Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oh Really?

Senate Republicans Signal Big Shift On ‘Obamacare’

With a Supreme Court decision looming next month, House Republicans are privately weighing a plan to reinstate three popular elements of the law if it’s struck down — guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults up to 26 years old to remain on a parent’s insurance policy, and closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (MO), vice chair of the Senate GOP Conference, offered a ringing defense of the “Obamacare” under-26 provision, and said he wouldn’t oppose ideas he previously supported simply because President Obama adopted them. “I believe that’s one of the things that the Congress would surely reinstate,” Blunt told the St. Louis radio station KTRS in an interview last Thursday, pointing out that he has offered similar legislation in the past. “It’s a way to get a significant number of the uninsured into an insurance group without much cost. … It’s one of the things I think should continue.” 

“I’ve been in a couple meetings lately and there’s some general understanding that that’s one of the things … and there are other things like that as well,” the senator added.

Yet they are against a mandate. So how are they going to pay for this again?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Get the Donald on the Case

Here's a trivia question: which presidential candidate this year has a father who was born in a foreign country, goes by an alias, may have an ominous middle name linked to the devil, and  refuses to release his long-form birth certificate?

If you guessed Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney you win the prize!

The foreign-born father? According to Fox News:
Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where Mormons fled in the 1800s to escape religious persecution and U.S. laws forbidding polygamy. He and his family did not return to the United States until 1912, more than two decades after the church issued "The Manifesto" banning polygamy.
The alias? Romney's real first name is Willard, which is seered into the conscious of a generation as the name of a horror flick from 1971, when Romney was 24. In the movie Willard learns to control rats and uses them to attack this enemies. In the end the rats turn on Willard and eat him alive. Now, any parallels between Willard's rats and Romney's political minions are purely incidental...

The middle name? Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney was named after J. Willard Marriott and George Romney's cousin, Milton (nicknamed "Mitt"), who played for the Chicago Bears.

The link to the devil? John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, considered one of the greatest works in the English language, which is about Satan's fall from grace.

The birth certificate? Romney says his middle name really is Mitt, but he refuses to produce his long-form birth certificate to prove it.

Donald Trump should get on this case and dispatch some private investigators to Michigan to dig up Mitt Romney's purported birth certificate. But instead Trump is still blathering about Obama being born in Kenya. The simple truth is, Obama's mother was an American. Ergo, he's an American. End of discussion.

Now, thousands of people are after Romney to make him prove he's not a unicorn. Of course that's just a joke, just like the whole birther conspiracy. But with all these Republicans around the country demanding that states pass laws that require presidential candidates produce their birth certificates, why haven't we seen Romney's?

It may be that he really does have something to hide...

Give 'Em Hell, Harry

This would be why Harry S. Truman is in my top five.


Mitt Romney, Horse Trader

Remember a while back when some Democratic talking head said Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, and the Fox News exploded, trying to get stay-at-home moms riled up about it? As if Ann Romney was one of them?

Let's for a moment ignore the fact that the life of a stay-at-home wife of a multimillionaire is nothing like the life of a real stay-at-home mom who stays home and bakes cookies and can't afford maids and gardeners and private schools and a couple of Cadillacs and the peace of mind that near-infinite amounts of money can buy.

It turns out that Ann Romney did have a job, of sorts, as a member of that notoriously dishonest profession of horse trader.

An article in the New York Times describes Ann's involvement in the sport of dressage, the buying and selling of horses, and her relationship with a German dressage trainer, Jan Ebeling.

Ann Romney took up dressage again at age 50, after learning she had multiple sclerosis. This sort of activity helped her deal with the disease. She became quite good at it and her physical condition improved. She took several trips to Europe with Ebeling to buy top-drawer dressage horses for herself and her trainer. These horses cost upwards of $100,000 apiece, and she bought several.

Now, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with a high-falutin' sport like dressage or Ann Romney spending her free time doing it, or buying expensive horses, or footing the bill for her trainer's horses, or lending him half a million bucks to buy a horse farm where she can vacation. But it doesn't end there.

According to the article:
On the Romneys’ 2010 tax returns, they reported a loss of $77,000 for their share of the partnership that owns Mr. Ebeling’s top mount, Rafalca. Mrs. Romney owns the horse with Ms. Ebeling and a Romney friend, Beth Meyers. Sponsorship arrangements are not unusual in dressage, where riders who want to climb to the top look to wealthy backers.
Yes, the Romneys lowered their tax liability by claiming a loss for the expenses of Ann's very expensive hobby. I bet you wish you could use your hobbies to reduce your taxes.

In 2003 the Romneys bought a horse named Super Hit in Germany for $100,000. They bought the horse even though X-rays showed he had a bad coffin joint. Horses with this flaw often go lame, cannot be ridden and must be turned out to pasture.

And indeed, Ann learned she couldn't ride the horse for this reason:
Though Mrs. Romney loved the horse, calling him “Soupy,” she decided to sell him in late 2007. Riding him, though meant to soothe her multiple sclerosis, had in fact become painful. “I frequently was getting back spasms when I rode Soupy,” she said.
The Romneys sold Soupy because he'd gone lame. Knowing this they still found a buyer, Catherine Norris. Ebeling told the buyer that Super Hit was the soundest horse on the farm. The buyer did what she was supposed to do: she had X-rays taken and had a vet look at the horse. She found out about the coffin joint, but the vet told her it was fine, no problem there. But the vet had a conflict of interest--he was Romney's vet. He even sent out emails telling people to vote for Romney on Super Tuesday in 2008.

The buyer paid $125,000 for the horse but quickly discovered that he was lame, something Ann Romney obviously knew because that was why she sold him. The problem was apparently masked during the evaluation by injecting the horse with four tranquilizers. The buyer sued the Romneys, Ebeling and the vet. The suits were eventually settled out of court.

Now some people will say that this is just a case of caveat emptor. The buyer should have known what a bad coffin joint meant, shouldn't have trusted Romney's vet, and should have demanded to see the tox screen.

So, yeah, the buyer screwed up. She trusted the wife of a guy who'd already been running for president for years at the time. A guy who claims we can trust him. Yet this man who would be president let his wife screw someone out of $125,000.

And then there's this:
Asked if she was ever unhappy with Mr. Ebeling’s instruction, Mrs. Romney said in a deposition in the lawsuit, “I think that is not a fair question because we all get upset at certain times with anybody that is — you know, especially a German.”
The casual, matter-of-fact racism is so heart-warming. It's good to know what kind of people Mitt Romney shares his most intimate moments with.

In the final analysis Ann Romney bought a horse with a bum leg for way too much money, lied about the true condition of the animal, doped him up for the test, got a vet to lie about the animal's condition, dumped him on someone else for a 25% profit, then refused to fess up when she got caught.

