The New York Times editorial board revisits the "failed stimulus" from President Obama's first months in office.
Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again.The stimulus was victim number one of the GOP's grand strategy for the incoming Obama administration: agree with nothing, mock everything. It wouldn't have mattered if the stimulus had caused gold to fall from the sky, Republicans were soundly committed to attacking it, every hour, every day, and never admitting to any benefit.
“The ‘stimulus’ has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results,” wrote Speaker John Boehner. “Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ ”
The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010.
And yet Republicans were successful in discrediting the very idea that federal spending can boost the economy and raise employment. They made the argument that the stimulus was a failure not just to ensure that Mr. Obama would get no credit for the recovery that did occur, but to justify their obstruction of all further attempts at stimulus.
In fact, it was the success in attacking the stimulus--aided by not just the ever supportive Fox News but by other outlets willing to put opinion not just on par with, but ahead of, evidence--that cemented the "continuous attack." The GOP's success in setting the conversation tone around the stimulus made it the prototype of the next six years.
What did that do for us?
So the American Jobs Act was killed, and so was the infrastructure bank and any number of other spending proposals that might have helped the country. The president’s plan to spend another $56 billion on job training, education and energy efficiency, to be unveiled in his budget next month, will almost certainly suffer a similar fate.Yeah, that. And, in case you forgot--the stimulus worked.
Now, let's see what else is up this morning...
Dana Milbank plays witness to an event that has to be high in the annuals of strangeness.
Arthur Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute, had the unorthodox idea to invite the Dalai Lama to exchange views on capitalism with a panel of scholars at the conservative think tank Thursday.Capitalism? Exploitive? Bah, perish the thought. Why, look at how well employees have shared in corporate profits over the last three decades. Seriously go look.
The Tibetan spiritual leader gently suggested that there might be “more sense of universal responsibility and commitment,” even as he listened politely to the Americans’ praise for the morality of the free market.
“Today, I developed more respect about capitalism,” the great Buddhist monk said with a smile. “Otherwise, in my impression, capitalism only takes money, then exploitation.”
Brooks was solicitous of his holy guest. “Free enterprise truly can be and should be a blessing in the life of all people, especially the poor,” he assured the Dalai Lama, but “it will not be if it’s not executed and practiced on the basis of brotherhood and compassion.”And then the Dalai Lama flew off to Galt's Gulch, to help plan that coming wave of brotherhood and compassion.
Maureed Dowd is more than a little amused at watching Chris Christie try to keep his cool.
For the first time since his revving ambition stalled in a traffic jam, he returned to the forum that helped vault him to the head of the pack.All together now... awwww. Come closer, kid. I'm sure he has a crumb from one of the other Who's houses. Dowd then goes on to explain how Christie became popular because Barry Obama is a wimp. Seriously.
The New Jersey governor, depicted in The New Republic as Tony Soprano in his underwear getting his paper from the driveway, toned down his tough-guy Jersey act.
The fist-pumping and finger-jabbing were gone at his 110th town hall. As were the swagger, flashes of temper and glossy self-promotional videos. The chastened governor didn’t call anyone a “jerk,” an “idiot” or “stupid.” He even let one guy grab back the microphone that he had confiscated when the question went on too long.
Christie pitched his voice in a warm, helpful tone and, in an instamacy Instagram moment, took a knee to high-five a 3-year-old named Nicole Mariano who keened that Sandy broke her house.
Margret Sullivan looks at publications still being blind to their own sexism very late in the day.
Katha Pollitt's judgment, on Twitter, was harsh. The feminist writer observed: “NYT mag: First Hillary as giant bald fleshball, now ‘Can Wendy Davis Have It All?’ Sexist much?”They don't ask that of men, because there's a standing assumption that there's a woman handy to handle all those family issues. Men are never expected to have it all. Just all the power.
Her reference was to two recent cover stories on female politicians in The New York Times Magazine: one about Hillary Rodham Clinton in January; the other, last weekend, about Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator and rising star in Democratic politics, now running for governor.
Both articles have been flash points for media criticism on gender issues. In The New Republic last week, Rebecca Traister was incisive, writing: “There is no accounting of female professional achievement that does not also add up the raw data on personal, familial effort; there is no admiration that is not instantly accompanied by interrogation: How does she do it? No. Really. How does she do it?”
