Thursday, April 28, 2011

Really Rand, is that the line you want to take?

Rand Paul, questions whether Donald Trump is Republican enough to head their ticket. This would be the same Rand Paul whose father has changed party affiliations twice and who once ran as a Libertarian against the Republican nominee for president and who is competing with Trump to be the Republican nominee next year.
"I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned," Mr. Paul said. "I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration."


"I’m going to believe it when I see his embossed seal to his Republican registration," said Mr. Paul, a rising figure in the Republican Party who is visiting New Hampshire this week during the Congressional recess. He spoke with a smile, but his words marked one of the first times that a leading Republican has challenged Mr. Trump’s ties to the party.

Jeff Zeleny, the author of the NYT article, completely missed the irony.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time for a guest post

Clever Wife has something to share.
Because he loves me (and possibly because he has a warped sense of humor) my hubs has agreed to post my latest creation. So don't blame him, okay?

Sung to the tune of "Streets of Laredo." Apologies to folk singers everywhere, but most especially to Allan Sherman* and the Smothers Brothers**.

It goes like this:***

The Hobo Song

As I was out looking for someone to hire me,
not having much luck, feeling kind of bereft,
I spied a young hobo that I used to work with
before we became the "Professional Left."

I see by your outfit that you are a hobo.
I see by your outfit that you're a hobo too.
We see by our outfits that we are both hobos.
If you lose your job you can be a hobo tooooooooooooooo.

That's it. Giggle.***

* This.
** That.
*** This, too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

History was not his best subject

Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia was elected to Congress last year with support from local Tea Party groups, the Club for Growth, and disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Like most Tea Partiers, Graves is a bit history challenged. Yesterday, while being interviewed by Contessa Brewer, he said this:
BREWER: They've had the lowest tax rates under the Bush-era tax cuts in years. How come we haven't seen massive job growth?

GRAVES: Well, what we've seen is massive job loss that began in about 2008, and I believe that was under Barack Obama.

BREWER: One. 2001.

GRAVES: No, not two — the job losses began in late two thousand and —

BREWER: Yes, sir. The numbers support what I'm saying.

Graves believes Obama was president in 2008. Most people with properly functioning memories or an elementary school knowledge of history or civics will know that George W. Bush was president in 2008. However, he is correct in saying there were massive job losses that year. As to when the job losses began, they're actually both right--in their ways. Bush presided over two recessions, one at each end of his presidency. Bush began his presidency with massive job losses and ended his presidency with even more massive job losses. In between, the Bush "recovery" didn't produce enough jobs to keep up with growth in the population. Let's look at some numbers.

Just so our conservative friends don't cry foul, let me lay out a few conservative assumptions. I'll crunch my numbers according to their rules. First, only private sector jobs count. Government jobs are not real jobs. Those pay checks brought home by soldiers, sailors, teachers, politicians, and civil servants aren't real pay checks. And government employees can't lose their jobs, because they never had "real" jobs to start with. Second, presidents are responsible for every jot and tittle of the economy from the day they take office. If Obama can't blame Bush for the recession at the beginning of his presidency, Bush can't blame Clinton for the recession at the beginning of his presidency. That's only fair. Because presidential terms begin in Late January, I'll give January 2001 to Clinton and January 2009 to Bush.

After Bush became president, the private sector lost jobs for sixteen straight months (Feb. '01 to May '02), a total of 2.82 million jobs, one of which was mine. Over the next fourteen months (June '02 to July '03), only three months showed private sector job gains and the rest showed losses, a net loss of another 583 thousand. That's a total of 3.403 million jobs lost in his first two and a half years in office. Following that catastrophic beginning, the private sector gained jobs for forty-eight consecutive months, had one bad month (Aug. '07), and five more good months, for a total of 7.379 million new jobs. The economy lost jobs for the remaining twelve months of the Bush presidency (4.629 million)--once again, my job was among them--finishing up his presidency 653 thousand in the red.

At some point in June '05, the economy had replaced the 3.403 million private sector jobs lost during Bush's first two and a half years. However, by then 5.537 new workers had entered the labor force. Some of those people got jobs that don't count with the government, but most of them were hoping, but unable, to enter the private sector. During the rest of the Bush recovery, the private sector put on 3.976 new jobs. During that time, the labor force grew by another 4.822 million. During the last year of the Bush presidency, while the economy hemorrhaged 4.629 million private sector jobs, the labor force grew by 561 thousand. The final count is that the Bush years lost over a half million private sector jobs, while the labor force grew by over ten million.

