Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let It All Burn Down

I've said time and time again that as much as I gripe about Obama, the other side purely hates him and wishes to see him destroyed with such rancor that they would rather see the economy annihilated than to see his stimulus plan pass. To them, this is just the opening salvo in Armageddon. Steve Benen discusses this over at Washington Monthly.
Apparently, the base won't be truly pleased unless congressional Republicans, in the face of a drastic economic crisis, opposes any government effort to stimulate the economy at all. Michelle Malkin has begun calling a rescue package the "Generational Theft Act of 2009." Don Surber believes Obama's plan, tax cuts and all, is "evil."

Oh my.

This is the same group of people that refuse to bat an eyelash when Bush autohrized torture, illegally spied on American citizens, killed untold thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Pakistan, and turned the executive branch into a playground for civil rights abuses and powermongering.

But we're supposed to believe Obama's stimulus plan is more "evil" than all those combined. To the wingnuts, everything they don't like is merely a rehash of the battle over immigration reform in 2005-2006. They believe they can hold the line and excorciate anyone who dares oppose them, whipping up a faux populist uprising with scare tactics. They mean to brutally crucify anyone who crosses the picket line and goes with Obama on this program. "We'll make them pay," the wingnuts promise.

But the difference this time is the fact the Democrats are in charge. Elections have consequences. The Right is scrambling for relevancy, and the wingnuts are howling now that they have been reduced to a meaningless dull roar from the peanut gallery.

So, the wingnuts preen like Snidely Whiplash, twirl their moustaches, and promise dire consequences for the country unless the GOP listens to them NOW.

When enough of the GOP starts ignoring the wingnuts, they are through. The wingnuts know this. They have drawn the line here, because if the Republicans cross it with Obama, they are done and gone.

And finding out you're expendable, like millions of Americans who lost their jobs last year and the millions who will continue to do so because of Bush's policies, is a rough, rough thing.

[UPDATE] And unless I miss my guess, the number one target of the wingnuts crying "traitor!" is going to be the man Obama beat...John McCain.

Reverting to the role of Republican foil that made him an unpopular figure for many conservatives, John McCain argued on Friday that historical circumstances should compel his GOP colleagues to work closely with Barack Obama.

"There are not many times in history," he said, "that a president has come to office with as many challenges as the president-elect does and that's incumbent then upon all of us to try and do all we can to work with him."

Appearing on Fox News for one of the few times since losing the election, McCain offered a supportive assessments of the president-elect's agenda. He acknowledged the need to pass a stimulus, but said he would reserve judgment until he saw the final package.

"All I can say to you is that I want to see the stimulus package I want to see what it does, I want to see what kind of provision it has in it," he told Neil Cavuto. "I think the president-elect is going to marshal public opinion. Right now his approval ratings and hopes of the American people are very high," he later added.

I almost feel sorry for McCain. They are going to crucify him on the right, and I bet they will actively work for his defeat in 2010. "No More McCains" will become their battle cry.

Not Stimulating Enough

Obama's domestic economic team of Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein have put out the estimates of the effect of Obama's stimulus plan on the economy. The Kroog calls it too little, too late.
The key thing if you want to do comparisons is to note that I made estimates of the average effect over 2009-2010, while they do estimates of effect in the fourth quarter of 2010, which is roughly when the plan is estimated to have its maximum effect. So they say the plan would lower unemployment by about 2 percentage points, I said 1.7, but their estimate may actually be a bit more pessimistic than mine. They have the plan raising GDP by 3.7 percent, but that’s at peak; I thought 2.5 percent or so average over 2 years, again not much difference.

So this looks like an estimate from the Obama team itself saying — as best as I can figure it out — that the plan would close only around a third of the output gap over the next two years.

One more point: the estimate of what would happen to the economy in the absence of a stimulus plan seems kind of optimistic. The chart above has unemployment ex-stimulus peaking at 9 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and coming down through the year; the CBO estimates an average unemployment rate of 9 percent for 2010, so the Obama people are more optimistic than the CBO, and a lot more optimistic than I am.

Bottom line: even if I use the Romer-Bernstein estimates instead of my own — there really isn’t much difference — this plan looks too weak.
Personally, I think the estimates of the worst-case scenario unemployment rate of nine percent are far, far too optimistic. Businesses have done everything they can to keep from having to lay people off...and we're going to see quite a bit of them go over the edge in 2009 and have no choice but to lay off a healthy chunk of their employees. This in turn is only going to stall out the economy even further. I don't think even Krugman is giving enough weight to the fact that Americans buying things is the singular engine of our economy, and Americans aren't buying, we are screwed.

Worst case scenario is closer to 12 or 13%, with a real unemployment U6 number of twice that. I think we're going to come awfully damn close to those numbers, and that it will take well into the end of next decade for us to recover. By then America will be a very different country. It took us 16 years and a World War to get us out of the last Depression.

And by that time, the world will have passed us by. America is Britain, circa 19th century. Who will rise to take our place, Russia? China? India? Who knows.

The decline of the American Empire is upon us.

A Dozen In The Back

Another bloody New Year's Day police shooting in America, by cops to a black man, this time in New Orleans.
The New Orleans man, 22-year-old Adolph Grimes III, traveled to his grandmother's home near the French Quarter in order to celebrate New Year's Eve with his fiance and their 17-month-old son. Three hours after arrival, around 3 a.m., he was found dead a block from the front door.

The Orleans Parish coroner said Grimes was shot 14 times, including 12 times in the back.

"This violence has to stop. My child's death will not be meaningless. He did not die in vain," said Grimes' mother, Patricia Grimes.

An editorial in The Times-Picayune said the shooting "demands answers."

Despite the fact that the seven officers involved in the incident have been reassigned, Superintendent Warren Riley has refused to answer "fundamental questions" about the shooting and maintains that Grimes fired upon his men first.

Several dozen people protested the New Orleans Police Department on Thursday morning to demand justice for Grimes' death.

A mix of people walked paced in front of a police station carrying signs with slogans like "Down with the government" and shouting to passers-by "You could be next!"

A group of black ministers and advocates has called for the department to be purged of "trigger-happy" officers and the Grimes family's attorney, Richard Jenkins is certain an investigation will show rogue cops and sloppy police work.

"I just think it was some bad officers who were out there and imposing their will on the community," Jenkins said.
Two things.

One, you get shot in the back, it suggests your back was to the person with the gun and you're in the process of getting away. If Grimes was running, I'm thinking it would take one, maybe three bullets max in the back to bring the guy down under any circumstances. Seven officers were involved in the shooting. It's entirely possible all seven fired two shots at Grimes and hit. It's entirely possible all seven officers had an open shot at Grimes and were all shooting at the same time...but twelve bullets at pistol range on a target moving away suggests to me Grimes was shot, fell face down, and then an officer or two emptied his gun into Grimes's back.

Two, the worse the economy gets, the more of this we're going to see in America's cities. If the national average of the "real unemployment rate", what the Labor Department calls the U6 number, which is the collection of all the folks out of work, no longer looking for work, or underemployed, is now at 13.5%, then there are places in America where that number is much, much higher. I'm betting NOLA is one of them. There are places in this country where hope and change cannot come fast enough.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition

Related Posts with Thumbnails