Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5h 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
|Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5h 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
|Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 1h 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 19h 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.
|Monday, 12 November 2012 at 15h 56m 5s|
The worst State Election Officials
In case you haven't been paying attention, the Secretary of State position is the most important
position other than the State Attorney General, because these people can and do influence elections by
various actions or lack of actions they make during the election cycle.
They get lists of names from software or provided by outsourced private firms and then send lists of
voters to purge from the voting rolls to every district within the state. When Kathryn Harris did
this during the 2000 election in Florida, 80,000 plus names got removed from the voting rolls
because their names were similar to a list of felon names created by a Republican firm DBI.
The lists were (intentionally) very flawed, and some districts had an inaccuracy rate of more than
90%. In the original reporting for the BBC, Greg Palast pointed out that DBI charged 1.2 million
dollars for telephone calls that never happened. There was no attempt to verify that the names on
the lists were actual felons or just persons with similar names because this was on purpose.
Most of the names were African American, a group which votes Democratic 90% or more. The
Presidential election in Florida was won by less than 1,000 votes, and eventually got decided by the
Supreme Court -- but all that would never have occurred if the initially voter purge of 80,000 plus
names had never taken place.
the Greg Palast Source link below, or Click here for a list provided by a Google search searching the phrase "florida 2000
election felon lists." The Greg Palast story in Salon is the second link. The fifth link is
another Greg Palast story on 1 March 2002, Click here for the Greg Palast 2002 update story.
Palast | Salon.com | ]
This is the Republican methodology. This is what they do to try to win elections. And it hasn't
This year Think Progress labeled the five worst. I provide a summary, but you can click on the
Think progress Source link to read
what these anti-democratic fiends tried to do during the 2012 election cycle.
- John Husted, Ohio Secretary of State
Husted advocated firmly and repeatedly to cut early voting in Ohio, potentially disenfranchising
thousands of voters who lack the job flexibility to vote on election day. He openly defied a court
order requiring early voting hours to be restored, although he eventually backed down after a
federal [judge] ordered him to attend a court hearing regarding this refusal to comply with the law.
And he retaliated against his opponents by firing them. To top it off, Husted issued a
last-minute directive that directly conflicts with Ohio law which could lead to thousands of
provisional ballots being trashed.
- Ken Detzner, Florida Secretary of State
he played a leadership role in [Governor] Scott’s discredited plan to purge thousands of Florida
voters from the state’s voter rolls. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Hispanic, Democratic and
independent-minded voters [were] the most likely to be targeted” by this purge. About 58 percent of
the voters targeted by the purge are Hispanic, a demographic that overwhelmingly favored President
Obama. The list of supposed non-citizens proved unreliable, however, and the purge was eventually
shut down after the state’s local elections supervisors refused to move forward with it.
Nevertheless, Detzner vowed to restart the purge at one point saying it was his “moral duty” to
purge people from the voter rolls. To date, Florida’s purge caught JUST ONE non-citizen voter.
- Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State
As Colorado’s chief elections official, Gessler spearheaded a voter purge targeting thousands of
alleged non-citizens on his state’s voter rolls. He was eventually forced to largely abandon this
purge, however, after his efforts revealed that non-citizen voting is a virtually non-existent
- Carol Aichele, Pennsylvania Secretary of State
played a key role in defending that state’s voter ID law — despite her admission during court
testimony that she does not “know what the law says.” After state officials released data indicating
that 9 percent of the state’s voters lacked the ID required by the law, Aichele claimed that the
real number was actually closer to 1 percent. When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expressed
skepticism that the voter suppression law would not disenfranchise voters, Aichele announced minor
tweeks to the requirements to obtain an ID in Pennsylvania. The judiciary deemed this dodge
insufficient, and largely suspended the law.
- Matt Schultz, Iowa Secretatry of State
Iowa attempted its own voter purge targeting the illusionary problem of non-citizen voting, with
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz spearheading this purge. An Iowa court temporarily blocked this
purge, however, warning that it “created confusion and mistrust in the voter registration process
[and] have created fear that new citizens will lose their right to vote and/or be charged with a
felony and [have] caused some qualified voters to feel deterred from even registering to vote.”
