As promised…I bring you the latest edition of The Woman in Red….(It has taken me days, in fact almost the last 24 hours has been straight on through.)
You can read the earlier issues at these links:
As before, click the image to see the full size…and then click on the image itself to enlarge the picture, otherwise you will not be able to read the captions.
So….here we go!
Woman in Red:
Debate, Election and the Shutdown…
The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate
Tonight is the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate…..
Let’s take you to the debate venue, shortly before the event is to begin……
Bloody hell, I am exhausted!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Woman in Red, and the introduction of the new arch nemesis…S.P.Ermand…The Sperm Man!
This is an open thread.
I really don’t want this to turn into a mini version of my mom’s rants on “people are no damn good” that I grew up hearing as frequently as some kids hear bed and supper time prayers. However, it seems that some of the things I’m reading these days just cry out for mom’s mantra on the nature of humanity. The last few days have seen a constant stream of evil on parade.
On Sunday, David Koch tried to convince ABC viewers that he wasn’t real “evil” because he actually was socially liberal. Yeah, lot of good that does us when every National Park is timber and animal free, fresh water has been fracked into nonexistence, and every school in America never turns out another scientist. Doesn’t this guy have enough money yet that he can just quit destroying the planet like some cartoon villain?
“I’m basically a libertarian and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal,” Koch responded.
Walters then asked Koch why he uses his wealth to elect socially conservative candidates if he supports gay rights and a woman’s right to choose.
“Well, that’s their problem. I do have those views,” he said.
“What I want these candidates to do is to support a balanced budget,” he added. “I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.”
Asked whether he thought it was fair that he’s able to influence elections because of his vast wealth, Koch said that he obeys federal limits on how much he can contribute to individual candidates.
But Koch and his brother, Charles, also donate large sums to support the arts and other philanthropic causes. Walters asked why, then, Koch has developed a reputation as an “evil billionaire.”
“Well, I don’t understand that,” he said.
Yeah, he sure has his priorities straight. Fuck People. Fuck the Planet. Fuck the Economy. Just don’t fuck with my right to exploit every resource every where possible.
PolitiFact has named it’s Lie of the Year, 2014. Yup, it’s the damned hyped-up exaggerations on Ebola just ready made to prime the outrage pump of dumb red state Americans. Notice we heard nothing more about it once Fox News turned out its idiot viewership to let lose the plague of congressional republican locusts on the nation?
Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.
The claims — all wrong — distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.
PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” While no singular line about Ebola matched last year’s empty rhetoric about health care, the statements together produced a dangerous and incorrect narrative.
PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.
The Northern White Rhino will likely go extinct in a few years because a lot of Chinese Men are worried about Dick Performance. There are only five left now and they are all elderly and in Zoos and Reserves. This just makes me want to cry and hate people.
A northern white rhino has died at a San Diego zoo, leaving only five worldwide and bringing the species closer to extinction.
Angalifu, 44, died of old age Sunday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced that Angalifu, one of six remaining northern white rhinos in the world, died Sunday. Credit: San Diego Zoo/Helene Hoffman
“With Angalifu’s passing, only five northern white rhinos are left on the planet, including Nola, our elderly female,” the zoo said in a statement.
He was one of a handful of northern white rhinos left worldwide, including a few at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild.
Northern white rhinos and southern white rhinos are different subspecies genetically.
Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the northern white rhino as “teetering on the brink of extinction.”
Rhinos are killed by poachers almost exclusively for their horns, which sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
Experts say that rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs. The demand is driven primarily by buyers in East Asia, who believe it cures a series of ailments.
Meanwhile, pregnant women are being victimized by state laws and health officials that can’t seem to keep their religious views to themselves. A woman was placed in jail because of Wisconsin’s personhood law. The woman’s not a person, but the 14 week old fetus evidently is now and can be protected on the word of any religious hysteric that happens to be a nurse. Here’s a story where the state put lives at risk out of the concern of religious zealots that believe that women can’t be trusted to be pregnant. Here’s a story that violates every citizen’s right to privacy and every health care giver’s oath to do no harm.
Tamara Loerstcher was suffering from an untreated thyroid condition and depression and had begun to self medicate with drugs when, in late July 2014, she suspected she might also be pregnant. Loerstcher, uninsured at the time, went to an Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hospital for medical treatment and to confirm her pregnancy.
After submitting to a urinalysis, Loerstcher disclosed her past drug use to hospital workers. But instead of caring for Loerstcher, who as it turns out was 14 weeks pregnant, hospital workers had her jailed.
