Sunday, November 28, 2010

Remember that New Your Times' Deficit Puzzle?

There were complaints about including Social Security. Here is part of the Times' response given on November 26: (emp add)
In our puzzle, we ... treated Social Security as part of the federal government. We allowed you to leave it alone, despite its long-term deficit, or we allowed you to make cuts that exceeded the size of its deficit and thus would help pay for other programs.
Stop right there.

Cuts to Social Security that exceed the size of its deficit means defaulting on the bonds (at least a part of them).

The Times continues:
Some readers argue that Social Security should not be considered part of the federal budget and should instead be addressed separately. This approach would ensure that Social Security was not subject to cuts larger than those needed to close its own deficit. This argument tends to be more popular among liberals who want to protect the program.
That's bullshit. It's not a "liberal" thing to want to fully honor the bonds. Wanting to have the program run as promised is not a liberal or conservative position. It's a position that says that the program was set up, and paid into, with the promise that it would be paid back.

There will be a shortfall in 2037, but that's not what's being discussed here. The Times is trying to get people to consider Social Security paying back less prior to 2037 than the program was set up to do. Without expressly saying so (at least in the Deficit Puzzle).

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: That reply was written by David Leonhardt. Remember that name in case it comes up in subsequent Social Security debates.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Declining worth:

There's been some talk about that fellow who, when encountering the TSA screeners said, "Don't touch my junk".

A decade or two earlier, one referred to the "family jewels".

Have said elements declined that badly, from jewels to junk? What the hell is happening in this country?

UPDATE; The "junk" expression is relatively new to me. I was unfamiliar with it until maybe 3 years ago. Being on the west coast, I wonder if "junk" was commonly used in the past on the eastern side of the country.


David Broder's latest column:

You'll never guess what it's about. His hopes that Obama and Republicans can compromise on policy.

Of interest is this passage:
Another involves the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts. Almost everyone agrees they should be renewed for the 98 percent of American families earning below $250,000 a year. The president opposes but Republicans support extending them also for the top 2 percent.

That is another issue on which Boehner and McConnell would be justified in challenging Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to negotiate with them and the top Republicans on the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.
What's Broder's position on extending the tax cuts for the top 2 percent? He says that Republicans "would be justified in challenging Obama", which could mean that the opposition is justified in challenging - as any opposition party is, or that Broder thinks challenging Obama's position is the right thing to do. Who knows which it is?

It's as if Broder has no particular interest in the policy - see his remarks on the START treaty - just as long as the two parties can come together for a bipartisan accord. That's all that matters to him.

Yet another lazy, formulaic column by the "Dean" of the Washington press corps.


Stay out of Tom Friedman's car:

Some years ago:
It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel as long as you remember you’re driving without one.
But watch out! Earlier this year he said of the Israelis:
... right now, you’re driving drunk ...
Which makes it even riskier because now:
... we are driving without a spare tire or a bumper ...
Yow! No steering wheel or bumpers, while drunk Israelis and learning-to-drive Iraqis are on the road. Be careful.


He's still out there fighting:

Tony Blair, Christopher Hitchens debate religion

BBC World News and the News Channel will broadcast the debate on Jan., 1 2011.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Good to see that's finally settled:

Russia admits Stalin ordered Polish massacre

Takes up to a century to get agreement on historical issues.


Black Friday:

In previous years there's usually been a hot item, usually electronic or a toy, that consumers want. Flat-panel televisions were "it" for a couple of years. Various game platforms (Wii) were must-haves. But there doesn't seem to be anything like that this year.

What are people lining up Friday morning to buy?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

David Broder is delusional:

From his Thanksgiving op-ed:
If you have any doubts about the real meaning of this month's midterm elections, let me refer you to the most notable winner in those contests. I am talking about Lisa Murkowski, the reelected senator from Alaska. (...)

... Murkowski was asked recently by reporter Judy Woodruff on the PBS "NewsHour" how she had overcome Palin's endorsement of Miller to win ...
"I think what [the voters] are looking for is the same thing that any Alaskan is looking for: Represent our state. Work together with people that have opposing viewpoints to build good policy that allows our state and our nation to go in a positive direction.

