Month: March 2016
Jobs. Listen to the Republican debates you’d think the economy was in the free fall. That we’re headed for a new dark age. I’m happy to discuss what policies the government could utilize to boost our economy. I hear Republicans talking about how they are going to bring millions of jobs to this country. They’ll repeal the biggest job killer in our history –Obamacare. They’ll reduce job killing taxes. As a slogan they’re great. I want to pay less in taxes. I want more jobs. Again, I’m happy to discuss various policy proposals but they have to based in some kind of reality.
Let’s talk about Obamacare. We can discuss healthcare reform another time. Every analysis not part of a Republican debate has called Obamacare’s effect on the national job market minimal at best. It hasn’t killed any jobs. It hasn’t caused jobs to revert to part time. There’s no reality in which Obamacare has anything to do with jobs.
As for jobs we have one of the longest expansion of job growth in modern history. Jobs are being created at a rate of 200,000 jobs a month and have been for years. Our unemployment rate has fallen to below 5%. Does this mean our economic picture is perfect? of course it isn’t. Our labor force participation is low. Much of that is due to demographic and social changes, (think students staying in school longer than immediately going into workforce or seniors retiring), but some is economic. While there are certainly issues worthy of discussion, a sky rocketing unemployment rate isn’t one of them.
While we’re talking jobs, let’s talk about the poor. The moocher class as Republicans like to think of them. Most of the people who are poor and getting some form of government assistance are working at least one job.
Discussing how to create jobs from a conservative perspective is a valuable exercise. For example, the Constitution explicitly mentions infrastructure as a key priority for government. Job bills in the government have been stalled. Programs that would provide for investment in infrastructure have been attacked. Mechanisms that fund programs haven’t been adjusted for inflation, funding for science, technology, and infrastructure have fallen.
We can and must do better. We can’t start with Republican unreality. Let’s start with making realistic priorities and then decide how to fund them.
Election season is well and truly underway. I want to apologize for being so partisan. I’m not usually. That’s one of the reasons why my wife lovingly calls me a neocon. However, reality doesn’t support each side equally… so… partisanship. But the season has been disappointing to say the least. Normally at this point in the election cycle we can start talking about the pros and cons of various policy proposals. That won’t happen. It won’t ever happen. The reason is that republicans aren’t even lying about what they can do and what they will do. Lying means that you’ve accepted some part of reality and have decided to intentionally mislead someone about that reality. Republicans are stuck in an unreality. Every truth they tell is contingent on a deliberate or inadvertent inability to be part of our reality. The reality of the real world. Let’s consider part of that reality. Hillary Clinton. There is no one Republicans hate more than Obama it’s Clinton. For what they see as the mishandling of three basic events.
The first is Russia. This was an early “victory” for Clinton that soured on us pretty quick. There was a new Russian President, and a new American president. The old cold war had been over for 20 years and there are a host of outstanding trade deals, diplomatic issues, and security concerns that could benefit from Russo-American cooperation. Aside from a spelling mistake on a symbolic button it was the beginning of a new era of cooperation. Sadly, it was not to last. Medvedev was never more than a puppet for Putin and Putin was reelected like he was always going to. When Eastern Europe started turning away from Putin’s kleptocracy, Putin helped start the Ukrainian Civil War. And this is where Republicans first enter their world of unreality. In their mind the Obama administration should have prevented Russian entanglement on the country that shares their border with a huge ethnically russian population and have been a historically connected for as long as there’ve been humans in the region. Reagan would have stood up in a public square and demanded that Russians cut it out. Because you know, that’s what Reagan did. Reagan weaponized the dissidents in Soviet controlled Europe, completely cut off all trade with and within the Soviet Union. Russians were so terrified of Reagan they immediately capitulated just like the Iranians… only that’s an absurd reading of history. The Russians finally lost control over a nonviolent populist uprising and it was Carter that negotiated for the return of the hostages with the Algiers Accord. Of which something Republicans seem completely unaware. A “fact” they repeat on every debate.
It’s from an imagined sense of weakness that the Republicans believe that Obama allowed the Russians to intervene in Ukraine. Compounded by this Republicans believe that this emboldened the Russians to intervene in Syria. Which brings us to Syria.
Syria. The world’s greatest clusterfuck. Also Clinton/Obama’s fault according to Republicans. This is their explanation. Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq early. This allowed terrorists in Syria to take over large portions of the country and then invade Iraq. This opened up a window for the Russians to get involved. This is equally ridiculous as thinking that Reagan could have stopped the Ukrainian Civil War with a firm tone. First off Obama didn’t pull out our troops on a cowardly whim. He was abiding by a status of forces agreement that Bush signed. And it was a good decision. If we’d stayed we would have been the kind of stabilizing force where we unite the region by making everyone hate us. This blog is too short to talk about how the events in Syria got started. But if your explanation doesn’t include a thousand years of history, you’re quite simply and phenomenally stupid.
Then there’s Libya. Benghazi. It’s not worth even mentioning because at the moment it’s a rallying cry more than a coherent argument. After multiple investigations, trolling through the emails, and a witch hunt the likes we never seen before, Clinton has been completely exonerated in any wrongdoing. It was a complicated tragedy. But sure go around saying “Benghazi!” like it means a damn.
We can argue about an interventionist vs a non interventionist foreign policy, but this notion where Obama’s personal weakness or, by extension, America’s is nothing short of Republican unreality.