Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In Which I Attempt Economics (And Probably Fail)

In general, I'm wary of economics. Like healthcare, there's a ton of stuff I don't understand about the field and I get tired of struggling with my own ignorance. So, in what I imagine will be a futile and somewhat vainglorious attempt to unpack and educate myself on economics a bit, I want to compare and contrast two 'economic miracles.' Texas and Minnesota.

Minnesota is being mentioned in left-wing circles as an example of progressive governance done right. Governor Dayton reversed the trends of his Republican Predecessor and has raised taxes on the rich, increased public spending and created 'shared prosperity' for the people of Minnesota. And so far, it seems to have worked like gangbusters. Minnesota is doing quite well for itself, especially in contrast to the sea of red all around it. The question then is a simple one: is this sustainable?

Texas was another economic darling of the commentariat and it's experience suggests perhaps not. There are difference between the two though. Texas doubled down on the typical Conservative blueprint. It's doubled down on oil, slashed taxes, abolished the personal income tax and when oil was booming it did indeed look like hot shit, economically speaking. But then oil eased a bit and the bloom came off the rose somewhat.

So who's right, here? That much isn't clear...  Minnesota is doing well. The facts on that score are clear- but it's also in the middle of a small ocean of red states that are doubling down on tax cuts/cutting public spending and the usual Conservative touchstones. So a smart Governor might see this and decide to zig while everyone else around him zags and this could be what results. And that's what makes me somewhat leery about jumping aboard the "see, it works, you guys" type of a bandwagon. Illinois is a similarly blue state and is something of a dumpster fire. Yes, states like Kansas are in a bad way due to the continued fetishization of both tax cutting and an abiding faith in rich people to create enough prosperity to trickle down to the rest of us, but in the never ending war between these economic visions are there lessons we can learn? The real test is going to be if a 'Blue-ish' model makes a comeback in some neighboring states and how that might impact Minnesota over the long term. (Iowa's prognosis seems somewhat grim, as does Illinois. Not sure about Wisconsin's.)

It seems that politically, I have no home and therefore, economically I have no home either. I have no patience with video/rants like this which basically have an overwhelming naive belief in the cleansing power of rich people to create enough prosperity that it trickles down to the rest of the peasants. That shit doesn't work. But I'm not sure taxing the shit out of the rich works either...  and if you follow the progressive train of thought to it's logical conclusion, then we have to start talking about what the government can do versus what it shouldn't do. What works and what doesn't?

That is a conversation that I'm very much interested in. I think if I have a philosophy it's a vaguely utilitarian one at best- whatever does the most good for the most individual people (not special interests, not corporations, but real live 9-5 working people) then I'm down with that. Problem is that the majority of political discourse in this country isn't focused on finding solutions like that. In principle, I have no problem with someone popping the hood on the Federal government and asking simple, direct questions like, "Should the Federal Government be doing this? Could it be done better at a state or local level?" I think that's a sensible approach. But I also think the corollary to this- and a question the Left should be asking very loudly right now, is: "Do we really need an extra $54 billion in defense spending? Is the Pentagon operating at maximum fiscal efficiency? Has the Department of Homeland Security completed an audit? Oh hey, by the way, before we send Elmo to the chopping block, have we eliminated every drop of corporate welfare from the federal budget?"

What I like is a little bit of both, if I'm being honest. A vision of shared prosperity is better than trickle down nonsense, but at the same time if the government can get out of the way, it should. It just slows everything down. And with the size of cuts being proposed by the Trump Administration, it's no surprise that the howls of outrage often drown out simple truths about the level that these programs are going to be impacted.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Do These People Get Paid?

Today's facepalm of the week is brought to you courtesy of Rep. Chip Baltimore of Boone, who has tabled a bill that would ban schools from offering extra credit for school supplies. Because with state revenues in the tank, this is what we should be worrying about right now. The money quote:
"But it's one small sign of how we are devaluing the educational process in this state and country."
Really.  That's how we're devaluing the educational process in America today? By offering extra credit for Kleenex? While I acknowledge the point that the practice does, in fact, divide families between those who can afford to purchase extra classroom supplies and those that can't, this is still a moronic stand to make.

Look, I'm no educational expert. I look at teaching now and again as a possible 'next career' but have yet to convince myself to pull the trigger on anything in that regard, but it doesn't take an expert to realize that our educational model is woefully inadequate to the needs of the 21st Century. The model needs to change (there's this great video from Sir Ken Robinson that illustrates why) and that's a big enough task to tackle as it is.