"I think that's what voters are looking for. I don't think that most are looking for somebody that is going to follow the litmus test of one party or another, and never deviate from it. I think they want us to think, and I think they want us to work cooperatively together. So, that's my pledge to all Alaskans, regardless of whether you are the most conservative Republican or the most liberal Democrat, I'm going to try to find a way that we can find common ground to help the state and to help our country."
Want to know what the election was about? That's an authoritative answer.
One race in a state of only 700,000 people won by a bring-home-the-bacon incumbent (who narrowly lost in a low-turnout primary) and boilerplate heal-the-breach rhetoric, proves to Broder that "bipartisanship" - no matter how absurd it is in today's world of strong differences - is what the entire country wants.

Some bloggy derision:

David Broder Explains It All To Us
And that is why from coast-to-coast, frozen tundra to tropical (and off-the-mainland) Islands, everyone wrote in Murkowski on their ballots, right David? Because the myth of the political center has to be supported at all costs, and when the center is the very conservative Senator from the very conservative state of Alaska, the good daughter appointed by her father to continue their grifting unabated, well, it has to mean something? So Broder, you took a single data point–an incumbent won a tough re-election campaign–and you made it into the political equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

But they did:

Jonathan Chait, writing about the Rush Limbaugh - Motor Trend spat:
It's pretty interesting to watch the conservative movement add the American automotive industry to France, academia, environmentalists, and the rest of their enemies. In many parts of the Midwest, especially Michigan, the auto industry is right behind God and country. I don't see how Republicans are going to win a lot of races being attached to a party that sneers at, and diminishes the genuine accomplishments of, an industry that sits at the heart of the region's prosperity.
But they did win a lot of races. One of the surprising results of the 2010 elections was how well Republicans did in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CBS Evening News reports on Social Security:

The reporter, Anthony Mason, had the following talking heads in the segment:
  • Andrew Biggs of the AEI saying that (a) people living longer is a problem, and (b) Social Security was intended to only be a program to keep seniors out of poverty.
  • Erskine Bowles, saying that this nation has made promises that it cannot keep.
  • Doris Kerns Goodmwin saying that Social Security was (partially) intended to get seniors out of the workforce so that younger people could get jobs.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan saying that raising the retirement age is the way to go.
This was presented as something of a crisis since there are "only" 27 years until adjustments would have to be made.


The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg looks at Glenn Beck's recent attack on Soros:

Brought up this quote, which was missed by many (probably because it was not on Beck's television show):
The ugliest single sentence Beck uttered that week came on his radio program, which supplements his TV show. “Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps,” he said, referring to Soros, age thirteen.
Hertsbarg concludes:
Beck is often dismissed as an “entertainer”—the Rush Limbaugh excuse, calculated to make critics out to be stuffed shirts who can’t take a joke. Beck is nobody’s puppet, but he does have masters: Fox News and the News Corporation. Their respective chief executive officers, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, are the responsible—which is to say, irresponsible—parties.


Monday, November 22, 2010

That word again:

In light of Ireland's troubles, Tom Friedman is getting a lot of much-deserved ridicule for writing this in 2005:
There is a huge debate roiling in Europe today over which economic model to follow: the Franco-German shorter-workweek-six-weeks’-vacation-never-fire-anyone-but-high-unemployment social model or the less protected but more innovative, high-employment Anglo-Saxon model preferred by Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe. It is obvious to me that the Irish-British model is the way of the future, and the only question is when Germany and France will face reality: either they become Ireland or they become museums. That is their real choice over the next few years – it’s either the leprechaun way or the Louvre.

Because I am convinced of that, I am also convinced that the German and French political systems will experience real shocks in the coming years as both nations are asked to work harder and embrace either more outsourcing or more young Muslim and Eastern European immigrants to remain competitive.