Those are the allegations in a soon-to-be-filed federal civil rights lawsuit by attorneys from National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the Carr Center for Reproductive Justice at New York University School of Law, and the Perkins Coie law firm.
Loerstcher and her attorneys, in a call with reporters, detailed her experience, including her alleged mistreatment by Wisconsin officials and the ongoing deprivation of Loerstcher’s constitutional rights under a Wisconsin law that grants authorities the power to involuntarily detain and confine a pregnant woman for substance use if she “habitually lacks self-control” and her substance use poses a “substantial risk” to the health of an egg, embryo, or fetus.
The Wisconsin policy is similar in nature to radical “personhood” laws pushed in state legislatures controlled by anti-choice lawmakers. “Personhood” amendments, which would outlaw abortion at any stage of pregnancy, were roundly rejected by voters in several states on Election Day.
According to Loertscher and her attorneys, unbeknownst to her, as hospital workers were preparing a prescription to treat Loertscher’s thyroid condition, they were also initiating unborn child protection proceedings on behalf of Loertscher’s then 14-week-old fetus.
Loertscher and her attorneys claim that within days of Loertscher seeking care, hospital workers had already turned over Loerstcher’s hospital records to the state without Loerstcher’s knowledge or consent. They also claim that with those records in hand, state officials filed a petition accusing Loerstcher of abuse of an unborn child and held a hearing in which the state had appointed an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, for the 14-week-old fetus, but granted Loerstcher no meaningful representation.
At the hearing, Loertscher and her attorneys allege she was ordered by the court into in-patient treatment even though she had not used drugs recently and voluntarily sought medical care. When Loerstcher refused to go to in-patient treatment, she was held in contempt of court and sent to jail, where she was held for 17 days without prenatal care and subject to abuse and harassment.
“This was my first pregnancy, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Loerstcher told reporters. “I was having lots of cramping and a lot of stress from everything and they [jail officials] wouldn’t allow me to see the doctor. They told me I would have to see a jail-appointed doctor who told me she wanted me to take a pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy even though that’s why I was in jail, because I was pregnant. They knew that’s why I was there.”
Loerstcher claims she refused the pregnancy test, and in response, correction officials put her in solitary confinement and threatened to use a taser on her. “The jail doctor told me if I chose to miscarry, there wasn’t anything they could do about it anyways,” Loertscher said through tears.
About a week after Loerstcher’s release, she says she got a notice in the mail from the state stating they had found she had engaged in child abuse.
“It was really devastating to get that letter,” said Loerstcher. Unless it’s overturned on appeal, Loerstcher’s name will appear on the state’s child abuse registry for life. That would mean Loerstcher, who is a certified nurse’s aid, would be unable to work in her field, noted her attorney, and that she would be barred from ever volunteering at her son’s school after he is born in January. “This has very serious ramifications for her life and economic stability long term,” said Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and counsel for Loerstcher.
In order to be released from jail, Loertscher had to sign a consent decree agreeing to additional drug tests, so she remains under state custody to some extent, her lawyer said.
More evidence that Republicans can’t be trusted to govern as written by Steve Benen. No idiot media seeking continual bipartisanship, there simply is no Bipartisanship Santa. A vote for a Republican is a vote for a destroyed economy, a destroyed ecosystem, a destroyed school system, and a lot of disenfranchised Americans who will have their rights stripped away quickly.
Just one month later, there’s already ample evidence that those assumptions about Republican maturity were completely wrong.Republican Tom Price, the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, said his party could demand steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling next year, the most provocative comments by a senior GOP member to date on how negotiations could play out. I think the only ones to benefit from this are the best credit repair companies and banks.The Georgia congressman, during an hour-long briefing with reporters Friday, said the expected mid-2015 debate over whether to raise or suspend the debt ceiling offered Republicans an opportunity to make a sizable imprint on government policy.The far-right Georgian added that he wants to see Republicans bring back the so-called “Boehner rule” – an arbitrary policy that demands a dollar in cuts for every dollar increase in the debt limit – that even Republicans recognized as ridiculous a couple of years ago.“I prefer to think about it as opportunities and pinch points,” Price said, apparently using “pinch points” as a euphemism for “causing deliberate national harm.”It’s worth emphasizing that Price isn’t some random, fringe figure, shouting from the sidelines – the Georgia Republican next month will fill Paul Ryan’s shoes as chairman of the House Budget Committee.In other words, it matters that Price envisions a strategy in which Republicans threaten to hurt Americans on purpose unless Democrats meet the GOP’s demands.That said, Price would be wise to start lowering expectations – his intention to create a deliberate crisis will almost certainly fail.The gist of the plan is effectively identical to the scheme hated by House Republicans in 2011. Next year, the Treasury Department will alert Congress to the fact that it’s time to borrow the funds necessary to pay for the things Congress has already bought. As Price sees it, the GOP-led Congress will tell the Obama administration, “We’ll cooperate, but only if you slash public investments. If not, we’ll default on our debts, crash the economy, and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States.”Why Price or anyone else would want to slash public investments right now – hurting the economy, just as the recovery gains steam – is a bit of a mystery.
