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Why Marco Rubio Reminds Me of Sarah Palin*

*This is a slightly edited version of a post I posted here yesterday afternoon and have removed.  There’s also an addendum about an op-ed piece by Martin O’Malley in today’s Washington Post.


Okay, so all you politics obsessives probably heard about a comment Martin O’Malley made to NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Innskeep during an interview earlier this week, in response to a question about Marco Rubio’s claims about “active government.” Here’s the exchange:

Inskeep: “[Rubio] argues that an active government actually keeps people frozen at their economic status because if you are well off, if you can afford a lawyer, if you can deal with regulations, you can maneuver through government and stay prosperous. And if you are not so well off, it’s harder to work the system. Is there some truth to that? You were a big city mayor; you know how government works.”

O’Malley: “No, I don’t think there’s any truth to that.  It is not true that regulation holds poor people down or regulation keeps the middle class from advancing. That’s kind of patently bulls—.”

Well, at least we know that O’Malley knows how to get news media attention, so big points for that.  And we also know that he’s ready, willing and able to respond appropriately and effectively to the incessant, generic big-gummint-is-the-problem trance-inducing mantra.  Even bigger points for that.

But while Innskeep wasn’t actually quoting Rubio and was instead paraphrasing, the exchange highlighted a notable, but not widely noticed, hallmark of Rubio as politician: He routinely says things that are incoherent or that are flatly false as a matter of underlying fact.

Such as that Iran, a Shiite society, and ISIS, a Sunni terrorist group, are in cahoots and Obama doesn’t want to stop Iran from developing a nuclear military capability because Obama doesn’t really want ISIS defeated.  (Something like that; I can’t remember the specifics from earlier this year, but that was the gist of it.)

And such as his federal-budget proposal that will cut, but (unlike the other presidential-nomination contestants’ proposals) won’t completely gut, programs that assist low-income families and individuals; that will significantly increase defense spending; that will eliminate the estate tax; that will lower capital gains and corporate taxes; that will impose no new or higher tax rates at all; and that will balance the budget in 10 years.  (President Houdini!)

And such as that an active government keeps people frozen at their economic status because if you are well off, if you can afford a lawyer, if you can deal with regulations, you can maneuver through government and stay prosperous. And if you are not so well off, it’s harder to work the system.

Yep.  It’s the EPA, the SEC, and the National Labor Relations Act that are keeping all those minimum-wage workers and their families from moving up the socioeconomic ladder!  Rubio, a son of blue-collar employees, succeeded despite having been forced by the federal government to go to public rather than private universities and to pay his tuition using the student loans he applied for at gunpoint. So it can be done, even in the face of active government.  It’s just much harder.  And more dangerous.

One thing I remember fondly about the nervous reactions of some conservative pundits during the fall 2008 campaign season when it became clear that Sarah Palin was not a wise choice as McCain’s running mate was a comment by a dismayed Peggy Noonan, a longtime Republican pundit who was George H.W. Bush’s chief speechwriter.  Noonan wrote about Palin (I believe these were her exact words): “She just … says things.”  (Ellipses Noonan’s.)

Rubio, too, just … says things.  He sort of … babbles.  He seems to have no filter—for coherence, for accuracy, for plausibility—through which he passes his thoughts before expressing them.

Yup.  Be sure to click that “for coherence” link.  The auto-industry bailout kept those auto-industry workers and their families from advancing because they couldn’t hire lawyers to help them navigate their continued employment in their auto-industry jobs.  Got it.

When I read about O’Malley’s response to Innskeep a couple days ago, and therefore also read Innskeep’s question to O’Malley, I wondered whatspecifically (assuming that Innskeep’s paraphrase or summary of Rubio’s statements were accurate reflections of those statements), Rubio was referring to.  What in heaven’s name is he talking about?  What federal statutes and regulations are keeping people who can’t afford fancy lawyers—or any lawyer at all—frozen at their economic status because they can’t maneuver through federal government regulations?

Well, I now have my answer, albeit not from Rubio.  By chance, I happened upon a three-day-old commentary this morning in the Los Angeles by winger columnist Jonah Goldberg, written in reaction to O’Malley’s comments to Innskeep, in which Goldberg purports to speak for Rubio. The column is titled “Martin O’Malley’s modern-day know-nothingness,” and its first several paragraphs recite the history of President Millard Fillmore’s party, the Know-Nothings.”  (Goldberg doesn’t mention Fillmore, but I happen to know that his party was the Know-Nothing Party.)  He throws in some stuff about the history of the original federal minimum-wage law, which he thinks kept people frozen at their economic status because they couldn’t afford lawyers to help them navigate the intricacies of that statute.  (Something like that.)

But then he gets down to brass tacks.  The tacks being that O’Malley is too ignorant to know that some professional and trade licensure education requirements unjustly and unjustifiably  keep lower-income people from entering those professions and trades and that even the application forms are obnoxiously long, complex and burdensome.  And that O’Malley is blind to the fact that small banks, which are the traditional lenders to small local businesses, are disappearing en masse, and that this is because of … huge Dodd-Frank compliance costs.

