Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Final thoughts on the 2018 midterms

Final thoughts on the 2018 midterms

Here are six takeaways from last night’s results:

1. It *was* a wave election in the popular vote, but it was blunted by gerrymandering:

Here’s a tweet by Sam Wang:

Even though Democrats won the popular vote by 9.2%, they only eked out 12 seats over a majority, and came about 4 seats short of Nate Silver’s median projection:

By contrast, in 2010, a smaller vote advantage led to a 63 seat gain for the GOP.

2. The Senate races were effectively nationalized

Here’s a current map of the state of the Senate (except we know Feinstein won re-election in California):

Comments (13) | |

As predicted, a deeply unpopular Trump stomped on the GOP message; early races I’ll be watching Tuesday night

As predicted, a deeply unpopular Trump stomped on the GOP message; early races I’ll be watching Tuesday night

As I wrote a few weeks ago, whatever message Congressional GOPers might have wanted to put out (like, “our tax cuts helped spur the best economy in years!”) got stomped on by Donald Trump.

As it turns out, (please be sitting down for this) he was being truthful when he talked about momentum having been going his way. Here’s Gallup’s weekly polling through last Sunday:

Until the bomb attempts and several mass shootings derailed things, his approval ratings in the weeks following the Kavanaugh confirmation were the best since spring 2017.

Then, during the week of actual and attempted mass murder he went down 4 points.

 

Trump blamed the press (and even the victims for not having armed guards in their place of worship!), and amped up the anti-immigrant volume, thus guaranteeing the the ugliest face of the GOP is what has been last shown to the public before Tuesday’s polling.

I’ll update this post with Gallup’s final pre-midterms weekly number when it comes out tomorrow.

By the way, Gallup also supplied a nifty chart of Presidential and Congressional approval for each of the last 10 midterms in addition to current polling:

Comments (1) | |

If Migrants Throw Rocks, Military Will Respond with Paper or Scissors . . . Trump

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA (The Borowitz Report)—Backtracking from his earlier suggestion that the military should fire upon migrants if they throw rocks, Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that he was ordering the military to respond to rocks with either paper or scissors.

Speaking at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, Trump said that the decision about whether to use paper or scissors to retaliate against rocks would ultimately be left up to military commanders at the border.

“If rocks come flying at them, they should go ‘paper, scissors’ until they have an answer,” Trump said.

He issued a stern warning to the migrants approaching the border, telling them, “The United States military sees your rocks and is raising you paper or scissors.”

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted that Trump’s latest order was “not a stunt” but refused to answer how the military would come up with fifteen thousand pairs of scissors on such short notice.

Tags: , Comments (0) | |

Opinions on Text of the 14th Amendment Differ. One side has a point.

Ian Millhouser correctly denounces not only Trump’s assault on the 14th amendment but also reporters who print absolutely false assertions.

The issue is Trump’s clearly false claim that he can eliminate birthright citizenship by executive order.

In fact “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States … ” – US Constitution Amendment 14.

Millhouser’s post is too good to summarize, click the link.

Importantly he nails The New York Times tweeting the absolutely 100% false assertion that ” It is unclear whether he can do so unilaterally”.

He also catches CNN falsely saying it is “unclear” and NPR falsely claiming it”isn’t settled”.

The FBI has found no clear evidence that they are deliberately undermining the US Constitution and the very idea of Constitutions. In fact (as in the case of the dread New York Times headline) disgracefully printed 2 years + 1 day ago) they consider it safe to assert a negative. The principle that one can’t prove a negative is turned on its head. They assume it is safe to write and say “unclear” and to say “isn’t”.

I absouutely reject the claims that it is unclear whether the reporters who did this shouldn’t be roasted over a slow fire and that it isn’t settled whether the editors who allowed them too shouldn’t be skinned alive.

I just want to add a few comments.

First Millhouser doesn’t waste space noting that Donald Trump has no legislative authority whatsoever. He claims to be able to rewrite the Constitution by executive order. He can’t even rwrite the law. An executive order must be instructions as to how to faithfully execute the law written by Congress.

I think conservatives (if any read angrybearblog) may suspect me of hypocrisy since I never denounced Obama’s executive orders. They would be wrong. Obama (and his hardworking staff) always explained the basis in law and precedent for his orders. Even DAPA and DACA which seemed extreme even to sympathetic observers, were clearly authorized by the Immigrationa and Naturalization Act which grants the executive vast discretion and legally the same as an uncontroversial executive order signed by George H W Bush (not to mention that DACA was uncontroversial when issued). DAPA was blocked by an extremist judge not on the grounds that it went beyond the INA but on the grounds that it wasn’t preceded by a period of public comment as required by some other law (I think it’s called the administrative procedures act).

In contrast Bush’s absurd claim that he could create military commissions by executive order was rejected by a Conservative Supreme Court.

