Posts tagged ‘Ryan’

Friday’s Things

You could start your morning with one of the best summaries of the collapse of the Republican Party and Paul Ryan with Will Wilkerson’s NYT article. His description of how establishment politics, and Ryan’s economic politics in general, were totally ineffectual for the heartland, and that led to the rise of Trump.

Mr. Trump spotted opportunity in the injured dignity of the Republican base and the feckless irrelevance of the establishment’s agenda. He told Republicans shaken by the reality and risk of downward mobility that they were the only Americans who counted, and that they had been cheated and betrayed.

He promised never to cut their Social Security or Medicare, and expressed admiration for single-payer health care. He took their side against immigrant rapists, murderous jihadis, plundering trade deals, dangerous city people and disloyal, condescending elites of all parties and persuasions. He promised to use his billionaire superpowers to rig the economy to their advantage. It didn’t matter that he is a transparently corrupt, bigoted, sexually abusive, compulsive liar. He offered the dignity of recognition, promised to fight, and won.

Or you could flick over to Paul Krugman, who described the reality of who and what Paul Ryan represented (flimflam man) and how we got there, as with so many disasters we have encountered in recent times, false equivalency:

Even now, in this age of Trump, there are a substantial number of opinion leaders — especially, but not only, in the news media — whose careers, whose professional brands, rest on the notion that they stand above the political fray. For such people, asserting that both sides have a point, that there are serious, honest people on both left and right, practically defines their identity.

…And let me say that the same bothsidesism that turned Ryan into a fiscal hero played a crucial role in the election of Donald Trump. How did the most corrupt presidential candidate in American history eke out an Electoral College victory? There were many factors, any one of which could have turned the tide in a close election. But it wouldn’t have been close if much of the news media hadn’t engaged in an orgy of false equivalence.

Or you could read about Jim Comey’s new book about what a lying sack of sh*t President DFF is, but we already knew that especially from his comeback, “untruthful slime ball.” Or you could look at his attack and new panel to investigate the Post Office. Or you could ponder Syria the the non-attack to teach them a lesson. Or you could ponder our new foray into the TPP when the reality of a trade war dawns on President DFF. Or you could read about the investigation of Cohen’s office and what and where the investigation might go. Timothy Egan has a great fun piece on the wasted money our taxes are paying for under the drain the swampy DFF’s administration. Roger Cohen gives another great piece about the parallels of Hitler and President DFF (I wrote the other day of Madeleine Albright’s article on the same topic).

But in all this noise and cacophony, what is getting done? Where is the great discussion about the real problems that face us and rational approaches to our future? It is all getting lost in the chaos of Trump and the nation has slid to a stop. That is the real damage as we wait on the debate for the way forward. Take Syria. So we strike, after that what? Withdraw? What is the end game and what is the strategy? Take economic inequality. How do we create better jobs and more equitably share the profits so we all prosper? Bring back coal jobs that aren’t coming back? Take the TPP, again what is our strategy? The TPP did many fine things, but also lowered environmental standards and made economic inequality grow. Think President DFF has a plan? Think he cares about those things? Take global warming. Oh, why do I bother.

We are now living in a global economy and there is no going back. Our problems are large and looming and we are lost in the chaos of the china broken in the china shop by the bull called Trump. Republicans are in disarray because their ideology has failed and the guy who promised win-lose and white nationalism is just making things worse. Democrats under Hillary (the establishment), while better, did not really face the problems we have realistically with the same old patches to a failing economic system (if you live in fly over country). Move to the coast and code was not realistic. So where is out discussion of the way forward?

No we are chasing smoke and mirrors right now thrown up by the chaos that is President DFF and his defenders, but sooner or later, we really do have to face our problems like burgeoning debt. Oh, dare I say it, we need smart programs and pay for them. No more party of free rides from flow down. Where is the discussion of that? I have offered my vision, but we have to transition and that begins when we actually debate these things with real facts and data, not ideological objections. That is what we are missing and as much as I enjoy watching the noose tighten around President DFF and the Republican’s necks, just putting Democrats back in power, while reinstating the rule of law, does not answer the big questions that we need to debate. Until then I will be waiting.

*Just a note. I will not be waiting. I will be discussing them here and all three readers can get a glimpse of what we must face. There is a new book out there that I think is an important read if you want to get ahead of me, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism by Robert Kuttner. Really the question is how do we change capitalism so democracy can survive and flourish not just for a few, but for all of us.

