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Monday, June 30, 2014

No. 000041 Never do anything inconsistent with your theory of the Case

Do you go on Twitter and charge another department of state government with being incompetent or with running experiments if your theory of the case is the Liberal case that State Government can be entrusted with the health care of Missouri's citizens?

Or, are your actions speaking louder than your words? 

Are you doing something inconsistent with your theory of the case which is something you cannot do?

This fundamental of persuasion is right out of McElhaney's classic text.

A long essay could be written explaining why doing something inconsistent with your theory of the case works against your Ethos (credibility). 

Is such needed?

Wouldn't it be wiser to comment upon the courage of those who are attempting to do what no one has accomplished for children before, in the face of GOP hostility and desire that Public Education be eliminated?

My friends, it is about blocking and tackling.

Stop unforced errors if you have any desire to achieve any Progressive or Liberal goal in Missouri.

Now my theory of  the case is that our problems stem from the failure of us, as Democrats, to have an effective political party.  A feature of that is that we have too many Democratic politicians in Jefferson City who think their thoughts or ideas matter or have weight.

At present, the sole Democrat in Jefferson City that matters is the Governor. Go wait in his waiting room until he will see you and then enter his office on your knees.

Therefore, I have and will continue to urge that no one in the party take action on transfers until we agree upon a Democratic Party Platform on transfers, a platform on which our candidates can campaign this fall.

To that end, my comments have been on and will continue to be on Economics for Democrats from which a number of principles flow.

First, because SB493 fundamentally threatened public education it had to be vetoed.

Support the veto. That is the sole present transfer issue that matters.

Second, the problems in Normandy and North County, and the City of St. Louis, have nothing to do with our schools. Our schools would do a fine job if we tended to the economic issue: the lack of good paying jobs, with benefits, for all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

No. 000040 Senator John Lamping, How does the Tea Party Square its small government view with the coming Networked World?

Missouri State Senator John Lamping has my respect in a very important way. He will dialogue and read. 

He says he is a Tea Party advocate of small government.

If he would be so kind, I would appreciate hearing his views and answer about the following question.  He may send me a direct message on Twitter for my email address and I will post his answer.

Here is my question.

Senator Lamping, in X years (as soon as 5 as long as 15-20), and without picking any exact point or technology, there is pretty much universal agreement that technology is going to make the world a very different place.

First, due to the properties grouped under the concept of asymmetric warfare, it is generally agreed that bad people are going to be able to be a whole lot more effective at being bad. It is likely, for example, that an autonomous drone  can be launched hundreds of miles from an intended target of a crime, whether to deliver drugs or contraband or commit murder.

Second, the demands of driverless vehicles and drones are going to demand networks and standards on a scale never contemplated just 5 years ago. Given that driveless cars will save $1 trillion a year in the US now lost to auto accidents and insurance, we need early robust adoption.

Third, the Internet and coming Internet of things (and privacy) are going to present security challenges for the Internet or World Wide Web making todays problems child's play.

Fourth, there is going to need to be Worldwide authentication of the person. With whom am I doing business in India will be an ever more important question.

Fifth, the action going forward is going to be in super cities.

Sixth, big data is going to tackle the big data of health care, making it evidenced based (including real time monitoring of our health).

Last, robotics and automation is going to mean more change in the work place in the next 20 years than in all of human history.

In sum, independent of the death of the religious belief in markets, of what relevance will small government concept be to where technology will take all of us in the next 5 -20 years?




No. 000039 Scarlet, War War War . . . Remember, I Warned You--- the greatest moment in Art

100 years ago, today, the events in Eastern Europe quickly yanked the World into its First World War. Those events prove the meme, it is too soon to say who will ultimately prevail for American soldiers are being deployed today on one of that War's enduring fronts.

God gave use great art and artists to inform us. There is no greater moment in art than the opening scene in Gone with the Wind.


Scarlett: Fiddle-dee-dee! War, war, war; this war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides... there isn't going to be any war.
Brent Tarleton: Not going to be any war?
Stuart Tarleton: Why, honey, of course there's gonna be a war.
Scarlett: If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door.
Brent Tarleton: But Scarlett, honey...
Stuart Tarleton: Don't you *want* us to have a war?
[she gets up and walks to the door, to their protestations]
Scarlett: [relenting] Well... but remember, I warned you.






No. 000038 Another History Lesson for the Post: Mark Twain and the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

“The greatest influence over content was necessity--they had holes to fill on every page and jammed in any vaguely newsworthy string of words, provided it didn't include expletives, which they were apparently saving for their own use around the office.”


― Tom Rachman, The Imperfectionists

The other day Hillary Clinton changed her hair style so naturally a news cycle or two later an editorial writer at the Post has to comment.

The best consistent writing in America about Ms. Clinton has been Bill McClellan's entire body of work. But the inches have to be filled, I guess.

No one can object to the fair reporting of what Ms. Clinton has said now or on her previous book tours. After all, Ms. Clinton knows more history than the editorial writer so she knows that the purpose of public service is to put one in a position that one's memoir will pay off handsomely. 

That is pay for performance and is as American as apple pie.

Can you imagine what a President could command if he or she could create jobs or prosperity?

My objection to the column is that it slanders, through ignorance, our second greatest Missourian, Mark Twain.

And, it slanders Missouri for the inventor and perfector of the President memoir both hail from the ShowMe state.

The aged writer, badly in need of a fact checker, penned these sentences asserting the memoir was a Truman invention of necessity.

But why get by when you can cash in? Ex-presidents since Truman have received big money for their memoirs, all of which have been turgid. More recent presidents have commanded millions on the speaking circuit.


