How Much Does Your Big Mac Cost? Higher In Northwest Arkansas Than Manhattan

I find an odd interest in certain economic stories. This post makes that point most clear.

Today Axios offered this nugget–no pun intended–about McDonald’s iconic signature sandwich. It is not a leap of logic to know that where wages are higher, the cost of a Big Mac generally goes up. Still, the numbers are of interest. Perhaps for you, too.

Data: Economic Policy Institute, Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

So…..Northwest Arkansas Big Macs cost more than in New York.

In Austin, Texas, where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, a Big Mac is $3.75.

A Big Mac in San Francisco, where the minimum wage is $16.32 an hour, is $5.79.

In New York City, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour, a Big Mac can be found on Broadway for $4.95.

But, but, but: In NWA, (Northwest Arkansas) where the minimum wage is $11 an hour, the price of the signature sandwich (no sides) is $5.19. That’s nearly a quarter of a dollar more than in Manhattan.

Could Republicans Get Over Their Skis In November Mid-Terms?

Dealing with Michael Gableman in Wisconsin has been frustrating on the one hand, but one must admit, entertaining on the other. He can not do any damage in the near term as the 2020 elections were fairly conducted. But might his actions and provocative comments fester and cause problems for independent voters as they weigh Republican candidates in the fall midterms?

What the Badger State is watching play out is similar to a host of places around the nation where far-right voices are still waging their lost battle over the last election. Worse for the larger needs of the Republican Party are those candidates who have tethered themselves to this past election train, thinking it is a winning formula.

I was struck this weekend by the number of news stories that underscored the depth of miscalculation that conservative candidates are taking to play to the angriest and most misguided within the Republican Party.

Consider the Georgia primary for governor.

“The first 23 minutes of the debate revolved around Perdue’s efforts to blame Kemp for Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 and the senator’s defeat in 2021.”

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated, “Many of Perdue’s allegations were flat-out false.”

Meanwhile in Michigan this weekend the state GOP Convention was held.

If this is the last time you ever hear the names Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo, you’ll be lucky. They are the conspiracy-driven Trump-picked candidates for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state that the state GOP endorsed as candidates in its convention on Saturday.

Their outlandish insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump has led to considerable fractures within the Michigan Republican Party. As such, they’re viewed as longshots who will be unable to unite the party, win over independents, and beat the incumbent Democrats, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

This weekend The Atlantic wrote at length about the highly-questionable nature of the Republicans this mid-term cycle, reminding readers of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell. Looking at what is unfolding in many places around the nation it might be summed up this way.

Yet the GOP may be stuck with candidates whose pockmarked, and in a few cases, scandal-filled, résumés could render them unelectable—or at least they would have in an earlier era.

Time will tell, for sure.

As we know, and as Senator Mitch McConnell conceded in a recent comment on this larger issue, “How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”

The Republican Party thought the Tea Party movement a great idea, felt at one time Sarah Palin was a breath of fresh air and welcomed Donald Trump into their fold. But to do all that the party needed to trim back on logic, actual policy ideas, decorum, and self-respect.

The question that will be better answered in November is just how far the general voting public agrees, or not, with this rightward move by the GOP that often rejects proven facts. And certainly common sense.

And so it goes.

French Voters Reject Fascist Presidential Candidate, Third National Defeat For Marine Le Pen As Emmanuel Macron Scores Wide Margin Of Victory

As one of the walkers on the Madison isthmus reminded me this afternoon as I planted roses, and we talked of the French presidential election, there were still four in 10 voters who cast a ballot for a fascist candidate. As one who worries about democracy not only in our nation but in countries around the globe, she did not need to remind me. I told her it was the older voters in France who well recall their history and then correctly cast their ballot for Emmanuel Macron.

And saved their country from the ruinous racism, white nationalism, and xenophobia of Marine Le Pen.

There was no way to successfully soft-pedal or sell Le Pen’s blows against Muslims or her tirades against Algerians. One can not rift about inflation one minute and then next pour scalding rhetoric upon Muslim women and their headscarves and not have reasoned voters go what the hell is wrong with her?

There was no hairstyle or consultant-driven outfits that could wash away Le Pens’ overt and constant racism.

Or her admiration for Russian President Putin.

French voters did not forget that Le Pen repeated her support for Putin’s assault on Crimea and her opposition to the EU sanctions at that time in response to the annexation. It was a mere 38 days after Russia invaded Ukraine that Le Pen stated, that Putin “could become an ally of France again” if the war ends.

If the hate-mongering from Le Pen was not enough to deeply draw concern, the threats she posed to NATO policy and the unity of the European Union surely would have done so. Why the far-right finds it a natural fit to cozy with Putin is one reason they must be viewed with suspicion when on the ballot. As voters proved today in France.

The close ties that Macron has established between France and the rest of Western Europe and the United States are the hallmark of what constitutes a solid working relationship. Now consider the angry populism and white nationalistic bombast from Le Pen, and ask yourself what would have befallen France and Europe had she operated from the presidential office? Putin would have won a second war without even needing to have fired one missile westward.

Macron has five years to now focus on a leadership role in the EU, with the absence of Germany’s outsized role of Angela Merkel. He can now press forward with his “More Europe” perspective and agenda.

As the woman who talked with me in the sunshine said of today’s election, Le Pen may have plenty of supporters, but the collective wisdom of the majority of mainstream French voters simply would not allow for a fascist to become the next French president.

Thank you to the majority of French voters for your concern for democracy.

And so it goes.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch Dead At 88, Knew How To Work Across The Aisle

Friends Orrin Hatch And Ted Kennedy

The nation discovered late this afternoon that former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who became the longest-serving Republican senator in history as he represented Utah for more than four decades, died at the age of 88.

The way he governed and worked while in office gets a needed underscoring at this moment on my blog as his life is reflected upon.

There is no doubt that he was a conservative on most economic and social issues. But he also well understood that the Senate must operate and move forward, as well as the nation. So with that basic understanding, he worked with Democratic members of the body to marshall votes on topics from stem cell research, rights for people with disabilities, and expanding children’s health insurance. I recall him always being a friend to the Lion of the Senate, and my personal favorite, Edward Kennedy.

It was that bipartisan nature from Hatch, and the poisonous blowback from harsh conservatives who opposed crossing the aisle, that prompted me to write in 2012 the following.

This is more evidence of what is wrong with the Republican Party, and American politics.

The conservatives within the GOP are so ideologically driven, and so blinded by the purity test, along with the lack of ability to understand why compromise is the meat and potatoes of politics, that they willingly and recklessly drive off over the cliff.

Senator Hatch is conservative, and yet reasonable and mindful of the role elected officials must undertake to ensure that government can govern!  That is what teabaggers can not grasp, have no interest in understanding, and why they are a most destructive element in this nation today.

As a liberal, I must say I respect Hatch.  I do not always agree with him, and often chafe at his words and votes.  But I can see his larger interest in making sure government works, and that is why I could sit down with him and work out a deal if I were a member of the senate.  We need more folks who are willing to talk, and fewer that want to lob political bombs.

The Senate could use several more members who, like Hatch, knew the art of governing is partly done with the friendships and bonds of respect made off the chamber floor.

And so it goes.

Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn Shown In Drag, Baptist Voters Will Kick Him Out Of House

The current base of the Republican Party is simply hard to take seriously. Without policy ideas and maturity among much of their elected class we are left to talking about their oddities, outlandish words, and behavior.

Such as today’s latest news about one of the creepier House members, North Carolina’s Madison Cawthorn. His own admitted lies about being invited to sex orgies in the nation’s Capital left some wondering just how much counseling it would take to unwind his spool of troubles.

Today, Twitter and other outlets are showing the real side of conservative Cawthorn as he dons lingerie in what appears to be a party setting. The photographs were obtained by POLITICO.

I could care less about the personal sex life of the wheelchair-bound Cawthorn, but it does rankle when he plays traditional Christian principles for a cheap partisan purpose while pushing his troubling narrative about a twisted brand of masculinity that damages young males, while also living his double life.

These types need to be called out pubically when they use their interpretation of the Bible along with conservative politics to undermine gay people or transgenders.

Voters in his Republican district, with a Baptist stripe wide and deep, have seven other options to choose from in the upcoming May 17th primary. His 15 seconds of embarrassing fame are about over.

And so it goes.

Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party Is Dead, Florida’s Ron DeSantis Proves it

Republicans in Florida have demonstrated how adrift they are from prudent policies and how overly sensitive they are to the public disagreement of their wayward march to the farther reaches of the right-wing. In a blow to the legitimate rights of a business to conduct itself in a fashion deemed reasonable and wise, the GOP tossed aside their talking points about nurturing free enterprise and opted for the heavy of government.

Playing all-out to the culture warriors the Republican Party forgets it is the economic policies that most attract middle-line voters. For instance, President Reagan mouthed words about abortion, knowing he could use that segment of the party to support his real mission dealing with tax cuts and a dense build-up. Reagan would never have tossed all his chips into the loony bin of the party.

By neglecting the fact our calendars clearly state we live in the 21st century the Florida House voted to revoke Disney World’s designation as a special tax district. (The Senate took similar action the day prior.) A taxing structure–mind you–that has existed for 55 years. The business-friendly move a half-century ago gave license to the company to self-govern its 25,000-acre theme park complex. The reason for the current public tantrum from Republicans was the audacity of Disney to speak its mind as a business against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill/law.

Flordia Governor Ron DeSantis will sign the now-passed measure without any sense of shame. After all, since the national party abandoned free trade, and international alliances, and invited Donald Trump into their ranks what remains of their principle and character? This absurd comedy from DeSantis and his crowd is clearly retaliatory against Disney, the state’s largest private employer, with nearly 80,000 jobs.

I readily admit there is a large swath of the base of the Republican Party that cheers on such nonsense and the demographics prove why that is not a shock. But the rest of us look with genuine bafflement at the continual slide of the GOP with their ever-growing eagerness to mount culture wars, riding them backwards in time, as the nation moves forward.

It would be of interest to hear the inside chatter among Republican big-money donors. Since the principle of the GOP is not aimed to raise taxes on large corporations, and since, Disney ranks as one of the world’s biggest, how does the removal of this preferential tax status equate? For rational minds in the GOP, it does not.

As such, it now can be said that the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan is dead.

While the GOP loves to cozy up with the Second Amendment they usually flail about when dealing with the First Amendment. As with Disney having a right to say whatever they wish.

And able to do so without retaliation from the government.

Another matter which Reagan would agree with, as he would abhor this power play from the government.

But today’s Republican Party is more wedded to beating their drums against gay people and stirring the pot needlessly about critical race theory than contemplating actual policy ideas for a new generation of voters. Young voters are obviously living in a diverse environment and are not interested in the culture wars the GOP uses for the diminishing segment of white male voters.

And so it goes.

Wasilla Hillbilly Looks For Comeback, But Alaska Voters Deserve Competence, Must Reject Sarah Palin

There seems always to be a tug for nostalgia in the nation. Bringing back fond memories of the past makes it possible, for example, that Alex O’Loughlin reprises the role of Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. The role played by Jack Lord in the 1970s.

But not everything that has rusted, been used, and placed in the garbage should be taken out and offered a new shine. That is especially true when it comes to Sarah Palin, who is prowling for a new gig at the trough of public tax dollars.

Alaskan voters are being asked to weigh in on nearly 50 candidates for that state’s lone member of the House of Representatives. With raccoon-like glee, Palin has latched onto that shiny hope for a chance to get an annual income and at the same time ramp up her level of bombast with air-time in the crazy-land of conservative media.

The people of Alaska, however, deserve competent and intelligent leadership with their sole House representative. They require an elected person seeking to lift up the needs of the voters and not the hi-jinks and embarrassments that come with the Wasilla Hillbillies.