Well, at least the second of the two—the banking one—involves federal laws.  Of course, the real reason that small banks no longer are competitive with, say, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo is the deregulation of the finance industry, mainly the repeal in the 1990s of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1934 that prohibited commercial, federally insured banks from engaging in investment banking and other securities trading—including in derivatives.  Goldberg and Rubio may not have noticed, but the en masse demise of so much of the community banking industry began back then and continued as a result of the financial collapse of 2008-10.*  Y’know, the financial collapse precipitated by financial-industry deregulation and, regarding derivatives, no-regulation.  The financial collapse that caused the economy and, consequently, many, many, many small businesses to collapse.

Yeah, that one.  Some people who lost their jobs and therefore no longer could pay their nonsubprime mortgages (including to community banks), and many small-business owners whose businesses failed because of the crash of the economy no longer could repay their business loans. To community banks.

As for the first of Goldberg’s two big-gummint complaints—that some professional and trade licensure education requirements unjustly and unjustifiably  keep lower-income people from entering those professions and trades and that even the application forms are obnoxiously long, complex and burdensome—he’s spot-on that it’s an outrage.  He just needs to explain why, since these are state and local licensure requirements and applications, and are unrelated in any respect to federal regulation—and Rubio’s running for president, not state or local office—he thinks it’s O’Malley rather than, say, he who is a Know-Nothing.  Here’s betting that O’Malley, unlike Goldberg, does know that professional and trade licensure education requirements and applications are determined and administered not by the federal government but by state and local ones.

And here’s also betting that O’Malley knows that since the very purpose of these inappropriate bars to jump over and hoops to jump through is to keep competition in these professions to a minimum.  And that he knows that the obvious agitators for these mandated regulatory hoops are the beneficiaries of minimal competition—i.e., those already in these professions or trades or in ones that compete with the unduly restricted ones—and that Democratic officeholders are no more likely that Republican ones to push for these laws and regulations.  He  might have suggested to Goldberg that, before Goldberg demonstrated his ignorance, he check out who’s giving campaign contributions to whom.

But it’s Rubio, not Goldberg, who’s running for president.  So the next time that Rubio argues that an active government actually keeps people frozen at their economic status because if you are well off, if you can afford a lawyer, if you can deal with regulations, you can maneuver through government and stay prosperous–and if you are not so well off, it’s harder to work the system—he’s asked for, say, specifics.  As in: What in heaven’s name is he talking about? Maybe he’ll just refer the questioner to Sarah Palin for details. Or to Mitt Romney.


NOTE: O’Malley has a terrific op-ed piece in today’s Washington Post about the student-loan issue, in which he discusses the broader effects of the current situation on the economy and on American society and advocates for the solutions that Elizabeth Warren has been proposing. He also details his own actions as Maryland government regarding that state’s public university and community college costs.

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Hillary Clinton Finally Announces Her Campaign Message: She’ll Run as Sarah Palin.

After Republican 2016 hopefuls spent a day struggling to finesse the vaccination debate, the 67-year-old Clinton weighed in roughly an hour before midnight: “The science is clear,” she tweeted late Monday. “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”

Hillary Clinton, grandma-in-chief, Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, yesterday

That’s right, folks.  Hillary Clinton thinks that the debate (such as it is) about childhood vaccines concerns whether or not the vaccines are effective in preventing the targeted diseases, rather than whether the vaccines can have the side effect of causing autism.

Most people, I’m pretty sure, know that the controversy actually concerns a research paper (published in 1998) that suggested a causal relationship between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and the increase in the rates of diagnosed autism in recent decades, a research paper that has long been discredited.  But apparently Clinton is unaware of the nature of the controversy and thinks it’s about the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing measles, mumps and rubella.

Or else she thinks that a cutesy social-media sound bite announcing which side she’s on in this current, high-profile controversy—even a sound bite that misleads about the very nature of the controversy—is a good idea because the subject provides a tie-in with her new status as a grandmother. Discussing the actual nature of the issue would require more than 140 characters and some intellectual input, especially if the statement would provide facts such as that the research study at the heart of the debate has been debunked.  So that’s out-of-the-question.  The purpose isn’t to persuade about an important and imminent matter; it’s to make a statement about her campaign.

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Amity Shlaes: Sarah Palin with puffed up academic credentials

by divorced one like Bush

Professor Krugman has been having problems with a person named Amity Shlaes. Well, actually he’s having a problem more with what she is professing. Amity is talking about The Great One’s relationship to today’s sickly economy and prescribing a plan of treatment. Doctor Krugman is noting the errors in Amity’s examination findings and her plan of treatment. All I can say is, Paul, you’re arguing with Sarah Palin here. Amity’s not even a nurse, never mind a doctor. Let me expound.

Here is an article of Amity’s from 12/20/01 suggesting what is need to fix the sickly economy then:

The result of this labour flexibility is that the US has been able to sustain productivity growth at the outset of recession, something of which virtually no other developed economy is capable. Because US laws make it relatively easy to dismiss workers, companies do not have to waste negotiating time or cash on buying workers out of contracts.
When recovery does come, they will have more cash to invest. Because Ford can lose workers, it can also afford to bid for market share by selling cars interest-free. What is more, there will also be cash in the till with which to rehire workers.
There are lessons in this picture for all three countries. For the US, the message is: do not do anything to disturb the dynamism of the labour force. This means that the well intentioned plan to expand benefits for the unemployed in “economic growth and security” legislation is wrong-headed. For while nationally subsidised unemployment schemes may not target specific companies, they do throw sand into the gears of dynamic economies.
For Germany, or Japan, the message is: freer labour policies are crucial to future growth.
It is an old truth but worth remembering: “hire and fire” also means “fire to hire”. The best insurance for growth is creating a culture where workers believe that spring will come and, with it, a new job.

Hire and fire also means “fire to hire”? “You gotta be cruel to be kind in the right measure, cruel to be kind it’s a very good sign…”

In Amity Shlaes bio it is reported:

…2003, she spent several months at the American Academy in Berlin as the JP Morgan Fellow for finance and economy.

Here is the J.P. Morgan Fellows program:

The J.P. Morgan Fellows Program was established in 1996 to promote diversity in graduate business schools and in the Investment Bank. The Program provides half-tuition scholarships for up to 10 first-year MBA students at five of the United States’ top graduate business schools.

Now, this is very interesting in that wikipedia notes:

Shlaes graduated from Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University magna cum laude[1] with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982 (with reference to Yale alumni directory)

Her bio does not mention this bit of education. It mentions nothing related to college at all! Nor does her bio at the Council on Foreign Relations
mention anything more than being an adjunct professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Yet, her career is full of editing jobs. So, is she teaching business? History?

Thus, we have a bachelor’s in english (obviously academically capable) receiving a fellowship for MBA students at the top business schools being used for a trip of “several months” to an academy for promoting German/American bonding. Via Source Watch:

The Academy’s web site states that it “presents an English-language public program at the Hans Arnhold Center [each semester]. The program is designed to present the work of fellows both to colleagues and interested members of the public …

The Academy’s fellowship is only one semester and “occasionally” a full year.

To be fair, at her book page it does state that her first book, the subject of which was Germany came about from her “studying and working in Germany starting in the fall of 1982.” It just does not describe the studying and working. Her bio at the CFR states she worked for the WSJ/Europe from 1986 to 1990 as the Editorial Features Editor.

The question: Is a bachelor’s in English with a lot of editing work experience editing editorials enough to get an MBA related fellowship to an Academy that gives English speaking lectures which then qualifies you to be a respected commentator of worldly proportions regarding today’s economic crap all put into an historical perspective? Not really, but…

I’ll accept a self taught historian, a self taught economist, but just as I’m a self taught guitarist of 40 years, I’m considered an amateur as should she be. There is nothing in Amity’s bio that suggests that all the honoraries she has received, both in job and awards, are related to anything more than the fact that she is very good with English language. She was an English major, she writes and reviews writing for God’s sake. Though, even in all of that writing there is no list of authorship within peer reviewed journals. None. So, how accurate is it to state at her bio page of the CFR this:

Expertise: Germany; Russia; history; economics; U.S. tax policy; relative competitiveness.

Is this expertise bestowed by peers in these subjects or is it expertise based on editing authorship of these subjects?

Professor Krugman, that’s it.

Here is thus the problem for Professor Krugman and anyone that is trying to correct the errors of Amity’s ignorance of her subject matter: You are arguing with Sarah Palin, the republican version of the valley girl voicing in a republican valspeak.
It’s the republican “brand”.

If there are poster children for the republican Stepford Wives
machine these 2 women are it. They are manufactured women for a specific male need.

Don’t believe me that we are dealing with 2 of the same? Then listen to the following with your eyes closed and tell me you do not hear Sarah in Amity’s speech, mind you, with more polish as one would expect from an English major. You do have to get to the points in the programs to where she is feeling comfortable.
Like this presentation with Charlie Rose. Go to 6:15 and start listening. Let it roll to the end of her answer.

There is this one which is what keyed me to this thought for today. I was eating breakfast yesterday morning with Cspan on. Catch her as she talks about Krugman at 2:50, but dig her talk regarding Hoover at 6:50. Can you handle that laissez-faire pronunciation? Did you catch the “aught not”?

Finally, this July 27, 2007 lecture, Foundation for Economic Education: Manipulating America. She starts speaking after the intro at 2:40. Listen for about 2 minutes.

Now here is Sarah’s acceptance speech.

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$150k and she couldn’t even find a ‘Vote Elephant’ scarf?

by Bruce Webb

From Newsweek’s The Stumper (h/t slinkerwink’s diary at dKos)

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Okay nobody expected Sarah Palin to be the sharpest political crayon in the box, but surely someone on the McCain/Palin team has looked at a political cartoon over the last hundred plus years plus and understands the whole donkey/elephant deal. This ain’t advanced Hermeneutics we got going here.

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