But it's no surprise. Mitt made his money pretty much the same way. Romney was essentially a horse trader, buying up companies with bum bottom lines and selling them again to unsuspecting investors, only to have some of them go lame — err, bankrupt — after Mitt had cashed out. I guess Ann learned from her husband well.

If this is how Romney treats people in his private life, and how he treats people in the business world, why would he treat the American people any differently?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Kinder, Gentler Cult

Take a look at this video below.

This is the first volley against Obama by American Crossroads, a Super PAC run by Karl Rove and some other like minded individuals. The ad is running in swing states like Florida and Ohio. It struck me as interesting for several reasons.

First of all, where's all the Barack X stuff? Well, apparently it's gone because it doesn't play very well. 

Middle-of-the-road voters who said they thought the country was on the wrong track were unmoved when they heard arguments that the president lacks integrity. And they did not buy assertions that he is a rabid partisan with a radical liberal agenda that is wrecking America.

Well, that's because it's not true and doesn't exist in reality. The fact is that even though many people don't agree with the president's policies and/or feel disappointed, they still like him personally. If he is attacked in a manner that was recently floated by some high level conservatives, you can say buh bye to the independents and swing voters. This would be why Mitt Romney always inserts that line "The president is a nice guy but..." into most of his stock answers to questions. He, like McCain before him, knows about the dark side to American populism.

Another thing that struck me was where was the husband? The ad obviously intimates that this is a single woman as she complains about her life and struggles in the job market. VERY interesting considering this is from a conservative group. Have they seen the writing on the wall and know they can't win without the women's vote? This, along with the leaving behind of the Barack X garbage, is a sign of progress. Even though I realize that there are millions of Americans who need to have Barack X to get out of bed and identify themselves every day, themes like this give me hope. Sorry, fuckos, I guess you can't win by calling the president a Kenyan socialist who constantly apologizes for America, spent more than anyone ever in the history of forever, raised taxes, is destroying free enterprise, and is making us weaker.

Yet neither of these points can hold a candle to the two more subtle messages contained therein....two messages that hilariously expose the metaphorical slip, if you will, of the right's dress. Remember all that talk about how if people are having financial problems, it's THEIR fault and blaming others for their own shortcomings is sacrilege? Well, I guess that's gone now because none of this woman's problems are her fault. The fact that she is low on cash and has adult children living at home is the fault of the government.


Truly, one of the most titanic examples of hypocrisy I have seen in awhile. And, uncharacteristically, a complete capitulation.

Diving deeper, we can clearly see the Michael Jordan Generation on full display. The reason she has two adult kids living at home is because she has done a poor job in raising her children. Like many in her generation, she has babied her kids to the point where the can't function outside of her home. And without a two parent home it was likely made worse. But that's all the fault of the liberals and their social agenda, right?

No, it's not. This is how our culture is right now and it's truly awful. It's not because of the government or the education system (whose job it is most certainly not to parent or nanny) or the unions made up of people who make 50K a year or less. It's the fault of all of us because we have allowed our culture to be mostly socialized by the corporate owned media who tell us that the definition of success is a guy like Michael Jordan.

And not the winner of the science fair. Or the mathlete. Or the Model UN winners. Or the...well, I think you get the idea.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Still Not So Much

Remember how the whole one percent-ninety nine percent narrative was dying? Or dead? Yeah, still not so much. Take a look at this photo that I snapped near my house.

Safe? Safe from what exactly? Financial sector guys running an anti-Wall Street ad to get people to invest...I love it!

And their company name isn't bad either:)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another Example Of How Wrong I Am!!

Challenge Accepted

Put this column in a drawer and take it out on the date below. Let me know how many of these predictions I got right.

You got it, Bill!!

I wonder what is going to happen when this particular Cult member is proved wrong. I predict he will....MAKE A BUNCH OF SHIT UP AND SAY IT HAPPENED JUST LIKE HE SAID.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fun Math Facts

To go along with the post below...

And those are Fun Math Facts!!!

The Future is Now!

Sometimes it seems like the future will never get here. We don't have flying cars, or personal jetpacks, or vacations on the moon. Well, today the future is now!

This morning the first commercial spacecraft docked with the International Space Station. SpaceX's Dragon capsule was captured by the station's robotic arm after performing several maneuvers to demonstrate the safety and maneuverability of the spacecraft.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, one of the cofounders of PayPal, the online payment service. Musk was originally from South Africa. In 2008 SpaceX got a NASA contract to delivery supplies to the space station.

Musk also founded two other companies: Tesla Motors, which makes electric cars, and SolarCity, which builds solar power systems. He recently joined the Giving Pledge, founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

How are other high-tech millionaires moving us into this brave new world?

After leaving Microsoft Bill Gates has worked full-time at the Gates Foundation. The organization is focused on improving global health, agriculture, and financial services for the poor, and libraries and education in the United States.

Peter Thiel is another of PayPal's cofounders. Originally from Germany, Thiel was recently in the news for his support of Super PAC supporting Ron Paul. Thiel is now a hedge fund manager and venture capitalist. He has also donated half a million bucks to the Seasteading Institute, which envisions building platforms out in the middle of the ocean to form independent micronations and abandon their home countries to avoid taxes and regulations.

Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin got very rich when Facebook went public. He recently came under fire for giving up his American citizenship (he was originally from Brazil) and moving to Singapore to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the Facebook IPO. Note that capital gains are taxed at the measly rate of 15%.

Saverin came under fire by many, including New York Senator Charles Schumer, for dodging $67 million in taxes. Schumer has proposed legislation to hold ex-patriots accountable for skipping out on taxes. This prompted Grover Norquist to defend Saverin and compare Schumer's proposed legislation to Nazi-era German law.

One issue in the 2012 election is the huge disparity of wealth in his country. Conservatives seem to now believe that the wealthy don't owe anyone anything. Republicans who once prided themselves as the party that stood for patriotism and loyalty now think it's just fine to desert their country for a few bucks.

Being rich in and of itself doesn't make you good or bad. It's what you do with the money that matters. Gates and Musk are helping their country and the world by improving education, energy efficiency, creating new technologies and opening a new frontier in space.

Conservatives like Thiel and Saverin's defenders seem to feel no responsibility toward the country that made their vast wealth possible. They see no problem jetting off to Singapore or setting up their own island fiefdoms to avoid the taxes that pay for the defense, education and infrastructure of the country that made their great wealth possible.

To make this concrete, Saverin's flight to Singapore means the Defense Department will be out about $13 million. That would buy a lot of body armor for our troops in Afghanistan.

Musk and Gates are working to make this country and the world a better place, while Thiel and Norquist seem to be all about the Benjamins. Who are the real patriots?

A Really Big Lie

These days, when someone from the right will make a statement, the first thing that pops into my head is a question.

