blueollie

Conservative Cranks

Paul Krugman:

James Pethokoukis and Ramesh Ponnuru are frustrated. They’ve been trying to convert Republicans to market monetarism, but the right’s favorite intellectuals keep turning to cranks peddling conspiracy theories about inflation. Three years ago it was Niall Ferguson, citing a bogus source. Ferguson was widely ridiculed, by moderate conservatives as well as liberals — but here comes Amity Shlaes, making the same argument and citing the same source. The “reform conservatives” have made no headway at all.

Why this lack of progress?

The answer is that inflation paranoia isn’t a simple misunderstanding that can be corrected by pointing to evidence. It’s deeply embedded in the modern conservative psyche. Government action must, by definition, have disastrous results;

That’s pretty much it: conservatives have some core principles…sort of “nothing can shake my faith in…” types of things. Reams of evidence will not change their minds; they are extremely vulnerable to Type II error (failure to reject a false hypothesis).

The same holds for the Affordable Care Act; here Matthew Yglesias gives an “I told you so” …and he KNEW that he’d get ridiculed for his initial prediction.

Or there was the infamous 2012 election in which those conservatives weren’t going to BELIEVE that “scientific gobbledygook”: (30 seconds)

OR

Note: the conservatives were getting taunted PRIOR to the election; this wasn’t mere hindsight:

Remember how Rove and others were supposed to raise vast sums from billionaires and corporations, then totally saturate the country with GOP messaging, drowning out Obama’s message? Well, they certainly raised a lot of money, and ran a lot of ads. But in terms of actual number of ads the battle has been, if anything, an Obama advantage. And while we don’t know what will happen on Tuesday, state-level polls suggest both that Obama is a strong favorite and, much more surprising, that Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to hold the Senate in a year when the number of seats at risk was supposed to spell doom.

Some of this reflects the simple fact that money can’t help all that much when you have a lousy message. But it also looks as if the money was surprisingly badly spent. What happened?

Well, what if we’ve been misunderstanding Rove? We’ve been seeing him as a man dedicated to helping angry right-wing billionaires take over America. But maybe he’s best thought of instead as an entrepreneur in the business of selling his services to angry right-wing billionaires, who believe that he can help them take over America. It’s not the same thing.

Consistently being wrong seems to bother them not at all:

So, there was a fun moment on CNBC: Rick Santelli went on a rant about inflation and the Fed, and CNBC analyst Steve Liesman went medieval on him:

It’s impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the US economy to rebound. Rick, it’s impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick. Lost people money, Rick. Every single bit of advice. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. Not a single one. Not a single one, Rick. The higher interest rates never came, the inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened, the dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn’t a single one that’s worked for you.

Yet this screaming tea party type got applause.

Accuracy means NOTHING to these people. Nothing.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | | Leave a comment

I wish that they would make up their minds….

whatisitgoingtobewingnuts

July 14, 2014 Posted by | politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | | Leave a comment

July 6 Politics

Well, I’ve been reading about how Americans view President Obama as being terrible. You probably won’t see news on the recent uptick in approval ratings though this rates as a “meh” when you look at the trendlines that Presidents have had historically:

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 4.52.55 PM

(from here)

Love him or hate him: the worst ever: he isn’t.

I admit that back in 2012, I really thought that the country would learn something from failing to trust basic facts and statistics:

and here but I guess not. SFBs who trust “their gut” over science and math aren’t going to change. And this will cripple the next Republican Presidential nominee like it did the last one:

July 6, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Representation, over representation, and hunting

Welcome to my world: 70 people rally to support our clueless mayor in the “twitter scandal”. This is, in part, where Peoria’s reputation as being a dim-witted backwater comes from.

But alas, the mayor may well be the product of a “representative democracy”. Our Congress is not: Republicans are overrepresented in Congress. Though I’d love to blame gerrymandering, some of it is just the nature of the way Congressional districts are drawn up. People attempt to put some geographic representation into the mix, and it is possible for a large state to have distinct, rural areas that are relatively lightly populated. Then you have the Senate in which a state like Wyoming has the same representation as as state like New York or California.

