Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Friday, 23 November 2012 at 10h 42m 33s|
Really? On the Front Page.
On the Front Page of the Friday, 23 November 2012 Edition of the New York Times is the following
headline: "Jeb Bush in 2016? It’s Not Too Early for Chatter."
Are you fucking kidding me? The front page is a public relations organ of the establishment, and
already the establishment is promoting their favorite son. How many other person's wanting to be
President get this kind of help, the day after Thanksgiving ! The election isn't even a
[SOURCE: By JIM RUTENBERG and JEFF ZELENY | New York
Times | 23 November 2012]
And they call this "News" ? It's news to read what the opinions of the establishment are, and to
focus on selected nuanced details of but one scion of the American Oligarchy who has huge important
backers in the elite circles of finance and industry.
I'm beginning to think that the main Presidential candidates are selected, and then these two are
surrounded by a bunch of lesser quantities called "hopefulls" that give the two main candidates an
easy opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. And if that doesn't work out as planned (Jim
Dean in 2004, Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012) then the media acolytes help them look better and drive out
the "opposition" with non-sequiturs and ad-hominem attacks until they get the chosen conclusion.
Note to world: although it is true that Ron Paul enabled racism in his monthly info-zine, it
true that the Dean "scream" presaged radicalism and extremism that was thankfully avoided by the
nomination of John Kerry. Remember your history.
In the Times article, we get to hear all about good ol' Jebbie's current issues and family
situation. He married a women
born and raised in Mexico, so he'll be strong on the Latino vote, ya dig. And she's supposedly good
on education, just like Laura Bush was supposed to be good on Reaching out to the poor and
downtrodden. His Education Foundation also gets big grants from the right sort of people -- the
famous foundations (but mainly the funds) of Singer, Gates, and Bloomberg See he's a real down-home
family sorta guy, not just a fourth generation wall street and oil baron connected scion of billions
of dollars in net worth.
Hmm, what is this "Foundation for Excellence in Education" actually do? According to the web site :
Our mission is to ignite a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st
Which is a translation for spending money to pursue the Educational agenda of the persons that fund
the Education foundation. And what is the sort of "Reform" the foundation desires?
Well, if you click on Reform news you can at least get an idea what types of "reform" are "news
worthy". And right now there is a lot of applause for states that are releasing "the A-F school
grading system." As regards Indiana,
Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, released the
following statement regarding Indiana’s A-F school grades:
“We applaud the State of Indiana for its continued commitment to meaningful education reform. By
providing a thoughtful and transparent accountability system through A-F school grades, the State
has taken an important step in raising expectations while helping struggling students.
[SOURCE: Foundation For Excellence in Education | 31
So apparently you raise "expectations" and help "struggling students" by giving the grades A thru F
to the schools. Really? Struggling students are going to do better by knowing their school got a
letter grade? And expectations are raised when a school gets a letter grade, because don't you know,the
fear of failing is what drives the teaching staff to teach their students?
Message to world: teachers are not motivated by the fear of failure.
This is called focusing on the wrong aspect of the problem without understanding the actual nature
of the problem. If students are struggling and expectations are low or not being raised, it's not
because their is a lack of school accountability. Good schools have systems in place and networks
of layered assistance that provide multiple outlets for student issues. Bad schools don't, and this
is almost always because of a combination of high staff turnover and low funding. A school with
limited funds can manage if the longevity of the staff is not affected.
And what isn't stated is the rubric used to assess these grades? What is being measured? What
are the weights given to each measurement? A good school can be made to fail if the grading rubric
is structured in a way to diminish the actual strengths of the school.
Which is why so many public
schools are in "program improvement" as a result of the Leave No Child Behind statutory
requirements. Most schools in "program improvement" got that way because of a few percentage
points, despite the reality that certain groups of students change every single year because of the
reality of student mobility, and thus swing the test results every year. Some schools are more
affected by student transience then others, but this isn't a problem that should cause a school to
go into "program improvement". Yet that's what the real agenda was, to create a loophole through
which the private charter school movement could find more gains. This was the true purpose of "Leave No
Child Behind", and they got the naive to buy into the trojan horse movement by using faux-grass
roots Foundations liek the Foundation for Excellence in Education as camouflage.