"Do I really want to waste my time researching this when I know it's likely completely bullshit?"

Take, for example, the assertion by Mitt Romney and virtually everyone on the right that President Obama has been spending like crazy. An "inferno" is what Mr. Romney called it.

Well, a new piece by Marketwatch has this to say.

Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.

There damn well better be some numbers to back that up!

• In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget. 

 • In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion. 

 • In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion. 

 • In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August. 

 • Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook. 

Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%

Huh. I guess we can put the lie away now along with the raising taxes and apologizing to everyone nonsense.

This would be why I don't like to waste my very valuable time. It always turns out to be another bullshit lie.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still Waiting

I'm still waiting (and so is Guard Duck, apparently) for retractions from Kevin Baker on the out and out lies in the image he put up last Sunday. Since he can't be bothered to check the veracity of those statements, I will offer another link which demonstrates that the list contained in the image likely originated in this very much false Columbo email which made the rounds TWO YEARS AGO.

Foreign student aid' as a college student? Nope. April Fool's Day Hoax.

Foreign Passport in Pakistan? Nope. Complete BS. 

The Birth Certificates? Proved time and again to be real. 

Michelle can't practice law? Not true. The Illinois bar lists her as being voluntarily inactive. (The president is listed as voluntarily retired)

Michelle has 22 assistants? No.Actually, she has 24 and Laura Bush had 18.

College Records? Well, as FactCheck notes, this would be illegal under federal law ((the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974). This, along with the medical records, is odd coming from the far right as they are supposed to be champions of right to privacy.

Oh, and he never did a thesis at Columbia so it's not sealed.

Illinois State Senate Records and Schedule? All available here. 

As to the remaining claims not listed on FACTCHECK...

Selective service registration? Yep. Right here courtesy of (wait for it) Volokh and Pajamas Media! 

Law practice client list? Uh...anyone every heard of attorney-client privilege? Again, the right to privacy thing apparently only applies to libertarians, not statists like Barack Obama.

All that leaves is the baptism record which I'd put under the birth certificate category.

So, there you have it. One giant list of complete lies and Kevin has yet to retract a single one.

For more insane Obama conspiracies, check out this site (my third link with supporting evidence). 

An Anarcho-Capitalist Pleasure Palace

With the Wisconsin recall election less than two week away, it looks as though Scott Walker will hold off the recall efforts. I predict he will win. Of course, he may not be able to govern in the way he would like because I also predict that one of the four senate recall elections will flip back to the Democrats and tie him up at the State House. Honestly, though, I don't think this matters to him as he now has his sights set on the national stage.

Politico has a great piece on how the recall elections have turned Walker into a conservative hero. Indeed, the right wing media industrial complex with its all too willing audience will welcome him with open arms and shower him with money on how he stood up to the evil teachers and civil servants who are ruining our economy on a daily basis.

So why did the recall effort fail? Again, Politico lays it all out here.  In my view, there were several factors that inhibited the Democrats. Tom Barrett is a great guy and would be a magnificent governor but he already lost that election once. The alternative (Kathleen Falk) was far too liberal. Had the Democrats put up a great candidate...someone like Russ Feingold, for example....Walker would have been toast. There was also the issue of recall fatigue. People these days just can't pay attention that long and give a shit. Believe me, I know, I'm a teacher:)

I guess what frustrates me the most about all of this is the ignorance of the facts. When it comes to jobs, neither side in the recall election can claim victory. The latest jobs numbers show no real significant movement either way. Certainly Walker is well short of the 250,000 jobs that he promised to create but no one really thinks is was serious (he is a politician, after all) and it won't matter if he ends up with a net loss. His supporters will still be there because they don't want to admit they were wrong (shocking, I know).

Lost in all of this is Walker's promise to create 10,000 new businesses in his first term with his private sector friendly policies. How's that going? Well, not so good. 

The scorecard: After one year of the Walker era, there were 9,485 fewer businesses than at the end of 2010, Gov. Jim Doyle's final year in office. It's improved somewhat in recent months, but the total of existing entities was still down 4,338 as of April 30, 2012, compared with December 2010. The picture is worse if you look only at Wisconsin business entities doing business here, and exclude out-of-state businesses that must register here to transact business. Those "domestic” business entities were down 10,189 after Walker"s first year, and down a total of 5,741 after 16 months. So the numbers have gone backward.

Hmm....sort of reminds me of all the numbers I have been putting up about how the economy does worse when there is a Republican in the White House. Of course, this doesn't matter, though. Again, to admit fault....

The one thing that I do feel pretty good about (aside from one of the state senators likely getting the boot) is that guys like Walker always end up with the same fate. Indeed, the FBI probe that is currently going on in Wisconsin may come back to haunt him if not something else. But for now, though, it's a pretty bitter pill considering the nearly one million people in Wisconsin who are currently cheering to be ruled by the Koch Brothers.

Hey, maybe Wisconsin could be part of RandLand as well. I'd have to get my mom and John Waxey out of there first, though, before it turns into an anarcho-capitalist pleasure palace!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Obama Vetting Obsession

I had been working on a post about the vetting obsession that seems to be going on these days with President Obama but then I read this.  Paul Waldman seems to have stolen my thunder. Oh well. It's everything I wanted to say and more.

So on the right, the desperate search for the appropriate "vetting" material continues. For instance, the late Andrew Breitbart's constellation of web properties continues in its founder's spirit, breathlessly promoting one "revelation" about Obama's pre-political life after another. Obama was friendly with a Harvard Law School professor with strong views on race! In 1991, Obama's literary agency mistakenly said in a promotional brochure that he was born in Kenya! There is so much to be learned that has created a whole series entitled "The Vetting."

Sadly, this is all true. I don't get it.The president has been pretty forthcoming about his past both in his books and interviews. There have been thousands of stories about folks like Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and the president's college years and birth certificate. Why?

The mistake that so many conservatives make is in believing that in some (or all) of these details of his life lies the key to Obama's undoing. If only we can find the radical mentor, the girlfriend holding on to a decades-old secret, or the revealing document, then Obama will be unmasked, his true horrifying self revealed at last for all to see. Then the scales will fall from the voters' eyes and they'll boot him from the office he never deserved to occupy in the first place.

This is so incredibly odd. The latest polls show the race is pretty tight in the swing states and the election is 5 months off. People are unhappy about unemployment and uncertain about the economy. Certainly, they can win on that, right? Are they that insecure about Mitt Romney?

