Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Trade whatever year this was in the late 80's for 2015 and it suddenly has the energy and chaos of a Donald Trump rally. Ron Paul is right on this issue, drugs should be legalized.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
An Interview with Professor Stephen Voss UK Political Science Professor about Kentucky's Governor's Race 2015:
Liberal in Kentucky: What happened with the polling this year? Why was it so off?
Stephen Voss: Evidence is still rolling in, but one way or the other, the story has to involve a much higher Republican turnout than the polls detected.
That is not a new problem: Many polls and forecasters failed to account for the so-called Enthusiasm Gap that favored Republicans in 2010, and parts of the Obama coalition turned out in surprisingly low numbers in 2014, resulting in polling bias toward the Democrats in Senate races around the country.
I guess it looks foolish, in retrospect, not expecting the same problem here this year -- but SurveyUSA had made adjustments to the Bluegrass Poll after 2014 to try to fix their errors, and the arrangement of responses across different social groups did not look as fishy this year as they had in 2014. Also, the results were more consistent across polls and polling organizations this time around, whereas in 2014 they bounced all over the place. So I trusted the polls like everyone else.
A conspiracy theory is circulating right now saying that the polls were closer to the truth than we realize, and it's the electronic voting machines that are the problem, having skewed the vote in some way toward the GOP. Assuming that's not what happened, though, I see two main explanations:
1) People lie about their intention to vote, giving the socially desirable response that they'll show up at the polls when in reality they are not going to bother. Pollsters need to massage their data so that they're estimating the preferences of people actually likely to vote. It's possible they underestimated how many conservatives of low-socioeconomic status would show up on Election Day.
2) Conservatives tend to be more suspicious of professional organizations than are voters on the left, and they may not be cooperating equally with pollsters. I can believe that this ideological difference might be even stronger in Kentucky, such that the right-wing vote was floating under the radar. Benjamin Knoll of Centre College ran an exit poll in Boyle County, which means he was catching people as they left the polls. No need to filter his data for likely voters. Yet the results of the exit poll showed a much higher Democratic vote than the actual election returns. (click for link)
LIK: What's the implication for the Democratic Party after this election? Do you think they move to the right? Or run purer candidates? Was Conway's loss caused by not exciting the base?
Voss: After almost every election, the activists on the losing side complain about the same two things: The candidate was not ideologically pure enough, and their candidate ran a bad campaign. They're almost always wrong about why they lost.
Yep, Jack Conway was a poor candidate, weak on the stump and terrible in debate. But Matt Bevin, while a better public speaker, was worse at the craft of electioneering overall. When the polls were forecasting a Conway win, commentators were reciting a litany of errors that Bevin had made -- and you'd better believe that's where the Republicans would be pointing if they'd lost. Both sides offered flawed candidates. The mistake here is thinking that campaigns and candidates determine election outcomes when usually they operate at the margins.
Ideology, on the other hand, shapes voter preferences -- so it can matter a lot. But being purer, more extreme, will not help because the parties are already far apart ideologically. Any rational voter concerned about the ideological direction of public policy faced a clear choice between Bevin and Conway.
Conway's challenge was to excite the center, the conservative Democrats and populist Republicans who are up for grabs in Kentucky because they're not so sure in which direction they'd like things to go. Not all of those swing voters are centrists: Some face a tough choice because they are conservative on social and cultural issues, but fairly liberal on economic issues. Those swing voters stayed undecided in large numbers until late in the election season, but many of them broke toward the Republicans in the final days. In an era dominated by discussion of same-sex marriage and Planned Parenthood, perhaps that's not so surprising -- but their level of motivation sure was!
What should Kentucky Democrats do now? I don't think it would be unwise to look for candidates who could have greater appeal out in the towns, in the countryside. But don't rule out the possibility that the Democrats should change nothing at all. The Republicans now have an inexperienced governor with strained relations inside his own party who has made a lot of promises that will be tough to keep and who will face a lot of problems not of his own making: a looming pension crisis, declining coal demand, crumbling infrastructure. Republicans at the national level are not helping: They've been making a terrible spectacle of themselves in Congress, and because the Tea Party hasn't taken out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yet, it's not clear they're done eating their own. Sometimes you just hunker down, offer solutions as the opposition party, and wait until voters decide they want a change.
LIK: A follow up on the polling versus what happened:
What was this year about? Was this anti-Obama sentiment? Was this the general mood in the country? Strange to throw the party in power out otherwise with unemployment hovering around 5% and gas prices around $2 a gallon?