Then there's the "Common Core Standards" which is yet another round of setting standards that
apparently is going to update our school system, better prepare students for the future, and
to deliver new online assessments and for schools to build the technology infrastructure they’ll
need to use the assessments.
[SOURCE: Foundation For Excellence in Education | 18
So basically, this means that we'll be assessing the students and feeding data into a "technology
infrastructure". The agenda items of the Common Core are as follows:
- Measure and report the quality of education,
- Hold schools accountable for learning,
- Incentivize student achievement,
- Use technology to customize learning for every student,
- Recruit and retain the best teachers, and
- Expand choices for parents and students.
Be wary of this movement. Some of these agenda items will get more stressed then others, and the
rest is just
window dressing used to conceal the real objectives: to privatize the school system by
separating the upper level students from the rest of the pack -- sending them to "charter" schools
and leaving the public school system with the students who need the most and/or the most difficult
to teach. Agenda items 1, 2, 4, and 6 correlate highly with this objective.
Here's how it works. Measure the "quality" of the schools using a non-transparent and complicated
rubric, then when you hold the schools "accountable" you expand the "choices" for parents and
"incentivize" the upper level students by pushing them in charter schools thereby decreasing the
funds from the public school system. This creates a two-tiered system, but doesn't bring anymore
money or better quality, and also starts a new incentive structure because private firms have the
goal of profit as their only true agenda. But since "technology" will be customized for "every
student" the students who are left behind will have software packages and learning ritualization
that caters to their dysfunctionalism. Teachers will then be "recruited" and those who can survive
will be "retained" but notice nothing is said about "incentivizing" teaching or giving hard working
teachers pay raises. Nope, only the students need to be "incentivized".
The devil lives in the details people, and all of the minions and light bulbs surrounding this
mantra do not negate the reality of poison pill legislation.
Bill Clinton himself seems to take the issue seriously. Says so in the article.
Public opinion is managed. And this is how that works.
|Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 10h 33m 54s|
In case you didn't understand
This is the link for the
social security website actuarial tables. These are used by all insurance funds to calculate the
expected disbursements of the insurance fund due to the reality that people don't all die at the
same age. Not all people will live the same amount of time past 65. Some people will die younger
than 65. The amount is variable, so essentially, some people add to the fund more than they ever
subtract, and others might subtract more than they added, but the idea is to keep the fund in
balance. This is what an actuarial table is.
Security Administration website | ssa.gov]
Notice that at age 65, the average number of years left is 17.19 and 19.89 (for males and females.)
We can assume a normal distribution, so 50% will live less and 50% more. It's not like every one
is living 30 years after retirement. But you listen to the talking heads and read the
pseudo-journalists and that's what is implied.
Now the distribution isn't really normal. It's actually skewed, so that means that less than 50%
live longer than the average. And then we aren't taking out the rich, very healthy people who
won't be retiring on social security from the actuarial data.
There is nothing wrong with social security. I repeat. There is nothing wrong with social
security. There is no danger here that needs to be remedied by raising the retirement age, except
that now more people will die before they get to retire.
The issue of the retirement age is a "red herring". A bunch of bullshit that the vampires use to
snow the people while they bide their time inching closer to when they can finally transfer all that
pile of money into their own grubby hands. That's why this shit is made confusing. They wanna do
what Pinochet permitted to happen in Chile -- turn the state pension system into a private system,
and suck the money out with fees and other artificial shenanigans. In Chile, pensioners lost at
least 33% of their expected outcome, and a majority lost 50% or more because of the privatized
system. But financiers and insiders made a whole ton of money.
What really rubs me is when they add the committments from the trust fund to the national budget.