In my view, they don't want to beat him that way. They have to personally destroy him because that is what the right has become today. They did the same thing with Bill Clinton (now, of course, they love him in typical juvenile emotional fashion and will likely be the same way with President Obama someday) and many other Democrats. Funny, the same thing is done to me in comments on a regular basis:)

I guess they don't know any other way.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Keystone XL Pipeline Will Make Gas Prices Go Up

For some time now I've been contending that the Keystone XL pipeline would cause the price of gas to go up because the fuel refined from it would be shipped off to China at world market prices instead of being "stuck" in the American Midwest where it winds up being sold as gasoline, often at lower prices than those paid on all three coasts.

Now we have confirmation. According to an analysis from the NRDC:

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would divert oil from the Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Midwestern refineries produce more gasoline per barrel than refineries in any other region in the United States. That gasoline is then sold to U.S. consumers. In contrast, refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas produce as much diesel as possible, much of which is exported internationally. By taking oil from midwestern gasoline refineries to Gulf Coast diesel refineries, Keystone XL will decrease the amount of gasoline available to American consumers. 
Meanwhile the Keystone XL pipeline will increase the price that gasoline producing refineries in the Midwest pay for crude oil. TransCanada, the company sponsoring the pipeline, pitched the pipeline to Canadian regulators as a way of increasing the price of crude in the United States (emphasis mine).
Right now, Midwestern refineries are buying crude oil at a discount—a deep discount. This allows them to produce products more cheaply than they would otherwise be able to. Building Keystone XL would change that. If TransCanada’s analysis is accurate, under current market conditions, Keystone XL would add $20 to $40 to the cost of a barrel of  Canadian crude—increasing the cost of oil in the United States by tens of billions of dollars
I was unaware of the propensity for diesel refining of the Gulf Coast, but that only increases the likelihood that Canadian oil will be sold to China. Most interesting is TransCanada's selling point to Canadian regulators was that it would increase gas prices for Americans.

The lesson: don't believe anything the oil industry says about oil prices. Their goal is to maximize profits, which means they want to maximize prices.

The Definition of the Election

I've never understood the Republican obsession with thinking that a successful CEO would make a good president. The two jobs are completely different. Yesterday, the president eloquently illustrated this in Chicago.

If your main argument for how to grow the economy is 'I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,' then you're missing what this job is about. It doesn't mean you weren't good at private equity, but that's not what my job is as president. My job is to take into account everybody, not just some. My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now. 

This is what the election is going to be about.

I Stand Corrected!

As I have said many times in the past, I'm happy to be wrong!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Planet of the Valley Girls?

Last week Facebook went public. Its IPO netted the company $38 a share, making it worth more than $100 billion (and earning $176 million for the banks that handled the underwriting). That's more than companies that sell real products to real people, like McDonald's, VISA, Volkswagen and Disney. Even after Disney made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide with a single smash hit movie a couple of weeks ago.

But at this writing Facebook's stock is worth $33 a share. Many people expected its share price to jump tremendously in value, like LinkedIn's did. That hasn't happened yet, and the banks who issued the IPO may be betting against people who bought the stock. Facebook has yet to come up with a way to make the kind of money off its users that such a high value could justify. It doesn't yet push ads to mobile devices, and more than half of Facebook users access the social network through their phones. Yet doing that could alienate users and discourage them from using the service.

Facebook likes to brag that it's got almost a billion users. That number is deceptive. You can make any number of Facebook accounts, so that number could be almost anything. This is an important point because advertisers pay for their ads to be seen by real people.

Companies generate buzz on Facebook with "likes." They often have promotions to get people to like them, giving them something in an on-line game or entering them in an iPad drawing.

There are also companies that for a fee will generate likes for companies that want to increase their apparent Facebook popularity. The question is, how real are those likes? Are they simply thousands of phony Facebook accounts, or thousands of real Facebook users who are liking someone because they're paid to? It seems that if you're paying for likes, they're all fake, no matter how they're generated. Facebook is trying to root out fake likes, but it's a non-trivial problem.

So what's the point of Facebook for companies? Does it have any real value, or is it just another MySpace or AOL?

Then there's the question of what people actually use Facebook for. Every time I look at my feed I see that several friends checked in through FourSquare. I see pictures of pets and kids and what people ate for dinner. I get harangued by friends to try out some on-line game. I see articles that other people read. I see political rants. I see cryptic numbers from a neighbor that might be geo-tagging or bible study or a terrorist plot.

This is what thirteen-year-old girls do: obsess about what all their friends are doing and wearing and saying. Now full-grown adults are fretting about how many friends they have. Just recently a friend wondered why a mutual friend had defriended him. Is Facebook devolving the entire planet into, like, Valley Girls? Don't we have more important, or at least interesting, things to do?

Facebook is extending their grasp beyond their site into every nook and cranny of the Internet. Your Facebook login can be used on thousands of websites, allowing Facebook to track your every move. And this grasp is extending into the real world, because millions of people are using their mobile phones to tell Facebook where they are at every waking moment.

My Facebook feed also tells me what videos one friend watched, that another friended someone I've never heard of and another liked some company. And yesterday I saw an ad for Zoosk that said one of my acquaintances was looking for single women. I wonder if he has a girlfriend who saw the same ad?

It's these things that may ultimately be Facebook's downfall. Facebook plans to make its money by pimping out your personal data. Do you really want to be Mark Zuckerberg's whore?

Well, I Guess It Had To Happen

Kevin Baker has gone Birther.


I suppose it was inevitable. Here is a list from Snopes that shows that many of these claims are completely  false.  I expect retractions, Kevin.

Too Political?

My oh my, what an interesting turn of events.

The sticking point appears to be Hanauer assertion that "rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs," but rather it's the middle class consumers who fuel business growth and subsequent job creation by spending their hard earned money on stuff.

How exactly is the illustration of a simple fact considered political?

(sniff sniff)

Smells to me like the Cult of Both Sides is up to its usual tricks again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Trifecta of Tactics

In the past few months, the tactics the right uses on a regular basis have been laid plain for all to see. First we had the 14 points, nearly all of which I saw on The Smallest Minority during my time there. Then we had the purest definition of The Rove, as explained by Richard Clarke. That one we can see nearly every day, squirting forth from the right wing media industrial complex and all the way into my comments section.

But there has always been something missing...a tactic that I've experienced many times. It's kind of like "Projection/Flipping" but not quite. Sort of like  The Rove but not nearly there. Some recent comments have lead me to an epiphany. Here's how it works for you first time users.

Step 1: Whether knowingly or unknowlingly, use ad hominem attacks, genetic fallacies, straw man arguments, hand waving, and any other sort of nonsense that pops into your head.

Step 2: While the liberal is reflecting (silly liberals), accuse HE or SHE of using any or all of those tactics.

Step 3: As the silly liberal sputters out a comment which will likely be along the lines of "But wait, that's what you are doing" laugh, point at them and reply, "BWAAHAHAHA! That's your response? 'No, YOU are!' Hahahahahaha! What a child!"

