Ben Sargent on the Presidential election, 2012

November 15, 2012

Ben Sargent on results of 2012 Presidential Election, Austin American-Statesman

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, November 11, 2012


Steve Schafersman, Texas State Board of Education District 15

November 6, 2012

District 15 for the Texas State Board of Education covers 77 counties in Texas’s northern Panhandle.  It’s oil (Midland), cotton, Texas prairie and small towns, and lots of schools, and some surprisingly good colleges and universities.

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image – “District Overview
District 15 is huge, covering all of northwestern Texas. It is also arguably the most Republican SBOE district, giving more than 74 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and more than 70 percent to Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial race.”

It’s a district where science plays a big role, and should play a bigger one.  The 15th includes those lands in Texas where the Dust Bowl got started, where unwise plowing based on inaccurate readings of climate contributed to one of the greatest man-made natural resources disasters in all of history.  It’s the home of Texas Tech University, where members of the chemistry faculty created a wine industry based on the chemistry of grape selection and fermentation, and where geologists learn how to find oil.

This area leads Texas in wind power generation, a considerable factor in the state that leads the nation in wind power generation.

In short, science, engineering and other technical disciplines keep this area economically alive, and vital at times.

Of the two candidates, Democrat Steve Schafersman is a scientist, and a long-time, staunch defender of science education (what we now cutely call “STEM” subjects:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  If the race were decided by a test in STEM subjects, Schafersman would be the winner.  Schafersman lives in Midland.

The GOP candidate in the race is religiously anti-science, Marty Rowley of Amarillo.  As a good-ol’-boy, former pastor, he’s got a lot of support from the usual suspects.  Rowley’s views on science, technology, engineering and mathematics run contrary to the business and farming interests of his entire district.  Do his supporters look to the future?

Do you vote in Midland, Lubbock, Amarillo, Dalhart, Abilene, San Angelo, Dallam County, Tom Greene County, Cooke County or Montague County?  You need to vote for Steve Shafersman.  Do your children a favor, do your schools a favor, and do your region of Texas a favor, and vote for the guy who works to make education good.

Shafersman is the better-qualified candidate, and probably among the top two or three people with experience making the SBOE work well, in the nation.  He deserves the seat, and Texas needs him.

More:

Steve Schafersman campaign flier:

Shafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15

Schafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15 – click image for larger version


Poems for an American election day

November 5, 2012

Do you get the newsletter from the Academy of American Poets?

"The Avenue in the Rain," oil on can...

“The Avenue in the Rain,” oil on canvas, by the American painter Childe Hassam. 42 in. x 22.25 in. Courtesy of The White House Collection, The White House, Washington, D. C. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday’s newsletter included this list:

Poems of American Experience

People in some states complain that the liquor stores and bars won’t open on election day.  So, try the next best thing, or the better thing, and read some poetry.

What works of poetry, or literature, or visual arts, strike you as appropriate for the U.S. election day?  Which works would be most useful in school classrooms, to teach our young people about voting, how to vote, and why it’s important?

More:

 


Go vote! says the Jack-o-lantern

November 5, 2012

Go Vote jack-o-lantern gif

Found on Tumblr

Stuff found on Tumblr.  Nice sentifment from a winking jack-o-lantern.

Trick: Animated #govote jack-o-lantern to keep away the ghosts of low voter turnout.

Treat: Tell your friends to visit rockthevote.com to find their polling station!

animated gif by Bruce Willen

At the GoVoteNov6 Tumblr site:

Click here to find your polling station and if you’re eligible for early voting.

For more #govote images and to submit your own go to:govote.org 

 

 


Mr. Deity, on horns of a dilemma/election

November 1, 2012

Another great episode of “Mr. Deity.”  (Yeah, I’m several episodes behind.  Don’t even get me started on catching up on “The Wire.”)

Every parent will empathize with the problem here, letting the kids do things on their own so they can grow up, and then seeing again just what it is they actually want to do . . .

Watch all the way through.  The best stuff is in the fund raising plea at the end.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula at FTB, for reminding me of this wonderful series.  Do you ever wonder what the producers of this thing could do if they turned their attention to on-line videos on history, or economics, or molecular biology?

More:


Republican luminaries endorsing Obama

October 25, 2012

Former Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, endorsed President Obama’s reelection today.

Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, CBS via NPR

Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, CBS via NPR

Correspondent Jim Stanley provides his count of GOP luminaries who endorse Obama in this election:

[H]ere are the ones I have tallied:

  • Former Senator Larry Pressler of South Dakota;
  • Former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman;
  • Former Bush 41 Admin. Budget Director Bruce Bartlett;
  • Former Rhode Island Senator and current Governor Linc Chaffee;
  • Former Bush National Security Advisor Richard Clarke;
  • Reagan Administration Asst. Atty. General Doug Kmiec;
  • Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist;
  • Former Nixon aide John Dean;
  • Former Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried;
  • Former National Review Publisher Wick Allison; and
  • From what I can see, former National Review columnist Chris Buckley has not issued an official 2012 endorsement but has said he has seen no reason to change his 2008 endorsement of Obama.

I don’t know if former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan will repeat his Obama endorsement. The only prominent Republican I know of who endorsed Obama in 2008 and has publicly switched his position is former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. Former Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker has also re-endorsed the President. Now, Weicker, Crist and Chaffee officially left the GOP over its extreme rightward drift, but they have not become Democrats.

I added links.  Interesting.  Dear Reader, do you know of others?

More:


What would the Romney tax plan do for you?

October 24, 2012

Use this calculator to see what Mitt Romney’s tax reform plan would mean for you, according to the details available at the campaign.  Go to this site and follow the instructions.

I do love these interactive sites — especially that one, which offers a chance to see what’s really going on.

More:


“A Political Primer on Quoting Out of Context” — Michelle Bachmann, poetry by Devona Wyant

October 21, 2012

Out of context?  GOP candidates complain they’ve had remarks “taken out of context,” when the GOP spent the past 16 years perfecting the art of political smear by out-of-context quoting?

Well!

Bachmann Scream Screen -- Out of Context

Out of Context? (collage by Devona Wyant)

A Political Primer on Quoting Out of Context
or
The Bachmann Diaries
A found Poem using quotes from Bachmann speeches and interviews

Take this into consideration.
During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy.
I have to warn you, this is not a pretty sight.
It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed
The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.
I love homosexuals.
…and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body.
So if there’s anyone who needs sanctification, it is me.
It will be an awesome day.

© Devona Wyant

I am reminded of Ms. Wyant’s poem by Gov. Mitt Romney’s complaints that his “47% remarks” were taken out of context, and by this video response to his complaint:

Comes the news from Minnesota that her constituents have wearied of Bachmann, and she’s in a tough fight for reelection.  Awesome day, indeed.

Now, can we get that Romney guy into an appropriate context?

More:


Clinton’s endorsement for Christie Vilsack, Iowa’s 4th Congressional District

October 19, 2012

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District for Christie Vilsack a few days ago — this ad puts his tour in 30 seconds.


12 million jobs — but not until when?

October 16, 2012

Oy.

It’s extraordinary to consider with just three weeks until Election Day, but Mitt Romney’s central argument to voters has been exposed as a total fraud.

Greg Sargent added, “Let’s recap what Kessler has discovered here. The plan that is central to Romney’s candidacy on the most important issue of this election — jobs — is a complete sham. This is every bit as bad — or worse — than Romney’s claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, or his vow to cut spending by eliminating whole agencies without saying which ones, or his refusal to say how he’ll pay for his tax cuts.”

Obama’s budget NOW creates 12 million jobs in the next four years, according to projections.  Romney?  He stretches it out to ten years, but reduces the job creation, so it’s 2.5 times as long to get the same number of jobs.  Say what?  Romney’s plan reduces the number of jobs created by cutting the rate at which they are created.

Read more at Rachel Maddow’s blog, with links to the actual studies.  Maddow links to Greg Sargent’s blog, The Plum Line, at The Washington Post. 12 million jobs, Mitt Romney, economy, Bain Capital

More:


What if Mitt Romney were Latino? Or gay? Or a woman?

October 15, 2012

Would things really be easier for him in the election?

Here’s Rosie Perez, thinking through the possibilities. From Actually.org.

Mitt thinks he’d have a better chance of become president if he was Latino. In the first video of the Actually… series Rosie Perez explains why it will take more than being Latino for Mitt to win the election.

When lies go unchecked, we all lose. Actually.org spreads the truth, because the truth matters—even in politics. Our team calls ‘em like they see ‘em, and we hope you’ll support the truth by sharing Actually.org videos before Election Day.

Actually… is a partnership between American Bridge and JCER. Schlep Labs is a project of JCER. Actually… was produced by Amy Rubin at Barnacle Studios
http://blog.barnacle.is

More:


Biden/Ryan Klash in Kentucky: Transcript

October 11, 2012

I didn’t see the whole debate, but from what I saw, it was different this week.  Obama’s problem was that he didn’t expect to have to nail Jello to a tree, and didn’t; tonight, Biden nailed the Jello, made it stick on the tree, and made it bleed.

Does the full transcript show that?  ABC already has a transcript upNPR has one, too.

And The New York Times, of course. Newspaper of record.

Here’s a twist:  ThinkProgress adds fact checking to the transcript.

What THEY said to expect:


One more time, again: Why “supply side” economics doesn’t work without demand

October 4, 2012

I posted a short excerpt from a recent column by economist Paul Krugman, explaining why GOP reliance on magic to fix the economy probably won’t work.  Commenter David Xavier took issue with Krugman’s analysis.  David’s comment brought home to me just how badly many self-described conservatives misunderstand basic economics, especially the keystone free enterprise principles of supply and demand.

My explanation of why supply side economics can’t work came out for the 21st time at least.  Let’s make a post of it, in hope that more people may read it and view it, and understanding may increase.

David Xavier said:

Krugman wants the government to spend as this will drive demand. But “demand is constituted by supply”. To buy something you must first produce and sell something. The selling is what gets you the money, but the production of value adding output is what first allows you to sell. Without value adding activity, there is nothing to sell and therefore there is no basis for demand.

I replied:

Well, there’s the problem. You don’t understand either the law of supply, nor the law of demand. You’re talking “supply side” economics, which we discovered didn’t work way back in 1982 through 1988.

Supply does not stimulate demand, ceteris paribus. It’s the other way around. Henry Ford’s Model A didn’t created demand for transportation; the demand for transportation, coupled with a demand for transportation that didn’t involve horses and their natural effluents, created a demand for a horseless carriage. Ford created a machine that met that demand, and could manufacture it in enough quantity to matter.

Demand is not “constituted from supply.” Demand comes from needs, and wants. If supply can be created to meet that demand, demand can be met from supply.

But demand comes first, as Krugman, a Nobel-winning economist, well understands.

If consumers have no money to buy, the quantity supplied cannot matter in the least. If there were no demand for transportation at all, Henry Ford is sunk.

The law of supply explains how producers go about meeting demands — if prices are higher, they are happier to supply more. Again, if consumers have no money to purchase the good or service offered, the amount of supply is completely irrelevant.

Before Henry Ford’s mass production of automobiles created a demand for gasoline, gasoline was cast off from oil refining as a waste product from the production of kerosene for lanterns. Refineries from Standard Oil dumped millions of gallons of gasoline into rivers — no demand, the massive supply simply did not matter.

And as we can see from that example, demand not only creates the market, it can make a product considered to be waste, into the economic equivalent of gold.

Without demand, supply is simply excess manure, or gasoline by-product from the production of kerosene, to be dumped into a river (and thereby pollute the hell out of the river).

You’re right to say that without value-added activity, there is no economic activity. But tell that to Mitt Romney, who thinks finance is the magic, and not production.

A key problem with all of Republican economics is the ignoring of consumers, and ignoring the reality that consumers need money to stimulate demand. Tax cuts can’t help the hungry, who cannot eat tax cuts, nor the unemployed, who cannot take to the bank tax cuts on non-existent income.

Your odd myopia — maybe blindness — to the reality of how economics works, is shared by a lot of so-called conservatives. It’s a tragedy; it’s a tragedy I hope voters will put an end to, soon.

Did you ever notice that no supply-side economist has ever won a Nobel? Have you noticed that few supply-side economics articles are available in journals? Has your search for the numbers to back up the Laffer curve been as unproductive as they have been for everyone else — including Arthur Laffer? (Laffer promised to publish an article explaining how supply side economics work, as soon as he got the numbers together. That was in 1982. 40 years later, there is still no real intellectual foundation for GOP claims of tax cuts creating wealth. Those studies that have been done suggest tax rates maximize revenue when taxes hit about 70%, more than three times the rates Laffer proposes. History shows a much different story than Laffer claimed: Tax cuts in the Harding and Coolidge administrations led to bubbles that collectively burst in October 1929, leading to the Great Depression; tax cuts in 2001 led to bubbles in housing and the stock market, which burst in 2008, leading to our Great Recession.)

Right now, businesses are sitting on a pool of about $2 trillion, profits they’ve accumulated since 2008. If supply side economics worked, that money would be invested in manufacturing and service creation, and we should have an unemployment rate in negative numbers. The disproof of supply side economics is our current situation. Employers have plenty of supply of money, but they refuse to hire without demonstration of demand from consumers. Unemployed consumers, lacking money, cannot make that demand up from thin air. Magic does not work, in the real world of supply and demand, in economics.

Nota bene:  Videos come from a delightful series on economics created and put up on YouTube by Dr. Mary J. Glasson, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Glasson’s series is available at YouTube and covers almost every topic in an entry-level survey undergraduate economics course.  Look for “mjmfoodie” at YouTube.com.