WTF. The government revenue from income and other taxes is completely separate from the taxes
raised for social security and medicare/medicaid. If income and corporate taxes go up or down
that will have no bearing on social security or medicare/medicaid -- because they are not funded by
income and corporate taxes. It's accounting 101.
They might be borrowing against the trust fund, but this is not much different than using your house
as collateral. You don't lose the house because you make the payments. And in this case, the
government is making interest payments that constitute less than 0.5% per month of revenue .
Imagine that for
a home owner, making 0.5% per month of income towards the interest payments on their house note. A
$40,000 per year worker pays a $200 interest payment (0.005 times 40000) per month. The only
difference is the government
is in no danger of defaulting at all, and selling bonds is not the same thing as getting a loan from
a bank. When investors buy bonds, if they want their money back, they sell it to another investor.
And also 71% of the debt is owned by United States citizens in one form or another . Only 29% is
foreign owned. This means that the interest payments are going to American retirement funds and
American citizens. This 71 percent of the 6% (4.26%) of the revenue that goes to pay interest
isn't going into an intangible hole. Thus the interest rate will not be highly influenced by
foreign financial events. The
Fed can just print dollar bills, and people will purchase the bonds that support the value of the
printing press. That's how it works.
Now why can't the corporate press and the politico talking heads say this? Because this is what
they do. The Washington Conventional wisdom is owned by the big money players, and distributed by
the jackals who do their bidding. Some are swooped up into the ignorance and others are duped by a
blind devotion to philosophical bias. But most are just playing the game, knowing that big money
awaits if they play the game correctly.
There might be some problems, but it's not a crisis.
|Monday, 19 November 2012 at 20h 10m 50s|
What's the difference between 5% and 4.5% ?
Large retailers could pay full-time, year-round workers $25,000 per year and still make a profit –
satisfying shareholders while rewarding their workers for the value they bring to the firm. A raise
at large retailers adds $20.8 billion to payroll for the year, or less than 1 percent of total
sales in the sector.
75% of large retailers are making more now then they were before the recession, but have not passed
on their increased well-being to their employees.
“If retailers pass half of the costs of a wage
raise on to their customers, the average household will see just 15 cents added to the cost of its
shopping basket on any trip to a large retailer.”
[SOURCE: Pat Garofalo | Think
Progress | 19 November 2012]
|Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12h 3m 25s|
Allen West the champions of liberty and truth
Not even. Florida elections are just fucked up because of bad voting machines. This isn't
necessarily evidence of corruption, and the Board decided to recount all 8 days of early voting,
which is what the board should have done because the election is too close (.78 percent). This
isn't deliberately removing voters from the registration roles, the voting was just so close that
the innate irregularities make a difference.
But they will surely milk this for fund raising purposes.
Murphy beat West on Election Day by a little more than 2,000 votes, placing his win beyond the .5%
margin of victory trigger for an automatic recount
West, however, claimed there were voter irregularities and demanded a partial recount of
early-voting ballots. When the recount of the last three-days of early voting lowered Murphy’s total
by 667 votes and increased West’s results by 132, the incumbent’s lawyers demanded a full recount of
all eight days of early voting, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The county canvassing board admitted that 306 votes—mostly filled with write-in candidates—had been
uncounted, and that other votes had been ignored.
St. Lucie county has a population of 280,000.
Keep in mind who Allen West is
West, a retired Army colonel who left the military after firing off a gun near the head of an Iraqi
prisoner, was elected as part of the 2010 tea party wave. As one of the GOP’s few black elected
officials on the national level — and as a bombastic and incendiary commentator — West became a
frequent cable news guest. He spent $13.8 million, more than any other House member in 2012 but was
also a regular star of House Democratic fundraising appeals.
[SOURCE: MSNBC | | 17 November 2012]
[SOURCE: Kevin Robillard | Politico | 7
|Friday, 16 November 2012 at 0h 14m 28s|
The situation in Europe
Particularly unsettling yesterday were massive and widespread anti-austerity protests across Europe.