As an Irish public relations executive in Dublin remarked to me: “How would you like to be the French leader who tells the French people they have to follow Ireland?” Or even worse, Tony Blair!
Yes, there's the pean to Free Trade (work harder or outsource or increase immigration). Yes, there's the foolish derision of the European system as exemplified by Germany and France. But there's also this:
... the less protected but more innovative, high-employment Anglo-Saxon model ..."
"innovative" and "innovation" are words that Friedman constantly uses. "Innovation" will save the U.S. from whatever-the-economic-threat-of-the-day-is. But Friedman never says what it is. It's a largely meaningless word when he uses it.

It does have meaning in some instances. A mathematical proof could be said to be innovative if it uses a new technique or one from a related field of study. A workshop that figures out how to assemble something quicker using existing equipment but in a novel way, can be said to be innovative. But to hand-wave and state that the Anglo-Saxon model is "innovative", absent any context, is an empty way of establishing superiority, without any proof.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


David Gergen:
What we are seeing now is the high-water mark for the Obama presidency, at least domestically. No matter what else happens, even if he gets re-elected, he will never be as powerful as he was during his first two years. After Obama's election in 2008, I was one of those who believed that we were at a turning point — that the Reagan tide was receding, and we would see a cycle of progressive politics for 15 or 20 years. To have that reversed so quickly is stunning.


Taking the maximalist position:

Pope Benedict on Pius XII:
"The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score, we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else."


Why is this asshole on Meet the Press?

For this Sunday:
House Democrats overcame internal divisions this week to re-elect Nancy Pelosi as their leader and Republicans backed Rep. John Boehner as the new Speaker of the House. What's ahead for the lame-duck session and battles over the Bush-era tax rates, and Don't Ask/Don't Tell? Plus, newly elected members arrived in Washington for their orientation, what will be the role of the Tea Party in the 112th Congress? And Republicans Governors gathered this week as early 2012 positioning gets underway. We'll take a look at how that landscape is shaping up with our roundtable: Robert Draper, who takes us "Inside Sarah Palin's Inner Circle" in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine; The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot; Tea Party-backed Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL); and Richard Wolffe, author of the new book "Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House."
Allen West. From Weigel (then at the WaPo):
Last night in Jupiter, Fla., GOP congressional candidate Allen West told "tea party" activists that they needed to do more to get accountability from Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.).

"Let me tell you what you've got to do," said West, a retired lieutenant colonel. "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That's the only way that you're going to win. That's the only way you're going to get these people's attention."


Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I now believe:

Liberals are Fascists. NPR are Nazis. Obama is Karl Marx without the beard. The United Nations is taking over your neighborhood school. Jesus invented the Constitution. George Soros has a plan. MSNBC is the thin edge of the totalitarian wedge. The Tides Foundation wants to put a microchip in your brain. Every White House "Czar" has been given a Faberge egg worth millions. Flat panel TVs manufactured in China have a hidden camera so they can watch what you're doing. The New Improved Black Panther Party is ACORN with nukes. Amendments other than the Bill of Rights diminish states' rights and should be repealed. All taxation is theft. God Hates Fags. The War of Northern Aggression should be recognized as such. Michelle Bachmann belongs on the Supreme Court. Happiness is a 10 gauge shotgun. Dinesh D'Souza is the best journalist in America. If you are suffering, it's God's plan; turning to the government for aid is blasphemy. If you hang a clove of garlic around your neck, no Democrat will bite you. If you're not listening to Limbaugh-Prager-Hannity-Medved-Levin, you're not paying attention. Swarthy immigrants are putting battery acid in our ketchup bottles. That liberal co-worker you think might be scheming to get you fired, really is. Every public library should have a dozen copies of whatever Newt Gingrich has written. Even Glenn Beck has underestimated the conspiracy to destroy America. If Global Warming is real, then why are they still selling sweaters at Wal-Mart? We need more rootin' tootin' straight-shootin' common sense Christian constitutional conservatives running this country.


