SocraticGadfly: 11/14/10 - 11/21/10

November 20, 2010

The NYT is now Palin's PR team

What else can you say about the fluffery written by Robert Draper in the New York Times Magazine about Sarah Palin?

Here's one sample:
There are few spouses in politics as hard-working as 46-year-old Todd Mitchell Palin — a native of Dillingham, Alaska, who married his Wasilla High School sweetheart and dropped out of college and eventually found work in the North Slope oil fields.

Doesn't it just tear at the heartstrings, I mean, BARFstrings?

Or this:
At the same time, (Rebecca) Mansour was impressed with Palin’s nimble mind.

Rather than saying Mansour was impressed with what she saw as Palin's nimble mind.

Beyond stuff like that, Draper never digs in, unlike Matt Taibbi, to ask just how much of what Palin allegedly Tweets, etc., is actually her. (Instead of Mansour, as has been documented elsewhere.) It's a hugely uncritical piece.

Instant runoff voting shakes up Bay Area races

Who's really shaken up over this, the face that a candidate with a plurality of first-place votes at the start eventually loses? especially in Oakland, and also in San Francisco?

Entrenched politicians who align with relatively centrist stances? Yep. Like mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom of Oakland and San Fran, and their acolytes.

That said, the system there is still flawed, in that voters only get to rank their top three choices, in what is called ranked voting, and technically isn't a full-blown instant runoff system.

As the story notes, one Oakland city council race had 21 candidates; extending ranking for one's top three choices only isn't right. It isn't broad enough.

Nonetheless, it's a start.

November 19, 2010

WHAT 'Texas economic miracle,' Tricky Ricky?

Texas' economy has remained as flat as the national one during the past six months. So, WHAT 'economic miracle'?

The one that has Texans a month or more delinquent on mortgages at higher than national averages?

Well, guess what, self-delusional independents and Republicans alike. YOU re-elected him.

Oh, also, Democrats? 2002: Tony Sanchez. 2006: Chris Bell. 2010: Bill White. Arguably, modest to moderate improvement each four years, but, for 2014, you really need a quantum leap forward.

Texans are more delinquent homeowners than national average

Once again, stats like this lead us to say, WHAT "Texas economic miracle," Rick Perry?

Perhaps, we should say "deadbeat" instead of delinquent, at least if many of these people are Tricky Ricky supporters who stress "individual responsibility."

Meanwhile, the state's economy has remained as flat as the national one during the past six months.

November 16, 2010

Govt lies about junk-touching

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, on the video at the link, claims the new full-body scans at airports are NOT "electronic strip searches"? Oh really, what are they, then?

And, instead, why can't we hire more people, train them better in observing other people, and run our airport security with at least a few ideas from Israel?

It's once again an attempt to do things on the cheap with technology rather than with people. The American Way.

Douthat lies about corporate income taxes

Technically, it's a half-truth to claim, as the Rosster does, that:
(T)he private sector has to labor under one of the higher corporate tax rates in the developed West.

True that our marginal rates are that high, but when the S-corporations, LLPs, LLCs, etc., all the way up to the Koch brothers, pay little to no corporate taxes year after year, not telling the American public that our effective rate on corporate income taxes is pretty much the lowest in the developed West -- especially when you should and do (I assume) know better -- is an outright lie.

Beyond that, the rest of the column is, unsurprisingly, a largely uncritical acceptance of Obama's Catfood Commission. No surprise that Douthat was one of the conservative columnists invited to dinner with Obama two years ago.

I can cut the deficit better than the NYT

The New York Times, in an interactive page, lets readers try to balance the budget. Even within the NYT's chintzy constraints, I actually produced a surplus.

Among the chintzy constraints? It won't let you get ALL troops out of A-stan and Iraq by 2015; no surprise from the warmongers there. It also won't let you address corporate income tax loopholes, just some individual ones.

If the NYT would allow all the tax changes I'd like, I'd produce a $300 billion surplus by 2030, without breaking a sweat.

That said, I do agree with it and the Catfood Commission on eliminating a few individual income tax exemptions, above all the mortgage interest deduction. It would stop McMansions, speculative home buying and other evils. It's about the only Catfood Commission idea, other than inadequate defense cuts, I agree with.

Wrong on the deficit, GOP

The federal budget deficit only ranks No. 5 on Americans' worries. Unemployment has passed general economic concerns into No. 1. Will Obama listen, or will he listen more to his Catfood Commission?