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!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Made the 50's through 70's So Special?

Even before the recent issuance of Tyler Cowan's Great Stagnation E-Book, Steve at Asymptosis and I have been speculating about what made the first three (or so) post WW II decades special and different.  At first, I thought they were different from the period that followed.  Now, I think they may have been different from any time - possibly even a golden age.  I'll have more to say about this, and about Cowan's book, which I know I'll have to read, over the next days or weeks.

For now, here's a look at productivity, which is central to at least part of Cowan's point.  Krugman's point in this post is rather different, but he included a graph on productivity that got me thinking.  So I dug up productivity data from the BLS website, which took quit a bit of digging.   Fortunately, Skeptic at Reality Base did the same thing, and identifies the data series - year-over-year non-farm productivity growth (% change) as PRS85006092.

Here's my graph, obviously the same data Skeptic used.

For the data series, values during Democratic administrations are in blue, Republican in red.  If there is any significance there, I'm missing it.  Like Krugman, I've added a 5-year moving average (dark green line.)  The faint yellow line is a 10-year average, which doesn't seem to add much.  The blue horizontal line is the entire data set average of 2.24%.  Krugman evidently used a different series - his values for the 5-yr average are in a narrower band, and the shape of the curve, while similar, is not quite identical.

The average line reveals a clear downward trend from 1966 to 1982.  After that - despite a rather directionless and mostly below-average decade from '87 to '97, the trend was toward higher productivity growth - until the nose-dive following the 2002 recession.  Since 2006, productivity has turned up again, while the economy has faltered.  As Krugman recently pointed out, this is not a typical result.

But my focus is on the Post WW II period before the turning point, circa 1980.  The era of falling productivity growth coincidences quite closely with what Allen Meltzer calls "The Great Inflation."  I suspect this is not a coincidence.

I haven't read Meltzer's paper yet, and have a lot of other homework to do.  For now, I'm fascinated by the difference between the first 3 1/2 decades of my life and what has happened since.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Earthquake in Hungary, and I'm Neither Rushin' nor Lyin'

"Rescue officials say parts of western Hungary and Budapest, the capital city, have been affected by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest in the country since 1985."  Fortunately, no casualties were reported.

The very short article conlcudes:  "The quake was centered near the town of Oroszlany, 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of Budapest."

The name "Oroszlany" struck me, because I've known people named Orosz.  The name means, "Russian."  Presumably, some time in antiquity, their ancestors wandered into Hungary from Russia.  Could be.  After all, as someone once told me about history (and uncertain ethnicity) in that part of the world: "The fences were low, and the nights were dark."

Since I'm not familiar with the town, I ran the name through Google translator, and got the result, "Lion."

Lion.  Really.  Just for kicks, I put a space in "Orosz  lany."  The translator then spit out "Russian girl."  Nice, I suppose, but a rather odd name for a town.  My lovely wife (who gets an H/T BTW) is a Polish girl or, to my surprise, "Lengyel lány," for Lengyel is also a family name I recognize.

So, next I tried translating "Lion" from English into Hungarian, and got, "oroszlán."  Close, and a bit coincidentally Lewisian, but no szivar.

Could it be "Lioness" perhaps?  Nope - that's "nőstény oroszlán," and not at all helpful.

At that point, I lost focus, and just started playing with the translator, confirming that I did indeed, know how to count to ten, though my pronunciation is laughable.     

And now, it's time to say,  jó éjszakát.  (To which the childhood retort was, "Well you aint so hot, either!")

Shadow Shot Sunday - 1/30

More Winter sunshine
Casts a morning shadow on
The way to my door.



Does this remind anybody else of the Loch Ness Monster?

Government Spending and the Great Stagnation

At Asymptosis, Steve critiques the section of Tyler Cowan's book, The Great Stagnation that deals with government spending.   He also posts a graph rather like this one, stacking up various slices of Government spending. The green line indicates Defense spending; the purple line is Federal Non-defense spending, and the blue line is State and Local spending, each expressed as a percentage of GDP. 

Expenditures: NIPA table 3.9.5, lines 12, 17, and 22; GDP: NIPA GDP (annual)

Stacked graphs are hard to parse (at least for an old man in bifocals) so in a follow-up post Steve disambiguates these lines.   Thanks Steve!

Meanwhile, I went at it another way, looking at each of these spending elements on its own.  These next charts are based on the actual values, not percentages of GDP, and are presented on a log scale, from 1950 through 2010.  The purpose of a log scale, of course, is to indicated constant growth, at any growth rate, as a straight line.  A higher growth rate causes a steeper slope.

