Archive for September, 2010

Anybody up for a ‘million moderate march’?

As an American patriot deeply concerned about the direction of this country, I’m thinking about heading up to Washington on Oct. 30 to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity — the “million moderate march,” as Jon Stewart calls it — on the Mall. Anybody else?

And no, I’m not kidding. About any of it.

Of course, Stewart has a great way couching the deeply serious in the deeply humorous. That’s another reason I’m thinking of attending.

As he put it last night:

“You may be asking yourself right now, sitting at home: ‘But am I the right type of person to go to this rally?’ The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just, let’s say, jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper and just pointing your car toward DC — that means I think you just might be right for it.”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c

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Using the jobless as a Rohrschach test

illusion-1You’ve probably run across this image before, or at least something very much like it.

What do you see in it?

A craggy old lady, huddled against the cold in a headscarf and shabby coat?

Or a stylish young woman in a feathered hat, choker and fur coat, looking demurely off into the distance?

It all depends on your point of view. Now, what do you see in the chart below? According to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s official poverty rate last year was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. It was the highest percentage since 1994, but as the bureau notes, it was still 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959.

We all know the reason for the increase. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the number of jobs in America “dropped by more than 8 million between the start of 2008 and the end of 2009…. In addition, by late 2009, the share of unemployed workers who had been out of work for more than six months …

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Like I said, crazy feeding on crazy

The lunacy infecting the Republican Party has consequences.

Take, for instance, its new nominee for the U.S. Senate from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. Politico interviewed staffers from her 2008 Senate campaign and filed the following report (do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing:)

“The tea party giant-killer who knocked off Rep. Mike Castle Tuesday is barely recognizable to them. They remember a candidate who was less interested in conservative causes than scoring a television deal, one who suggested dodging campaign vendors, believed she could give the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention and fixated on a harebrained idea to distribute tens of thousands of two-ounce suntan lotion packets to voters. That Christine O’Donnell lost in a landslide to then-Sen. Joe Biden, who was simultaneously running for vice president. Kristin Murray, who left her position in the state party to serve as one of several campaign managers for O’Donnell during that …

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Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s paranoia

After spending the day lamenting the sad state of affairs in Georgia politics, maybe we can cheer things up a bit by turning our focus elsewhere.

For example, there’s always entertainment value to be found in the Lone Star State.

From the Dallas Morning News:

AUSTIN – Just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars, the panel is about to wade into the issue of what students should learn about Islam.

The board will consider a resolution next week that would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks….

A preliminary draft of the resolution states that “diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts” across the U.S. and that past social studies textbooks in Texas also have been “tainted” with pro-Islamic, anti-Christian views….

Sponsors of the resolution cautioned that “more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur …

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The political implications of Nathan Deal’s finances

UPDATED: 3;45 p.m.

At a strictly human level, you can’t help but be saddened by Nathan Deal’s financial woes.

As AJC reporter Alan Judd documented this week, Deal and his wife agreed beginning in 2005 to put their home and savings at risk to help a daughter and son-in-law open a small business. Over time the venture required more capital, and then more still, and by the time the business failed last year, the Deals found themselves out $4 million, including $2 million still owed to creditors.

Stories like that are all too common these days, but Deal’s case is unique because he’s the Republican candidate for governor. Democrats have already begun to attack him on grounds of judgment, suggesting that such poor decision-making in personal finances makes him unfit to make financial decisions for the entire state.

It’s easy to push that line of argument too far. In fact, if you start disqualifying every potential candidate who in 2005 couldn’t look ahead to see what the …

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The Laffer Curve in real life

Ever since the Reagan administration, supply-side economics has been at the core of Republican economic philosophy. Every GOP candidate, at every level of politics, has to swear allegiance to the theory if he or she hopes to retain credibility with the party base.

In a post yesterday, we took a look at the theory as it illustrated in the Laffer Curve. Now it’s time to look at how the theory has worked in practice, focusing on the two separate experiments with supply-side economics that we’ve run in the past 30 years.

The first began with the Reagan tax cuts in 1981 and ran to 1993. The second began in 2001, with passage of the Bush tax cuts. And in between of course, we had the Clinton administration, which took a very different approach. In 1993, President Clinton pushed a major tax hike into law in order to close the deficit, the very antithesis of supply-side theory. And by the end of his term, the deficit had indeed been eliminated, if only temporarily?

So how do we gauge …

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Folks, the crazy is feeding upon the crazy

UPDATED:
Watching news reports the last couple of weeks about the GOP Senate primary in Delaware, I kept flashing back to the video below. It’s an excerpt from a town hall meeting held a year ago by U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, Republican of Delaware.

Castle is a well-respected, moderate politician, and was considered a favorite to win the U.S. Senate seat in Delaware left vacant by Joe Biden. But in last night’s GOP primary, Castle got his butt whupped by Christine O’Donnell, a Tea Party candidate considered extreme even by her fellow Republicans. On Fox News last night, Karl Rove in effect told a crestfallen Sean Hannity that O’Donnell is a liar and a little bit crazy, too crazy in fact to be elected in November.

“This is not a race we’re going to be able to win,” Rove said.

In a nutshell (an apt term in this case), here’s why Castle got beat. Here’s what happens once the crazy, unchallenged by those Republicans who know better, begins to feed upon itself. Here’s America 2010, …

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The Laffer Curve debunked; Part One

It all began, back in the day, with the Laffer Curve.

In the early ’70s, economist Arthur Laffer and his acolytes began preaching a very simple idea: By cutting taxes — always a politically popular move — it was possible to actually increase government revenue. As the story goes, Laffer illustrated the seemingly magical concept for Dick Cheney, among others, by drawing the curve on a cocktail napkin in a Washington hotel bar. (The versions published here, created by yours truly, attempt to honor the original in their crudeness. At least that’s my excuse.)

lafferone

Figure One

The idea was quickly seized upon by leading Republican conservatives, who used it to justify major tax cuts in the early ’80s and have continued to do so ever since, under the rubric “supply-side economics.” And under the right conditions, the argument behind the Laffer Curve does make some sense.

Without a doubt, excessively high taxes can strip needed capital from the private economy, reducing investment and …

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What Ga. Power wants, Ga. Power gets

Rule No. 1 in state politics: What Georgia Power wants, Georgia Power gets.

That’s certainly what happened in 2009, when the company wanted to charge its customers for the cost of nuclear plants before the plants were even built. A compliant state Legislature said sure, no problem, and as a result, when those controversial rate hikes take effect in January, the increase will be almost triple what the company predicted.

This fall, Georgia Power Co. also is asking the state Public Service Commission for a $1 billion rate hike over 26 months — on top of the nuclear charge — which also would begin in January. If history is any guide, the PSC will end up giving Georgia Power a lot of what it says it wants, and almost all of what it really wants.

After all, that’s what happens when a regulatory agency is taken captive by the industries it was created to regulate. Just as the federal Minerals Management Services became a docile servant to rather than overseer of the …

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Gingrich, et al doing a swan dive into a swimming pool full of crazy

Conservative “intellectual” Dinesh D’Souza, writing for Forbes, tries to make the case that Barack Obama is secretly carrying out the ideological mission given to him by his birth father, a man to whom Obama had only passing exposure.

He concludes:

“Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.”

In response, Newt Gingrich tells National Review that D’Souza’s piece contains the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”

“What if [Obama] is so outside our …

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