All posts by Wayne Gulden

Blue Vs Red Economies

The NYT’s David Leonhardt published an article entitled “Blue vs red economic records” on February 2, 2021. It was labelled as an opinion, but the amount of data presented made it much more than simply an opinion. It was largely based on an academic paper by Alan Blinder and Mark Watson. From the opinion piece:

A president has only limited control over the economy. And yet there has been a stark pattern in the United States for nearly a century. The economy has grown significantly faster under Democratic presidents than Republican ones.

They had economic data since the FDR era (and the difference would certainly have been greater if Hoover had been included) and there’s no amount of timing or coincidence or measurement that would change the conclusion: the U.S. economy does better under Democratic presidents than under Republican ones. From their report:

The gap exists not only for G.D.P. and jobs but also for incomes, productivity and stock prices. The gap also exists if you assume that a president’s policies affect the economy with a lag and don’t start his economic clock until months after he takes office. Virtually any reasonable look at the data shows a big Democratic advantage.

Perhaps the best summation is the following chart. They primarily looked at two measures of economic wellness, Gross Domestic Product growth and nonfarm job growth. As you can see, the differences are quite (and to me surprisingly) large.

Breaking those two major measurements into a presidential ranking, we get these two charts.

If you clicked on the “six months later” or “year later” you get slightly better Republican results, but there’s still a significant Democratic edge.

Why is there such a gap? Luck and timing don’t explain the differences. The explanation that resonates with me is that Democrats seem more willing to try whatever works to make the economy better, while Republicans seem interested only in tax cuts mostly for the wealthy.

Harry Truman

The following is reported to be from a radio broadcast by Harry Truman on October 13, 1948 from St. Paul, MN. Seems like republicans haven’t changed much in the intervening 70 years. Compliments of SmokeSpotter on the WaPo comments.

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke.
They stand four-square for the American home—but not for housing.
They are strong for labor—but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights.
They favor minimum wage—the smaller the minimum wage the better.
They endorse educational opportunity for all—but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools.
They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine—for people who can afford them …
They think American standard of living is a fine thing—so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people.
And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.”

Minority Rule

Originally posted on October 4, 2020

Within a number of states the Republicans have an edge in their representation due to gerrymandering. Nationally the Republicans have about a 5% edge in representation due to each state, regardless of population, having two senators along with the subsequent electoral college makeup.

Right now in the Senate there are 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats (or independents who caucus with one of the parties). You might expect, in any reasonable democracy, that those 54 Republicans were elected by a majority of the voters. Almost needless to say, you’d be wrong.

I went through all 100 current senators and tallied up their vote counts from their last election. The 46 Democratic senators received 66,328,155 votes while the 54 Republican senators received just 54,938,938 votes.

So not only are the Republicans slowly making the U.S. a worse place to live, they are doing it with a minority of the population. I generally try to be optimistic, but at some point the majority will get tired of this. Whether it stays peaceful is an open question.

For the details, you can download my spreadsheet here.

Who is Reponsible?

Originally posted on October 1, 2020

Trump likes to blame anyone else for whatever problems exist. A common blamed group is the Democratic party. A neutral observer might ask which party has held the balance of power in, say, the last 20 years. So I spent a couple of hours (Wikipedia is great for this sort of research) putting together a chart of which party controlled which branch of government, with the Senate and House each counting as half of the legislative branch.

The resulting chart is below, along with the numbers I used to color the columns. It is pretty obvious which party has been in power the bulk of the last 20 years, and it isn’t the much-blamed Democrats.

For the numerically-inclined, there are 60 colored “squares” above (20 years times 3 branches). Only 15 of those squares are blue, the other 45 are red. Every single branch has had a larger Republican presence. Democrats have never controlled all three branches, while the Republicans have during 8 of the 20 years.

Many of us Americans think the country is getting worse, and I am always a little surprised when they can’t figure out who has held the balance of power since 2000, and who might be responsible for the decline. Trump is simply the latest in a long line of Republican failures.

Trump Lied, People Died

Originally posted on September 10, 2020

By now the story is all over the news – Trump apparently knew that the Coronavirus was airborne and that it was a great deal deadlier than even the worst modern flu. Since he was recorded saying these things he hasn’t tried to lie his way out of it by denying that he ever said them.

Instead, he has tried the line that he didn’t want to “panic” everybody. Most of us (at least the adults among us) know that panic is most prevalent when there is uncertainty. There’s a problem, but you don’t know what to do, so you panic Most of us understand that Trump’s actions would do the exact opposite of what he claims he was trying to do. By denying (to most of us sentient beings) the fairly obvious conclusion that this virus was a nasty one, he added to the confusion.

But why? While he might have in fact thought that his assurances would lessen panic (especially in the stock market) I suspect there’s something else at play.

  • Trump is a known germaphobe. I have to believe the virus had him in some sort of personal panic.
  • Trump is convinced his personal traits are universal – that everyone else (aside from suckers and losers) is just like him. This leads him to do a lot of projection, accusing others of doing just what he is doing.
  • It then follows that he would think that all of us are just as afraid of viruses as he is. That we are all subject to the same “panic” that he is.
  • Trump apparently doesn’t really understand the difference between telling the truth and lying. Dan Coats is quoted by Woodward in Rage: “To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”
  • So maybe he was trying to calm his own panic, kinda like whistling as you walk past a graveyard.

