Reinhart & Rogoff vs. Krugman

Or, as you’d think the headline should read, Nobel prize winner versus two hacks who fucked up an Excel spreadsheet and were caught by a graduate student.

But since the former is shrill and the latter are for austerity, it’s an even match in the eyes of our liberal media.

Repeal

Every article that contains “started in the Bush administration but continued and expanded by the Obama administration” is making an implicit “both sides do it” claim. The truth of the matter is this: the government is a continuous organization and changes that are made are, in fact, likely to continue.

To blame the successor equally for continuing is to suggest that every President should spend his honeymoon period undoing everything his predecessor did. Maybe it would be better to quit pretending we can bail ourselves out after making huge mistakes just because it’s theoretically possible.

The lesson here isn’t that Obama isn’t to blame for this—he is. But which Bush-era policy should he have reversed first? which last? That his priority list (and the priority list of his opponents) doesn’t match yours isn’t a reason to put the bad guys back in power to make even more change requiring repeal that might never come.

Fuck Todd

Where the fuck was Chuck Todd when the Repukes were sending fake journos into the White House, pushing fake stories that lead to war, outing Valerie Plame for her husband writing in a newspaper (or is he not in the “journalist” club?), when they fired Donahue for being against Iraq or any other number of principled stands he could have taken about this?

IOKIYAR is the fundamental rule of “journalism.”

WaPo:

Privacy protections limit searching or seizing a reporter’s work, but not when there is evidence that the journalist broke the law against unauthorized leaks. A federal judge signed off on the search warrant — agreeing that there was probable cause that Rosen was a co-conspirator.

Of course, if Obama wasn’t chasing these guys, they’d say this is what happens when a Kenyan Socialist Muslim Manchurian candidate is in office and lets our enemies win. In any event, this wasn’t some sekrit NSA spying thing. They got a warrant. If you don’t like the warrant laws, then advocate for them changing. Don’t Whitewater the President because you’re feeling shame that you had to dismiss Benghazi.

See?

The IRS thing is nothing, as nobody could have predicted. They just played this game where we felt like spending our credibility to say Benghazi was nothing so this had to be something. Remember, they just want to impeach because he’s black.

Navarna Redstricting

In Salon:

Voters get one vote to elect three representatives, and the top three vote-getters win election. This way, many U.S. House district would be shared between Republicans and Democrats. There would suddenly be Northeastern Republican members of Congress, which would make the Republican Party more attuned to the needs of that region. There would also be more Southern Democrats, further limiting the regional segregation we see in Congress. What’s more, voters in strongly Democratic or Republican districts will no longer feel their vote doesn’t matter. If you’re in the minority party in your district, you can still get representation in Congress.

This sounds like a great idea. But until the actual effects are understood, maybe someone ought to try and take this up at the state level first. Proportional representation sounds great, but in a lot of countries that have it there aren’t stable governments, but they have elections whenever the government loses a vote of confidence. What would happen here? We’d wait two years?

Plus, you still have to draw district lines ,they’d just have to be three times as big. And in order for this to work at all, you have to multiply the size of the House by three, or else this whole thing is for nothing in states with only one or two reps.

I’d love to see this tried in California in the lower house, since we’re so fucking avant garde with this kind of thing here. But at least we’ve demonstrated a lot about government in the process. Term limits suck and actually make politicians *more* ambitious for a career and puts party aparatchiks in more control. Direct democracy is dangerous to people’s rights and leads to irresponsible budgeting. Supermajority requirements lead to obstructionism and extortion.

Why not show that quasi-proportional representation has its downside too?

Edit: Most people don’t realize that most revolutionary ideas are out of the question and most reforms are stupid, or, worse, actually counter-productive. Improving things is hard, or it wouldn’t need improving. Opportunities to improve things are rare and shouldn’t be wasted on poorly researched, untested things that sound really cool.

Fail.

Does anyone really think these three fake scandals are going to matter in a few months?

Liberal Pussies Fuck Over Dems Part 27351

From the President on down, Democrats have stood fairly strong on Benghazi. While of course adding all of the requisite disclaimers about the loss of American life being bad, etc., they utterly reject that this was any kind of intentional wrongdoing good.