Congratulations! You have just completed The ARWB Three Step (that's arrogant right wing blog or blogger, depending upon on your situation).

Add this to the 14 points and The Rove and you have pure magic, my friends.

Pure Magic

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Actual Handwaving

A few months ago, one of my regular commenters that migrated over from Kevin's site brought out that ol' chestnut about small business. Haplo9 (a small business owner) informed me that not only do I not know what I'm talking about when it comes to small business but that people like me and other Democrats/liberals/etc are actively seeking to destroy small business and, indeed, the free market.

Let's look past all the facts and evidence to the contrary that I have been putting up of late and focus on some small business owners themselves. First, I worked for a small business before I became a teacher. We were a small, four person multimedia company that handled medium sized businesses first forays into online commerce back in the mid to late 1990s. I had left an ad firm where I worked to help out two friends of mine who were the owners of the business.

Not once did I hear any discussion about the government inhibiting them from making money. The onus was on all of us to grow the business and we certainly never played the victim card and blamed the government. Our concern was getting more clients and in order to do that, we wanted to see state and federal policies that supported consumer spending which would lead to more revenue for our clients  and, in turn, more money to spend with us. It wasn't taxes or fear of possible future regulation that altered our decisions. It was customers coming through the door.

This is also true for our very own John Waxey, an owner of a manufacturing concern in Wisconsin that makes a product that helps with shipping and commerce. His company does about 20 million a year in business. I had the occasion to chat with him recently when I visited his cottage.

"How's the company doing?" I asked.
"Never better," he replied. "In fact, we are moving in to a new facility to accommodate all our new business."
"So, Barack Obama and the Democrats aren't destroying your company?"
"No," he chuckled. "We do well when our clients have more customers. Then they come and spend money with us."

John's family has owned this business for his entire life, thirty three years of which he has been my best friend. So, to say that I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to small business (or any size business for that matter) is wrong. That being said, no one should take our lives and anecdotes as gospel. Perhaps we are outliers? Biased?

No, not so much...because of this little thing called How The Free Market Actually Fucking Works. Yesterday, I was perusing the MPR site for some post-mortem on the recently ended state government session and I came across this. House Republican Majority Leader Matt Dean was a guest on the program and they took a call from a small business owner named Andy. 

Here is the audio below. Start it at the 13 minute mark. 

Giving tax breaks to small business owners leading to more hiring is NOT how the free market works? Representative Dean (a REPUBLICAN...GASP!!) doesn't know how the free market works? That it's actually more consumer spending leads to more hiring? Oh, Andy. Don't you dare question one of the central creeds of their rigid dogma! Only THEY are Sacred Keepers of the Free Market. Don't you know you're just going to get glassy-eyed nonsense for an answer?

And that's just what happened. Rep. Dean (sounding as if he was both under hypnosis and attempting to hypnotize Andy) gave a response which (ahem) can best be described as hand waving. Shocking, I know, that someone from the right is actually doing the very thing that I am wrongfully and continually accused of doing. And doing it to someone who actually owns a small business! Well, he owns a hair salon so he's probably gay anyway so he doesn't really know what he's talking about, right?

What all of this perfectly illustrates is how the right really doesn't know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to this stuff. If small businesses are given tax breaks without new customers coming through the door, why would they hire anyone? They're just going to sit around just as Andy described.

But no. Oh no. It's taxes. It's supply side. Never aggregate demand.  They are only interested in making sure that their ideology is pure and, in behaving in this manner, they completely ignore the core of what drives growth in this country.

Watch as consumer spending magically disappears in my hat!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fun Math Facts

And those are Fun Math Facts!!

Abuse of the Franking Privilege

The image on the right is a scan of an oversized 12"x9" piece of mail I received from my representative in the House, Erik Paulsen. The tiny notation up at the upper left reads "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense." His signature appears in the upper right corner of the original, but doesn't show in the image because the mailing is bigger than our scanner bed.

This guy used my tax dollars to print a blatant campaign ad and then used the franking privilege congressmen enjoy to have the US Postal Service deliver it to my house for free.

Isn't the Post Office in enough trouble without guys like this adding to its burden?

The irony is that he's talking about a "tidal wave of spending." He should know, he's contributing to it.

He then goes on to talk about getting America's financial house in order, which is also ironic considering how the Republican Party in Minnesota is millions in debt and had to work out a special deal with its landlord because they couldn't pay the rent on the party headquarters.

The back side of the flyer has more yapping about "wasteful Washington spending," high gas prices and bullet points taken from the Republican Party platform.

This guy has had no credible opposition for the three years he's been in office, and has amassed a huge campaign warchest of millions of dollars. Why does he have to spend my money to send his campaign literature to me?

I've got one Republican congressmen and two Democratic senators. I get crap like this from this guy all the time, but I've never gotten anything like it from the Democrats: the only time I get franked mail from them is when they respond to my letters.

I was going to speculate on how much this cost the taxpayers, but instead of just guessing I'll contact him and find out exactly how much of my taxpayer money he spent on this. We'll see how well his "constituent service" works.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and Bristol Palin Is from What Planet?

The other day I was at a park with some friends. One guy got into a big argument with his girlfriend. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and he left to take her home. The reaction of the guys was incomprehension: they couldn't understand what her deal was. But it was totally obvious: she had been dragged to the park, her boyfriend was ignoring her, she was bored and felt taken for granted. Throw in whatever other baggage they had and it was perfect kindling for a blowout.

Situations like this have made the idea 
that men and women cannot  understand each other a central tenet of popular culture. This notion is especially popular in conservative circles, and the essential truth of it borne out again and again (and again and again) with guys like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

In this worldview marriage and intimate relationships are cast as a competition rather than a collaboration. Husbands refer to "the wife" or the "ball and chain" and constantly contrive to escape from them like James Bond escaping from a Goldfinger death trap. Wives have keep an eagle eye on their weaselly husbands to keep them from screwing up and running out.

Reading various reactions to President Obama's support for gay marriage, I happened upon Bristol Palin's. She wrote:

In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage.  Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.
Bristol Palin got knocked up by a dolt named Levi that she has since accused of date rape. They planned to get married, until McCain lost the election, then they split, then they got back together, then they split again. Then she sued him to gain sole custody of their child.

This is where the thousands of years of thinking about marriage has gotten her? Fathers bestow upon their sons the worldview that women are psychotic whiny bitching boat anchors only good for one thing. Mothers portray husbands as cheating drunken liars who are only after one thing.

I don't begrudge Bristol Palin for what happened to her. She's got a tough row to hoe. But I can begrudge her sanctimonious sermonizing on the topic of marriage, of which she has utterly no understanding.

Marital discord and divorce can scar kids for life. If, as so many people seem to believe, men and women cannot understand each other, what business do they have getting married? Wouldn't it better for children to be raised by parents who grok each other at the most basic level, regardless of gender? If so many man really can't understand women, they have no business marrying them.

The irony is that if Bristol Palin had been a lesbian, she wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place. She wouldn't have embarrassed her mother and made a mockery of everything she and the Republican Party claim is most holy: the revered institution of heterosexual marriage as the only acceptable situation for child rearing.

Conservatives have long blamed women's rights, divorce laws and the ever-more important role of women in the economy for the problems marriage is facing. And now they insist that the threat of gay marriage is somehow ruining the institution for heterosexuals. It's like me saying that eating has been ruined for me because Adolf Hitler also ate. Perhaps what conservatives fear most is the prospect that men will no longer be lord and master of the castle, or that women won't need men at all.

In the end, the real problem has nothing to do with gays, or women in the workplace, or Mars/Venus incompatibility. It is selfish people who put their own happiness and needs ahead of their spouse's or their family's. People who perceive their partner in marriage as an opponent instead of a team mate. People who are rigid and unwilling to compromise, to give an inch, or to meet another person halfway to achieve a common goal.

Remind you of anyone?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fun Math Facts

From 1960 to 2005 the gross domestic product measured in year-2000 dollars rose an average of $165 billion a year under Republican presidents and $212 billon a year under Democrats. That's a 12.6% under Democrats versus a GOP increase of 10.7%.

And that's a Fun Math Fact!!


Ah, yes...The Walking Taco...a sign that our nation truly is on the decline....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's To Be Done?

The recent shenanigans at JP Morgan Chase have revived calls to break up the banks and bring back Glass Steagal. Considering that the former is coming from the National Review should give everyone some pause. Yet Kling begins down a path here that I think is worth exploring. Actually, it reminds me of another debate which ultimately proved that having two such diametrically opposed viewpoints locked in a narrow minded ideological struggle is fruitless.

Like the seemingly endless debate between Keynesian and laissez faire economics, realism and liberalism (in terms of foreign policy) were locked in opposition as to how to deal with the Soviet Union. Realism explained the world as being in a constant state of anarchy and only through military power and constant distrust of other states will order and peace prevail. Liberalism called for international cooperation amongst the states of the world through peaceful, non-militaristic means.

Both of these ideologies completely failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. One day, the Soviets simply gave up. It was not due to military pressure nor was it due to an international cooperative entity like the UN. It happened because of new thinking and out of the box ideas beginning with the simple fact the world's structure isn't set in stone and is, in fact, constantly in flux.

It is this sort of constructivist thinking that should be applied when considering the relationship between government and the financial sector...indeed, government and the free market in general. Neither Keynesian nor laissez faire economic theories (nor the various offshoots) can adequately explain the global marketplace today. Returning to the type of regulation called for Paul Krugman may not be effective for a wide variety of reasons. And clearly allowing banks like JP Morgan to continue to take the risks that they do isn't an option either. So, let's take a look at ideas from each of the pieces I've linked and see if there is a solution.

First Kling.

I believe that our best hope lies somewhere other than making our largest financial institutions impossible to break. Instead, I think we need to make our financial system easy to fix.

This would eliminate the need for more and more regulation. Kling's idea is to restrict the size of banks but I'm not sure that's the best way for it to be implemented. Wouldn't that be detrimental in the increased competition of the global marketplace?

Next we have the editorial staff at the Trib Review calling for a return to Glass Steagal. Why?

As The Small Business Authority puts it, "We ... need to get back to a capital asset pricing model where high-risk ventures are financed with a higher cost of capital and not government-guaranteed deposits ... ."

If the cost of capital were higher, wouldn't that make the system easier to fix? I honestly don't know. That's why I'm asking.

That brings us to Krugman.

It’s clear, then, that we need to restore the sorts of safeguards that gave us a couple of generations without major banking panics.

Exactly. But again, not the way he is suggesting with more government backed guarantees. Safeguards need to be in place but what sort of form should they take?

The reason why I am asking here is that I want to try to see if we can chuck the old schools of Keynes and laissez faire and adopt some new thinking and new ideas based on the identities that have been defined by the global marketplace.

Falling back into old ideological traps simply won't serve us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Survey about Surveys

I usually take the results of polls and surveys with grain of salt, and now there's good reason that you should too.

A study published by the Pew Research Center indicates that only 9% of households sampled respond to surveys. This is down from 36% in 1997. However, the study concludes that even with this abysmal response rate surveys still adequately represent the population at large.

I am doubtful. The population that responds to surveys is completely self-selected, and certainly has behavioral and preferential differences from the overwhelming majority of the population that doesn't respond to surveys.

The question is, does it matter? The study found that people who respond to surveys are more engaged in civic activity. Which probably means that people who actually go out and vote are more likely to respond to polls, which could mean that polls may still be somewhat accurate gauges of electoral outcomes, even if they don't represent the general sentiment of the population.

But that isn't a given, and it's basically impossible to determine the accuracy of that hypothesis because the tool you need to measure it with doesn't work.

So, exactly why are more people refusing to respond to surveys?

  1. They don't want to waste the time.
  2. They figure it's a gimmick or someone is just trying to collect demographic data in order to sell them something.
  3. They don't think their opinion is anyone's business.
  4. They really don't have an opinion or don't vote or buy a product so they would just be wasting everyone's time.
  5. They don't want to burn cellphone minutes (polling now tries to balance cellphone and land-line respondents).
  6. They are tired of being constantly interrupted.
  7. They believe that poll and survey questions are intentionally slanted to achieve a desired result and are therefore not accurate gauges of their opinion in the first place.

I've declined to respond to surveys for most of these reasons at one time or another, but I'm particularly bothered by "push polls," which have become de rigueur. The the integrity of many polling firms has come into question because of the obvious political slant of their questions and outcomes that tilt consistently in one direction year in and year out.

It's interesting that in the age of Facebook, where everyone is constantly baring their innermost secrets for all the world to see, the number of people who are willing to respond to questions from someone who actually wants their opinion has shrunk dramatically.

I'd ask everyone to respond to the question above, but I know only 9% of you would do it, and the results would be worthless.

A Reset of the Table?

Interesting news on the health care front. 

In 2009 and 2010, total nationwide health care spending grew less than 4 percent per year, the slowest annual pace in more than five decades, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. 

VERY interesting. But why? 

Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say. But some of it seems to be attributable to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care — meaning that the lower rates of growth might persist even as the economy picks up.

Because Medicare and Medicaid are two of the largest contributors to the country’s long-term debts, slower growth in health costs could reduce the pressure for enormous spending cuts or tax increases.

I'd say that's pretty good news. Even more interesting...

Still, the slowdown was sharper than health economists expected, and a broad, bipartisan range of academics, hospital administrators and policy experts has started to wonder if what had seemed impossible might be happening — if doctors and patients have begun to change their behavior in ways that bend the so-called cost curve. 

If the growth in Medicare were to come down to a rate of only 1 percentage point a year faster than the economy’s growth, the projected long-term deficit would fall by more than one-third. 

If this continues to be the case, all of the arguments we have heard about health care may be going out the window. Wow. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Automotive Virtue

Last week George Will wrote about Paul Ingrassia's book on cars and the American dream. In America cars have long been considered symbols of their repressed sexual urges, or expressions of angst by middle-aged men who are suddenly cognizant of their own mortality, or expensive fashion accessories required to keep up with the Joneses.

Right out of the gate Will derided Prius owners as people who preen before the  benighted drivers of Ford F-150 pickup trucks. This reminded me of a conversation a few months ago with a conservative Republican at a dinner party at his house. My wife and I had arrived in her Honda hybrid, and almost immediately he asked me about "my Prius."

It's not mine, it's my wife's, I explained, and it's not a Prius, it's a Civic. As I described the technical differences between the Prius and the Civic he seemed to lose interest, perhaps because it was soon obvious that her choice of vehicle is purely practical rather than ideological. He had a big honking four-wheel drive pickup truck, which was parked in the driveway in front of the garage, alongside a big SUV (they have two kids). He was a nice enough guy, but when we left for the evening he had to make one last snarky comment about our car.

I've encountered people before who seem insulted because I drive fuel-efficient cars (mine is a 12-year-old two-door manual transmission Civic with standard gas engine that gets 35-40 mpg; yet it's miraculously twice the size of the so-called Smart car that gets the same mileage). They seem to think that I'm somehow attacking them by choosing not to waste money on an excessively large, ostentatious and wasteful vehicle.

I learned to drive during the oil crisis in the Seventies. My dad had a big battleship of a pimp-mobile that guzzled gas. The deal was that I could drive it as long as I put gas in it, so I learned early on to prefer efficient cars. Plus, I was always bad at parallel parking, which is so much easier in a small car.

I don't have a problem with people who actually need a pickup to regularly haul stuff for work—it makes no sense to have two cars when one will do. Or people who have six kids and have to get an SUV or minivan to fit everyone in. Or people who live in the boondocks at the end of a muddy, rutted driveway. Or even people who own fishing boats and need a vehicle with a big engine to haul the boat around.

But I just don't get people who commute to work in shiny four-wheel-drive pickup trucks or Hummers that they never use for anything resembling real work. In 33 years we've almost always bought small cars, often hatchbacks, and it's amazing how much stuff you can put in them (we once brought a dishwasher home in the back of a Chevette). When we needed to haul a lot of stuff, we rented a moving van. When we buy furniture or appliances we have the store deliver it (which is also a great way to avoid putting your back out).

People who commute in pickups could save a couple thousand bucks a year in gas money if they drove a regular car and rented a truck from Home Depot for the one time a year they need to haul plywood.

Like George Will, a lot of these people expect me to be smug and superior about the car I drive. I'm not. It's just a conveyance to get me from point A to point B. Perhaps I'm just immune to the automobile industry's cynical marketing ploys, in which they implore you to consider how good you'll look in their car or reduce the whole thing to a ridiculous mathematical equation: Drive = Love.

But let's say that there are Prius owners out there who are smug and proud of their purchase. Just like there are conservatives who are smug and proud about being American and Christian. Why is it wrong for Prius owners to be proud that they made a conscious decision to save money, generate less pollution and use less gas? And why is it right for American Christians to be proud of something that they lucked into, simply by being born here, completely beyond their control?

It's often said that when a middle-aged man buys a red Ferrari it represents his lost youth. If a conservative buys an F-150 to commute in does it represent his independence and toughness, or his vanity, selfishness and wastefulness? If a liberal buys a Prius it represents what? Efficiency? Moderation? Thrift? Economy? Frugality? Abstemiousness? Self-sacrifice? Aren't these all positive conservative virtues? Conservatives are ever more frequently compelling others by force of law to follow the virtues they hold dear with marriage and abortion. Why is it wrong for liberals to encourage others to pursue similarly positive virtues of efficiency and thrift that will produce cheaper gas and cleaner air for all? Why is it acceptable to curtail marital and reproductive freedom, and unacceptable to mandate greater fuel efficiency standards?

For their own completely selfish reasons conservatives should be encouraging others to drive efficient cars, take the bus, and build light rail systems: if more people did the price of gas would go down. The Iranians and the Saudis and the Venezuelans and the Russians and the Iraqis—the foreign powers that conservatives always fret about—would get less of our money. Fewer people would suffer from emphysema and asthma and health care costs would go down.

From any practical perspective, it makes no sense for conservatives to denigrate efficient cars and those who prefer them. Yet they seem insecure unless others validate their purchasing decisions by emulating them. If they think hybrids are an insult to them, perhaps it's their guilt talking.

Many people justify buying big cars by saying that they need more power. Or that SUVs have better traction. Or that small cars are dangerous, or they're uncomfortable, or they don't have the features, etc. I have a friend who's 6'5" and 350 lbs who drives a Volkswagen beetle. Big people can fit into small cars just fine. Hybrids have all the modern technological and safety features.

Passengers in SUVs are much more likely to die in single-vehicle rollovers than in regular cars. SUVs are also more likely to cause deaths in other vehicles. If you buy an SUV to be safer because your car is bigger, it's only true if you hit a smaller car, which means you're much more likely to kill someone else. Isn't thinking your life is more important than someone else's a selfish, sinful pride? There could be little children in that Prius you cream, or a pregnant woman whose fetus might be killed! And if you hit another SUV the advantage disappears. Arms races typically result in mutually assured destruction.

And if safety is the real concern, reducing the speed limit from 70 mph to 55 mph would reduce the force of automobile collisions by more than 60%. That's because the kinetic energy of a collision is proportional to mass times velocity squared. That would save thousands of lives every year, as well as reduce gas consumption significantly. And there's a precedent: Dick Cheney's conservative hero Richard M. Nixon pegged the speed limit to 55 during the Arab oil embargo in 1973.

Here in Minnesota many people insist that they need a big four-wheel drive car because of the snow in the winter. I've lived here all my life, and front-wheel drive is all you need in the city or the suburbs. But a lot of people just don't understand physics: they think that four-wheel drive will let them start and stop on a dime. It just ain't so.

About a dozen years ago I was driving across town in a terrible snowstorm. I saw a state patrol car stopped on the freeway, lights flashing, warning off other drivers from a small pileup in the left lane just after my exit. I moved to the right and slowed down. While I watched, a big four-wheel-drive pickup truck came up from behind, sped past me and ran smack into the rear end of the cop car.

