Aug 20 2018

Trade Guy

John Oliver is a pretty conventional macro economist, which is a shame really because it ties him to some unfortunate assumptions and misconceptions. He is, at least, to the left of Hayek which is something I guess.

But he’s not as bafflingly wrongheaded and radical as what passes for the Trump economic brain trust. The micro economists are all stealing as fast as they can while the macro guys wander around in delusional dementia, unmoored from object permanence or a sense of causation (other than “because Yahweh said so” which seems a less than rigorous argument).

Aug 20 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: The Slippery Slope of Complicity

When was the last time centrist talking heads declared, “Donald Trump just became president” (because he bombed someone, or something like that)? I think it’s been more than a year. At this point, you have to be a truly fanatical practitioner of bothsidesism not to see that Trump is every bit as terrible a human being, and every bit as much a menace to the republic, as some of us warned when all the cool kids were busy snarking about Clinton’s emails.

The real news of the past few weeks isn’t that Trump is a wannabe Mussolini who can’t even make the trains run on time. It’s the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.

Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.

But why? Is Trumpocracy what Republicans always wanted?

E. J. Dionne Jr.: America is slouching toward autocracy

In their book, “How Democracies Die,” political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write: “How do elected authoritarians shatter the democratic institutions that are supposed to constrain them? Some do it in one fell swoop. But more often the assault on democracy begins slowly. . . . The erosion of democracy takes place piecemeal, often in baby steps.”

Our nation is divided in many ways, and one of the most important chasms involves the question of whether President Trump poses a threat to our constitutional foundations. Is he merely a loud-mouthed demagogue, or is he an autocrat in the making, willing to strike at the underpinnings of republican government?

Those of us fearful that Trump is subverting basic freedoms and the arrangements that sustain them are frequently dismissed as alarmists who fail to recognize the endurance of checks, balances and other circuit-breakers. In this view, asserting that Trump imperils our liberties demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the genius that is the American experiment.

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Aug 20 2018

The Breakfast Club (Troubled Waters)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

U.S. cruise missiles hit Afghanistan and Sudan after American embassies bombed in Africa; The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia; NASA’s Voyager 2 launched; Singers Issac Hayes and Robert Plant born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.

Abraham Lincoln

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Aug 19 2018

The Breakfast Club: Bill Maher – The American Avatar

In his “New Rules” segment on Friday’s HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher argues that the phony personas people adopt in public are vastly different than the weirdness they crave.

Aug 19 2018

Avenatti Jeaousy

Because I have a book dammit.

Aug 19 2018

The Breakfast Club (U2)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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AP’s Today in History for August 19

Soviet hard-liners mount a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev; Nazi Germany ratifies Adolf Hitler’s powers; U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers convicted by Soviet tribunal; Comedian Groucho Marx dies.

Breakfast Tune U2 – Vertigo (the banjo version)

 
 

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

When Will the Democratic Party Get Involved in Local and State Law Enforcement Races?
Shaun King, The Intercept

YOU’D STRUGGLE TO find a single issue that resonates more with the base of the Democratic Party than criminal justice reform. An astounding 87 percent of Democrats say that they want to see America’s prison population decrease. Eighty percent of Democrats want to see the whole justice system reformed.

But when the rubber meets the road on actually making criminal justice reform happen, Democrats are ghosts. I’m not talking about the senators who are likely going to run for president. They have a lot to say about criminal justice reform. And I’m not throwing shade, but it’s easy to talk about bold reforms and game-changing policies when you aren’t in power — Republicans did it every year when Barack Obama was in the Oval Office. What I’m talking about is the Democratic Party machinery on the local, state, and federal level.

Everyday Democrats want to see justice reform. And if the Democratic Party was smart, they would be out front leading and owning the effort to make this happen, but they aren’t. Instead, White House adviser Jared Kushner is convening people at the White House to talk about these reforms. We could all say it’s a sham — and maybe it is — but optics dominate politics. It’s a good political play: If President Donald Trump and Kushner can convince just a tiny percentage of Democrats for whom these issues matter that they’re serious, they can swipe a few votes out form under the Democratic Party’s nose — particularly in swing states where Trump either barely won or lost.

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Something to think about over coffee prozac

Restaurant cites worldwide freakout over its french fries

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — A Maine restaurant says news about the anger surrounding a change in its french fries has reached people all over the world.

Bolley’s Famous Franks co-owner Leslie Parsons tells the Kennebec Journal a newspaper in China wanted to try its fries and it received a call from people representing TV chef Rachael Ray.

The Journal had reported the Waterville restaurant faced threats of violence when it changed from crinkle-cut to straight-cut fries in June.

Parsons says the change was a financial decision because crinkle-cut fries required special blades that needed to be bought monthly. She says many people felt as new owners they were changing tradition at Bolley’s, which had served crinkle-cut fries since it opened in 1962.

Parsons says despite the criticism “99.9 percent” of its customers are “awesome.”

Aug 19 2018

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: White House National Security Adviser John Bolton; and Roman Catholic Bishop David Zubik.

The roundtable guests are: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd; Democratic Strategist Karen Finney; and Wall Street Journal Columnist Jason Riley.

