The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Best Economics Chart Ever – The Great Recession

The unemployment situation in the U.S. has been a major concern for economists when considering an economic recovery from the “Great Recession”. The most recent “peak employment” level was in November 2007. The following chart shows every recession, and employment recovery, of the U. S. economy since World War II for comparison of depth and duration. The present employment situation is shown in RED, beginning at the top left at the November 2007 peak. The horizontal scale measures the number of months after that peak, and it also shows when President Obama took office in January 2009. If anyone says Obama “made things worse,” remember this chart.


Written by Tom Fox

08/12/2012 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Politics

None of the above: The third way.

President Obama has never been particularly popular in West Virginia, and the results from this May’s West Virginia Democratic Presidential primary show one possible outcome when folks vote against a candidate.  Barack Obama was not the only Democrat on the ballot  in West Virginia’s Democratic Presidential Primary this year. Keith Judd, an unknown convicted felon received 41% of the vote, just because he wasn’t Barack Obama. My assumption, which I believe is reasonable, is that 41% of West Virginia Democratic voters didn’t care who Keith Judd was. They just wanted to express their displeasure with Obama, and essentially voted “none of the above.” I’ll call this the “Judd Effect.”

This suggests to me an interesting possibility for this Fall’s general election. With all of the negative advertising I expect will be cranked out by both sides between now and election day, I would not be surprised if a significant percentage of voters will be sick and disgusted with both of the major candidates. If there were actually a “none of the above” option on the ballot, they would take it.

The thing is, in my experience, there is always some or another third-party candidate on the general election ballot. Frequently, there have been several, and invariably I never heard of any of them before seeing the ballot itself on election day. This year is no exception, except I’m better informed ahead of time. Where I live and vote, I’m sure Gary Johnson’s name will appear as the Libertarian Party candidate. And, there may be others that I don’t know about yet.  Thus, the “Judd Effect” may come into play.

In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won the State of Kentucky with less than 50% of the vote. I believe that Clinton would have lost Kentucky in both elections, but for the third party candidacy of Ross Perot.

Ross Perot attracted a lot of support in Kentucky, and I suspect that he appealed to conservatives more so than liberals, with the result that Perot  took more votes from G.H.W. Bush in 1992 and from Bob Dole in 1996. Perhaps he took enough Republican votes to tip the balance, with some similarity to the effect that Ralph Nadir had upon the outcome in the Florida 2000 election, which was dramatic.  Florida 2000 was very close, and it didn’t take much to tip the balance.

If the Judd Effect kicks in this year because some voters are sick of both major candidates, will “none of the above” tip the results one way or another? I don’t know. My best guess that the Judd effect will have more impact in very close races, like Florida 2000, and less impact in states like Kentucky, which went for McCain in 2008 by a wide margin.

Kentucky is a lot like West Virginia. Eastern Kentucky is exactly like West Virginia in all significant respects. It’s my best guess that third party candidate would need to take about 250,00o votes away from Romney for Obama to win the state like Bill Clinton did in 1996, and that is a long shot.

But, for what it’s worth, the Obama campaign started to run ads on cable TV in Louisville, Kentucky in June. By the middle of July I saw my first Romney cable TV ad. Frankly, I was dumbfounded when I first saw the Obama ad, thinking that it was a monumental waste of money. There’s no way Obama will win Kentucky, so why bother. Why would Romney follow suit? I’m not aware of any Presidential polling data for the state, and polls which include Gary Johnson are rare.

Maybe the two campaigns are thinking of the Judd Effect and are hedging their bets in Kentucky. Sometime long shots pay off. Long shots definitely pay off best.

Written by Tom Fox

07/19/2012 at 1:02 pm

Republicans block jobs

Once again, Senate Republicans have blocked a jobs bill for the reason it might be a stimulus to the economy. Senator Mitch McConnell (R – KY) stated that President Obama didn’t really want the jobs bill enacted, he wants Republicans to vote against it so that their no-votes can be used against them for political advantage, like he thought that made sense and anyone would believe him that he was just doing what Obama really wanted him to, or the fact that Obama is for it forces Republicans to be against it, just because.

