Menzie Chinn updates us today on how things are going in Sam Brownback’s Kansas. Answer: not so good.
The chart on the right compares Kansas to the rest of the country using coincident indexes, an aggregate measure of economic performance tracked monthly by the Philadelphia Fed. It consists of the following four measures:
Nonfarm payroll employment
Average hours worked in manufacturing
Wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index
The index is set to 100 at the beginning of 2011, when Gov. Brownback took office. Brownback instituted an aggressive program of tax cuts and budget reductions, promising that this supply-side intervention would supercharge the state’s economy. But the reality has been rather different. Kansas has underperformed the US economy ever since Brownback was elected.
Why is that? Is the Fed using the wrong employment data? Chinn says no: “The decline shows up regardless of whether employment is measured using the establishment or household surveys.” Is it the weather? “Drought does not seem to be an explanation to me.” How about the poor performance of the aircraft industry? “Evidence from employment data is not supportive of this thesis.”
So what is it? “I would argue much of the downturn especially post January 2013 is self-inflicted, due to the fiscal policies implemented.”
It’s doubtful Kansans will figure out a damned thing as long as they continue to accept Republican ideology as rote supreme over anything learned in the United States about economics since the days of Herbert Hoover. Over 80 years ago.
Most of what Republicans pass off as economics isn’t anything more than ideological hopes, convictions rooted in bigotry, class fealty, ignorance. Which is why every time, anytime, they try to pass off the institution of stupidity as an “economic experiment” – it is doomed to failure.
The people who pickup the tab, as usual, are the working class families. Another premise of the conservative dream.
Likely Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who was popular among Spanish-speaking voters while Florida governor, marked himself as “Hispanic” on a 2009 voter registration application, The New York Times reported…
The newspaper posted a fuzzy copy of the form, which it said it obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. The circle marked “Hispanic” was checked. The next circle said “White, not Hispanic” and was not checked.
A Bush spokeswoman said it was unclear how the error was made. “The governor’s family certainly got a good laugh out of it,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. “He is not Hispanic…”
Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish and whose wife, Columba, is Mexican-born, had widespread support among Hispanic voters during his two terms as Florida governor…
I presume the TIMES knows the differences between Cuban-centric voters in Florida – who usually vote Republican – and Hispanic voters in the rest of the United States. They just don’t want to distract from their cute report…
His stance on immigration has been at odds with the views of many in his party, including when he said last year that illegal immigrants who come to the United States to provide for their families are not committing a felony but an “act of love.”
Like any moderate Republican hypocrite – as opposed to the more typical Right-Wing Republican hypocrite – Bush is now enabled to be as two-faced as he wishes on questions of immigration depending upon the audience he’s addressing.
Governor Mike Pence is lying about the purpose of this law. The photo below, and who the governor invited to its being signed into law, very much reveals the motivation behind SB101 — it’s not pro-religion, it’s anti-gay, and that’s wrong.
It’s also bad business — companies like Apple and Angies List may very well be the tip of the iceberg; I suspect we may see other companies vote with their feet — and their dollars. Pence has revealed himself, and may have just torpedoed his own Presidential ambitions.
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz, my favorite Recovering Republican
For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.
One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.
But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.
He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.
The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress…
The documents were obtained by Greenpeace, the environmental group, under the Freedom of Information Act. Greenpeace and an allied group, the Climate Investigations Center…
Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.
Fossil-fuel interests have followed this approach for years, but the mechanics of their activities remained largely hidden…
Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon’s work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil-fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.
Hypocrites and liars defame their scientific credentials – while scumbag politicians who never have deserved respect use them to justify corrupt practices. There are damned few of the former – witness the overwhelming majority of collective and individual researchers who have defined the problems of climate change we face. The latter? Well, Congress and especially the majority of Republicans in that cesspool have a lower acceptability rating than Adolf Hitler and Bubonic Plague.
And the plague is innocent of decision-making.
Gallup CEO Jim Clifton has discovered a shocking secret about unemployment: its definition.
Those Chicago guys didn’t even bother to hide this one in plain sight. It’s just sitting there in plain sight, right on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ homepage: only people who don’t have a job but are actively looking for one count as unemployed. That means someone who wants work but has given up looking for it because things seem so hopeless isn’t “unemployed.” Neither is someone who works part-time but can’t find the full-time job that they want. Or someone who does whatever odd jobs they can find. Add it all up, and our 5.6 percent unemployment rate is a “Big Lie,” according to Clifton…
If the unemployment rate is so flawed how come we pay so much attention to it? Well, because it’s the worst stat about labor market slack except for all the others. The problem is figuring out which people who don’t have jobs are really jobless.
Take discouraged workers. The unemployment understates how bad things are by ignoring them, but we wouldn’t want to count everyone who’s not working and not looking for a job as unemployed, would we? If we did, then we’d be saying that college students and stay-at-home parents and even retirees are just as unemployed as someone who’s sending out resumés everyday.
But even that’s not clear cut since some people go to school because they can’t find a job, and some people stay at home since child care would cost more than they’d make, and some people are forced into retirement. That’s why we look, for example, at the so-called prime-age participation rate—the percent of people between 25 and 54 years old who have or are looking for a job—to figure out far away we are from a real recovery. And by that measure, we still have a ways to go…
But even that’s imperfect because it doesn’t tell us why people aren’t looking for work. It could be that the crisis convinced more people to go to college, regardless of whether they could find a job now. That’d be good.
Or it could be that wages have been flat for so long and childcare’s gotten so expensive that it’s not worth it for people to work now or anytime soon. That’d be bad.
