Video of the day

Elizabeth Warren on the shutdown last week.  Good stuff:

Fiscal conservatism is for losers

This morning Mike commented:

Most rational people would realize that the Republicans are either not rational or simply liars.
If the debt and deficit was the crisis they claim it is they would allow revenue to be raised.
They would not have given billions of dollars in farm subsidies and subsidized crop insurance (ACA for corn) to farmers, in fact increased it over previous years for large wealthy corporate farms and millionaire farmers. And that was one of the few bills Republicans managed to pass because of their own party’s infighting.

Republicans are not against the debt or deficit, they are against social programs. They don’t mind spending money on their beloved programs. Just not programs anyone else wants.

That’s their idea of governing.

And I already had a “to be blogged” post from Greg Koger at Mischiefs of Faction on exactly this point (I liked his title so much, I borrowed it).  I’m going to excise the graphs, but trust that they completely back up his point (or don’t trust, and click through):

As the second week of the shutdown grinds on, I thought some data collected by DePaul professor Wayne Steger for a project on hypocrisy in ideological appeals might be informative.  Wayne scanned the database of the National Review, an iconic conservative magazine/website, for terms indicating interest in fiscal restraint: “balanced budget,” “cut spending,” and “cut taxes.” The results suggest that the conservative publication’s interest in fiscal restraint peaks when Democrats hold unified control of government and wanes during divided or Republican control of government…

One explanation for these trends is that balancing the federal budget is not a genuine priority of conservative opinion-makers. Rather, it is a set of arguments trotted out while the opposing party is making budgetary decisions (presumably favoring Democratic constituencies), then shelved when Republicans are directing federal spending (including tax cuts) toward their constituents.  [emphasis mine]

An alternate explanation is that Republicans are such effective custodians of the public purse that the National Review is satisfied with their fiscal probity while they hold power. This is not consistent with budgetary outcomes during this period…

I.e., pretty clear that emboldened explanation clearly has something to it.  Alas, the Republicans play the media like a Stradivarius on this point.  Seems like your typical DC journalist actually believes this crap about Republicans just wanting to cut the budget.  Or, even if they know better, the norms of journalism cause them to pretend otherwise.  But the facts Koger presents largely speak for themselves.

US vs. Dutch men (this is super cool)

I remember reading years ago about how Dutch men were the picture of male health– at least height-wise, where they average 6 feet.  But, wow, they sure put American men to shame.   A graphic artist has created avatars of men from different countries based on mean body measurements.  The results are something.  Here’s the photo that includes the rather unappealing US man versus several other countries (via the Atlantic):


Quite some dramatic differences.  The average US man is just a hair away from being officially obese.  Anyway, pretty interesting stuff.  And, unsatisfied American women?  Time to head to the Netherlands apparently.

How we do welfare in NC

When I read yesterday that North Carolina was going to be stopping WIC benefits for new moms who need them, I just sighed and chalked it up to another depressing act of the shutdown that Republicans don’t care about because it affects poor people.  What I had not fully appreciated, though, was the uniquely NC aspect of this.  It turns out NC is alone in stopping new WIC benefits.  From NC Policy Watch:

North Carolina is the first, and only, state in the nation to stop issuing vouches for formula and nutritional food for at-risk newborns, young children and expectant mothers as part of the federal government shutdown.

The aberration was noted this week in publications like Governing, a national public policy magazine, which pointed out $125 million from a USDA emergency contingency plan kept the program up and running in the 49 other states.

Now, questions are being raised about why North Carolina stopped issuing vouchers on Tuesday, instead of furloughing employees or finding other sources of funding to keep vouchers for formula and food going to the young children and their mothers that depend on the program.

“The first thing you do is furlough employees rather than cutting out essential things like food to babies,” said Dr. William Pilkington, the head of Cabarrus Health Alliance, the Piedmont county’s public health agency.   “I don’t understand morally or otherwise how the governor made the decision to withdraw food from babies.”

Calls for comment from McCrory’s office and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services were not immediately returned Thursday. This post will be updated with their responses when we hear back.

I”m sure it’s complicated (and the article goes into some more details), but seriously, the only state in the whole damn country to do this?  Call me crazy, but somehow I don’t think this would have happened with Democrats in charge.

Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of trees in Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

Photograph by Brad Grove, Your Shot

Parenting is hard work

Okay, no news there.  But I found this recent Pew report (interestingly, from their own data they collected 3 years ago on time use) on how parents spend their time to be quite interesting.   The headline kind of says it all:

Parents’ Time with Kids More Rewarding Than Paid Work — and More Exhausting

There’s a lot of interesting gender comparisons, like this one:

How Moms and Dads Spend  Their Time

Full-time work and all, men manage to pull off three more leisure hours a week.  Almost enough for a round of golf.   And what are men doing with that extra time?  TV:

How Mothers and Fathers Spend their Leisure Time

Pew also looks at what makes people very happy?  Surprise, surprise… leisure:

“Very happy” Activities

Umm, and seriously, what’s with that 21% who is “very happy” from housework?  Are they deranged?  Meanwhile, only 3% of parents claim to find parenting “very stressful”

“Very stressful” Activities

Really?  Are everybody else’s kids that better than mine?  Shouldn’t this be like 90%?  A little social desirability bias perhaps?  I.e., parenting– I’ve got this.

Lastly, I was quite intrigued by how moms and dads actually spend their childcare time:

How Mothers and Fathers Spend their Time with Children

I love that dads are closest on recreational, i.e., fun stuff, but lag far behind in the others.  Especially physical, which is the thankless tasks of diapers, feeding, changing, etc.

Anyway, pretty interesting stuff.

The real reason Democrats are winning

We’re yet to see exactly how this mess will turn out, but Democrats have basically 100% unity.  I’m not sure of a single Democrat– officeholder or pundit– anywhere, who’s not with the party line.  Meanwhile, the Republicans have plenty of internal conflict.  And the media loves conflict.  Sure, they like D vs R conflict the most, but due to the nature of media coverage, a completely unified party is going to have a huge advantage over a party where the media is emphasizing the divisions and conflict.   Jon Bernstein:

We’re a week-plus into this shutdown, and I didn’t hear anything from the president which deviated, even a tiny bit, from what House and Senate Democrats are saying. Not only that, but there doesn’t seem to be any split between any of these Democratic politicians and Democratic activists, party-aligned interest groups and other party actors. They appear to be completely united on rejecting GOP “hostage-taking.”

That’s certainly not the case on the other side, where Republicans have turned on each other, sometimes bitterly so, and where party-aligned groups have regularly criticized Republican politicians in Congress, whether it’s the Chamber of Commerce rejecting the Republican approach or tea party groups that have been quick to criticize House Speaker John Boehner and pragmatic conservative Republican senators.

Why the Democratic unity? It seems pretty straightforward: Democrats agree that both the substance and the procedure of Republican requests is flatly unreasonable. It’s not spin. It’s not a bluffing negotiating position. It’s apparently the virtually unanimous reaction of Democrats at all levels.

And that, finally, is why Republicans are losing the shutdown fight, and are going to continue losing it. The only question has been how badly the nation will be hurt by it, and how long it takes for Republicans to accept that they’ve misplayed this horribly.

At some point, big business will do more than just write angry letters (checks to Democrats would really do the trick) and then we’ll get some where.



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