Here is Federal Defense Spending since 1950, log scale, with a trend line added.

Just for kicks, I've designated Republican and Democratic presidential administrations with Red and Blue segments, respectively.  Though the actual spending line snakes around the trend line, it never strays too far (though one may dispute that assertion for Reagan) and the past several years have been exactly on trend.  Most significantly, a single trend line fits the entire series quite nicely.  Please remember that.

Here is Federal Non-defense Spending, again, on a log scale, same time period.

Here the red and blue segments don't denote different party administrations; rather, they denote different eras of history.  I chose a break point of 1980.  This is arbitrary, of course, but near the inflection point by my aging eyes.  The pair of trend lines, for before and after 1980, fits the bifurcated data close to perfectly.

Here is State and Local Spending, log scale.

Same song, different verse.

Very clearly, some time circa 1980 there was a major turning point in government spending growth, for categories other than defense.

In an e-mail, Chris, another commenter at Asymptosis, pointed me to this post about Cowan's book.  I'll get into it in another post, lest this one become over-long and lose focus.  For now, the point raised is that the post WW II "Golden Age was the outlier, not our present era; it just doesn't make sense to talk about the present period as stagnant after centuries of easy growth."   I think this is partly correct, but majorly off target.  Yes, the period 1950 through 1980 is the outlier.  But that doesn't negate the present stagnation.  And easy growth in the more distant past might not have been so easy.

Without having actually read Cowan, I take his subtitle literally as the main thesis of his narrative:  We have picked the low-hanging fruit, and future growth will either be more difficult or require raiding some fresh orchard.

Some of Cowan's view is probably valid. But does it confirm his take on the underlying cause?  Here is an alternative view:  The post WW II Golden Age was golden because of robust growth in government spending, at the Federal, State, and Local Levels.  Since about 1980, non-defense spending has grown at a lower rate at all levels, and the economy has slowed significantly.

Hand-in-hand with this, of course is tax policy.   Deficits never got out of line in the Golden Age, because there was sufficient taxation to cover the outlays.

In a nutshell:
1) Taxation was reduced since 1980.
2) Spending growth was reduced since 1980.
3) Spending with adequate taxation (e.g. before 1980) never led to a deficit problem.
4) Since 1980, spending (specifically on destructive enterprises) without adequate taxation has lead to faltering GDP growth, the current staggering unemployment, social instability (Tea Party, I'm looking at you) due to grotesque wealth inequality, and misapplication of resources from productive enterprises to speculative churning and rent-seeking, specifically enabled by grotesque wealth inequality.
5) Therefore, deficits result from a) military (not social-program) spending and b) inadequate revenues caused by i) insufficient tax rate percentage on high wealth, and ii) current recession-depressed taxable earnings.

If there is a flaw in my reasoning, you could do me a big favor by pointing it out.

BTW - I'm neither simple-minded nor dogmatic enough to think this is the total answer.  I have a suspicion that there is something else other than taxing-and-spending policy going on beneath the surface that might have changed a few years before 1980, and Cowan might be on to something. 

Meanwhile, we're still screwed.

Update:  Menzie Chinn looked at some of this back in October

Ditto: Calculated Risk.

Six Word Saturday

America more unequal than Egypt, Yemen.

And Tunisia, too, for that matter.

Sad truth.  Read all about it HERE.


Friday, January 28, 2011

What the Hell?!? Friday -- Vocabulary Expropriation Edition

Loyal readers will recognize the expression "Great Stagnation," which I coined all on my own, and have been using for quite some time to describe what economists routinely call the "Great Moderation."  

I don't read Tyler Cowan - though I recognize his name from being mentioned frequently at MB.  Cowan, professor of economics at George Mason University is a Hayek-style libertarian, free-market ideologue.  I have absolutely no reason to believe Cowan reads me, and would be astounded if he has any awareness of me at all.

But Cowan has now released an e-book (or, at 15,000 words, perhaps an e-pamphlet) titled - of all things - THE GREAT STAGNATION - How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better.

The subtitle offers a broad hint about how Cowan's view differs from mine - primarily about causes, and secondarily about expectations, I don't see how we can ever get better without another New Deal. 

We have greatly different - probably even starkly incompatible - world views, but the same conclusion about the current state, though for totally different reasons.