Voss: President Obama currently symbolizes the Democratic Party, but it's a mistake to suppose that once he exits the political stage, Kentuckians suddenly will become Democrats again. Obama's race, and the fact he's a northern liberal, may make it somewhat easier to demonize the Democrats than if they had a white Southerner as figurehead -- but the party did not perform all that well here when John Kerry carried their standard, and not even campaign visits from the Clintons have made much of a dent in the Republican lean of the electorate. Replacing Obama with Hillary Clinton might help some, but not as much as hoped by the observers who want to blame racism for the partisan swing here.
For Kentuckians to be impervious to economic indicators just backs up what I was saying earlier about social issues dominating this electorate. Obama has not made the country better by their standards, even if the economy's on firmer footing. He's presided over a powerful shift leftward in our cultural norms, and moral conservatives feel that the country's on the wrong track. The Democratic Party is paying for that in a place like Kentucky even as they reap the rewards among other electorates.
Of course, the anti-Democratic shift has appeared in many places, not just Kentucky. Your question applies broadly: Why are the Democrats doing so badly when economic conditions have improved and, supposedly, "It's the economy, stupid." Keep in mind, though, that these voters have not thrown the Democrats out of power. They still hold the White House, and they're strongly represented in the federal courts. Voters who want relatively moderate, compromise outcomes appreciate divided government as the best way to get something between the partisan extremes. A government of Obama, McConnell, and Ryan is not conservative or Republican. Put someone from the GOP in the White House and those same voters are likely to start feeling a lot more Democratic.
LIK: What are the implications for the healthcare law? Can Bevin pull Medicaid funding as a realistic option? Is he a pragmatic candidate or an ideologue?
Voss: People are stuck guessing what Governor-elect Bevin is going to do with Kentucky's implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Beshear created that policy by unilateral executive action rather than by going through the law-making process, so ultimately Bevin should be able to tear it back down if he wants to do so. The question is how much wiggle room the feds have given him to undo what Beshear did -- a question that ultimately might need to be settled in court -- and also how much wiggle room he has politically. The Republicans he'll be leading do not speak with one voice on government programs, and the press will be more than happy to publicize any negative outcomes resulting from his policies. It's time to start building political support if he wants to make a difference.
LIK: This [type of policy providing government programs] used to work for the Democratic Party [in Kentucky] (Herald Leader article map) - especially under FDR. What's happened to the electorate in Kentucky? I'd have to glance at the map, some of this looks like old 5th territory - what are your thoughts?
Voss: The party system of FDR's New Deal Era revolved around social class most of all. Democrats started losing the South, though -- not to mention many working-class communities around other cities -- as economic issues gave way to the hot-button social issues that arose during the postwar era. Many counties in eastern Kentucky always backed the Republican Party, a legacy of the Civil War period, but now GOP supporters appear all over the state.
LIK: Yeah, Kentucky was an oddball post LBJ 1964 Civil Rights - being a pretty solidly white state - would you agree a bunch of the shift towards Republicans rode on Nixon's Southern Strategy?
Voss: People misunderstand what the Southern Strategy actually accomplished. Yes, the GOP tried to compete for voters, previously Democrats in the Solid South, who were upset with racial change and angry at spiking crime rates -- the racial conservatives. (Nixon also targeted voters fearful of Communism and worried about student protesters.) He attracted some of those votes in 1968, but he shared them with segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, and while he may have swept them in 1972, it was a temporary result of his landslide victory.
What the Southern Strategy really accomplished was to serve as a catalyst, starting a reaction that broke apart Democratic dominance in the South. Once two-party competition emerged in the early 70's, though, voters sorted themselves out based on considerations other than just race: initially social class, later moral and cultural issues such as abortion or gun control. As late as 1991, former Klansman David Duke's gubernatorial bid in Louisiana drew as heavily from Democratic voters as from Republican voters. Social conservatives have taken a long time to start identifying with the Republican Party, which is why what happened in the last election cycle still managed to surprise most observers.
LIK: So wrapping this up, Dr. Voss. Any predictions in the next 5, 10 and 20 years for Kentucky?
Kentucky isn't exactly Texas, although the demographics here seem to be sliding in a different direction (urban with a large influx of Hispanics in the last census). This [Herald Leader Article on the 2010 Census] stat stood out with me: "the number of Hispanic residents — up 112 percent since 2000."