But then you get to the system we have. Which is underfunded and under attack, these days more from the Right than the Left. This isn't to excuse either side of the aisle from devaluing the educational process in the country. As a whole, we've got problems in our national culture that devalue the educational process. While we talk a lot (and shout) we don't listen. We're spoonfed garbage by the news media. The textbooks that our children are taught from have become part of the political battlegrounds being fought across the country. But getting extra credit for school supplies- we've gotta nip that shit in the bud right away.

Okay. Fine. Let's accept the premise of the bill and say that this is a "problem." I have further questions: is this a universal problem? Do the majority of school districts in the state offer extra credit for school supplies? If the answer to your question is 'no' and I expect it is, then you need to talk to your local school board and quit wasting the time of the state legislature with this nonsense. And how much extra credit are we talking about here? In my experience, extra credit consisted of like 1 or 2 points. Maybe 5 or 10*. But not enough to make a major impact on a student's grade. (Like, I suppose if you're at a B+ and right on the cusp of an A-, it could, theoretically, push you over the top. But how many students are going to be in that situation? If you go from an F to a D-, it hasn't done you much good, has it?)

So, a representative of a party that champion local control of schools has found a problem that doesn't appear to be universal in nature and wants to trample all over local control in some idiotic attempt to solve what he appears to perceive as a problem. Here's a notion, Rep. Baltimore- how about you ask yourself why teachers need to offer extra credit for school supplies in the first place? How about demonstrating that you value the educational process by funding our damn schools properly?

Legislative meddling and micromanaging of local politics. Between this and the minimum wage bill the State GOP is all about, it's almost as if the precious Conservative principle of local control doesn't mean much of anything at all. And this bill is nothing more than a grandstanding effort to preach about the perceived permissiveness of our national culture and in doing so, score cheap and easy points with his constituents. The problem isn't the two points of extra credit for a damn box of Kleenexes. It's that they have to offer the extra credit in the first place.

Remind me again: why the hell do these people get paid?**

*All right. I'll confess... once, on a geography map quiz in 7th Grade, our teacher offered one point of extra credit for any bodies of water we could name. I got 15 extra points and he stopped doing that.

**Second tangent and somewhat related to my question- some brilliant human has started a petition to strip Congress of their health benefits. I signed it and you should too.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Netflix & Chill #8: Table 19

Watched On: The Silver Screen!
Released: 2017
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Pick: Both Of Us

I have no idea why critics are down on this movie so much, because both the Missus and I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. Anna Kendrick stars as Eloise McGarry who is invited to a wedding at sat at Table 19, the table in the furthest corner, full of people that the hosts had really hoped would not bother to attend. Eloise is angry because in coming to the wedding, she has to see her ex-boyfriend, Teddy again, who has recently dumped her for Nikki who took over Eloise's former position as Main of Honor in the wedding. As she's loitering outside the entrance to the reception hall, a tall, dark and handsome looking off-brand Hemsworth Brother (actually, he's not a Hemsworth Brother, but he looks like he could be one.) flirts mysteriously with her, but she blows him off and eventually meets the rest of her table.

Jerry and Bina are business associates and diner owners that vaguely know the father of the groom. Renzo vaguely knows the family and is skipping his Junior Prom because his Mom thinks that going to a wedding will get him laid. Jo Flanagan used to be the nanny of the bride and Walter (who, as it turns out, is doing time in a halfway house after committing an initially unspecified white collar crime) knows the bridge as well. They all sit around and commiserate while Eloise stews with anger at her ex, eventually storming out to confront him, which doesn't go well. She encounters The Off-Brand Hemsworth Brother again and they make out, before he mysteriously vanishes again. And she runs off to the bathroom to hide and Nanny Jo figures some shit out that at first made me all like, "Nah, she cray." But in fact, Nanny Jo gets it right and then...