No conversation on evil can forget Dick Cheney. I’m not sure how close you’ve been following the Dick Cheney Torture-rama Press tour, but it’s pretty disgusting. I’m usually not up for Conor Friedersdorf, but even he thinks Cheney’s an Evil Dickhead. Cheney’s interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday was like watching one of those mad scientist movies.
That exchange leaves no room for mistaking former vice-president Cheney’s position: better to chain a man to the wall of a cell, douse him in cold water, and leave him there to freeze to death, even if he later turns out to be innocent, than to release that same man and risk not that he detonates a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, but that he ends up “on the battlefield,” where there’s a chance he could harm Americans. What if fully one-in-four prisoners tortured by the CIA were innocent?
Cheney is still unmoved:
Is that too high? You’re okay with that margin for error?
I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.
The ends justify the means.
There is no clearer illustration of the morally corrosive nature of torture than the once unthinkable position that Dick Cheney is unashamedly espousing on television. The position is even less defensible than the conceit that the Office of Legal Counsel defines what torture is. It is so indefensible that Cheney himself can scarcely maintain it.
You have to wonder where you measure on the vast barometer of human sewage if Conor Friedersorf won’t defend your evil ass as a former Republican ‘Conservative” Vice President.
Jon Stewart for the win, however. “Puppet Master Cheney’s mind” is “the scariest fucking place in the universe.”
“George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office,” Stewart said to the former president.
When pressed by Todd to explain his definition of torture following the release of a Senate report criticizing the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” procedures, Cheney continually defined torture as the events of the 9/11 attacks.
“I see — that’s just what meets the definition of torture in his mind,” Stewart said. “His mind, I assume, being the scariest f*cking place in the universe.”
Stewart then tried to get a peek inside the “presidential puppet master’s” mind, only to find a scene out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
“Never took him for a brony,” Stewart observed.
What set Cheney apart, Stewart explained, was his ability to set the “moral bar” for the U.S. at anything just shy of the worst thing that had been done to the country, as well as his confidence.
“He’s impervious to doubt,” Stewart said. “It never enters his mind that the confident, plain-spoken pronouncements of truth are often times complete bullsh*t.”
There, name that republican presidential candidate for 2016 over in that line up. Whichever one gets on the ballot, there will be a Koch entering his backside. My guess is that he’ll have Dick Cheney on the campaign trail for him too.
And, yes, David Koch is Evil. Amanda Marcotte gets it right.
Here’s the thing about men like David Koch: Making money is basically just a video game to them. For the rest of us, making money is about being able to pay for things we need and want, such as rent and food and actual video games. But David Koch has made so much money that he literally cannot spend it all. There is nothing he would want to buy he cannot already afford. The only purpose at this point in making more money is for the pleasure of beating your high score. In other words, it really is just a very consuming video game. But unlike when you kill people in Call of Duty or crush candies in Candy Crush, the game David Koch is playing is very real. Millions of people will suffer and die because he wants to “win” his video game by manipulating the public to avoid taking action on global warming. That is evil and hateful and selfish on a level that puts the word “selfish” to shame.
And no, being pro-choice and pro-gay doesn’t make up for it. That’s like having a hobby of strangling kittens and then saying it’s all good because you donate clothes to Goodwill once in awhile. Worse, actually, because David Koch isn’t actually pro-choice in any meaningful sense, because he gives money to anti-choice activists, as documented by Adele Stan at RH Reality Check. The Koch brothers give money to right wing umbrella groups, who then give it to anti-choicers. Why is fairly obvious. This is about manipulating misogynist, anti-sex hysteria in order to elect politicians who are on board with the anti-environmentalist agenda. A manipulation that is, in itself, evil on a couple of levels, both because you’re manipulating people and because you’re engaging bad people who have bad motivations to hurt and control others. It’s terrible, hateful behavior all the way down.
With that, I’ll leave you to grade papers. I’m pretty sick of humanity at the moment and I do not understand how any one with a will to survive could vote Republican anymore.
Anyway, I dare y’all to find good news today. Please!!!
