Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Political fantasies, nightmares and white knights... so will they pick a General?

Why Ted Cruz should worry Republicans: This article ponders the negatives for the GOP, should Ted Cruz become their nominee.  e.g. how extreme-right he is, and disliked and unlikeable. Including the fact that republicans running for lower offices would find it harder to distance themselves from that pyrrhic candidate than the other one - Donald Trump. Interesting read…

…though I still offer a wager (at odds) that Cruz never was - in his heart - after the presidential nomination, all along! 

He must know he would lose big and then have no chance, ever again. Rather, I have long wondered if his role model was Richard Nixon, who bided his time in a cunning stepwise manner.  Knowing how spectacularly dislikeable he is, Cruz (I believe) always cannily aimed to be the Vice Presidential nominee, and his recent near-top status came as a worrisome surprise.  

He can’t be Trump’s VP at this point (the logical negotiated settlement) because of bad blood. So his clever game move would be to “sacrifice my own ambitions for the party and the nation” and throw his weight behind a convention outsider... a "white knight" who did not run in the primaries. That’d cement him as the unifying hero. It would also leave him tanned, rested and the heir, in 2020.


(Ah but which White Knight should he back? See a surprising scenario, below.)


It would also mean that either Hillary or Bernie should pick Al Franken as VP, in order to have a quick wit ready to cut Cruz at the knees, in the VP debates. I still expect Hillary will offer the slot to Bernie… and he might accept, on condition the office come with looser than usual reins... or he may turn it down. In any event, she needs to guard her flank with an unalloyed progressive who: 1) can help in the rust belt, 2) appeals to Sandersites, 3) is sharp-witted enough to deal on-the-fly with any sudden veer or attack that Trump or Cruz dish out.  

Alas, while we’ll likely see a long-needed torching of the GOP in November, there is a benefit to a Trump nomination that no one mentions -- the fact that Trump doesn’t give a damn about treating standard Republican catechism as holy writ. He would break the Right’s narrative during the autumn debates. Charging for the center on at least a few issues, he would shock us all by agreeing with Sanders or Clinton!  

“Yes, the rich should pay more taxes!” for example… a veer that would stun America and finish off the shambling, undead thing called Supply Side “economics” at long last.

Well that’s my fantasy and it is why I am weighing ALL my options, here in late-voting California, where (for a change) we will make the crucial difference.

== Here come the generals? ==


Way back last year I predicted the GOP establishment would push Speaker Paul Ryan as savior, after the clown car crashes. They are already running ads! Pushing his calm/handsomeness and downplaying his Ted-Cruz-clone policy book. His artful denials notwithstanding.

We all know that won’t play. The Red/Confederate white males who Fox/Limbaugh riled against the U.S. for decades are now fully-frothed and they won’t abide that cynical ploy. But this essay by David Ignatius suggests an alternative that might actually work. Pick a military man. A recently retired general or admiral.

Chief advantage: it could draw back in many outraged Tea Partiers and fundies and Trumpeteers… along with mature conservatives who are disgusted by Tea Partiers and fundies and Trumpeteers. It might even (as part of a yuuuuge deal) placate Donald Trump.

Chief disadvantage? From the establishment’s point of view?: Our U.S. military Officer Corps is by far the most intellectual in history, the third best-educated clade in American life (after college professors and medical doctors.) Sure, there are still some Jack T. Ripper types. But not many. Although most such officers are “conservative” by personality, odds are you’ll be running a smart patriot who knows how deeply the country has been betrayed by Fox & pals. Moreover, they do not cotton to the War on Science and All Smart People.

Whether in the autumn debates or in the White House, he (she?) is likely to drop insanities like Climate Denialism and Supply Side Voodoo like a live grenade.

These people can recognize live grenades. 

Yes, this gambit could save the GOP, and especially rescue countless down-ticket races, by drawing millions of discouraged moderate-conservatives back to the polls. On the other hand, even at-best you’ll likely get what you got last time, in 1952... an Eisenhower, who will (in the debates or in the White House) demolish at least half of the narratives that Rupert Murdoch and Glen Beck have been cramming down the throats of Red America. 

Not one of generals or admirals will condone the Civil War that Fox etc have deliberately re-ignited. 

Know who would be delighted by such a nominated white knight? Ted Cruz! Again, he knows he cannot win the nomination, nor the general election, if nominated. I imagine (without a scintilla of proof) that his role model is Richard Nixon, who took the long, patient path.

Almost any general-or-admiral nominee would likely pick Cruz as running mate (ruining mate?) for much the same reasons that Eisenhower held his nose and picked Nixon -- which was Ike’s one, unforgivable crime against the nation he loved


And then? Off we go. History does not repeat.  But it does rhyme. 

124 comments:

donzelion said...

I always thought Eisenhower picked Nixon because of "a little cocker spaniel dog...and you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it." I'd forgotten Checkers also came from Texas. Now everything makes sense. ;-)

As I see it, the Republican long game works like this: Lose in November 2016, win it all in November 2020, after the following occurs:
(1) two liberal and one swing-conservative justice nearing retirement - all replaced by moderate/left justices (Republicans love Roe v. Wade - it's a cheap gimmick to galvanize their base, and the party oligarchs have already parked their cash outside America so there's precious little harm the Court can do)
(2) a likely recession/depression will hit during the next 4 years (better a Dem in office when the business cycle turns, as it surely shall)
(3) 2018 Senate elections will flow to Republicans (with picks likely in Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia)
(4) By 2020, pressure to "privatize/save" (kill) Social Security, Medicare, + certain other "entitlement" programs will have built to replace the 2016 'theatrical' pressure...the oligarchs haven't profited from these programs all that much yet, and will finally reach the point where that becomes possible...

Robert said...

You are incorrect with your assessment for Cruz, Dr. Brin.

If you were correct, he would not be trying to block Kasich being a viable candidate in the 2nd round of voting for the Convention. But he is invoking the rules that were enacted during Romney's reign. And by invoking it, he also basically turned Kasich against him so even if he fails to get the nomination and Kasich somehow did... Kasich wouldn't choose him as VP.

Why hold close to your chest the viper who already struck out at you, after all?

Rob H.

matthew said...

Cruz is a Dominionist. He wants the Presidency in order to bring on the Apocalypse.

At one point he might have settled for a VP slot to get closer to power, but now, he sees himself as getting closer and closer to the power required to destroy all creation, way ahead of schedule. Surely Donald Trump was sent from God to deliver the Presidency to the one candidate that is willing and eager to burn down the world.

All kidding aside, Cruz *scares* me. Trump makes me despair,but Cruz is Scudder come 4 years later than RAH predicted.

I'm hearing more and more low level buzz about the Clinton's involvement with shell companies after the Panama Papers. Not saying they are implicated personally with the firms in Panama, but that the Clinton's are alleged to have and use shell companies based in Delaware. No doubt much of the rumors are coming from Koch dark money, but if there is a glimmer of truth there, well, then, it may be Sanders after all. How funny that the Dem nomination may come down to how NY votes. Sanders is down 5-15 points depending on the poll, but closing very fast. He needs a big win, though, and that doesn't look to be in the cards, barring some great revelation. Like shell companies. I give this one a couple of days to move one way or another.

David Brin said...

donzelion it depends on the magnitude of their 2016 loss. Your scenario works if the GOP loses just the presidency and Senate. In which case the House can still block economic legislation and oligarchy tax rises and keep sabotaging infrastructure bills so we'll get that recession.

Though even in that case, the resulting Supreme Court should outlaw gerrymandering and several other cheats.

But if they lose the House and several state legislatures, then they'll be in serious trouble. Gerrymandering will vanish by legislation. An Infrastructure Bill may cause enough high-velocity money flow to prevent recession. Etc. And this could happen if Trump runs a 3rd party.

David Brin said...

And yes, Cruz is Scudder. Four years delayed.

Tacitus2 said...

I am back. Since this group actually is concerned about such things I can report that the rookie FIRST robotics team I coach went out and clobbered a competitive field of dozens of veteran teams last weekend. Sure, we got trounced in the final rounds by the equivalent of the New York Yankees, but still.....The Robot Apocalypse is closer than you think.

Cruz aiming for VP? Plausible. For that matter I am pretty convinced Barack Obama went in with the same plan. The lead time from deciding to run for President and the Electoral College making it official is so long that Nostradamus couldn't call the mood of the populace.

Ryan's demurrals are felt here in Wi to be sincere.

Cruz is most certainly unlikeable. As to right wing, there has been damn little discussion of actual issues to date. Its all about personalities. I think I need to know Cruz vs ? to start actually weighing options. As I have said before, Trump is a deal breaker. Not that happy with Cruz either though.

Must run, still teaching the middle school robotics class.

Later

Tacitus

Anonymous said...

Cruz wants it more than Trump does. If the grand viziers of the GOP can somehow blame Cruz for Trump not getting the nomination on the first ballot, while secretly bribing Trump with enough money to make him as rich as he claims he is, then they can prop up some half-senile and retired admiral/general with Paul Ryan as his boy-wonder VP. If the Konfederate Kock Klan can design a 3rd party candidacy that siphons off enough votes to deny Hilary and outright majority of EC votes, then who picks the next president? Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

I love America dearly, but if that happens then I am done. As much as I despise the treasonous Southern talk of secession, I would completely support a plan to secede the West Coast from a fascist controlled US government. I love America, but I love Democracy more.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

Alfred Differ said...

Everybody and their brother does the Delaware corporation trick. Combine that with Nevada corporation rules and one can both hide and deal with some serious corporate veil penetration risks. As long as the States are largely free to establish their own corporate behavior regulations, the market will optimize according to the environment those regulations create.

Anyone who doesn't examine their tax and transparency options in all States should have their heads examined. Don't cheat, but don't give away your property without intending to do exactly that.

David Brin said...

Yay FIRST robotics, which is having a palpable and huge effect on American youth. And huzzah for team Tacitus!

Tacitus 2016!

Alfred Differ said...

I don't think Cruz was ever aiming for VP. I suspect his original goal was to move the Overton window in his direction as a way to move the Senate. I suspect he has always thought he could win, but moving the window was good enough for now.

I know a GOP partisan who convinced me that ALL candidates beyond the local level believe they can win. Most at the local level do too. Their faith in themselves is strong. Always. I'm inclined to believe him since he has interacted with far more candidates than I have and he had no reason to lie.

Alfred Differ said...

@AtomicZeppelinMan: Just go get a blue kepi if that happens. There are quite a number of us on the west coast who won't let the fascists have anything.

Secession is surrender.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

And yes, Cruz is Scudder. Four years delayed.


Or the Martin Sheen character in "The Dead Zone".

Jumper said...

Last year I assured a lot of people that (unfortunately) JEB Bush would be the next president. So I don't mind people laughing at me now; it's part of the game when one goes out on a limb like that. My error was trying to use logic. What a fail! Will that provide some message for others who like to predict things? I doubt it.

Ethan Bradford said...

If the Republicans just want to win, they should nominate Colin Powell. The conservatives hate him, but if Cruz was his running mate, they might be placated. The biggest problem with that is his age: he's 79 now.

Traveller said...

One consequence of the gerrymandering is that they have created many "safe" Democratic seats. While many of the Republican seats are less "safe". Demographics are also starting to hurt.

While unlikely, it is quite possible that the Republicans could go from majority and in control to largely irrelevant in a single election cycle.

David Brin said...

Except for Stevenson and Nixon, can you name a losing nominee who was nominated again? Cruz is not just after moving a policy window. If he is a losing Pres. nominee he won't get it again. A losing VP nominee is leader of the pack.

Colin Powell is wracked with guilt. A good man who deeply harmed his country.

Traveller. We can hope.

Alfred Differ said...

The notion that the GOP will implode isn't without precedence, but in this case I'd bet my house they won't. They will be here in two, four, and more years to come. What is more likely is their internal alliance will change. One group might defect to the Dems.

Alfred Differ said...

After learning how Cruz managed to get elected to the Senate in the first place, I'm inclined to treat him like a flash fire. He wasn't going to last long enough to get another chance at being President. He will be primary'd in 2018 and that is where Texans actually elect their GOP senators.

Alfred Differ said...

Since we are talking about politics again, I'm reminded it is useful to keep a self-administered tranquilizer within reach.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-to-avoid-boring-sunsets/

I especially liked what they were thinking about rainbows at the end. 8)

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Ryan's demurrals are felt here in Wi to be sincere.


Serious question to a Wisconsinite: How do they compare with his demurrals over the Speaker's role?


Cruz is most certainly unlikeable.


I think it was in today's Chicago Tribune, I saw an editorial or a column asserting that unlikeability is a positive quality in a president. Talk about trying to set the table (or to make lemonade).

As to right wing, there has been damn little discussion of actual issues to date. Its all about personalities.


Well, his stated goal to get back on the gold standard is well to the right of even present day Republican right-wing. On social issues, I'm not sure if someone who wants to institute a Christian theocracy counts as "right wing", but he's out there in whatever direction that is.

As a non-Christian, I'm wary of anyone who conflates church and state. And I'm sensitive to the fact that loaded words like "liberals", "socialists", and "intellectuals", even "bankers" are often sly anti-Semitic references.

I think I need to know Cruz vs ? to start actually weighing options. As I have said before, Trump is a deal breaker. Not that happy with Cruz either though.


Well, it's either going to be Sanders or Hillary. You prefer Cruz over one of them, but not the other? I'm kinda surprised it makes a difference.

donzelion said...

@Alfred / Matthew - actually, the "Delaware trick" is intimately tied to everything you've ever thought of as "American innovation."

DuPont started the process when they migrated from France in the 19th century, taking with them their collective secrets, forming the basis for the Union military machine as the largest civil war contractor (esp. steel, iron, and cannon ball tech). Every DuPont entity became its own corporation, all co-owned and semi-cooperating. That 19th century background taught GE, AT&T, IBM, HP, Facebook, and Google how to operate, creating their methodologies regardless of where their headquarters were set up.

There's an ethnic/religious element as well. Key banks (esp. Rothschilds) and insurers discovered Delaware to be far less stuffy (esp. towards Jewish bankers) than Baltimore/NY/Boston - each of which was dominated by major old money families (esp. Dutch/British oligarchs).

Secrecy was developed less to avoid taxes, and more to obscure family holdings from other families and mask their maneuvers. Want your giant technology firm to transition from a builder of vast infrastructure projects to a massive bank (e.g., GE)? Convert a textile firm to an insurance firm? (e.g., Berkshire Hathaway)? Deploy some obscure professor's materials research as some new product? They do it all through Delaware subs and gradually shift ownership processes with Delaware holdcos.

Nevada has been the only state that was even more secretive than Delaware, but their purpose was mostly to hide the interests behind casino ventures (and one aspect of family holdings - divorce-motivated restructurings), where Delaware's purpose was to empower money to build America from the land the British redcoats flattened in 1812 to the industrial powerhouse. They merit a bit of respect (at least, it should be respected before moving to criticize).

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "Your scenario works if the GOP loses just the presidency and Senate. In which case the House can still block economic legislation and oligarchy tax rises and keep sabotaging infrastructure bills so we'll get that recession."

Even the best political leadership cannot end the business cycle: it'll happen, sooner or later. We've had 7 relatively 'good' years since hitting bottom in 2009 - anemic job/wage growth, but good performance in most other metrics. Republicans are nodding at an 80-90% probability of a recession in the next 4 years. If Dems take over all the government institutions a year before it hits, then they'll get all the blame, paving the way for bigger, more lucrative changes to government itself.

"the resulting Supreme Court should outlaw gerrymandering and several other cheats."
Harder to achieve than most people realize...the follow on cases since Baker v. Carr will boggle anyone's mind who tries to figure out how to make simple principles have real meaning in a complex country.

"An Infrastructure Bill may cause enough high-velocity money flow to prevent recession."
Three reasons to be skeptical how far that could go:
(1) Americas big infrastructure investments (the 1930s, the 1950s) were products of the Great Depression and the post-WWII advantages America enjoyed. No analogue in place today.
(2) The largest demographic challenge we've ever encountered is very much underway - so many smart, useful old people who just keep on living instead of dying off to make space for new generations - perhaps the most wonderful 'challenge' we've ever encountered - but one that is tricky to navigate given the costs of the elderly relative to their economic contribution in gross tax receipts.
(3) Infrastructure investment can delay the business cycle, but cannot end it, and most of the stopgaps that were used the last time around are exhausted. And why would any investor plow $1 billion into bonds to build bridges that will earn at best 4% less tax, when he could plow it into foreign hotels earning 10% tax-free?

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

Of course simply my opinions, and in a year when punditry is finding well deserved scorn.
Paul Ryan apparently really likes his job and cares about the House of Representatives. Presidential ambitions aside don't you think he would have a great shot at US Senator if he wanted it? The nonsense of government shut downs, slow downs, etc was a stinking dumpster fire that he felt obligated to address. And it looks to me as if he has. You may not like what the House is doing these days but they are at least showing up for work.

We are in uncharted waters. So when considering match ups you have to look at 8 possibilities plus dark horse Republicans. Consider Bernie, Hillary, Trump and Cruz (odd, have we started using first and last names that way for a reason) and each option with a solid legislative majority for or against them.

We differ on some trivial matters like politics so don't take umbrage if I say I find the Democratic party to be a little too prone to cronyism and corruption. So a Clinton admin and a solid D Congress worries me. Saunders and a R Congress would certainly differ on almost everything but I think the man has a degree of honesty and candor that Clinton lacks. They "might" keep each other honest. Sort of.

Cruz and an R Congress. Lord knows what they might do. Cruz and a functional D counterweight, maybe better. Trump is a charlatan whose very buffoonery would bring us discredit. He would soon find leadership boring and Congress would just run things without him.

So, a lot to ponder. I may split my vote, Congress one way and Pres the other. We shall see.

Oh, and we have had unlikeable presidents before. LBJ was apparently a real SOB. That was in an age when we cared more for experience and capability, rather than how well pols "felt our pain". Welcome to Reality Show Politics.

Tacitus

who would never name a FIRST team after himself
http://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/2016/04/first-robotics-retro-tech.html

Jerry Emanuelson said...

donzelion said: "Americas big infrastructure investments (the 1930s, the 1950s) were products of the Great Depression and the post-WWII advantages America enjoyed. No analogue in place today."

I disagree. Today we have the climate change crisis plus the inexcusable fragility of the electric grid, which is the infrastructure upon which all of the other infrastructures depend. NOAA has proposed a new project to largely take care of both of these problems at once (in addition to adding high-velocity money to the economy over a long period of time). It is a solution to the much-too-slow adoption of solar and wind power.

The main problem with solar and wind power is that the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow; that is, unless you are looking at a large enough area. Once you get to a scale close to the size of the 48 contiguous United States, then either the sun shines or the wind blows (or both) somewhere in a manner that is enough to provide electric power the entire country without energy storage.

The NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory has software using their "National Electricity with Weather System" model to show that this is actually the case. NOAA, of course, has all of the data. The results were published in the January 25, 2016 issue of "Nature Climate Change."

The one critical additional requirement is a nationwide high-voltage direct current (HVDC) distribution system. Due to semiconductor circuits that can now handle around a million volts, HVDC is now immensely more efficient than AC for long-distance electric power transmission.

The cost of electricity in the United States would not increase with the proposed system. Target year for completion would be 2030, and it would quite dramatically reduce U.S. carbon emissions.

NOAA ESRL actually wants to have the distribution system buried along railroads and interstate highways. Two major companies have already developed underground HVDC cables with ratings of at least 500 thousand volts. The underground cables have a coaxial structure, so if they were run all the way into all-metal buildings housing the terminal converters, the HVDC system could be protected against nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) plus all sorts of minor intentional physical assaults. HVDC tends to be quite resistant to geomagnetic storms as well, especially at the proposed DC voltage levels. Older HVDC systems have had vulnerability to geomagnetic storms, but better system designs are reducing this problem.

For more information, see http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2016/012516-rapid-affordable-energy-transformation-possible.html.

David Brin said...

donzel the mystery of why we’ve seen no recession may answer itself as the silver lining to the goppers blocking high velocity stinulation. This low-velocity recovery was cruel and partly a great raid on the middle class by oligarchs. But it probably spread out any “recession” so that in fact, we’ve already had that part of the business cycle.

Paying for infrastructure is easy. empower the fed to issue infrastructure bonds paying 1%. They’ll all get sold.

Tacitus, they are showing u for work. But it is still the lazy, lazy, lazy worst Congress in a hundred years. Holding fewer hearings and advancing less legislation than almost any, including in areas GOP folks claim to care about!

“I say I find the Democratic party to be a little too prone to cronyism and corruption.”

Fine but can we see the proof? Any? Any at all, other than a giant and endless Big Lie assertion? Like the assertion that the “most-corrupt” Clintonites would all go to prison after 2001 and Republicans sent hundreds of FBI and other agents scurrying around DC searching for smoking gun that no one found? Ever? At all?

Jerry Emanuelson said...

For more a broader discussion about the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory proposal, see:

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/is-a-national-high-voltage-transmission-system-the-cheapest-way-to-cut-emis/413867/.

NOAA has also done a preliminary analysis to show that a similar electrical system would work in Australia, India, Europe and China.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

We are in uncharted waters. So when considering match ups you have to look at 8 possibilities plus dark horse Republicans. Consider Bernie, Hillary, Trump and Cruz (odd, have we started using first and last names that way for a reason)


I wonder about the names myself. Back when Jesse Jackson ran in '88, it was a purposeful insult to refer to him as "Jesse" and the other candidates by last name. But I don't think that's what's going on with Hillary and Bernie. For one thing, Hillary ran for senator with signs that just said "Hillary" with no last name, which served the dual purpose of avoiding the question of whether she is Hillary Rodham or Hillary Clinton, and also getting around the negative connotation that the Clinton name attached to in 2000.

With "Bernie", and with "Hillary" too, there's a sense of "All you have to do is say the first name, and everyone knows who you're talking about." That doesn't really work for Ted Cruz (actually Raphael Eduardo Cruz Jr), and Donald Trump is more known as "Trump". It's plastered all over his buildings.


We differ on some trivial matters like politics so don't take umbrage if I say I find the Democratic party to be a little too prone to cronyism and corruption. So a Clinton admin and a solid D Congress worries me.


From your lips to God's ear. I'd be happy as a pig in you-know-what if the Dems can pull off one house of congress. "What to do if the president and both houses are in Democratic hands" is to me up there with "What to do if I win the lottery", or "What to do if the Messiah shows up at my house." Any of those things would be nice, but I'm not expecting any of them to happen.

Saunders and a R Congress would certainly differ on almost everything but I think the man has a degree of honesty and candor that Clinton lacks. They "might" keep each other honest. Sort of.

Cruz and an R Congress. Lord knows what they might do. Cruz and a functional D counterweight, maybe better.


Both of those cross-party scenarios would probably keep the total gridlock going.

Trump is a charlatan whose very buffoonery would bring us discredit. He would soon find leadership boring and Congress would just run things without him.


Agreed that Trump is a complete wild card. He might actually end up being the most liberal candidate in the running, although he might feel like dancing with the ones who brung him, at least for awhile. I don't know about you, but after a few months where Trump seemed unstoppable, he already feels (to me) like yesterday's news. I don't think he'll be the nominee.

I'm maintaining my dual predictions, that Hillary will be our next president, and that it will become obvious that Trump didn't actually want to win the presidency, but couldn't break character enough to stop running.

Anabelle said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_federal_officials_convicted_of_corruption_offenses

Count the numbers. 27 Democrats. 18 republicans. P = 0.002 with coinflip distribution.

Alfred Differ said...

Democrats have a long history of corruption, so Tacitus2's concern isn't unfounded. It's mostly historical, though. Nowadays they don't get convicted often, but that's probably because they've learned to stop short of the actual crime.

Party bosses aren't controlling as much as it seems. That doesn't make it easy for newcomers to steer the party, but you don't have to shoot people to do it anymore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Long

Robert said...

Well, that's not exactly fair you know.

Eight of those Republicans were from before the 1930s. They really should be left out - or at the very least those before Fall.

If we were to use 1980 as the starting point for modern Democrats and Modern Republicans, then it's 16 Democrats to six Republicans.

There were in fact two Democrats in the Executive Branch convicted of crimes during the Clinton Administration. (Admittedly, there were five in the Shrug's Administration. No doubt if Obama had realized Republicans were going to be dicks and would never agree to work with him, he could have destroyed the Republican Party by going on a witch hunt after his election. It probably would have significantly damaged both parties, but the end result might have been the Republicans losing power forever.)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

None of you are interested in the Generals Gambit in the main blog?

Cripes "Annabelle." notice they leave out the child-buggering perverts, who are ALL republicans, while democrat "pervs" were just paying for prostitutes or having affairs. Oh, try comparing divorce rates! Or taking gambling money.

David Brin said...

“So a Clinton admin and a solid D Congress worries me”

Then you are still ensnared in the miasma, sir. The Fox-Saudi-Koch machine has had one aim, the destruction of politics as an American method for negotiating practical solutions to problems. Consider the four options.

Republican President and GOP Congress. 2002-2007 Plenty of legislation that directly benefited the Oligarchy. And absolutely nothing else. Not a finger of governance. Even the Entitlement Reform bill that was negotiated by an earlier wave of genuine GOP senators was trashed. And no Congressional oversight of monumental Bushite corruption and wars.

Republican President and Demo Congress. 1988-1993 and 2007-2009. Demo Congresses fight with GOP presidents, but also defer to them, approve most appointments, hold hearings, negotiate compromise bills. Get stuff done. Absolutely unacceptable to the oligarchy.

Demo President and GOP Congress. 1995-2001, 2011-present. Absolutely the laziest and most worthless Congress in US history. Fewest bills passed, fewest bills PROPOSED. Fewest hearings and even subpoenas on issues they care about! Except for made-up “scandals” like emails and Benghazi that are 99% theater. Governance limited to executive orders. Acceptable to the oligarchy because politics is destroyed.

Exception… the miracle year 1995 when Newt G actually paused the insanity to negotiate some bills for the good of the nation. And he was soundly punished for it by Hastert, Boehner etc.

Demo President and Demo Congress 2009-2011. Tacitus is talking himself into calling this a horror! But in fact, it is the only time we get an actual government of the United States of America, without deliberate interference by the confederacy. Congress deliberates. Blue Dog (sane-conservative) democrats ally themselves with republicans to prevent socialist excess, but ally with fellow democrats to ACTUALLY GET SOMETHING DONE.

Sure, obamacare is a kludge. No democrat likes it. It is the GOP’s OWN f$#@ing plan! We’d all prefer Canadian Health. But the Demo Congress proved its goodwill by offering the other side their OWN damn plan! Is it even conceivable to get a little credit?

The republican confederates screech that the 2010 Congress passes the Consumer Finance Protection Agency (and they crippled it, since). Seriously? That is socialism?

Sorry. Wanting a divided government is a part of the insanity promulgated by Fox. For heaven sake. Punish the hijackers of American conservatism! Send the GOP to lick its wounds in the wilderness, a while and maybe they will snap out of it and decide to let adults run their show, for a change. I will settle for someone as (shudder) “adult” as Newt Gingrich.

David Brin said...

Cheaters. How anyone can side with a party that only holds on to power by cheating....

Robert said...

No. The Republicans had their chance.

It is time for Libertarians to be allowed to take their place.

Because even as batshit insane as some Libertarians are, they are a fuckload better for this country than Republicans are. And their efforts to control the budget and minimize government control over our personal lives is to be applauded.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

The Generals Gambit makes a nice story, but I don't think it likely. I don't think they've thought that far ahead, either.

I don't think Ryan wants the job. I suspect he doesn't want the convention chairman job either. I just don't see how they are going to find someone electable that isn't him, though. I just don't see it.

I suspect we are going to get a very good history lesson out of this. A contested convention in the age of ubiquitous cameras and microphones should be fun. I'll be making lots of popcorn.

Alfred Differ said...

I got to meet Gary Johnson up close a while back. Interesting guy. California will likely vote Democrat, so I'm free to vote as I wish. If the Libertarians nominate Gary, I'll vote for him... again. 8)

Robert said...

Off on a science tangent for a moment...

I have to wonder, Dr. Brin, if this might be used eventually to manufacture space elevators. I mean, carbyne has a tensile strength greater than any other form of carbon... and by wrapping it in double carbon nanotubes, it remains stable. And for that matter... a carbyne space elevator would probably provide significant electrical energy for countries in the region around it.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Oh, I regularly attend libertarian events and have a BOOK on it that's almost finished! I would love to see the LP grow up, become a contender and thus be forced to grow up more, maybe drifting back to Adam Smith away from loopy Rothbard and jibbering rand.

Tony Fisk said...

I suspect the "General's Gambit", if such a thing is in the works, has come a little late. Members of the third most educated caste may look at the prospect, conclude the best strategy* is to let the rotten corpse burn to prevent the spread, and politely decline.

That is not necessarily something to celebrate. It establishes a one party system (in the short term, at least) which is the same as 'the destruction of politics' the oligarchs crave.

* .. known for this, as well as live grenade recognition.

Anabelle said...

The other problem with the Generals gambit is finding a general who is willing to be a politician at all. In this era members of the military have wide bipartisan support and politicians get their names dragged through the mud.

donzelion said...

"None of you are interested in the Generals Gambit in the main blog?"
Not in 2016 - they're not really seen as 'white knights' these days. Plenty of great leaders in that lot, who would command respect once groomed for popular consumption, but I know of none with all of the following qualities:
(1) Name recognition
(2) Willingness and desire to lead politically
(3) Demonstrated subservience to political machinery
(4) A history of conclusive victories (a la Eisenhower)
(5) Suitably conservative credentials (who did Powell endorse for president?)

The last generals I'm aware of who dabbled in politics - Wes Clark and Colin Powell - had unhappy political efforts. Trump has postured as the "white knight" among Republicans already - in a contested primary, Reps would have to be pretty ballsy to deny Trump a win (esp. in favor of a candidate who has been naturalized). But anything is possible.

David Brin said...

Tony says: "It establishes a one party system (in the short term, at least) ..."

Sorry Tony, but you don't see it. Most in the US don't. The Democratic Party is not and has never been an "organized" political party. It is a chaotic melange, constituting nearly all sane (and some insane) forces in American life. If Congress consisted ENTIRELY of democrats the following battles between "blue dog" pro-capitalism dems and partial leftists would immediately make this clear.

David Brin said...

Another way of putting it: The democratic party is the legislature of the union and the GOP is a house of lords with absolute veto power over anything ever emerging from the diversity and negotiated pragmatism of the lower house.

=======
As for the generals, did I say it was a GREAT idea? I have no idea how they would armtwist a man like Adm Mike Mullen, who along with Gates rescued us from Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld using our armed forces as toys... into taking such an absurd nomination. Basically, he'd demand that face to face both Trump AND Cruz back the plan. Knowing its only purpose is to save the down ticket races from disaster.

For that, they might be willing to endure losing all control over their presidential candidate. It would also let them abandon climate denialism and Supply Side in a way that saves face.

But I am just playing around. We simply have no idea how this train wreck plays out. I'm fascinated. Terrified and hopeful. Above all fascinated by what the hydrophobia-whipping campaign of Rubert & his pals hath wrought.

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

You said,

“(3) Infrastructure investment can delay the business cycle, but cannot end it, and most of the stopgaps that were used the last time around are exhausted. And why would any investor plow $1 billion into bonds to build bridges that will earn at best 4% less tax, when he could plow it into foreign hotels earning 10% tax-free?”

The first sentence is true but the second isn’t. Interest rates are now negative in most of the developed world and under these conditions a US government-guaranteed infrastructure bond yielding 4% before taxes would be snapped up very quickly. We are talking about at a 3% positive yield difference between a government bond and a government-guaranteed bond. Both would be as risk-free as you can get. US Govt 5 year bonds are yielding 1.22%. German Bunds 5 years are yielding -.37% and Japanese Govt 5 years are yielding -.22%.

Foreign hotel investments may yield 10% but carry much more risk and is very subject to the business cycle, political risk and to terrorist threat. Do you think tourist hotels are now yielding 10% in Tunisia? It’s a no-brainer. Every insurance company and bond fund in the world would be standing in line to buy these bonds if they are yielding 4%. Buy the infrastructure bonds and you won’t regret it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Deuxglass and Donzelion

"Infrastructure investment can delay the business cycle, but cannot end it,"

I call bollocks on the "business cycle" - there is no such thing

What there is (just now) is the big toe hogging all of the blood that the rest of the body needs to operate

The "business cycle" is like "historical cycles" a nonsense that becomes a smokescreen and interferes with fixing the actual problems

Robert said...

I just had a pre-caffeinated thought.

Cruz is a stalking horse meant to allow a dark horse candidate to come in and save the Republican Party and revitalize its base.

But it's not in the manner Dr. Brin has been suggesting.

Let us assume for a moment Ted Cruz gets the Republican nomination. You then see a lawsuit from Democrats stating he is not eligible as a candidate because of the whole Naturalized shtick... and Democrats win.

At this point, the Briar Patched Ryan, who insisted he would not be a candidate in the brokered convention, steps forward and reluctantly accepts his party's call for a leader. He is not doing this to save Republicans from themselves. He is doing this to save Republicans from the vile dastardly Democrats who dared use a lawsuit to knock out their candidate.

And you have a massively revitalized base who hates the Democrats, hates Clinton (I would prefer Sanders win and there is still a chance... but it's a longshot - and let's admit it, Sanders would still work as their target of ire even if he wasn't behind such a lawsuit), and they sweep the House, Senate, and Presidency. By crook, if need be, and electronic voting machines that are already gamed. But seeing Republicans would be calling for blood? The Republican Party and oligarchical masters could get away with it.

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

"Then you are still ensnared in the miasma, sir."

I have had my three cups of coffee (The Black Hammer of Rationality) and so there is no miasma lingering about me.

As is often the case we seem to be talking tangentially to each other. I did not offer a specific commentary on the most recent stint of One Party Rule and would only opine on that matter that the damage from a poorly considered reform of health care system has yet to be reckoned. Perhaps we could discuss that another time.

My comment that the Democratic party when left unchecked leans towards Cronyism and Corruption prompted a response and a request for proof. I should explain myself. I said "prone to". Here is where my unease is generated.

Yes, historically the Democratic Party has roots in machine politics, probably to a greater extent than the Republicans. I am speaking of the modern incarnations of these parties btw. It has been, I think, a while since you could dodge a traffic ticket with a deftly folded sawbuck in Chicago but the antics of characters like Blagoyevich are of a current nature.

I lead with Illinois as a tip of the hat to LarryHart and also because it is a bit safer. Too many of the political machines that have oozed corruption of late have the added factor of racial politics to get around. By your leave I will simply make the point that the Democratic party has a past and something of a current issue with political machines where Influence counts.

Point conceded in advance that IL Republicans are convicted at a good clip also. Corruption spreads when left unchecked.

So what are the antidotes to this sort of nonsense? This gets me to my actual point.

There are so many connections between the news media and the Democratic party. This is a "soft" corruption of questions not asked, investigative reports spiked. A free press is one critical element of our national "immune system". Absent that you are like a patient I once had with an inherited deficiency of immunoglobulin production. He looked and felt great....until about one hour before he collapsed hypotensive and septic. No warning fever or chills, no chance to start the antibiotics when the pneumococci were just getting started.

Evidence? OK, but I am setting my own standards here. Is it more plausible and better documented that the media elite of our nation have tight Democratic party ties vis a vis your notion that the Saudis, the Bushes and the (nice new twist!) Casinos of Macao are pulling the strings of poor ol' Tacitus?

Ben Sherwood. Recently President of NBC News, now in charge of ABC. Sister is Elizabeth Sherwood-Randell. She has worked for the Obama admin since day one including a role as NSC adviser. She is currently Deputy Secretary of Energy.

David Rhodes. President of CBS News. His brother is Ben, Deputy NSC advisor for Strategic Communication. Former Obama speech writer. I think Benghazi is FUBAR plus spin, but do you think it is ideal that B. Rhodes helped write the admin talking points on it?

Virginia Moseley, CNN VP and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. Spouse: Tom Nides. Senior VP of Fannie Mae 98-01, CEO Credit Suisse 01-04, CEO Morgan Stanley 05-10, Deputy Sec of State 10-13. Now back to Morgan Stanley.

Oh, and George Stephanopolis. Where to start. Undisclosed Clinton Fnd donations....

I don't consider these to be bad people. But this is exactly the kind of golf buddy scenario you decry on the other side of the aisle. But with perhaps a much greater opportunity to influence the body politic in active or passive ways.

So, have I attained a level of proof equivalent to the Saud/Macau/Murdoch Illuminati or would you like another helping or two?

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

Having run over character limit I have to put on this addendum that did not fit:

T

* the other two elements of the "immune system" of course are the Justice Department and the powers of the minority party. A unified government that could stifle committees, block special investigators and steer IRS and FBI policy, all with the silence of main stream media....this is my concern.

If you feel I have become no more than a writer of implausible fictions I at least expect you will teach me the Secret Handshake!

T

raito said...

LarryHart,

With regard to speaker Ryan, there's a big difference between 'shoot, there isn't really anyone else' and 'choose someone who ran'.

Tacitus2,

Nice going on the FIRST stuff. My (younger) children loved watching the competitions at the MN state fair. Next time you buy from Axman, you >must< get a sticker from them. The one that says, "We use genuine Axman parts". I got one when I spent $100 there (and got an ax keychain, too).

No, I'm not interested in Generals. Though I'll make one comment. Yes, they're mostly conservative. You have to be when you're job is to win without losing too much. But those same guys aren't quite as hidebound as the label 'conservative' makes it sound. Because if someone like that sees and recognizes the opportunity to win with little loss, he's going to take it. I'm not saying it very well, I suppose.

As far as political parties go, it seems to be a sad fact that most Americans think that the US has always been a two party state. With the two parties being R and D. Just that alone will make it staggeringly difficult to either kill the GOP or make a viable third party.

And my definition of corruption is decidedly odd. I find the current manner in which primaries are run to be corrupt in itself.

Reading here has certainly been interesting. Here's one result that's come from it.

I have the opinion that people who could liquidate everything into a current bank savings account and, without any income other than the paltry interest that account pays, never have to work again for their entire life, are so far removed from the average guy that they really wouldn't have any understanding of how people live in this country (naturally, there's probably a very few who are brighter than that, or who worked themselves up to that point, and so remember that kind of living). It's sort of the American version of the popular reading of 'let them eat cake'. I still have that opinion.

I was my opinion that all our senators and reps (and anyone higher) were of that class.

At some point I went and looked it up. I was incorrect. They aren't all that rich. But most of them are. So my opinion about our legislators changed.

Marino said...

re: the General Gambit. From outside it looks bad, seriously bad. Ike was the man who won D-Dy, but now a candidate from the military would look a lot to us bloody furriners like a De Gaulle (but without the powers that allowed him to reshape French institutions, so he would eventually fizzle) or worse: Latin America or Middle East. (OK: on the "one of most educated clades" I concur. I've read the US Army field manual on counterinsurngercy, the one IIRC written by Gen. Petraeus. It began with a very clear and concise explanation of what a "culture" is that could have been perfect in Cultural Anthropology 101)
And wasn't dr. Brin pointing out that many Air Force officers are close to the Dominionist/Scudderite side? What if they choose someone from that crop?

Deuxglass said...

Hi Duncan,

The definition of the business cycle is "a fluctuation in economic activity that an economy experiences over a period of time" and that is all. You cannot deny that there have been periods of expansion and periods of contraction. If you want to discuss why, then I can see that but in no case can you say that the cycle does not exist.

Tacitus2 said...

Ratio

I do hope you are referencing some more recent and sane robotic stuff at the MN State Fair. If you mean the combat exhibitions we put on about 15 years ago...my God the Universe is a small place. Those were anarchic fun though.

I am a regular at Axman and do have some stickers.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Tacitus I get your point about political cesspits like the Illinois governorship. I have never claimed dems are categorically pure! Indeed, all those corrupt dem-guvs in Ill GOT CAUGHT and largely by demo state attorneys.

All I want is for the process to be unshackled by a particular treason… refusal to allow politics to function. A treason that has become the sole platform and purpose of the Republican Party.
=
“There are so many connections between the news media and the Democratic party. This is a "soft" corruption of questions not asked, investigative reports spiked.”

Again prove it. It is an assertion. The grain of truth is that Democrats tend to be interested in progress and addressing problems, sometimes in ways I deem wrong! But certainly journalists find the manic side (democrats) more interesting than the endless depressive, eeyore-lazy do-nothing about anything that does not help oligarchy republicans.

But the press POUNCED on Spitzer and Weiner and the Illinois governors.

Sure I make assertions too, re Macao casinos and Saudis and such. That’s a fair cop. But those are add-ons. Your assertions comprise your sole reason for not wanting to let the party that wants to actually govern try governing for a while.

That’s what it boils down to. Why not let the party that wants to actually govern try governing for a while?

“A unified government that could stifle committees, block special investigators and steer IRS and FBI policy, all with the silence of main stream media....this is my concern.”

It would be mine too! If there were a scintilla of chance of that. It did not happen during Bill Clinton’s 2 years with a demo congress, nor during Barack Obama’s. It is the GOP Congress that has cut the budget of the IRS to the bone so it does 10% as many audits.

SHOW us how the mainstream media left the dems alone 2009-2011! It didn’t happen. Nor did a scintilla of corruption. (Daryl Issa used he committee to search, real hard, for 6 years!)

Jiminy, you sound as if today’s GOP congress is actually doing something, like blocking corruption, anything at all. Pray tell what?

David Brin said...

Oh, you have got to read this:

http://www.salon.com/2016/04/13/the_cruz_drudge_rift_how_donald_trump_has_sparked_battle_between_the_right_and_the_conservative_media_giant/

Anonymous said...

Infrastructure? America is neck deep in infrastructure, and building more:

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/apr/07/how-sandag-worked-media-transportation-plan/

1,757 new lane-miles of freeway capacity, oh yeah! Squees of delight from the car-sitters planted deep into their flaccid butt receptacles, for all those new lane-miles will surely (this time) end congestion once and for all. For sure. Yep. You betcha. And a free pony!

Now, as for actually maintaining all that extant infrastructure, ahh, hmm, well. About that. See... Maybe if DOT stopped plowing a majority of their budgets into yet more stroads? Probably not... unsexy maintenance... not a resume-enhancing lane-expansion for new parking mausoleum, so... no.

Meanwhile, in some positive news, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is out apologizing for the "we come in peace, pave to kill" era of infrastructure design, the bit where American highway engineers flubbed their "copy the Germans" skill check and rammed Interstates right through urban cores. Mostly over "urban blight" a.k.a. where the poor black folk live. Classy!

Deuxglass said...

Ike was a special case. WW II was a clear victory and Ike's job was also deeply involved in politics, both international and domestic. He had the stature than no general has today even though many are excellent soldiers and people. A general as VP would add little to the ticket in my opinion and certainly not enough to make the election.

Some of my immediate family are career soldiers and they are more on the conservative side but they definitely don't give any politician, Democrat or Republican, a blank check. Afghanistan was justified in their eyes but they feel that in Iraq, the military was sent in on false pretenses and both parties are responsible for that.

Alfred Differ said...

@Deuxglass: Corporate bonds are certainly riskier, but at 10% they would have to be 10x riskier than a 1% government bond before one breaks even. Bond buyers are usually buying safety, but only as one segment of their portfolio. Float a large number of infrastructure bonds and one might find the only significant buyers are foreigners wishing to hide their reserves from their people. I don't mind them funding our efforts, but I know how to spell PANAMA.

Tacitus2 said...

David

In a post titled Political Fantasies I felt justified in setting my own criteria. I asked if I had made a case as convincing as your Fox/Murdoch/Saudi conspiracy. I believe I have. How say you?

If you prefer, I did offer to keep bringing more to the table but it starts to seem like over kill. Fish in a barrel.

Honest people can have differences of opinion on the merits of divided government. The lack of progress, or perhaps of progress in directions you approve of, might be seen by Conservatives as a good thing.

Look, I am not trying to convince anybody here to change their ways or their votes. If I have a function here it is to give you insights into the roughly 40% of your fellow citizens who are somewhere in the conservative spectrum. You may find it interesting or not. The internet does have other things on it.

There are for instance some very funny cat videos out there.

Tacitus



Jumper said...

(They stole Anthony Fox from my hometown.)
If we went by dictionaries, the opposite of conservative would be radical, the opposite of liberal would be authoritarian, and the opposite of democratic would be elitist.
Feel free to make 3D models.

Alfred Differ said...

@David: Why not let the party that wants to actually govern try governing for a while?

Ouch. The liberal within me is obliged to point out that letting statists be statists isn't such a good idea. Sometimes inaction in the correct action.

I'm not convinced inaction is required today, but I tolerate those who want it. From where I sit, inaction looks to be mildly harmful, but we are managing well enough. Maybe I see it like the guy falling out of a 100 story building who has only fallen 70 stories and doesn't see the problem yet, but I honestly don't see any looming disasters our political process can't handle. No doubt there is a Pearl Harbor style shock coming our way, but we are resilient.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

No. The Republicans had their chance.

It is time for Libertarians to be allowed to take their place.

Because even as batshit insane as some Libertarians are, they are a fuckload better for this country than Republicans are. And their efforts to control the budget and minimize government control over our personal lives is to be applauded.


Y'know, I think Democrats and Libertarians might actually make a functioning check-and-balance government work. I might even support some of the Libertarian postitions.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Let us assume for a moment Ted Cruz gets the Republican nomination. You then see a lawsuit from Democrats stating he is not eligible as a candidate because of the whole Naturalized shtick... and Democrats win.


Donald Trump likes to suggest that "Democrats" will bring a lawsuit, but why would they? Cruz is almost as good a candidate to run against as Trump. Democrats are far more likely to talk up the "birther" thing as a campaign issue than to actually force someone else to replace Cruz on the ballot.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

* the other two elements of the "immune system" of course are the Justice Department and the powers of the minority party. A unified government that could stifle committees, block special investigators and steer IRS and FBI policy, all with the silence of main stream media....this is my concern.


You realize you're describing what did happen when one party held all the reins of government, and that was during the Bush Administration (pre-2006)?

"The Media" these days has to include FOX, Drudge, Breitbart, Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity.

And no major news outlet, not even my local independent WGN, did anything but beat the drums of war leading up to Iraq. I don't see where you get this "media is in bed with the Democrats" meme. It was probably true into the early Reagan years, but not so much since then.

Robert said...

Who says it'll actually be Democrats? Why not some organization that claims it is Democratic but in fact is quietly bankrolled by the Koch Brothers so to ensure a candidate they prefer gets in charge. In fact, Dr. Brin would suggest such a lawsuit would be a stalking horse by the oligarchs.

I will say that Cruz is the absolute height of Republican hypocrisy. One of the huge complaints about Obama was that they felt he wasn't born in the United States. They claim that a very-pregnant woman flew out to Africa on aircraft that were not nearly as comfortable back when Obama wasn't yet born, and then that information on his birth was faked at that time just in case. Yet we have Cruz, who it is known he was born in Canada, able to run for president under the Republican ticket.

While Republicans would claim otherwise, it's obvious that the real issue was Obama being black. And it will be quite delightful if Cruz wins the Republican nomination watching "pure" Republicans try to jump through hoops to explain how Obama wasn't Naturalized and is not a Legitimate President, but Cruz, who isn't Naturalized, is qualified... and that it's not because Obama is black and that anti-Obama Republicans are in fact racists.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

Anyone want to speculate how events would work out if a naturalized citizen won the popular election for President? We know the Electors do the actual deed and the Chief Justice swears in the winner. Would they just say "No" without the need for a lawsuit? 8)

raito said...

Tacitus2,

Yes, I mean the sane stuff. I saw the crazy back when, but I didn't have children then. The in-laws are in the TC, so we're up there a lot, and always for the fair.

I think our Anonymous friend may be missing that a lot of infrastructure is not national. Locally, we do have a problem with roads. The problem is that while we could make a road to last at least 50 years, what contractor is going to do that and forego the opportunity to repair the road every 10 years and get paid? It's all about those rents (though rent is an inexact term here. Sinecure is close, but work actually gets done). One friend who is an expert said (some time ago, but I think it's probably still true) that locally there was only one stretch of road built to spec. That road has lasted 40 years. Sheesh, I currently have to drive through a highway intersection that's undergoing construction yet again, like it does every few years.

And part of the problem is the idea of an 'election cycle'. Nobody cares if the road will last 10X as long if it costs 3X, because by then the voters will have forgotten and the politicians will be out of office anyway. It's like various humorous and not-so-humorous takes on why being poor makes you do counterproductive things with money.

Alfred Differ said...

We should probably strike the natural born citizen clause, but apparently that has been tried two dozen times and seems to fail because some proponents have a particular person in mind.

I have no issue with the common law version we have for ‘natural born’ that includes children of US citizens born outside the US. Only one parent need be US-ian.

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30527.pdf

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

No road lasts 40 years. They repaved it several times when your not-too-knowledgeable friend wasn't looking. The underlayment can last forever, see Roman roads. The top surface always wears out or cracks. (I did my share of highway engineering work, from R&D to inspection. I know what I'm talking about.)

The only problem with that, Alfred, is it's not what the Constitution says. It doesn't say merely that the president must be a citizen. Otherwise, whatever definition of "citizen" would suffice. Besides, Cruz's dad was not a U.S. citizen and there is argument to be made that his mother was not either, because she might have adopted Canadian citizenship and given up U.S. citizenship. On this point the law has never been determined and a ruling is needed, not mere speculation.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: The business cycle is a well-established phenomenon. Different economic schools agree on its existence, but not on its frequency or cause.

For a fun way of looking at them:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

Deuxglass said...

Alfred Differ,

A bond trading at 10% yield is in the Junk Bond category and many institutions cannot buy bonds with such a low rating according to their bylaws, State Laws and just plain good sense. If you take an insurance company for example, their portfolios consist to a large majority of bonds because they are interested in the steady cash flow from the coupons and the safety factor because their expenses are predictable. They have to match their revenue with their outlays or they get into trouble. Junk bonds are highly correlated with the general state of the economy (non-payment of coupon risk) and a portfolio of these risky bonds would result in uncertain revenue streams. They can buy a limited amount but would keep it to a small fraction of their portfolio because of that risk. AIG exploded not because of their bond portfolio, their basic insurance business was very good and profitable, but because an unregulated team in London, where the regulations concerning insurance were looser, was using AIG’s immense bond portfolio as collateral for very risky OTC contracts. When that market collapsed, AIG collapsed with it because of margin calls.

Donzelion was talking about an infrastructure bond yielding 4% and with that type of yield, the bonds would find ready buyers. With only a 1% yield, that would be lower than that of a 5 year US Govt bond and therefore is without interest. In traditional Corporate Financing theory, mathematically there is no difference in using debt or equity in your financial structure but we all know that that is not true in real life. A bond yielding 10% is not 10 times riskier than a US government bond. The relationship is not strictly mathematical. The risk varies with the economic cycle, geography, the industry and the nature of the issuing company. It has what we call “tail risk” that can be difficult to quantify when it comes to financial markets because they are not made of matter but made of emotion.

Deuxglass said...

raito,

I am not a civil engineer but a friend of mine who is mentioned that many countries in Europe use a method for road construction that is different than that in the US. He told me that the roads last twice as long but cost twice as much. I wonder if taking the lowest bid often results in lower quality. It is the easy way for a local government to cut costs in the short term and leave the problem to the next administration.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@David: Why not let the party that wants to actually govern try governing for a while?

Ouch. The liberal within me is obliged to point out that letting statists be statists isn't such a good idea. Sometimes inaction in the correct action.


I can't speak for our host, but what I thought he meant was more along the lines of "Why not let the party that actually wants to do their jobs do their jobs?"

Not so much "let statists be statists" as "let functionaries function." The current crop of Republicans aren't just being ideological in their governing, they flat out refuse to govern.

raito said...

Deuxglass,

Your friend may be right, but twice as long for twice the price isn't really any bargain, except that the people who use the road have one less maintenance cycle in that double time.

My friend's calculation was more like three times the cost for 5 times as long. A clear winner, if everyone were acting sanely.

Jumper,

You may be right, he may have been talking underlayment. It was a while ago. Still, that section (which I pass every day) looks worn, and has for at least 15 years. Asphalt, so the difference between new and old is pretty obvious.

Jumper said...

Maybe they grade the soil, that would be awesome. They only grade the asphalt aggregate here. What that means is, they shake stone through sieves, and use only specific fractions of material from each "grade" (size) particle. The goal is to have a sweet spot where most of the space is filled with very hard rock (or hard sand particles, or hard dust particles) and yet holds a decent amount of binding material. (aphalt with polymers added)

Or you can just built the top surface (aka the wearing course) road from concrete.

If they actually graded the soil it would be very strong. Of course the Romans used crushed limestone which has its own properties of interest. It's good stuff.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: That's pretty close to how I read what he said too. What I'm pointing out is that 'not governing' is a fair response from someone who thinks the scope of government is too large. I may think the current GOP approach to it sucks because it is too broad (Blocking judicial appointees? Really?), but my nit-picking personae surfaces occasionally and this is one of those times.

The lack of Congressional governance has had interesting impacts on budgets that I've seen. I can't say I dislike all of them.

David's reasonable come-back is that lack of governance is what the oligarchs want. My counter come-back is that it is what I want too when I want to decrease the scope of government as a good liberal should now and then.

David Brin said...

Then Deuxglass your immediate family does not include soldiers who can tall the difference between wars costing a trillion dollars and ten thousand US lives, tying up US invasion forces of nearly 200,000 men, while ruining the reserves and damn near destroying the US Army...

...versus "Democratic quagmires" in which volunteers-only get rotated in/out a few thousand at a time, mostly gaining experience improving their war fighting skills while pinpointing actual enemies at ulta-low US casualty rates, without wrecking our economy or readiness. That difference would be plain to anyone un-blinkered. And it shows (as I do in this web-blog) why the top brass grudgingly votes democrat.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-democrats-and-republicans-wage-war.html

David Brin said...

Question for Tacitus. How's our current Divided Government working out re debt and budgets and all that? If the old, merely half crazy GOP returned, we might actually get that negotiated entitlement reform. Dems would re-activate most of it.

Robert said...

Don't expect the old GOP to ever return, Dr. Brin.

It's long dead. I almost wonder if it caught something under Nixon, which then started metastasizing under Reagan and came into its own during Clinton.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred,

The "business cycle" is just another version of the Toynbee cycles - with just as much evidence and just as many believers

Even if they did exist then we are NOT heading down the usual cycle

The theory is
We come out of a time of limited production, there is pent up demand
people build factories, install extra machinery to meet that demand
BUT
They overshoot - and install too much capacity - demand is met and exceeded
prices drop and companies go bankrupt - stop producing

BUT that is NOT what is happening now! - we have a historical LOW on increasing capacity because we are demand limited
The money that would flow to new machinery is going to buying company shares and other rents

We may well end up in a recession BUT it won't be a "new recession" it will be the old one that we never completely left - NOT a new cycle


Road building
A couple of things to consider
Weather! - if you get deep freezing it makes a LOT of difference!
Wear, the rule of thumb is that road wear/damage is related to the forth power of axle weight
So a 40 ton 4 axle truck causes 20,000 times as much damage as a 2 ton car

If you have a road that is almost never used by heavy vehicles it can last a very long time with minimal maintenance

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I have no issue with the common law version we have for ‘natural born’ that includes children of US citizens born outside the US. Only one parent need be US-ian.


I don't either if we agree on a definition. But the birthers already poisoned that well by insisting Obama didn't qualify, even though his mother is American. It's funny to hear the same people explain why Cruz is ok, even though he was born on foreign soil and Obama wasn't.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

While Republicans would claim otherwise, it's obvious that the real issue was Obama being black. And it will be quite delightful if Cruz wins the Republican nomination watching "pure" Republicans try to jump through hoops to explain how Obama wasn't Naturalized and is not a Legitimate President, but Cruz, who isn't Naturalized, is qualified... and that it's not because Obama is black and that anti-Obama Republicans are in fact racists.


It will be just as fun to watch Republicans realize that Raphael Eduardo Cruz Jr. in in fact Hispanic.

Alfred Differ said...

@Deuxglass: You have a fair point about institutions not be allowed to purchase junk bonds. I’m old enough to remember a harsh lesson in that and a later lesson I found strange when someone explained that they could securitize bonds of high quality using sub-prime mortgages. Heh. I also remember that a bond’s rate is more of a market negotiated thing and not necessarily fixed. I might have trouble getting someone to buy a five year bond paying $10K with my name on it for $9.9K now. I might get more nibbles at a $9K price, but only if they knew my work history. It’s more likely I would get offers much lower or demands for collateral. As for linearity between return rate and risk, I wouldn’t expect it. I’m enough of a poker player, though, to know there are limits to what one should pay to stay in a hand. If you have a 1 in 3 shot of winning a hand, you have to be careful about bets larger than 1/3 of the current pot. Bonds aren’t all that different and the interest rate signals the risks involved.

While I don’t think selling infrastructure bonds near 1% is as easy as David suggests with his off the cuff answer, I strongly suspect they WOULD get sold. The money would come in from overseas. Instead of parking the $$ in Helvetian accounts to be invested from the shadows, they’d be in the form of our infrastructure bonds. Some of the Helvetian $$ might wind up here too.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H: It caught a dose of Dixiecrat-itus. Every party they've allied with has eventually suffered wracking coughs and either thrown them up or died.

Whatever happened to the Whigs? 8)

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

The only problem with that, Alfred, is it's not what the Constitution says. It doesn't say merely that the president must be a citizen. Otherwise, whatever definition of "citizen" would suffice.


I think Alfred was asserting the point that a baby who is a citizen through one or both parents, no matter where he was born, is a citizen at the moment of birth, and could therefore be considered a natural born citizen. As opposed to someone who becomes naturalized after being a citizen of somewhere else.

The Constitution requires the president to be a "natural born citizen", but does not define the term. If it was so clearly understood that it required no explanation in 1789, that is certainly not the case now.

If I were the judge of such things, I would argue that the clear intent of the restriction was to insure that the president not have divided loyalty between the US and his birth nation. In that spirit, I'd say "natural born citizen" means, or very closely correlates to, "Was not a citizen of somewhere else." Obama was not. Cruz was. He was a citizen of Canada by birth as well. So when it comes down to it, Cruz's situation violates the spirit of the rule more than Obama's does.

Finally--note that when faced with the fact that they weren't going to win the "born in Kenya" argument, those same birthers insisted that British Common Law clearly stated that a natural born citizen had to have both parents be US citizens. If so, then Cruz would be right out. Funny, you don't hear that one any more.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: The business cycle as I learned it is not that useful in the predictive sense, so political predictions regarding looming recessions are to be taken strictly as the fear mongering they are.
The theory is
We come out of a time of limited production, there is pent up demand
people build factories, install extra machinery to meet that demand
BUT
They overshoot - and install too much capacity - demand is met and exceeded
prices drop and companies go bankrupt - stop producing


No. That’s the stuff they feed pre-K students. It’s a very weak version of the Keynesian story to which Keynes himself would raise an eyebrow. It makes for good political fodder because it is simple, but it is like an astronomic theory that says everything goes around us. See? It all rises in the east and sets in the west! (Please don’t think about the North Star, though. Or that comet. Certainly don’t ask why.)

In a Keynesian theory, overshoot CAN happen, but it doesn’t have to happen. Careful tuning of government fiscal policy can manage the availability of cheap capital, thus manage production capacity, and thus target demand. With wise counselors we get a reduction of the business cycle the same way shock absorbers work on cars. If the cycle persists anyway, that implies we didn’t know enough up front, or someone is cheating, or both. There is no falsification path to demolish the underlying assumptions regarding the aggregates like demand, but that’s not really a problem, is it? The story is compelling and it GIVES US SOMETHING TO DO.

In an Austrian theory, overshoot CAN happen, but it doesn’t have to happen and certainly isn’t likely to be predictable. When we overshoot it is because there is a misallocation of capital creating those factories and production. Address the incentives causing misallocation and we might get a reduction in the boom, thus a reduction in the bust. Wise counselors aren’t likely to know in advance where problems will occur because misallocation is so seductive they will misunderstand it until after the bust occurs. Assume that will happen and address the incentives THEN. It is painful, but it is science-like because we let the system tell us what fails and then we try another experiment. What happens if I remove this one incentive over here? Who knows? WE will, but not until we try it.

Jumper said...

Is it true if one accepts citizenship in another country and votes there that automatically U.S. citizenship is dissolved?

Jumper said...

Has there ever been a downturn in the "cycle" that was unrelated to irrational exuberance?

Jumper said...

Ah, here we go: (For those who don't know the details, Cruz's mother is the one in question here, an American who took Canadian citizenship - to some unknown degree...)

"INA § 349 states that a citizen, whether a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing certain acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality. The fact of intention is critical; it is not the mere performance of the actions mentioned in § 349. Seven types of conduct are currently listed in the INA as expatriative. The potentially expatriating acts are: (1) applying for and obtaining naturalization in a foreign country, provided the person is at least 18 years old; (2) making an oath of allegiance to a foreign country, provided the person is at least 18 years old; (3) serving in the military of a foreign country as a commissioned or noncommissioned officer or when the foreign state is engaged in hostilities against the United States; (4) serving in a foreign government position that requires an oath of allegiance to or the nationality of that foreign country, provided the person is at least 18 years old; (5) making a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship to a consular officer outside of the United States; (6) making a formal renunciation of citizenship while in the United States and during time that the United States is involved in a war; and (7) conviction for treason or attempting by force to overthrow the U.S. government, including conspiracy convictions."

Duncan Cairncross said...

Alfred

My simplified explanation says the same thing
The issue is "overshooting" in creation of excessive production capacity

And that is simply NOT happening -
We can't have a boom and bust cycle without the boom!!!

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass -"a US government-guaranteed infrastructure bond yielding 4% before taxes would be snapped up very quickly..."

Well, the Market Vectors trust - one of the larger ETFs handling muni bonds - has $2 billion assets under management, with no extreme flow of funds to snap up yields at @ 4.5%. If investors were really chasing yields, you'd expect that to push up prices, but they've been pretty lackluster since 2012.

But that's financial markets. The better test: if munis were in high demand, you'd see pretty major infrastructure repair/expansion projects. I don't see that where I am, but maybe you do.

But that's the real world effects of the markets. An alternative test: if millionaire/billionaires agreed with you, they'd move their money from offshore accounts into U.S. accounts to take advantage of the opportunities here. I don't see that either - and indeed, it seems the millionaires and billionaires are parking their money overseas, rather than pursuing opportunities that currently exist. Why is that?
- instead of erecting larger firewalls to hide their assets.

My proposed answer is that they see alternative risk opportunities overseas that are better than what they could get here. Yes, there are risks abroad, but those are balanced against potential rewards. Far easier to figure out ways to recover a lost hotel investment than to renegotiate or game a bond investment at home. It could also be that the millionaires/billionaires (and their professional advisers) are simply stupid and missed the low-hanging fruit available at home - but I find that improbable.

donzelion said...

@Jerry - I tried to read the paper that the NOAA news report cited, but it's hidden behind a paywall.

The report suggests that using existing technology, "once a new high voltage transmission grid is in place, sustainable energy sources can provide energy at roughly the same cost as existing carbon-based systems." I read that as a big caveat, since the existing grid cost trillions (in current dollars and man-hours) to put in place over decades. Would you prefer to take that from health costs (how many seniors should die of cancer to pay for the transition)? From defense budgets? From highway budgets? From NASA? Housing? Or raise taxes to cover it?

Has any candidate expressed an interest in that to your knowledge?

donzelion said...

@Duncan - "I call bollocks on the "business cycle" - there is no such thing...The "business cycle" is like "historical cycles" a nonsense that becomes a smokescreen and interferes with fixing the actual problems"

Wait a second. Do you actually believe that there's no such thing as times in which economic prosperity is generally increasing, and times when it is stagnant or decreasing? (in which case, I'll have to disagree)

Or are you calling bollocks on the models that supposedly account for such temporal shifts (in which case, we'd be on the same page)?

donzelion said...

@Jumper - "Is it true if one accepts citizenship in another country and votes there that automatically U.S. citizenship is dissolved?"

No, it's not true. Nor is service in another army grounds for dissolving U.S. citizenship (which several thousand Jewish citizens who served in the Israeli army can verify). To dissolve U.S. citizenship (e.g., for tax avoidance reasons), one must take certain express measures.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Donzelion

Yes prosperity goes up and down - but that's NOT a "cycle"

A "cycle" implies that it repeats and is somehow inevitable

I don't see the up and down as being that regular or that inevitable

Krugman talks about economists having forecast 14 of the last 6 recessions

I do accept the standard model that CAN cause a boom/bust event - it has happened to many times in the past for us to ignore

BUT we are currently NOT going along that path -
We can still end up in a recession but it will not have been caused by excessive enthusiasm in a boom!
I worry about simply failing into a recession caused by insufficient demand and the consumers having no money

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "so political predictions regarding looming recessions are to be taken strictly as the fear mongering they are."

When I proposed a looming recession as an explanation for Republican conduct in 2016, my purpose wasn't fear-mongering, so much as trying to grasp grand strategy within a major party. If a nasty recession occurs, whoever is leading the government at the time it occurs will take the blame, regardless of whether they did or refrained from doing anything to cause that recession. Sometimes, one withdraws from a contest to prepare better for a different, bigger contest.

I disagree with your reading of Keynes. He never claims that the business cycle can be ended through his methodologies, so much as justifying government responses to circumstances (and I support his approach, without necessarily buying the methodology, to the extent that alleviating aspects of a depression - like mass starvation - is a worthy goal). Keynes has abandoned the project of 'controlling the business cycle' - replacing it with a more modest goal of symptom management.

In this, the Keynsian approach is more like a medical doctor - unable to cure mortality, doctors focus upon alleviating symptoms experienced by mortals, abandoning the quest for immortality to other fields.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

Re Infrastructure projects
The reason that people are not building like mad is NOT the availability of money - as you say it's sitting there
It's the political will to spend that money - it's not like a business where if I don't supply the goods somebody else will

Infrastructure normally has one big "customer (government)" and the "benefits" go to the people NOT to the "customer"

David Brin said...


RobH the GOP before Ike was the GOP of Taft and isolationism and McCarthy. It was under Nixon that it briefly toyed with National Health, started the EPA and tried competing with dems for some other reforms… though also welcomed the Olde Confederacy in the southern strategy. THAT took a while to take over the Republican Party. Despite many faults, at least Barry Goldwater liked science… and was capable of saying : I was wrong.

Mike G in Corvallis said...

History does not repeat. But it does rhyme.

Many years ago Poul Anderson wrote in a letter to John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction my favorite variant on that:

History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells "Dammit, can't you remember ANYTHING?!" and lets fly with a club.

donzelion said...

@Duncan - "Yes prosperity goes up and down - but that's NOT a "cycle"...A "cycle" implies that it repeats and is somehow inevitable

Fair enough. I read that as skepticism towards the models, rather than the observable phenomena themselves. If so, then I see you as offering an institutionalist critique of neo-classical theory.

"We can still end up in a recession but it will not have been caused by excessive enthusiasm in a boom!"
Concur. "Irrational exuberance" is a very useful tool for judging the stupidity of others in hindsight, rather than for guiding policy and plans.

"I worry about simply failing into a recession caused by insufficient demand and the consumers having no money"
So do I, albeit, my fears are expressed in more demographic terms (if (1) starting a home is the largest financial transaction most people undertake, and if (2) few people over 60-years-old start homes, then (3) all other things equal, an aging population will produce less money than a younger population). But the result is ultimately the same...

donzelion said...

@Duncan -
"The reason that people are not building like mad is NOT the availability of money - as you say it's sitting there"
Oh, I don't mean to say it's "sitting there" - only that it's not coming "here" to build big buildings, roads, and whatnot, and that if investing in the U.S. were lucrative to an investor, it would be.

However -

"It's the [lack of] political will to spend that money - it's not like a business where if I don't supply the goods somebody else will"

I'm not so sure. To believe that, one has to believe that the rich people who would benefit from mobilizing that political will to their own benefit are refraining from doing so for some reason or another. These guys CREATE political will, particularly when they profit by it.

That said, there is one story that accounts for both concerns: the "wealthy" - esp. those utilizing vast networks of offshore accounts - don't have nearly the amount of wealth they've let on. On this theory, the primary use of offshore accounts isn't to hide enormous assets, so much as to dodge liabilities (yes, tax liabilities, but more importantly, liabilities owed to even more pushy creditors than the IRS).

"Infrastructure normally has one big "customer (government)" and the "benefits" go to the people NOT to the "customer"

Depends on who one chooses to regard as a customer and for which purpose. With a bond market playing between the 'government' and the 'governed' - many parties become customers in one context, and beneficiaries in another.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - something I just discovered re Ted Cruz: apparently, he hates dildos.

No, and I'm not making that up. As solicitor general in Texas, he supervised the team that submitted a 76-page brief defending the Texas dildo ban that was overruled in the following opinion:
http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C06/06-51067-CV0.wpd.pdf

Now, maybe in Texas, there's some pressing police emergency that makes dildo prohibition mandatory. Perhaps the Cruz campaign should strap on their dildo dissertation, cramming their message straight up Trump's, erm... OK. So I am loving the thought of Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz on the stage, with someone from the audience floating a "dildo" question...

David Brin said...

Ted Cruz's College Roommate Is Handling The Dildo Situation In The Most Hilarious Way Imaginable

http://www.bustle.com/articles/154456-ted-cruzs-college-roommate-is-handling-the-dildo-situation-in-the-most-hilarious-way-imaginable

donzelion said...

And I am now wondering what Trump's stance is on dildos? I suspect they aren't utilized in a Trump-branded strip clubs, but that's not the same as defending a universal dildo ban. Trump is probably a pro-Dildo Republican, with Cruz an anti-Dildo Republican.

And I'm thinking about all those "concealed carry" laws and...OMG, this is the best thing ever for this election.

David Brin said...

This absurd article cites a poll showing Kasich beating Clinton in the general, where Trump & Cruz get trounced. Sure... given that 90% of Americans only know that Kasich is the nicer guy trying to sound adult. Now let's see what happens when the public sees his ultra right wing policies.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/what-if-john-kasich-beat-donald-trump/478008/

I confess I have never seen the like. Every scenario has its moment in the sun, then collapses under scrutiny. Trump had it sewn up, but is losing the ground game. He'll just miss a majority... and Cruz and the establishment are bribing defections for the 2nd ballot because Donald was careless in the pre-selection process. Sorry Donald, you can't "fire" your delegates when they screw you.

Cruz could make a deal with Kasich and Rubio and the Establishment... that is where I'd put money THIS week. But whether it is to be the nominee (I'm leaning now), or my theory till now that he's always wanted the Veep, I cannot say.

I think he can't take the veep now from anyone but Trump, lest he be called a sellout.

So, Trump-Cruz? That's my #2 wager at this point. Yes, they hate each other and everybody hates them, but it lets the party escape a circular firing squad spectacle in Cleveland. Atthis point, the ONLY agenda of the GOP moguls is to avoid a bloodbath at the state level.

But that doesn't work, either. You avoid a circular firing squad firestorm convention, only to have 40 million Republican voters stay home in November! So... you Arrange for it to be Trump Cruz to avoid that spectacle...

...then fifty GOP mavens come out for the libertarian candidate and beg those 40 million goppers to come vote for OTHER republicans in November. Or finance a Yuuuuge "keep Congress Red!" campaign?

Finally there's the white knight. Cruz as veep. Ryan would be tricky now. A General? We've discussed that.

Heck, at this point draft Bernie Sanders! Cripe. I am a sci fi author, I could not have written this.

David Brin said...

Or the Kochs finance a gigantic putsch to take over the LP? And "surge" it full of their own folks as candidates?

donzelion said...

It's a world Trey Stone & Matt Parker (South Park, Orgazmo, Team America) might concoct.

But whatever happens in Cleveland, there shall be no dildos on the floor.

Tim H. said...

Au contraire donzelion, the difficulty will be finding one who isn't.

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

I looked up the ETF you mentioned and it definitely has cash flow from the bonds it owns. They get the coupons and the principle when a bond reaches maturity so if they wanted they would have free funds to invest. The coupon rate really doesn’t matter much. A bond can have a 1% interest rate but if it is issued at a discount then the real yield to the investor could be much higher. Municipalities do this all the time because it lowers the cash they have to payout in coupons. The downside is that they end up paying more when the principle is due.

You said,

“The better test: if munis were in high demand, you'd see pretty major infrastructure repair/expansion projects. I don't see that where I am, but maybe you do.”

That is true but munis are debt and these days local governments are loath to take on more debt these days. Munis are in demand now but the offer is not there because municipalities don’t want to add to their debt.

I can’t say for millionaires with offshore accounts buying or not an infrastructure because the will to invest depends on the individual situation of the investor. I can say that if these bonds were issued and if the yields were attractive, then you would have more than enough domestic investors to buy them. The muni market in the US is one of the largest bond markets in the world.
My personal take on the matter is that there is too much cash in the world and not enough good projects in which to invest. No major country has instituted either a pure Keynesian economic policy or a pure Supply-side economic policy. Instead they use a mishmash of both methods. Unfortunately, they take the easiest path of both policies for political reasons. It is easier to run deficits and it is easier to lower taxes without taking the effort to measure how well it is working. Deficit spending can stimulate the economy up to a point and cutting taxes can stimulate the economy up to a point also but there comes a time, if continued, when these policies no longer produce the desired outcome. You are then just “pushing on a string”. We are now in the situation where we are pushing on two strings at the same time. Money and debt are just two different manifestations of the same thing exactly like the wave-particle duality in Quantum Mechanics. It is just a ledger of obligations (the oldest profession is not prostitution, it is accounting). Mind you, I am talking in macro-economic terms only. A combination of lower taxes, low interest rates and Quantitative Easing on a massive scale has created way too much money and most of it has been captured by the very wealthy who can’t spend it. There is just too much. In the meantime, the lower classes can’t spend what they don’t have so the result is companies and investors have a dearth of projects on which to spend their money. Companies can’t invest because the consumer can’t buy. What happens is that companies buy back stock with their extra cash and wealthy investors put their money into a series of asset bubbles which break one after the other. Right now government bonds are in a huge bubble and it will pop sooner or later.

I didn’t mean to write so much. I just got carried away.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

you said "Then Deuxglass your immediate family does not include soldiers who can tall the difference between wars costing a trillion dollars and ten thousand US lives, tying up US invasion forces of nearly 200,000 men, while ruining the reserves and damn near destroying the US Army..."

One of those family members retired a few years back with the rank of Full-Bird Colonel and belongs to the group that you admire. I think he knows the difference.

donzelion said...

@Tim H - ;-)

@Deuxglass -"My personal take on the matter is that there is too much cash in the world and not enough good projects in which to invest."
Well, repairing a rickety bridge in America ought to be a very "good project" - the engineering is straightforward, the costs are containable, the country honors its debts, and as you say - I would expect people are willing to snap up 4% bonds. If they're not, something else is going on.

"the oldest profession is not prostitution, it is accounting"
LOL, you'd have liked my approach to teaching political philosophy. Law (and politics) were born alongside mathematics, through variations of the following problem:

"Mr. X and Mr. Y built a granary together. Mr. X put 200 bushels of barley in the granary; Mr. Y put 100 bushels of barley in the granary. If the rats eat 10% from all the bushels, and a flood turned 20 bushels into a bitter amber fermented liquid - then how many bushels of barley does each of them have?" Answer: well, they'll probably want to compromise on something, since Mr. X or Mr. Y could burn down the granary and then they'll wind up killing each other...

These days, we have Mr. X and Mr. Y claiming to have their bushels in many different countries in secret granaries. They're selling the contents of those granaries to Mr. Z - transparency says we ought to be able to get into the granary to inspect those claims and make sure they actually have what the owners say they have. BUT if Mr. X's family isn't planting barley in his fields, one possibility is that he has so much that he doesn't know what to do with it (which makes it easier for Mr. Z to justify paying for barley he can't see) - but another possibility is that he actually has no barley at all, and can't afford the seeds for the fields he does have.

David Brin said...


Deuxglass, my respects to senior officers who can tell the difference. In that case - perhaps reluctantly and holding their noses - they vote Democrat. Because BClinton and Obama actually listened instead of treating them as toys, like both Bushes did, wrecking the reserves and damn near doing the same to the Army.

When he became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm Mullen was asked “What’s your biggest worry and concern?” He answered immediately: “The Army.”

If the GOP nominated Mullen, I’d actually have to stop and think a minute.

All this talk of 4% bonds. Really? 1% sounds high, in this market. It’s almost free money. The problem is that right now it is going to the top 0.1% and inflating bubbles. If it went to infrastructure repair it would raise up poor families, raise dangerously low money velocity and fix dangerous bridges. And could be paid back largely out of tolls and an end to the Bushite Supply Side cuts for the rich.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Except tolls are regressive. But then so are Social Security taxes, so maybe that's the political price we have to pay for doing the bloody obvious?

sociotard said...

Watch timelapse of Venus occulted by moon.
https://vimeo.com/161778944

Berial said...

A suggestion; How about we stop worrying so much about the economic cycle and just focus on getting as close to 100% employment as possible and see if things don't smooth out on their own after that?

I swear it's pretty hard to blame the dogs for being lazy and not finding a bone when there are 80 bones in the yard and 100 dogs looking.

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

Accounting goes way back further than we think. If you study primate “culture”, you see that just above all of it is centered around giving and taking favors from other members and our brains evolved to help figure out who owes who. It is the basis for cooperation. Monkeys and humans have a ledger in our brains to figure out all this stuff and in a troupe of 200 monkeys, a single monkey’s survival depends on keeping these relations straight. A successful monkey is one whose books balance. This may seem funny but to the monkey it is a serious as you can get. Monkeys even have an innate understanding of interest. Monkey one gives four bananas to monkey two and monkey two repays the four bananas and gives in addition a first-class grooming job ( a GJ in monkey language) to monkey one. That is interest pure and simple! Animal behaviorists often miss the economic side because in general they have no training in finance. On the other hand, economists focus on arcane mathematical formulas when they should be studying monkey troupes.
I am not an accountant even though may job required having a good understanding of the subject but once I understood that accounting is actually a social science, it became clear as water. So all you engineers, mathematicians, and physicists when you cross in the corridor an accountant, please give him a nod and some respect because he is a member of the oldest profession from which has sprung all our all knowledge and accomplishments.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - "All this talk of 4% bonds. Really? 1% sounds high"

Deuxglass and I were discussing municipal bonds; treasuries at 1% would indeed be a gift. Munis are always much higher than treasuries, but are currently on par with corporate bonds (which is rather odd in itself...). Some muni ETFs are yielding in the 4+% range right now - look through their assets and it's a mix of bonds with 3-5.5% yields (Deuxglass correctly points out that this yield may be inflated due to maturing bonds, but that shouldn't count for more than a half a percentage given the underlying assets).

My purpose in focusing on munis is in response to your comment about infrastructure. It's odd that investment in infrastructure is so low, and the market tends to rectify oddities. The wealth 1% OUGHT to be jumping in and repairing bridges left and right - they CAN get 4% yields right now doing precisely that, without any transactional difficulties. But they're not. Why?

Deuxglass suggests they lack the will. I'm skeptical: they'd like returns on their investment, and buying a bonds these days requires no more than a few seconds of clicks. I suggest they lack the money - that they're hiding this fact through their offshore accounts, that the bulk of the wealthy 0.1% has a small fraction of the actual wealth they claim to have (and I could go one step further - the vast majority of their "wealth" is merely a set of calculations of probabilities, which no one is able to validate due to carefully hidden assets).

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

My relative is not army or navy. A couple of years after Iraq II, I asked him why we went in. He is very laconic and just said “Because everyone told us that that they had Weapons of Mass Destruction”. In his voice I detected not anger or sadness but disappointment. I never have asked how he votes and we never talk about military affairs because between us in these matters it is “don’t ask and don’t tell”. Last year at my daughter’s wedding, we did talk a bit about the situation with Russia. I asked him if worse came to worse, how would we do? He said, laconically, “NATO would cream them”. That gave me a lot of comfort because in the past during other crises, he has been right.

You are right about the bonds. If a bill can pass, all you need is just a yield a bit more than government bonds and they would sell like hotcakes. I just hope that the next president had the political will to act.

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - "Accounting goes way back further than we think. If you study primate “culture”, you see that just above all of it is centered around giving and taking favors from other members and our brains evolved to help figure out who owes who."

LOL, ah, now you're going to the underlying logic, rather than the practice of accounting. In one sense, trees 'count' by adding rings, but in my usage, humans 'count' (or 'account') in a very different way for very different reasons (in part because the ledger in our brains is warped by our own expectations/demands/power/memory - so we keep ledgers on pottery shards, stone tablets, on paper books and digital equivalents). Monkey Two MIGHT repay Monkey One all four bananas, but Monkey Two might eat them and apply that calorie load to growing bigger, and then beat up Monkey One. Monkey One might even give Monkey Two those bananas to avoid getting beaten up (or to nurture a baby or injured monkey).

Perhaps when Adam first looked at Eve, he counted them apples, but unless he wrote it down, it was just counting, not accounting. More likely, the earliest writing was probably developed to count bushels of barley/rice/wheat (and who owns how many of them) - hence, accounting and law emerged simultaneously (and the bigger monkey deferred to the will of smaller monkeys when they both realized they'd get a better granary if they shared - but that could only work so long as they didn't kill one another over who got how much out of it).

Catfish N. Cod said...

Also, Dr. Brin, I think of Trump and Cruz as Scudder split in half. Cruz has the Dominionist theocratic beliefs, the cynical ability to manipulate without limit, and the lust for power for its own sake. Trump has the magical ability to twist charisma and television without limit, the gut understanding of manipulating hate and fear and bigotry, the Pied Piper ability to amass crowds and hold them spellbound.

Thank God they hate each other.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

It's a world Trey Stone & Matt Parker (South Park, Orgazmo, Team America) might concoct.

But whatever happens in Cleveland, there shall be no dildos on the floor.


Gives a whole new meaning to the petition to allow concealed carry.

David Brin said...

Donzel & deuxglass, the best thing would be for Congress to give the Fed the right to “inflate” and “ease” by a method beyond low interest rates, which is a weapon of limited use and that inflates bubbles. The new one would be the right to issue infrastructure bonds, once every five years, with required repayment. The spending would be hi velocity and issued at supremely low interest. John Mauldin describes details.

Continue under next posting.

onward

onward

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

The biggest and meanest monkey in a troupe has monopoly power. He can get food and sexual services because he can beat the shit out of the others and the lower status monkeys recognize this but they adapt and get back. I remember watching a video of an alpha baboon watching over his harem. One of his females was munching on some grass but the alfa could only see her head because the rest of her was behind a boulder. Behind the boulder, a low-status baboon was banging her being careful not to get into direct sight of the alpha, and the alpha never caught on. That reminds me of certain human behavior.

Which came first? Was it Law or Accounting and that is a moot point. I am in business and you are a lawyer. Maybe we are blind men feeling different parts of the elephant but it is incontestable the humans have a nature gift for mathematics and that stems from the fact that for a monkey to survive in a very social environment, he had to be able to count favors and Law came to being as a way to enforce that that the books balance. All civilization is based on the two.

Bond markets are out of whack. Let’s get real! Negative interest rates should never exist except in very certain circumstances and not for very long. In the last fifteen years, I have watched with dismay that the economic situation is getting more and more irrational and chaotic and that the political elites keep on reinforcing this trend instead of doing something about it. Normally my politics have been slightly Left but now I think that the political elites of both parties have lost it completely. I have come to the conclusion that only a radical change can save us. It may come as a surprise, but I think that Bernie Sanders is the right man to make that change.

David Brin said...

onward