Hunting
Here is a product of all that overrepresentation: the phony “IRS scandal”. How one does it: investigate, find nothing, ask for more documents, get them, find nothing, then keep looking until you find something missing. In this case: what is missing is old e-mail messages which were erased (NOT tax-payer data).

Then see the charge of clueless pundits (the same ones who said that the 2012 Presidential election would be close) screaming about “lawlessness” …though in this case, the IRS was following standard procedure.

Uplifting Hunting
Time elapse photographs from the Hubble shows galaxies…and galaxies….and galaxies in a very small, average patch of space.

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Peoria, Peoria/local, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Eric Cantor’s upset loss

Wow. Eric Cantor, House Majority leader, just lost in the Republican primary to an underfunded Tea Party challenger.

This is the message I try to tell my liberal friends: we might think that the reactionary conservatives in the House (and some in the Senate) are babbling idiots. Ok; many are. But they don’t care that they look foolish to us. Their concern is getting reelected in their own districts and there, the primary challenge comes FROM THE RIGHT. My favorite Horsey cartoon really isn’t that far off:

Gridlock in Washington will only get worse and not better. I really don’t see a way out unless things get so bad, we embrace a new “New Deal” or perhaps Theodore Roosevelt type reforms.

June 11, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Krugman warms up to Obama

In the 2008 primaries, Paul Krugman backed Hillary Clinton. Later, he frequently attacked President Obama for being too timid as far as seeking stimulus and trying too hard to follow the “very serious people”.

But he is warming up to President Obama and is saying so:

He was supposed to be serious in the approved way, slashing entitlements to deal with the fiscal crisis. The fact that there wasn’t actually a fiscal crisis, and that anyone who really cares about the long run should worry a lot more about carbon emissions than about the Medicare age, doesn’t change the bias; strong presidents are supposed to use that strength on behalf of the elite’s pet obsessions, not other stuff.

Another part of the answer is that Obama does, indeed, have a weak approval rating. But as Jonathan Chait points out, he had a weak rating going into the 2012 campaign too; what mattered was that while voters weren’t enthralled with him, elections are zero-sum, and voters really disliked the Republican agenda.

Actually, I suspect that we won’t see a president with sky-high ratings for a long time, no matter how successful he or she is. America is bitterly polarized, and Republicans in particular will despise any Democrat no matter how much peace and prosperity he or she brings. But a Democrat who has the approval of 40 percent of voters and can attract another 12 or 13 percent who dislike her but dislike Republicans even more can win big, and that’s the likely shape of the future.

Long-time readers know that I was highly critical of Obama back when many were swooning. And I wish that he and his circle had done more on a number of fronts in 2009-2010. But right now he’s doing what presidents are supposed to do: change the country significantly for the better.

Part of the reason is that President Obama appears to realize (finally) that the Republicans have zero interest in governing at this point in time but instead are doing their best to obstruct. For them: it is all about politics, especially at the local level.

It doesn’t matter that the House Republicans look like idiots to the rest of the country; they are popular among their own constituencies and that is what counts at the House level.

June 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Fox News and Rove: what really matters to them?

You can tell that I love a book that I am reading when I post a blog note on it prior to finishing.
Right now I am reading Jonathan Alter’s book The Center Holds. It is about President Obama and the White House from 2010 to 2012; it is a follow up to his book The Promise which is about the previous years. I can also recommend David Corn’s book Showdown which talks about negotiations with the Republicans.

Right now, I am just past the “Killing of Bin Laden” chapter (midway). I am struck by many things; e. g. some of President Obama’s similarities with President Carter and how I actually LIKE some of President Obama’s political weaknesses. That is, if he had more of President Clinton in him, President Obama would be more effective and…to me, less likable but more likable with the public.

That isn’t what I want to talk about right now.

Fox News is frequently mentioned in this book. And to be sure, Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, despises President Obama. But the owner, Rupert Murdoch, appears to be more about making money than anything else. He knows that his viewership is the “angry old white people” demographic, so that is what he caters to. It is claimed that Fox News frequently reads the right wing blogosphere and minor media and decides to focus on what appears to be gaining traction there.

So, they might not have been upset that President Obama won reelection; more outrage means more money for them.

That also reminds me of this post made by Paul Krugman PRIOR to the 2012 election day. He openly taunted the wealthy GOP backers of being conned by Karl Rove:

Remember how Rove and others were supposed to raise vast sums from billionaires and corporations, then totally saturate the country with GOP messaging, drowning out Obama’s message? Well, they certainly raised a lot of money, and ran a lot of ads. But in terms of actual number of ads the battle has been, if anything, an Obama advantage. And while we don’t know what will happen on Tuesday, state-level polls suggest both that Obama is a strong favorite and, much more surprising, that Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to hold the Senate in a year when the number of seats at risk was supposed to spell doom.

Some of this reflects the simple fact that money can’t help all that much when you have a lousy message. But it also looks as if the money was surprisingly badly spent. What happened?

Well, what if we’ve been misunderstanding Rove? We’ve been seeing him as a man dedicated to helping angry right-wing billionaires take over America. But maybe he’s best thought of instead as an entrepreneur in the business of selling his services to angry right-wing billionaires, who believe that he can help them take over America. It’s not the same thing.

And while Rove the crusader is looking — provisionally, of course, until the votes are in — like a failure, Rove the businessman has just had an amazing, banner year.

What’s more, this makes sense of the embarrassing Rove “we’re winning! trust me!” piece in the WSJ, especially notable because — as Sam Wang recalls — Rove so famously declared that he had THE MATH just before the GOP debacle in 2006. It’s hard to think of any good reason to pretend that Romney has it in the bag — unless that pretense gets you one last big slug of business before Election Day.

Remember, this was written PRIOR to the election.

Back to the book: Alter mentions the Koch Brothers and mentions the money that they are spending. He contrast the operation of PACs funded by the Koch’s and notices that, for all their money, the Koch Brothers really can’t buy a type of PR/campaign effort that the Obama campaign had. You can’t buy believers.

So, I am beginning to wonder if the Koch Brothers are really just a nice moneymaker for the Democrats? After all, I frequently get e-mails from Democrats and liberal groups that pit us (the Democrat or liberal “grass roots”) against the evil Koch Brothers.

I really wonder if some of the top Republican groups and PACS are really, at their core, about making money for the Karl Roves and Dick Morris’s and the Fox News of the world than anything else.

Hey….there are worse things than bilking a bunch of bloviating, know it all wealthy republicans out of large sums of money. :-)

June 2, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, books, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Mike Huckabee: please go to North Korea

He really said this:

Not content to make just one questionable quote in the last 24 hours, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee decided Saturday to suggest that North Koreans living under an oppressive regime might have more freedom at times than Americans.

According to reporters at the New Hampshire conservative summit where Huckabee spoke, the potential 2016 candidate cited airport security measures by the Transportation Safety Administration as proof.

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 1.46.33 PM

Please go there and try it out.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | republicans political/social, republicans politics, social/political | Leave a comment

No Difference between Democrats and Republicans?

Check this out:

Charlene Dill didn’t have to die.

On March 21, Dill was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already. They “hustled,” as Woolrich describes it, picking up short-term work, going out to any event they could get free tickets to, living the high life on the low-down, cleaning houses for friends to afford tampons and shampoo. They were the working poor, and they existed in the shadows of the economic recovery that has yet to reach many average people.

So on March 21, when Dill never showed up with her three kids (who often came over to play with her 9-year-old daughter, Zahra), Woolrich was surprised she didn’t even get a phone call from Dill. She shot her a text message – something along the lines of “Thanks for ditching me, LOL” – not knowing what had actually happened. Dill, who was estranged from her husband and raising three children aged 3, 7 and 9 by herself, had picked up yet another odd job. She was selling vacuums on a commission basis for Rainbow Vacuums. On that day, in order to make enough money to survive, she made two last-minute appointments. At one of those appointments, in Kissimmee, she collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor.

Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone. In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people like Dill and Woolrich – people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, all in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

To my fellow liberals: the Republicans know that there is a big difference. And you should too. Our Democrats aren’t as liberal as we’d like them to be and they too are often in the clutches of Big Money. The same holds true for President Obama.

But there are differences and they are significant. Shame on you if you can’t see them or won’t admit that they are there.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, health care, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | 2 Comments

GMO, El Nino, Obamacare’s legs and Ukraine …

GMO: this is a nice editorial, though I don’t agree with labeling laws. Mandatory label laws should be done for science reasons and not to appease the woo-woos:

GMOs are made by inserting a foreign gene into a plant or animal with the goal of conferring properties that have some agricultural benefit. At present, only GM plants have entered our food supply. In the United States, commonly used GM corn and soybean varieties contain a bacterial gene that confers resistance to the herbicide glyphosate, marketed under the brand name Roundup. Roundup kills weeds but not the GM crop. Other GM corn, soybean and cotton varieties produce a bacterial protein called Cry with insecticide activity that lessens the need for application of toxic chemicals that pollute the soil and groundwater.

The creation of GMOs is indeed sophisticated, but in fact agriculture is a high-tech revolution in progress that began 10,000 years ago.

To put GMOs in perspective, that beautiful organically grown heirloom tomato is a biologically distorted, genetically engineered product of human innovation derived from a small, hard, poisonous fruit created by nature. Virtually everything in your garden is the result of many hundreds of years of genetic tinkering through breeding, resulting in organisms that bear little resemblance to the native species, and which would not exist without human intervention.

It is amusing that the now popular “Paleo” (or Paleolithic) diet advocates eating food that did exist in the Paleolithic area, and that would be unrecognizable by our ancestors of that time.

There is a strong consensus in the scientific community that foods derived from GMOs are safe. Reports from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences found that no adverse health effects attributed to GMOs have been documented in the human population. Moreover, they conclude that GMOs reduce the application of insecticides, the most dangerous herbicides and overall have fewer adverse effects on the environment than non-GMO crops produced conventionally. [...]

Seriously: check out the science magazines for yourself (e. g. Nature’s GMO issue)

El Nino: Australia is now saying that we’ll have a strong El Nino; this means that we (in Illinois) are likely to have a 1998 like winter. But time will tell.

Obamacare Perhaps there is some hope on the horizon?

The good news for Obamacare just keeps coming in. Via Charles Gaba, the Rand Survey — which was the subject of a report in the LA Times, but which wasn’t publicly available — is now in. And it says that as of mid-March — that is, before the final enrollment surge — the Affordable Care Act had already produced a net gain of 9.3 million insured adults. Again, that’s a net gain; so much for claims that more people are losing insurance than gaining it.

At least some Republicans are realizing that (a) the ACA is not going to collapse and (b) they can’t simply take away insurance from millions of Americans. So they have to come up with an alternative.

And as Sahil Kapur reports, at least a few of them are coming to a terrible realization: there is no alternative. You can’t just support the popular pieces of reform, in particular coverage for preexisting conditions, and scrap the rest. As Jonathan Gruber taught me, and I and others have said many times, reform is a three-legged stool that requires community rating, the individual mandate, and subsidies; take away any leg and it collapses. And Kapur finds a GOP aide who admits to the awful truth: any workable GOP plan would look pretty much the same as Obamacare.

I don’t know how many GOP leaders, as opposed to aides, understand this. And even those who do won’t dare to admit it. The party line, literally, has been that Obamacare is an unworkable monstrosity, and the base will destroy anyone who points out, this late in the game, that it’s both workable and pretty much the only doable alternative to single-payer.

My guess: the GOP will huddle and then say that THEY “forced President Obama to the center” by pointing to tweak x, y, or z….and take credit for what is basically…a Republican idea.

Ukraine: It might not be exactly like what some bloggers say (e. g. a Nazi like “rolling over Europe) but it is looking more and more that Russia will dominate Ukraine in one way or another; this, to my amateur eyes, looks more like a return to the old cold war USSR.

April 8, 2014 Posted by | health care, republicans, republicans politics, science, social/political, world events | , , , | Leave a comment

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