The strikes and demonstrations, some involving hundreds of thousands of people, hit more than 20
countries in the EU, disrupting airports and ports, closing roads and public transportation, and
shutting some essential services. The biggest protests were in Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Italy.
The union-led protests--called "European Day of Action and Solidarity"--were mostly peaceful, but
turned violent in Lisbon, Madrid, and Rome.
[SOURCE: Ed Yardeni | Dr. Ed's Blog | 15
|Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 23h 24m 20s|
Yep, its global climate change, stupid
Hurricane Sandy is another bird in the coal mine that just died.
Jeff Masters has a blog where he catalogs the weather events. It's called "Dr. Jeff Masters
Wunderblog". It's at the Weather
Underground, where all the recent weather events are discussed.
Posted by: JeffMasters, 1:10 PM GMT on November 13, 2012
Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before
landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the
contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical
storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has.
Sandy's area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles--nearly one-half the
area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth's total ocean area.
Most incredibly, ten hours
before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy's winds of tropical storm-force
and higher peaked at 329 terajoules--the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least
1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina's peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized
atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy's tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S.
coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010,
which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy's huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from
Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Florida's Lake Okeechobee--an area
home to 120 million people. Sandy's winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of
Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia,
Canada--locations 1200 miles apart!
Global warming theory (Emanuel, 2005) predicts that a 2°C (3.6°F) increase in ocean temperatures
should cause an increase in the peak winds of the strongest hurricanes of about about 10%.
Furthermore, warmer ocean temperatures are expected to cause hurricanes to dump 20% more rain in
their cores by the year 2100, according to computer modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010).
However, there has been no published work describing how hurricane size may change with warmer
oceans in a future climate. We've seen an unusual number of Atlantic hurricanes with large size in
recent years, but we currently have no theoretical or computer modeling simulations that can explain
why this is so, or if we might see more storms like this in the future. However, we've seen
significant and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere in recent decades, due to our emissions of
heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The laws of physics demand that the atmosphere must
respond. Atmospheric circulation patterns that control extreme weather events must change, and we
should expect extreme storms to change in character, frequency, and intensity as a result--and not
always in the ways our computer models may predict.
We have pushed our climate system to a
fundamentally new, higher-energy state where more heat and moisture is available to power stronger
storms, and we should be concerned about the possibility that Hurricane Sandy's freak size and power
were partially due to human-caused climate change.
Here is the "red" increase in temperature in October as compared to the period 1981 to 2010 :
I'm so glad global warming is a hoax.
[SOURCE: Jeff Masters | Dr. Jeff Masters
WunderBlog | 15 November 2012]
|Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 22h 32m 13s|
The Big Picture
You guys should go to the Big Picture
Blog by Barry Ritholtz every single day.
I can't say enough about Barry. He's a center of the road, a little bit of common sense, with an
acute insight into human behavior, and a deep reverence for the principles of this country, as well
as a desire to further his knowledge historically, scientifically, and in general. All of which
constitute aspects of what I respect in other people.
He is also an investment fund manager and is a dye-in-the-wool N'ywker who lives on Long Island.
I've been reading Barry for probably 10 years now, and he is true blue. An honest guy, with a sense
of humility and humor to boot. From what I understand, he's been on TeeVee for a while now, so you
might actually recognize his face. Maybe not. I don't know because I don't watch TV.
But he also lets a lot of good stuff go through his blog. You will expand your knowledge if you
check in everyday. Barry would probably feel gratified knowing that is the case. He really does
strive for it to be a good source of information.
