Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh Noez, Ambassador Rice was relying on Intelligence rather than arbitrary Gut Feelings

It appears as if attempts by Conservatives to show that the Obama Administration lied about the Embassy attacks in Benghazi are proving futile.

The Washington Post is reporting that CIA documents Prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15th, the same day that Ambassador Rice taped three television appearances, support her assertion that the attack on the U.S. consulate was in some way a reaction to the unrest surrounding the Anti-Muslim video.

Personally, I'm glad that we have an adminstration that takes pause and relies on intelligence reports and repeating to the country the intelligence at hand rather than relying arbitrary gut feelings.

The Apology Tour Continues....

Both the United States Ambassador to Japan and Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, the top Commander of U.S. forces in Japan have issued apologies to the Japanese for a case in which two U.S. Sailors were arrested for the rape of an Okinawa woman.

Where is the strong willed leadership that we need? The global apology tour continues. We know Mitt Romney would never apologize for America.

Just more change we can believe in.....

(In all seriousness, it's hard to see how such an unreasonable statement is not consistent with the current line that conservatives have taken in their critique of the President's foreign policy).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Speaking of my post on "Answering the Question that was asked," Derek Thompson of The Atlantic has a great post up titled "The Real Talk non-BS answers to the Presidential Debate Questions"

My personal favorite
"When there's a global demand shock, like in 2009, prices go down. The best way to lower gas prices right now might be to start a nuclear war with Beijing. It would devastate China, crater the world economy, and make your gas really cheap. But that's neither an advisable policy nor the purview of the Energy Department."

Answer the Question that was asked

On my first day of law school, we had an orientation that involved a mock class in the Moot Court room. Before the professor began calling on folks to discuss the case we were supposed to have read he told us a story about a time he went to hear Justice Antonin Scalia speak. During a question and answer session, one of the professors asked Justice Scalia what his biggest gripe was with lawyers. Justice Scalia apparently responded by saying "They don't answer the question I ask."

So, that was the first thing I learned as a lawyer, to answer the question that the questioner asks. The professor during our mock class happened to be my first year Property professor and I frequently remember him telling students who he called upon "That's a very good and detailed answer, but it wasn't the answer to the question I asked." Oddly enough, both President Obama and Governor Romney are graduates of Harvard Law School and yet they both did a poor job of answering the questions that were asked several times during the second Presidential debate (and the first debate for that matter).

For example;

Katherine Fenton asked this:
In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?  
So what might have some responses that actually answered the question have looked like?
President Obama: Well Katherine the first bill I passed in office was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and we think that bill will do enough to rectify pay discrimination against women so I don't plan to do anything. However, I do think we need to address other inequalities beyond pay discrimination and I hope to do that in a second term by introducing legislation that would give employees a cause of action for other types of inequitable treatment. 
Governor Romney: Katherine thank you for your question but I personally don't see a problem with the fact that women earn 72% of what men earn because that tells me that is what the market demands and it's not the government's job to interfere with the will of the great and wonderful market (peace be to God). If a woman is getting less pay for equal work then she is not acting as a rational market actor would and taking her talents to another firm. 
Now, those are almost assuredly not good answers but they did address the primary subject of the equity for women and inequity in the workplace generally.

Compare that to Romney's actual answer:

Thank you. An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. 
And I -- and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are -- are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we -- can't we find some -- some women that are also qualified?"

And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women. 
I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

There is really nothing in that response that has anything to do with inequality in the work place and pay inequity for women. What that response constitutes is one turd in a pile of crap thrown against the wall to try to appeal to women. This same type of response was repeated all night long. I understand that they have a limited amount of time and that it's necessary to tell a grander story that ties each question into their over-arching meta-vision of the campaign and the proper way forward, etc., but you get to that point building up from answering the question that was asked up to the larger narrative.

For instance, this race is not going to be decided on each candidate's position on an Assault Weapons Ban. So, it is necessary to tie that question into one's larger vision of the country but to nevertheless answer it. I thought President Obama did a decent job with this issue mentioning

1. A general overview of our country's view on guns,

2. His support for some kind of Assault Weapon's ban

and then tying it into a theme of.

3. A strong economy with a growing middle class is less prone to gun violence overall.

However, I do think at the end of that question he trailed off talking about the economy and other ancillary issues a bit too much. I get the sense that ordinary average Joe's who don't follow pundits on Twitter can sense the general jist that the pol is throwing crap against the wall and hoping something sticks. And, that is why a guy like Bill Clinton was so revered in his convention speech...he talked just wonkish enough in a way that wasn't disrespectful but not over people's heads and he didn't spout obvious puffery.