Voss: I don't know how we project where the party system is headed right now. The U.S. population has shifted dramatically both in terms of ideology and through population changes caused by loose migration policies. Young people are still finding themselves politically. Meanwhile, the financial and economic challenges look dire, but they have not hit home yet, so their political effects are uncertain. We have no idea what the two major parties will be fighting about in five years, let alone longer, but today's obsessions likely will not stick around for long. So although I cannot think of any phrase as trite as 'only time will tell,' that's really where we are with party politics in the near future.
LIK: Thanks so much for your time.
Voss: Thanks ... was fun!
-Stephen Voss is a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky. He studies, writes and give commentary on Kentucky politics.
Voss: Thanks ... was fun!
-Stephen Voss is a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky. He studies, writes and give commentary on Kentucky politics.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
Saturday, November 14, 2015
France will no doubt have it's revenge for the attacks.
A Politco article published on Friday was a great read, other than reinforcing the fact that the Bush Administration totally dropped the ball in the months leading up till 9/11/2001 - there was this passage that struck me:
“You can't kill your way out of this,” says Tenet. “It's not sustainable. The message to Islam itself is they have to create vibrant civil societies that work, that create educational opportunities. But this is something they have to do for themselves.” Panetta agrees that the roots of terrorism must be dealt with: “You've got to address what it is that produces this frustration and this anger. It is almost Mission Impossible because, for God’s sake, we're still trying to figure out how the hell the Baltimores of the world happen; how the hell the Detroits of the world happen; why there are people that are attracted to gangs in this country.”
Stay optimistic planet earth, we're in this together:
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Sunday, October 4, 2015
"One of the most pressing questions for citizens of the United States certainly involves the question of what policies will truly protect and advance our national interest. But to answer this question, it is crucial that we be able to define clear precisely what is meant by this “national interest.” As we seek to answer this question, we would do well to remind ourselves that 1% of the families in our country control 40% of our country’s wealth, that the next 19% own another 40% of the wealth, and that those of us in the “bottom” 80% of our nation’s families are left with only 20% of the wealth. We should be clear that those who shape U.S. foreign policy are those from the wealthiest 20% of the population, and what is in their interest is not necessarily what is in our interest." -Prof Paul Le Blanc
Described by the business community during the Cold War as "a magic formula for almost endless good times." it was the defense and university funding that developed computers and code. The truth is the birth of the Middle Class, and the IT revolution of today was almost entirely funded by the taxpayers.
"The federal government has played a critical role in supporting the research that underlies computer-based products and services. From less than $10 million in 1960, federal funding for research in computer science climbed to almost $1 billion in 1995. Federal expenditures on research in electrical engineering (which includes semiconductor and communications technologies—necessary underpinnings for computing) have fluctuated between $800 million and $1 billion since the 1970s. Such funding has constituted a significant fraction of all research funds in the computers" -Funding a Revolution: Government Support for Computing Research
Truman's Air Force Secretary said that government subsidies were't the right word. "Security" was when it came to government funds developing new technologies and new products. It's far easier to sell the subsidization of the wealthiest and corporate class if it's seen necessary to the security of the public.
"The NSF ended up funding the bulk of theoretical work in the field (by 1980 it had supported nearly 400 projects in computational theory), much of it with great success. Although funding for theoretical computer science has declined as a percentage of the NSF budget for computing research (it constituted 7 percent of the budget in 1996, down from 20 percent in 1973), it has grown slightly in real dollars.1 Mission-oriented agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, tend not to fund theoretical work directly because of their emphasis on advancing computing technology, but some advances in theory were made as part of their larger research agendas." -National Academia Press
The federal government (taxpayers) has paid the tab for the last 65+ years of technological innovation - simple because quarterly capitalism can't convince temperamental shareholders that maximum return on quarterly returns aren't necessarily beneficial to the overall society. Those in the business community know this, and shift the costs of R&D under the umbrella of defense spending.
Take the incredible apparent example of infrastructure spending with fiber optic cable - an infrastructure we know benefits communities but shortchanges investors:
"Karl Bode, an ISP industry watcher and author of a the blog DSL Reports, believes Verizon has had a change of heart. “I think ex-Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg was very bullish on fiber,” he says. “But after retirement, he was replaced by executives who wanted to focus more heavily on wireless, given the lower cost of deployment and the absolute killing that can be made charging users a significant amount per gigabyte.”