Notice how these people are willing to purge thousands of names off the voting rolls to "solve" a
problem that is nowhere near 100 and almost always less then 10 persons that illegally vote. In
almost every single case, the "illegal" vote is not even intentional -- a person who didn't realize
their felony conviction denied them the right to vote or a person whose mother signed the affidavit
on a mail-in ballot because the daughter was out of town. The scary scenario of hundreds of illegal
immigrants voting is a complete fabrication, but these people are disgusting and don't care about
voter integrity or trust. They do what their masters tell them to do and cloak themselves in a
mockery of patriotism to justify this anti-democratic behavior.
Every American should be outraged by these actions, and all of these people should be in jail -- or
at least banished from ever holding a position in government ever again.
[SOURCE: Ian Millhiser | ThinkProgress | 7
|Sunday, 11 November 2012 at 16h 17m 29s|
They never stop
Just two days after the election and the priority of the Republican Supreme Court is to gut the gut
the authority of the civil rights voting act of 1965.
[from Raw Story]
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the part of the law that requires all or part
of 16 states in the south to receive federal approval before enacting laws that impact voting.
The Obama administration used that provision this year to stop voter I.D. laws in Texas and South
Carolina from taking effect. Overall, the Justice Department has stopped 2,400 changes since 1982.
Pre-clearance “has been one of the most powerful tools in the civil rights arsenal,”
according to Yale Law School professor Heather Gerken. “It’s made more of a difference in
improving the civil rights of African Americans than any other statute I can think of.”
A part of the law referred to as Section 5, is at the heart of the matter. States and districts are
qualified by a formula based upon historical voting patterns and records of past discrimination, and
only these states and districts are affected by the preclearance provisions of Section 5. "Under
the pre-clearance requirement, a covered jurisdiction must seek approval from the Justice Department
or a federal court before changing voting district lines, polling places or other aspects of the
election system." [from Bloomberg]
Basically, if an affected district does anything that changes the way in which voting occurs, such
as arbitrarily end voting 2 hours early, change the polling places, or redistrict the voting wards,
this has to be "pre-cleared" with the Justice Department. Otherwise, the only means of stopping the
behavior would be through a local or state court. In the past, the local or state court was not
impartial at all, and thus citizens could not have discriminatory actions halted or fairly assessed
at the local or state level of government. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act gives the Federal
Government this authority.
Now of course, Republicans have learned their lesson and don't do anything at all to hurt certain
groups from being able to vote, right?
Puhleease. These people never sleep. They have nightmares about citizens they don't want voting,
so they make up stories about non-citizens and illegal voters and pretend that's what they are
stopping. Despite there being no evidence at all.
[SOURCE: Samantha Kimmey | Raw Story | 9
[SOURCE: Greg Stohr | Bloomberg | 9
|Saturday, 10 November 2012 at 4h 42m 59s|
And why was Team Mittens so certain that they would win?
Easy: magical thinking. And that’s what makes Mitt Romney a true conservative.
Or,"We believe differently", as some Republicans on Upper Fillmore once said to me during the 2004
election cycle when I asked them why they refused to reconsider their policies in light of specific
facts. In other words, their mind was made up, don't confuse them with facts.
[SOURCE: Dennis G | Balloon Juice blog | 9
|Friday, 9 November 2012 at 1h 37m 7s|
FEMA, then and now
A student in my Statistics class asked me today what I thought about "FEMA" and I declined to
have an opinion, and said that today I'm having no thoughts. I teach Statistics, not History, and my
opinions about this matter were not relevant to the teaching of the basic probability that we are
currently learning in the class.
However, my opinion is exactly what Paul Krugman says in his opinion column (and on his blog). You
cannot expect people who disdain government to actually use government effectively. All these
anti-big-gummament Rethuglicans do is destroy government. They put people in charge who play by the
same rules and will do the bidding of those who pay into the system, and these are often arrogant,
pompous assholes, or dim-witted nincompops who mouth the party line.
[SOURCE: Paul Krugman | 4 November 2012New York
Times | ]
What happened in New Orleans was off the logarithmic charts in comparison to the recent FEMA and
response to Sandy. During Sandy, the government and National Guard hit the ground running within 3
landfall. During Katrina, the national guard wasn't anywhere nor was the navy even sent during Katrina
until 3 DAYS after the storm hit landfall. UNLIKE THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, The Bush Administration,
FEMA director Brown, and Louisiana (Democratic) Governor Kathleen Blanco were still unresolved about
whether Blanco had the authority to call out the National Guard, and so the Guard did not have
instructions. Volunteer Fire fighters and first responders from across the United States were often
first shipped to Atlanta to get trained for a day on what to say and how to speak to the press.