Times readers, too, were critical. Jeanne Pitz of Leola, Pa., wrote: “Excuse me, but your cover of Hillary Clinton as a planet was bad enough, but this time, you are using a huge, unflattering photo of Wendy Davis of Texas, with the stupid comment: Can she have it all? Women are offended because you would NEVER ask that of a male candidate.”
The New York Times checks in as the FCC makes another go at net neutrality.
After losing two court cases on the issue, the Federal Communications Commission last week came up with a promising way to prevent broadband companies from giving preferential treatment to big players like Netflix and Google, which could hurt smaller businesses and start-ups, as well as consumers.Personally, I'd be happy to have even one broadband provider fighting for my dollars. As it stands, I expect to lose my dial-up service, either because no one offers it, or my irreplaceable modem fails, long before someone gets around to offering anything better.
At issue is whether the broadband providers can charge different rates for different types of content, or even block content altogether. The commission’s most recent legal defeat came last month when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down regulations the F.C.C. enacted in 2010. The regulations would have restricted the ability of phone and cable companies to block or discriminate against some Internet traffic. The F.C.C.’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, says the commission will not appeal and will instead rewrite its rules to comply with the decision in a way that will effectively achieve the same result. ...
Phone and cable companies say these rules are not needed because the companies are committed to an “open Internet.” But that could change as the few large companies that dominate the industry become even bigger. Earlier this month, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and broadband company, agreed to buy Time Warner Cable in a deal that would give it control of about one-third of the country’s broadband subscribers.
Sandeep Jauhar makes a case for medical lies.
The moral basis for withholding information from ... a patient is clear: Above all, physicians must do no harm. The underlying philosophy is paternalism. Paternalism derives from the image of the paternal figure, the father, in a family. The father is motivated by an interest in his children’s welfare. He acts on their behalf, but not at their behest. The beneficiaries — his children — may even repudiate the actions taken on their behalf.Having been face to face with the C-word in the last year, I appreciate that some diagnoses are hard to deliver (and in our case, it was delivered with all the offhand callousness of someone informing you that your burger was going to be a little late). That said, if there's a case to be made for lying, I suspect it's a much more narrow one than that presented here.
Such paternalism was once widely accepted in medicine. In the mid-19th century, the American Medical Association’s code of ethics stated that physicians had a “sacred duty” to “avoid all things which have a tendency to discourage the patient and depress his spirits.” But times have changed. The prevailing ethical mantra in medicine is patient autonomy. Today, patients own their health information. They have the right to direct their own care, and to do so they must be fully informed. As doctors, we no longer “care for” as much as “care with” our patients through their illnesses.
While this is a welcome development, it should not obscure the fact that there is still a place for old-fashioned paternalism in medicine — though the decision to defy a patient’s wishes or withhold information is one of the trickiest that we doctors face.
Gregory Clark demonstrates that social mobility is more of an ideal than a reality. The truth is, you are who your ancestors were.
Inequality of income and wealth has risen in America since the 1970s, yet a large-scale research study recently found that social mobility hadn’t changed much during that time. How can that be? ...There are things in here I certainly don't want to accept -- including the idea that genetics plays a huge role in defining personal success. I can't quite decide if this is "The Bell Curve" in new clothing.
When you look across centuries, and at social status broadly measured — not just income and wealth, but also occupation, education and longevity — social mobility is much slower than many of us believe, or want to believe. This is true in Sweden, a social welfare state; England, where industrial capitalism was born; the United States, one of the most heterogeneous societies in history; and India, a fairly new democracy hobbled by the legacy of caste. Capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. Nor have democratization, mass public education, the decline of nepotism, redistributive taxation, the emancipation of women, or even, as in China, socialist revolution.
To a striking extent, your overall life chances can be predicted not just from your parents’ status but also from your great-great-great-grandparents’. The recent study suggests that 10 percent of variation in income can be predicted based on your parents’ earnings. In contrast, my colleagues and I estimate that 50 to 60 percent of variation in overall status is determined by your lineage. The fortunes of high-status families inexorably fall, and those of low-status families rise, toward the average — what social scientists call “regression to the mean” — but the process can take 10 to 15 generations (300 to 450 years), much longer than most social scientists have estimated in the past.