Friday Morning (WTF?)

Well, what a mess. I mean really.  The Brits were supposed to have a “snap” election to clarify things and instead there is total confusion about the country’s direction.  Here at home we have a village idiot where it is now common for respected journalists and public figures to commonly call him a liar.  So the British Empire and one of its former colonies is running amok, and France and one of their former colonies, Canada, seem to have young vivacious leaders who have a vision of the future.  WTF.

Our Republican Congress is patting themselves on the back because they passed a bill to repeal most of the protections put in place to try to restore Dodd-Frank after the great financial debacle in 2007 when we thought the banks would not over extend themselves in the hunt for profits.  Like it won’t happen again?  And since corporate profits are higher than ever, where is the need for this?  I kind of look at this as part and parcel of putting a village idiot in charge of the country.  We just de-regulate everything and business will take care of all of us, like they always have.  Again, WTF.

Meanwhile the VIIC (Village Idiot in Charge) really got slammed in the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday and he responds with accusations of lies, fake news, and vindication.  Boy do we live in two different realities.  Just for a reality check image, if this was Hillary doing this, would the Republicans be claiming that she is just inexperienced to the ways of Washington and did not really mean, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest.”  This is laughable.  Paul Ryan is telling us that the VIIC just doesn’t understand the ways of Washington, “He is just new at this,” which might work on the unwashed (his base), but for the rest of us, what he is talking about is ethics and morality.  And no, he does not understand ethics and morality.  If that quote by Paul Ryan was not a WTF moment, there simply aren’t any.

So what to expect after the big day?  Well, the quiet before the storm.  First, I can’t wait for the morning White House briefing to see how they reinvent reality.  Of course they may not turn on the cameras and if that is not a WTF moment about what is happening to our country, there aren’t any.  My guess here is that the VIIC and his minions will claim vindication, that there is no connection between the VIIC and the Russia investigations, and then we are sitting on a smoldering volcano.  That volcano is all the people with security clearances that know what is going on, and know we can’t keep pushing this under the rug and let the VIIC lie his way to giving away the country.  See Reality Winner.

That raises a whole host of WTF questions.  We knew probably back in 2015 that we were being hacked, and by 2016 we knew it was a full blown attack, and we said nothing?  Sorry it’s secret.  We can’t know we are under attack because it might reveal sources?  It raises the question which is worse, the disease or the cure.  So we find out in drips and drabs from leaks or being told by our allies who are concerned about the number of contacts of Trumps people with the Russians*.  We can’t know if there was real collusion because there is an ongoing investigation, while the perpetrators destroy the country?  WTF.  We can’t even know when we will know.  Again, WTF.  Thank god for the leakers.

So we have a President who has attempted to obstruct justice (Ignore Alan Dershowitz.  Like John McCain he is well past his prime).  You know it is nonsense when you Goggle it and all you get are right wing propaganda organizations (Brietbart etc.)), some very obvious collusion, and to nail the VIIC all you have to do is quote his sons or follow the money.  Hopefully that is what special counsel Robert Mueller is doing.  But you have to wonder what the Republicans are thinking (Republicans/thinking, is that an oxymoron?).

The case is getting bigger and bigger and if Mueller does his job sooner or later the truth will out.  And if he does not, there will be a revolt in government to get the truth out.  We may already be seeing the signs of a real crisis in government as those tasked to carry it out no longer trust either their leaders or the VIIC.  So how do they backtrack after all the cover they are providing the VIIC?  Are they so enthralled with their ideological agenda that they don’t care in the short term?  Watching them equivocate about the VIICs behavior is watching fat old white men (usually with a southern accent, but not always) is just another WTF moment except of course for the unwashed who suck in every word as the obvious truth.

And that leaves me with my last WTF thought:  Where the fuck are the Democrats?  Thomas Edsal delivers a devastating analysis of the state of the Party.  Now you can do one of two things with this analysis.  The first is what Democrats have always done and has, in my opinion, destroyed the Party (See Bill Clinton and the Democrats turn to conservative politics) and that is chase the numbers.  By that I mean, well if whites are afraid of immigration maybe we ought to pander to that, you know, be Republican lite.

