're rather vote for a dead skunk.  (Have I missed any possibility?)

Whatever your reason, please answer for me as many of these three questions as you are able, in as much specific detail as you can muster.

What do you like about Mitt Romney that makes you want to vote for him?

What do you like about Republicans (or hate about Democrats) that make you a die-hard Republican voter?

What is there about Obama that makes you hate him so much?


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Fear


The scariest thought I've had this Halloween evening - and I can't get rid of it - is imagining some poor guy in a major natural disaster in the Romney universe of privatized FEMA responsibility, who has just lost his house and all his possessions having to pay Halliburton $100 for a pint of water so his child doesn't die of thirst.

Fowl and Fishy Inflation

It has been suggested that the rapid increase in the prices of fish, fowl, meat and eggs for about two years following October, 2009 was the result of QE causing inflation in these items.  From this Calculated Risk graph, we can get the QE date line.  QE was announced on Nov 25, 2008, and expanded in April 2009.  It ended in May, 2010.  QE II was hinted at in Sept, 2010, announced in Nov 2010, and ended in August 2011.

The timing correspondence is less than stellar, since the YoY increase in prices for those food items dropped like a rock from October, '08 though Oct. '09.  It then shot up to a 7 1/2 year high in May of 2011.

This can be seen in the red line of Graph 1, which also shows the CPI for all items except food and energy (CPILFESL) in blue.


 Graph 1 YoY Price increases for Selected Food Stuffs and All Items Less Food and Energy

To assume a cause and effect relationship, you have to account for a time lag of a year from the announcement and 6 months from the expansion of QE to the turn around in those price increases from the Oct '09 bottom.  Remember, through the first 11 months of QE, the YoY change in those prices dropped dramatically.  Between May and November, 2010, while no QE program was in effect, these prices had the steepest part of their rise.  After QE II ended in August, 2011, the YoY price increase remained high for those items until the end of the year, and then fell rapidly.

A longer view reveals that the increase in those food prices oscillates continuously around the All Items Less Food and Energy line.  The trough to trough period is irregular, averaging 3.52 years with a standard deviation of 0.45 year (5 measurements).   The trough to trough time from May, '06 to Oct., '09 was a very typical 3.4 years.  It is very hard to look at that graph and see anything unusual about the 2008-2012 region, other than the depth of the trough shortly after the Great Recession.

It appeared to me that the blue line of Graph 1 might be a crude approximation of a long average of the red line.  This turns out not quite to be the case, since the two lines are measuring different baskets of goods.  What we have is the YoY increase for these food items oscillating around its own mean. That sounds like a tautology, but let's look a little deeper.

Graph 2 shows the same data, along with some long averages of the food stuffs YoY price increase line.   These are the 5 Yr (light blue), 8 Yr (yellow), and 13 Yr (purple) moving averages, and the average for the whole data set, 2.9 (bright green).  I've also included an envelope one standard deviation (3.06) above (5.96) and below (-0.17) the mean in dark green.

Graph 2 YoY Price increases for Selected Food Stuffs with Avgs and All Items Less Food and Energy

This (sort of) resembles a control chart.  The +/- Std. Dev. envelope isn't a hard barrier, but does tend to turn the data path back toward the mean, unless something strange happens.  Frex, the big rise from late '02 to early '04 followed the Iraq invasion and resulting disruption in petroleum pricing.  The '09 trough was the result of the Great Recession.  These are explainable variations.

Note also that the moving average lines tended to run below the CPILFESL line prior to late 2002, and have tended to run above it since.  This is to be expected since these items are basically the top of the food chain and have several layers of fuel dependent contributors in their cost structure.  Recall that until 2002, fuel prices were low, and since then (except for the Great Recession) have increased steadily.

I'm quite sympathetic to the idea that QE has done very little to help ease the economic doldrums following the GR.  But I see no reason at all to believe that it has contributed to the pain and suffering of ordinary citizens at either the grocery store or the gas pump.


Monday, October 15, 2012

GDP Growth Caused By Tax Cuts Has Never Happened

Mike's post here got me thinking.  I'll telegraph my conclusion.  He dramatically understated his case.

You can see the long range view of nominal and inflation adjusted GPD growth in Graph 1 of FRED quarterly YoY percent change data.


Graph 1 YoY growth Nominal and Inflation Adjusted GDP

Nominal GDP Growth was in a secular up-trend from 1960 through 1980.  However, inflation adjusted GDP growth quickly peaked after the Kennedy-Johnson tax cut, reaching a maximum value of 8.5% in Q4 of '65 and Q1 of  '66.  It then dropped dramatically for the next four years.  This peak value has been matched only once since: in 1984, during a sharp rebound from the double dip recession of 1980-82.

Since then, in the wake of numerous tax cuts, the rate of GDP growth has been anemic. To get a look at the rate of growth, I took an 8 year average of the annual percent change data presented above, and then plotted a 5 year rate of change for that data.  This is essentially the 2nd derivative of GDP, or GDP acceleration, as shown in Graph 2.