One of the most awful results of the Reagan years has been the creation of mainstream paranoia over policy using data evident from the scientific method, intellectuals and academics that spend years researching and learning theory and empirical evidence, and the idea that government can’t ameliorate issues through policy but is somehow a potential enemy of the governed.
This kind of paranoid drivel used to be the realm of militia types like Clive Bunday and John Birchers like the Koch Brothers and father. It had no place in mainstream discourse until Reagan started pumping up the idea that poor people game the government and the government games every one else. Its now spread to Christian extremists, the NRA, and most of the Republic Party.
Let me give you the latest example of someone who is possibly going to be a Senator from Iowa. Joni Ernst is doing the Sharon Angle thing of declaring any government issue she doesn’t like her potential enemy and any one supporting that view as a potential target of her nice little gun that she carries with her everywhere.
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.
“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Ernst made the remark a little more than a month after gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Ernst’s campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment about the remark on Wednesday evening.
Earlier this year, Ernst released an ad in which she points a gun at the camera and vows to “unload” on Obamacare.
We’ve also experienced this massive attempt to rewrite secondary school textbooks and curricula to reflect the deeply held philosophical and religious views of these folks rather than theory or empirical evidence brought about by hundreds of years of research and scholarship. This also ignores primary documents that show just the opposite to be factual.
But, facts be damned, there’s children’s minds to warp. Biased ideas are not at the center of legitimate academic pursuit. Folks that follow agendas tend to live at the edges of universities and most departments are quite embarrassed by them. I spent time in a department where one research professor’s favorite pursuit was proving that iqs and brain sizes among varying races were the reason for underachieving groups in an economy. All DNA evidence shows that race is a social construct but this guy spent a life time trying to show the relationship between brain sizes of races and incomes and jobs. So, most time when you see folks that believe this stuff, they reside some where on the fringes. However, since the Reagan years, there’s been a major attempt by right wing religious zealots to teach propaganda and there’s been a rather significant increase in the level of ignorance on things from incoming freshmen.
This is happening even in economics where you would think that paranoia about “communism” would’ve gone away since the fall of the USSR. Not true, however. They prefer to fear imagined boogey men and to set up imagined fairy tale rescuers over doing policy that’s be proven effective in years of empirical study.
The standards’ authors are clearly fans of the free enterprise system, consistently emphasizing the advantage of American capitalism over other structures.
For example, the high school standards state that students should be able to “understand how the free enterprise system drives technological innovation and its application in the marketplace.” The middle school standards clearly promote free enterprise capitalism over other economic systems, saying that students should be able to “compare and contrast free enterprise, socialist, and communist economies in various contemporary societies, including the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system.” Finally, the standards connect capitalism with the conservative ideal of limited government, asking students to be able to “explain why a free enterprise system of economics developed in the new nation, including minimal government intrusion, taxation, and property rights.”
It really takes very little time spent in economics to realize that political constructs are not economic constructs. For example, the United States economy was founded on Mercantilism which began with monopolies, charters, grants and largess of royalty and aristocracy. The concepts of Capitalism and of Communism had the same roots and they were a lot more philosophical than ever real. Even, now, we have a modified market system. There has never EVER been a “free market” system or “communism” in an economic sense. Socialism is just one end of a modified market system and still relies heavily on private ownership of the majority of factors of production. Most facets of government policy are to make a market behave closer to a free market model because it can’t possibly d0 so under one factor, characteristic, or situation that exists. I mean really, who wants to leave the market for uranium to the free market? That’s just an extreme example.
The problem is that dogma has overtaken reality among folks that now find themselves in office. It’s bad for the country. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for nearly every one. The one thing that’s becoming abundantly clear since the Clinton Presidency and definitely during the Obama Presidency is that the Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and Big Business. It’s not the Republicans. No where is this more evident than economic reports written by the private sector. Today’s Republicans scare the shit out of big business and finance. The last few battles to keep the federal government and the deficit funded has nearly caused market meltdowns twice. You also don’t see them complain about increasing the minimum wage or decreasing the current level of income equality. NO REALLY. This means Chris Christie is really going to have some ‘splaining to do over this statement.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Thursday panned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he’s “tired” of the minimum wage debate.
“Chris Christie’s got his head in the sand if he’s getting tired about the minimum wage,” Perez said according to Bloomberg Politics.
President Barack Obama and Democrats have led the push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and the issue has made its way onto the campaign trail this year.
“Chris Christie needs to talk to his economists, who will tell him that 70 percent of GDP growth is consumption,” Perez said Thursday.
The criticism came just days after Christie said he was “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference on Tuesday.
“I really am,” the Republican governor and potential 2016 hopeful said. “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.'”
“Is that what parents aspire to for our children?” Christie asked. “They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that’s not about a higher minimum wage.”
