Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m going to start out with an economics link today because I really get mad when partisan politics pushes an agenda that puts ignorance ahead of unbiased studies.  This is a prime example of why I no longer trust a single Republican to do what’s best for our country.  Congress asked for a study from the CRS –a nonpartisan, highly respected research source for Congress–on the relationship between high tax rates for high incomes and economic activity. It didn’t produce the results sought by Republicans so they squashed it.  I’ve shared a lot of studies over our years together that show the same thing including one a few weeks ago.  This is just one study showing that taxing rich people really doesn’t hurt the economy.   This just makes me want to scream.

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Mr. McConnell and other senators “raised concerns about the methodology and other flaws.” Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”

Senate Republican aides said they had protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term “Bush tax cuts” and the report’s reference to “tax cuts for the rich,” which Republicans contended was politically freighted.

They also protested on economic grounds, saying that the author, Thomas L. Hungerford, was looking for a macroeconomic response to tax cuts within the first year of the policy change without sufficiently taking into account the time lag of economic policies. Further, they complained that his analysis had not taken into account other policies affecting growth, such as the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates.

“There were a lot of problems with the report from a real, legitimate economic analysis perspective,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republicans. “We relayed them to C.R.S. It was a good discussion. We have a good, constructive relationship with them. Then it was pulled.”

The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.

This is just one of a series of topics important to our future where we can depend on Republicans to ignore data, theory, and scientific evidence.  The worst ones come within the hard sciences like those dealing with in utero fetal development and climate change but this is just more of the same.  They want their ideology and have no regard for empirical evidence found through scientific research that shows just how wrong they really are.  More evidence that Republicans are insidious.

So, it’s Friday and we’re going to entertain my weird obsession of learning about people through graves and grave goods yet again.  Here’s my secret treasure trove of links and how Hurricane Sandy has exposed an interesting grave site. 

Superstorm Sandy  shut down Archaeology News for two days, and uprooted a tree in New Haven, Connecticut, that revealed a human skeleton. Authorities think the burial dates from the colonial era, when the site was used as a cemetery. The tree was planted in 1909 to commemorate the 100thanniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

In the 1950s, a skeleton with metal spikes  through its shoulders, heart, and ankles was found in central England, but a report on the discovery has just been made available. The burial dates to between 550 and 700 A.D. Such treatment of the dead was considered to be appropriate for individuals thought to be capable of returning to life and causing problems for the living. Scholars are no longer sure where this particular rare burial is located. “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers, or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to society’s rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker. Which of these the Southwell deviant was we will never know,” said archaeologist Matthew Beresford.

Guess we’ll have to wait to see what they think about this newest find.

So, I think we need a little more female representation, experience and wisdom in our government so I’m so happy to see that Tammy Baldwin is ahead in Wisconsin and will play a key role in what goes on in the Senate in the upcoming Congress.  She’s been targeted by the worst of the worst and is running against Tommy Thompson who is a Republican favorite son.

New polls show Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, with a four-point lead over her Republican challenger, former governor Tommy Thompson, in a race which may determine control of the Senate and had previously been considered a lock for Republicans. If Baldwin is elected she would likely follow in the footsteps of Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold and be one of the more independent and progressive members of the U.S. Senate.

Outside groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity are spending millions on ads tagging Baldwin as “too liberal” for Wisconsin, and a variety of Democratic groups have criticized Thompson for his work at a lobbying firm with ties to outsourcing, helping make the state’s close Senate race the second-most expensive for outside money in the country and themost expensive in state history. The intensity of the race has also made it exceptionally negative , underscoring how close the race has become and its national importance.

Another race that is exciting is in Illinois where Tammy Duckworth will most likely take down Joe Walsh who is one of the worst of the worst Tea Baggers.  However, tons of big money is flooding into the race so we need to show Tammy all of our love and support.

Though the latest polls say U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is likely to lose to Democrat Tammy Duckworth next week, key members of Chicago’s corporate community and a couple of huge super PACs are coming to his aid, leading to a furious exchange of verbiage over whether at least the spirit of the law has been broken.

The corporate cash comes from the Exelon Corp. PAC, the Hospira Inc. PAC and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer John Carpenter, each of whom donated $2,500 to Mr. Walsh’s campaign committee in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.

