GOP “no-budget” hoax

January 28, 2013

If you repeat some hoary old falsehood often enough, people will begin to assume it’s got some accuracy to it, right?

Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor are at it again, complaining that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget.

But that’s false.  In fact, no only did the Senate pass a budget, but so did the House — and then (perhaps stupidly), they made it a law instead of the budget resolution the Congressional Budgeting process calls for.

Then-Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, explained last April how this worked:

We’ve got a budget, by law — and it’s a disaster.

We don’t need a budget resolution nearly so badly as we need some Congressional leadership who understand supply and demand, and who are committed to good government and not the destruction of America (even if unintentional).

Oliphant cartoon on GOP leading nation over fiscal cliff

Cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, syndicated by Go Comics


Text of Sen. Conrad’s remarks, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bigger ditch + higher speed = (Greece X Russia)

December 17, 2011

What to do about the economic ditch the Republicans have driven the economy into?

Campaign aides to Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Mitt Romney advocate finding a bigger ditch and hitting the gas pedal sooner and harder.

No, seriously:  Jon Huntsman’s economics advisor, a woman with years of experience working for a balanced budget, suggested that Paul’s proposal of cutting $1 trillion from spending in 2013 lacks a great connection to reality.  Aides to the other three, after taking another toke of godknowswhat, said they could do even more cutting.

It’s as if General Washington’s physicians, interviewed December 15, 1799, claimed they could have saved Washington’s life had they bled him two or three more times — but unfortunately, he was out of blood.

At a Wednesday panel discussion hosted by the America’s Future Foundation, a club of young libertarians and conservatives in Washington who meet regularly over beer to network and debate about politics, Jennifer Pollom, Huntsman’s economic director, joined campaign aides for Gary Johnson, Ron Paul and a former Mitt Romney staffer to discuss why their candidate would best represent conservatives as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. The real fun (by D.C. standards) started when Jack Hunter, a blogger for Paul’s presidential campaign, touted his boss’s promise to slash $1 trillion from the federal budget.

“Having been on the Budget Committee and having worked in the federal government and in the Senate for quite a while, I think a trillion dollars is kind of ludicrous,” said Pollom, who formerly served as the counsel for the Senate Republican Policy Committee. “That’s my personal opinion, that is not the stance of Governor Huntsman. We’re more concerned about tax policy right now. We’re deeply concerned about the deficit and the debt, but we’re more concerned about jobs and freezing spending where it is right now.”

That didn’t play well with the representatives for Johnson and Paul, two of the most libertarian-leaning candidates in the race. (Johnson’s plan goes further than Paul’s. He has vowed to balance the budget in his first year, which would require cutting even more than $1 trillion.)

“To call that ludicrous is actually a little surprising because this idea that we can year after year continue to spend more money than we’re taking in, to me that actually seems to be the pretty ludicrous idea from a fiscally conservative perspective,” said panelist Jonathan Bydlak, the finance director for Johnson’s campaign.

“I personally think that cutting a trillion dollars in one year off the budget–I use ‘ludicrous’ sort of loosely–but I don’t think it’s practical,” Pollom said later during the panel. “It may be an excellent aspirational dream but speaking in the real world, I don’t know that it’s actually practically going to happen.”

That’s when Derek Khanna, a panelist who worked for Mitt Romney’s finance team in 2008, jumped in.

“The idea of one trillion is not ludicrous,” Khanna said, which prompted Pollom to put her finger to her head like she was pulling the trigger of a gun. “I think that the idea of saying that being able to balance the budget is ‘ludicrous’ is kind of disturbing. We’re all here saying we support the balanced-budget amendment, but in the end we won’t support cutting a trillion dollars. It seems to be a bit disingenuous.”

What in the world could these stooges be referring to in cutting?  I can see it now:  ‘What do we need Homeland Security for, anyway?  FAA doesn’t fly any airplanes — what could possibly happen if we just shut the agency down tomorrow?  Surely we don’t need more than one aircraft carrier, one for the Pacific, and one for the Atlantic — we don’t have any territory in the Southern, Indian, or Arctic Oceans.’