So, if the candidates were to even remotely care about my advice? Just answer the specific question specifically and concisely before moving onto your general view of the world. When people sitting at home see you fail to answer the specific question the first thought that comes to our minds is that you are bullshitting.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Didn't Joe Biden Simply talk about the American Jobs Act?

During the Vice Presidential Debate between Ole' Joe Biden (Who is totally the man) and John Galt Paul Ryan, the first question that I saw Martha Raddetz ask after flipping over from Thursday night football was how the men planned to get the economy back to under 6% U3 unemployment.

Vice President went into a pretty effective foray about growing the economy from the middle class out and lamenting the Romney/Ryan proposals.

However, a much simpler answer could've been given. Joe could've simply said:

"Well Martha, if Congressman Ryan here and his fellow Republicans in the most unproductive and unpopular Congress since the 1940's would've simply sent the American Jobs Act to the President's desk last fall, Unemployment would be below 7% right now. Additionally, if Republican governor's like Scott Walker hadn't come to power in 2010 and started firing people like it was going outta' style we'd be approaching 6% unemployment right now."

(I tried to make it read like Joe might've said it).

Macroeconomic Advisers had this to say about what would've happened had the AJA been passed:

  • "The various tax cuts aimed at raising workers’ after-tax income and encouraging hiring and investing, combined with the spending increases aimed at maintaining state & local employment and funding infrastructure modernization, would:

    • Boost the level of GDP by 1.3% by the end of 2012, and by 0.2% by the end of 2013.
    • Raise nonfarm establishment employment by 1.3 million by the end of 2012 and 0.8 million by the end of 2013, relative to the baseline.

  • The program works directly to raise employment through tax incentives and support to state & local governments for increasing hiring; it works indirectly through the positive boost to aggregate demand (and hence hiring) stimulated by the direct spending and the increase in household income resulting from lower employee payroll taxes and increased employment."

  • If we apply the Macro Adviser projections to the present day, we're looking at an economy that is growing around 2.6-3.0% by the end of 2012 and an unemployment likely below 7%.

    Paul Krugman (via Mark Thoma) wrote as much in his column this Monday in the New York Times. You would think that his column ought to be required reading for the President and Vice President at this point.

    Looking back it's kind of amazing that post 2010 our economic recovery has been halted by Republicans and yet they're successfully blaming the slow recovery on President Obama and are doing so mildly successfully as evidenced by the close Presidential race.

    This kind of terrible behavior should not be rewarded!

    To the Blogosphere and Beyond

    Hello world.

    I've decided to start blogging.

    I figure that I waste enough time arguing politics and other controversies on internet forums that I might as well start blogging about them. (Adsense FTW Lulz). The topics I will primarily talk about are Politics, Economics, the Law, and College Football.

    As far as the name of the blog goes I couldn't decide between calling my blog "The Lake Erie Liberal" or "The Full Employment Hawk."

    I was tempted to go with "Full Employment Hawk" because that is the overarching argument concerning the political economy that I've made in the time we live in. An unregulated capitalist economy with business cycles invariably will fail to employ all able-bodied adult humans who desire to work. This is problematic for several reasons; it means that the economy will not operate at its full potential, that folks will have to rely on social insurance at some point and that folks will have to suffer the unenviable consequences that come with being unemployed. Yet, policy makers across world have failed on this metric.

    Ultimately, it is my belief that the chief domestic policy concern of a people's government is to ensure that the economy operates at full, maximum employment and therefore should instill fiscal and monetary policies that achieve this goal and that in part has lead me to believe that I should start voicing my opinion.

    I can remember Howard Stern one day along time ago while I use to listen to him on a portable radio while working at my family business as a teenager that FDR essentially ended the great depression with "socialism" as he said it...a large scale full employment program in other words. If Howard Stern understood that basic tenet of knowledge, why did Jean Claude-Trichet, a world famous and powerful economist, fail to grasp it.

    I've come to learn that it's a folly to believe that doing something for a long time means you're good at it and that the world is governed with little wisdom, as the saying goes.

    But, beyond my pet issue for the current times, I'm also a "Liberal Democracy Hawk" and a "Regulated Capitalist Hawk" and a "Tax base of income available for discretionary use hawk" among other things. I also believe that northern Ohio is the greatest place on Earth.

    So, I've decided to go with Lake Erie Liberal.

    I hope that I have something worth while to say.

    I appreciate anybody who stumbles along to read.