Fluoridation is next:
First, they took on the political establishment in Congress. Now, tea partiers have trained their sights on a new and insidious target: local planning and zoning commissions, which activists believe are carrying out a global conspiracy to trample American liberties and force citizens into Orwellian "human habitation zones."

At the root of this plot is the admittedly sinister-sounding Agenda 21, an 18-year-old UN plan to encourage countries to consider the environmental impacts of human development. Tea partiers see Agenda 21 behind everything from a septic tank inspection law in Florida to a plan in Maine to reduce traffic on Route 1. The issue even flared up briefly during the midterms, when Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes accused his Democratic opponent of using a bike-sharing program to convert Denver into a "United Nations Community."

Agenda 21 paranoia has swept the tea party scene, driving activists around the country to delve into the minutiae of local governance. And now that the midterm elections are over, they're descending on planning meetings and transit debates, wielding PowerPoints about Agenda 21, and generally freaking out low-level bureaucrats with accusations about their roles in a supposed international conspiracy.
Has Glenn Beck addressed this critical issue? Fox News is usually in the vanguard when it comes to alerting citizens about dire threats to the nation.


Barry Ritholtz says it best:
Too Bad Banks Missed Out On the GM Treatment

... a weakened giant, a shadow of its former self, GM was still a substantial employer. That had political ramifications in an election year. Instead of letting them do the Lehman Brothers pavement face plant, the choice was made for a prepackaged bankruptcy.

This was the single best decision of the bailout era.

It seemed to be the only decision that was not made in a panic. It adhered to the rules of capitalism — when your company is insolvent, it goes into reorganization or dissolution. The brutal, Darwinian rules of the market and of bankruptcy applied — not the influence of lobbyists, or special favors from Senators. The Treasury Secretary’s former gig was not running an auto company, he ran a Wall Street bank — so there could be no special favors expected to come from that quarter either.

Instead, Uncle Sam’s involvement was to provide Debtor-in-Possession financing. The bankruptcy plan was obvious: Wipe out shareholders, give bond holders a haircut, fire management, pare the company down to a sustainable size without sentiment.

... what is arguably the most successful bailout of the 2007-2010 era was in fact a non-bailout: It was a bankruptcy reorganization that eliminated the most toxic aspects of a century old rust bucket of a company. The new firm has clean books, is well capitalized, is without crushing debt, has a less onerous labor contract, pension and health care obligations. Its hard not to see how this was anything but a ginormous winner for all involved.

Which brings me to the Banks. ...

The bank bailout plan was ill conceived and poorly executed. Trillions were thrown at them before Uncle Sam had any idea as to how much debt was actually on the books. What were once considered decent holdings were eventually revealed to be highly toxic assets.

Recapitalizing the banks is a huge priority. But after the first round of trillions were given away to the banks, the public was disgusted. The politicians lost their appetite for overt bailouts. But the banks were still under-capitalized, their balance sheets were still laden with junk. A direct transfer of taxpayer monies was out of the question.

An easy backdoor was found: Arbitrage the Fed and Treasury. Zero interest rates and QE allowed giant Wall Street banks to borrow at no cost from the Fed, and then turn around and lend this same zero cost money back to the Treasury at 3% or so. Do this for another 10 years or so, and the banks would be rcapitalized. By then, maybe there might even be a market for all those REOs. Sure, that would mire the nation in a decade long Japanese-like slump. Hey, at least the bonuses would be paid on time.
There's more outrage (it's a long post) at the link.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nick Kristof is shrill:

I've never seen him this agitated about income inequality.


Newly discovered species of jellyfish to be named after Obama:

Why not?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glenn Beck:
"You're probably the only audience in America that's even heard of this theory."
Don't bother with the 17 minute "tutorial" unless you want to listen to a conspiracy theorist.

What's peculiar is why Fox News hasn't been laughed out of the room for having Beck on day after day.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell are insane:

They wrote this: (excerpts, emp added)
... we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

... by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

Obama ... should dispense with the pollsters ...

Obama can restore the promise of the election by forging a government of national unity, welcoming business leaders, Republicans and independents into the fold. But if he is to bring Democrats and Republicans together, the president cannot be seen as an advocate of a particular party, but as somebody who stands above politics, seeking to forge consensus.