What the Hell?!?   I want my pejorative terminology back!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Treasury Yields

David Beckworth asks:

To the extent the sustained rise in real yields is reflecting an improved economic outlook, can we not attribute some of that improvement to QE2?

. . . and shows a chart of the last several months of 10 Yr Treasury yields.  Sure enough, they're going up.

Does it mean much?  Maybe not.  Here is an up-to-date long-horizon chart from Yahoo Finance, showing where current yields are now, in a 30-year-long downward sloping trend channel that I eye-balled in.

There was a big underthrow almost 2 years ago.  Since then - pretty much business as usual.

As long as the curve is bounded by the trend lines, there's no real evidence that anything has changed.

Deja vu.  I made the same post, with more thoughtful commentary, about 6 weeks ago.  Today's chart is new, with data from Yahoo gathered today.


Haiku Wednesday - Transition


When do we arrive?

Join the fun!


The State of Disunion

Obama's SOTU was a nicely delivered platter of vagueness and platitudes, mostly PR, with very little substance.  It didn't work.  The one bright spot is he didn't go after Social Security.  Less than a month ago, I was convinced he would.

Realistically, Obama is not, and has never been, any kind of liberal. He is a centrist conservative, and for him to move to the middle would mean moving to the left.  In a world that made sense, Obama would be a Republican. He governs to the right of Clinton, and Clinton was to the right of Eisenhower. O gave a very rational Republican SOTU – only the second one we have heard since 1999.

It was not only centrist in tone, it was full of explicit overtures to the party of “Hell, NO!”  In the Rethug response, Paul Ryan dispelled any fantasies we might have had about working together.

As it that weren't bad enough, here's Michelle Bachmann, speaking for the Tea party Express.  Keep the Tums handy.

Shorter Obama: "We need to work together to solve our problems."

Shorter Ryan: "Obama is the problem."

Shorter Bachmann: "Obama is responsible for everything bad in the world, including the high price of gas."

We are in “the early days of a history making turn” though – that’s the one thing she said that wasn’t either stupid, a lie, or blazingly irrelevant - really - WWII?!?.  Which way we are going to turn is very uncertain, though.

Obama isn’t much of a progressive, but he does want progress.

Rethugs are regressive.  They want a return to the Gilded Age.

The Tea Party is Neanderthal.

It’s just that stark.

So -- are we screwed, or what?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mellow Yellow Monday - 1/24

A granddaughter's hand
Print makes a bright flower for
My favorite mouse pad


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Music Blogging

Fork in the Rhode (Island)

'Cuz you can never have enough Muppets.

H/T to Cindy.

Shadow Shot Sunday - 1/23

January sun
And spindly branches make a
Pattern in the snow

Friday, January 21, 2011

What the Hell?!? Friday -- United HATES of America Edition

If anything good is ever to come from  tragedy, it is because it can unite us to a common cause, remind us that we ought to all be in some way sharing the same goals, help us overlook our differences.

I missed President Obama's speech at the Tucson memorial service, since I have rehearsals on Wed. evenings.   Those who didn't miss it will recognize that he exercised the right blend of compassion and leadership, while leading the nation in morning, and inspiring us to find the good that can follow in the aftermath of the horrific.

Let's see how well it worked.

Here we have a pic displayed by gateway pundit, one of the intellectual giants at RIGHTNETWORK  (they use ALL CAPS in their banner - I'm not shouting)  of  Obama cheerleading at the pep-rally to kick off his 2012 presidential run, with applause queued up for the enthusiasm-response-challenged.  Oh, excuse me: The Tucson Memorial Service for the Fallen.  The pundit, one Jim Hoft queries: "If White House Was Surprised by Applause at Tucson Pep Rally… Why Did They Ask For It On Jumbotron?"

Some commenters at Hoft's blog pointed out that this is closed captioning.  But let us not be mislead.  Hoft points us to this equally brilliant post by Doug Ross, where in update III he quotes bugfurhat from iowntheworld, who points out that, "it’s WORSE that it’s closed-captioning."  (emphaisis in the original.)

Plus, the ever-erudite Ed Driscoll reminds us, while harkening back to the Paul Wellstone Memorial in talking about the event that produced "the damning photo," that "If you missed the rock concert memorial service but still want to pick-up a T-shirt, no worries: Ebay has you covered."

Anyway, closed captioning expert Rush Limbaugh sets the record straight. (Scroll down to Story #5.)  Seriously, I don't have a map the extends far enough to the right to locate someone who has to be set straight by the Rushter coming at him from the left.