The other option is to recognize it is a new world out there, understand the message of the young disaffected voter, and turn progressive.  Stand for something in a direction that actually moves the country instead of looking backwards.  Do the hard thing, the right thing and stand for something. So far I have seen or felt nothing.  Clearly we have to get the Clintons off the stage if we want to move forward. She may have been wronged, but moving forward is not opening old wounds.  So all in all we are living in amazing WTF times.  Let’s just hope this is not the new normal and to be WTF, they get even more extreme.

*Ex-Director Comey said in his testimony that these reports of multiple contacts was mostly false.  Nobody knows what he means by that and the NYT wrote a nice rebuttal.  One of the points they raised is that the FBI has a much tighter definition of a Soviet spy than other organizations, meaning they may discount meetings with bank and financial people that are really puppets of the Kremlin.   This is where Comey is his own worst enemy.  He is parsing definitions and loses the big picture, just as he did with the October surprise.

Chaos and Incompetence

Putting lipstick on the pig won’t help and I believe the media has finally figured out these are not normal times.  On display for over 77 minutes was an arrogant, ignorant, and classless man who spouted self-centered nonsense.  “I inherited a mess”.  Actually only one of your own making, and comparing it to what Obama inherited in 2009 this looks like a tea party.  “The leaks are true and the news is fake.” Simply makes no sense.  If the leaks are true then so is news about them.  “This administration is running like a fine tuned machine.”  Really?  Chaos from the get go on the travel ban, ICE becoming the Gestapo of America, your National Security Advisor lying to the FBI and being fired, your campaign being investigated for Russian ties, and your new choice for National Security Advisor saying no thank you?

He attacked reporters asking hard questions that needed to be answered, lied about a meeting with Representative Elijah Cummings, called the minority leader in the Senate a light weight, and asked a black reporter if she could schedule a meeting with the Black Caucus, you know, all black people know each other, and generally made a fool of himself with a version of reality that could best be described as fantasy land.  Oh, and he can’t get things done because he can’t get the nitwits and absolute jokes he nominated for Cabinet positions confirmed because the Democrats want to expose their incompetence.  Had he nominate competent reliable Republicans instead of this horror show, he would probably have a Cabinet by now.

So we are getting what Red States and Middle America wanted with a “business man” running the country and you have just tasted a slice so far.  Oh, and on that cutting regulations thing, he is removing regulations that kept coal companies from polluting rivers and streams and is allowing those deemed mentally handicapped by the Social Security administration access to guns.  Oh how business will thrive!  Ignorance is bliss as they say, and I wonder if the rubes that voted for Cheeto-Head are still in bliss.  I wonder how long until they actually recognize their mistake.  The most amazing thing is the blame game.  Obama and the Democrats are the problem!  Except they are long gone and have no power.  No you have to face reality and you cannot make up alternate facts because you are now in charge and the world doesn’t actually work on alternate facts.  Enjoy your choice.

Meanwhile in House Republican Land, there was Paul Ryan giving the world the Econ 101 lecture on how if health insurance were just let loose to operate in the free market, costs would go down and the market place would solve all problems.  It is laughable.  There is no such thing as a free market, Americans don’t make choices on medical care costs on a rational basis, and studies have shown that when people have to pay more for their care (high deductibles), they under treat themselves, and when they really get sick, the costs soar.  The market place does not work for older people who are all pre-existing conditions.  But Red America, keep buying this pabulum. Soon the only healthy people will be the rich ones which is what the Republicans want anyway.  The Darwin effect will cancel out all the rubes.

Meanwhile in Red America the rubes loved it and are shouting, “More snake oil! Yeah, You the man!”  Well just another week in Republican controlled America where things are running like a fine tuned machine.

Saturday Morning

And all is good.  The Donald has fallen in line, read his teleprompter, and endorsed McCain, Ryan, and Ayotte.  Really, for how long?  Do we not think they are all seething?  He has caused so much rancor, my guess is that payback will be sweet.  But they are all falling in line for Party unity except, they are running as far away from him as they can.  There might be a moral question in that.  Oh, and what happens if he becomes President and there is no one then to control him?

Better yet, and working people are you paying attention, he appointed his economic team advisors:

The 13-member team — all men — includes several billionaire bankers and investment managers, and even a part-time professional poker player. Many have been in business with Mr. Trump before.