Forgoing another term would not render Obama a lame duck. Paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans ...

Given the influence of special interests on the Democratic Party, Obama would be much more effective as a figure who could remain above the political fray.

... if the president were to demonstrate a clear degree of bipartisanship, it would force the Republicans to meet him halfway. If they didn't, they would look intransigent, as the GOP did in 1995 and 1996, when Bill Clinton first advocated a balanced budget. Obama could then go to the Democrats for tough cuts to entitlements and look to the Republicans for difficult cuts on defense.

If the president adopts our suggestion, both sides will be forced to compromise.

The worst-case scenario for Obama? In January 2013, he walks away from the White House having been transformative in two ways: as the first black president, yes, but also as a man who governed in a manner unmatched by any modern leader. He will have reconciled the nation, continued the economic recovery, gained a measure of control over the fiscal problems that threaten our future, and forged critical solutions to our international challenges.

It is no secret that we have been openly critical of the president in recent days, but we make this proposal with the deepest sincerity and hope for him and for the country.
At the end, there is this:
Patrick H. Caddell ... was a pollster and senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter ... Douglas E. Schoen, [was] a pollster who worked for President Bill Clinton ...
What a joke. What a fairy-tale. Republicans, especially the new crop coming in 2011, are not going to give Obama an inch, no matter what he does. That this advice should come out when many Democrats are critical of Obama for not fighting for policies, tells you that Schoen and Caddell are doing spade work for the Republicans.

These guys are Fox News Democrats, "helpfully" suggesting Obama relinquish power. (Also, It looks as if they might be trying to figure a way for Hillary Clinton to run in 2012.)

Reactions: Jason Linkins at HuffPo thought the column was a joke. Byron York declared the logic faulty. Daniel Larison calls it "extremely bad advice". You have voices from all parts of the political spectrum dismissing the Schoen/Caddell column, which makes you wonder why the Washington Post published it in the first place.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Unleash the Krugman!


Thursday, November 11, 2010


There is a lot of unhappiness on the left with Obama. Scouring their blogs and reading comments, I've noticed a disturbing trend. An increase in racial language. Like "The Half-black Hope". That's he's being a good "boy" by doing the work of his corporate masters. Saying that he only got elected because being "the first black president" was a good story.

This is unfortunate. Obama, at least in my view, has definitely underperformed and should be called out for doing so. But this creeping racial language is not good. Let's hope it doesn't grow.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Deficit Commission Co-Chair's report:

People are going to have a field day with it. More taxes on the middle class through higher gas taxes and elimination of the mortgage deduction, but lower marginal rates for the high earners (from 36% or 39% down to 23%). And gems like this:
Current measures of inflation overestimate increases in cost of living by failing to account for "substitution bias"
You can keep inflation very low by constantly substituting an inferior good for whatever you used to consume.

And this laugh line:
Set goal of 3% annual productivity grown in the public sector.
Why not mandate that the private sector do that as well?

If you go through the 50-page PowerPoint-like pdf (available here), it comes off as a fully Republican document.

UPDATE: There can be a case made for increasing gasoline taxes and eliminating the mortgage deduction, but not if all it does is lower the top rate on income taxes.

Also, between 1917 and today, the lowest top marginal rate was 24%, in 1929. If the commission co-chair recommendation of 23% is enacted, that would be the lowest rate in the history of the modern income tax, except for the first 4 years it was in place (1913, 1914, 1915, 1916).


U.S. unveils graphic tobacco warnings

So, when do we get to see similarly unpleasant pictures on beer, wine, and spirits?


Tom Friedman scales new heights with metaphors:

This is great: (excerpts, emp add)
[Obama's] visit was intended to let China know that America knows that India knows that Beijing’s recent “aggressiveness,” as one Indian minister put it to me, has China’s neighbors a bit on edge.