So the sum and truth of the story is very different.

  • If invented by Mark Twain, making money off being President is as American as apple pie.
  • President Truman knew his history for he read every book in that library as a youth and knew Grant's memoir and, when needed, wrote his own.
What was missed was hard investigative journalism into whether grifter Dick Cheney pushed for the Iraq War so that Halliburton would Profit.

Ever the grifter, Cheney now has a 501(c)(4), the Alliance for a Strong America, which will accept your donation today to finance his first class vacation flights tomorrow.

Fair and balanced!!!



Friday, June 27, 2014

No. 000037 Jane Dueker Strikes Tony Messenger Out as Hypocrite on Three Pitches

Ms. Jane Dueker has a well deserved Saint Louis following as sports fan (and moderate Democrat), working off the Mound on principle.

She just struck out left wing radical Tony Messenger in three pitches:




Messenger's View: Disregard Inconvenient Laws

Messenger is a hypocrite in that he views the Missouri Constitution and laws as only applying to others, but when Constitutions or laws are an inconvenient obstacle to what he wants he is unhesitant in urging others to breach or disregard both. 

He is very happy, for example, with the Governor's veto of SB493 in this Fair or Foul video for the Post-Dispatch.

In the video Messenger attacks Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-14, for her vote in favor of SB493 because the bill opens the door for public money to be spent for tuition and costs at private schools.

In his veto message Governor Nixon wrote of Ms. Chappelle-Nadal's vote: 
Conference Committee Substitute for House Committee Substitute for Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bills Nos. 493, 485, 495, 516, 534, 545, 595, 616 & 624 would authorize the expenditure of public funds for the tuition of students who transfer from an unaccredited school in an unaccredited district in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County to private, nonsectarian schools located in the students' district of residence. Although proponents of this provision claim that only local tax dollars would be expended and that they would be expended only if approved by the district's voters, no such vote would be required after a district has been unaccredited for three years. Either with or without a vote, the result would be the same-public money would be diverted to private schools, in clear violation of the Missouri Constitution Art. III, § 38(a). In addition, through its enactment of Conference Committee Substitute for House Committee Substitute for Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bills Nos. 493,485, 495, 516, 534, 545, 595, 616 & 624, the General Assembly would extend this private school option without holding private schools responsible for how well they educate students. Unlike the accountability to taxpayers that locally elected school boards provide, this scheme for directing public funds to private schools would come with no such protection. Private schools do not have to answer to voters, their leadership does not have to stand for election or re-election, and their budgets are not transparent to allow public scrutiny. Accordingly, public funds should not be diverted to private schools.
In his Fair or Foul video Mr. Messenger also attacks Senator Chappelle-Nadal for a conflict of interest in both serving as a Senator and as a school board member for the University City School District.

This is a bizarre charge. For that to be true University City voters would have to have conflict of interest with themselves. Senators and school board directors are accountable to the small group, the public at large.

What Mr. Messenger really faults is that, wisely, Ms. Chappelle-Nadal does not want to make a bad situation worse by having underperforming Normandy students threaten the accreditation of University City's schools.

The Post has reported:


“I want to make sure that this district stays accredited,” she [Senator Chappelle-Nadal] said, according to the Post-Dispatch’s Jessica Bock.

Mr. Messenger apparently wants University City's school board to act in ways that will threaten that district's accreditation. 


Messenger's knowledge of the law.


In Mr. Messenger's video he shows sufficient skill with Google to find applicable state statutes when it suits his purpose.


Our question for Mr. Messenger:


Mr. Messenger can you please show us the state statute that permits either DESE or its new Normandy School District to pay tuition to University City or Francis Howell for Normandy students solely because they transferred in 2013.

Readers, don't hold your breath on a reply for Ms. Dueker has been doing a good job explaining that can only be done by the General Assembly by an appropriation bill or new and retroactive law in 2015. 

Mr. Messenger long ago blocked me on Twitter when I noted another of his radical ideas --- open schools districts in St. Louis County --- was derp.

Journalist can dish it out but cannot take it.

Ms. Dueker. Please keep on pitching.

Senator Chappelle-Nadal 


A few sentences on her performance as a senator is appropropriate. 

We think Senator Chappelle-Nadal is a hypocrite for even worse reasons than does Mr. Messenger. 

Her vote not to accept Normandy's students was an admission of what we all know. The problems in Normandy are not with the school district, the school board, or the teachers and lie little or at all with the students or parents.

Everytime Senator Chappelle-Nadal has said this is a school problem that can be solved at the school level she is not telling others what she, by her on actions, we now know she believes.

If University City's schools cannot turn around Normandy's students, the task before us is beyond what schools alone can accomplish.

Normandy is within the failing parts of a major urban area. It needs massive doses of economics for Democrats, especially a program that puts everyone fit to work to work.

No. 00036 Governor Jay Nixon never read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

or watched the Youtube video


Anyone following #Moleg or #Motranfers on Twitter, or reading the reports from the Post Dispatch and watching the sundry lesser rivals in Missouri Democratic party coalition make fools of themselves knows exactly what I mean.

Jay, order from Amazon. The Kindle edition is $4.99 and you won't be seen consorting with drones.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No. 000035 Jealously and Envy of Rep. Hensarling in Opposition to the EXIM, Tea Party Username and Password

Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.

Not the Tea Party. They are jealous of our fastest runners, our big-league ball players, and our toughest boxers, our corporations that battle overseas to sell American manufactured products in competition with foreign manufacturers bearing foreign country EXIM finance for potential customers.

The lens of these words show the Tea Party as a party motivated only by the hatred of jealously and envy.


Jealousy and Envy


Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses many different kinds of feelings that range from fear of abandonment to rage to humiliation. 


A standout example of jealously and envy: opposition to the EXIM because they cannot have government help in selling abroad because I don't have government help in selling in the US.


Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, continuing his campaign to convince the rest of Congress to put the Export-Import Bank out of business, yesterday during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee targeted the bank as an example of cronyism and the outsized influence in Washington giant corporations and big banks. 
“Who benefits?” he asked as he began his opening statement at today’s hearing. “Some of the largest, richest, most politically connected companies in the world. So if you are a politically connected bank or company that benefits from EX IM, you want it to continue. It’s a sweetheart deal.” 


It gets worse. Within 5 minutes a bank with an 80 year history of creating jobs based on exports is charged with “IDEOLOGICAL AND CRONY-BASED LENDING PRACTICES.”


It isn't fair that if you sell to hard working Americans the Government won't subsidize you, if the Government helps other sell overseas.


But the real jealously and envy emerges at 56:21. Let's go to the transcript.
LET ME THEN ASK YOU THIS QUESTION. FAIRNESS IS A VERY SUBJECTIVE TERM. I UNDERSTAND THAT. >> RIGHT. >> BUT WE SEEM TO HAVE A FEDERAL POLICY THAT SAYS, YOU KNOW, IF YOU CREATE A PRODUCT, AND YOU WANT TO SELL IT TO FOREIGNERS, IF YOU WANT TO SELL IT TO THE CHINESE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL STEP IN IN AND SUBSIDIZE YOU. BUT IF YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT TO HARD-WORKING AMERICANS, THEN, NO. NO SUBSIDIES FOR YOU. AND SO, I'M THINKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, SMALL BUSINESSES, MY OWN DISTRICT, A NEXUS PERSONNEL BUSINESS SERVICES IN MAESQUITE. THE OWNER SAID MY MOTHER AND STEP FATHER OPENED UP THE BUSINESS THEY USED THEIR 401(K), OTHER RESOURCES TO PAY FOR RENT....WE HAD TO GO TO AUCTIONS TO BUY OFFICE FURNITURE. YOU KNOW, SMALL BUSINESSES LIKE OURS QUOTE/UNQUOTE...CAN'T RELY ON THE GOVERNMENT. AGAIN, I GUESS BY DEFINITION, YOU RECEIVED THE SUBSIDY, YOU BELIEVE IT'S NECESSARY TO YOUR BUSINESS MODEL, I ACCEPT THAT. BUT HOW IS THAT FAIR TO THE OTHER MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF SMALL BUSINESSES WHO SELL TO AMERICANS WHO DON'T GET THEIR PRODUCTS SUBSIDIZED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
When one lacks the ability to see the difference between an American firm competing in Africa to sell mining equipment against a Chinese manufacturing firm financed by the China EXIM Bank (or German or Japanese or Korean) and opening a new restaurant on Manchester Road where the competitors, like you, have branches of 25 different banks or savings and loans offering loans from funds raised by FDIC insurance this a a total detachment from reality showing only jealousy and envy.

The firm (or its Congressional Representative) complaining that it lacks the diligence, skill, and moxie to compete globally and thus that those who do are not entitled to government help that puts an American firm on a level playing field with foreign firms is showing only resentment, discontent or covetousness.





No. 000034 Tea Party Jealously is no way to run a ship, Representative Shawn Rhoads

Having gained Representative Rhoads attention (he replied once or twice on Twitter), this seemed as good a time as any to take a look into his Tea Party politics. 

Representative Rhoads has a website on which he identifies the most important issue in West Plains, Missouri as being the Second Amendment (it comes first).


He does mention education, second, and writes, “I will work hard to fund education and promote the success of our children.”

There are six school districts in his district, all highly dependent on the Foundation Formula. In fact, Representative Rhoads has been a school board member of the West Plains R-7 School District. All these school districts have repeatedly urged Representative Rhoads not to vote for tax cuts for the foundation formula is not fully funded.

Of course we know the rest of the story. Representative Rhoads voted for the tax cuts in SB509 this Spring.

Now, I have a hard question for Representative Rhoads. Does he know that any economist, like myself, can show that his vote could not possibly do any good for Howell County---there are not enough wealthy people in Howell to benefit from the business tax cuts in SB509 but that the business tax cuts will benefit our wealthy in Saint Louis a great deal. 

To be more specific, before he voted for SB509 did he attempt to make any calculation whether the business tax cuts would actually help Howell County.

Here is one of many interactive maps that explain this hard truth. You will see that the average taxes paid in Saint Louis County is $11,272 (U.S. Income) and in Howell County $2,785 (U.S. Taxes), so a tax cut is worth four time as much to a business in St. Louis than in Howell County, on average.


If SB509 cuts the taxes of each by $10,000, that would only be $1,000,000 dollars. There is one local bank with deposits of more than $250 million so, even if all that $1 million was invested it would be meaningless in comparison to the capital available for investments from local banks.

But that $1,000,000 would pay the Tuition and Fees for 35 students for a year at MSU, West Plains.

And, since Saint Louis County mostly self-funds by tax cuts, such means that our schools won't be hurt by the coming future cuts but that school funding for his six school districts will be cut, even beyond the 8% in real cuts he has already handed out.

Representative Rhoads we look forward to you explaining your votes for tax cuts for St. Louis and cuts in education in West Plains and Howell County.


No. 000033 The Jealousy of Representative Shawn Rhoads, Missouri House District 154 (Howell County)

This morning Representative Shawn Rhoads took to Twitter with a jealous complaint that Governor Jay Nixon was quickly traveling about the state by state owned aircraft to explain his veto messages of "Fridays Favors."

Thankless 4 hour drive


Representative Rhoads is from West Plains and it is a thankless and sometimes unsafe 4 hour drive for him to travel to Jefferson City for his legislative duties.

Complimented for such


While I strongly disagree with just about any point of view he may have on any issue I would be the very first to say his task in getting back and forth to the Capital is a thankless one and he should be complimented on the effort.

Envy and jealously of the Governor may Fly


I would ask, in turn, of him, some honesty. 

Admit that he is jealous of the Governor.

No objection to football coach flights


He did not attack to plane fights by coaches to recruit potentially star players.

No objection to corporate private jets or first class travel


He did not attack the business deduction for private jet or first flights by corporate executives, whose time is less valuable than the Governor's.

Right to see the Governor in person


The people of our State have a right to see and hear their elected officials in person. This is as true for Representative Rhoads as it is for the Governor or any other state official, as appropriate.

The fact of the matter is Representative Rhoads wants to have his cake and eat it too. He is unwilling to vote to reorganize the Legislature into just one house of limited powers with shorter sessions or to increase pay and per diem expenses or to take steps for more appropriate travel for its members. 

Mock austerity turtleneck


In sum, he wears his mock austerity turtleneck with pride. Having chosen to be miserable is his own making.

Governers flights cost each taxpayer 5 cents a year


As to the merits of his argument, it is a faux one.  The envied plane cost $6 million with a twenty year life. With over 6 million residents that costs each of us a nickel, 5 cents, a year.

Five cents for the opportunity to see and talk with your Governor, in person. 

Who know Democracy was so cheap. Thank you for Shawn Rhoads for reminding us how inexpensive government really is.




No. 000032 On What Amendment 7 will spend our Billion Dollars? Columbia, Jefferson City

The Columbia Daily Tribune has the details

MoDOT works on Amendment 7 plan despite Nixon opposition - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Local News:

$500 billions for I-70 from Wentzville to Independence:

“The biggest single project that would be financed with new revenue would be the reconstruction and widening of Interstate 70 from Wentzville to Independence. The new tax would pay for one-third of the project’s expected cost of $1.5 billion, Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger told the commission.”

Public Trans and Airport Terminal 

“Boone County projects on the draft list include a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport, a new interchange at Highway 63 and I-70, longer hours for Columbia’s public transit system and a new public transit service with six round-trips daily between Columbia and Jefferson City.”
“‘We are identifying a lot of transit issues,’Central District Engineer David Silvester said.”
No mention, surprise, that the sales taxes collected in Saint Louis will have a substantial adverse effect on local economic growth.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

No. 000031 Prop 7 Screws St. Louis Region out of a Billion Dollars Over Ten Years


We have now obtained documentation showing that if Prop 7 passes Saint Louis will pay an additional Billion in taxes in tribute to the outstate Missouri.

The math:

Estimated Prop 7 Revenues in Current Dollars $5,390,000,000

St. Louis region share of state economic action 45%

45% Saint Louis Share                                   $2,425,500,000

MoDot Share to St. Louis Region                     $1,488,230,000

Tribute paid by Saint Louis Region                 $937,270,000

Here are the supporting exhibits on which the calculation was made. HT to St. Louis Post Business Editor David Nicklaus!





No. 000030 More evidence that Tony Messenger is a radical who has to go

This morning we presented a small part of our case that Post Editor Tony Messenger is a radical who needs to go for he brings nothing to the table.

It didn't take long for more evidence to mount up.

Just hours after our post he was on Twitter advocating for a sales tax to raise a billion dollars on K-12 education:



This is just irresponsible. A billion here or there, soon you are talking about real money. 

But, seriously, Mr. Messenger, where is the newspaper story for this new sales tax?

On whom are you going to impose a billion dollars in new taxes? 

Are you going to tax our self-funding school districts that are already paying twice for education? 

Over what period of time will this billion dollars be raised and spent. Are you talking a billion a year, or two years or what?

Finally, on what are we going to spend a billion dollars? The evidence is persistent that merely sending Clayton's teachers to Normandy will not change the outcome in Normandy.

In sum, we need a better press corp. Write to the Post and demand one. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

No. 000029 Sherpa missed a lot at and before his UMSL Commencement

1. Trust those who are greedy for money a thousand time more than those who are greedy for credentials.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Aphorisms, Rules, and Heuristics 

Sunday's Everyday Section of the Post turned over precious inches to Joe Holleman to express his view that Rutgers should not have disinvited Condoleezza Rice from a commencement speech invitation. Her best qualification appears to be her Augusta National Golf Club membership.

Sherpa: Go to college, narrow your mind : Lifestyles:

Since Holleman mentioned but did not object to Tony La Russa's appearance I Washington University, the essay suggested to me a learning opportunity about Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Skin in the Game" filter.

Mr. Taleb also has a Facebook page on which journalists, like Joe Holleman, are forbidden as they lack "Skin in the Game." More material is collected here.

Mr. Taleb can be followed on Twitter.

Mr. Taleb has just published a growing list of 212 aphorisms, rules and heuristics to aid you in your life and decision making. This comes in addition to his previously released book of philosophical and practical aphorisms, The Bed of Procrustes. The list can be found in it’s current form as a Google document under the title, Additional Aphorisms, Rules and Heuristics (Added to the Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His original list is here.

Enough introduction. Let's turn to the question, about what does Condoleezza Rice have enough skin in the game by which we should pay attention to her?

By skin in the game, to what damage will Ms. Rice be exposed if she used the address to offer more of her ill conceived neo-conservative nonsense.

Joe, having read you column, I'm stumped. 