Note, not one economist.  All white guys, all cronies, and all experts on the game of microeconomics (how to make themselves rich at the expense of others) and clueless on macroeconomics (how to make the nation profitable for everyone, and no they are not the same unless you believe in flow down).  It should scare the snot out of you.  This is who the Republican Party has benefited for years and now they are going to make the world safe for the middle class?  Are you on drugs?

My take on all this, we are waiting for the Donald to go rogue again and it is only a matter of time. Speaking of the economy and our slow growth, Neil Irwin, economist wrote about this phenomenon and I will cut and paste to give you the short version:

This slow growth is not some new phenomenon, but rather the way it has been for 15 years and counting. In the United States, per-person gross domestic product rose by an average of 2.2 percent a year from 1947 through 2000 — but starting in 2001 has averaged only 0.9 percent. The economies of Western Europe and Japan have done worse than that.

It increasingly looks as if something fundamental is broken in the global growth machine — and that the usual menu of policies, like interest rate cuts and modest fiscal stimulus, aren’t up to the task of fixing it (though some well-devised policies could help).

…Larry Summers, the Harvard economist and a former top official in the Obama and Clinton administrations, watched as growth stayed low and inflation invisible after the 2008 crisis, despite extraordinary stimulus from central banks. Even before the crisis, economic growth had been relatively tepid despite a housing bubble, war spending and low interest rates.

In November 2013, he combined those observations into a much-discussed speech at an I.M.F. conference arguing that the global economy had, just maybe, settled into a state of “secular stagnation” in which there was insufficient demand, and resulting slow growth, low inflation and low interest rates.

…But it may not be as simple as supply versus demand. Perhaps people have dropped out of the labor force because their skills and connections have atrophied. Perhaps the productivity slump is caused in part by businesses not making capital investments because they don’t think there will be demand for their products.

Mr. Summers, in an interview, frames it as an inversion of “Say’s Law,” the notion that supply creates its own demand: that economywide, people doing the work to create goods and services results in their having the income to then buy those goods and services.

In this case, rather, as he has often put it: “Lack of demand creates lack of supply.”

His proposed solution is that the government sharply expand investment in infrastructure, which might provide a jolt of higher demand, which in turn could help the picture on supply — helping workers who build roads and bridges become reattached to the work force, for example. 

Or said very simply, which economists have a hard time doing, economic inequality, you know that thing Bernie was raving about in the primaries, is putting all the money at the top where it sits because all the people at the bottom don’t have enough to create demand so they will invest it.  It really is that simple.  You can’t continue to create incentives for investment if their is no demand for what they build.  You think pathological liar and narcissist Donald Trump and his gang of business cronies get this?  Just another day in the asylum.

UPDATE:  Remember Thomas Piety (Capital), the French Economist whose data shows that that is where the world always heads, slow growth and depressed middle class, pheasants, and finally revolution?  That is what is going on here.  As money migrates to the few, growth tanks because fewer and fewer are spending.  Demand crumbles as investment dollars have no where to go.  And here is the really connect the dots moment, that is where our conservative ideas about wealth accumulation and “job creators” is taking us.  Certainly economic inequality has many causes, including global markets, robots in the workplace, and others, but we are not really looking at solving that problem.  While Republicans say the words economic inequality, they have never faced up to the reality that their whole economic theology is based upon making it worse as the rich get richer.  They still believe is supply side economics in a world where demand (buying power of the masses) is shrinking.

More on Our Alternate Reality

Vice President Joe Bidden has been excoriated for his remarks about how some of our allies have aided and abetted ISIS. He was forced to personally apologize for his comments to each of the countries, except his comments were right on the mark. We are creating an alternate reality in order to bring in “allies” in the war on ISIS which doesn’t allow us to point out who is the real problem. How is this going to help?

Turkey was one of those countries and has much to answer for (buying ISIS oil to fund them and allowing their recruits to travel through Turkey) and now ISIS is knocking on their door and still Turkey does nothing. We hear arguments about boots on the ground, but those boots are going to have to be Muslim boots and so far they do very little, living in their world of denial about the evil they are facilitating. If they won’t play, why should we save them? Oh, and then there is that little problem of us supporting nations that do in fact implement Sharia law (Saudi Arabia).

On the environmental front, Chris Hayes has been looking into coal country and he always finishes each of these shows with a coal proponent. Here is the first thing that let’s you know they are in La La land, they deny global warming. So why listen to anything else they say since they have conveniently reordered reality so that burning of coal is not a problem. What else have they reordered? Once you have detected that they are lying to themselves to maintain their beliefs, you know they are lying to you.

On the economic front, Kansas is such a giant realtime example of Republican economics in action and yet most Republicans ignore it. Worse, Paul Ryan wants to deny the lesson with dynamic scoring of budget proposals. Let me explain. Governor Brownback believes in flowdown. Just cut taxes and businesses will flow to Kansas, jobs will be created, and the tax revenue will rise, except it didn’t. This was what Bush I called Voodoo economics when he ran against Ronald Reagan. And Reagan won, did it, and then had to raise taxes because it didn’t work. It has never worked.

So Governor Brownback, a true believer as is most Republicans, instituted massive tax cuts in Kansas and the state is deep in debt and even Fox News Republicans see their school systems falling apart. Oh, and there are no jobs. This is the supply side follies. If businesses are encouraged to expand, then people will buy their products. But the problem is demand and businesses are not going to expand when no one has enough disposable income to buy their stuff. People need jobs and income first, then comes the expansion, but Republicans refuse to believe that, even though Kansas is now the poster boy for failed Republican ideas.

But then along comes Paul Ryan to say let’s let the Congressional Budget Office do dynamic scoring of budget proposals. Dynamic scoring means that tax cuts would be scored as revenue generating actions that have never worked anywhere. We will just build more fantasy into our proposals so we can sell them, and when they don’t work, we can blame Obama (as Brownback is doing in Kansas). Yes, as we elect more and more Republicans, our belief in an alternate reality grows while the real reality eats us alive. George Orwell and double speak has nothing on us.

Then there is that candidate for Congress in Arkansas that sees a connection between the opium growers and the drug cartels in Mexico (no evidence anywhere of such a connection), and our failure to wall up our borders will have ISIS on the doorstep of Arkansas in no time. No, I am not making this up. I would love to say the people of Arkansas will reject this fruit loop, but then how do you explain Louie Gomert?

The only thing more crazy that these ideas in the face of everything we know is that the majority of people buy into this nonsense. And when things fall apart around them, there is not a mirror to be found so we can focus on the problem.

The Weekend’s Notable Stories

As I perused my copy of the IPad version of the NYT and some blogs, I came across a couple of things that warranted commenting on here. Note that I saw where Fareed Zakaraia was suspended for plagiarizing in his blog. I try to cite sources here, but everything is plagiarized just to be clear. I don’t think I have had an originate thought in years, which ought to really scare you because I am way ahead of most Americans.