That sounds like massive job losses to me. These losses and failure to keep up with population growth happened while the Bush tax cuts were being made and were in effect. It's Republican and conservative dogma that putting more wealth into the hands of the already wealthy--in the form of tax cuts--will result in them investing in ways that will benefit all Americans. The rich will create jobs and the benefits of making them richer will trickle down onto all of us.

Since Rep. Graves wanted to talk about job losses under Obama, let's talk about them. The single worst month for private sector job losses (841 thousand) was January 2009, the last month that Bush was in charge. As soon as Obama took over, the losses slowed. There were still huge losses, but they got smaller and smaller until March 2010 when the private sector created more jobs than it shed. One million eight-hundred thousand new jobs have been created since then. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force actually decreased during Obama's first two years in office, by 180 thousand. Almost nine million private sector jobs were lost during 2008-09.

Total employment is far below what it was when Clinton turned his record budget surplus over to Bush. The labor pool has increased by almost ten million in that time. Even with big tax cuts and loopholes for the rich and for large corporations, the private sector hasn't been able to absorb all of these people who are able and want to work. The public sector had absorbed some of those people, but Republican majorities in state houses and the House of Representatives are trying to lay off as many of those people as possible. Of course, according to the conservative assumptions I laid out above, none of those people had "real" jobs to start with and the the it's Obama's fault they aren't bringing home paychecks any more. Those same conservatives tell us that the only reason those millions aren't bringing home pay checks is that they're all lazy, drug-addicted hobos. But that's a topic for another post.

Sources for figures:
Private sector job creation and losses.
Total civilian labor force.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tennessee rep. lies about Einstein

Tennessee is one of the dozen or so states where Republican legislatures have proposed bills this year to force creationism into public school science curricula. Some of these bills have already failed while others are on their way to almost certainly pass. Tennessee is one of the latter.

The Tennessee bill, which also takes aim at climate change, is of the "teach the controversy" variety. The bill passed their House last week in a three to one vote. During the debate, Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains), made the ridiculous argument that Einstein would have supported teaching creationism.
I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, and that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

This would Albert Einstein, the Jewish agnostic who frequently stated that he did not believe in a personal God, one of the prime tenets of Christianity. The quote that Nicely attributes to Einstein is, in fact, a paraphrase of something Francis Bacon wrote in the sixteenth century: "a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion." You will note that even Bacon, who was a Christian, didn't specify Christianity as the place that knowledge would lead one, only religion in general. I haven't been able to find out where Nicely picked up the idea that Einstein ever said such a thing. If anyone does know, I'd love to hear from you.

Nicely's confusion is, by itself, entertaining. It's something better informed people can laugh and point at. However, the far more important point in mentioning Nicely's statement is that he makes clear the real motive for pushing this "teach the controversy" bill. Nicely says "knowledge [will] turn your head toward Christianity." The bill has nothing to do with giving kids a better knowledge of science so that they might be more competitive in the job market, so that might produce advances that would benefit America and the world. For Nicely, that purpose of the bill is to turn kids toward Christianity. He wants to use the taxpayers' money and government institutions, in the form of public schools, for the purely sectarian religious purpose of converting kids to his religion. Nothing could be more unconstitutional than that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Christian nation

When conservatives tell us that the US was founded on Biblical principals, this is the part of the Bible that they have in mind:
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

An open letter to Rachel Maddow

"I'm not a hippie but..."

In the early days of your show, you used that phrase enough times for me to see a pattern of derision and be disappointed. Then, it seemed like you stopped using it. I though maybe someone had gotten to you, but, Tuesday night, there it was again.

What is about hippies that you find so contemptible? Is it that we protested against segregation and an unjust war in the sixties? Is it that we protested for environmental protections and gay rights in the seventies? Is it that we tried to create a more diverse culture where different lifestyles were freed from a pervasive pressure to conform? Is idealism something to be despised? Is it that we grew older and had to pay attention to things like raising the next generation and providing for our old age? Do you just generally find everyone over fifty laughable or is it because we failed to realize some of our ideals and, like most Americans, you have no pity for failure?

Almost without exception, you avoid using the names of groups as terms of praise or derision on your show. You don't say "that's so gay" for something you disapprove of or "that's very white of you" for something you do approve of. Even though you disagree with most conservatives and Republicans, you try to be respectful and gracious when they appear on your show. So, I'll ask you again, what is it about this one group that you dislike so much that you use their very name ias a synonym for ridiculous?

What did we ever do to you?