Another minor point — the “subject to the jurisdiction of ” phrase clearly was intended to say that Native Americans who live in territory not claimed by any great power or by the US Government are not US citizens. This is clear from the relevant context in the main body of the Constitution “excluding Indians not taxed” (search for the dread words “three fifths” and scroll left past a comma). The borders of the USA were not clearly defined when the 14th amendment was drafted. There were treaties with Mexico, Russia, and the British Empire which roughly defined approximately the current borders (except for Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and what’s left of the Norther Marianas Islands after typhoon Yutu). There were also treaties with native American tribes which hadn’t yet been broken which defined a smaller but aggresively expanding country. The 14th amendment said that, for example, people born in Oklahoma are not necessarily US citizens (don’t worry doesn’t apply to the native born president eligible Senator Professor Elisabeth Warren because that treaty was broken sooner than she was born).

By the way, Don Jr, Erik, Ivanka and Barron don’t have to worry that their dad will deprive them of US citizenship. He is, to our everlasting shame, a US citizen who lived in the USA at least 6 years after turning 14, so they are native born US citizens just like Rafael “Ted” Cruz and just as Barack Obama would be even if he had been born in Mombassa.

Finally Millhouser undestated his case again when he wrote

the Fourteenth Amendment’s words are clear, and the Supreme Court settled any lingering doubts over their meaning in its 1898 opinion in Wong Kim Ark.

In fairness, Wong Kim Ark was not a unanimous opinion — it was a 6-2 decision handed down over a dissent from Chief Justice Melville Fuller. In his dissent, Fuller argued that the Fourteenth Amendment secretly contains a missing word. “Born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” he claimed, means that a person was “born or naturalized under such circumstances as to be completely subject to that jurisdiction, that is, as completely as citizens of the United States” (emphasis added). Thus, the child of non-citizens may not be “completely” subject to American jurisdiction because they also may also be “subject” to a “foreign power” — their parents country of origin.

The implications of this dissent are simply breathtaking. Had it become the law — and just in case this point is unclear, a dissenting opinion is, by definition, not the law — Fuller’s dissent would establish that any child of non-citizens, even the child of two lawful permanent residents, would not be a citizen.

In fact, the dissent would imply that Don Jr, Erik, Ivanka, Barron and my daughters are not US citizens because their mothers weren’t at the times of their birth. If any taint of foreigness were poison, than one foreign citizen parent would be enough for exclusion.

But, fortunately, Fuller completely invalid assertion of “completely” was absurd and outvoted 6 to 2.

Comments (13) | |

Who is Lying in the 8th District Congressional Race?

Michigan 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop’s ad:

“Additionally, under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions – yet Elissa Slotkin continues to lie about Mike Bishop’s record.

Sec. 137 of H.R. 1628 of the AHCA states:

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.”

Under the bill, health status cannot affect premiums, unless a state asks for and receives a waiver — a condition of which is the state having other protections in place for those with pre-existing conditions. To obtain a waiver, states would have to establish programs to serve people with pre-existing conditions. No matter what, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.”

It is a tossup in Michigan and Mike Bishop and his campaign manager “Stu” are scrambling and slinging all the mud they can to sway many of the voters he ignored over the last two years when he was invited to meet in townhall meetings. He could care less and there was always an excuse not to be there and listen to the people talk about his priorities and what he is doing as their Congressional Representative. He will ignore many of his constituents again over the next two years if we return him to office.

Everyone can have access to buy anything they want to buy; but, can they afford it is the question? Charles Gaba at ACA Signups; “The AHCA did not protect pre-existing conditions” the same as the coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What the AHCA does do is allow states to strip away those protections via the waiver process.

Quickly, the ACA prevents insurance companies from: refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, charging more for pre-existing conditions, denying coverage of the condition, not covering a minimum of 60% of enrollee medical costs, having an arbitrary maximum annual or lifetime claims cap, and capping maximum out-of-pocket costs for in-network healthcare expenses.

Except for preventing insurance companies from refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, the AHCA Mike Bishop voted for allows states to opt out of all of the other protections of the ACA. If we were living in a state which sought to protect its citizens from predatory insurance companies and assist them in getting affordable healthcare and healthcare insurance, I would not worry as much as to what Michigan Republicans would do.

Since 1992 Michigan has been controlled by a majority Republican Senate, a Republican majority House 18 of 26 years, and a Republican governorship 20 of 28 years. During that time period, Republicans have favored business over its constituents. The Medicaid expansion barely passed in Michigan with Senator Joe Hune (Senate Insurance Committee Chair) proclaiming he was sick to his stomach with its passage. Lana Theis is running for his seat as well as Adan Dreher. Lana favors farming out the administration of Medicaid insurance to insurance companies such as what might be found in an Advantage Plan which produces no better results than Medicare and costs taxpayers and Medicare recipients 14% more. Adam Dreher is more in tune with the constituency.

In the end Elissa Slotkin is not lying about Mike Bishop and the AHCA as Congressman Mike Bishop’s AHCA which he voted for does not protect constituents with pre-existing conditions in Michigan in the same manner as the ACA. His vote for the ACHA allows states to wavie the ACA protections in favor of insurance companies who can charge more, limit coverage, or deny coverage.

Tags: , , , Comments (2) | |

A follow-up on the reasons for prime age labor force non-participation

A follow-up on the reasons for prime age labor force non-participation

Here is something interesting I found in an article by staffers at the Kansas City Fed a couple of weeks ago.

They broke down the 25-54 prime age labor force participation group for men into 10 year slices, by education, and by reason for not participating in the labor force. They focused on men, because including women confounds the results by the secular societal change whereby women entered the labor force en masse between the 1960s and 1990s.

First of all, it turns out that the prime decade driving the increase in non-participation is the 25-34 age group:

That finding is amplified by breaking down each prime age decade by education level:

 

Comments (5) | |

“The Opportunity Cost of Socialism”

“The Opportunity Cost of Socialism”

Why is the Council of Economic Advisers producing party political propaganda for the GOP? As many folks have pointed out, the “report” is rather bizarre. My favorite part is Figure 1, which summarizes Milton Friedman’s argument that people spending “their own money” are “more careful how much to spend and on what the money is spent.” This, of course begs the question of how that money came to be defined as “their own.”

Let’s complicate that story, though, with a couple more matrices: First, Prisoner’s Dilemma:

 

Figure 2: Prisoner’s Dilemma

Comments (3) | |

How To Get Distracted From What Is Most Important

How To Get Distracted From What Is Most Important

Of course as the midterm elections are nearly upon us, there is a rising cacophony of issues bubbling up, especially as Donald Trump attempts to excite his extremist base with base fears, while trying to distract most voters from threats by GOPs in Congress to cut the social safety net.  But some of the the new issues bubbling up are really more important than others.

So we are now going to have a spectacle every day from now to the election of having top stories on nearly all media focusing on this caravan of Hondurans approaching the US.  Trump declares this to be a national security crisis, which his fervent followers clearly hysterically accept.  But even if this entire group were allowed into the US, it would be no big deal, probably good for our economy and society.

OTOH, we have the news over the weekend that Trump is planning to withdraw the US from the INF nuclear treaty, signed in 1987 by Reagan and Gorbachev.  The still living Gorby has declared that doing so is “stupid.”  That is putting it mildly.  This appears to be the brainchild of super-hawk John Bolton, now in Moscow, where he is also soft soaping Russian meddling in US elections.  But talk is that if INF goes, so will New START, leaving almost no nuclear arms treaties in place between Russia and the US.  Yes, Russia has been reportedly violating the INF treaty in some cases, but is just throwing out an arms control apparatus that took so long to negotiate the way to go?  Bolton clearly thinks so, but he has also talked about how maybe we should use nuclear weapons, echoing loose similar talk coming out of some Russians earlier.  There is also talk of a renewed arms race, which our military-industrial complex would love.

Really, this seems to be coming basically out of nowhere.  Are we to return to a Cold War and arms race and fearing a nuclear war?  It took decades for Thomas Schelling to convince world leaders with nuclear weapons to foreswear the first use of them.  Now he is dead, and we are suddenly hearing all this loose talk and possible unraveling.  Frankly, this is far more dangerous than this Honduran caravan, but it is back page news, and I fear most people are unaware of it, more worried about Central American immigrants than that the threat of nuclear destruction of the entire human species is suddenly increasing.  We must not be so easily distracted.

Barkley Rosser

Comments (1) | |

Abigail Spanberger Taking Dave Brat to the Wood Shed

If you have not seen this yet, take a moment, watch, and listen. It makes you feel good about being a Democrat.

This is the 7th District Virginia’s Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger running for the Congressional Representative in Virginia. After verbally wondering if Dave Brat knows which Democratic candidate she is, listen to her remind Dave Brat she is not the Democratic candidate who supports Bernie Sanders healthcare plan he attacks her for and she is the candidate who supports a public option. She closes with, as Dave Brat raises a Red Card, “I ask for your vote on November 6th, Abigail Spanberger is my name.”

Like Esquire’s Charles Pierce tells us, it reminds you of the Ali-Terrell fight—What’s my name, motherf***er?

Abigail took teabagger Dave Brat to the wood shed and just tore him apart. It is a great take down.

HT to EMichael

Tags: , , Comments (5) | |

Claiming Voter Fraud, Trump Is Poised To Disregard a Democratic House Victory

HuffPost Politics:

New York Times columnist Economist Paul Krugman fears that President Donald Trump’s insistent complaints of “voter fraud” are a setup to deny the legitimacy of a Democratic majority in the House should the party win in the midterm elections.

Those who don’t believe such a scenario is possible “haven’t been paying attention,” the Nobel laureate warned.

Trump has complained, without evidence, that as many as 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Trump’s claim, if true, would wipe out that margin and then some.

Trump set up a commission to investigate the votes, but it has not substantiated his claims, nor has it issued any reports. Commission member Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, said the panel was the “most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Yet, Trump keeps raising the issue.

Myself: There has been no evidence of massive voter fraud. Examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. In 2016, Trump claimed he won the popular vote besides the Electoral College if one deducts the millions of people who voted illegally. This is false and made only worse by those in his administration who would promulgate and foster his delusional stories and outright lies.

Tags: , , Comments (14) | |