Before the Labor secretary chimed in, the remark drew fire from other Democrats, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest even quipped during a briefing Wednesday that people living on a minimum wage are those who are really tired.
Christie also used his time at the podium to make a 2016 prediction.
“I am convinced that the next president of the United States is going to be a governor,” Christie said. “We’ve had this experiment of legislating .. and getting on-the-job training in the White House. It has not been pretty.”
So, this kind’ve talk is really making the economists of Wall Street and of huge corporations very nervous. They’re quite aware that today’s Republican Party is tanking the economy.
Even though Republicans depict themselves as the party for business and banks, it turns out that the GOP’s economic policy is detrimental to their bottom lines and continued existence; particularly rising costs and stagnant wages since the Bush-Republican Great Recession. What both bankers and retailers really want instead of tax cuts, deregulation, and more Republican austerity and budget cuts are better incomes for all Americans that will lead to increased consumer confidence and greater purchasing power to trigger higher business profits. What they have learned after thirty years of “trickle-down” is that the trillions of dollars taken by the 1%, especially since 2009, have failed miserably to stimulate the economy. Instead, they demand more buying by the masses that Wall Street firms and analysis of 65 of the nation’s top retailers claim will only happen with, as President Obama preaches, growing the economy from the middle-out.
For example, in a report last month titled Inequality and Consumption, Morgan Stanley economists said, “Despite the roughly $25 trillion increase in wealth since the recovery from the financial crisis began, consumer spending remains anemic. Top income earners have benefited from wealth increases but middle and low income consumers continue facing structural liquidity constraints and unimpressive wage growth. To lift all boats, further increases in residential wealth and accelerating wage growth are needed.” Republicans completely disagree and either resist consideration of raising the minimum wage or promote abolishing it altogether. According to the Republicans, increasing income inequality must continue and it is crucial that they convince the population that no wage is too low. It is a belief the Koch brothers espouse but it is rapidly losing favor in circles whose survival depends on a population of consumers.
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating agency concurred with Morgan Stanley’s economists in their August report, How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide, and strongly advised the federal government to create “a path toward more sustainable growth, that in our view, will pull more Americans out of poverty and bolster the purchasing power of the middle class. A rising tide lifts all boats…but a lifeboat carrying a few, surrounded by many treading water, risks capsizing.” To “lift all boats,” S&P suggests a “high degree of rebalancing” that includes increased “spending in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure to help control the income gap that, at its current level, threatens the stability of an economy still struggling to recover.” Contrary to wisdom of real economists concerned with America’s economic survival, Republicans across the country have been laser-focused on their austerity crusade to cut spending on education, infrastructure, and healthcare including the cruel heartlessness of refusing free Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Despite the call from both banks and businesses to increase the minimum wage and spending on essentials for a robust recovery, congressional Republicans have obstructed and outright blocked each and every attempt by the President and Democrats to stimulate the economy. Despite trailing every developed nation on Earth in infrastructure, Republicans consistently refuse the President’s calls to increase spending on desperately-needed infrastructure repairs including roads, bridges, public buildings, and sewers that numerous economists, including some highly respected conservatives, say is crucial for job-creation, increased consumer spending, and a vibrant recovery. Increased consumer confidence, and spending, is something all economists agree is for the good of the country’s economy but can only happen if incomes rise for the majority with higher wages and more well-paying jobs.
I’ve said this a million times but it’s true. If you have an economy that’s 70% reliant on consumer spending for growth and 99% of the population has stagnant to falling real income, you’re going to run into trouble. Especially since a huge part of that 99% spends high levels, all of, or beyond their income and wealth levels. Years and years of evidence has shown that consumers are the real job creators. No business hires workers if no one is buying their goods and services. Rich people–especially with some of the horrid changes we’ve had in the tax code during the Dubya years–are spending more and more of the income and wealth on gambling paper for paper profits. This does not create anything of value in a real economy but it sure creates asset bubbles and the potential for financial meltdowns. One has only to survey retailers to figure out the relationship between incomes of the middle and working classes and their bottom lines and their hiring plans.
Former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, whose company had seen consumer traffic drop for six straight quarters and same-store sales drop for five quarters, explained in July 2014 that “we’ve reached a point where it’s not getting any better but it’s not getting any worse—at least for the middle (class) and down.” Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, put retailers’ feelings best when he said, “consistent with so many of our fellow retailers, we are experiencing a retail ‘funk.’” The culprit is obvious: low wage and income growth for the middle class. Median household income in 2013 stood 8 percentage points below its 2007 prerecession level.
