Wednesday Reads

Good Morning!

Minx is waiting for a new modem so I get to share the morning links with you! I’ve got some good reads.  Unfortunately, many of them are very discouraging.

First up is a good example of sick humor.  I’m not sure what Economist Greg Mankiw had in mind with this one.  Perhaps he was thinking of Jonathan Swift or just channeling the insensitivity of his past and present bosses Dubya and Willard.  I would like to think Harvard would suggest he take a nice, long, upaid sabbatical over this one.   Maybe he’s been spending too much time with his charming colleague Larry-the misogynist-Summers.  Here’s an explanation of the pseudo news item from Politico.

Under the header “A Fiscal Solution,” Mankiw, who served as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, posted an uploaded photo of an unidentified newspaper clip, a joke, that read:

“Budget Cuts: The Immigration Department will start deporting seniors (instead of illegals) in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. Older people are easier to catch and less likely to remember how to get home.”

It’s unclear what the source of the original clip was – but it doesn’t appear to be The Onion. Mankiw offered no comment other than “Thanks to the reader who sent this along” – but he clearly thought it was funny.

If Mankiw was just a Harvard professor, the joke wouldn’t likely resonate. But he posted it on Tuesday – the day when Paul Ryan released a budget Democrats instantly decried as a Medicare killer and two days after Romney scored a big win in Puerto Rico’s primary – which counter the flurry of criticism he’s drawn from Hispanic groups for his embrace of the controversial “self-deportation” immigration strategy.

Sorta puts a new twist on the concept of grannie starving, doesn’t it?

Jonathan Chait has a new feature up at New York Magazine on “How Obama Tried to Sell Out Liberalism in 2011″ that’s worth a look.  Makes me feel a little nervous about the upcoming budget fights. I’ve jumped to the bottom line.

…faced with unrelenting criticism for his decision to not fully endorse Bowles-Simpson, when the next bipartisan plan came out, this time Obama chose to praise it to the skies. And the criticism is that he killed a bipartisan deal by doing so!

The obvious reality is that there never has been any way to get House Republicans to agree to a balanced deficit deal. Even the capitulation Obama offered — $800 billion in semi-imaginary revenue, all raised from the non-rich — was too much for them to agree to. Locking in that low level of revenue would have required huge cuts in spending, making a decent liberal vision of government impossible. The Post is making the case that there was a potential deal, and Obama blew it by failing to properly handle the easily-spooked Republican caucus. What the story actually shows is that Obama’s disastrous weakness in the summer of 2011 went further toward undermining liberalism than anybody previously knew.

David Corn has a new book out titled Show Down which is being dissected by the pundit class.  It’s an update on the workings of the Obama administration along the lines of Suskind’s Confidence Men.  This is some musings on an excerpt from WP’s Greg Sargent at The Plum Line. It shows how two of Obama’s advisers–Sperling and Plouffee–knew Obama’s economic rhetoric was straight out of Reaganland and not particularly based in genuine economics

In “Showdown,” an insider account of Obama’s response to the 2010 midterm losses, author David Corn reports on a number of behind-the-scenes discussions that led to the Dems’ emphasis on deficit reduction. Here’s what drove Obama strategist David Plouffe’s thinking (page 132):

Plouffe was concerned that voter unease about the deficit could become unease about the president. The budget issue was easy to understand; you shouldn’t spend more money than you have. Yes, there was the argument that the government should borrow money responsibly when necessary (especially when interest rates were low) for the appropriate activities, just like a family borrowing sensibly to purchase a home, to pay for college, or to handle an emergency. But voters needed to know — or feel — that the president could manage the nation’s finances. The budget was a test of government competence — that is, Obama’s competence.

This is a reference to the “government must tighten its belt” analogy. Obama repeatedly has invoked this language, arguing that government, like families, needs to live within its means. As Paul Krugman has explained at length, this analogy is flawed on many levels. And judging by the above passage, Plouffe knew this. He knew the policy justification for the pivot was thin. But Obama’s team clearly didn’t feel they could win this argument with voters.

Romney won Illinois yesterday.  This Saturday is the Louisiana primary.  I’ve already been treated to some of the nastiest ads I’ve ever seen.  Romney ads are on all the time.  It makes me wonder what we’re going to see this fall.  As usual, pundits are talking about what the results may or may not mean.

Everything in the sense that Romney beat Santorum again in a large Midwestern state where a majority of voters don’t think of themselves as evangelicals and prize electability and experience as the most important traits for a Republican candidate to possess. Everything in the sense that Romney’s victory — coupled with some organizational flubs by Santorum — means that the former Massachusetts governor will extend his already near-determinative delegate lead.