For instance, today, here is "The afternoon train reads"
- Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually (Wired)
- How China Became Capitalist (The American)
- Changing the Conventional Wisdom on Wall Street (Economix)
- Europe’s Recession (Dr.Ed’s Blog)
- Katrina’s Effect on Jobless Claims vs. Sandy (Avondale Asset Management) see also Hurricane
Sandy’s huge size: freak of nature or climate change? (Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog)
- The Long Story of U.S. Debt, From 1790 to 2011, in 1 Little Chart (The Atlantic)
- 10 things 401(k) plans won’t tell you (MarketWatch)
- Is it game over for Grover Norquist? (Salon) see also Tax Reform Won’t Save the World (Bloomberg)
- Human intelligence ‘peaked thousands of years ago and we’ve been on an intellectual and
emotional decline ever since’ (Independent)
- John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John Christmas Album Plunges Nation Into Double-Dip Recession (The
|Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 22h 53m 39s|
They scream about fraud where none exists.
These frauds that call themselves Republicans only destroy the good name of the party and the
country they protest to love. They scream about Philadelphia and Cleveland and Florida districts
where African Americans are the majority of registered voters every time they lose. They refuse to
concede, cause investigations, and then sometimes pursue their "justice" through the court system
when the investigations produce no evidence of fraud.
Sean Hannity screams that it was "impossible" that 59 Philadelphia precincts had registered no votes
for Mitt Romney. Therefore: “There is cheating going on in our elections!” But of course, there is
no evidence, only insinuation. The fact that black people will really really want to vote for the
first black President in US history doesn't register in the mind of a lying racist hypocrite such as
Mr. Sean Hannity. Why would poor people of any color or creed want to vote for a spoiled,
out-of-touch, silver spoon white Mormon whose Daddy gave him his connections to set up a Wall Street
chop shop, and his millions of inheritance? Is it that hard to
In Florida, that hired black face of the Republicans named David West screamed fraud when a county
mistakenly counted each page of a ballot as a vote, and reported that voters were 150% of registered
voters. So he refused to concede. Then emails and letters hit the wires and post office boxes
immediately, asking for cash donations to help fight the Democratic thievery. But when the mistake
was revealed, David West doesn't go in front the cameras and concede or apologize. Of course not, he
has his "people" do that for him.
You see people like David West (and Sean Hannity) have to earn the pay the paymasters give
them. All those $50,000 plus speaking fees at conferences where David West goes are important, and
David West won't get those invitations and requests if he doesn't become the hired black face and
say crazy stupid things that make him look like a damn fool. Because it's all about money. That's
why these people are lying hypocrites who dishonor themselves. It's the money, and just watch the
sad spectacle of how they slobber for it, thinking who will care when they retire and enjoy the
millions they got for their chicanery?
I used to work as a bartender at a Country Club in the heart of the Oil and Gas industry in
Louisiana. One of the state politicos used to show up and talk shop with various wealthy executives and
I would fix their drinks. They spoke in code at first, but they began to trust me after a while and
I got a first-hand lesson about the realities of how government and special interests do government.
The discussions and the decisions that get made are not at the press conferences, or in the halls
of Congress. They are in the parlors of the wealthy or the bars of the Country clubs where these
folks spend their leisure time.
I once asked a particular politico who befriended me -- it's a lonely world when you mingle with
sharks and back-stabbers. I asked him why our government was so corrupt, and he says, "Son.
It's because there will always be people who will do anything to make a lot of money."
I was 19 years old at the time.
[SOURCE: David Weigel | Slate | 14
|Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 18h 44m 17s|
This (Click here) is a cool site.
You know all the people who get to be on TeeVee that are so sure of their opinions, and then expect
the rest of us to just forget how wrong, inaccurate, and fallacious they were a few months later.
In fact, despite years of constant inaccuracy and failure, these people are suppose to still be
respected and considered to be valuable sources of information even though they are wrong more than
half the time.
And they get paid lots of money for this by management, because the hierarchy wants to promote these
water-carriers. The owners of the pipeline to the eyes and ears of the nationwide cable audience
have their own agendas, and the management they choose are going to perform these agendas. The
cable news shows are more about the creation of how to think about information, and not about trying
to inform. The "experts" who appear are there to legitimize the appropriate topics and the official
avenues of discussion. And all of them are completely out of touch with contemporary America.