The simple fact of the matter is that when households do not have money, retailers do not have customers. The failure of incomes to keep up with the growing cost of college, child care, and other middle-class staples leaves even less money for retail spending. A previous analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that this so-called “middle-class squeeze”—stagnant incomes and the growing cost of middle-class security—leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes, and other essentials that retailers sell.
Or, as officials of J.C. Penney—whose sales fell 9 percent in 20136—put it when listing the risks to its stock value: “the moderate income consumer, which is our core customer, has been under economic pressure for the past several years.”
Moreover, retail spending—which includes spending on everything from clothing to groceries to dining out—has broad implications for the entire economy since it accounts for a large fraction of consumer spending, which itself makes up 70
percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP.
Even Walmart is concerned even while not paying living wages, not providing good benefits, and not creating an environment where a worker feels secure about his/her future. Now the weird thing is that fringe economists are still overly scared about inflation and high taxes. These things, however, are not at the top of any one’s concerns that would be invited on any Fox News program. Here’s a headline from Forbes: “Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat!”. In 2012, a number of books evaluated the results of the economy under Democratic vs Republican administrations. The results are startling.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.“ So even though we may hold very strong opinions about parties and politics, it is worthwhile to look at historical facts. This book’s authors are to be commended for spending several years, and many thousands of student research assistant man-days, sorting out economic performance from the common viewpoint – and the broad theories upon which much policy has been based. Their compendium of economic facts is the most illuminating document on economic performance during different administrations, and policies, than anything previously published.
The authors looked at a range of economic metrics including inflation, unemployment, corporate profit growth, stock market performance, household income growth, economy (GDP) growth, months in recession and others. To their surprise (I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Goldfarb) they discovered that laissez faire policies had far less benefits than expected, and in fact produced almost universal negative economic outcomes for the nation!
From this book loaded with statistical fact tidbits and comparative charts, here are just a few that caused me to realize that my long-term love affair with Milton Friedman‘s writing and recommended policies in “Free to Choose” were grounded in a theory I long admired, but that simply have proven to be myths when applied!
- Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
- Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
- Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
- Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
- The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations
It was no joke on Thursday when I asked Austan Goolsbee, a pretty fair amateur comic, to rattle of key economic indicators that are trending in very positive ways right now.
“Jobs created. Weekly U.I (jobless) claims. Unemployment rate. Auto Sales. Gas Prices,” said Goolsbee, former head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a onetime winner of the annual “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest.
And, yet, as a headline in Politico.com also noted Thursday, “Economic Anxiety Dominates 2014.” So what’s really and truly up? What explains the disconnect between seemingly very strong numbers and the lack of love for Obama and the Democrats?
“You can’t brag about the economy because people can’t feel it,” said Thomas Bowen, a Chicago-based Democratic political and policy consultant.
“I’m sure (some) Democrats have polled this: ‘The recovery isn’t working for you.’ That’s why they’re not running on the economy improving.
Not long after, I was driving past a state unemployment office along a rather somber commercial strip on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The parking lot was full. And then I mulled the folks I know working part-time involuntarily or sticking with jobs they don’t especially like out of fear of the limited alternatives.
“You’re talking about indicators in the last six months,” said Bowen. “But look at the start of the recession until today. We’re just getting out of the hole from jobs losses. And the jobs aren’t the same. They’re not higher paying construction jobs.” “Not all indicators equate with average folks,” said Anna Greenberg, a Washington-based Democratic pollster.
“Wages and salaries are stagnant,” she said. “Yes, the stock market is up and the jobless rate down. But the cost of living is up and you may not have more money.”
So, a lot of economists like me remain very confused. It’s not like there’s not support by people and businesses for good policy like infrastructure projects, improving the terms of student loans so more folks can access higher and continuing education, and a reasonable minimum wage. The cities and states that have raised the minimum wage are even those that are doing well among states. States that have raised their minimum wages have better job growth.
New data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.
In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.
“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.
“Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — approved legislation mandating the increases.”
The AP notes: “[The] state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition” to the camp in favor of raising the minimum wage.
“Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.
” ‘It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,’ said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data ‘isn’t definitive,’ he added, but is ‘probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.’ “
So, it just appears that there’s a huge portion of the United States electorate and elected that would rather live in their dream world of imaginary beings and dogma than have their lives made better by using what we know and what we’ve learned.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I hardly know where to begin this morning. The insanity that has gripped the nation’s capital is so extreme that some kind of intervention may be necessary.
Is it possible for the UN or the IMF to step in and explain to Tea Party Republicans why the full faith and credit of the United States government cannot be held hostage in an effort to overturn the results of two elections? Or perhaps they could explain to House Speaker John Boehner that his frantic efforts to hold onto his speakership could end with voters replacing him with a Democratic Speaker in 2014?
As depicted in the cartoon above, the Republican majority in the House is being held hostage by around 30-40 delusional Tea Party wingnuts and their putative leader–John Boehner has no clue how to deal with the hostage crisis. It’s a mystery to me why anyone would even want that job, but to Boehner the job is apparently more important than the nation’s–and the world’s–economic well-being. Holding onto his job is apparently so important to him that he is willing to look like a complete fool rather than stand up to a bunch of crazy people in his own party.
Meanwhile, the media pundits are getting a little more restless–realizing that we really could reach the debt limit on October 17 without the House voting on a “clean” continuing resolution or an increase in the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills.
Normally, I wouldn’t link to the National Review, but yesterday they published a piece by Washington editor Robert Costa, who probably has a pretty good idea what insane caucus in the House is up to. Costa writes:
Speaker John Boehner may be trying to finalize a plan to raise the debt limit, but House conservatives are already skeptical of his efforts. In interviews, several of them tell me they’re unlikely to support any deal that may emerge.
Costa goes on to quote a few of the wackiest of the wackos (emphasis added):
“They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard,” says Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.). “If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”
Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) agrees, and says Boehner risks an internal rebellion if he decides to broker a compromise. “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare, so whatever deal is put together must at least reschedule the implementation of Obamacare,” he says. “This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”
“Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”
This despite the fact that polls show their ideas are poison to the American public. These people are truly insane, and they believe they’re winning. Nothing will stop them except throwing them out of their jobs. Here are some other reactions to Costa’s piece.
David Atkins of Hallabaloo: Nothing less than Fort Sumter will do.
If you think this is insane–and it is–keep in mind that it’s only going to get worse from here.
Until Republicans are removed from control of all branches of government, the brinksmanship is going to get worse, and the demands are going to become more severe. The lunatics are running the asylum now, the revanchist movement is in full swing, and the Lost Cause is the name of the game.
Not even sequestration-level spending plus cutting Medicare and Social Security will do for these people–and that’s after losing an election. Try to picture where the Republican party was 30 years ago. Then 20 years ago. Then 10 years. Then today. Now picture 10 years from now. Anyone who thinks there’s going to be a retreat from the precipice is deluding themselves. If they lose in 2014, it will be because they didn’t hold firm against Obamacare. If they lose to Hillary in 2016, it will be because they didn’t shout loud enough about Benghazi.
If we don’t stop them somehow, the Tea Party crazies will try to refight the Civil War.
Josh Barro at Business Insider: Republicans Do Crazy Things Because They Have Crazy Beliefs. Barro responds to Georgia Rep Paul Broun’s claim that “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare….This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”
It’s one thing to oppose Obamacare. It’s quite another to believe it will “destroy America and everything in America.” As Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy, a strong opponent of Obamacare, wrote last month:
The idea that we had a free-market health-care system before Obamacare, and a socialized one after, is completely and utterly incorrect. In 2010, before the passage of Obamacare, U.S.-government entities spent more per capita on health care than all but three other countries in the world. Obamacare adds to that spending by around 10 to 15 percent. Not good, to be sure, but not the whole kit and caboodle either.
The changes from Obamacare, good and bad, are marginal. It will not fundamentally change America….
But if you already believe something crazy — that Obamacare will destroy America — then it’s not additionally crazy to favor drastic, dangerous action to stop it.
Sarah Jones at Politicus USA: From Hostage Takers to Buffoons, House Republican Ineptitude Heads for Default.
Even a short term debt ceiling agreement is up in the air now. Not the actual debt ceiling limit, but a short term agreement. We can’t even do that now, if Robert Costa’s readings are accurate.
Costa tweeted, “One of my best House R sources thinks Boehner may, just may, be able to get votes for short-term DL ext, but even that is up in air” [….]
If you’re wondering how Republicans can be so out of it when the polls keep instructing them otherwise (as if the ONLY issue here is their own political survival, forget the people or this country), perhaps this level of utter cluelessness will be informative. When asked if the Republicans have their next move mapped out and if Boehner has any legislation drawn up regarding the debt ceiling, “Negatory,” Representative Pete Sessions replies. You see, it’s all about “messaging”. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”
So, their great positive attitude involves tanking the economy and shutting down the government because they lost an election. Huh. Also: Only in Republican world is holding a gun to the country’s head before being willing to “talk” an act of good faith.
Republicans don’t understand this president very well at all, but then, we tend to project our own values onto others so this is understandable. They never should have threatened the country. They could have threatened anything but the American people and the democratic process, and this President wouldn’t have felt compelled to take a stand.
It’s really getting to be a cliche to point out that reports of Republican behavior are for real and not from The Onion. But seriously, it’s hard to believe The Onion can keep finding ways to exaggerate these people’s insanity. Apparently there was “outrage” after this 2011 Onion story; but does it actually seem crazy two years later to claim that what the Republicans are trying to do is going to hurt–even kill–some children?
A few more comments on the hostage situation from various pundits:
Washington Post Editorial Board: The House GOP has nothing to show for its government shutdown.
WHAT HAVE House Republicans managed to accomplish in a week of government shutdown?
Damage the livelihood of millions of Americans? Check. Government secretaries, food-truck operators, cleaners who work in motels near national parks: They’re all hurting.
Waste billions of taxpayer dollars? Check. It costs a lot to shut agencies, Web sites and parks, and it will cost a lot to reopen them. Meanwhile, the House has voted to pay the salaries, eventually, of hundreds of thousands of employees whom it has ordered not to work. That’s an odd way to manage an enterprise.
Interfere with key government operations? Check. The National Transportation Safety Boardcan’t investigate an accident last weekend on Metro’s Red Line that claimed the life of a worker. That could make future accidents more likely. On the other side of the world, U.S. allies from Tokyo to Singapore are wondering whether they can rely on a nation whose president has to go AWOL from a key summit meeting in their region.
Rattle the markets, slow an economy in recovery, interrupt potentially lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health? Check, check and check.
Derail the hated Obamacare? Ch . . . — oh, no, wait a minute.
Because it’s not really about “Obamacare.” It’s about making government itself completely dysfunctional. I keep thinking about Dakinikat’s post yesterday and the pieces she quoted by Jonathan Chait and The Economist. Have we really reached the point where the gridlock in DC is so bad that our form of government is in danger of collapse? And what can we do about it? In order to change our system of divided government, we would need to call a Constitutional Convention. Even if we could get to that point in this atmosphere, the final result could be a lot worse than what we have now. I really believe the only way to save our form of government is to somehow throw all the Tea Party Republicans out of it. Is that possible?
Alex Altman at Time: Boehner Holds Weaker Cards In High-Stakes Political Poker
President Barack Obama says he will not pay House Republicans a ransom in exchange for re-opening the government or raising the debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner insists he doesn’t have the votes to do either without any White House concessions.
Both men are bluffing. And while Obama’s play is a risky one, Boehner’s bluff is worse: it just doesn’t look very credible.
In a Sunday interview with ABC News, Boehner said the U.S. faced the specter of its first ever federal default if Obama didn’t cave to GOP demands. “There are not the votes in the House,” Boehner declared, to pass a so-called “clean” bill to reopen the government. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit,” he added. “And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”
These kinds of threats have worked for Boehner before,
But this is now a less credible threat. A few days before Boehner went on TV to talk tough about the threat of default, he was reportedly confiding to fellow Republicans that he would never allow it. Failure to hike the debt limit would unleash a chain of economic calamities, if not the first ever federal default. Boehner doesn’t want that to be his political epitaph.
To be sure, there are plenty of House Republicans who are willing, if not eager, to hold the line. But if the votes aren’t there for clean bills, that’s only because Boehner hasn’t allowed them to come forward. As Speaker, he and his leadership team control the floor. A clean bill to reopen the government, and a companion measure to lift the debt limit, would draw unanimous or near-unanimous support from the chamber’s 200 Democrats; all but five are on record supporting such a vote. Nearly two-dozen Republicans are also publicly on board. Some say the number is far higher. If Boehner let a clean funding bill hit the House floor, “it would probably get 300 votes,” New York Representative Peter King, a Republican who has been critical of the party’s shutdown strategy, told TIME last week.
Jamelle Bouie at The Daily Beast: Five Boehner Quotes—From One Interview—That Explain Everything.
To watch John Boehner speak Sunday—in a segment with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos—was to watch him issue talking points from another dimension, where legislative hostage-taking is routine and the American public is eager to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States. The interview was rife with dishonesty, but there were five statements—in particular—that stood out for their recklessness and/or brazen disregard for the truth.
I won’t excerpt any more from this one. You need to go read the whole thing–it’s not long.
In my opinion, it’s an open question whether the insanity of the Tea Party can be beaten. Certainly, our democratic Republic cannot survive much more of this. The best solution would be for the Democrats to really hold their ground this time and for President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment and abolish the debt ceiling unilaterally. But do the Democrats and Obama have the guts to do it? We’ll just have to wait and see.