The reaction at Faux Noise was, of course, appropriately fair and balanced - for the greater part of three whole minutes.  John Stewart (via TPM) explains.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Veiled Criticism
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

To top it all off, here, from the slaktivist, is Grief 101: Intro to Mourning.

Notable Quote, directed to the insufferable Brit Hume and his cadre of Fox blowhards:

It doesn't matter if you find the way they choose to mourn "most peculiar," or "strange" or "offensive." It doesn't matter if you don't agree with them. You're not there to agree with them, you're there to mourn with them.

If you don't know what's going on, try to do what those around you do -- peek a little when they close their eyes and follow along as best you can. If they stand up, stand up. If they kneel, kneel. If they all start to sing the theme from The Smurfs while hopping on one foot and hugging each other, well, guess what? Sing their songs with them, chant their chants, dance their dances, mourn with them.

Alas, no good will come from this tragedy.  It cannot unite us to a common cause when those who are blinded by ideology and hate grasp at even make-believe straws to demonize the President in what might have been his finest moment.  It cannot remind us that we ought to all be in some way sharing the same goals when the real, and clearly-enunciated goal of the disloyal opposition is to make the president fail, without regard for the lies they must tell to do it, or the consequences to the country.   It cannot help us to overlook our differences when at every turn, one party designates  the President as OTHER, while subjecting the American people to a campaign of divide and conquer.

Last Week I asked the Right Wing, "What the hell is the matter with you?"

Now I know the answer.  This is The United Hates of America.

We are so screwed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Republicans - All Wrong, All The Time, Pt 24 - Bare Faced Liars

That's the message Representative Weiner gave today in his half-time wrap-up, though not quite in so many words.

It's way past time the Rethugs got called on their bullshit.

Vid from HuffPo.

H/T to the LW.

Crossword Puzzle Blogging

Wednesday January 19, 2011  Michael Sharp and Angela Olson Halsted

Theme: TANKS A LOT! Theme entries are all vertical today, and all start, or are topped, with some type of a TANK - and a different type of tank in each case.

3. *"Heads up!" : THINK FAST - a warning to react quickly. A THINK TANK is an organization designed to influence policy.

8. *Pioneering Frank King comic strip featuring Walt and Skeezix : GASOLINE ALLEY. I have vague recollections of this strip from my long-ago youth Skeezix gave it away. A GASOLINE TANK stores fuel in your vehicle, unless you use some type of alternate fuel.

17. *Award-winning author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" : SHERMAN ALEXIE. The first of many unknowns for me. He is a novelist and poet. Here is his web site.   The SHERMAN TANK is an armored war vehicle prominently used in WW II by the U.S. and allied forces.  It fired a 75 mm SHELL (not 10 D.)  The German Tiger fired an 88 mm shell.

UPDATE: See Tux's note in comments.

33. *Trendy place for a breather? : OXYGEN BAR, per Wikipedia, an establishment, that sells oxygen for recreational use.  I am not making this up.  An OXYGEN TANK is a simple utilitarian device that allows divers to go underwater without having to hold their breath, and astronauts to complete space walks.

And the unifier, 24 D. Sleeveless summer wear, or what each answer to a starred clue might be said to have : TANK TOPWorthy of a picture.

Hi, gang, JazzBumpa here.  This is a great puzzle from a constructing team that I don't recognize, but it gave me fits: way too many unknowns for my little pea brain to cope with. 


(Note from C.C.: Michael Sharp is Rex Parker. Angela Olson Halsted is PuzzleGirl. Congratulations on the LA Times debut!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yet Another Look at Gun Violence

For your convenience, earlier posts on this subject, with - you know - actual data and stuff - can be found here and hereEd has a post up talking about how the Regressive meme is to turn the focus from guns in gun violence to mental health in gun violence.  Well, guess what - there's a bunch of sociological data available that can be compared with gun death data.   This gives me a chance to play with my new favorite toy - cloud charts - in the Open Office spreadsheet application.

We'll have a look at how gun fatalities correlate to variety of social phenomena, and I'll just let the cat out of the bag early by saying that the one thing that it has absolutely no correlation with is the incidence of poor mental health.  Let's work our way down.

For these charts I've plotted the numbers for a variety of social phenomena on the X-axis vs gun deaths on the Y-axis.  Each point represents the paired data for a single state.  In each graph, the best 10 (in green) and worst 10 (in red) States for gun deaths are indicated by an oversized dot.  The best of best and worst of worst States are in the biggest square dots.

Here are the worst States, ranked by Gun death incidence, 2007 data.

Louisiana         20.2
Mississippi      18.5
Alaska              17.8
Alabama           17.5
Nevada             16.3
Arkansas          15.2
Arizona             15.1
Wyoming          15
New Mexico     15

And the best.

Hawaii                    2.6
Rhode Island         3.4
Massachusetts      3.6
Connecticut           4.2
Iowa                       5
New York              5
New Jersey           5.2
New Hampshire    5.5
South Dakota        6.1
Minnesota             6.5

Debt After WW II

In comments, Steve wonders how public debt as a percentage of GDP was able to shrink in the post WW II years.  The answer is that GPD simply grew much faster than the public debt, during that time frame.

Then the Reagan admistration happened, and everything changed.

Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mellow Yellow Monday - 1/17

Trains and Tonka Trucks
Perfect gifts for a
Three-year-old grandson

Josh will be three on Wednesday.  Don't let him peek.
UPDATE:  My bad.  His birthday is Thursday.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Look at Gun Violence

In an earlier post on gun violence I graphed the incidence of gun related deaths against the percentage of gun owners in the population - but I made a clerical error.  The gun ownership rates were from 2001, and the death rates were from 2006.

Well, that's a bit of a screw up, and I like to do things right.   Unfortunately, I can't come up with more hard data on gun ownership for another year.   If you know where I can find it, please let me know.

Here is data from 2007, for gun related deaths.  The plot is data by state for 2007 vs 2006.  As you can see, for what it's worth, there's not much drift over the span of a year.  Gun ownership is a cultural phenomenon, and one of the indicators of how divided we are as a nation, and from the rest of the world.  I doubt if this number changed a great deal between 2001 and 2006.

Here is a look at how the U.S. stacks up against the civilized world on gun deaths.  The aggregate U.S number is 10.2. 

I've eyeballed a best-fit line through the other countries' data, and circled the U.S data point.

Doesn't look like we are on the same planet.

Shadow Shot Sunday

What mysterious
Creature leaves a line in the
Snow without footprints?


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Let's Look at the Second Amendment.

Amendment Text

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I've highlighted the first few words, and I don't think it's an accident that they appear at the beginning of the sentence.  The militia, quite explicitly indicated as a function of the State, and not the purview of crazed army-surplus maniacs who roam Michigan's thumb playing war-games with live ammo on weekends, is the sole purpose and justification for keeping and bearing arms.  This is not to say that they can't be used for other purposes, such as hunting, skeet shooting, or a peaceful afternoon at your local firing range - but it most definitely is to say that none of these things, or even all of these things en toto constitute any justification for gun ownership.

Lousy grammar aside, this ambiguous sentence has been the source of consternation for quite some time.  See this link for a scholarly look at some of the confusion it has generated, and Ed's post for some interesting discussion in comments.

One thing is clear to me in all this fog - the founding fathers, who, after all were a bunch of fallible humans trying to coerce and compromise their way into an acceptable document - had no particular reverence for a private right of gun ownership.  In fact, whether it even includes a private, rather than a State's right is moot.  The amendment is utilitarian, no matter how ambiguous is the actual utility.

Back to the portion of the text that I highlighted.  Focus on the words "well regulated."

If you can in any way construe this as indicating an absolute unfettered inalienable right to posses a Glock 9 with a 31 round clip and carry it to a political rally, I have a few things to say to you.

1) Your ability to read with comprehension is severely impaired.
2) Your fevered brain is ruled by ideology, not any rational thought process.
3) What in the Hell is the matter with you?


Friday, January 14, 2011

What the Hell?!? Friday -- Seriously - What the HELL?!?

My lovely wife's late father had an all purpose expression, which was perfectly suited for dealing with many of life's more puzzling events:


It's a pretty good question to ask whenever somebody does something thoughtless, outrageous, or just plain stupid.

Ed covers it pretty well in this post.

Given this information on gun violence, and a H/T to Rachel Maddow for showing it on her show last night, I have a question.

This graph shows gun deaths per 100,000 population as a function of the percentage of gun ownership, for the five highest and lowest ranking states.  Pretty striking.  I'll post the full data set later, if I can find it.  No time right now.

So ---here is my question to gun nuts:



Here is a chart showing this same relationship for all 50 states, 2006 data.   Death rate is per 100,000 population; ownership is percentage of the population owning guns.  Slope is 0.18 death per 1000,000 for every percentage increase of gun ownership.

Update Here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Well, I'd say this about wraps it up.

This needs no elaboration, but I'll just bring back the Glen Reynolds quote from the previous post.

There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

Who can argue with that?

If you need more evidence, amuse yourself by browsing through the merchandise here.

This is a particularly innocuous political cliche.

All Images & Content property of RWS Prod. Copyright © 2002-2008
H/T to Tux

Triggering The Shooters

This billboard is located only a few blocks from where Christina Taylor Green, Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many others were gunned down.

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Limbaugh, and Palin, and Beck -- Oh, My!

Rivers of Blood, indeed.  That's where the politics of Blood Libel takes us.

There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

Thus sayeth Glenn Reynolds, University of Tennessee Law Professor and Pajamas Media  Pundit.

Well, sayeth I, what better way to victimize Sarah Palin and her ilk than to cast a bright light on them!  Not to mention their innocuous use of political clichés.

In the video above, Palin makes an uneven appeal for national solidarity, while deftly shifting the responsibility for the Arizona massacre from rabid right wing rhetoric to the lone "deranged gunman" a "single evil man." She chastizes us that we must not attempt to "apportion blame" for this terrible event.

Here are a few excerpts.   What strikes me is the same thing that struck me during the Bush administration: so much talk about personal - here, "individual" - responsibility and accountability, but somehow always for other people. Never for the actions or words of Regressives in positions of high responsibility.  I've highlighted some of the more remarkable passages.

After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?

And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

Shorter Sarah: Not my fault, so shut up.  And don't try to stifle MY SIDE of the debate.

One of those who claims right wing rhetoric and imagery bears a direct responsibility is I.  Another is Thom Hartman; and a H/T to him for his show today, where I learned the term STOCHASTIC TERRORISM, which is exactly what we are getting from the right wing these days.  It is no different in principle from the inflammatory words and videos issued by Osmam bin Ladin or Anwar al-Aulaqi.

Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do.  And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

In the interest of fairness and balance, I invite anyone to point out to me examples of Stochastic Terrorism originating on the American left.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Department of Huh?!?

This is kind of a What the Hell?!? post, but I couldn't wait until Friday.

The sole black Republican Party district chairman in Arizona resigned from his post in the wake of Saturday's shooting, citing threats from the Tea Party faction and concerns for his family's safety

This is beyond schendenfreude.  The Rethugs - or at least the extremest faction - is willing to eat their own - or at least frighten them into running for the hills.  I speculated about the future of the Rethug party the week Obama was elected president.  I had very low expectations for the behavior of the Right, but they have underachieved in a way that is nothing sort of stunning.

Sort of blows the whole Conservatives Are Not Responsible Theory.

Now, if you were to say, Conservatives are IRRESPONSIBLE, that would be a different story.

H/T to the LW.

Haiku Wednesday - Resolutions -- Er . . . Doldrums

 Doldrums (Update)

My brain must be in
Winter doldrums -- that's why I
Wrote on last week's theme! 


Resolution passed.
Gov. will sign. No picketers
At child's funeral

No resolutions
For me.  I'm not perfect but
I just don't keep them

I need new glasses
Lens resolution is not
Working for my eyes

Motion by half-step:
Dissonance resolution
Into consonance

Join the fun!


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Best Government Money Can Buy

Government of the Multinational Corporations, by the Hedge Funds, for Big Finance.

This is the direct result of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decisionRead all about it.

H/T to Susan.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just Because I Need Some Cheering Up


I saw this clickable picture link in somebody's add sidebar recently.  Don't remember where, and it really doesn't matter much.   The link goes to this site.  It's the sort of thing that conservatards find very annoying, which is a no extra charge bonus!


Sunday Music Blogging 1/09

For  Christina Taylor Green


Quote of the day - (I hate it When Ezra Klein is Right)

Ezra Klein, discussing an idiotic, plainly illegal action before the Wyoming State Legislature, said this (emphasis added):

Given the extremism of the rhetoric at the top {of the Republican Party - JzB}, is it any wonder that there is incredible fear trickling down to the grass roots? If those are the stakes, then of course criminalizing any implementation of the bill makes sense. Frankly, if those are the stakes, then violent resistance might be required. 

Those aren't the stakes, of course. They're just the words. And words slip sometimes. Things come out too angry, or too quickly, or too sharply. I've had my share of experience with this. But words matter. And the Republican Party hasn't been slipping up: It's been engaged in a concerted campaign to scare the population into opposing health-care reform. That may be good politics, but it can have bad consequences.

Ezra posted this on Friday morning.

The very next morning, 6 innocent people died, and 11 others were seriously injured in an attempt to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a blue dog Democrat from Arizona who was placed in the cross hairs by Sarah Palin because she voted for Obamacare - a plan that is essentially Romneycare -- a plan that sensible Republicans would support.

Of course, there are no sensible Republicans.  Click through the link in Ezra's quote, above.

Which is a big part of why we are so screwed.

H/T to Krugman:

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

Nice thought Paul.. Don't hold your breath.


Predictably, the Palin camp and other right wingers are running from responsibility and making lame excuses.  Lame, lame, lame.

But SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour, who has been tweeting in defense of her boss since the tragedy took place, is stating that the crosshairs were never intended to be gun sights. 

"We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," she said in an interview with talk radio host Tammy Bruce Saturday. "It was simply crosshairs like you'd see on maps." Bruce suggested that they could, in fact, be seen as "surveyor's symbols." Mansour added that "it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent" and called any attempts to politicize the Arizona tragedy "repulsive."

The suggestion that the symbols were related to guns seemed to come, however, from Palin herself. On March 23, Palin tweeted to her supporters a note about the aforementioned Facebook message, writing, "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page." And as Politico's Jonathan Martin points out, in November Palin boasted about defeating 18 of the 20 members on her "bullseye" list.

Of the 20 districts targeted by Palin, Giffords and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) were the only two candidates to win over her PAC's chosen Republicans.

Update:   Surveyor's symbols.   Like the ones used by the Zodiac Killer.  H/T to Doc Amazing, commenting at LGM.

Not only lame, but a (Updated with a link:) flat-assed lie!


Shadow Shot Sunday - 1/09; Mellow Yellow Monday - 1/10

Samantha was born
With an intuition for
Knowing how to pose


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Six Word Saturday 1/08

Things seem bad - and they are. 

(The longest Six Word Saturday EVER)

Things didn't actually get worse today. We just got a powerful indication of exactly how bad it is out there, and how much insanity is being promoted by the genuinely evil individuals and organizations who have co-opted American conservatism.   Evidently, Sarah Palin has taken down this graphic from her Sarahpac web site.   I was able to find it here, after seeing it on TV news today.  

The fourth name in the first column is Gabrielle Giffords, who was gunned down and seriously wounded today while attempting to address her constituents in broad daylight, in an incident that left, as of this writing, six other people dead, including Federal Judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, along with several others wounded.

You might think it hyperbolic of me to lay this event directly at the feet of Sarah Palin, and others in the far right who have used the symbols and rhetoric of armed violence to sway the opinions of the ignorant, stupid, and unstable.

You would be wrong.

That is from a campaign event promotion, which I found here via LGM.

Here are the words of Sharon Angle, who came close to defeating Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, in an interview with Right Wing radio host Lars Larson, as reported by Larson to Greg Sargent.

I'm not kidding. In an interview she gave to a right-wing talk show host, Angle approvingly quoted Thomas Jefferson saying it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years -- and said that if Congress keeps it up, people may find themselves resorting to "Second Amendment remedies."
What's more, the talk show host she spoke to tells me he doesn't have any doubt that she was floating the possibility of armed insurrection as a valid response if Congress continues along its current course.
Asked by the host, Lars Larson of Portland, Oregon, where she stands on Second Amendment issues, Angle replied:
You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.
I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.
Larson says Angle was floating the possibility of armed insurrection if Congress keeps it up under Reid et al.
"If it continues to do the things it's doing, I think she's leaving open that possibility," Larson said. "And I think the founders believed that the public should be able to do that when the government becomes out of control. It just matters what you define as going too far."
The most charitable interpretation here was that Angle was floating armed insurrection -- or "Second Amendment remedies" -- as a defensible response if electoral politics fails to change where things are headed under the current regime.

Click through for an audio clip of the quote.  Or here.

This is not an isolated incident.  Angle made a similar pronouncement to radio host Bill Manders.  This link also has an audio clip of Engel touting the possibility of  "2nd Amendment Remedies."

Do you know what had Engel prepared to support an armed revolution?  This, which Giffords voted for.