Leonard Pitts has a message for Kansas
“Discrimination,” he said, “is horrible. It’s hurtful. It has no place in civilized society . . . ”When I was a kid in Kentucky, there were many restaurants and stores with the sign "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." Which was the post-Civil Rights Act version of "We don't serve blacks."
You would think that statement, delivered recently in the Kansas Legislature, a noble sentiment no right-thinking person could argue with. But we are gathered here today to argue with it.
Because it turns out that when Republican legislator Charles Macheers said “discrimination,” he didn’t mean, well . . . discrimination. Macheers sponsored a bill — passed overwhelmingly by the Kansas House but killed last week by the Senate in an attack of common sense — that sought to exempt any business or government employee from providing “any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges” related to any “marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement” if doing so would conflict with the employee’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In other words, if the customer seeking these services, etcetera, were gay. You see, Macheers’ idea of fighting discrimination is to protect the right of alleged “Christians” to discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Apparently, Jim Crow is alive and well and serving in the Kansas Legislature.
... a state governed by Macheers’ law, a state where you could be denied a haircut, a wedding cake, hotel accommodations or police services based on sexual orientation, would of necessity have to erect the kinds of signs this country has not seen for over two generations:
“We Don’t Serve Homosexuals.”
“No Gays Allowed”
Carl Hiassen delivers a weary message to his fellow Floridians
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Legislature to fix Florida’s cockeyed Stand Your Ground law. The National Rifle Association owns too many of the Republican lawmakers who could end the madness.If you're waiting for the NRA to say "sorry" about pushing a law that legalizes shooting anyone, anywhere, anytime you feel nervous, it's going to be a long wait.
Nothing will get done in Tallahassee as long as black kids are the ones getting shot by white guys claiming they acted in self-defense. What might eventually pressure politicians to change the law is when white guys start getting shot.
The jaw-dropping verdict in the Michael Dunn case in Jacksonville brought not a peep of outrage from GOP leaders in the House or Senate. The outcome shamefully underscored the lunacy of Stand Your Ground, and once again put Florida in the national spotlight as a gun-nut mecca.
Dunn, who is white, got into an argument over loud music with some black teenagers who were parked beside him at a gas-station convenience store. He pulled a handgun and fired into the teen’s SUV, then crouched and continued shooting as it sped away.
In all, Dunn fired 10 times. Jordan Davis, age 17, was killed.
Oddly, Dunn didn’t call the police. He checked into a motel with his girlfriend and ordered pizza. The next day he was arrested in Brevard County, where he lives.
At the trial, Dunn said he saw a shotgun being pointed at him from the SUV, and that he fired in self-defense. He also said Davis got out of the vehicle and threatened him.
No weapon was found in the SUV. Dunn’s own girlfriend testified that, contrary to his account, he never once mentioned to her that he’d seen a shotgun. Moreover, a medical examiner said Davis’ wounds indicated he’d been seated inside the vehicle, leaning back, when he was fatally struck by Dunn’s bullets.
The jury voted unanimously to convict Dunn on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for continuing to blast away at the SUV as it raced off.
However, the panel deadlocked 10-2 on the first-degree murder charge, the majority favoring conviction. Then it was 9-3.
The sticking point was Florida’s spongy self-defense law that essentially allows the use of lethal force if a person feels threatened.
Science Daily says it's time to move over, St. Augustine.
In an announcement that could rewrite the book on early colonization of the New World, two researchers today said they have proposed a location for the oldest fortified settlement ever found in North America. Speaking at an international conference on France at Florida State University, the pair announced that they have proposed a new location for Fort Caroline, a long-sought fort built by the French in 1564.How about we change the Thanksgiving celebration to remember that time when the glorious French founded America?
"This is the oldest fortified settlement in the present United States," said Florida State University alumnus and historian Fletcher Crowe. "This fort is older than St. Augustine, considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in America. It's older than the Lost Colony of Virginia by 21 years; older than the 1607 fort of Jamestown by 45 years; and predates the landing of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620 by 56 years."