But he also blames the money men. “Investors in this country are simply too myopic to wait the required length of time to see adequate returns,” Bode says. “These services are certainly profitable, they’re just not profitable enough quickly enough for short-sighted investors.” -Wired
And it's no secret that companies want to stifle innovation and cheaper prices - they advertise this fact:
Kentucky had to bond the installation of fiber infrastructure out - putting the taxpayers entirely on the line for losses for example. It's the first of it's kind across the county - and it should result in remarkable results for Kentucky - but private investors didn't fund it.
This post isn't so much to hail the system we have of State-Capitalism, but to dispute the idea of the efficiency of markets and wonders of the market. It's as much of an illusion as the idea of the Confederacy was in 1864. It was a Confederacy of the mind only. The reality of both was and is much different.
Almost all of the technical innovations in IT/computer science, aerospace, biology, medicine and genetics have come out of the state sector - provided by tax payer money. Quarterly dictated investors are just too short sighted.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Fancy Farm 2015 speeches.
Videos from KET:
Governor Steve Beshear:
Attorney General Jack Conway:
Sen. Mitch McConnell:
My favorite Fancy Farm speech of all time - Gov. Steve Beshear 2008:
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
When Things Went Wrong? When Money Got Weird. When the U.S. economy was latched onto by Wall Street there wasn't much that was new - besides lots of debt - and ways to hide it:
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Friday, June 26, 2015
Thursday, June 4, 2015
A great Harvard Business Review study about wage stagnation. The summary? Companies aren't even bothering investing in their workforces:
A snippet from the piece:
"Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients—which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives—reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity.
The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings—a total of $2.4 trillion—to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees."
"From roughly 1950 until the early 1970s there was a period of unprecedented economic growth and egalitarian economic growth. So the lowest quintile did as well -- in fact they even did a little bit better -- than the highest quintile. It was also a period of some limited but real form of benefits for the population. And in fact social indicators, measurements of the health of society, they very closely tracked growth. As growth went up social indicators went up, as you'd expect. Many economists called it the golden age of modern capitalism -- they should call it state capitalism because government spending was a major engine of growth and development.
In the mid 1970s that changed. Bretton Woods restrictions on finance were dismantled, finance was freed, speculation boomed, huge amounts of capital started going into speculation against currencies and other paper manipulations, and the entire economy became financialized. The power of the economy shifted to the financial institutions, away from manufacturing. And since then, the majority of the population has had a very tough time; in fact it may be a unique period in American history. There's no other period where real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- have more or less stagnated for so long for a majority of the population and where living standards have stagnated or declined. If you look at social indicators, they track growth pretty closely until 1975, and at that point they started to decline, so much so that now we're pretty much back to the level of 1960. There was growth, but it was highly inegalitarian -- it went into a very small number of pockets. There have been brief periods in which this shifted, so during the tech bubble, which was a bubble in the late Clinton years, wages improved and unemployment went down, but these are slight deviations in a steady tendency of stagnation and decline for the majority of the population."
The rest is here:
Monday, May 11, 2015
What's wrong with our tax system? David Cay Johnston explains in this great piece below.
"If you go back one year to 2011, and you take - there was a little higher income in 2011 than 1966, for the vast majority, and just count that as one inch, they got $59 more income after all those years, they got one inch. The plutocrat class, this is the small group at the top of in this case 16,000 because it's a different statistical measure, 16,000 households in a country of 316 million people, compared to that one inch their income is up five miles, just a bit under five miles, one inch to file miles.
All the gains are going to the top, and it's not because everybody else got lazy or stupid, it's because we cut taxes at the top. We changed the rules. We put in place all these hidden subsidies I've been exposing for years that take from the many and redistribute upward to the few...
...YOUNG: Well, a ballooning capital gains pie lifts all boats, I mean, that this will trickle down to jobs.
JOHNSTON: That's - if that were true, and that's what the data showed, I'd be all for it. What the data show isn't trickle down by Niagara up. And more and more capital is being invested in unproductive ways. It's being used in this high-speed trading and to froth the market, which I've been writing about for years, and there's now an excellent book out by Michael Lewis explaining as an insider how this stuff works and how we have a bunch of dishonest markets."
Friday, May 8, 2015
Who was that communist President that gave amnesty to millions of people by the way?
Monday, May 4, 2015
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Conservatives squawking about border issues and refugees should take a close look at the Mexican agriculture sector that was devastated after the passage of NAFTA. Farmers who were able to support themselves before NAFTA weren't able to afterward. When a foreign government can undersell domestic farmers - you're left with few alternatives.
If your skeptical of the TPP, you have a good reason to be so. We've seen this song and dance before with NAFTA. Could we at least let our senators read the bill? Corporations got to look it over.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
O'Reilly was very right in the clip below. The demographics change in the country is nothing short of an earthquake.