A brief rundown of the benefits of “Obamacare”:
  • Children and adults with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied insurance
  • Your insurance can’t drop you unless they can prove you committed fraud (before HCR, insurers would mysteriously cancel coverage for people who were diagnosed with illnesses like cancer)
  • No lifetime limits or caps on health coverage
  • Young adults will be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 (post-college grads under 26 represented one of the highest rates of uninsured people)
  • Reviews on unreasonable insurance premium hikes
  • Closed “donut hole” in Medicare, which will lift millions of elderly Americans out of poverty
The violent and  inflammatory rhetoric of Radio and TV host Glen Beck has already been implicated in a specific act of violence perpetrated by one of his listeners.

Here's "Armed and Dangerous" from Michelle Bachman.

If you want to get some background on today's shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, you can find it here.

This is what the blind hatred of the right has brought us to.  Evil, lying right wingers plant ideas of violence in the fevered brains of unstable individuals, and murder is what we reap.

More thoughts, from

Southern Beale


Tom Tomorrow, via P6



In comments at Naked Capitalism, C.C. from Tucson says this (quoted in full):

As a resident of Tucson with mutual friends of someone killed, this hits very close to home.
I hold complicit the justices of the Supreme Court who voted in favor of corporate power and special interests in overturning settled law by allowing unlimited monies from anonymous sources to promote their special interests via hysteria and misinformation.

Many citizens in Tucson remarked that the Arizona mid term elections had hit a new low of unintelligent discourse and degenerate tabloid absurdity funded with something like half a billion dollars flooding in from unknown domestic and international origins. Congresswoman Giffords was a frequent target.

And while I’m venting…our bankrupt state legislature spent their time on nonsense like enacting new gun laws where by anyone can carry a concealed weapon without any licensing or handling training into a bar or restaraunt or public area. I am sick of gun worshipping politicians who use inflammitory rhetoric like Sarah Palin to pander for sound bites like ‘don’t retreat, reload’ and with crosshair graphics over the photos of opposing politicians…..including Ms. Giffords!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

What The Hell?!? Friday - - MENDACITY! Edition

What a strange emotional state I'm in as I mix the schadenfreude this video elicits with my regret at having wasted the initial WTH?!? post on mere GOLD!  Alas, alack, and a great big sigh . . .


Stock Market Assesment - Part 1

Here's a look at 140 years of the real (inflation adjusted) S&P 500, data courtesy of Robert Shiller's Irrational Exuberance web site.  The graph is the natural logarithm of the monthly data.

The pink line is the best fit for the entire data set.  The dark purple line is the extrapolated best fit for data through 1994 only.  Since 1995, the stock advance has been so extreme that there is now about a third of a log unit gap between the two lines.   To overemphasize the point, upward motion in the index since 1995 has been so extreme, it caused a dramatic shift in a best fit line based on quarterly data going back to 1871!

In 1995, the S&P 500 average launched like a rocket off the pink trend line.  All was well until 2000.  Then a jagged decline began, and though the fall into the 2003 bottom was steep and hard, it stopped well above the trend line.  Not so the 2007 collapse, which took a quick peek below trend in the spring of 2009.

Of course, that's all based on the trend line for the entire set.  Consider the extreme altitude above the dark purple line.  Despite the steep drops, the index never came close to it.

Here's the same data, with 25 year standard deviation bands above and below the full data set (pink) trend line.

About 100 years ago, the index spent a long stretch mostly above the upper standard deviation line. After that, except for some brief spikes in 1929 and 1937, it fell to below the trend line (either one) for almost 40 years.  In the 60's the index pushed up against the upper standard deviation line, but never pierced it.   That was followed by a steep decline that lasted about 15 years.

Now, the index has been bouncing off the stratosphere for a decade, and popped through the upper standard deviation line twice - the first time for a six year stint.  And that's after spending nine straight years above the best fit line through 1994.


Taking note of how the slope of the best fit line was affected by the last 15 years, here is a graph of the slope over time, viewed two ways.  The blue line starts with the slope from 1870 to 1930, and increases the size of the data set with each passing year.  The pink line sweeps a 60 year envelope across the data set.  Make of it what you will.  But it looks like we're in a down phase, from an extreme high. {End Update.}

Where do we go from here?   Well - take a guess.  I don't have a crystal ball.  But it looks to me that a phase spent above the best fit line leads to a phase spent below it, and that time spent above the upper standard deviation line leads to a long steep decline.

Stay tuned.  In upcoming posts, we'll look at earnings and the P/E ratio.