All of China’s neighbors want China to know, as the sign says: “Don’t even think about parking here.” Don’t even think about using your growing economic and military clout to just impose your claims in border disputes and over oil-rich islands in the South China Sea.

That’s why each one of China’s neighbors is eager to have a picture of their president standing with Secretary Clinton or President Obama — with the unspoken caption that reads: “... please, stay between the white lines. Don’t even think about parking in my space because, if you do, I have this friend from Washington, and he’s really big. ... And he’s got his own tow truck.”
Give this man a fourth Pulitzer Prize!

On a more serious note, Friedman's parking analogy makes sense. China can do wheelies in the South China Sea after 6 PM on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Similarly, Japan can park in that region, but only if it has an area-permit on the bumper. Vietnam is only allowed 15 minutes in the loading zone. If you're confused by all of that, then you don't know foreign policy like the New York Times' resident expert.


Together again, ten years later:

Who? John Bolton and John Yoo.

In 2000 they were both involved with the Florida recount. Bolton on the ground challenging hanging chads. Yoo on the airwaves promoting the Bush case.

Then they parted ways. Yoo to making the sensible legal case that torture isn't torture, and Bolton as ambassador to the hated United Nations where he put those international pansies in their place.

And now in 2010 they are back together, co-writing an op-ed in the New York Times, Why Rush to Cut Nukes?, which opposes the New Start treaty. Much of their argument is about using the Senate to constrain the president's treaty-making power, which is kind of a surprise since only a couple of years ago they took the opposite view. Since these are principled men, we can discount the charge that they have now switched positions because a Republican isn't in the White House.

Congratulations on your reunion, boys. And a special kudos to the University of California at Berkeley, where Yoo continues to teach law.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Always searching for common ground:

“We thought that if we shaped a [health care] bill that wasn’t that different from bills that had previously been introduced by Republicans, including a Republican Governor in Massachusetts who’s now running for President, that we would be able to find some common ground there."
Looks as if he'll be trying to find common ground with Republicans on Social Security.


Go for it dude:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
I’d like to see states be given the opportunity to opt-out of the Medicaid program that we are looking at today. We think in Texas over the next six years that we could take and find a private insurance solution and better serve our people, put more people under coverage, and save $40 billion for the state of Texas and $40 billion for the federal government because it is a matching program.
Seriously. Do it and let's see if you get better health care for your money.


Good news, everybody!

Leading Chinese credit rating agency downgrades USA government bonds

While the analysis is overwrought, it looks as if the Chinese might finally be pulling away from US bonds.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Who likes this?

Obama on 60 minutes:
“Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years, there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”
That's certainly not the in spirit of Harry Truman.

If you are a Democrat or a Republican, and your guy is president and says that, would you be happy?


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Blast from the past:

Make of it what you will:
January 25, 2010

Jake Tapper and Yunji de Nies report:

Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., fears that these midterm elections are going to go the way of the 1994 midterms, when Democrats lost control of the House after a failed health care reform effort.

But, Berry told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the White House does not share his concerns.

“They just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

Asked today by ABC News’ Yunji de Nies if the president said that, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs pleaded ignorance.

“I have not talked to the president about that,” Gibbs said, employing one of his favorite dodges.

Gibbs seemed to suggest that he shared that view, whether or not President Obama said it.

“I hope it's not newsworthy to think that the president hopes and expects to be an effective campaigner in the midterm elections,” Gibbs said.

Berry told the newspaper that he “began to preach last January that we had already seen this movie and we didn’t want to see it again because we know how it comes out…I just began to have flashbacks to 1993 and ’94. ... It certainly wasn’t a good feeling.”


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Meet the Press:

2006, after the Democrats took back both the Senate* and House and a majority of governorships, the guests were: John McCain (R) and Joe Lieberman (I).

2010, after the Republicans took back the House and a majority of governorships, the guests will be: Jim DeMint (R) and Chris Christie (R).

* because Sanders and Lieberman caucus with the Democrats.