From the LA Times:
"Republicans will be trying to win with a base of supporters that is roughly 90% white in an increasingly diverse country, having failed so far to develop a strategy to attract the growing minority populations who rejected them in 2008 and 2012.
Who wins will almost certainly depend on which proves more powerful — the hunger for change or the inexorable demographic wave.
Or to put it another way, the 2016 election will test whether the Obama coalition of minorities and white liberals can hold together, turn out and defeat the aging but still powerful coalition of social and economic conservatives and foreign policy hawks assembled by Ronald Reagan 35 years ago.
The best case for Republicans is that "the American public seldom has the stomach for a third term, and President Obama hasn't been the kind of leader who generates a third term," said political scientist Julia R. Azari of Marquette University in Wisconsin.
The two presidents in the modern era whose parties did win three or more elections, Reagan and Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, both transformed American politics by embodying — and helping bring about — a change in what people believed government should do."
It's all going to come down to turnout. Can Clinton energize Obama's base? Can she get the minorities and white liberals to turnout like they did in 2012?
"According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney."
Obama’s current 21-percent-deficit -- he trails Romney 59 to 38 percent -- would be far harder to overcome, as this year may break a string of increasingly non-white electorates. In 2008, whites made up a record-low 74 percent of all voters; in the latest Post-ABC poll, they made up a similar 75 percent of likely 2012 voters.
In 2004, John Kerry lost white voters to George W. Bush by a similarly wide margin, 58 to 41 percent -- and he also lost the election.
Compared with four years ago, white voter support for Obama is now lower among white men and white independents. (See the latest Post-ABC tracking poll on The Fix at 5 p.m. every day through Nov. 5.)
The clearest loss for the president is among white men. In 2008, Obama lost white men by 16 points, according to the exit poll. This year, Obama trails Romney double that margin -- 33 points -- larger than any deficit for a Democratic candidate since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide win over Walter Mondale.
After splitting their votes 47 percent for Obama and 49 percent for McCain in 2008, whites who identify as political independents now favor Romney over Obama, 59 to 38 percent. Nearly half of all of those who supported Obama in 2008 but Romney in 2012 are white independents. (Overall, whites make up more than 90 percent of “switchers.”)
A key element of Romney’s advantage among all whites is that by 55 to 39 percent, more white voters say he, not Obama understands the economic problems people in this country are having. Among whites without college degrees, Romney is up 58 to 35 percent on this score, expanding what was a narrow gap just a few weeks ago. This advantage comes even as 48 percent of white voters say Romney, as president, would do more to favor the wealthy; 37 percent say he would do more to for the middle class."
The math is looking good though (WSJ):
"Republicans stand a slim chance of winning the presidency in 2016—unless they nominate a transformational candidate who can dramatically broaden the GOP’s appeal. That assertion may seem incongruous in light of stunning Republican triumphs in the past two midterm elections. But success in 2014 no more indicates the outcome of the 2016 presidential election than victory in 2010 foretold the presidential winner in 2012.
The continuing problem for the Republican Party is the country’s changing demographics. GOP congressional candidates won 60% of white voters in 2010 and 2014, producing landslide victories. The calculation works differently in presidential elections, however, when turnout is higher, particularly among minorities. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 59% of white voters, the highest percentage of any Republican challenging an incumbent president in the history of exit polling. He won every significant white subgroup—men and women; young and old; Protestants and Catholics—often by overwhelming margins. Yet Mr. Romney still lost the election by five million votes.
Barack Obama won because he achieved breathtaking majorities among every other racial group. The president won 93% of African-Americans and more than 70% of Hispanics and Asians. As a result, the first African-American president won re-election with only four out of 10 white voters."
The best thing the Dems can hope for is the GOP candidates keep running to the far right on immigration, social issues and safety nets. The economy just might be the wildcard in 2016.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party recently. Submitting her to Time's 100 most influential people list.
Warren spoke at the Levy Economic Institute about the unfinished business of financial reform.
Full interview here:
Warren spoke at the Levy Economic Institute about the unfinished business of financial reform.
Full interview here:
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Run and hide, rich people! The poor are coming to get ya!
Chomsky addresses this phenomenon, it's addressed in Manufacturing Consent - he calls it reverse Marxism - the wealthiest repeat the charges of class warfare from the bottom up over and over again -- (direct jump here) you can find it in the video below starting at 21:50.