But while we’re all laughing off Benghazi, it seems our liberal brains are forcing the concession of ground on this IRS issue and the AP wiretaps. Charlie Pierce, as fiery a liberal as you could want, is up on his blog saying “Eric Holder must go.” Shit, Charlie, this is the same guy they tried to scandalize with “Fast and Furious” already. And what do you suggest? We get an acting attorney general in there while the Senate filibusters any replacement.

And on this IRS thing, we have Josh Marshall posting all day long. The Senate is going to hold hearings. Why? I mean, what else do we need to know other than they quashed it. Did anyone overpay taxes? This is a non-issue.

The only reason these “scandals” are getting any traction is because as liberals we let ourselves be shamed into reasonableness. Targeting conservative groups is bad. OK, sure. But until this has anything to do with anything other than what happened years ago, I can’t understand why it is even news.

Of course the answer is because in order to tamp down Benghazi, we have to be “reasonable” about other things. This is how they beat us. Did they ever once admit that Bush did anything wrong? No, not even when he really did.

If Obama does something patently illegal, call me. Otherwise, I’m not going to be tricked into using my liberal inclinations to defeat a liberal agenda.

And since Boehner won’t “take impeachment off the table” (another memory of liberal “reasonableness” there, right?) I look forward to the House going forward and costing themselves the 2014 election. I ain’t even mad.

Hyperbole? The Leninism of the GOP.

If there’s another word for this, let me know. But the concept of using a party as a revolutionary vanguard to take over the government in order to bring about your sought after political, economic, and social changes is what made Leninism Leninism instead of just Russian Marxism.

This is what the GOP is doing and has been doing since 1994. They have no intention of governing, just strip mining the government for money and then sabotaging it to leave a Galt’s gulch behind where their money talks.

Impeach

Of course their plan has always been to impeach Obama. Anyone who didn’t believe this is naive and should not be allowed to talk about politics. That the lefty blogs are just now starting to notice concerns me.

However, as outraged as everyone will be, I say let them impeach him. They might just lose the House doing it.

West, Texas

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that a paramedic who was one of the first responders to the fertilizer plant explosion was arrested for possession of a destructive device.

Let me preview all of the talking head arguments coming up about this:

—-
CON: See, you stupid hippies said this was about workplace safety and blamed Texas for lax safety rules, but it was a criminal!

LIB: He’s white! So you called him a criminal instead of a terrorist! Are you going to see if he’s connected to al qaeda! Ha! No.
—-

First, this doesn’t disprove that there are problems with worker safety in Texas or that this place had way more explosive material on hand than it should have, so if it had complied this would have been less of a tragedy—and the other objection we heard was to the zoning problems putting schools etc. near a factory with explosive materials which works either way.

Second, unless there’s any indication he’s connected to terrorists or a militia, he’s just a terrorist on his own. By being the paramedic showing up to his own bombing (if that’s what happened), I think we have a psycho narcissist who might have been trying to copy the love we saw in Boston right before.

Third, the Boston bombers were connected to anti-American groups, but seem fantastically incompetent compared with the 9/11 folks or the operations being carried out against our troops abroad.

But, in the event he is connected with some fringe or militia movement, I hope people take notice.

Also, too, some kind of worker safety rules in Texas aren’t a bad idea, no matter what.

Faill Ferguson

Yes, his comments about Keynes were shitty argument and homophobic, but don’t forget to see the underlying argument here.

Keynes is famous for saying, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” This is his justification for expansionary policies in the present, even if they accrue debt later. More classic economists’ formulas don’t see much difference between spending now and spending later; it still has to be paid back.

Of course this highlights the sociopathy of classical economics: it not only discounts the human suffering that contractionary policy causes in the present, but when you say in retort that the future debts can be inflated away, they then want to bend reality to avoid inflation. This second point is the whole ballgame in my opinion: classical economists depart from any pretext of empirical science whenever the rentier/creditor/wealthy class’s entitlements are threatened. Some (few, I think) actually believe that this security in their property helps everyone, but in our political discourse it is mostly used as an ideological justification for kicking poors.

Remember this next time you hear a deficit scold talking about “our children having to pay off our debts.” It sounds like a good argument until you realize our kids wouldn’t have to pay it off at the same real value if they (the deficit scolds) weren’t agents of non-producing wealth trying to prevent inflation no matter what pain it inflicts on 99% of us. Also, too, they would have a growing and expanding economy giving them better and more secure jobs to pay it off with if we weren’t destroying it and the middle class so that the Koch brother’s ill gotten gains retain the same buying power.