 Graph 2  GDP Acceleration

 Inflation Adjusted GDP acceleration peaked in Q3, 1966.   Fueled by the inflation of the 70's, NGDP acceleration stayed high until Q1, 1980, then plummeted for 9 years.  It has been relentlessly negative since.

Inflation adjusted GDP acceleration has not done quite as badly in this disinflationary era, but has been below zero more than half the time since 1970.  This is a little bit worse than coasting.

This all might seem a bit abstract, but the message is clear.  If tax cuts were good for the economy, then GDP growth would be increasing.  In other words, acceleration would be positive and most especially so after a tax cut.  The data is not consistent with this notion.

Clinton's famous tax increase preceded increased GDP growth by either measure, and an upturn in acceleration.  The Bush tax cuts preceded decreasing GDP growth.

I'm not going to get into a correlation vs causation discussion.  I'll simply say that tax cuts over 5+ decades have been an utter failure at stimulating real economic growth in any inflationary environment.  Since the real world data correlation is counter to the received conservative wisdom, it might be worth trying an anti-conservative approach.

It might also give the NGDP targeting enthusiasts something to ponder.

Cross posted at Angry Bear.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debt and Growth

Art at The New Arthurian Economics and I are looking at the relationship between debt and economic growth.  Art started with an observation of two FRED series, total credit market debt owed (TCMDO) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP,  nominal or GDPC1, inflation adjusted - take your pick.)

Graph 1, from FRED, shows these data series.  I've chosen nominal GDP and, for reference, also included the total Federal Debt.


 Graph 1 TCMDO, GDP and Total Federal Debt

In 1950, TCMDO was about 1.3 times GDP, but growing a bit more quickly.  By 1980, the ratio was 1.6, and by 1987 it was greater than 2.  Now that ratio is approaching 4.  Note that TCMDO is also close to 4 times greater than total public debt.  This is why Art and I agree that private, not public debt is the problem that needs to be addressed, but is largely ignored.

Linked here are Art's posts with graphs of YoY growth in both factors, pre 1980 and post-1980.  Pre 1980, their moves are similar in magnitude, and pretty well coordinated. Post 1980 there is still some occasional similarity of motion, but the coordination breaks down and debt growth is generally quite a bit higher than GDP growth.  The 80's in particular stand out as being starkly different from the previous period.

Graph 2 shows the entire data set, since 1952.


Graph 2 YoY % Growth in TCMDO and GDP

These observations led Art to the reasonable hypothesis that, "Output growth slowed when debt became excessive."  This, in fact, might explain the great stagnation.

I suggested, and Art accepted two corollaries to his hypothesis.

1) There is a non-excessive amount of debt. Let's call it "just right."
2) Below the "just right" amount, there might also be "not enough."

Actually, there is a lower level hypothesis, to which Art's is corollary: That there is a functional relationship between debt and growth, in which growth is the dependent variable.

This is what I will explore in this post.

Graph 3 is a scatter plot of GDP vs TCMDO YoY % change for each, FRED quarterly data from Q4, 1952 through Q2, 2012, with a best fit straight line included.


Graph 3 GDP vs TCMDO, YoY % Change

The relationship is quite clearly positive.  The R^2 value at .39 is rather low, but not terrible.  There is quite a bit of scatter in the data.  Note the circle of data points around the left end of the line.  More on that later.

Next, I divided the data by decades, frex, 1961-1970.  This admittedly simplistic data parsing reveals that the slope and R^2 values are strongly variable over time.  Graph 4 shows the scatter plot along with the slope and R^2 values for each decade.  These data values are arranged in the chart in chronological order and color matched with the corresponding data points.


 Graph 4 GDP vs TCMDO, YoY % Change by Decade

I've added a brown line connecting the dots for the first decade of this century.  The chronology proceeds from a cluster near the center of the graph into a clockwise circular spiral.

Graph 5 shows how the slope and R^2 vary over time.

 Graph 5 Slope and R^2 Over Time for GDP vs TCMDO

After the 60's, the slope plummets, and by the 80's R^2 is a laughable 0.035.  Though the slope has remained low, R^2 has since recovered to 0.38, which is near the whole data set value of 0.39, and only slightly less than the 0.40 to 0.44 of the first three decades.

The slope changes can be interpreted as generally less GDP bang for the TCMDO buck, as the TCMDO/GDP ratio increases.  This is totally consistent with Art's hypothesis.

I have more to say about the GDP -TCMDO relationship, but this post is getting long, so I'll save it for a follow-up.

For now, I'll close with a few questions.

1) Do you think we're on to something?
2) What do you think of the methodology?
3) "Excessive debt" is suggestive, but non-specific.  How should this concept be quantized?
4) How should I go at exploring corollaries 1 and 2 mentioned after Graph 2?
5) Any thoughts on what was there about the 80's that blew up the prior debt - GDP relationship?
6) Is there such a thing as productive vs non-productive debt, and how would they be characterized?

I look forward to your constructive comments.

Cross-posted at Angry Bear.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Strategic Lying as Political Art

If you listen to Randi Rhodes, you know she is still livid over Romney being declared the "winner" in last week's - we'll call it a "debate" for the nonce.

