Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Republicans in search of an issue the voters will like them better on

One weird thing about Republicans trying to use "open schools" as a wedge issue to get voters to turn against Democrats, is that Biden is also pushing to open schools. Another weird thing is that given the pace of vaccination, all schools are likely to be open well before the 2022 mid-term elections. People are probably going to care a lot more about other stuff by then.

It's great that some Republicans are trying to run on a policy question for once, but it is also pretty evident that they are not very good at this stuff.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

What is the appeal?

I don't get why so many Republicans are putting all their chips on a 74 year old person in poor health (or at least seems like he is in poor health and his actual health records are a guarded secret) facing a real threat of financial ruin and/or criminal prosecution, who is despised by many, if not most, Americans.

I mean, even if you like the guy, surely they would see that he comes with certain serious liabilities that would make him a less-than-ideal pick for building a viable political party.

Friday, February 19, 2021

This is really smart

 Cuba came up with a clever idea for getting tourists in the COVID era:
The vaccine heading for a final phase of trials is called Sovereign 2, in a nod to the pride the island takes in its autonomy, despite decades of hostility from its neighbor to the north. 
Already, Cuba is floating the idea of enticing tourists to its shores with the irresistible cocktail of sun, sand and a shot of Sovereign 2. Vicente VĂ©rez, one of the scientists leading the team that developed the vaccine, has said that the island could offer vaccinations to all foreigners who travel there.
Cuba also plans to give away doses of its vaccine to poorer countries, proving once again that Cuba is one of the only "developing" country that understands the concept of soft power. The fact that Cuba has a really well developed medical system and a solid track record for its pharmaceuticals gives this vaccine more credibility.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of the Cuban government. But it is fascinating to see how a poor country has managed to use its meager resources to build a well-respected medical system and then used that system for humanitarian charity work to improve the reputation of an otherwise autocratic regime.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

#FledCruz > being the Zodiac Killer of the Senate

I'm not pulling an Erickson and saying it doesn't matter, but it is funny how much more attention #FledCruz is getting than, say, all the other shitty things that Cruz has regularly done since he became a Senator. The man is a fucking ogre. Virtually every vote he has taken in the Senate has been awful on the merits. Plus, he shoved his way in front of the line to raise bullshit objections to the 2020 presidential election, and then pretended he wasn't responsible for the violence it produced on January 6

Yeah I know, those pictures on the beach that his government had closed to the public were what finally took down Chris Christie. Cruz flying to Cancun when his constituents are without power and freezing is essentially the same thing, terrible optics. Not just terrible optics, mind you. As Atrios says, if he weren't on vacation he could use his pull to lobby for help. But most of the damage he will suffer because of this is mostly optics. I guess this is just a nice and clear example of how horrible a person Cruz is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Good news!

According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted at the conclusion of the Senate’s weeklong trial, a majority of Republican voters (54 percent) said they would support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election – matching the share who said the same in late November, before his standing dipped in a survey conducted shortly after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
I think this falls into the "bad for the country, good for the Democrats" category.* Assuming he is not dead or too incapacitated to run in 3 years (not a sure thing by any measure), Trump has a real shot at the 2024 Republican nomination. While Trump has a rabid following, he is even more rabidly unpopular. Most of the U.S. blames Trump for the January 6 insurrection and that is going to look even worse as more information about the violent details and Trump's role comes out.

Right now Biden is really popular. I am sure that will fade as the contrast with Trump slips from the forefront. But one sure-fire way to bring the contrast with Trump right back to the forefront is if Trump himself is running. Almost any other Republican would be a much stronger challenger to Biden (or Harris), but Republicans are too firmly nestled in their MAGA bubble to how badly they are served by the cult of Trump.

* I'm not trying to suggest that Democrats winning the Presidency again in 2024 is "bad for the country." But having Trump dominate the news, even as just a candidate, clearly is.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

How was Trump a union member? (and why didn't we hear about that until after he was out of office?)

When I read about this--including Trump's pathetic resignation letter (he's a former President of the United States. Why the hell is he bragging about his cameo in Home Alone 2?)--all I wondered is was Trump really a member of SAG-AFTRA in good standing for all these years? I mean, the guy famously shirks all of his bills. He doesn't even pay his lawyers when they are the only thing standing between him and serious legal consequences. How the hell was he paying union dues on time for 30 years?

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

I understand how shorting stock works, but not why it would ever actually happen

Periodically something happens in the news that requires an explanation of what "shorting a stock" means and how it works. Essentially shorting a stock is betting that it will go down rather than up. The explanation for how someone can make money from shorting is always more or less the same and it goes something like this:
To short a stock the investor will borrow some stock in that company from someone who already owns it and promise to return the stock at a later date. The investor then sells the borrowed stock in the market. Then later when it is time to return the shares that were borrowed, will buy the same number of shares back from the market. If the stock went down in the meantime, the investor successfully shorted the stock and pockets the difference.
So here's my question: why would anyone ever loan anyone stock? This isn't like my neighbor's snowblower or a prom dress where the reason for wanting it is obvious. If someone asks me to borrow something I'm only going to loan it to them if I understand why they want it and that reason makes some sense to me. If my neighbor came over and asked to borrow something weird, like that old pile of rags in my basement, I'd want to know why he wants it before giving it to him.

It's the same thing with stock. If someone asked to borrow my stock, I'd want to now what they want to do with it. If the person who asks happens to be one of those investor types who seem to know a lot about the stock market, wouldn't I assume he planned to short the stock? And if that's the case, I would know that my investor friend has some good reason to believe my stock is about to go down in value. Put another way because shorting is really the only reason that anyone would ever want to borrow stock, and shorting it only works if you're pretty certain the stock will lose value, doesn't that mean that I should never loan anyone stock if they ask to borrow any. A better move when asked is to politely decline, and then go out into the market and sell the stock myself before it loses value.

Why would Biden sign on to the Republican relief plan?

This counteroffer is so weird. These ten "moderate" Republicans are betting that Biden will want a COVID relief package that is deemed to be "bipartisan" more than he wants his his version of the package, filled with extremely popular items that are left out of the Republican "compromise" plan. The average American does not give a shit whether something is labeled as "bipartisan".  But they want higher COVID relief payments, more unemployment enhancement, more federal funding for vaccinations and local governments, and a minimum wage hike. Weeks or months from now, when the actual dollars start flowing, few will even remember how bipartisan the bill was. But they will notice whether Biden's stimulus check was better than Trump's stimulus check.

Seriously, Biden has no incentive at all to give the counteroffer the time of day. The only people who think otherwise are those weird Washington junkies, who think that the "bipartisan" label has any cache outside of the beltway.