The man behind Herman Cain’s economic plan

Not that national polls mean much, but right now Cain is leading in them while advocating his ridiculous 9-9-9 plan.  And, who’s the economist behind this plan (via Ezra):

Doug Mataconis sums up what we know about the man behind Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan:

That Cain doesn’t have a lot of specifics to back up the slogans shouldn’t be all that surprising. While he loves to mention the plan during his media appearances, he is far less willing to share any of the details behind the plan, such as the backup for his assertion that the plan is revenue neutral, or the even who has helped him come up with the plan. That’s not surprising, though, once you realize that the plan’s chief architect, Rich Lowrie, isn’t an economist at all and is in fact a Wells Fargo Branch employee working outside of Cleveland, Ohio, whose highest educational degree is a apparently a B.S. in Accounting from Case Western Reserve University.

I simply just laughed when I read this.  Cainmentum!!

Republican Health Care Policy

I think Paul Waldman gets this pretty much right:

So let’s review the Republican position on health care, explained here by Gingrich but shared by pretty much everyone in the party:

  1. Health care in general, and Medicare in particular, are bankrupting our country.
  2. But government should never try to figure out which treatments are effective.
  3. Medicare should pay for any treatment anyone wants, regardless of whether it works or what it costs.
  4. If an insurance company refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s their right as actors in the free market; if Medicare refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s Washington bureaucrats trying to kill you.
  5. We need to cut Medicare benefits, because don’t forget it’s bankrupting our country.

If they could only repeal the Affordable Care Act, then their new innovative solutions to health care would surely solve all our problems.

I especially like #4.  And let’s be clear its not just some Republican advocating some of these things and some others, most of the leading national Republicans have advocated all these inherently contradictory positions.  That’s not hypocrisy, that’s just nonsense.

The real Constitutional Convention

A Tea People's History

Oh my, I love that image.  It goes along with a short e-book by Salon’s Alex Pareene.  The snippet at Salon is some nice political satire:

While planting some hemp one day, George Washington discovered an early draft of the Constitution, written in ancient Egyptian on a series of golden plates buried deep within the ground at Mount Vernon. James Madison translated and elaborated on the text, with the help of Thomas Jefferson and an angel. The excited Founders immediately called for a Constitutional Convention to officially ratify the document and formally make America the best country ever…

The Founders also explicitly designed America to be a Christian nation. After all, the Natural Laws that make every man equal are the laws of God. All of the Founders believed in God. All of them. They all believed in God and thought everyone should believe in God and worship Him. It’s just a fact. Get over it. Also Jefferson’s “wall” between church and state just meant that the federal government couldn’t interfere with churches, but in fact the Founders wanted all religions to be encouraged, because worshiping God makes us virtuous, and only a virtuous people can handle self-rule. This is why the Founders came up with the “In God We Trust” motto, which they put on all the money and in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was Ben Franklin’s idea, along with the eagle, God’s favorite bird. Madison is the one who decided everyone should be sworn in on a Bible.

Of course, what’s sad is how many Americans some how think this is not that far from the truth.

Qwikster: RIP

I’m not a huge believer in focus groups, but I’m genuinely astounded that Netflix wasn’t able to see this backlash coming.  Did they not bounce this idea off of any of their customers at all?  Do Netflix executives not even use the service themselves.  From the NYT deconstruction:

Netflix said it never actually separated the services or started Qwikster. But the planned breakup was rooted in Mr. Hastings’ belief that DVDs and online streams have different cost structures and different consumer demographics.

Was this “belief” actually based on any data?  More importantly, I don’t don’t that there’s significant demographics between those who use mostly streaming vs. mostly DVD’s, but there’s still got to be a huge amount of overlap.  Even if you only stream to DVD at a 1:4 ratio, (or vice versa) you still want that other option some of the time and you still do not want to deal with two totally different services.  If a government agency had done something this profoundly stupid, Fox news would be all over it for weeks.

On a quasi-related note, I was just checking and saw that you can stream the first three seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix.  You should do this.  To some degree, I think the quality of a book/tv show/movies is reflected by how much it sticks with you when you’re done.  Let’s just say I have not been able to get Breaking Bad’s Season 4 finale out of my head this week.

The big local news

Two years ago, behind big Republican money and a coordinate effort, the Republicans swept 4 Democratic school board seats giving them a 5-4 school board majority to basically wreak havoc for the past couple years.  Last night, only one Republican was up, the Chair of the Board, and honestly, just about the worst public servant I’ve ever seen– Ron Margiotta.   Thank God, he was narrowly defeated 52-48.  Democrats easily held 3 of the other 4 seats.  As for the 4th, it’s a run-off as the Democrat needed 50%+1 and ended up with 49.7.  Ouch!  The fact that the Tea Party lunatic Heather Losurdo (if you doubt, just click that link) managed to capture even 40% disturbs me, but it is a fairly Republican district.

The good news for the run-off is that to know Losurdo is to not like her.  Turns out PPP just polled this district:

Last week PPP conducted a survey in Wake County School Board District 3 that found incumbent Kevin Hill leading challenger Heather Losurdo 45-34, a margin almost equivalent to Hill’s margin of victory tonight. The survey also asked who respondents would vote for if the race ended up in a runoff between Hill and Losurdo- in that instance Hill led by a 16 point margin at 52-36.

Hill would expand on his victory margin from tonight because the supporters of Jennifer Mansfield and Eric Squires, who combined for a little over 10% of the vote, say they would vote for Hill over Losurdo by a 44-37 margin in a head to head.  The Mansfield/Squires voters have an incredibly dim view of Losurdo- just 23% see her positively to 63% with a negative opinion.

The campaign has taken a serious toll on Losurdo’s image. Just 36% of voters in the district have a favorable view of her, with 43% seeing her negatively. Hill, on the other hand, is quite popular with 48% of voters approving of him to only 30% who disapprove.

One of my friends earlier tonight referred to this as “ground zero” for the run-off.  I’m going to be really curious to see just how intense and expensive matters get in a county school board election.  Truth is, though, there’s an awful lot at stake here.  Sure hope PPP’s polling holds up.

It’s the government!

This is just so stupid and tiresome:

HANOVER, N.H. — The government is the problem. That was the message Tuesday night as the eight Republican presidential hopefuls clamored to blame Washington for the nation’s economic ills. In turn, they pointed fingers at President Obama, the Federal Reserve and the government generally as the cause of the nation’s economic collapse.

Together, they were strident in their belief that Obama-era regulations are stunting growth. Yet although the White House aspirants largely agreed on their overall visions, the two candidates whose positions at the top of the field were expected to rise or fall in Tuesday’s Washington Post-Bloomberg News debate at Dartmouth College — Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain — were short on policy specifics, even when pressed by the moderators.

Seriously?!  If only Obama would just eliminate all the government regulations (we don’t need to stinkin’ clean air, water, or safe food) and cut the tax rates to 5% or so, it would be all good?  The huge business profits and their capital on hand?  They’re not waiting for consumer demand, just an end to all the needless regulations.  Why am I not the least bit surprised that Cain or Perry did not have anything specific in mind much beyond “government is bad– boogedy, boogedy.”  One can certainly articulate a more conservative and nonetheless sane alternative to Obama, but we’re sure not getting it.  The complete intellectual vapidity of the modern Republican party is truly breathtaking.

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