Alas, though, the reason he won is that poll numbers have moved in his favor.  Whether that bounce is robust remains to be seen.  But it did gain Romney some sort of advantage, at least in the near term.

Randi's objection is that Romney lied, repeatedly, and about almost everything.  In the process, he flatly repudiated some of the major planks in his platform - the destruction of Medicare as we know it, the $5 Trillion dollar tax cut, the reduction of tax share paid by high income people, and an insurance plan not covering pre-existing conditions stand out in that regard.   And these are but a few of the 27  debate lies that can easily be recognized and refuted.

Indeed, the one rare moment of lucid candor came when he eagerly, gleefully announced that he would send Big Bird to the unemployment line in order to avoid borrowing money from China.  Big NPR whoop!  To put this in perspective, for CY 2012, the Federal Government, via the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, is contributing $26.65 million in support of PBS, or 0.0007% of total Federal expenditures ($3.77 Trillion) for 2012.    In fact, the entire Federal contribution to CPB is $445.2 million, or 0.0118% of total expenditures. That's sure going to help balance $5 Trillion in tax cuts over ten years. (CPB data from Wikipedia, current expenditure data from the St. Louis Fed.)   Romney isn't lying about our creditor position with China, but he was certainly misleading.  According to Fox News (!) "China, it turns out, holds less than 8 percent of the money our government has borrowed over the years."

OK, I get where Randi is coming from - to have a totally unprincipled opportunist in charge of running the world's greatest super power is not a recipe for any kind of enduring success, either for the U.S.A. specifically, or for the world at large.  There are many historical examples one could cite, but we really needn't go back any further than the "compassionate conservatism" of unprosecuted war criminal and would-be social security privatizer George W. Bush to make the point.

But what Randi refuses to acknowledge is that what we witnessed last week was not a debate, by any recognizable definition of the term.  Lying will get you disqualified in a real debate - right?  This was political theater - and what is theater but staged fiction? 

And there is nothing unusual here.  I've been saying for years that all Republicans do is lie, and then lie about their lies. (I might have gotten that phrase from Randi - the memory is foggy.)  Here is a four-year-old exposé of some of Romney's shape shifting.  (H/T to Dave Brockington at LGM.)




A more insidious kind of lie is simply denying reality, as characterized by birtherism, New Deal and global warming denialism, and Friday's epidemic of conspiracy theories surrounding the latest favorable jobs report.   But I digress.

Here is my point.  Brad Delong points us to a 1984 Fay Joyce article in the N. Y. Times uncovered by Michael Moore.  It turns out that lying during a debate is a time honored Republican strategy.  Even 28 years ago, when there was some chance of the main stream media doing actual journalism, they were confident in their lying strategy.

The Republicans are unabashed in their discussion of their ability to use the television medium. "You can say anything you want during a debate and 80 million people hear it,'' observed Peter Teeley, press secretary to Vice President Bush. If reporters then document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, ''so what?''

''Maybe 200 people read it or 2,000 or 20,000,'' he said.

Now, they have honed it into an art form.  And it's worth remembering the one reason that always accounts for every person's lie: their agenda is not compatible with the truth.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

James Bullard Is A Liar

It took a little bit of effort to keep the words "god damned" out of the title.

Tim Duy explains.

My comment:


Two thoughts -
1) The FED totally abrogates its dual mandate with its intense focus on inflation. Their actions over recent years - actually, decades - makes it clear they have absolutely no concern for unemployment.
2) It's time to drop "disingenuous" from the lexicon. If the man is a liar, he's a liar, and deserves to be revealed as such.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NFL Republicanism

I've long felt that the NFL is the most Republican organization on the face of the earth.  It's an old rich white guy's play ground, and as close to medievalism as we have - until the next Republican Presidency.

The NFL lockout of the officials simply confirmed what we should already have known.  The owners don't give a hirsute rodent's hindquarters about player safety, the integrity of the game, or getting anything right.  They wanted to engage in union busting, simply because they can.

Or so they thought.  In my jaundiced opinion, the regular NFL refs are TEH SUXXOR.  But that doesn't mean things couldn't get a whole lot worse.  And they did when they brought in cast-offs from the lingerie league.

But there are limits -- if you're a big enough ass hole to go look for them.

My Lovely Wife pegged this on Monday night when the Packers got shafted by a cluster-phung of bad calls culminating in the now infamous toucherception.


Picture found on Facebook

This was beyond even what Wisconsin Rethugs like Scott Walker could stomach.

I find that irony to be quite tasty.

It all comes down to who's ox is being gored.  Everyone in WI (and even some in MI) loves them some Packers - even those inclined to break unions and roll us back to the dark ages.

That's what the LW figured out, right on the spot.

It was all over when Green Bay got the shaft.

You do NOT mess with the Packers!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Effect of Capital Gains Tax on Investment - Appendix

In comments to my previous post, Robert requested the unsmoothed data from Graph 3.  Here it is.   GPDI is plotted against the Capital Gains Tax Rate.


Since the Capital Gains Tax Rate (X-axis) is quantized, the result is columns of data.  Compared to the smoothed version, there is little change in either the slope or intercept of the best fit straight line.  R^2 is, of course, much lower.