  • Joe Nocera made an interesting and obvious point about maximizing shareholder value in corporations. His point was that our conventional wisdom is that stock prices, and the impact, shareholder value, is the focus of our executives at the expense of long term value for the company. He noted that various business schools were now looking at a different model for success: “The function of business in a society is not just a return to investors, but to provide goods and services, provide employment, pay taxes, and so on.” Then he noted that the incentives for CEOs is to maximize short term shareholder value and in most cases that is antithetical to the companies long term success. I find this conclusion another “no duh” moment in a world that ignores the obvious. If you look at most of our institutions, politics, Wall Street, the media, and why they get so many things wrong, it is not about flawed logic or failed intellect. It is all about the wrong incentives. It is always about the incentive system: politics is to get enough money to get re-elected; Wall Street is about maximizing profits before they system collapses with no penalty for that collapse; and the media is about viewer share and dumbing down the content to maximize advertising profits. If you want to fix something, the issue is always what is the incentive system that got it off the track in the first place. If you don’t change the incentive structure, no matter how well thought out your reforms are, they will fail.  (Note:  That is Project Management 101)
  • Dean Baker brings us a perl of wisdom in the scare campaign around Social Security reform. He notes that the Boston Globe made the following statement: “The projected shortfall in 2033 is $623 billion, according to the trustees’ latest report. It reaches $1 trillion in 2045 and nearly $7 trillion in 2086, the end of a 75-year period used by Social Security’s number crunchers because it covers the retirement years of just about everyone working today.” Are you scared yet? Then he points out that these numbers are meaningless and only intended to scare because they should be juxtaposed against our GDP which also grows at a much larger rate that the shortfall. As he points out, this is a 5% projected wage growth for the next 30 years. In other words, a modest tax increase could solve it and there are multiple ways of doing this. He also points out, “The upward redistribution of income over the last three decades has done far more to hurt the living standards of ordinary workers than any possible tax increases associated with Social Security.” In other words, our stagnant wages while the rich got richer has hurt the potential for income for the Social Security fund. So be afraid America, the answer instead of looking at root causes is to cut, cut, cut.
  • The last little nugget comes from the front pages of the NYT where Paul Ryan is frequently characterized as a brave intellectual and policy wonk who tells the American people what they don’t want to hear. Well I don’t know about brave, because stupid has at many times been labeled bravery. And I am not sure about intellectual because he may be smart and crafty, but an intellectual, thinking deeply and profoundly about a subject? But I do know he is not a policy wonk, or at least my understanding of that definition. A common definition of a policy wonk is someone who is “A person who studies or develops strategies and policies, especially one who has a keen interest in and aptitude for technical details” (Wiktionary). The press thinks he is a policy wonk because he is personable, well spoken, and has submitted the Ryan Budget Plan that supposedly takes on the difficult issues of our deficit. But as economists like Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma, or anyone with a calculator will tell you, the budget plan is smoke and mirrors. In fact it takes what we have been doing (cutting taxes, deregulation, transferring wealth, no investing in America) and takes it to a whole other extreme and expects a different outcome. It may be brave to propose this, but I think rather stupid to believe it would work, there is no intellectual underpinnings in the plan, and the technical details don’t make sense. So why is it again we refer to him as a brave intellectual policy wonk in the media?

Just some musing on a Sunday morning wondering where America’s brain is today.  I keep getting a mental picture of the ad back in the 80’s about “This is your brain on drugs.”  This is where I think America’s brain is today on the drug of selfishness and me-ism:


 

Plot Summary

Gee, with the wedding and everything, sometimes its important to regroup and remember the plot lines in our national story.  So here is a quick summary to help you start the week after the big party:

  • The economy is a wreck with GDP lagging and jobless numbers hovering at 10% (the real number is much higher, but they don’t count those that just gave up).  But Congress, the President and the states are all addressing it by looking for things to cut so we can further depress the economy, but bolster confidence so business will take off.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either with no one having jobs or income to buy anything, but that is the plot so far.
  • Nobody knows what is going on in Iraq anymore because nobody reports on it.  Afghanistan stays the same or gets worse and no one is paying attention to that one because nobody can figure out why we should care.  Libya seems to be a stalemate, with the rebels looking like extras in a National Lampoon movie about desert terrorism.  In all three cases no one knows the end game and no one can figure out how they affect our national security.  But they are great places to dump billions of dollars.  Oh, and we get to shoot our guns.
  • The South was just devastated by storms the likes of which no one has seen before, but climate change is not even mentioned as too hot a topic to raise although more frequent and violent storms are one of the predicted outcomes.  No, wait, climate change is inconvenient because we might have to do something about it.  So let’s vote and see who believes in it.  But science and nature don’t care about polls.
  • After the storms everyone is looking for the federal, state, and local governments to step in and help rebuild.  Those are the same governments that last week needed to slash all their staffs and funding because all government is bad and wasteful.  I know, doesn’t make any sense, but I have a feeling the plot is going to take a nasty turn when they find out what all these cuts have bought them.
  • Newly elected Republicans in mid-America tried to dismantle unions, especially public sector unions blaming the financial crisis on teachers, fire fighters, policemen, and civil servants and their exorbitant life styles.  Meanwhile in Massachusetts the Democrats, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, decided to attack public workers unions also.  The real villains in Wall Street continue to be rewarded for their trashing of the economy.  But they provide lots of campaign contributions to grease government and that apparently is the only real economy that counts.
  • Both the states and the federal government are in financial straights and the advice is to get real and make hard choices.  But that reality and hard decisions does not include actually paying for the services we need, i.e., doesn’t contain the “T” word.  Generally they are cutting budgets to fund tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations instead of putting the money against their debts.  The belief in flow down is eternal as is the lack of results.
  • The Republicans, through Paul Ryan, submitted a budget to deal with our deficit that was “brave, serious, and a wonderful starting point.”  The fact that it did not make sense, dismantled Medicare by transferring the costs to states and the elderly, further reduced taxes for the wealthy, and added trillions to the deficit were seen as just minor flaws in an otherwise serious and brave attempt to address our problems.  The conventional wisdom is that now the President should take the cuts he is proposing and negotiate the Ryan plan instead of trashing the whole thing and working with the Progressives in his own party to invest in tomorrow.  It’s like the Axis powers and Hitler negotiating for world peace during World War II.  World peace had a completely different meaning for each side.
  • Then comes the best subplot in our story.  The Republicans really don’t have a clue what to do about the economy and are sticking with cutting taxes and smaller government, with no real logical connection to how this is going to create jobs except we will build confidence as we reduce the deficit.  But their plan actually transfers more wealth to wealthy, and does not pay off the deficit.  How are we going to invest in infrastructure or reverse the slowly declining middle class with this plan is just ignored except somehow flow down, which has never happened,  is going to solve it.  Meanwhile the Democrats, terrified of alienating anyone, are buying into this as a more kinder gentler program of slash and burn.  Both lead to more of the same.
  • This then brings us to Donald Trump and the Republican Presidential Candidates.  Trump is doing his best impersonation of a used car salesman/side show barker.  The press follows him around like a dog as he spouts out outrageous lies and like a car wreck, you cannot take your eyes off it.  Meanwhile the rest of the candidates are, well, who are they?  Nobody knows and nobody cares.  That about sums up the Republican slate to date.  They are irrelevant, but highly entertaining so they control the airwaves.