There’s nothing particularly controversial in those donations, though some Republicans say privately that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

But much bigger cash — and a much larger flap — has arisen over a late $1 million “independent” expenditure on Mr. Walsh’s behalf by the Missouri-based Now or Never super PAC.

If you’ll recall, Now or Never spent $2 million and said it was “seriously considering” dropping in another $2.5 million here, but then said it changed its mind. But last night, the group sent reporters an email saying it had changed its mind again and decided to spend another $1 million on anti-Duckworth TV ads.

“This is a resource and opportunity-based reversal,” Now or Never spokesman Tyler Harber emailed me. Recent negative reports about Ms. Duckworth “presented us with an opportunity to deliver an effective closing message.”

But Mr. Harber didn’t respond when I asked him who paid for the late blitz. That’s pertinent because earlier this year, Now or Never had been getting the vast bulk of its funding from another group, Americans for Limited Government, which does not disclose its funding. And the Duckworth campaign says ALG Chairman Howard Rich and his wife both have donated to Mr. Walsh’s personal campaign committee in the last year, raising questions of whether the ALG/Now or Never spending truly is uncoordinated, as the law requires.

Please send the Tammys some money!!  Donations to Tammy Baldwin can be sent here.  Donations to Tammy Duckworth can be sent here.

The CSM has an interesting article up on Penn State’s former President–Spanier– who was indicted for a variety of things related to Sandusky’s horrible, serial, long term acts of  child sexual assault.  I find this an interesting set of law suits given similar actions by Bishops and others from Catholic Archdioceses all over the country and the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts. Both organizations have engaged in similar patterns of behavior when confronted with the sexual assault of young boys on their watch and have not been confronted with the same tough legal retributions.  Schultz here refers to a now retired VP who is yet to be charged.  Hasn’t there been evidence of prior knowledge and cover-up in other institutions?  Why can’t we protect our children and decrease the incidence of sexual predators in our society?

Schultz kept a file about the 1998 and 2001 incidents involving Sandusky at his campus office and told staff members never to look in the file, Kelly said.

It was removed from the office on the day charges against Sandusky were announced and delivered to Schultz’s home.

The file’s existence, along with other information relevant to the grand jury investigation, was not disclosed until after Spanier was fired and trustees ordered full cooperation with the probe, she said.

Unbelievable.

I’m going to end with a thought from a female Buddha since I’ve just about had it with male energy after reading that article.  She’s an emanation of female wisdom and wow, do we need some of that today.

‎”When you arrive at the extinction of reality, there is nothing but the spontaneity of pure potential. There is no other way to dance in the sky.”

- Yeshe Tsogyal (757–817)

Anyway, those things have been on my reads list.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’ve spent the last few days editing tables, proofreading, and formatting bibliography, cross checking table of contents and lists of tables to make sure page numbers match.  It’s the kind of work that makes you want to pull out every last thread of hair on your head.  I’m hopefully at the end of the road to chasing down about a dozen signatures for forms too.  It’s driving me nuts!!  I’m going to be so glad when this stupid dissertation gets published and I don’t have to mess with the thing ever again!

Given that I”m doing this mind numbing frustrating detail work, it’s probably contributing to some things that are making me really mad.  I cannot–for one–imagine any one having any reasons to defend a football coach who didn’t report horrible instances of child sexual assault.  I don’t understand the riots on campus that occurred the other night.  I certainly don’t understand glib tweets defending said coach sent out to millions of fans by celebrities either.  How many little boys were assaulted and how many people around them will be hurt as they spend their lives trying to overcome the trauma?  How on earth do you defend some who who was covering up and not reporting a series of heinous felonies?

Demonstrators tore down two lampposts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.

“We got rowdy, and we got Maced,” said Jeff Heim, 19, rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

An orderly crowd first filled the lawn in front of Old Main when news of Mr. Paterno’s firing came via students’ cellphones. When the crowd took to the downtown streets, its anger and intensity swelled. Students shouted, “We are Penn State.”

Some blew vuvuzelas, others air horns. One young man sounded reveille on a trumpet. Four girls in heels danced on the roof of a parked sport utility vehicle and dented it when they fell after a group of men shook the vehicle. A few, like Justin Muir, 20, a junior studying hotel and restaurant management, threw rolls of toilet paper into the trees.