Obama calls India creator, not poacher, of US jobs

I doubt that statement will convince many people.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Forget it:

David Brooks (yes, him) notes:
The Midwest has lost a manufacturing empire but hasn’t yet found a role. Working-class people in this region overwhelmingly backed George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 but then lost faith in the Republican Party’s ability to solve their problems. By 2008, they were willing to take a flier on Barack Obama. He carried Ohio, Indiana and Iowa.

Over the past two years, these voters have watched government radically increase spending in an attempt to put people back to work. According to the Office of Management and Budget, federal spending increased from about 21 percent of G.D.P. in 2008 to nearly 26 percent of G.D.P. this year. There was an $800 billion stimulus package, along with auto bailouts aimed directly at the Midwest.

Economists are debating the effects of all this, but voters have reached a verdict. According to exit polls on Tuesday, two-thirds of the Americans who voted said that the stimulus package was either harmful to the American economy or made no difference whatsoever.

Between June and August of 2009, the working class became disillusioned with Democratic policies. Working-class voters used to move toward the Democrats in recessions; this time, they moved to the right, shifting attitudes on everything from global warming to gun control. In Tuesday’s exit polls, 56 percent of voters said government does too much, while only 38 percent said it should do more.

On Tuesday, the Democrats got destroyed in this region. They lost five House seats in Pennsylvania and another five in Ohio. They lost governorships in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Republicans gained control of both state legislative houses in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota.
You can argue about the health care legislation and the bank bailouts, but there is no doubt that government intervention saved General Motors and Chrysler from going under - along with the feeder buisnesses. You would think that the industrial Midwest (especially Michigan and Ohio) would be firmly Democratic. But that didn't happen.

That's got to be a failure of messaging (White House), a failure of explaining (by the press), or a success of opposition politics (Fox News, Limbaugh). In any event it makes it hard to justify governing in a manner that helps constituents. There is no reward, so why bother?


Thursday, November 04, 2010

What will he get in return?

In the news:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated on Thursday that the president will be open to extending the upper-end Bush tax cuts for one or two years as part of a broader compromise with Republicans.
If this is a compromise, then Obama should be getting something for giving the Republicans a temporary extension of upper-income Bush tax cuts. I wonder what that will be.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Clive Crook has it wrong:

He writes: (excerpts)
Blame the Whining Left for the Democrats' Reverse

I don't think progressive Democrats are getting the credit they deserve for the hole Obama and the party are in.

Suppose that the Democratic base had not been sulking.

Suppose it was impressed [with what] Mr Obama did ...

Mr Obama's midterm strategy could have been different. Sure of the loyalty of the base, he could have addressed himself to the anxious middle, defended his policies as centrist compromises ... and told the country ... that its concerns were his concerns.

... he would have had his base and at least a shot at bringing the centre back.
The 2010 results were due to independents shifting strongly from Obama to the Republicans. But that reality doesn't allow Crook to blame the left, say, for not voting - which they did, although at with less enthusiasm.

So he has to conjure up a bank shot by first claiming that Obama spent time placating the left (which he didn't) and therefore wasn't able to attend to independents (which weren't going to be receptive to Obama's clumsy messaging this year). And he totally ignores the Tea Party response and the effects of the listless economy.


2010 election result:

Obama is now on his own.

He won't get any help from the House or the Senate for the next two years. Let's see how he handles it.


2010 election insight:

Chris Matthews nails it:
"This country's run by the good people that run it, and the bad people, too."


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The 2010 mid-term elections:

It's bad out there. And I don't mean in terms of Democratic losses. The badness is the misinformation and confusion and lack of clear thinking on all sides - especially on economic issues.

Oddly enough, one place where clear declarations of the problems is found over at FrumForum: The Middle Class Hits a Dead End. At Salon, Michael Lind is one of the few that sees Why center-left parties are collapsing (his reasons: free trade, open borders, multicultural, corporate-friendly).

The timing of the economic melt-down made it harder for Obama to lay the problems at Bush's doorstep, but he didn't articulate a vision particularly well, and it gave the Republicans new life. So now we can look forward to muddle and lots more anger