Written by Tom Fox

10/21/2011 at 11:15 am

Posted in Politics

Occupy Louisville – march from U of L

Occupy Louisville photo October 7 2011

Friday’s march from the University of Louisville to the downtown financial district was smallish. The crowd chanted to the beat of a plastic bucket used as a drum, “We are the other ninety-nine percent.” That’s Occupy Louisville on day 4 of its existence. As you can see from the photo, there were about 50 marchers, with bicycle outriders. Every last one of them looked to be a university student. The weather has been exceptionally dry and nice this week, but I wonder how long they can keep it up heading into Halloween, and the first frost of the season.

Written by Tom Fox

10/07/2011 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Politics

Defense: Congress gives Obama a blank check

H.R.2608 started out as An Act to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes, but ended at the Oval Office on October 4, 2011 as the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012. In truth, it is the second continuing budget resolution for fiscal year 2012. The first was for a mere four days, to accommodate the Republican workplace demands of four-day weekends. Section 114(a) of the resolution provides:

SEC. 114. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), each amount
incorporated by reference in this Act that was previously designated
as being for contingency operations directly related to the global
war on terrorism pursuant to section 3(c)(2) of H. Res. 5 (112th
Congress) and as an emergency requirement pursuant to section
403(a) of S. Con. Res. 13 (111th Congress), the concurrent resolution
on the budget for fiscal year 2010, is designated by the Congress
for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism
pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency
Deficit Control Act of 1985, except that such amount shall
be available only if the President subsequently so designates such
amount and transmits such designation to the Congress. Section
101(b) of this Act shall not apply to any amount so designated.

The money being discussed in this section is about $158 billion that cuts a wide swath through many parts of the U.S. Defense Department budget. This $158 billion is in addition to the discretionary spending caps Congressional Republicans insisted upon this summer, in the  Budget Control Act of 2011. This $158 billion is divided up into some fifty different account categories from personnel ($16.2b), operations and maintenance ($95.8 b), procurement ($26.1 b) , the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund ($11.6 b) and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund ($800 m).

If President Obama “subsequently so designates such amount” the money is there, but only if he so designates. It is the President’s option.

Written by Tom Fox

10/05/2011 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Politics

Occupy Louisville – day two

I stumbled by 4th Street and Jefferson in time for today’s 1 p.m. General Assembly of Occupy Louisville. There looked to be about 40 participants, not counting the dog.

Louisville Metro Police were nearby, in the shade. One cop for every seven protesters.

Written by Tom Fox

10/05/2011 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Politics

Cut, cap and roll the dice

Shiftless adults playing dice and telling lies in the middle of a summer afternoon. I’m talking Congressional Republicans and the not too calculated gamble they took with the recent Federal debt ceiling deal. The talk was of “cut, cap and balance,” but it was just talk in the end. The debt ceiling was raised and the Republicans in Congress dug a deep pit for themselves.

As I write this on October 2, 2011, the second full day of the Federal government’s 2012 fiscal year, the headlines read, “Republican budget hawks cut 2012 defense spending by $100 billion.”

You will never actually read that headline because nobody in or out of government believes it will end up that way, even if it is the way it temporarily stands today. Personally, I have no reason to believe it either.

Nevertheless, while dancing their “cut, cap and balance” dance, the Republicans insisted that fiscal year 2012 Security Category spending not exceed $684 billion, and for some strange reason they also arranged it that about $130 billion in funding for the Global War on Terror was not included in that amount. The plan is to have a special emergency appropriation for such overseas operations that would automatically boost the spending cap.

The problem is that the $684 billion Security Category spending cap is law, and the special emergency military appropriation has not happened. There has even been some talk that President Barack Obama and the  Democratic members of Congress might use the situation as leverage in negotiating Obama’s jobs bill and revenue increases.

I’m just saying that the Republicans bragged openly about the tough bargain they won in the debt ceiling deal, and in this context it would by very difficult to blame massive defense cuts on the Democrats. The Republican’s got what they wanted, and nobody force them to lie about it.

Written by Tom Fox

10/02/2011 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Politics