Then the movie sort of turns left in way that you don't see coming. I'm not going to tell you what it is, because it'll totally spoil the movie, but it is a hard left turn and it's actually kind of refreshing. I guessed what the deal with The Off-Brand Hemsworth Brother was and in any other movie, that would have been the obvious direction to go. There would have been some comedic hijinks and some usual rom-com tropes and then that would have been the end of it. That movie, I could understand getting a critical drubbing. This movie avoids the tropes though and it works- because instead of plodding through the trappings of literally any other wedding comedy that you've ever seen, the occupants of table nineteen actually find out about each other and get to know each other and realize that they've all got problems and if they're going to be the table of unwanted misfits they might as well own it. That realization actually helps all of them to solve their problems and the movie ends happily. Not in the way you were expecting, mind you. But it's certainly a happy ending.

This movie got a bum rap from critics. The cast is good. Anna Kendrick can charm her way through anything. Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow really, really work as a couple- which is sort of surprising, but it's actually the best casting of the movie, I think. June Squibb does the Nanny thing well and Stephen Merchant is tall. And strange. But that works for him in this movie.  If I have one quibble with this movie it's that The Off-Brand Hemsworth Brother ends up being a gigantic red herring of a dangling plot thread, but at the same time, when the movie takes it's hard left turn, it doesn't really matter that much when it's all said and done. (Oh and hey: props to the wedding band in this movie. Excellent 80s covers.)

Overall: A pleasant surprise, I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. Don't believe the reviews. Its not half-bad... it's excellent!  Is it worth a trip to the movies for? Heck yes it is. Get popcorn as a large soda as well. My Grade: **** out of *****, The Missus' Grade: **** and a 1/2 out of *****

Saturday, March 18, 2017

This Week In Vexillology #205

We're back to another 'Lost Weekend In Vexillology' but I'm going to give myself a pass and say that since we did Lesotho last week, I figured why not follow up one enclave with another- so we're heading north to the Italian Peninsula to take a look at the flag of the Republic of San Marino.
San Marino has a long, long history that dates all the way back to the 3rd Century, when Marinus, a stonemason from a Roman colony near present-day Croatia helped to build the city walls of Rimini. He then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in the year 301. So San Marino has a claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state in the world as well as the oldest Constitutional Republic.(It's Constitution is a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th Century.) So, it's been around for awhile.

The current form of the flag was adopted on April 6th, 1862 and is a horizontal bicolor which features white and azure and has the Coat of Arms at the center. The white stands for peace and the azure for liberty. While the flag dates back to the 19th Century, the Coat of Arms dates back to the 14th Century. The crown on top of the arms is a symbol of sovereignty. The vegetation on either side of the arms is an oak and a laurel branch, which stand for the stability of the republic and the defense of liberty. The motto, 'LIBERTAS' is a pretty simple one- it's Latin for 'Freedom.' 

In the blue shield, we find three towers on top three mountains topped with a weather vane that is symbolized by a silver ostrich feather. The towers stand for the three citadels of San Marino (La Guaita, La Cesta and La Montale) and the hills stand for the three summits of Monte Titano. 

What else about San Marino? Well, it's got more vehicles than people- it's been run by Fascist parties (before and during World War II) and had the first democratic election Communist Government in the World (between 1945 and 1957).Weirdly, it's also not a member of the EU or in the Eurozone, but it uses the Euro as currency. So go figure.

And that's San Marino! Remember, until next time keep your flags flying- FREAK or otherwise! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sportsyball! (Bracketology Edition)

MLS Quest

THIS IS THE YEAR GOD DAMN IT. We're getting this done and dusted and we've narrowed things down to a Top 4 of teams to focus on:

1. FC Dallas...  they're good right now, I like their Coaches philosophy and emphasis on player development. The Missus has cousins down in Texas, so there's a halfway decent chance I could get down there now and again to see a game. Their colors are red. Arsenal's colors are red. It's not a big leap, color-wise for me. Here's their season preview.

2. Sporting KC... there's a huge plus here for geographic proximity. Kansas City really isn't that far away from Iowa City in the grand scheme of things, so games are reachable. They've been pretty good and won the MLS Cup a couple of years back I believe, so they should be fun to watch and I keep seeing good things about their fan culture, which is also a bonus. (If I'm in, I want to be all in, you know?)

3. Toronto FC: A Yik-Yak recommendation from the void back when I had Yik-Yak and cared about Yik-Yak and had a mild amount of fun saying provocative things like, 'Bring back petticoats!' and 'What's with all the jorts?'* Toronto FC looked damn good last year and seemed to be a lot of fun to watch. However: I'm not in Canada. Odds of me being in Canada any time soon are slim to none, so chances of seeing a game: low to near zeros. But, they're newish and they're too good not to consider. So: here's their season preview.

