For my second-to-last pre-election post, let's offer up a potpourri of potent political snippets and graphics for the undecided, before I return on Monday to sum up the case for our Periclean Enlightenment.
But first a reminder of these earlier, devastatingly fact-full, Big Picture overviews of the main issues.
"Democrats & Republicans differ at defense and waging war." Gone viral! In harsh times, compare who does defense well.
"The Eight Top Causes of the Deficit "Fiscal Cliff," One party was solely responsible for five out of the eight main causes of red ink. The other three were bipartisan. With tax rates near their lowest in 70 years, what's the beef?
Will cheating be a factor in this election? A warning to "henchmen." Those pulling vote-count scams may want a Plan B. Tell any henchmen you know.
Politics and the Fermi Paradox: why the U.S. elections may help explain the absence of intelligent life in the universe. The biggest possible Big Picture!
"Which party stands up for science?" The most devastating of all.
--- Speaking of science: Bill Nye (my friend and President of the Planetary Society) takes on Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga) chairman of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, whose most recent (of many) anti science tirades include this videotaped gem. Broun called what he had been taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang theory "all lies straight from the pit of Hell," intended to "keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior." That's the chairman. Of the Science Committee. Of the House of Representatives. Of the United States of America.
Seriously, after watching a flood of other appalling statements by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo), Richard Mourdock, and so many other Republicans from the new-radicalism movement... do you think that this is still about "politics" anymore? Is there a reason why President Obama mentioned the word "science" fourteen separate times in the debates? We who believe in the western renaissance are fighting for our lives.
== Snippets that cut deep ==
The extinction of the "moderate republican" is clear in a fantastic graphic from xkcd, showing how the GOP has become the most tightly disciplined and partisan political force in US history, marshalled and commanded by one man... Roger Ailes.
Consider plus-plus vs minus-minus. For 20 years the GOP blocked efforts to increase car mileage standards in the US. Their surface reason? "Saving the US auto industry." The under-reason? Pressure from big oil, because no other measure could do as much to reduce U.S. dependance. So what eventually happened?
Over GOP objections, the dems both raised the mileage standards and saved Detroit. Now? US automakers are booming and we get rapidly rising mileage. And you'd vote for dolts who obstructed that, with all their might?
If you admit the GOP's gone mad, but can't bring yourself to vote for a democrat, then look up Gary Johnson. The best libertarian candidate ever, he may change party politics in America! You could help make it happen.
== Romney is Bush III ==
Can you imagine a party running for office on the platform "Ignore everything we ever did in the past!" Have you heard Romney or Ryan refer to past GOP governance (a majority of the last 30 years) at all? Ever? Or mention the name of the previous GOP president? Once? The only thing more stunningly unbelievable is that the dems don't pounce on it.
But while never mentioning the name George W. Bush and pretending the GOP record is of no relevance -- shaking a clean slate -- Mitt has nevertheless surrounded himself with advisers and would-be appointees "about two-thirds of whom are veterans of the Bush Administration." In fact, 17 of his 24 top advisers served under Bush.
That matters. You aren't just having vote with a man, you are having vote with his entire party and with every corrupt/incompetent official who helped to make it a toxic mess that poisoned America, with a record so awful that they themselves never, ever mention it. Like herpes. An electionally transmitted disease.
Gary Brecher makes my point about War more glibly in Obama's Wars - Good Fighter, Can’t Cheerlead Worth A Damn.
My distilled challenge to sincere and decent Republicans: "Name one clear, direct and good-for-America outcome from the GOP 's long tenure in power since 1988. Even One!" When a party has a record of unalloyedly perfect damage to the republic and no accomplishments of any positive nature to point to, they are a threat to our childrens' chances of inheriting the stars.
== Abandoning a Sinking Ship ==
David Stockman – yes, Ronald Reagan’s budget director and top economic advisor, who now helps lead a rising movement to take back conservatism from the monstrous path it has been taken by Rupert Murdoch, shows how – from an entirely conservative perspective – Paul Ryan’s so-called budget-balancing plan, that has the backing of the entire GOP, is loopy to the point of jibbering incoherence.
I don’t agree with all of Stockman’s counter recommendations… he is, after all, a Reagan Conservative and I would argue with him over many of his proposals.
But I acknowledge them to be sane conservative proposals worth discussion by adults. Of the sort that Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley might have made. Back when top conservatives believed in intellect, in science and facts. And negotiating like adults.
== R.I.P. "supply side economics" ==
Only... in that context take this proof of what I've long held. The blatant fact that Supply Side economics has never been true. In a November 1 report we learn that Senate Republicans applied pressure on the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in September to withdraw a report finding that lowering marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans had no effect on economic growth or job creation.
"The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical," the Times reported. Democrats in Congress resurfaced the report. Republicans objected that it underminded the governing fiscal philosophy of the party, that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth and benefit everybody.
Changes over 65 years in top marginal tax and capital gains rates do not correlate with economic growth. Reduction in top rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. Top rate reductions do associate with increasing divergence of national income going to the top 0.1%.
(Note: CRS is one of the last nonpartisan, professional services that used to report to Congress about matters of fact and outcome. Most, including the Office of Technology Assessment and other groups that advised Congress impartially from the 1940s through 1998, were banished under Newt Gingrich for the crime of pestering dogmatists with inconveniences called facts.)
This clear determination about Supply Side is important... and was always obvious. Even in 1776, Adam Smith described what most rich folks actually do with sudden cash infusions. They put the new wealth to work in "passive rent seeking" and only rarely into capital equipment or risky new products and services. (Risk taking entrepreneurship can be rewarded in better ways than simply flooding most of society's wealth into oligarch pockets.)
Moreover, that cash flow to the rich reduces the velocity of money. If there were ever a time not to do that, it is during a recession! When we want high money velocity, put cash in middle class pockets! (In fairness, there are times, e.g. runaway inflation, when largesse to the rich - reducing money velocity - actually makes some sense.)
George H.W. Bush called Supply Side "voodoo economics." It was and is and always will be.
== Should the recovery have been faster? ==
Those who condemn our gradual (though steady and accelerating) rate of recovery from the Bush Collapse... the worst U.S. economic crisis since the Great Depression... imply that is should have happened faster, somehow.
But appraisal of past crashes makes very clear - recovery is always slow and painful.
In fact, the Obama Recovery scores high for its speed and effectiveness. So effective that one wonders what Mitt Romney would do differently. He won't say much, except calling for the same Supply Side prescriptions pushed by Bush.
Indeed, consider this. In no other recession/depression did the nation face six hundred trillion dollars in toxic Wall Street gambles on its books. If not handled right, that poison pill might have killed the economy dead! Instead, the Economist in London recently lauded President Obama. "U.S. Banks are now the healthiest in the world, in far better shape than dismal European banks, and poised to lead the world out of this mess."
In fact? There are dozens of aspects to the last four years I can criticize! Like Timothy Geithner's giving a free ride to Goldmann Sachs and the choice to use a light hand on the banks we rescued, who have been slow to lend out the cash WE lent to bail them out. But these are quibbles compared to recognizing what that toxic 600 $Trillion could have done to us... but did not! Because the Bushites were replaced by basically (roughly) sensible people.
== More from Mark Anderson ==
"Romney's unprecedented refusal to disclose multiple past-year tax statements has to be an almost-disqualifying issue for careful voters. Given that he required 10 years' worth of statements from his VP candidate, it is also hypocritical: obviously, he understands and believes in the importance of past tax filings in judging a candidate's suitability for the highest office."
Mitt Romney's Tax Dodge: A guide to how the multimillionaire twists the law to hide his massive fortune - and avoid paying his fair share in taxes. Including profiting from supposed gifts to his own church. Yipe, it is a long long loooooong list! Your ostrich uncle could wave away one or two. If he waves away twenty? Then he's the sort who would have sided with King George in the Revolution.
Mitt Romney's Real Agenda: This hard-hitting, fact-filled article is poorly named but important reading. "Mitt Romney's real agenda" says very little about Romney's actual plans for governance since, indeed, he has been beyond-miserly with specifics. Instead, the article lays out the long series of bills and declarations by the 2010 Republican House of Representatives, which is undeniably the most radical Congressional House in more than a hundred years. Led largely by Romney's VP choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, the House has indeed created a vast record of declared goals that any American voter, of whatever political leanings, ought to read most carefully. Ignore the reporter's sometimes whiney commentary. The facts speak for themselves, and chillingly remind me of 1789 France.
Alas, by concentrating on the GOP led House, he ignores the Senate, where the democrats have been able to block insane House bills... but the Senate faced utter gridlock as the GOP senate minority has thrown - in just two years - more filibusters than in the entire previous history of the United States of America. Is that the precedent they want to set?
If Romney wins, does he want that behavior turned back on him?
== More stuff! ==
Cuba has accused the United States of helping Cuban dissidents access the internet as part of a campaign to undermine the communist government. I know Hillary Clinton's "Worldwide Net-Tech" guy and this is part and parcel of her strategy to spread internet access all over the world, that can let people side-step around their tyrannical governments.
It is 22 days since Mitt answered a single question from the press. Does that courage impress you?
Maybe he's too busy debating himself! See this video of contradictions.
== And finally ==
The dems are Big Spenders? See this graphic showing the rates of increase of domestic discretionary spending increase, showing that, for the GOP to tar the dems with that brush is the grossest hypocrisy.
Meanwhile, for the GOP and Fox to focus on the recent tragedy in Benghazi is utter (if painful) hilarity, alas. See the rates of attacks on US diplomatic missions, which plummeted under Bill Clinton, increased under W and are now very low.
Compare Benghazi to miring us in decade-long, multi-trillion-dollar quagmire wars of attrition and "nation building" in Asia that left thousands of American boys and girls killed or maimed... for what? To create new satrapies for Iran?
Compare the number of U.S. citizens to die of terror on each president's watch. Compare the rates at which the terror networks have been punished, with Al Qaeda losing more top leaders in any one year - under Obama - than under all the Bush years (Junior and Senior) combined.