More:


More magic than a cape and red underpants needed to fix economy; but that’s all GOP offers

October 4, 2012

Despite the few details he leaked in the Denver debate — which contradict almost everything he and his campaign had said earlier, not to mention the GOP platform — Mitt Romney offers not much in the realm of a program to do better than President Obama in economics, in pulling the nation out of our economic doldrums.  Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman explains:

Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman - Tavis Smiley Productions image

Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman – Tavis Smiley Productions image

As many people have noticed, Mr. Romney’s five-point “economic plan” is very nearly substance-free. It vaguely suggests that he will pursue the same goals Republicans always pursue — weaker environmental protection, lower taxes on the wealthy. But it offers neither specifics nor any indication why returning to George W. Bush’s policies would cure a slump that began on Mr. Bush’s watch.

In his Boca Raton meeting with donors, however, Mr. Romney revealed his real plan, which is to rely on magic. “My own view is,” he declared, “if we win on November 6, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back, and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

Are you feeling reassured?

In fairness to Mr. Romney, his assertion that electing him would spontaneously spark an economic boom is consistent with his party’s current economic dogma. Republican leaders have long insisted that the main thing holding the economy back is the “uncertainty” created by President Obama’s statements — roughly speaking, that businesspeople aren’t investing because Mr. Obama has hurt their feelings. If you believe that, it makes sense to argue that changing presidents would, all by itself, cause an economic revival.

There is, however, no evidence supporting this dogma. Our protracted economic weakness isn’t a mystery; it’s what normally happens after a major financial crisis. Furthermore, business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly since the official recession ended. What’s holding us back is mainly the continued weakness of housing combined with a vast overhang of household debt, the legacy of the Bush-era housing bubble.

By the way, in saying that our prolonged slump was predictable, I’m not saying that it was necessary. We could and should have greatly reduced the pain by combining aggressive fiscal and monetary policies with effective relief for highly indebted homeowners; the fact that we didn’t reflects a combination of timidity on the part of both the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, and scorched-earth opposition on the part of the G.O.P.

But Mr. Romney, as I said, isn’t offering anything substantive to fight the slump, just a reprise of the usual slogans. And he has denounced the Fed’s belated effort to step up to the plate.

Read more at the New York Times.

Why do I disbelieve?

  1. For more than a year Romney’s been pushing tax cuts as a solution to everything.  It’s rather late to back out of that now.
  2. Tax cuts can’t stimulate the economy — we tried them for 8 solid years, and they crashed the economy.  One can make a great case that the Obama economy is not soaring because he agreed to extend the tax cuts, in return for getting about half of the stimulus we needed.  At some point, people hurting in this economy will realize that they can’t benefit from a tax cut if they aren’t paying huge taxes, and they aren’t paying huge taxes if they are unemployed.
  3. Tax cuts cannot be revenue neutral.  They hurt deficits.  For months Romney’s been talking about defense spending and tax cuts that add between $5 trillion to $7 trillion in to the deficit.  If he wishes to argue that deficits hurt, he’s in trouble.  If Obama argues that deficits should be used to help people, Romney will be unable to make the math work on his plan if he tries to reply.
  4. Economic theory isn’t with Romney.  Can he make that big of a snow job on voters?  Even if he does, the economy won’t take it.

Now’s a good time to beef up on the high school economics most of us took, or the college class we took.  Can you see any way to make an austere, Spain-style economy work in the U.S. without putting us into a death spiral?

More:


In Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, Wayne Powell

October 2, 2012

Our best bet to get the economy growing at a fast enough pace to create jobs for the unemployed, and create jobs for new graduates from high school and college, is to get a Congress that will vote for employment bills instead of making legislative gridlock.

Virginia's 7th Congressional District, 2012 - from US Atlas

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, 2012 – from US Atlas

In Virginia, in the 7th Congressional District, Wayne Powell runs to replace GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You might remember Cantor as the guy who said he would not support disaster relief for Virginia’s 7th after the 2011 earthquake.  Powell is a retired Army Colonel  and Richmond attorney.

On almost every issue, Powell runs circles around  Cantor.  In debates, for example, Powell challenges Cantor to explain his votes to extend perks to Congressmen, while shorting the pay of active duty military and veterans — to no avail, Cantor won’t explain.  What could he say?

Especially, what could Cantor say to a decorated veteran like Powell?

Powell can use your help, and contributions.  Check him out at his campaign website, PowellforVA.com.

No, this isn’t the Welsh former soccer player Wayne Powell.  The Welsh Powell would probably represent Virginia better than Cantor, too, but he’s still managing Leamington FC, last I heard.

More:

Coda:  Yeah, Powell’s probably more conservative than most Democrats; he’ll still be better than Cantor, for Virginia, and for the nation.


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