Avik Roy: Charlatan

Avik RoyRomney economic adviser Avik Roy was on Up with Chris Hayes today. He pooh-pooh the carried interest loophole, saying, “Carried interests—I can’t remember the exact numbers—but what I think it raises for the government is something like $15 billion dollars or 4 billion—some tiny number that really doesn’t do much…”

I see this all the time from conservatives. If it is something they want to cut, a million bucks wasted can take up a whole day on Fox News. The government lost $500 million on Solyndra, and Fox News and the rest of the right wing echo chamber has been talking about it for a year. But $15 billion or $4 billion (or $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal) is nothing.

Let’s think about this. Romney can’t be bothered to state a position on the carried interest loophole. It’s just too small. But he can be bothered to state that he wants to stop funding PBS. And how much will that save? The total federal spending on PBS was less than $450 million last year, or less than one-quarter the size of the “tiny” carried interest loophole (using the smaller WSJ number).

Everyone understands that this is what we get from Romney. He is the prototypical politician: slippery with them facts. But Avik Roy is supposedly a serious guy. He is supposed to make the best case for Romney, but not distort the facts. Yet this is exactly what I expect from people like Roy. Let me say it again: the center of gravity of politics in the United States has moved so far right that no reasonable person can continue to be Republican. So Chris Hayes can pretend that Roy is an honest and serious guy, but he isn’t. He is just another conservative freak who happens to be good at lying with numbers.

Reed Richardson and the Name Anchor

Reed F. Richardson - Artist's RenderingEvery Friday, rain or shine, Eric Alterman makes a post on his blog at The Nation magazine. It has three parts. First, he links to the articles he has published that week. Sometimes, this means there is no part one. Second, he talks about the music and theater he’s seen that week. I call this his “Yes, as a matter of fact, my life is a hell of a lot better than yours” feature. One time, he wrote about a 20 minute conversation he had with Bruce Springsteen, which I thought was adding insult to an already debilitating injury. And the third is, “Now Heeere’s Reed!” This is the part where Reed F. Richardson writes a column.

Why doesn’t Reed have his own blog? I don’t know. Reed is a mysterious person. (See “Artists Rendering” on the left.) But through a few email correspondences and a close reading of his and Eric’s columns, I have developed a theory. Reed was once an intern at The Nation (fact). He worked closely with Eric Alterman (conjecture). Eric doesn’t have a lot of people he likes there (conjecture) because he is very vocal about what fucktards most liberals are (fact). Reed became Eric’s protege (conjecture).

I’ve been reading Eric Alterman for years. He is a great writer with lots of insights and a clear view of the way the world works. I think I’ve read all of his books. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I read What Liberal Media? again. As a result of this, I more look forward to Reed’s column each week than I do Eric’s. This isn’t because Reed is necessarily better, but he is much more likely to have a take on something that is different than my own; I’ve so internalized Eric Alterman’s work that I usually know what his take will be. (But not always!)

From time to time, I want to directly link to Reed’s column. Unfortunately, this has been impossible, given that it was just tacked on to the end of Eric’s blog entry. And it was even worse, because Eric’s blog uses a “fold” where you have to click to see more (thankfully not true pagination). This meant that Reed’s articles didn’t even so up when linking to the base blog.

You know me: I am a persistent pedant. I looked at the source of Alterman’s blog to see if perhaps there was a name anchor hidden there. These are the things that I commonly use for footnotes; they are links that allow you to skip down the page.[1] This is very easy to do, and I recommend it to bloggers, many of whom have this annoying habit of using an asterisk with no link. Do this:

Link: <a href=”#linkname”&gt[1]</a>

Footnote: <a name=”linkname”&gt[1]</a>

Note that # character is in the link, but not the footnote!

Anyway, back to the story. Eric Alterman’s blog had no name anchor for Reed’s column. So I wrote to Reed and asked him about adding a name anchor to the blog posts. I knew that Reed was an editor of some kind and so he might be a bit of a pedant. I still don’t know, but he cared enough to asked his editor. And to my surprise, the editor thought it would be a good thing for their interns to learn. And two weeks later, inside the Alterman blog post is:

<a name=”NowHeresReed”>Now here’s Reed:</a>

What I particularly like about this is that it is simple. A lot of blogs that use name anchors make them stupidly complex. Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

This week, Reed has a column about Jim Lehrer’s terrible debate moderating and what it says about political reporting generally. It is well worth reading. In fact, I highly recommend reading him every week. And if you do, perhaps he can start being paid. Eric Alterman is a slave driver (conjecture).

[1] Like this!

I Miss Reagan: Obama 2012!

Dave Weigel made a funny about having found Andrew Sullivan’s car. But you don’t have know that Sullivan is one of that growing group of conservatives who are starting to wake up to the fact that the Republican Party is nuts. This picture paints about 10 Sullivan columns. Or David Frum:

<%image(20121006-imissreagan.jpg|450|336|I Miss Reagan - Smart Republican)%>

Employment Has Improved Over Last Year and a Half

Paul KrugmanPaul Krugman has a really interesting article this morning where he presents a new formulation for reporting unemployment. As everyone should know, the unemployment rate is deceptive because it only counts people who are actively looking for work. As a result, a lot of people prefer the employment to population ratio. This number has gotten a lot of attention by Republicans ever since a Democrat has been in the White House.

Krugman points out that this is a useful statistic but it skews the numbers toward the older population because our country is getting older. His idea is to divide the population into three parts: 16-24, 25-54, and 55 and older. Then he weights these groups and comes up with the the graph below. In effect, he’s removed the bias of an aging population that should be working less.

<%image(20121006-emppopratio.jpg|450|284|Employment to Population - Krugman Weighted - Plus Normal added by FC)%>

I added the red dots. These are the values taken from the standard employment-to-population ratio graph. You’ve probably seen this graph before, and if you click over to Krugman’s article, you can see the graph itself. The thing that is disturbing about it is that there seems to be no (or very little) change after the 2008 recession.

But by weighting these three age groups, it is clear that over the last year and a half, we’ve seen steady, if frustratingly slow, job grown. This is what my intuition tells me. It is also what this month’s BLS data tell me. And what it should tell all of us. Jack Welch included.