So there you have it.  The Marx Bothers could not have come up with a better plot for chaos and laughs.  But this isn’t a movie or spoof, as hard as that is to believe when you really look at what is going on and where that is taking us.  I am wondering when someone is going to look at all the above and say, “Gee, can we stop all this insanity and get serious.”  So far no one in sight and we continue this insanity with a serious face.  I wonder if the decline and fall of Rome was this entertaining?

Why Can’t We Just Do What Works?

The Answer in a few words is ignorance, hubris, ideology, and testosterone. Here is Exhibit A:  U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said, “Controllers need to come to work well rested. We believe they’re well trained and they need to come to work alert. The reason is, is because we’re not going to pay people in these very important safety positions in aviation, to sleep.”  He was referring to the idea that they could nap at their breaks.

All I could think of was, this was the type of moron I spent my life working for.  “Science, studies showing catnaps refresh, common sense, all be damned.  We pay for an eight hour day and they will be alert during it.”  You know, when you are dealing with people’s lives maybe instead of some puritanical moral code, or dick wagging in public, one ought to consider what works.  I would have fired this bozo on day one when he started using language blaming the controllers instead of a serious look at the problem, but as we have seen from the President, he will need a study group before he can make a decision.

But that is just a side show compared to the budget debate which is Exhibit B.  The Republicans put forth a budget right out of Conservative Ideology 101, and might I say demonstratedly failed Conservative Ideology 101, which the media anointed as bold and brave before reading it to find out it didn’t add up.  Now that it has been shown to be a sham, they still think it is the starting point for the President’s negotiations.  Meanwhile in President fantasy land, he puts forward a budget, sort of, that is less severe, but doesn’t really tackle the problem and fails to really ask for shared sacrifice.

So along comes the Progressive Caucus with a budget they call the People’s Budget because it both reflects a plan that actually tackles the deficit, sooner not later, and oh by the way, is favored by every poll you take unless it is limited to inside the Beltway.  So why aren’t we even having a discussion about this budget?  Why isn’t the President saying this is his plan and forget about negotiating with the failed ideology of flow down in Ryan’s piece of crap?

I don’t know.  Any study will tell you this is a balanced approach that will preserve our safety nets, reduce the deficit sooner,  and invest in our future.  In a word it will work.  So why aren’t we rallying behind it?  Why isn’t the press covering it?  Well, why do people still deny global warming, think flow down works, think we all will be better with less government, understand that without a public option health care insurance will never be reformed, that we can’t  improve our schools without investing in teachers, win the war in Afghanistan, that Guantanamo is a good idea, or let controllers nap on their breaks?  Why can’t we think rationally?  All I can come up with is ignorance, hubris, ideology, and testosterone.  How else can you explain actions that are so counterproductive when the solutions are so obvious.