Category Archives: Politics (Outside Austin)

More teabagging

An IM conversation with my gracious host, just a moment ago:
[12:33] (gracious host): After a lifetime of working, paying taxes and raising three children on her own, Wilder is struggling. She said she retired on disability from M&T Bank three years ago after undergoing knee replacement and back surgeries. She lives on her Social Security and disability benefits. Last year, she petitioned the bankruptcy court for protection from creditors. She said she did not have to pay federal income taxes last year because her income was too low. “I don’t want to see this country turn into a welfare, nanny state, where we stand in line for groceries, and we’re in welfare lines, and in socialized medicine lines,” Wilder said.
[12:33] (gracious host): http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/antitax_tea_party_could_draw_c.html
[12:33] mdahmus: fuh guh buh
[12:35] (gracious host): with appologies to the Princess Bride…. socialism… You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
[12:35] mdahmus: my favorite comment so far: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/antitax_tea_party_could_draw_c.html#3333987

Oh Snap, Mankiw

Newsweek has a decent story with which I only partly agree, but the best parts are bits like this one:

Let’s say you’re a tenured professor of economics at Harvard. You have—and have earned—a great deal of stability and security. Your job is guaranteed, at pretty much the same salary, until retirement. Your employer, which has been around for more than 350 years, isn’t going anywhere.

[...]

If you believe the typical American worker would respond to tax cuts the way a typical tenured Harvard economist would, then it makes all the sense in the world to focus on tax cuts to the exclusion of other types of stimulus. But if you believe the typical American worker might respond to tax cuts the way, say, a typical Cambridge-area worker would, you might be less sure.

I’ve always been skeptical of economists with tenure telling me how I should think about globalization, for instance. Of course, Dr. Mankiw turned off comments at his blog some time ago, so he’ll never get any feedback with which he’s uncomfortable – one more way in which he’s more like those he served at the Bush administration than he would like you to believe.

How you can tell Karl Rove won

In all this talk about the bailout, how many times have you heard anybody serious in political circles say that we ought to be paying the bill for this with a tax hike on high incomes? Zero? Less than zero? Wouldn’t a conversation about making sure those who benefitted the most from the runup and will benefit most from the bailout pay most of the bill happen in any adult country?
The guys who made all the money, then crashed the financial system, and will be getting bailed out are, actually, apparently set to get a tax break with the AMT and capital gains tax changes being proposed. That’s just seriously regressive no matter how you slice it – we’re apparently either going to pay for this via inflation or via general tax hikes on everybody.
My former cow-orker and I still trade predictions every week or two on whether we’ll be seeing deflation or inflation as a result of all this, but now the rest of you get to share in my brilliance. I’m probably the last crackplogger in America to talk about the financial collapse. Yay!

Republicans Still Heart Hugo

A local radical ‘winger has gotten on board my McCain/Chavez ticket suggestion, although like most of them, he doesn’t understand it yet. Who’s going to tell Palin the bad news?
Meanwhile, my favorite car site covered the issue and I have hope again for the world, after some relatively right-wing guys came up with comments like:

I’m not a particularly smart guy, but what is the value of exploiting a LOCAL resource when the price is going nowhere but up? If “we” have oil under our territory, and “they” have oil under theirs, shouldn’t we BUY THEIRS now while it is still relatively cheap?
Think ahead 25 or 50 years. If all of “theirs” is gone, but we still have “ours” in the ground, won’t we be WAY better off?
If I were a leader, or somebody who has oil under their feet, I’d hold mine and buy theirs, because mine will be worth orders of magnitude MORE when theirs is gone.
Or am I just a far too strategic thinker for the average American?

and

This idea the US can drill itself into control of the price of oil makes the Saudi’s, the Canadian’s and Hugo Chavez laugh.
The USA simply does not have enough oil to meaningfully influence the price from a supply point of view.
This will be remain true at any price of the stuff.
Honestly, you’ll do a hell of a lot better on the demand side.
But I guess nostalgia is an even more powerful force than the laws of the nature when it comes to politics.

Some of them get it, at least.