In considering your answer, you might want to think about the lessons of history about Vietnam that Rice didn't learn when she participated in the removal of Saddam Hussein. 

You will recall Vietnam, where in October and November 1963 the United States participated in the murder of Diem for the purpose of regime change.

Upon learning of Diệm's ouster and assassination, Hồ Chí Minh reportedly stated: 
“I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid.”
The North Vietnamese Politburo in a report stated: 
“The consequences of the 1 November coup d'état will be contrary to the calculations of the U.S. imperialists ... Diệm was one of the strongest individuals resisting the people and Communism. Everything that could be done in an attempt to crush the revolution was carried out by Diệm. Diệm was one of the most competent lackeys of the U.S. imperialists ... Among the anti-Communists in South Vietnam or exiled in other countries, no one has sufficient political assets and abilities to cause others to obey. Therefore, the lackey administration cannot be stabilized. The coup d'état on 1 November 1963 will not be the last.”
Hồ Chí Minh's analysis was correct.
Before dawn on January 30, 1964, General Nguyen Khanh ousted the military junta led by General Duong Van Minh from the leadership of South Vietnam. It came less than three months after Minh's junta had themselves come to power in the coup against Diem.
This was followed on February 19, 1965 with some units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam commanded by General Lam Van Phat and Colonel Pham Ngoc Thao launching a coup against  Khanh. Their aim was to install General Tran Thien Khiem, a Khanh rival who had been sent to Washington DC as Ambassador to the United States to prevent him from seizing power. The attempted coup reached a stalemate, and although the trio did not take power, a group of officers led by General Nguyen Chanh Thi and Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky, and hostile to both the plot and to Khanh himself, were able to force a leadership change and take control themselves with the support of American officials.
 What did Rice (and Bush) think they had on Jack Kennedy?









Friday, June 20, 2014

No. 000028 Tony Messenger has to go. Only Economics for Democrats can solve the Problems in Normandy Schools not Education nor DESE

Twitter, probably Facebook, and the Radical Left Media and the Reactionary Right have been all afire these last two days over the sensible decision by Frances Howell to stop accepting Normandy Transfer Students.

The worst offender was radical Tony Messenger who penned this nihilism for the Post:
What a shameful example for the entire region, for superintendents and school boards, kids and parents. The Francis Howell board showed us the worst of ourselves.
It’s not too late to change your minds. Please do the exact opposite. Choose unity over division. Choose education over profit. Choose right over wrong.
Ever since the Missouri Supreme Court ruled a year ago that children of unaccredited schools could transfer at no cost to their parents to a better school in an adjacent district or county, lawmakers, government officials, unions, reformers and political activists have been engaged in a game of picking winners and losers.
In that long, painful process, about the only thing that all sides could agree on is that every solution is good for somebody at the expense of somebody else. That is true of the proponents of more choice in public schools. It’s true of the teachers’ unions. It’s true of suburban superintendents and their school boards. It’s true of this editorial page. Every single solution proposed to provide better education opportunity for the children of Normandy and Riverview Gardens, and other districts that might become unaccredited and face the reality of the transfer crisis, is fraught with peril for some families and full of hope for others.
To the contrary, the solutions that would work for Normandy are not fraught with peril and do not pit anyone against anyone, in some game of picking winners and losers. The game in Mr. Messenger's mind is "open enrollment," forcing the taxpayers in our self-funding school districts to pay even more taxes in a social experiment that cannot work (we have been transferring students from the City of St. Louis for going on two generations now, without notable success).

Moderate Truman New Deal Democrats should be thankful that the insanity has stopped and should take the lull to accept responsibility for not having offered sound Democratic Party Economic solutions. 

A consistent theme of this blog is that the Missouri Democratic Party has ceased to function as a party, as it has no functional platform, and that the person responsible is Governor Jay Nixon.

Due to a lack of party platform on education and economic development we have no common vision permitting our pundit class to sell newpapers rather than solutions.

Our people perish without leadership. And, we suffer larger and larger losses in the General Assembly as term limits cut into our candidate pool, for lack of a cohesive platform means rough times in candidate recruitment.

Governor Jay Nixon has wasted an enormous personal opportunity through six years of practised disengagement.

Equally blameworthy, however, have been our Missouri Democratic Senators and Representatives who should have kept their public mouths shut and moved, in private, to develop a Missouri Democratic Party response to the transfer issue, a common platform for both legislating and campaigning of which the central feature would be strong public local family schools.

Regarding the school transfer issue it is a fool's folly to believe that schools, alone, regardless of whether operated by a local school board or DESE, or privately can produce the outcomes people say they want to see accomplished.

On any scale, such has never been done by the education anywhere in the United States.

The reason is very simple. The issue is an economic development issue not a school issue. The principal problem for Normandy is that not enough parents have good paying jobs. The only solution that might work is to treat the entire North County as a developing country. A necessary first step would be to abolish all of the local government units in North Saint Louis County putting the entire area into a strong regional government.

The close following step should be the Democratic economic principle of adopting devices that decrease the dependence on transfer payments for all fit to work, using the 1930's programs of the CCC, NYA, and WPA as prototypes but having the government provide a job for anyone fit to work.

If anyone asks, how do we pay for such, the answer is simple and direct, demand all our tax dollars back from the State of Missouri.

Yesterday, David Nicklaus tweeted:



Forty five percent of Missouri's' state income and sales taxes are raised in the Saint Louis region, but not spent here.

Return those taxes to St. Louis, were they will boost income, employment, and land values.