Go back to my blog and scroll through the timeline from August to October of 2005 (the black table
on the left-hand column) and you can get a day by day catalog of the scale of the disaster that was
Katrina. It brought me to tears. The little bit I have written here is but 3 or 4 percent of the
entire insane absolute abject disaster of government that was Katrina.
The propaganda organs of the corporate elite and some rich assholes who bankroll the operations will
of course try to make Sandy Obama's Katrina. Bleech. Puhleese.
We have good leaders of government right now. They believe in government as something other than a
patronage distribution system to their buddies and the people who bought their ticket to the party.
|Friday, 9 November 2012 at 0h 56m 49s|
The machines are taking over
According to a paper by Henry Siu and Nir Jaimovich analyzing the jobless recoveries that have
accompanied recent post-recession events:
Automation and the adoption of computing technology is leading to the decline of middle-wage jobs of
many stripes, both blue-collar jobs in production and maintenance occupations and white-collar jobs
in office and administrative support. It is affecting both male- and female-dominated professions
and it is happening broadly across industries — manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, financial
services, and even public administration.
There is a nice graph from the study, but out of respect to Kevin, I'll let you click on the source
link below to see the graph.
[SOURCE: Kevin Drum | Mother Jones | 6
|Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 4h 49m 23s|
One of the reasons I don't post as much
I tend to comment on various other sites and don't have the time to blog on my own site.
Here is a perfect example. I'm commenting on this topic about the Social Security Trust fund. The Motley Fool article is titled "5 Huge Myths About Social Security". It's
actually very good and quite accurate, which is why I like the Motley Fool. They are honest and
accurate observers of the economy, the market, and government.
Anyway here is my response to a plethora of insanity. It wasn't the only defender of the truth.
The others are also worthy, but you have the screen out the nonsense. Fortunately they are usually
I know I'm wasting my time, but please ignore 95% of the commetariat. They are trolls and/or
ignorant fools. The author of the main article knows that which he speaks. The commentariat have an
agenda to confuse the public. Plain and simple.
Someone faulted the Social Security Trust Fund for not investing in the private sector. You should
go back and read the historical discussions about why the current method was chosen. Which companies
should the funds invest in? Who decides? What if this becomes political? Do you want your government
choosing which financial instruments to invest and which not?
Thinking of the last 10 or 15 years alone, that would be a very bad idea.
The Social Security Trust fun is used as an accounting mechanism to shore up the budget, but that
doesn't take away the from the fund. It's just assets - liabilities. The assets are still assets. If
the government wants to play games with accounting and every pretends that's okay, the assets are
still assets. The value of the fund doesn't diminish.
It just means our political leaders will eventually won't be able to use the assets in the trust
fund as means to conceal how much money is actually being spent.
It's really that simple.
This is not much different than if someone includes the value of their house as part of their net
worth. Your liabilities are expected to paid out on a monthly basis not different than any business,
Assets minus liabilities doesn't negate either one. Assets are still assets. The money doesn't get
spent because they aren't cashing in the assets.
Just like when you take a loan out on your house. You're paying off the loan doesn't result in the
diminished value of your house. Your house is an asset not any different then the Social Security
The government sells loans call bonds and dollars everyday and everyday people buy them because they
retain value for a long period of time. Using the Social Security fund as an asset to secure these
loans is no different than a customer using their house as collateral.
It doesn't mean the Social Security fund is being spent, no more than your house got sold when you
used it as collateral. The government pays the interest without any problem, so there is nothing to
worry about except stupid politicians and person's with hidden agendas.
And it's an insurance system people.
You think you are so smart and saavy that you can make the right choices and invest in the right
companies at the right times. All while making less then 30, 40, 50 , 70, 100 thousand a year.
Go for it. Many have tried. Too many have failed. And so we base are entire retirement system on
these percentages. Are you so willing to believe that you will be in the win bracket and avoid the
financial shocks that happen once or twice every decade?
Social Security Insurance guarantees a minimum floor of retirement. Otherwise we'd have 30% or more
of our older citizens liveing in abject poverty.
That's why the system evolved from the Townsend Committees in the 1930s. The shock of so many old
people living off of scraps and out of garbage cans by the restaurants. All over the United States.
Oh how we do forget the past.
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS