Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Thank Goodness for Donald Trump

My reaction to the Veep debate is basically: Thank goodness for Donald Trump.

No doubt, he is really truly horrible and it boggles the mind that he is the Republican candidate for presidency this year. But at least he is as horrible on the outside as he is on the inside. Now somebody like Mike Pence, somebody who can wrap true horridness in such a reasonable demeanor. Who can put down Tim Kaine with a subtle amused shift of the eyebrows. Who can deny truths not with risible bombast of a Trump but with a soft, dismissive "oh, that's nonsense" while practically reeking of dignified mid-western authenticity. Now there goes a politician who makes my blood run cold.

Luckily for us, the Dems seem to be running an unusually tight and disciplined campaign this year. Despite groaning through his debate performance, I now recognize that Tim Kaine had a mission to accomplish and he did it -- to get as many hits in against Trump as possible that can be packaged in ads later. Pence got the tactical victory -- consensus is that he won the debate handily, to the degree that there is consensus. But the strategic advantage went to the Dems, who were able to put together a killer ad that juxtaposes Pence's genial denials with footage of Trump saying the exact thing. Thank goodness for Donald Trump. Now Pence just made both himself and his candidate look extra despicable. Imagine how bad somebody who found themselves nodding along to Pence in the debate and thinking "maybe Donald isn't so bad" feels right now after seeing that ad. 

To be sure, the fact that Trump was nominated at all is troubling. It signifies that the rightwing reactionary id has gained a tremendous amount of power. Extremists always do well in times of malaise. Just look at the UK where Brexit passed in a referendum AND Corbyn became Labour leader in the same year (WTF?). The time we most need a steady hand is almost always ironically when the center cannot hold. And despite the recovery America still feel topsy turvy to most Americans. It appears that a burgeoning financial sector cannot undo on the way up the damage done by a devastated one on the way down.

Thank goodness for Donald Trump. We really lucked out with him, really. It's sheer dumb luck that he fell into the goldilocks zone of awfulness: the right flank of the America have become unhinged enough to nominate him, but we as a nation are not so far gone as to actually elect him. Hillary doesn't have Obama's advantages of being an inspirational and authentic communicator. We might not have gotten the president that we needed if the Republicans have gone with a less batshit candidate. I would see Donald's stubborn resilience in the polls less as an indication of his popularity and more as the American people's natural inclination to vote for a change of party after eight years. In a widely misinterpreted article about Professor Lichtman's Keys to the White House, Lichtman basically showed that Hillary Clinton would have had an uphill battle against a generic Republican candidate due to structural factors such as succeeding a 2-term president from your own party. I saw that article passed around a lot on Facebook as "OMG Trump could win!" when really the takeaway should be "Anybody but Trump would probably walk away with it. But he is so awful that the professor who correctly predicted every election since 1984 thinks Trump could break his system." 

So no. I don't fear Trump 2016. I don't even fear Mike Pence 2020, as he is now forever tainted by the Donald. I fear somebody-like-Mike 2020. I fear that the Republicans are going to try and truthhole their capitulation to an awful know-nothing bully like Trump and that they might get away with it in four years time. But for now, thanks to Trump, we're in all probability going to get four years of Hillary, plus considerable downticket coattails if it's clear Trump is going to lose. As the Weekly Standard drolly puts it, it's one thing to disgrace oneself for a winner, but not for a clear LOSER

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Today I took half a bottle of crappy Merlot I had hanging around, grabbed my guitar and took the dogs in a tow and headed to the park. I sat by the river and played and singed and screamed. And I wrote a song about the protests in Wisconsin. I really don't know why I caught this fervor. Intellectually, I know why unions can be a Bad Idea and how when you assume a perfectly competitive market they meddle with the efficiency of the market etc etc...but when I see the videos of the protests I see ordinary people fighting together fiercely for themselves, their families and for each other. And I could not not be moved.

If I feel brave enough I might just record it later.


I know the world's not black or white
but that won't stop me from telling wrong from right
I'm not in a union but I gotta choose sides
between the fat cats and labor it's not hard to decide

So I'll stand with the teachers stand with the firemen stand with the nurses
stand with the common man...I'm going to Wisconsin (x4)

When we join our hands it's about more than bread
It's about dignity, it's how we hold our heads
We're in the depth of winter but no matter the weather
we'll stay warm if we stay together

So preach it to your father preach it to your mother
preach it with your sisters and your brothers...I'm going to Wisconsin (x4)

(spoken)I'm not really going to Wisconsin...I'm all the way in Taiwan. But
I'm sending you crazy cheeseheads all the love like the world sends you pizza from Ian's. And in the end we're all one world and one people. Where
ever you are...please do what you what you can...go take a stand!

So find them on Twitter
friend them on facebook
Like them on youtube
do what ever you can do

Open your eyes, we'll never be free
unless we stand in solidarity
Doesn't matter if it's Egypt or USA
You gotta stand up if you've got something to say

I say, go, go, Ohio
Minnesota I love you too
SEIU, keep doing what you do

I'll stand with you if you stand with me
we'll stand together set the whole world free (x3)

I'm sayin' UNION (x4)

go to Wisconsin...don't let the tea partiers have all the fun...go to them how a peaceful protest is done...go to's the first battle now the war has begun...go to Wisconsin...please stay strong until our rights have been won.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Behind the LOLs: Ireland forced to take EU bailout

This piece on the Irish bailout is very close to my heart.

Why? First of all, we explained the Irish banking crisis with leprechauns and Riverdancers. Illustrating economics and international relations with crude national stereotypes is an NMA specialty. But the real reason is because I got to slip in a reference to Father Ted, my favorite television sitcom of all time.

I love how many of the youtube commenters are mad about the broad use of "Oirish" stereotypes, yet there is simultaneously suspicion from others that this piece isn't "really" made in Taiwan because the specificity of the cultural references, especially the one to Father Ted. Seriously, we live in a globalized world, people! Folks move around and cultural products move around...there's nothing inauthentic about it.

Anyhow. Father Ted. Best show ever. Every episode is gold. But the clip linked below, which contains the relevant reference to the animated piece, is as good a place to start as any:

The talented Mr. Battlepanda (also a big fan of Father Ted) contributed a fine portrait of Father Jack for the occasion.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Hu-Obama Battle Rap

Hi guys. Long time no blog. See, I have been too busy over the past year bringing you the LOLs as a part of the NMA team.

But this is something I have to share with y'all on the ol' Battlepanda blog because being a blogger is how I first got interested in politics and started paying attention to economic issues and international affairs and all that good stuff. Without this blog, I would never have written...the Hu-Obama battle rap.

U.S.-China Currency Rap*
(By Angelica Oung, Richard Hazeldine, Emily Wu with music by Shen-Yi and Action Zero)

Hu/Obama: We're both superpower economies
caught up in a battle over monetary policy
Hu: For social stability, we've got to export
Obama: And we're sick of being the consumers of last resort.

Obama: Times are hard in the U.S.A.
Listen up Hu, I've got something to say.
Help us out, you know what I'm talking about,
the RMB's too low without a doubt.

Now I ain't sayin' you're a currency manipulator,
but you ain't lettin' the Yuan float...float.
Protectionism ain't cool it's understood;
an undervalued Yuan inflates the price of US goods.

My dogs in the IMF are on my side,
we'll wag our fingers 'til you do right.
Until then won't you get some sense,
and stop beating up on Nobel-winning dissidents.

Hu: Shut up fool, you spin ain't genuine,
if the RMB goes up, your exports still can't win!
From the Mao to the Deng to the Jiang to the Hu,
you think you can keep on telling us what to do?

And the Nobel Peace Prize, ain't all that son,
even you've got one and what have you done?
Now the shit's gone down I'm gonna make it rain,
Norway, get ready for a smorgasbord of pain.

You're the one to blame for the great recession
so don't come round looking for concessions.
You're in no position to call me a sinner,
without Bretton Woods, you'd be Argentina!

NMA Anchor Girls: They're not enemies, but frenemies
with co-dependent economies.
For stability, China's gotta export,
and the US is the buyer of last resort.

Obama: That's right we're the world's reserve currency,
in times of uncertainty, they all want USDs.
So what if our fiscal picture's discombobulated?
The world's resources are dollar denominated.

And we paid with IOUs so if what you say is true
when the dollar crashes, what you gonna do?
And won't you learn to make toys without lead?
I bought your bargain kibbles and now Trixie's dead.

We're through with being polite!
We're getting ready for a fight!
Ma man Timmy G is gonna set you right.
*Go Timmy! Go Timmy! Go Timmy! Go Timmaaaaaaay!*

Hu: It's a trade war fool, forget your guns and rockets.
We've got it where it counts and that's money in our pockets.
Don't talk smack 'cos China's striking back.
We're gonna keep stacking those Wal-Mart racks.

Soon the Dollar will be out and the Yuan will be in.
Nothing will will stop the dollar's long-term downward trend.
But since for now employment is our top concern,
we'll keep the Yuan cheap until the economy turns.

Don't try to stop us, it ain't realistic.
Don't believe me? Read the statistic.
Capitalism is socialistic,
if you do it with Chinese characteristics.

NMA Anchor girls sing X3

*Some of the lyrics were slightly different in performance...I've given the lyrics as it was written.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sarah Palin animated

Sometimes...I love my job.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Incoherence of Republicans: Feature, not bug.

Don't try and appease the American people. Don't try and pander to their policy preferences. Don't try and guess at what direction they really want America to take deep in their hearts...because they, themselves do not know.

Jacob Weisburg of Slate makes the point rather harshly, but well.
Anybody who says you can't have it both ways clearly hasn't been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but opinion polls over the last year reflect something altogether more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, climate change, and a whole host of other major problems. Sixty percent of Americans want stricter regulations of financial institutions. But nearly the same proportion says we're suffering from too much regulation on business. That kind of illogic—or, if you prefer, susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation—is what locks the status quo in place.

At the root of this kind of self-contradiction is our historical, nationally characterological ambivalence about government. We want Washington and the states to fix all of our problems now. At the same time, we want government to shrink, spend less, and reduce our taxes. We dislike government in the abstract: According to CNN, 67 percent of people favor balancing the budget even when the country is in a recession or a war, which is madness. But we love government in the particular: Even larger majorities oppose the kind of spending cuts that would reduce projected deficits, let alone eliminate them. Nearly half the public wants to cancel the Obama stimulus, and a strong majority doesn't want another round of it. But 80-plus percent of people want to extend unemployment benefits and to spend more money on roads and bridges. There's another term for that stuff: more stimulus spending.

With all this in the background, Weisburg warns ominously that the politicians who will thrive are those who can best "call for the impossible with a straight face." Like Scott Brown, the newly-minted senator of Massachusetts, someone who wants to call himself a deficit hawk while pushing tax cuts.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rapping up the economy

This is too good not to post.

The economist who participated in the project is Russ Roberts of George Mason University. No prizes for guessing where his loyalties lie when it comes to the battle between Keynes and Hayek. Having said that, the video was just amazingly informative and funny and even-handed. Well done to all involved. Except I think Keynes would have liked some male hotties in his entourage as well.

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