4. Minnesota United: I know, I know, I'm kind of a Minnesota Homer already which makes me not want to like them, but at the same time, why not complete the quarter and like the Vikings, Twins, Wild and United? Unfortunately...  they're not off to the greatest of starts. A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Portland could be forgiven for a new expansion side, but a 6-1 thumping by fellow newbies Atlanta United? Not so much. I love their colors. I love their culture. I love that they're the Loons, but... I'd like to see signs of a pulse before I sell my soul to another Minnesota team that sniffs/tastes glory but once in a generation, you know? Here's their season preview.

*I don't get the jorts thing. It's a weird fashion statement that I don't get. But they're back and when I asked the Yik-Yak void 'what's up with all the jorts?' I got my ass handed to me by some militant feminist who thought I was body shaming or something. I wasn't. I was genuinely curious why bad 80s fashion is suddenly trendy again.


When we last checked in with NEC Nijmegen it was January 11th. Now we're in March, so we've got a few results to look at- unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have done anything worthwhile for NEC because they're still sitting solidly at 12th Place. Which isn't bad, but it's not exactly good either...  let's see what's transpired since last we checked in:

W over Willem II
W over Roda
L to Feyenoord
L to Go Ahead Eagles
L to Zwolle
L to PSV Eindhoven
L to Sparta
W over Heracles
L to Den Haag

Ouch! Rough stuff for NEC...  the losses to PSV and Feyenoord (sitting at 3rd and 1st in the table) are probably to be expected. But ouch ouch ouch, the lossses to dead last (but interestingly named) Go Ahead Eagles and second from bottom Den Haag hurt. As do the losses to fellow mid-to-low table dwellers Zwolle and Sparta. But the schedule for the rest of March and going into early April does NEC no favors. On deck:

FC Utrecht (4th Place currently)
Vitesse (5th Place currently)
Groningen (11th Place, right above them)
Ajax (2nd Place currently)

Ick. Ick. Ick. If they're very very lucky, they could maybe get two out of the four. Groningen looks like the only probable win out of the bunch. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they'll go on a tear and prove me wrong. But I doubt it. Fingers crossed, NEC! You got this!


Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year...  time to fill out the old bracket- which I'm doing mainly by feel because I haven't really watched any basketball to speak of this season, so I'm flying blind and by the seat of my pants like I always do. Let's go by region:

'Nova and Wisconsin advance.
UVA and ETSU advance. (UNC Wilmington might screw me here- I've seen them here and there as a trendy upset pick, but I'm going with ETSU here.)
SMU and Baylor advance.
Marquette and Duke advance.

'Nova and UVA advance
SMU and Duke advance.

'Nova and Duke advance.

'Nova to the Final Four.

Kansas and Sparty advance.
Iowa State and Purdue advance.
URI and Oregon advance.
Oklahoma State and Louisville advance.

Kansas and Iowa State advance.
Oregon and Oklahoma State advance.

Oregon and Iowa State advance.

Oregon to the Final Four.

I'm weirdly nervous about Gonzaga here vs SDSU. But, Gonzaga and Northwestern advance.
Notre Dame and WVU advance.
Xavier and FSU advance.
VCU and 'Zona advance.

Gonzaga and Notre Dame advance.
FSU and 'Zona advance.

Gonzaga and 'Zona advance.

Gonzaga to the Final Four.

UNC and Seton Hall advance.
Minnesota and Butler advance. (I've seen people picking both MTSU and Winthrop as upsets here- which means, odds are, one of them is going to screw me.)
Cincinnati and UCLA advance.
Wichita State and Kentucky advance.

UNC and Butler advance.
UCLA and Wichita State advance.

UCLA and UNC advance.

And, I can't believe I'm saying this about a Steve Alford coached team, but UCLA to the Final Four.

Final Four:
Gonzaga over 'Nova
Oregon over UCLA

Gonzaga wins. Yes, I'm sticking with my longtime love affair with Gonzaga and riding it all the way to the bank this year. This will undoubtedly screw me at some point along the way, but damn it- I love my 'Zags. I'm not anywhere geographically close to Gonzaga and I love my 'Zags, damn it. So they're my team this year. As always, I hate Duke. I hope Grayson Allen trips over a towel and breaks both of his ankles.  I wouldn't mind either UNC or Arizona winning. I'd say the same about UCLA, but you know, Alford. I think Iowa State could go deeper than I have them going as well and Kansas has screwed me too many times to ever trust them again. So out they go in the Sweet 16. (Randomly: it wouldn't surprise me to see a deep Sparty Run either. March is where Izzo eats.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Psephology Rocks: The Grab Bag

I was going to take this edition of Psephology Rocks and focus on the upcoming French elections exclusively, but there's other things in the wind that are worth talking about. Namely, the ouster of the South Korean President (triggering an election to replace her within sixty days) and SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing that she's going for a second independence referendum- probably in 2018 or 2019. So, it's more of a grab-bag this month!

The French Election is looming next month, so we should probably break down a who's who of the candidates as it were. So far, tentatively, it seems to be coming down to The National Front's Marine Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron- which a couple of months ago, I think it's safe to say that nobody would have expected. Instead, center-right candidate Francois Fillon who was widely expected to take down Le Pen in either the first or second round of the election has sort of well, imploded thanks to a scandal that seriously looking to have been broken by the French equivalent of either 'The Onion' or MAD Magazine- take your pick. His attempt at damage control did not go over well with voters and he's currently sitting in 3rd place.

Things aren't looking so hot for the main Socialist Candidate, Benoit Hamon either. He's drawn comparisons to both Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn and looks to be about as useful as either man. He's currently sitting in fourth place and fending off a potential mutiny from fellow Socialists who can live with Macron but not Le Pen. The latest polls have quite a traffic jam up top with Le Pen garnering 27% of the vote,  Macron 25%, Fillon and Hamon are lurking at 17.5% and 14% respectively. Unless there's a massive shift in the next month or so (not out of the question given what this election has tossed up so far) I'd bank on Macron vs. Le Pen in the second round and then unless there's tea leaves being read wrong (which given Brexit, Trump, etc. is not out of the question) then Marine Le Pen turns into a pumpkin and Macron wins. But it ain't over until it's over- so keep an eye on this one.

South Korea is also heading for a new Presidential election after impeached President Park Guen-hye vacated the Presidential Palace after two days and returned home. (Technically, I think National Assembly did the impeaching, the Constitutional Court- who's decision came down late last week, voted to uphold their impeachment.) Three people were killed in protests over the weekend and Hwang Kyo-Ahn is serving as acting President until new elections are held. What took out President Park? The Beeb has a pretty decent round-up of the corruption scandal that lead to her downfall. It's worth a read. 

Speaking of the Beeb, it's been a busy few days in the UK as Scotland has pulled the starting gun on a second independence referendum. It probably won't be until 2018 or 2019 when voters have a better idea of what kind of a Brexit Deal they're going to get, but man oh man...  I don't know. I really just don't know. Part of me absolutely gets it: Scotland has long had it's own national and cultural identity- an independence referendum would only confirm what they've already felt for a long time. There's an old saying in American Politics: 'You campaign in poetry, govern in prose' and the poetry of nationalism is a seductive thing. The sentiment might be there. But the actual convincing case, still, to my mind, is not.

There's no guarantee Scotland gets all the North Sea oil. Or any of it, for that matter. But, let's say for the sake of argument, they get all of it. With American Shale production roiling the oil markets, it'd be a sucker's bet to bank on oil revenues to fund a social democratic paradise north of the border. There's still no answer on currency. I think it would be political suicide for any party south of the border to sign any agreement with the Scots to let them keep using the pound after an independence vote- I might be wrong on that, sitting as I do in America, but that's my read of it- and the EU has maintained their position that Scotland would have to apply like anyone else to join as a posed to be 'automatically in' as the SNP seems to dreamily suggest from time to time.

So: no currency, no EU guarantees, oil might help some, but there's no guarantee there either. If London gets a halfway decent Brexit Deal (which they might not, but easily could) then suddenly calling for a second referendum might look like a fool's errand on the part of the SNP. They're already two seats short of a majority at Holyrood and relying on the Greens for support.

All of this, mind you, with a year- maybe two, to get to an actual referendum being held at all. That's a long time, so we'll see how it all pans out, but I think at this point, one thing you can say for sure is that nobody knows what's going to happen next.

Monday, March 13, 2017

None Of This Is Sensible Governance

Time was, I could tolerate the Iowa flavor of Republicans They were tight with a buck, occasionally given to preachy moral lectures and insisted on debating bringing back the death penalty whenever they could, but they were, at their core, sensible. I think sensible politics is written into Iowa's DNA. At our core, we're all farmers. We want 'steady as she goes' not Conan the Barbarian I desperately want to believe that this state will only tolerate so much of the latter before yanking the politicians firmly back to the former and getting back to solid, sensible governance.

But none of this is sensible governance. Instead, we get this:

As attractive as this may be to many Republicans in the State, it's not sensible governance. It's not even good government. It's well, fucking insane is what it is. I mean, fine- the changes to the collective bargaining law were probably inevitable. They've got the trifecta. They've got the bad blood. Let's screw some Democratic constituencies. I'm not naive, that's just how politics works in this country these days. But they followed it up with a never ending parade of fucking awful. Let's review:

Not satisfied with gutting collective bargaining, Republicans went after worker's compensation claims as well. So if you get injured on the job, you get less money. Awesome!

The Grocers having waited 'their whole lives' for this moment are gunning hard for The Bottle Bill. So, YAY, litter!

And we're getting a Voter ID law passed. Because, you know, at this point why not? (I'm not against the notion in principle, but in practice, I very much am. In practice, it's been used to disenfranchise poor people and minorities and might as well be a poll tax or a literacy test at this rate.)

This gigantic birthday cake of suck needed some candles on top, so who steps up to the plate? Oh that's right, Iowa's 4th District Congressman Steve King. King, who is a massive embarrassment to this state and who makes me wish I had more of a British accent, so I could use the 'c-word' as a comma decided to tweet this:
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
The 'Wilders' King is referring to is, of course, right wing Dutch Politician Geert Wilders, who, despite recent attempts by American conservatives to normalize folks like him and Marine Le Pen is a far right xenophobe. I don't know what's going on with the Republican Party these days, but 'Far Right' in this country might seem like a 'pretty awesome person to hang out with' for a lot of Republicans, but in other countries, it's like a step and a half away from being David Fucking Duke. (Who, by the way, LOVED King's Tweet, because, of course he did.)

King did some lame-ass damage control and Iowa's GOP Leaders did their usual condemnation song and dance- though both Our Glorious and Eternal Governor The Moustache and His Chief Henchwoman weren't exactly blistering about their condemnations. It was more of a "well, what did you expect, he's batshit crazy" kind of a shrug of a condemnation. Despite the general awfulness of King's Tweet, that didn't stop various shitheels on the internet from attempting to mount a defense of him. Consider exhibit A:
The first is the most obvious: as racism. The ideas that babies from abroad cannot be civilized to Western values- that "somebody else's babies" are unfit for assimilation- is racist. if that's what King said and meant, he should immediately be censured by his Republican colleagues on the floor of Congress, and we should all pray that he loses his Congressional seat.
Had the writer stopped there, I would have been so fine with this article. But he didn't. There's nothing to be said after that paragraph right there. This was't about multiculturalism. This wasn't about assimilation. This was about non-whites being unworthy of assimilation into our country. King should be censured and good Republicans should stand up and drag his happy ass through primary after primary until they take him down. He's a disgrace to their party. Democrats should throw money into this seat until they can take him down. He's a disgrace to the Congress of the United States of America. And if that's wasn't enough, let me embed this tweet, because I'll be damned if I'm going to embed King's racist, white nationalistic drivel:
And he keeps that flag on his desk.

Look, I get that there's a slowdown in the farm economy right now that's impacting state revenues. I get that the days of wine and roses are probably over and we can't spend like drunken frat boys at Panama City on Spring Break right now. I get all that. And in general, I appreciate fiscal discipline in our politicians. I like that. But what I don't like is when that fiscal discipline benefits corporations and the rich over regular folks like me. People get screwed last, not first, in situations like this. But so far, there hasn't been much sign that State Republicans really care what people think.

And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Conservatives are right and this will put state finances in better shape for the long term. Maybe this is sensible governance and I'm just mad because it's probably going to screw me somehow and nobody likes to get screwed even a little bit by the government if they can possible avoid it. But then I look at the Medicare Privatization Debacle. And the Vet's Hiring Program that seems to be more style than actual substance and I realize that the track record of the Republicans in Des Moines is mixed at best.

None of this is sensible governance.