Face the Nation: Host Margaret Brennan’s guests are: Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD); and Sen. Kirsten Gillabrand (D-NY).

Her panel guests are: CBS News Political correspondent Ed O’Keefe; CBS News Elections & Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto; Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez; and Cook Political Report editor Amy Walter

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: Former CIA Director John Brennan; Roman Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico; and Trump lawyer Rudolph Guiliani.

The panel guests are: NBC reporter Carol Lee: Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson; PBS News White house correspondent Yamiche Alcindor; and right wing radio host Hugh Hewitt.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: Former DNI James Clapper; former CIA Director Michael Hayden; former White House homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT); and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).

His panel guests are: Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA); former Sen. Rick Santorum; former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI); and conservative NY Daily News columnist S. E. Cupp.

Aug 18 2018

Shaping the future.

Rachel Oates

Aug 18 2018

Cupcake Cafe Deficit

What can I say? The whole Ellis Island thing for my Grandpa. The rest is Scots/English/German.

We are exceptional.

Notes on a Butter Republic
By Paul Krugman, The New York TimesAug. 5, 2018

During the creation of the first global economy, the one made possible by railroads, steamships, and telegraphs, the world seemed to bifurcate into industrial nations and the agricultural raw/material producers who catered to them. And the agricultural nations, even if they grew rich at first – e.g., Argentina – seemingly ended up getting much the worse of the deal, turning into banana republics crippled economically and politically by their role.

But Denmark became, not a banana republic, but a butter republic. Steamships and steam-powered cream separators allowed Denmark to become a huge exporter of butter (and pork) to the UK, leading in turn to impressive prosperity on the eve of World War I.

One interesting point about this export surge is that in a way it was value-added production, like the exports of modern developing economies that rely on imported inputs – except that in Denmark’s case it was imports of animal feed from North America that helped provide a crucial edge.

The good news was that this agricultural orientation didn’t turn out to be a dead end. Instead, it laid the foundation for excellent performance over the long run. And in Denmark’s case globalization seems to have been equalizing, both politically and economically: instead of fostering dominance by foreign corporations or domestic landowners, it led to dominance by rural cooperatives.

Why was the Danish story so happy? The Danes may have been lucky in the product in which they turned out to have a comparative advantage. Also, like the Asian countries that led the first wave of modern developing-country growth, they came into globalization with a well-educated population by world standards. They may also have been lucky in the enlightened behavior of their elites.

Anyway, I’m not pushing a universal lesson that globalization is great for everyone; just the opposite. The point is that the results depend on the details: a country can produce agricultural products, be “dependent” by most definitions, yet use that as the basis for permanent elevation into the first world.

And in today’s world, Denmark manages to be very open to world trade, while having very low levels of inequality both before and after redistribution. Globalization need not be in conflict with social justice. Speaking of which …

A number of people on the U.S. right, and some self-proclaimed centrists, seem totally taken aback by the rise of politicians who call themselves socialist. But this rise was predictable and predicted.

Here’s what happened: for decades the right has tried to shout down any attempt to sand down some of the rough edges of capitalism, whether through health guarantees, income supports, or anything else, by yelling “socialism.” Sooner or later people were bound to say that if any attempt to make our system less harsh is socialism, well, they’re socialists.

The truth is that there are hardly any people in the U.S. who want the government to seize the means of production, or even the economy’s commanding heights. What they want is social democracy – the kinds of basic guarantees of health care, protection against poverty, etc., that almost every other advanced country provides.

Denmark, where tax receipts are 46 percent of GDP compared with 26 percent in the U.S., is arguably the most social-democratic country in the world. According to conservative doctrine, the combination of high taxes and aid to “takers” must really destroy incentives both to create jobs and to take them in any case. So Denmark must suffer from mass unemployment, right?

Ahem.

Yep, Danish adults are more likely to be employed than their U.S. counterparts. They work somewhat shorter hours, although that may well be a welfare-improving choice. But what Denmark shows is that you can run a welfare state far more generous than we do – beyond the wildest dreams of U.S. progressives – and still have a highly successful economy.

Indeed, while GDP per capita in Denmark is lower than in the U.S. – basically because of shorter work hours – life satisfaction is notably higher.

Despite all this good stuff, there is something rotten – OK, maybe just slightly off – in the state of Denmark. While the long-term performance has been great, Denmark hasn’t done too well since the 2008 financial crisis, with real GDP per capita falling substantially, then taking a long time to recover. In particular, Denmark has lagged far behind Sweden.

There’s no mystery about this recent underperformance. Denmark isn’t on the euro, but unlike Sweden, it has pegged its currency to the euro. So it has shared in the euro area’s problems.

Leaving aside the general issue of exchange rate regimes, this is a reminder that microeconomics – things like the incentive effects of a strong welfare state – is different from macroeconomics. You can do great things on the micro front and still screw up your monetary policy.

Aug 18 2018

The Breakfast Club (I Have Dreamed)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Mongol ruler Genghis Khan dies; Women in U.S. clinch right to vote; James Meredith graduates from Univ. of Miss.; Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ published in U.S.; Actor-director Robert Redford born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter

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