That happened partly because of the false sense of confidence drivers get from the feeling of control they think they have in four-wheel drive vehicles. They might be able to get you going, but with all that mass they can't stop on slick roads any faster than regular cars. As my dad always says (and I roll my eyes when he says it), the most important part of the car is the nut behind the wheel.

Metaphorically speaking, this country is obliviously tooling along in the left lane, about to smack into the rear end of climate change and $5 a gallon gas. The people buying fuel-efficient cars are just getting into the right lane and slowing down to avoid the massive pileup. Don't hate on them: the lives and money they save may be yours.

Fun Math Facts

Since 1932, Democratic Presidents have created 73.4 million new jobs, Republicans have created only 34.8 million. That's an average of 1.7 million jobs a year for Democrats and 967,000 jobs for Republicans.

In case your having trouble with the math that's 38.6 more jobs under Democrats since FDR which is more jobs than the Republicans have created all together during that time.

And that's a Fun Math Fact!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The President of RandLand

The New York Times' recent piece on Paul Ryan confirms that he is the best candidate for my new country of RandLand.

His prescriptions in the Republican budget plan he devised have become his party’s marching orders: cut income tax rates and simplify the code, privatize Medicare, shrink the food-stamp and Medicaid programs and turn almost all control over to the states, and reduce domestic federal spending to its smallest share of the economy since World War II.

I can feel the erections sprouting up around the right wing blogsphere.

What do you say, folks? Let's get RandLand formed and put this man in charge!

Sunday Funny

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fun Math Facts

Since this is an election year and I'm continually reminded that I'm not a logical or mathematical thinker, I thought it would be entirely appropriate to start an ongoing feature here at Markadelphia: Fun Math Facts.

The first one comes from Bloomberg News.

The BGOV Barometer shows that since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures.

For those of you logical mathematical minded folks, that's a difference of 18 million. Wow!

And that is a Fun Math Fact!!!

Help Me To Understand

OK, help me out here folks. Yesterday, Neal Bootz wrote

Obama really has nothing at all to campaign on. He has NO record of success on the one issue that in poll after poll turns up on the top of the list of voter’s concerns; the economy. Obama has the worst economic record of any president since World War II, and he knows it. It’s a record he knows he cannot run on.

Now, obviously there are many more than Neal that share this sentiment. Last in lines chides me constantly in the same manner even though he can easily click on "Obama's policies" in the tag below and see a veritable plethora of posts.

So what goes through Neal's brain (and others like him) when they see this.

And this...

The second picture I pulled from here....the president's own web site!

Help me out, folks. Is this like a nervous tick or something? "No record of success" the economy? "Worst economic record of any president?" "A record he knows he can't run on" even though it's right there on his web site and he mentions private sector job growth almost as much as Rudy Giuliani mentioned 9-11?

Seriously, WTF???!!!??

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bachmann A Go Go

Nikto has covered the Michele Bachmann "I'm Swiss-I'm not Swiss" story quite well but I wanted to throw an extra thought into the mix.

Her hurried and nervous retraction is further evidence of how powerful the right wing media industrial complex is in those circles. In short, she knows who her sugar daddy is...:

Here's Wonkette's take on the whole thing which is a fucking riot!

Bachmann Is Really a Double Agent!

After claiming Swiss citizenship in March of this year, Michele Bachmann has defected back to the United States and renounced her Swiss citizenship.

In her inimitable style, Bachmann again blamed it all on someone else:
In her statement, Bachmann said that "my dual Swiss citizenship ... was conferred upon me by operation of Swiss law" when she married her husband, Marcus, in 1978. 
Bachmann spokesman Becky Rogness said confusion arose over Bachmann's citizenship because the couple "recently updated their documents." She declined to elaborate.
Yes, I update my documents with the Swiss embassy at least twice a year. I completely understand.

This was a total airhead moment on Bachmann's part. One in a very long series of total airhead moments. For it she has received an endless series of derisive attacks. But many of those attacks came from the right, with some conservatives demanding her immediate resignation.

This isn't the first time I've confronted the issue of dual citizenship, so my incredulity at the depth of Bachmann's foolishness is genuine. Almost 20 years ago a former boss of mine found out that he could claim Irish citizenship because his grandfather was born in Ireland. He was considering going to Europe for work, and an Irish passport would allow him to work anywhere in the EU without work visas. I was shocked that a friend would abandon his own country this way. I would never consider such a thing.

It still escapes me how the United States allows people with dual citizenship and obviously divided loyalties to vote or contribute to political campaigns, like Sheldon Adelson's wife's Israeli-American daughters who contributed millions to Gingrich's campaign. People who apply for dual citizenship are essentially foreign agents, and in Bachmann/Palin-speak are not "real Americans."

However, I emphatically consider people who go through the process of naturalization and take the oath of citizenship to be completely American—that's really the whole point of this country: people who choose to come here and become citizens want to be American. They often have a better understanding of what America really is than people who were born here and smugly take everything for granted, ignorantly insisting everything about the United States has to be better than every other country.

Bachmann's stance on immigration has been rather strident, so you would think that she would be particularly sensitive to this issue. My guess is that she did this because one of her kids thought it would be cool to get Swiss citizenship. In a moment of doting parental idiocy she forgot how the Republican gotcha game works and foolishly thought she could do something nice for her kids.

This whole episode exposes the truth behind the Republican notion of American nationalism and exceptionalism: it's all just a charade and a tactic. No one really believes any of it. Questions of immigration and patriotism and flag pins and the president's birth certificate are just hammers to use on enemies for political advantage.

What's truly incredible is that for a time there were people who thought Bachmann was fit to be president. I just hope that the voters of  Minnesota's sixth district—where Bachmann no longer lives after redistricting—have had their fill of her antics and decide that she's not fit to serve in Congress.

'Tis A Wonder

It is absolutely uncanny the ability the right has to take a simple fact in reality and completely turn it around so it's all the government's fault.

Take Kevin Baker's recent post about 401Ks. 

The naivete here is so monumental that someone seriously needs to commission a study on how one falls for a colossal amount of bullshit. He's actually doing the Rove on himself! Let me see if I can cut through it.

Kevin, the government doesn't want to take your retirement money. In fact, the reverse is true. The private financial institutions of this country want to take PUBLIC money (that's the money you have been paying into Social Security, Medicare etc) and play casino with it. These same private financial institutions want you to believe..well...what you erroneously believe in your (ahem) paranoia.

Let's review the six steps, shall we?

1. Go directly after the other side’s strengths.

2. Do not accept the truth or the obvious.

3. Instead, make claims that cloud the issue.

4. Some will believe you.

5. Others will be confused.

6. Your opponent’s strong point will be neutralized.

Thursday, May 10, 2012