Or it could be both. But if either is true, it’d mean that the unemployment rate is more accurate than you might think. In other words, since we can’t read people’s minds, the best way we can tell what they want is to look at what they’ve done. That’s not entirely right, but it’s the least wrong.
So the unemployment rate’s not a big lie. But calling it one is.
All this crap got started back in the Nixon era. Yes, essential labor statistics were screwed with to make unemployment look like less of a problem. It’s called Republican arithmetic.
But, most of the whines since are just that. Beancounteers crying in their beer over a small fractional adjustment for whatever reason. Which has nothing to do with either cyclical or, especially, structural unemployment.
So, just tell your favorite whiner to put a cork in it and spend their time trying to find solutions instead of putting all their energy into a lament about people they ignore 99% of the rest of their lives.
Thanks to my favorite Recovering Republican
One of Reuters’ environment pictures of the year. A graveyard is seen underwater in the village of Moorland in south west England, February 7, 2014.
But, don’t worry. Dick Cheney says climate change isn’t anymore likely to occur than the United States torturing people.
One of the few times John McCain displays integrity is about torture. With good reason, of course. Wish he could find the same experience somewhere in his gold-plated heart to find solidarity with people who work for a living.
As for his criminal peers in the CIA, retired pricks like Bush and Cheney – these are the kind of evil thugs who would have willinglky sold out the American Revolution for a guaranteed spot in the Colonial government.
Especially if the Brits had discovered oil that early.
One of the GOP candidates swept into office Tuesday in Colorado was a former Navy chaplain who believes gays are “unhuman” and once performed an on-air exorcism of President Barack Obama.
Gordon Klingenschmitt won just under 70 percent of the vote in the state’s 15th House district, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Republicans outnumber Democrats in that district by more than 2 to 1.
Klingenschmitt heads up the Pray in Jesus Name Project, which is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The former chaplain hosts a daily “Pray in Jesus Name” program, where homosexuality is by far his favorite topic of discussion.
Right Wing Watch has a great round-up of Klingenschmitt’s most extreme statements. Here’s a sampling:
On gays: “They’re cooperating with the Devil and there is something unhuman inside of them.”
On “curing” a transgender teen: “The parents are encouraging that and really what the parents ought to do is take that boy to an exorcist, take that boy to a minister or at least discipline the boy, maybe give him a spanking…”
On exorcising Obama: “Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against the demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant and that demonic spirit is oppressing us.”
Apparently, Klingenschmitt himself has realized that those extreme statements could prove problematic during his time as a legislator…”I would say it is time for people of good will on both sides of the political debate to come together to have reasonable discussions about these issues,”
Like most Republicans whose self-image is bound up in the constipated world view of the 14th Century – Klingenschmitt is a liar. Like most of his peers who ran for state and federal office in Colorado – he is a liar. Like most of his peers who ran for national office throughout the United States – he is a liar.
But, that’s OK with the folks who voted for him. They know he is a liar. They accept he is lying to the public in general to get elected and they are smug about being in on the lie. It’s all for a good cause in their tiny little brains – thoroughly absent the part that requires ethics and understands that a changing society offers a chance to learn more about the world and life.
Lying is good. Especially if it leads to Christian Sharia rule.
Iranians have used social media to mock Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after he suggested they were not allowed to wear jeans.
In an interview with BBC Persian TV Mr Netanyahu said that if Iranians were free they would wear blue jeans, and listen to Western music.
Hundreds of Iranians both in Iran and abroad reacted on social media sites…Many posts showed mainly young Iranians wearing jeans and listening to Western music, some in comic poses.
Others mocked up scenes from ancient Persian history with the protagonists wearing denim.
Jeans are not banned in Iran, where an Islamic dress code requires women to cover their hair and wear modest outer clothing. Some Western music or Western-style music is tolerated.
One picture on social media sites showed a young boy in jeans whispering into the ear of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Another is a doctored photograph of Mr Netanyahu’s address at the UN last year in which he drew a red line across a sketch of a bomb, to warn that Iran was moving closer to the metaphorical “red line” of gaining enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb.
In the mocked-up picture, widely-shared on Twitter, the bomb has been replaced with a picture of a female figure wearing jeans, with the Israeli prime minister appearing to draw a red line across the thighs.
One Iranian response on a Facebook page that has attracted hundreds of followers read: “He thinks he saw our bomb but he hasn’t seen our jeans.”
Most Americans probably can legitimately claim to be ignorant of the role our nation played in suppressing democracy in Iran – laying the groundwork for an Islamic revolution. Israelis really can’t. They can’t avoid a certain amount of history and knowledge. Though, obviously, their right-wing prime minister tries hard to portray himself as the theocratic village idiot.
Obama loves anyone who loves military drones!
A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US’s most important courts for terrorism cases…Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.
Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.
And Caproni faces renewed skepticism for describing surveillance conducted under the Patriot Act as more limited than it actually is, now that the Guardian has revealed and the Obama administration confirmed that the National Security Agency uses the act to collect and store the telephone records of hundreds of millions of Americans…
“Government officials that secretly approved of overbroad surveillance programs the public is only seeing now because of leaks, and whose testimony on the issue obscured rather than revealed these abuses, should be held to account for their actions in a public forum,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent.
German, now a lawyer with the ACLU, would not comment on Caproni specifically, citing ACLU policy of neutrality on nominations. But he continued: “Excessive secrecy always threatens democracy, but misleading and incomplete testimony before Congress and the courts simply cannot stand unaddressed without doing real damage to constitutional government.”
This is a good article detailing Caproni’s history of coming down on the side of a surveillance state. Big Brother lives on in her heart. Meanwhile, she ain’t doing half-bad while waiting to roll on into Obama’s legal structure – currently working for Northrop Grumman.