So, the homphobic stab at Keynes—about him not having kids because he is teh icky geh—is as much about being a homophobic reptile brain as it is about keep up this legend/talking point that our kids will have to pay for our sins.

Printing more money and handing it out to everyone would solve all of our economic problems right now, but it wouldn’t tickle the ruling class’s kick-the-poors g-spot, so it won’t happen.

If you’re interested in paying down a debt that our children cannot inflate away and in doing a little suffering now to avoid a lot later, I suggest you ignore the deficit and worry about global warming.

Evo Unchained

Just in the last few weeks, Evo Morales of Bolivia has decided to become a caudillo. He has taken Chile to court over sovereignty of territory Bolivia lost over 100 years ago, despite Chile giving it all kinds of privileges at the port there.

He has had the Supreme Court declare that he can run for a third term because the Constitution wasn’t in effect when he ran the first time—a common legal ploy in Latin America that was not OK when Fujimori did it.

And now he’s kicking USAID out of the country because—wait for it—they’re plotting to overthrow the government.

Chavez did a decent job of filling in the void left by an aged Castro and had the oil to do it. Morales doesn’t have shit just pissed off his most important economic neighbor trying to fill that void. Mr. Morales, I knew of Hugo Chavez. I wrote about Hugo Chavez. You, sir, are no Hugo Chavez.

 

Bring on "The Purge"

I love me a good sci-fi/thriller/horror movie. They are the sage fools of film. By being outlandish in concept they get to reveal the underlying pathologies of the era in a way a “serious” work could not. “The Fly” was one of the best films of the 80s. It explored everything — crack/heroin/meth, AIDS, and, yes Virginia, abortion (gasp!) — without directly mentioning a one of them (except for maybe abortion; she was trying to abort a pupa though. I mean c’mon!). And The Fly dissolves a guy’s foot with his vomit and then sucks up the foot’n’vomit glop. It’s nice to have an Other.

Better still is the dystopia. Unless there are zombies. Zombies are boring. But a good sci-fi dystopia should reveal the underlying humanity of the characters against the backdrop of whatever Big Change has organized the future into something unrecognizable. This underlying unreality should provide the opening to tell us something about society today. And if it’s a great movie, it will tell us or, like “The Fly”, at least explore things we know but perhaps don’t care to think about.

So, it is with great eagerness that I await “The Purge”. Here’s the set up: In the 2020s America is prosperous, safe and happy because for one night a year all crime is legal and all emergency services are suspended. We The People regulate ourselves in a bloody free-for-all. One typical but wealthy family is holed up for Purge Night, but the young boy lets in a man who is being chased by Purgers, and his assailants come looking for him.

“The Purge” is being marketed as a political film. The start of the trailer heralds the joyous statistics of the future like a campaign commercial (unemployment at 1%, crime at an all time low) and most of the last third of the trailer is scored by a direful rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung by creepy kidlets. The fake website for the film includes the platform of the “New Founders of America” that have created the Purge. Methinks the film has a point to make.

What separates America from other first-world democracies is that we hate each other. Indeed, we have always hated each other. Our history is bloody and since Watergate if not WWII the only time our political system accomplishes much is in a crisis or through a legislative strongman like LBJ. We combine third world tribalism with more-or-less first world infrastructure and institutions (at least on paper). And, lets face it, we have purged. Ask the Native Americans, the slaves in the Old South, or the child laborers of the Robber Baron era. Most of us were Purged during the Great Economic Collapse. I consider myself one of the lucky ones and my pay has been frozen for three years while my condo is worth about 2/3rds of what I bought it for. Meanwhile, the wealthiest have gotten wealthier and the remaining big banks have gotten bigger, having purged their competition. I’m alive and healthy, but my wallet was assuredly Purged.

Is there a better picture for what lies beneath the United States than controlled violence and mayhem? Perhaps “The Purge” will be a modern “Young Goodman Brown,” but instead of finding out that our townspeople are secretly sexy, maypole frolicking witches as Hawthorne’s hero did, we find that are fellow citizens really are ready to act on their mutual hatred.

Or…. Maybe “The Purge” will be twenty minutes of interesting set up, followed by 70 minutes of home-invasion (The safe space. Violated!) thrills with, maybe, a decent denouement. It wouldn’t be the first time a shitty movie had an intriguing trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lekx_ZlqyWk