Last, some may ask, what are you saying about outstate Missouri. What I am saying is not important. Conservatives have come to realize that rural areas everywhere in the United States are on their last legs due to the brain drain of talent to our cities and urban areas. The story in Missouri over the next ten years is that Republican tax cuts are not going to create jobs but they are going to slash education, health care, and other needed social services.

Atlantic’s CityLab reports college graduates are migrating to cities (the larger, the better) in droves:
Overall, larger and more vibrant metros with strong knowledge economies, abundant artistic and cultural amenities, and open-minded attitudes are the ones that are attracting and retaining the most college graduates. On the flip side, these metros are losing less-educated residents who are increasingly unable to make ends meet. They are instead moving to smaller, less affluent, lower-cost places. In fact, we found no statistical association whatsoever between the movement of college grads and the net movement of those who did not finish high school. These very different migration patterns reinforce the ongoing economic and social bifurcation of the United States.
There are a few problems with this sorting pattern that are likely to affect (and indeed, already have affected) the cultural and economic structure of the U.S.

First, this pattern of migratory movement does not offer complementary job creation or innovation in more rural areas of America. Small towns only see a detrimental “brain drain,” rather than any rate of return on the education of their youth. Due to the amount of lower-skilled workers moving to these areas, they won’t suffer an immediate lack of potential employees. But the innovation and creation traditionally fostered by America’s bright young people will be solely concentrated in urban hubs, to the detriment of potential entrepreneurship in other areas

Rural Missouri is trapped in a non-virtuous circle or feed back loop. Look at the most important economic development issue which is broadband Internet access. The Republican Party is far more concerned about the rights of utility pole owners and small government than providing today what the 19th century equivalents of telegraph, telephone, and railroads, and the 20th century equivalent of paved roads.

Rural voters will either double down becoming either more reactionary due to increasing cognitive dissonance or they will move.

In sum, the school transfer issue is symptom not a cause. The condition of our local public schools in Normandy are not the fault of the educators there. They are merely symptoms of the economic illness of our entire Saint Louis Region. If you want better outcomes in Normandy's schools here are the polices that would work:


  • Return to the Saint Louis region all the sales and income taxes paid to the State of Missouri but spent outstate so that we could cut some taxes (earnings tax) and have the money to invest in jobs and higher education
  • A strong regional government, eliminating all our local municipalities and special purpose districts
  • Investment of $1billion or more per year in UMSL and Saint Louis University to turn both into top 30 academic institutions in the World, with UMSL offering a free education to any qualified candidate








No. 000027 Francis Howell School District follows the law and refuses Normandy Transfers for 2014-15

Transfer Update 06/20/14 - Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Francis Howell School District


The Francis Howell School District announced Friday, June 20, 2014, that it will follow Board of Education Policy 2240 and will no longer accept nonresident tuition-paying students. Therefore, Normandy transfer students will return to the newly formed Normandy School Collaborative for the 2014-15 school year.

On May 20, 2014, the Missouri State Board of Education, acting under authority provided in Senate Bill 125, voted to lapse the Normandy School District effective June 30, 2014, and create a new district, the Normandy Schools Collaborative effective July 1, 2014. The State Board of Education, in action taken on June 16, 2014, changed the accreditation status of the new NSC effectively removing the legal requirement for districts to accept Normandy transfer students. Due to this change, FHSD will follow its board policy and no longer accept nonresident tuition-paying students. This change will include any Normandy student who attended FHSD during the 2013-14 school year.

FHSD has consistently held the beliefs that transferring students from an unaccredited school district is not the solution to improving struggling schools, and that the funds spent on tuition and transportation for transfer students can be more effectively spent on educating the whole Normandy student population. Children have a right and a need to have quality schools in their neighborhood.


FHSD will work closely with the NSC to make the transition as smooth as possible for the affected students and families.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

No. 000026 Test: With what phenomena does this graph correlate?


Possible answers:

1) growing conservatism of Congress (page 32-33)

2) falling wages for men as a whole, but not the creative class

In sum, the US is in a non-virtuous cycle. As wages have fallen the Country has been doubling down on conservative policies that make a bad situation worse.


No. 000025 R's and D/s agree: Post should fire Tony Messenger and hire a Forensic Accountant North Carolina Treasurer, Accused of Malfeasance , Defends Secrecy of Private Equity Investments | naked capitalism

The Post is to be congratulated for ending George Will as a columnist but don't stop there.

Please show Tony Messenger the door and be the first paper in America to hire a forensic accountant.

You think not, consider this story.

North Carolina Treasurer, Accused of Malfeasance , Defends Secrecy of Private Equity Investments | naked capitalism:
Private equity has become a political football in North Carolina due to the release of a report commissioned by the State Employees Association of North Carolina and prepared by former SEC investigator Ted Siedle that slams the current Treasurer, Janet Cowell, in her role as sole trustee for the state pension. He accuses her of supporting a “pay to play” system as well as failing to curb abuses and promoting a secrecy system essential to hiding them. He also estimates that her oversight failures have cost North Carolina $6.8 billion during her term in office. The union has also filed an SEC complaint against Cowell over her pension fund investments and misleading reporting.
From Siedle’s report:
The profound lack of transparency related to these risky so-called “alternative” investments provides investment managers ample opportunities to charge excessive fees, carry out transactions on behalf of the pension on unfavorable terms, misuse assets, or even steal them outright…..Cowell’s efforts to thwart disclosure have helped mask potential violations including, but not limited to the following: fraudulent representations related to the performance of alternative investments; concealment and intentional understatement of $400 million in annual alternative investment fees and expenses to date;concealment of approximately $180 million in placement agent compensation; the charging of bogus private equity fees; violations of securities broker-dealer registration requirements related to private equity transaction fees; securities and tax law violations regarding investment management fee waivers and monitoring fees; self-dealing involving alternative investment managers; mystery investor liquidity and information preferences, amounting to licenses to steal from TSERS; pension investment consultant conflicts of interest; predatory lending and life settlement related fraud.
Further, the Treasurer has invested billions of dollars of pension assets in North Carolina private equity funds and companies via an initiative with dubious economic prospects and which has the markings of political influence-peddling.
In our opinion, billions in TSERS investments can only be explained by the improper collateral benefits they provide to the Treasurer — as opposed to any supposed investment merit.
Put simply, my concern is what I know and I don't know.

The State, local government, and our numerous special purpose districts have billions in pension fund investments. Yet none of us know the newspaper story, the by whom, when, where, why, and how of these investments, the fees earned, to whom paid, and so forth.

Bring newspapers into the 21st Century. I'll bet most every reader would agree, we would all sleep better at night if the Post fired Tony Messenger and hired a forensic accountant.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No. 000024 Homework for 2015 House and Senate Investigations of Why We Lost Iraq

Memorandum

To: Fellow followers of politics, regardless of party affiliation

Subject: Reading Assignments for 2015

Regardless of the outcome in Iraq, every American will have to agree that the outcome is going to be, in passive aggressive bureaucrat speak , "less than optimal."

Anticipating the Republicans prevail in the fall elections as projected by FiveThirtyEight, 2015 is going to feature a series of Investigations into government failure without parallel since the Pearl Harbor Attack Investigations during and after World War II.

If at all possible, go long on document scanning services in Washington. And, look for temp work for one or more of the Committees in reading all the documents that are surely going to have to pass from the Administration to the Congress.

Because many people are also reading about WWII, I am going to periodically post links to the various investigations and hearings.

Here is the first.

Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack. Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack, Congress of the United States, pursuant of S. Con. Res. 27, 79th Congress, a concurrent resolution to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and events and circumstances relating thereto, and additional views of Mr. Keefe, together with Minority views of Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Brewster .. : United States. Congress. Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack

The careful reader will note that there will be a major difference between 2015's hearings and the Pearl Harbor hearings. Members of Congress during WWII knew how to ask questions. Read the questions by Keefe of General Marshall, especially at 266-K, -L.

The best thing going for the Administration looking forward to these hearings is that today's GOP lacks the skills to ask questions and is not about to turn conduct of the hearings over to counsel skilled at building a case through cross examination (a reason Clinton survived impeachment).

Those of you with inquiring minds will want to know, what did Hillary Clinton know and when did she know it for she will be the prey or quarry of any hearing.

Her ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, played a pivotal role in the Obama administration's 2010 formation of the Maliki government.

Ali Khedery, special assistant to Jeffrey and five other US Iraq ambassardors, yesterday wrote in a quest column on FP.


2. During the 2010 government formation negotiations, Ambassador James Jeffrey dispatched me on a secret trip to Jordan to meet with a council of Iraq's top Sunni leaders on his behalf, with a message that they needed to join Prime Minister Maliki's government. What was their response?  "We will join the government in Baghdad, but we will not allow Iraq to be ruled by Iran and its proxies. We will not live under a Shiite theocracy.  We will not continue to accept political, economic, and social marginalization under Maliki and the Dawa party.  The United States gave us assurances during the Awakening that they would stand with us if we turned our arms against al Qaeda and joined the political process.  We devastated al Qaeda alongside the U.S. Army; we participated in the elections; and we won.  We want our share in the New Iraq, not to be treated as second class citizens.  If this does not happen, we will take up arms again, and this time we will retake Baghdad or we will burn it to the ground."  Why is anyone back in Washington surprised that we have another Sunni insurgency after the genocide in Syria, after Maliki's humiliating power grabs, and after we abandoned the tribes who did indeed obliterate al Qaeda in Iraq?  Iraq's Sunni leaders literally warned us this was going to happen four years ago, and I relayed every detail directly back to the ambassador, the commanding generals, the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the White House itself.  The leaders of Iraq's six million Sunnis pleaded with us not to force their hands, but we willingly did so after a protracted internal debate. The White House backed a Maliki cabinet knowing that it was personally formed in Tehran by General Qasem Soleimani, Iran's spymaster and a man responsible for thousands of Iraqi and American casualties. Then Washington sold F-16s, Apache attack helicopters, tanks, drones, and other advanced equipment to Baghdad after watching Maliki and the Iranians launch one vicious sectarian campaign after another, not only against the Sunni Arabs, but against Iraq's secular, moderate, and pro-American Kurds.
Clinton's response (can't we safely assume that Clinton monitors what Wiki says about her?):
Much of the handling of the Middle East, Iraq, and Iran was done by the White House or Pentagon during her tenure,[149] and on some other issues as well, policy-making was kept inside the White House among Obama's inner circle of advisors.
The real political drama could be delayed until 2016, for if the Republicans are smart they will want to create a Senate Committee lead by Cruz, Rand, and Rubio, giving each the unlimited opportunity to question both Clinton (upsetting her primary campaign efforts) and Kerry.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

No. 000023 Tax Cuts v. New World Order of Labor, Capital and Ideas in the Power Law Economy

This was not what I planned on writing about today but the piece is too important. 

Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee, and Michael Spence have written a new essay for Foreign Affairs titled, New World Order
Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy.
Machines are substituting for more types of human labor than ever before. As they replicate themselves, they are also creating more capital. This means that the real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.
The distribution of income for this creative class typically takes the form of a power law, with a small number of winners capturing most of the rewards and a long tail consisting of the rest of the participants. So in the future, ideas will be the real scarce inputs in the world -- scarcer than both labor and capital -- and the few who provide good ideas will reap huge rewards. Assuring an acceptable standard of living for the rest and building inclusive economies and societies will become increasingly important challenges in the years to come
So how do you create innovation, new products, new services, and new business models?