When Palin landed in the ‘lower 48’ in 2008 as part of Republican John McCain’s presidential ticket–a move that should have been viewed as an act of terrorism–the nation was treated to years of outrageous behavior from that entire family. It also allowed the GOP to sadly–both for the party and country–to hatch many of their own who thought saying ridiculous things and acting in horrid ways was now also their right.

Trying to make Palin acceptable then has left the Republican Party weaker today. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn are the ilks that have followed in the footsteps of Palin. Meanwhile, the modern-day Jack Kemps can not even consider a step into GOP politics as they do not wish to need to lower themselves into the slime that is required now to compete.

In Alaska, a state which is filled with beauty and grander and one I wish to return to for a much longer visit, well recalls the very public divorce of the one who now wants to be a member of congress.

Todd Palin cited when filing for divorce “incompatibility of temperament” and stated he found it “impossible to live together as husband and wife.” Well, duh!

What took Todd so long to discover that fact can long be pondered. I have often suggested that what keeps marriages healthy and thriving is a good dose of laughter. But that would not have been possible with Todd as one should not be always laughing at the other spouse. 

But when it comes to Sarah Palin what can one do other than just laugh at her?

The voters of Alaska need to have a member of congress who is respected. They need their own updated version of Jack Lord.

And so it goes.

No Reason For Madison City Council Meeting At 4 A.M.

No one in Madison should be pleased that the Wisconsin State Journal needed to report concerning Tuesday night’s city council that, “The vote, which came at 3:58 a.m…..” (If you thought of Faron Young’s song when reading the story, well, you were not alone.)

Having worked in the Wisconsin State Legislature and witnessing the all-night marathon budget sessions I can assure my readers that such conditions are not the way sound policy is created. No elected official functions with all lights registering at those hours, after having sat through hours of discussions and meandering dialogue.

I do not mean, in any way, to be unkind to the alders, after all I really appreciate the fact they offered themselves to be local officials.  I am fully aware they take the time to tussle with thorny issues. But after again learning of a long and at times senseless way of doing business I offer some ideas as to how they might proceed in the future.

First, it appears to me they all need to attend a class on how to run a meeting.  Taxpayers would be well served if alders would trim their excessive chatter and learn to communicate with more precise and tightly framed comments.

No one needs to hear an alder fawn over another about how wonderful it is to see such a commitment on this or that issue.  Likewise, no one needs to have lofty tributes paid to city staff who are on hand to answer questions.  While it is true that staff are some of the brightest ones in ‘the room’ for each meeting, it is also true that alders need to be reminded that they are not handing out an award, and therefore, do not need to thank people.

For gosh sakes, let’s just move along to find consensus on an issue.

When working in radio people would often tell me talking on the air sounded so easy.  It was then I told them to talk for 60-seconds without stopping and make it sound like it made sense.  It is harder than it seems.  But when it comes to the council I swear we have a room full of would-be radio talk show hosts in the making.   It might be entertaining, but it is not the way to run a meeting.

One of the issues that have perplexed me for years when it comes to the council meetings is the questions alders ask of the staff. While I recognize that issues get placed in a fuller context and become more illuminated in meetings, I am also mindful that city staff is always accessible to alders who wish to be brought up to speed on an issue.  Better use of everyone’s time might be for alders to come to council meetings prepared to do the work in front of them instead of needing to assemble the facts in front of the camera.

Now I am not expecting, nor should city residents, any change in council proceedings. If they really wanted to have shorter and smarter-looking meetings they would have already put in place measures so meetings did not linger until the sun is about to lift its head. But we still must wonder if alders sense how silly it looks in the early morning hours to be publically ruminating about the way they might vote.

I know—and my readers know–there is no alder who showed up at Tuesday’s meeting not knowing which way they were going to vote.  And that is fine.  Having the facts and coming to a conclusion is what the process demands.   However, to put on a public show of being in search of ‘the truth’ waaaaayyyyy after midnight is just plain silly, and does not sell for those who pay the salaries of the alders.

And so it goes.