Unfortunately, that graveyard arguably includes tens of thousands of American who might still be alive except for Trump’s extraordinarily generous character flaws.

The Art Thief

Originally posted on September 9, 2020

In a small but instructive incident, Trump again exposes how little regard he has for anyone or anything else. The diplomatic residence in Paris has quite the art collection. When Trump was there (the WWI cemetery no-show incident) he took a fancy to some of it. The result is sadly hardly surprising. Here’s the main paragraph from The Art Newspaper.

“Trump fancied for himself several of the pieces in the ambassador’s historic residence in Paris, where he was staying and which serves as the flagship for the State Department’s “Art in Embassies” cultural programme. Without notifying the ambassador, Jamie McCourt, the president and author of The Art of the Deal had a portrait and bust of Benjamin Franklin and a set of silver figurines depicting Greek mythological characters loaded onto Air Force One to bring them back to the White House. A bureaucratic nightmare ensued for the State Department and White House staffers, who worried that the $750,000 cache of art might not be legally transferable. Meanwhile, a flummoxed McCourt was told that she would receive the work back in six years—or 2024, when a second term of Trump’s presidency would theoretically end.”

He didn’t even bother telling the ambassador about it. What a creep! In a small irony the art objects he took were actually copies. Still, they were nice copies and worth quite a bit.

Soldiers are Suckers

Originally posted on September 3, 2020

I recently read an article in The Atlantic entitled Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’. It recounts a 2018 trip to an European cemetery to pay respects to those who lost their lives in WWI. He cancelled the trip. He blamed the rain, and how the helicopter couldn’t fly, and the secret service couldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Apparently he was worried that his hair might become disheveled. Plus he wondered “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In other comments he has denigrated all soldiers as suckers, thus the title.

Is Trump really so callous to not appreciate the sacrifices that so many Americans have been willing to make? The Atlantic article goes on to postulate that Trump values nothing if it doesn’t yield some benefit for him personally. He simply doesn’t understand that many of us are willing to contribute something to the common good.

This is consistent with Trump’s treatment of John McCain and Humayun Khan. It is deplorable in anyone, but especially so in a president.

Vote Twice?

Originally posted on September 3, 2020

Yesterday, Wednesday September 2, Trump suggested a way to “make sure your vote counts”. Here’s the transcript of a radio call-in show.

They’ll go out and they’ll vote and then they’re going to have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way because if it tabulates then they won’t be able to do that. So let them send it in, and let them go vote. And if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. So that’s the way it is, and that’s what they should do. …

But send in your ballots, send them in strong, whether it’s solicited or unsolicited. The absentees are fine. We have to work to get them. It means something. And you send them in but go to vote and if they haven’t counted it, you can vote. So, that’s the way I view it.

Any number of people who know about these things have said that trying to vote twice is illegal, and even suggesting the idea to someone (like Trump just did) is also illegal.

I guess in Trumpworld, election fraud isn’t really fraud if it favors him. Meanwhile in the rest of the world, going to the polling place probably wouldn’t work the way Trump thinks it would. Any number of states don’t even count the mail-in ballots until the election closes, so they’d have no idea if someone had voted or not. And it would be unusual for a polling place to have this information even if it were available.

Eventually they find out that your voterid has been used twice. Then the cops show up.

Maryanne

Originally posted on August 23, 2020

Maryanne Trump Barry is Donald’s older sister – the now-retired judge. Publicly she’s been quiet about her younger brother. Her niece, Mary (the one who wrote the recently-published book about him) secretly recorded some of Maryanne’s private thoughts as part of the Trump family feud over the size of Mary’s inheritance.

If anyone is in a position to make comments about Donald’s character it would be Maryanne, aside perhaps from Donald’s several wives, who so far aren’t speaking. Probably a non-disclosure somewhere.

Several comments of hers stand out, and were published by the Washington Post. The first referred to Donald’s orders to put children at the border into cages. “All he wants to do is appeal to his base. He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”

And then there’s this: “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,” she said. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”

And finally, something we already knew: “What has he read?” Mary Trump asked her aunt. “No. He doesn’t read,” Barry responded.

Dangerously Unfit

Originally posted on August 20, 2020

Earlier today 70 Republican former security officials released a statement:We are profoundly concerned about our nation’s security and standing in the world under the leadership of Donald Trump. The President has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term.

They went on to list 10 areas where he has failed:

  • Donald Trump has gravely damaged America’s role as a world leader.
  • Donald Trump has shown that he is unfit to lead during a national crisis.
  • Donald Trump has solicited foreign influence and undermined confidence in our presidential elections.
  • Donald Trump has aligned himself with dictators and failed to stand up for American values.
  • Donald Trump has disparaged our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and diplomats.
  • Donald Trump has undermined the rule of law.
  • Donald Trump has dishonored the office of the presidency.
  • Donald Trump has divided our nation and preached a dark and pessimistic view of America.
  • Donald Trump has attacked and vilified immigrants to our country.
  • Donald Trump has imperiled America’s security by mismanaging his national security team.

Pretty strong stuff, especially coming from former REPUBLICAN administrations. Roughly the same group put out a warning in 2016 that Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history.” It seems that they were right way back then. Let’s hope more Americans pay attention to their warnings in 2020.