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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for October 2011

Ireland's Brilliant Choice

Imagine you were citizen of a country that, at a moment of economic turmoil, insecurity, and disappointment in the majority of public and private institutions of power, elected a man with the following qualifications as your president:

– Poet with three volumes of original verse in print

– Former University lecturer with a Ph.D. in Sociology

– Former mayor of a major city and longstanding member of the lower legislative house (like the Commons or House of Representatives) known for bi-lingual speeches that cite authorities ranging from Kant to contemporary economic theories and writers and poets from multiple traditions

– Internationally renowned Human Rights activist and advocate

– The leader of a social democratic party for a generations that has never controlled a government but has held fast to principles of individual dignity and equality of opportunity for all citizens even when irresponsible free market exuberance was at its zenith

– A man who is recognized as a political and humanitarian idealist of unimpeachable personal integrity

Well, that’s what Ireland did when it elected Michael D. Higgins as its ninth president this weekend.  

after the fold for more

Wayback Machine: Real Change Takes Time: Lesson #6,743

Welcome to the Wayback Machine, a sporadically recurring diary series for Motley Moose. The Wayback Machine revisits diaries of days gone by…a peek into our moosely past. The original diary will be linked to, and reposted in full, but, with a fresh comment thread. If you have requests for the Wayback Machine, use the ‘Contact the Moose’ link at the bottom of the page and let us know your ideas.

Today we turn the dial and tune into a vintage diary from fogiv. In September 2010 fog was in the mood for a rant, and rant he did. His ‘Real Change Takes Time: Lesson #6,743’ took to task those on the Left ….


As someone somewhere once said: “you can’t know where you are going without knowing first where you have been”

So, join us for a look back….

Open Thread: Read My Lips (w/ bonus History lesson)

Just another Manic Lazy Monday Sunday. I was poking about on the intertubes and came across another of the comical Bad Lip Reading clips. The ‘victims’ chosen, this time it is Herman Cain, certainly add to the laughs.

Laughs on a Sunday? Perfect fare for an Open Thread.


U.S. Department of the Treasury: Regulatory Uncertainty Has Nothing To Do With Unemployment

And ANOTHER conservative talking point runs head first into DATA and ANALYSIS (my apologies to conservative Americans for the condescension inherent in recourse to credible knowledge).  It won’t stop self-proclaimed “private sector problem solvers” who are seeking the Republican nomination from continuing to repeat the canard, nor will the canard disappear from every floor speech and interview given by McConnell, Boehner, Kyl, DeMint, Cantor, and Ryan (damn I’m glad not to be British and have to refer to them as “the right honourable….”).

Anyway, here ’tis:

Last week at a Senate hearing Secretary Geithner said, “I’m very sympathetic to the argument you want to be careful to get the rules better and smarter, but I don’t think there’s good evidence in support of the proposition that it’s regulatory burden or uncertainty that’s causing the economy to grow more slowly than any of us would like.”

Economists from across the political spectrum have also weighed into this debate and reached the same conclusion.  Bruce Bartlett, a senior advisor in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said that “no hard evidence” has been offered for claims that regulation is the “principal factor holding back employment.”  And in a recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists, 65 percent of respondents concluded that a lack of demand, not government policy, was the main impediment to increased hiring.

Nonetheless, two commonly repeated misconceptions are that uncertainty created by proposed regulations is holding back business investment and hiring and that the overall burden of existing regulations is so high that firms have reduced their hiring.

If regulatory uncertainty was a major impediment to hiring right now, we would expect to see indications of this in one or more of the following: business profits; trends in the workforce, capacity utilization, and business investment; differences between industries undergoing significant regulatory changes and those that are not; differences between the United States and other countries that are not undergoing the same changes; or surveys of business owners and economists.  As discussed in a detailed review of the evidence below, none of these data support the claim that regulatory uncertainty is holding back hiring.

Read the whole thing:

Once you have done this, you will qualify as either a condescending elitist or a dupe of George Soros.  But it should make it clear how hard we must fight against these liars.  These are not differences of opinion anymore.  Posturing has replaced problem solving.  And everything hangs in the balance.  

Challenging the "Permanent Democratic Majority" Thesis

This is the first part of two posts analyzing and challenging  the idea of a “permanent Democratic majority.” The second part can be  found here.

A “Permanent Democratic Majority”

The permanent Democratic majority is a theory spun by many Democratic  analysts optimistic about their party’s future. It asserts that  demographic changes will leave the Republican Party in a state of  perpetual minority.

Let’s take a look at this thesis and the underlying assumptions upon which it relies.

A few random thoughts – Open Thread

Why aren’t Dems pushing the line that the economic downturn is a financial disaster every bit as harmful as a natural disaster and therefore financial aid to the states is a form of disaster relief?

If right-to-work is such a great economic benefit and job creator, why do 9 of the 22 right-to-work states have higher than median unemployment than the national average? Or the flip-side, why do all four of the states with unionization rates over 20% have lower unemployment rates than the national average?

High CEO pay is justified by saying that companies have to offer high pay to attract talent. Yet the same people that make that argument also argue that public sector workers are overpaid. If you put those two arguments together then you have to accept that people who claim  public sector workers are overpaid really want to attract less qualified people for those jobs.

One last oddity. If teachers unions adversely affect student performance then the states that don’t have teachers unions should have better performance. In reality, the opposite is true. That would seem to indicate that unions actually improve performance. Why isn’t this argument being made?

What do you have to say?

Wayback Machine: I Don't Know What To Call This

Welcome to the Wayback Machine, a sporadically recurring diary series for Motley Moose. The Wayback Machine revisits diaries of days gone by…a peek into our moosely past. The original diary will be linked to, and reposted in full, but, with a fresh comment thread. If you have requests for the Wayback Machine, use the ‘Contact the Moose’ link at the bottom of the page and let us know your ideas.

Today’s trip down memory lane takes us to a Kysen diary from January 2010. His thoughtfully titled ‘I Don’t Know What To Call This’ includes a tongue and cheek look at some of the more ‘interesting’ teachings from the Bible. It seemed like some perfectly cheeky fare for this lazy Sunday.


As someone somewhere once said: “you can’t know where you are going without knowing first where you have been”

So, join us for a look back….

Enquiring into a Candidate's Religious Beliefs

(The Risen Jesus appears to the Nephites.)…

Willard “Mitt” Romney’s adherence to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a matter of some discussion in the campaign for the 2012 Republican Nomination for President.  Rick Perry’s preacher friend, Robert Jeffress, has called Mormonism a non-Christian cult.  Jeffress has also said that one of the criteria that Christians should take into account in deciding for whom to vote is whether the candidate is a Christian.

Is it legitimate to take a candidate’s religious beliefs into account when deciding for whom to vote?

Celebrating Nutrition on America's "Food Day"

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project

Hamburgers, pizzas, french fries, and sugary drinks-in today’s fast-paced world, these foods have become staples for many Americans. But this unhealthy diet has led to an increase in chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents are now obese, staggering numbers that the organizers of Food Day, a nationwide event taking place on October 24, hope to decrease dramatically.

But promoting safe, healthy and affordable food is only one aim of Food Day, which is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that fights for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food. The organizers also want to support sustainable, humane farming, and fair trading conditions.

Around the United States, cities and communities are coming together to showcase the benefits of eating healthy, locally grown, and organic food. Philadelphia is organizing a city-wide event focused on ending hunger and food “deserts”-areas where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. In California, organizations are building a statewide Food Day partnership to promote new food policies, and in Iowa, conferences are being held to highlight how small and mid-sized farmers can get their produce to markets.

In addition to these forums and celebrations, nearly 400 individual events are being sponsored by communities, groups, and companies across the United States. These include:


  • San Francisco. The organization is hosting benefit dinners on October 20-22 to show how delicious earth-friendly food can be.

  • Boston. Boston Food Swap is organizing a crowd-sourced potluck-where they will provide the venue, and attendees will provide local, organic food to show that responsible food is both nutritious and tasty.

  • Phoenix. In a “Lunch and Learn” session for students and the general public, a panel of local farmers and chefs will demonstrate how they work together to provide sustainable food.

  • Miami. The city will hold its annual Food & Recreation Expo, offering health screenings, fitness demos, diet and nutrition sessions, giveaways, free massages, and more. The host of “Dinner: Impossible,” Robert Irvine, will perform a live cooking demonstration.

  • Universities. Events are being planned at the University of Vermont, University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina, New York University, Stanford, Yale, and Harvard School of Public Health, among others.