An airline that needs to die, as soon as possible

Makes me angry just reading this. If our country had a saner transportation mix, airlines could focus on the stuff they’re objectively better at (long-haul or overseas flights) instead of trying to keep alive this retarded hub/spoke model for domestic flights. Would only have helped this situation indirectly, but still – this kind of thing is precisely why I’m flying Southwest on Monday to Nashville and driving 2 hours to Huntsville instead of flying a 2-leg on one of the legacies (which would save 30-60 minutes).
And, by the way, If we didn’t have incredibly stupid landing charges at most US airports that charge by the weight of the plane rather than by the time the plane ties up the runway and/or traffic control, we’d have already killed off most of these stupid legacy nightmares. It’s time to make this change now – which would restore a rational air traffic model more like what you see in Europe and Japan (hubs for international travel, not domestic). If it kills United dead as a side-effect, that’s just an added bonus, isn’t it?

Republicans Heart Hugo

So follow me on this one:

  1. Self-identified Republicans like to claim to have a far superior understanding of economics than those they call Democrats.
  2. Same batch of folks are now calling for off-shore drilling on the theory that it would have a non-trivial impact on US oil prices.
  3. We know, of course, that oil is fungible, so the impact of any production here is spread across the entire world market for oil, not just the US market.
  4. Those self-identified Republicans must know that too, because of the superior understanding of economics mentioned in #1.
  5. Shirley those Republicans aren’t putting forward all this fuss over a pennies-sized drop in the world price of oil which is what would happen if we drilled the hell out of ourselves (including not only offshore but ANWR as well).
  6. Therefore, those Republicans must have some other means in mind by which US prices will fall more than the prices paid by the rest of the world’s oil consumers.
  7. There’s only one way I can think of, though: forcing oil companies to sell us “our oil” at a discount (compared to the world price, which would only drop a little bit with the amount of production we can bring to bear). In other words, separating the US price from the world price – like our friends in Saudi Arabia do.
  8. What’s another word for that? Nationalization. Or socialization, if you prefer. Either one will do.

I wonder if we know anybody who’s an expert at that kind of thing. Perhaps even in our own hemisphere?
hey, how you doin'?
I think we found McCain’s running-mate. If you’re tired of paying too much to fill up your SUV, it’s time to push your party leaders towards the McCain/Chavez ticket in ’08. THIS IDEA NOT FOR STEALING.

What really happened

Think the media was just helpless – that they did their job the best they could? Think that everybody believed Saddam had WMD?
You’re wrong.
One media outlet did their homework. Don’t let the apologists tell you nobody knew better.
Even a few of our senators exercised their constitutional responsibilities at the time. Like my old governor, then senator, Bob Graham, who, despite being weird, was consistently right on this issue from day one – and the media never has any time for him on it. Like Barack Obama, who was right from day one, and right for the right reasons (not like the Kucinich idiots who wouldn’t have even attacked Afghanistan).
It was possible to avoid this stain on our national honor. Some (Clinton, McCain) should not be allowed to get away with abrogating their responsibilities back when it could have made some difference.

Real Americans should read this and call for impeachment

Of course, those of us who were educated enough knew this all along but many right-wingers who knew better still played along because he was on Their Team.
To me, the unforgiveable sin for a president is lying us into an unnecessary war. That’s why I hope someday Bush gets to sit around the campfire and smoke the proverbial turd in hell with LBJ. That’s also, by the way, why I couldn’t vote for Hillary over Obama no matter how much more qualified she supposedly is. She voted for this war; and either was too dumb to know it was based on lies or knew so, and voted for it anyways, prioritizing her own political fortunes over the lives of our servicemen (at the time, people thought they had to go along due to Bush’s popularity, hard as it is to believe now).
Meanwhile, the guys who actually supplied almost all the manpower, financial, and ideological support for the actual al Qaeda attack on us have gotten off scot-free. Not only that; they’re getting obscenely rich off $110 oil, plowing that money right back into funding the same extremist Islamist crap that managed to build up al Qaeda in the first place.
Good work, Republicans. It’s going to take a lot to get me to ever consider voting for you again (yes, readers, I have punched my share of “R” circles in the past). I can take an awful lot of stupid socialist-inspired economic policy if it means we don’t spend trillions blowing our kids up for nothing.