And nothing in the sense that even Romney’s staunchest allies don’t expect him to pick up enough momentum to win the Louisiana’s caucuses set for Saturday, meaning that the “Romney can’t win the South” and “Romney can’t win conservatives over” storylines will linger as the calendar turns from March to April.

“Nothing impossible in Louisiana but Santorum [is] not likely to be closed out soon,” acknowledged Charlie Black, a longtime Republican campaign hand who is supporting Romney.

Watching politics unfold is anything but dull in the good ol US of A.  So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


13 Comments on “Wednesday Reads”

  1. Just a couple of cases that progressives/environmentalists continue to lose the discussion:

    http://www.people-press.org/2012/03/19/as-gas-prices-pinch-support-for-oil-and-gas-production-grows/

    The opinions of the Keystone XL pipeline are near the bottom of the page: http://www.people-press.org/2012/02/23/section-1-recent-economic-policies-keystone-pipeline/

    Latest PPP poll shows Warren leading by 4 points: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/03/warren-holds-small-lead-in-ma-senate-race.html

    And, I’ll apologize up front – I found the post by Mankiw about deporting seniors funny. I do have a sick sense of humor + as a slow moving senior myself, I know I’d be darn easy to catch.

    Excellent roundup, dak.

    • janicen says:

      I know what you mean about the humor, Connie. It really depends upon who is telling the joke. If you don’t believe that immigrants and seniors should be treated like flotsam and jetsam, but you do believe that our government leaders do, then the joke is funny. But if you come from the camp that believes deporting seniors and immigrants is sound policy, then the joke comes off as insensitive.

    • RalphB says:

      From the Pew poll.

      At a time of rising gas prices, the public’s energy priorities have changed. More Americans continue to view the development of alternative energy sources as a higher priority than the increased production of oil, coal and natural gas, but the gap has narrowed considerably over the past year.

      Taking into account two facts.

      1) The working rig count in the US is higher than at any time since the beginning of the ’80s. So oil companies are drilling for all they’re worth.

      2) Production of oil and gas is higher than it’s been in decades. In 2011, we were a net exporter of oil and refined products for the first time since 1949.

      It’s apparent that the Republicans continued lying about “we can’t drill” is taking hold in the public mind. That’s a shame but I guess Fox has more viewers than one would suppose and the MSM in general seems to be generally ignorant.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      I too am a slow moving senior :)

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Watching the GOP primaries is like watching the Bataan Death March. Only slower.

    Mitt has all the charisma of bowl of cold soup. Speaking of “competence” his reading last night from the teleprompter showed his inability to even “read” his statements without fumbling and stammering over his words. That and his lame attempts to be humour leaves me cringing.

    And Gingrich is just plain useless. If Saintorum wins LA over the weekend along with WI this thing is never going to produce an end date.

    It feels like this campaign has gone on longer than a migraine headache and producing the most vacant and vapid candidate to emerge as the “winner”.

  3. Purplefinn says:

    Santorum was in Gettysburg last evening to watch the returns. There was a protest to greet him (this is a conservative area). Kudos to the Gettysburg police for treating protesters respectfully. http://www.eveningsun.com/ci_20217134/hundreds-protest-outside-gettysburg-santorum-rally

  4. RalphB says:

    Maddowblog: The 2012 Etch-A-Sketch plan

    Eric Fehrnstrom, the communications director for Mitt Romney’s campaign, appeared on CNN this morning, and was asked a good question: “Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?”

    Alex Seitz-Wald posted a clip of the response, which was rather startling in its candor.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, Fehrnstrom said, “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.”

    Given Romney’s record of changing his positions on practically every issue, sometimes more than once, this wasn’t exactly an encouraging answer.

    Wonder what Romney 5.0 will look like?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I heard that guy on Maddow last night. It was mind-blowing. And not in a good way.

      • RalphB says:

        Whatever MorphoMitt turns into for the general election, I’ll bet the MSM let him get away with it. They are gonna be useless.

  5. peggysue22 says:

    I’m not sure how anyone can be surprised that the President ‘sold out’ New Deal ideas and was delivering Reagan-speak. He was doing that from the start, said so when asked which Prez he most admired: Ronnie Reagan, of course. All these writers and pundits are acting like there wasn’t a clue, not a cloud in the sky that hinted at the President’s point of view. It feeds into an essay I read this morning–“Too Smart to Fail’ by Thomas Frank. Link here:

    http://thebaffler.com/notebook/2012/03/too_smart_to_fail#.T2fkq2gJKA8.twitter

    All these pundits and experts and Washington know-it-alls never saw any of this coming.

    Amazing!