Certainly, not with tax cuts said to targeted at increasing business investment. The world is flush with capital, for there is water water everywhere (Clay Christensen podcast). Readers here.

It is back to the block and tackling for Richard Florida's creative class. Great universities and dense, strong, powerful, robust regional governments.

No. 000022 Is Obama playing Golf because Bush opened the door to Sunni (ISIS) Failure in Iraq and Iran Will Be the Victor

A lot of life is path dependant: the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past.

Are those wringing their hands about Iraq (and Obama's golf) merely showing cognitive dissonance with the history mattering principle? 

Regarding Iraq, Obama is a janitor. Bush broke it but didn't own it.

It is now emerging that the Obama administration may have long ago concluded that, sooner or later, Iraq would fall completely into the Iranian sphere of influence, with the Sunni being the losers.

If Obama is a peace with the path dependence of this outcome, playing golf makes sense.

The New York Times has just published an essay by Steven Simon, now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, but formerly the senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council from 2011 to 2012.

ISIS Will Fail in Iraq, and Iran Will Be the Victor - NYTimes.com

Shouldn't we assume that Mr. Simon is telling us now what he told his superiors and President Obama in 2011 or before? In fact, isn't it likely he was hired because this was his point of view.

Before going to work for the President Mr. Simon wrote, in 2007, After the Surge The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq.

The Overview of After the Surge:

The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq is premised on the judgment that the United States is not succeeding in Iraq and that Iraq itself is more divided and violent than ever. It concludes that the administration’s decision to increase U.S. force levels will fail to prevent further deterioration in the situation—and that there is no alternative policy with the potential to turn things around.
As a result, Simon urges the United States to disengage militarily from Iraq, a disengagement that in his view should involve a negotiated accord with Iraq’s government, a dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors, and new diplomatic initiatives throughout the region. Simon argues that if the United States does all this, it can minimize the strategic costs of its failure in Iraq and even offset these losses in whole or in part.
Mr. Simon argues, forcefully, in his newer New York Times essay there is no need to panic about the outcome in Iraq for such is path dependent (due to the population advantages of the Shia majority).

Simon writes:
First, consider the brute demographic reality. Unlike in Syria, Sunnis are a relatively small part of the Iraqi population, about 25 percent — though they are a majority in some areas of the west and north. And in Baghdad their numbers are minuscule.
Taken as a whole, Simon argues that the Shia won the moment we conquered Iraq without afterwards insisting on a high wall of separation between church and state. The Shia dominated government as ever since pushed the Sunnis out of Baghdad and marginalized the Sunni in everyday life in effect taunting the Sunnis into a war they cannot win and which will only make their lot worse.

Simon concludes:
And once the fighting is over, the Sunnis will be even more isolated than before. President Obama’s call for a multiethnic governing coalition aside, it is inconceivable that Mr. Maliki will now reverse his policy of excluding Sunnis from governance.



No. 000021 Why a No Comment Policy: "Never debate the ignorant in front of the uninformed: the crowd can't tell who won the argument" Syrian Proverb



One of the great delights of our new Social Media is that one can, for the first time in history, observe in action and sometimes interact with the best thinkers of our times.

This efficiency is stunning. Before the printing press, to access knowledge one had two choices. You could attend a university where classes consisted of the teacher reading from one of the few books owned by the university (often the Bible). Or, one could travel to the seat of government, literally to sit on the benches of the courthouse square or tavern to learn by word of mouth.

The printing press permitted knowledge to be disbursed beyond the university, making it much cheaper to acquire knowledge. The efficiency of a book it that it permits the reader to acquire the knowledge and experience of others cheaply and immediately.

What is fun is that as soon as printed books began to become availalbe people immediately used them to re-create the older university experience. The American example was Benjamin’s Franklin’s Junto Club.
At age 21, with his printing business established in Philadelphia and his circle of friends expanding, Benjamin Franklin formed a weekly discussion group with twelve men who shared his drive for learning and conversation. Named the Junto (derived from the Spanish to join), the club met every Friday evening in a tavern or house to discuss “Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy [science].” Soon the group gathered books from the members’ personal libraries into a lending library for the Junto ⎯ the beginnings of the first lending library in the colonies.
One of my strongest Munger filter’s asks, Is the person with whom you are interacting a participant in the Junto Clubs of today?

Twitter, for example, permits one to follow and interact with the best (and worst) thinkers, one of whom is Nassim N. Taleb. What makes following Professor Taleb robust is that he flavors his statistics with a constant flow of common wisdom (aphorisms) in style of Will Rogers or Mark Twain. From Taleb on Facebook.

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In comments Professor Taleb continues, “A Syrian lady from near Amioun (Marmarita) said it. I forgot the original I translated. It was not in Arabic, in Levantine.

The debate to which Professor Taleb was referring was his May debate with Larry Summers, whom Taleb doesn't like due to his lack of skin-in-the game. Professor Taleb recently authored a paper entitled “Skin in the Game.

The audience: hedge fund managers at SkyBridge Capital's SALT 2014 conference in Las Vegas.

Mark Twain, of course, filled the Mississippi Valley with his wisdom on the same subject, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

Of course, there is an opposing view, held by contrarians like Tyler Cowen who are about selling books. Cowen offers the myth that  our Founders intended that "citizen" or "amateur politicians" would debate "ideas on the floor of Congress.”

Why then, Cowen, do we insist that our doctors and lawyers be experienced?