“It’s not fair,” said Mr. Muir, hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”

Just before midnight, the police lost control of the crowd. Chanting, “Tip the van,” the students toppled the news vehicle and then brought down a nearby lamppost. When the police opened up with pepper spray, some in the crowd responded by hurling rocks, cans of soda and flares. They also tore down street signs, tipped over trash cans and newspaper vending boxes and shattered car windows.

The irony of all this is that the right wing noise machine has less to say about this violence and mayhem than it ever has about the Occupy Protests.  Most disappointing is that Assistant Coach Mike McQueary will not be attending the game because he’s gotten death threats for doing the right thing after witnessing the sodomy of an approximately ten year old boy by then Assistant Coach Sandusky.

Raw Story has an interesting piece up about Romney who seems to have an itchy missile finger trained on Iran.  Just what we need; more entanglements in the Middle East.

Accusing President Barack Obama of naivete on Iran, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney promised Thursday that if elected president he would “prepare for war” with the Islamic republic.

In a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal, Romney said he would back up US diplomacy “with a very real and very credible military option,” deploying carrier battle groups to the Gulf and boosting military aid to Israel.

“These actions will send an unequivocal signal to Iran that the United States, acting in concert with allies, will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” he wrote.

Nouriel Roubini has some interesting choices to lay at the feet of European Community leaders.  It’s really worth a read.  For some reason leaders here and in the US are obsessed with austerity.  They should be obsessed with way promoting economic growth.

First of all, without economic growth, you have a dual problem: a) The socio-political backlash against fiscal austerity and reforms becomes overwhelming as no society can accept year after year of economic contraction to deal with its imbalances; b) more importantly, to attain sustainability, flow deficits (fiscal and current account) and excessive debt stocks (private and public, domestic and foreign) need to be stabilized and reduced, but if output keeps on falling, such deficit and debt ratios keep on rising to unsustainable levels.

Second, restoring growth is also important because, without growth, absolute fiscal deficits become larger rather than smaller (given automatic stabilizers). Third, restoring external competitiveness is key as that loss of competitiveness led—in the first place—to current account deficits and the accumulation of foreign debt and to lower economic growth as the trade balance detracts from GDP growth when it is in a large and growing deficit. So, unless growth and external competitiveness are restored, flow imbalances (fiscal and current account deficits) persist and stabilizing domestic and external deficits becomes “mission impossible.” Finally, note that, unless growth and competitiveness are restored, even dealing with stock problems via debt reduction will not work as flow deficits (fiscal and current account) will continue and, eventually, even reduced debt ratios will rise again if the denominator of the debt ratio (debt to GDP), i.e. GDP, keeps on falling. Growth also matters as credit risk—measured by real interest rates on public, private and external debt, which measures the default risk—will be higher the lower the economic growth rate. So, for any given debt level, a lower GDP growth rate that leads to a higher credit spread makes those debt dynamics more unsustainable (as sustainability depends on the differential between real interest rates and growth rates times the initial debt ratio).

Switching to US problems, Morgan Stanley has its knickers in a knot about potential failure of the super committee. They anticipate more downgrades of US soverign debt.

Now Morgan Stanley is weighing in on this question, as part of a broder note about the impact of the super-committee on the economy.

From MS’ Christine Tan:

S&P reminded market observers in October that the US remains on negative watch due to its unsustainable fiscal outlook, which implies a 1 in 3 chance of further downgrade from its current
AA+ rating. If the Super Committee fails to reach a $1.2trn deficit reduction deal, if such a deal relies more upon accounting changes than real deficit reduction, or if Congressional action lessens the impact of the $1.2trn automatic trigger, we believe this could potentially provide S&P with a pretext to downgrade the US further from AA+ to AA. The initial S&P downgrade of the US’s AAA rating on
August 5, 2011 roiled the markets into severe risk-aversion mode and the GRDI, Morgan Stanley’s proprietary risk appetite indicator fell to an all-time low of  -5.13.

So it’s important to bear in mind that the consequence of a downgrade would be an economic slowdown, not anything on the cost of borrowing side.

It sure is a crazy mixed-up world.  What is on your reading and blogging list today?