You can almost hear Ron Paul, wide-eyed, explaining:  ‘President Obama is hurting the energy industry.  BP found a way to quickly get millions of barrels of oil out of ground under the Gulf of Mexico, oil we need to run industry — but Obama made them stop!’

In other news, perhaps, The Onion is considering closing down — they can’t parody this stuff any more.

Businessweek’s great covers – “Don’t play chicken with the debt ceiling”

May 21, 2011

BusinessWeek cover, April 18-24, 2011 - Don't play chicken with debt ceiling

BusinessWeek cover, April 18-24, 2011 - Don't play chicken with debt ceiling; chicken image by Jan Hamus/Alamy

Not every one of the Bloomberg Businessweek covers has been a hit, but a lot of them are — vastly more entertaining since Bloomberg took over the old workhorse magazine.

This one packs a political punch along with visual excitement.

And it’s right.  Do any Republicans pay attention to the finance and business worlds anymore?

Articles inside are informative, too — see Peter Coy’s article, and  did you see the article on the debt ceiling issue and the views of past Treasury secretaries?

Hey!  Republicans!  Stop playing chicken with the nation’s credit, will you?

Graphic - dangerous game on debt ceiling -- Businessweek

Businessweek graphic from April 18-24, 2011 issue - click for larger view at Businessweek site; chicken image by Jan Hamus/Alamy

New in tattoos: The formula of Wall Street doom

May 11, 2011

Here’s one the prof won’t even care about — you can’t cheat with this one, and if you do, you get burned:

Tattoo of the formula that created the 2008 financial crisise, from Marketplace

Tattoo of the formula that created the 2008 financial crisise, from Marketplace.

Marketplace, the radio program, noted it, and described it:

The financial crisis in one handy tattoo: surely you remember the formula that caused the financial crisis. But you haven’t seen it like this, from a creative friend of Marketplace who works for advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy, based in Portland. He enlisted “the ever-brilliant designer James Tung, computational typeface author Donald Knuth, and the steady hand of Cheyenne at Atlas Tattoo, according to his Facebook post[.]

Earlier, Marketplace interviewed Felix Salmon, who wrote about the formula for Wired.

RYSSDAL: This guy, David Li, what was he trying to do?

SALMON: What David Li was trying to do was look at lots of different bonds and try and work out whether they were all moving in the same direction or not. Whether they were correlated or not. Whether they were independent of each other or not. And he created this astonishing piece of mathematics called the Gaussian copula function, which sought to answer that very question.

RYSSDAL: What does that mean — Gaussian copula? I mean, if I can just take a little sidebar here for a second.

SALMON: People get very scared when they hear the word Gaussian. But this is just one way of looking to see whether one set of probabilities is associated with another set of probabilities. The really key part of the Gaussian copula function is the copula bit. It’s what’s known as a multivariant copula. You can take lots of different bonds or stocks or any kind of securities you like, and you can throw them all into one big equation and out the end get a single number which is easily manipulable and trackable as they say in the world of quantitative finance.

If you mention “Gaussian copula functions” at a cocktail party, you might do well to avoid anyone who appears to know what you’re talking about . . .

Carnival catchup, No. 243 — Obama Action Comics version

March 3, 2009

Carnival of the Liberals #85 comes to us from The Lay Scientist, a British blog.

Maybe most notable is the listing of Obama Action Comics, in the vein of Saturday Night Live’s “Ex-Presidents” superhero series.

Concluding a triplet of Obama-related posts I would like to present Jason’s “Obama Comics”. While playing on the internet one day, Jason found a cache of images of a Japanese Obama action-figure that bore an uncanny resemblance to various Blaxpoitation stars of years gone by. The inevitable comic strip resulted, and you can see this week’s episode, “Vol 1 No 12 – Coming Soon to a Radio Near You“, in which Obama deals with Rush Limbaugh, who I gather is famous in America.

The strip has language that makes it unsuitable for schools, let me warn you.  No sound — probably Not Safe For Work if you work in a school, but nothing a high school teacher doesn’t hear daily anyway.

CoL #85 also introduces Greg Laden’s series, the Bible as Ethnography.  Interesting.

The whole carnival list is interesting.

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