Which is why you get Mitt Romney thinking his campaign lost because he tossed out loaves and fishes
to his constituents.
A week after losing the election to President Obama, Mitt Romney blamed his overwhelming electoral
loss on what he said were big “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic
constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.
In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said
that the president had followed the “old playbook” of wooing specific interest groups — “especially
the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Mr. Romney explained —
with targeted gifts and initiatives.
“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said.
[SOURCE: Ashley Parker | NewYorkTimes | 14 November 2012]
The idea that the Republicans have completely disgusted a majority of the voting public by their
insane stupidity and their obstreperous anti-democratic actions is beyond their capacity to realize,
so they can only see a mirror image of themselves in those whom they consider adversarial. When
Republicans accuse, they are just talking about themselves, because that's all they understand.
|Monday, 12 November 2012 at 12h 20m 46s|
The false Fiscal Cliff Rhetoric
They start the rhetoric early and get all their ducks quacking because once they control the frame
of the argument, then they can control the possible outcomes. The so-called Fiscal Cliff is a
mirage. It's a bunch of bullshit. What they really want is an excuse to continue the Bush Tax cuts
and cut Social Security and Medicare, so they have to dredge up the scary scenario of defaults and
There is a problem but the solution is very simple. Extend the middle class tax cuts, end the upper
income tax cuts, and end
some of the payroll tax cut but increase the top income level affected from $92,000 to $200,000.
Doing this will actually increase revenue, stabilize government finances, and boost economic well-being.
According to the treasury(Click here) the current interest on the national debt is 12.9 billion on a total
outstanding national debt of 16.015 trillion, 71% or which (or 11.42 trillion) is held by the public.
Now that sounds like a lot, but in 2012 the total US Government Revenue is 200 times more the
interest payments, at 2468.60 billion (or 2.5 trillion). Expressed as a percentage of Revenue
(12.9 divided by 2468) the percentage of Government revenue that has to go towards interest on the
debt is only 0.5 percent. In other words, we pay 50 cents interest for every $100 of revenue.
That's not a crisis.
Even if interest rates increase, since 71% of the debt is in the hands of the public, the interest
payments will not be as affected by world financial markets. The United States is not Greece. We
are not going to have to pay 10% or more interest on the national debt.
The national debt however should be compared to the Gross National Product, because a governments
source of revenue base is actually the gross national product. The GNP in 2011 was 15.23 trillion
This isn't a fiscal crisis. The United States is not in danger of defaulting. The automatic tax
increases and budget cutting that will begin in January 2013 isn't going to cause massive economic
trauma. Most experts say a 1% reduction in GDP is likely, but this is over the short-term, and does
not include potential economic gains from extending the middle class tax cuts -- which are not
insignificant. This is why some respected economists (Krugman being one) say the effect will be
Compared to a lot of household name private firms, the governments
interest payment to revenue ratio is miniscule. Go look at some companies using Google Finance. Here's a short list I compiled
- The Coca-Cola Company
Revenue: 12.34 billion
Total Debt: 32.73 billion
Revenue: 7.15 billion
Total Debt: 13.26 billion
Revenue: 16.65 billion
Total Debt: 27.9 billion
Hmm, no one seems to be worried about the financial well-being of Coke, Pepsi, or McDonalds despite
their outstanding debt being NEARLY DOUBLE OR MORE their revenues. That's because the most
important issue is whether the revenue can make the requisite interest payments.
But don't listen to me. Keven Drum does a better job explaining. Click the link and read.
[SOURCE: Kevin Drum | Mother Jones | 12
UPDATE: keep in mind that when companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and McDonalds go into debt, most of
it is in Corporate Bonds owned by investors -- because it's a cheaper way to raise funds. Those
interest payments are going into some investor's or investment firm's portfolio because they will
get a higher percentage and are considered safe. No different then Treasury bills or any other bond
on the market, except that treasury bills probably have a lower interest rate. But whatever that
interest rate might be, it's going into some investor's or investment firm's portfolio.
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS