Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Of Course the Media is Biased – Towards Republicans – Why Does Anyone Doubt This

Graphic Evidence of Media Preferences

The Sunday morning talks shows are fairly influential, in part because even when viewers turn them off the participants still make news in the print and internet areas.  And of course Republicans are much more likely to be on these shows than Democrats.

The general impression is rooted in fact: the Sunday shows love Republicans. “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” “State of the Union,” and “Fox News Sunday,” hoping to reflect and help shape the conventional wisdom for the political world, collectively favor GOP guests over Democratic guests every year, but who were the big winners in 2013?

The above chart shows every political figure who made 10 or more Sunday show appearances this year, with red columns representing Republicans and blue columns representing Democrats. For 2013, the race wasn’t especially close – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) easily came out on top, making 27 appearances this year. That works out to an average of one appearance every 1.9 weeks (or 2.25 Sunday show appearances a month, every month for a year).

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who led the race for much of the year, ended up in second place with 24 appearances over 52 weeks. As a consolation prize, it’s worth noting that McCain made 21 Sunday show appearances in 2012, so while he couldn’t match Rogers’ 2013 tally, at least the Arizona Republican saw a significant increase.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), who hasn’t served in public office since resigning in disgrace 15 years ago, was tied for third place with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of only a few Democrats to make the cut.

In all, 10 of the top 13 are Republicans, as are six of the top seven.

So what to expect in 2014.  Well Republicans will charge that the networks are biased because they let a few Democrats on, because as everyone knows bias to Republicans is letting anyone other than a Republican express their views.

Right Wing Bird Watching – How to Spot the True Conservative

In the Wintertime, When They Are All Bundled Up

With the cold weather season now in full swing it becomes difficult to tell conservatives apart from ordinary people, because everyone is heavily jacketed and conservatives may look just like normal people.   So here is a helpful holiday guide.

If the person is discussing health insurance, and chuckling at the thought of low income families being denied access to Medicaid by Republican governors, that’s a conservative.

If you run into an individual proclaiming Santa Claus is real, white and against same sex marriage, you have found a conservative.

If a person crosses your path who believes freedom of speech means an unlimited ability to drown out opposing speech with unlimited spending, congratulations, you are seeing a conservative.

If you hear a citizen complaining that government should not be allowing the subsidized cost of flood insurance for luxury beachfront home to go up, that’s right, you have run into a conservative.

If you find a person who believes government deficits created by increasing spending are bad for the economy but that government deficits created by decreasing taxes on the wealthy are good for the economy, nice going, you have spotted a conservative.

If you are looking at a person who thinks government should stay out of people’s private lives and should put people in jail for engaging in homosexual activity, there it is, you located another conservative.

If you are in the doctor’s office and hear a person bemoaning government interference in health care and then urging government to tell doctors what they can and cannot say to women patients, congratulations, you are looking at a conservative.

If you find a person who believes tax cuts pay for themselves and help balance the budget, there you go again, you are meeting with a conservative.

If you are listening to a person complain about too much government spending, but never names a single major program they would cut, wow, you are looking at a conservative.

If you meet with a person that thinks three year old children who are brought into this country illegally by their parents are hardened criminals, that’s right, you are seeing a conservative.

 If you are hearing a person who is a legislator and is stating that government should not ever help people with their health insurance while he or she is on the way to get medical care using their fantastic government subsidized health insurance, you have found the conservative in their natural habitat.

So there it is, the seasonal guide to finding a conservative this winter.  But not to worry if you don’t remember all of the above.  Because if you are talking with a person who has a high income, several houses, a couple of gas hogging cars, children in private school and who is just mad, angry, mean and vicious towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them or have an equal economic status with them, then you have found all the conservatives you really want to ever meet.

Monday, December 30, 2013

How Stupid Are American Consumers? Well Stupid Enough to Pay $500.00 for a Blender

Pitching Products to the High Income, Low Intelligence Buyer

Apparently one of the products one can buy to impress others with their kitchen skills is a Vitamix Blender.  And Businessweek, probably astounded at the level of indulgence that Americans engage is telling everyone about how the product works.

The Cult of Vitamix
Crazy looking?   -  No a mirror image of an idiot who buys a $449.00 blender

The Vitamix 5200 high-performance blender is squat, black, and rubberized, loud as a leaf blower and powerful enough to pulverize a steer. Its 2-horsepower engine approaches the strength of a lawn mower. At 11 pounds, it’s as heavy as a cannonball. The weight and a sheath of thick thermoset plastic damp vibrations and keep the blender from flying off the counter. A Vitamix blender is a symphony of precision engineering, with motor, container, and blades working in powerful harmony. The container is curved at the bottom to create a vortex that pulls food through the blades, which are surprisingly dull. That’s because a Vitamix doesn’t chop or slice, as we imagine blenders do. Instead, the angled blades, which travel at speeds up to 240 miles per hour, simply obliterate whatever is inside. The process creates enough friction to boil soup. “They are essentially bashing the materials to death,” says Greg Moores, the company’s vice president for engineering, “breaking down the cell walls to emulsify them at a molecular level. Theoretically, this is healthier for you because it emulsifies plant matter more than your teeth can by chewing it.” The 5200, which retails for $449, is actually one of the cheaper models. All told, Vitamix expects to sell 1.4 million blenders this year.

In other words, it’s a blender.  But Americans are snapping this up, after all why pay $20.00 for a blender when you can buy a perfectly good one and pay $500.00.  A person who does this must be 25 times as smart as the person who buys a perfectly acceptable blender for $20.00.  Actually we need to invert the numbrs, the person who buys a Vitamix is probably 1/25th as smart as the person who spends $20.00.

Of course, this is why the nation cannot afford health care for everyone.  Paying for that might mean some folks could only spend $400.00 for a blender.

Republican Health Care Policies are Making the Poor, the Southern and the Racial Minorities the Victim of Not Having Health Insurance

Business as Usual for Republicans

One of the greatest tragedies of 2013 has been the failure of Republican led states to expand Medicaid to take advantage of federal government payments for enrollees under the new guidelines.  What will this mean, well here is the short answer.

Figure 2: Nationwide, 4.8 million uninsured nonelderly adults below poverty may fall into the coverage gap.

It was always the case that the nation's medically uninsured were disproportionately non-white, poor and southern. These people were the prime targets of the Affordable Care Act, which aimed to bring them coverage in part by the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid.

Two surveys released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation show how the demographics of the uninsured will change, thanks to the ACA. More precisely, the surveys show how they will change as a result of inaction -- the failure of 25 states to expand Medicaid, which the ACA's drafters expected to address the coverage problems of the poor. One study examines the overall characteristics of the new uninsured, and the other focuses on their racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The short version is this: henceforth, America's uninsured population will be composed even more disproportionately of minorities, the poor and residents of the South. 

Wow, to paraphrase what Pogo has said way in the past, “we have met the enemy and it is Republicans”.

How can any politician, any American,  any decent person know this and still oppose Medicaid expansion?  Well maybe none of those descriptive terms apply to Republicans who have blocked Medicaid expansion.  But there is one description of these politicans that does apply.  Each and every one of them has access to a fantastic government subsidized health insurance plan.  Every single one.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Patina of the Jewish Community Supporting Intellectual Honesty and Freedom Takes a Hit – From the Jewish Student Organization Hillel

The True Test of Freedom of Speech Advocates is Supporting Hostile, Offensive Speech

One of the many good things of having Jewish heritage (as this author does) is the glory of open and honest intellectual debate.  Jewish culture has a long and deep history, particularly in the United States of being an bastion of open query, regardless of the subject.  But some in the Jewish community are abandoning that culture when it comes to hostile speech.

Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
Swarthmore’s Hillel group decided not to abide by guidelines prohibiting collaboration with speakers or groups deemed unsupportive of Israel.

At Harvard, the Jewish student group Hillel was barred from co-sponsoring a discussion with a Palestinian student group. At Binghamton University, a Hillel student leader was forced to resign his position after showing a film about Palestinians and inviting the filmmaker’s brother to speak. And on many other campuses, Hillel chapters have been instructed to reject collaboration with left-leaning Jewish groups.

And a Jewish scholar as famous as Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard legal giant who should know better, apparently doesn’t.

Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School who was once a faculty adviser for the Harvard Hillel, said in an interview: “I don’t think this is a free-speech issue. The people who want divestment and boycotts have plenty of opportunity to speak on campus. The question is a branding one. You can see why Hillel does not want its brand to be diluted.”

But some students, to their great credit, are going ahead anyway.

Joshua Wolfsun, a student on the Swarthmore Hillel board, said, “There are a lot of really smart people across the political spectrum on Israel that we want to talk to, and we feel that Hillel should not have a political litmus test on who is allowed and who is not.”

In a manifesto, the Swarthmore Hillel students proclaimed: “All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.”

And if Hillel wants to preserve its brand, it can best do so by being a beacon of open thought and debate.  After all the best way to defeat those who oppose Israel and would destroy the Jewish state is to bring them into the light of day, bring their hatred and desire for oppression into public view.  Doing that would strengthen the Hillel brand.  Suppressing free and open debate will only destroy it.  And if Hillel is successful in its campaign to stop students from engaging in discussions on any topics with anyone then it deserves the damage that will be done to its brand and it can join the other irrelevancies, like Rush Limbaugh, whose concept of open and unrestricted debates is one that contains only one side, 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tobacco Companies Are Fighting Efforts by Low Income Nations to Reduce Smoking

The Tobacco Industry – Why Should Your Health and Your Life Stand in the Way of Our Profits?

During the holiday season there is all that stuff about loving and caring for one’s fellow man and woman, but apparently the tobacco industry and its leaders are just flat out immune to such ideas.  Is smoking harmful?  Well there is this.

More than five million people die annually of smoking-related causes, more than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the World Health Organization.

And even if those numbers are exaggerated by a 20-30% it is still millions of preventable deaths.  And what is the tobacco industry doing about smoking in the poorer nations?

Conor Ashleigh for The New York Times
A cigarette display in Australia, where the tobacco industry lost a case last year. Philip Morris International has filed suit under an investment treaty.

Alarmed about rising smoking rates among young women, Namibia, in southern Africa, passed a tobacco control law in 2010 but quickly found itself bombarded with stern warnings from the tobacco industry that the new statute violated the country’s obligations under trade treaties.

“We have bundles and bundles of letters from them,” said Namibia’s health minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi.

Three years later, the government, fearful of a punishingly expensive legal battle, has yet to carry out a single major provision of the law, like limiting advertising or placing large health warnings on cigarette packaging.

And yes, this is apparently a concerted, coordinated effort on the part of tobacco companies.

Tobacco companies are objecting to laws in both developed and developing nations. Industry officials say they respect countries’ efforts to protect public health, but face difficulties promoting their brands as more countries ban cigarette ads. Often, the only space left is the packaging, and even that is shrinking, with some countries requiring that packages be plastered with shocking pictures of people with cancer; in Australia, brand names are reduced to uniform block letters on drab olive backgrounds.

“Removing our trademarks removes our assurance to customers of the origin and quality of our lawfully available products, meaning they and their characteristics become indistinguishable from those of our competitors,” said Gareth Cooper, group head of regulation at British American Tobacco.

As for the tobacco company executives themselves, well one can easily imagine them spending Christmas Eve telling their little boys and girls how the presents they are getting were paid for by making millions of men and woman seriously ill and by causing millions of deaths.  Why would they say such things?  Well apparently they not only don’t care, they don’t see anything wrong with their practices and are probably pretty proud of what they do.

The following though did not happen.

Tobacco Companies Come Out in Favor
Of Increasing Incidence of Malaria in
Developing Nations

Say It Will Improve Health

Washington (UPS)  A group of tobacco companies said today that they favor an increase in the number of cases of malaria in sub tropical and tropical nations.  “Malaria has been much maligned”  the group said, “and the positive aspects of the disease have been underreported.  For example, people who have malaria do not have a problem with obesity.  In fact, we think malaria can be a leading tool in the battle against obesity in developed nations”.

The group went on to add that their support for increasing the incidence of malaria was in no way connected to the purchase by several tobacco companies of the leading manufacturer of malaria drugs.

Whiney Republicans: We Win Elections When We Nominate True Conservative Candidates

It’s Official – In Virginia All Three Statewide Hard Line Conservatives Lost

The 2013 elections in Virginia featured a cast of Republicans that would make Attila the Hun blush.  Running for Governor was a staunch so called conservative who would use the state governmental powers to control women’s private lives. Running for Lt. Gov. was a person so radical that even hard line conservatives opposed his candidacy.  And running for Attorney General was the typical conservative in a moderate state, a conservative who tries to hide his radical views.

The results are finally in, the AG race being so close that a recount was necessary.  All three Republicans lost in a state that almost always, until now, votes the opposite of the party in the White House.  Now many Republicans will say they were just outspent, but the truth is (1) many money supporters of the Party were appalled by the candidates and refused to contribute very much and (2) the Republican ticket had plenty of money.

In fact the problem for the Republicans was not that they were not well known enough, it is that they were too well known.  When engaged voters know the true positions of radical conservatives, radical conservatives lose. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wondering When Flyers Would Start to Feel the Impact of a Government Allowed Airline Monopoly?

Here It Is

The idea that government economic regulation is for the benefit of consumers always draws a big laugh at a comedy show.  And in the last several years the government has moved to allow airlines to create monopolies, each major carrier getting to dominate a destination of its choice.  So here is the first fruit of planting the anti-consumer tree.

Value of Frequent-Flyer Miles Will Soon Drop for Delta and United Travelers
Lined Up and Ready To Take You For a Ride

The number of award miles needed to snag a seat in the premium cabin will rise dramatically next year at Delta (DAL) and United (UAL)—and airline mile collectors are fuming.

The biggest changes in both airlines’ loyalty programs will be for international travel in first and business class, where some award levels on United will jump as much as 87 percent. To be awarded a first-class ticket now from North America to the Middle East, for example, a traveler has to spend 150,000 frequent-flyer miles. Beginning Feb. 1, that award seat will require 280,000 miles when flying on one of United’s partner airlines. The same trip on United’s own planes will require 180,000 miles, up from 150,000. From North America to Europe, first class on a partner airline will rise 63 percent, from 135,000 to 220,000 miles.

Delta is introducing increases on June 1, with round-trip business class from the U.S. to Europe rising by 25,000 miles, to 125,000 miles; round-trip flights to Asia will increase 20,000 miles, to 140,000. (Delta plans smaller award level hikes from Feb. 1 to June 1.) The new award levels for coach seats are largely unchanged, with only minimal, 5,000-mile hikes on some routes.

No need to thank the Obama Administration.  Just knowing the air traveler is not only getting hosed today, but will be getting even more shafted in the future is thanks enough. 

GM To Invest $1.3 Billion in Flint, Michigan and Other Hard Hit Midwestern Cities

Just More Return from the Government Investment

Conservatives hated the Obama administration bailout of GM and Chrysler, and in the end it did cost the treasury about $10 billion.  But in business terms, this was not a cost, it was an investment.  As events continue to unfold, it is clear that the government had a terrific investment in saving GM and Chrysler, not just in social and economic terms, but in a financial sense as well.

Years from now, once the financial accounting is done and once news can be reported objectively it will be shown that not only did the U. S. government get its money back from its investment in the auto industry, it made a huge profit as well.  This profit will have come from not only increased tax revenues from a successful and profitable industry and its employees, but from the savings in economic assistance that would have had to have been made had GM and Chrysler, as Mitt Romney put it, gone bankrupt.

Conservatives despise this outcome, for several reasons.

  1. The success of the auto bailout is something done by the Obama administration.  Anything done by President Obama is to be hated, no matter how successful.

  1. The benefits here were largely for working families, not the wealthy.  Conservatives believe that any government assistance should go only to the wealthy in the form of business subsidies and tax breaks.  Benefits that accrue to working men and women are just plain socialism or communism.

So the news that GM will invest $1.3 billion in new production facilities just horrifies conservatives.  Look at where the money is going.

G.M. said it would invest $600 million in the Flint facility, including building a new paint shop that would make its trucks more competitive in the expanding pickup segment.

The company is also spending $493 million at another Michigan factory to produce a new transmission that increases fuel economy and to expand capacity for a high-tech V-6 engine. The rest of the new spending will be at plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The beneficiary here, in addition to GM and the communities will be UAW members.  How terrible, just an awful thing to happen to conservatives in the holiday season.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How Awful is the Washington Epithets Owner Dan Snyder - In Addition to Mismanaging a Storied NFL Franchise

He Thinks He Can Swoop Down in His Private Jet and Buy Off Native Americans Offended by His Team’s Name

Most of the future is difficult to predict, get 10% of one’s forecasts correct and one is hailed a visionary.  But some things in the future can be predicted with relative certainty.  At some time the professional team in Washington D. C. will drop its racially charged name that offends Native Americans and others, just as Miami University and Stanford University have done.  It is only a matter of time, and reaching the limit of insentivity and stubbornness of the team’s owner.

That owner, Dan Snyder made billions in the private sector, although given his subsequent actions in owning the Washington team it is hard to see that he has enough managerial skills to successfully operate a hot dog stand.  Mr. Snyder is a man who believes things can be accomplished solely with money, and has used his to obtain over the hill players whose salaries and skills are greatly inflated, and to obtain celebrity coaches.  The result - Washington will finish a dismal season near the bottom of the league, again,  and not have its high draft choice which it traded away.

As far as the controversy over the name of the team, Mr. Snyder apparently thinks by showing up at a few Reservations in his sleek, expensive private jet he can somehow bond with the poverty stricken areas.

Hope arrived in a private jet. By the time the aircraft with the Washington Redskins’ Indian-head logo on its tail landed in New Mexico, the tribal council of the Pueblo of Zuni was ready to greet its prominent visitor.    
Daniel Snyder, the owner of one of the NFL’s most profitable football franchises, had asked to see firsthand the struggles of the tribe living amid red-hued mesas. To do that, he needed to see this: A cracked indoor swimming pool that had teemed with children and the elderly before it was condemned about three years ago. A swath of reservation land that had been set aside for hotels and restaurants that were never built because the funding didn’t match the dream. A wellness center where a Zumba class was about to start — one way the community is fighting an alarming diabetes rate.

Yep, drop in to a low income area in a private jet,  that will show the folks how much you understand their plight.  And drop in to a Native American communit with an offensive symbol of them on the plans, that will show the folks how much you understand their plight.  As for the problem with the team name, Mr. Snyder obviously feels he can buy a solution, just as he thinks the solution to every problem is to buy off the people.

The team could soon make a financial gesture to address some of these problems, including selling popcorn from a South Dakota tribe at the games. The move, like the name debate itself, promises to draw praise and criticism from the community that has the most at stake: Native Americans.

Now obviously the huge socio-economic problems of the Native American communities take precedence over the controversy of the name of the Washington franchise in the NFL.  This story though is not about that, it is about the ignorance and arrogance and hostility of a man who cannot understand why his money cannot buy success and acquiescence to his desire to preserve bigotry.

Yeah, sell popcorn made by Native Americans at the game, that will solve everything.

Bankrupt, Empty Airport for Sale in Spain – Expect Billionaires to Step Up and Buy It

Because You Cannot Have Enough Toys

Spain did a fantastic job of messing up their economy, followed by the Europeans doing a fantastic  job of imposing harsh conditions on Spain, messing up their economy even more and preventing that nation from recovering.  As a result there is now an airport in Spain that went bankrupt and is abandoned.

Ciudad Real's Central airport, about 150 miles south of Madrid, opened in 2008. The airport's operator went bankrupt last year after it failed to draw enough traffic, becoming known as one of the country's "ghost airports."

And yes, this is the result of stupid banking, stupid unregulated banking.

Its construction was heavily funded by the Caja Castilla La Mancha savings bank — the first of Spain's troubled savings banks to be bailed out, in 2010.

So here’s a great opportunity to pick up a nice new airport for about ten cents on the dollar.

A barely used Spanish airport that cost some 1.1 billion euros (£900 million) to build and became a symbol of the country's wasteful spending ahead of an economic downturn has gone on sale for a minimum price of 100 million euros. . . .

Spanish news agency Europa Press said the company's receiver put the airport up for sale Monday and is accepting offers until 27 December.

So everyone should suspect that a couple of billionaires, or maybe just one, will get together and buy it and operate it.  No, they won’t operate it as a commercial airport, they would operate it as a private airport, private jets only.  The wealthy have just about insulated themselves from traveling with the rest of us, and now they have the opportunity to insulate themselves completely.  The airport could serve as a gateway to Europe for all those wealthy people who need the extra time to argue for more tax cuts.

Your own airport, what to get for the billionaires who have everything.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why This Forum Will Not Publish on December 25

Didn’t Happen, But Could

[Editor's note:  Once again the DPE steps over the line.]

The National Association of Professional Victims
1642 K Street
Washington, DC  20302

From the Desk of Sarah Palin
Founding Member

Dear Dismal Political Economist:

It has come to our attention that in previous years you have published commentary on Christmas Day.  This letter is to inform you that we are aware of this, that we will not tolerate this in the future and that if you continue to conduct your War on Christmas by publishing on Christmas Day we shall have to take action.

Christmas is the national holiday of our national religion, the only true religion.  Liberal/Socialist/Commies like you think that the idea of Freedom of Religion means you can practice any old religion you want, or no religion at all and that Freedom of Speech allows you to express your opinion openly and honestly.   This is not true, that is not what is in the Constitution and Freedom of Religion really means that Todd and I get to practice our religion by imposing it on you.  This is for your own good.  And that Freedom of Speech thingee is reserved only for people like that Duck guy, to condemn the horrible people like gays, blacks, ect.

Jesus loves you, but Todd and I and Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the deeply devoutly religious people in the country think you are a flaming ***hole.

Merry Christmas you blasphemer, may you rot in hell.

Your loving, caring and compassionate friend


Monday, December 23, 2013

Sordid Media Love Affair with Rep. Paul Ryan Continues and Other Short Takes on the News

The Dismal State of America, December 2013

The new year cannot get here fast enough, as 2013 closes out as in a worse than usual day.  Here is just some of the ugliness.

  1. The news media has been in love with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  Mr. Ryan is a charlatan, his so-called budget proposals are filled with bogus numbers and assumptions and he would destroy Medicare, one of the few highly successful government programs.  Mr. Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray crafted a budget compromise that will remove budget issues from the political table for a while.  Mr. Ryan is getting all the headlines.

Of course, Ms. Murray is both a woman and a Democrat, so one can understand how the press simply ignores her role.  But the fact that they will not cast a critical, objective eye on Mr. Ryan is just another example of how ignorant and lazy reporting has become.

  1. With a Faux Fox News Anchor asserting that Santa Claus was and is white Fox News has reclaimed the lead from MSNBC in their race to the bottom.  One shudders to think where that race goes from here.

  1. It is time to stop blaming the gun lobby for the lack of firearm regulation in the United States.  The gun lobby is not a determinant of the sorry state of guns run amok, it is a reflection of public attitude.  The American people, for reasons beyond comprehension believe that guns should be allowed without limits in American households, despite the tragedy and horror and criminal acts lax gun attitudes bring.  Until that changes effective gun laws will never be enacted, even if the NRA disappeared tomorrow.

  1. John Boehner’s outburst against the ultra radical conservative groups is just another indication he does not plan to be Speaker in 2015.

  1. Once the problems with enrolling in the new health care plans are worked out does anyone think the news media will report that with the same intensity they reported the failures?  Yes, the same people on WKRP who believe turkeys can fly.

  1. Republicans have given up all pretense that they are using extortion on the debt ceiling as a governing tactic.  Rep. Ryan said they have to get something for agreeing to a rise.  No condemnation of Mr. Ryan holding the economy hostage has appeared in any news media.

  1. Democrats are going to accept some level of cuts in food assistance programs in the new farm bill that should pass next year..  Exactly how does that help anyone, how does it make anyone’s life better?  Well the part of the population that feels children should go hungry because they had the temerity to be born into poor families will feel good.

  1. The University of Alabama has signed its football coach to a long term contracts with terms so generous that the University is ashamed to release them.

  1. The most interesting races in 2014 will not be in the general election, they will be in the Republican primaries. In Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran is probably doomed, in South Carolina Lindsey Graham is in big trouble, in Kentucky Mitch McConnell could lose and there will probably be at least one or two more surprises along the way. 

  1. Fortune Magazine has Elon Musk as its person of the year.  Yeah, the symbol of America is a man who is making automobiles that Americans cannot afford.  Yes, the market for luxury goods is what is important.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Intolerant Conservatives Rush to Condemn Firing of TV Star Who Voiced Hatred, Religious Prejudice and Homophobia

Free Speech Does Not Mean the Freedom to Harm One’s Employer

Apparently conservatives felt a little levity was needed for the holiday season, so they got together to defend the right a of TV star of something called Duck Dynasty to mouth hatred and prejudice, and still keep his job on TV.  Here’s a part of what the center of this controversy said, and yes we are embarrassed to even reproduce it.

A&E, which airs “Duck Dynasty,” put Robertson on indefinite suspension from the show on Wednesday because of a controversial interview with GQ, in which, he commented on his inability to comprehend homosexuality or societies “without Jesus.”

“That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical,” Robertson told Drew Magery in GQ.

When Magery asked him to define “sin,” Robertson responded, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

In another part of the interview, Robertson equated Shintoism and Islam with Nazism.

“All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero,” he said. “That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

Now Freedom of Speech says that this gentleman(?) has the right to say whatever he thinks and feels.  But somehow the defenders of this man, people like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, all of whom almost certainly agree with these thoughts, think that this man should continue to be able to work in the entertainment industry, should continue to be on a TV show even as he offends viewers and embarrasses his employer. 

Jindal’s primary criticism centers on what he calls an infringement of free speech.

“I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended ,” Jindal said.

On Thursday, Faith Driven Consumer, a Christian organization, also came to Robertson’s defense by launching IStandWithPhil.com petition campaign and calling for Robertson’s full reinstatement to Duck Dynasty.

Mr. Robertson is not losing his job as a violation of Freedom of Speech.  He is losing his job because he is acting against the interests of his employer, driving away customers of network.   Paula Deen can make all the racist remarks she wants to, but this does not require stores to carry her products.  The entertainment industry and public relations activities use celebreties in order to get consumers to associate the celebrity with them and their products and their company.  For doing nothing but being famous, these celebrities get a lot of money.  But there is no requirement for a company to continue public association with a celebrity who brings shame and embarassment and disgust to that company.

But the thing that really gets everyone laughing here is the plea for “tolerance” by some of the most intolerant men and women on the planet.  Here is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, as intolerant a person as can be found in public life.

“If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson,” Cruz wrote on his Facebook page. “Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job. In a free society, anyone is free to disagree with him—but the mainstream media should not behave as the thought police censoring the views with which they disagree.”

Of course nobody is censoring this speech, all his employer is doing is protecting their interests, you know, keeping viewers and preventing them from turning away in disgust from this person and watching other shows.  The very fact that Mr. Robertson did have his views published is proof that there is not censorship, that he is free to express his opinions (however offensive they are) and that he is free to get his opinions published.  There is no attempt to get GQ to censor the remarks, to punish them for printing these remarks or even to condemn that publication.  That is free speech.

As for Mr. Cruz, maybe before the next time he votes to allow things like religious services in public schools he ought to look up the meaning of the word ‘tolerance’.  Obviously that is something that was skipped over in his education.

Finally, we are actually glad that the opinions of Mr. Robertson, whose views reflect those of Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and others on the extreme right are published.  These people hide behind a facade,  of attempting to be shown as reasonable people.   The more their true nature is exposed the faster they will pass into oblivion, with future generations wondering why anyone ever paid any attention to them at all.

Nothing is more destructive to hatred and prejudice and malice and bigotry than the light of day, the exposure to the general public and the widespread knowledge of what these so called conservatives really think.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Mexico Becomes Another State to Recognize Marriage Equality – A Horrible Holiday Present for Conservatives –

A Great One for Those Who Actually Revere and Respect the Law and Rights

[Update:  In Utah a Federal judge has ruled that Utah's state constitutional ban against same sex marriage is unconstitutional at the Federal level. The logic in the ruling is the same as the New Mexico court, the state of Utah did not and could not present a reason for banning same sex marriage.  Utah did argue that marriage could be limited to opposite sex couples because it was for procreation, but the court said this was not enshrined in the Utah law, that Utah did not prevent couples from marrying who could not have children and that effectively Utah had no case.

The judge did not stay the ruling pending appeal, and same sex marriages started immediately in Utah.  And anyone opposed to that ought to look at the pictures of joy on the faces of those allowed to marry, and then decide if it is something they really want to oppose.

An obese opera singer is not on stage with respect to bans against marriage equality, but the performer is getting ready to go on.]

A funny thing happened after a bunch of states moved to ban same sex marriage.  The public started paying attention and decided that no, this was not right, it was not fair, it was not American.  And so gradually the state barriers to equality are falling, the latest being New Mexico.

New Mexico was interesting because the state laws were silent on the issue, neither allowing nor banning same sex marriage.  So it was up to the State Supreme Court in New Mexico to make a ruling based on New Mexico’s state constitution.  And they did.

Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics, left, and Linda Siegle, a lobbyist and member of the Santa Fe Community College board, hold hands after they were married on August 23, 2013.  The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of same-sex couples, granting them all the same rights of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples.    (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics, left, and Linda Siegle, a lobbyist and member of the Santa Fe Community College board, hold hands after they were married on August 23, 2013. The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of same-sex couples, granting them all the same rights of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

In a written opinion, the court’s five justices agreed that marriage rights for same-sex couples are guaranteed under the equal-protection clause of the New Mexico Constitution, amended in 1972 to state that “equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.”

Yeah, pretty hard to argue with that, unless of course one doesn’t believe in equality before the law.

But don’t opponents have a pretty good argument for their position?  Not really, consider this.

Justices weighed this amendment against the opposition’s argument that prohibiting same-sex marriage was necessary to protect the government’s “overriding interest of responsible procreation and childrearing.”

The justices said in their opinion that such interest played no role in the development of the state’s marriage regulations. Its purpose, they contended, is to “bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples” by defining their responsibilities to one another, as well as their children if they choose to have them, and to their property.

“Procreation,” wrote Justice Edward L. Chavez, author of the opinion, “has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying.”

So what we would advise is that opponents of decency and equality work in New Mexico to change the state constitution to allow marriage only between people who swear that they will have children, and have children the old fashioned way, not this adoption thing where they provide a loving home for a homeless child.  Yeah, go ahead conservatives, we would like to see how that flies.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wall Street Journal Columnist L. Gordon Crovitz Rewrites History – Jimmy Carter Defeated Ronald Reagan in 1980 and He is Responsible for a Patent Problem

Does Any Publication Have More Contempt for Its Readers Than the WSJ?

Writing on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal columnist L. Gordon Crovitz (the L apparently standing for ‘loony’) complains of a patent problem this way.

Jimmy Carter's Costly Patent Mistake

His 1979 proposal has led to ill-conceived protection for software ideas and a tidal wave of litigation.


Now this Forum has no opinion on the actual issues here, as we lack even a basic knowledge of what those issues are.  But gosh we are concerned that Mr. Carter did this apparently terrible thing.  So reading on here is what we found out.

Today's patent mess can be traced to a miscalculation by Jimmy Carter, who thought granting more patents would help overcome economic stagnation. In 1979, his Domestic Policy Review on Industrial Innovation proposed a new Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which Congress created in 1982. Its first judge explained: "The court was formed for one need, to recover the value of the patent system as an incentive to industry."

Wow, the problem, if there is one, dates from a law passed in 1982.  Gosh, wasn’t the President in 1982 Ronald Reagan, and wasn’t the Senate in 1982 under the control of Republicans?  Hadn’t Mr. Carter been voted out of office in 1980?  So how exactly is a law passed by a Republican Senate and signed by a Republican President the fault of Mr. Carter?  Yeah, we don’t know either.

Of course historical accuracy is not the point here, trashing a Democratic President and preserving the legacy of a Republican one is the point.  And what does this say about the WSJ’s opinion of its readers, of just how much the Journal holds those readers in contempt.  We don’t know that either, the scale of contempt doesn’t go that high.

There You Go Again – Republicans Threatening, Uh What, Over Raising the Debt Ceiling

Republicans Demanding Uh, What, Over Raising the Debt Ceiling

With the two year budget deal in place one would think that Congressional Republicans will now go about their business of cementing their alliance with the national media in an unrelenting attack on health care reform.  Republicans see this is a winning issue (more about that in a few days) and in fact in their minds they have already won the 2014 Congressional and Senate elections and the Presidency in 2016.

But there is still the debt ceiling to be dealt with, and lo and behold the Republicans openly plan to try to extort something in return for voting to pay the bills that they themselves approved. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he “can’t imagine” that the debt ceiling increase will be a “clean” one — meaning that it will have no conditions attached to it. McConnell, a key negotiator on deals ending the debt ceiling standoff in 2011 and this year during the government shutdown, noted that past significant legislative agreements have been attached to such increases. He was skeptical that the House or the Senate would have an appetite to hand President Barack Obama a clean debt limit hike.

The President just needs to do what he has done in the past.

“Nothing, you get nothing for doing your job, nothing absolutely nothing” 

is all he needs to say.  Of course, with this President, even though he has been successful with the strategy in the past don’t count him out this time.  He can still mess this up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Evidence of A Dual Judicial System – Teen in Texas Kills Four People, Gets Probation

Of Course He is From a Wealthy Family – What Did You Think?

About a month ago a court freed a person named Michael Skakel who was serving a long sentence for murder.  Mr. Skakel was freed and given a new trial.  His complaint, he had inadequate representation in his first trial and deserved another trial.  His background, Mr. Skakel was from a wealthy family that had spent millions on his defense, presumably he was defended with  the best that  money could buy. 

In a nation that routinely sentences low income criminals to long prison terms or death despite having incompetent legal representation, it is readily evident that even in a harsh law and order state like Texas the wealthy are not subject to the same legal system as the rest of us.  Here is what one teenager did near Houston.

Prosecutors said Mr. Couch swerved off Burleson-Retta Road, killing four pedestrians: Breanna Mitchell; Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby, 21; and Brian Jennings. Tests showed that Mr. Couch had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24, three times the legal limit for drivers.

Hollie and Shelby Boyles had left their house that night to assist Ms. Mitchell, a stranger whose car had broken down. “I’m sure the judge is doing what she thinks is probably right for Ethan’s rehabilitation,” said Eric Boyles, Shelby’s father and Hollie’s husband. “But from the victims’ standpoint, she underestimated the impact. Words can’t describe how disappointed I am in terms of how the judicial system works.”

Two teenagers riding in the bed of the pickup were thrown from the vehicle. One of them, Sergio Molina, 15, suffered a severe brain injury and remains in a minimally responsive state. His family filed a suit against Mr. Couch, his parents and his father’s company.

Prosecutors asked for a 20 year jail sentence, which seems about right. 

The judge, Jean Boyd, on Tuesday declined to give the teenager, Ethan Couch, the punishment sought by Tarrant County prosecutors — 20 years in prison — and instead ordered him to be placed in a long-term treatment facility while on probation. Judge Boyd did not discuss her reasoning for her order, but it came after a psychologist called by the defense argued that Mr. Couch should not be sent to prison because he suffered from “affluenza” — a term that dates at least to the 1980s to describe the psychological problems that can afflict children of privilege.

So Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment would seem to have this kind of judicial system.  Be a wealthy person or from a wealthy family and “affluenza” allows you to kill and you get sentenced to a nice, luxurious treatment facility.  Be a low income minority and for the same crime expect life imprisonment.  After all in addition to your crimes you also have committed the crime of being a minority and having a low income.  In Texas that alone demands a lengthy sentence.

Justice may be blind, but it knows the smell of money.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fox News is a Real News Network and Megyn Kelly is a Real News Anchor

What, You Took Us Seriously, We Were Just Joking

Don't Anyone Have a Sense of Humor Anymore?

Exclusive: The Christmas Wish List For Conservatives

New No Other Forum Has – Mainly Because We Made It Up

That Doesn’t Make It Not True

This Forum has obtained the double secret wish list of Conservatives for the Holiday season.  Here it is, with the appropriate justifications.

  1. Eliminate the minimum wage:  Conservatives are cheering the prospect of the return of two and three dollar an hour jobs, and the easy access to low cost help around the home and office that would bring.  An added bonus, many say is the subsequent reduction in wages men and women are making that are above the minimum wage, just “icycles on the tree”.

  1. A gun in every house:  Legislation that would require every American home to own at least one firearm is a dream come true on the conservative Christmas list (thanks to Michael Dorf for inspiring this).  A requirement that each home experience one non-fatal gun related accident would be even better conservatives say, as they believe there is no better way to teach gun safety than to have innocent people accidentally shot.

  1. A new war in the Middle East:  This is at the top of the conservative’s list in the area of foreign policy.  With U. S. involvement in Afghanistan set to end in 2014 conservatives are afraid that American foreign policy will be damaged if U. S. troops are not dying in a useless Middle East war.  A secret position paper explains how conservatives think that fighting in the U. S. army is a great way for illegal immigrants to learn American values before they are deported, assuming they survive the war.

  1. Farm subsidies for both Midwestern and Southern crops:  Right now the Farm Bill is being fought over by conservatives who want government subsidies for corn and soy beans that are grown in the Midwest against conservatives who want subsidies for cotton and rice that are grown in the South.  New conservative policy would increase government aid for both regions, to be paid for by reducing food and nutrition assistance even more than they have wanted to in the past.

  1. Allow the Airline Industry to merge into a single company:  Conservatives are horrified that there is still a little competition left in the airline industry and want to change government policy that will allow the major carriers to combine into a single airline that controls all of the flights.  They acknowledge that they would be little affected by this policy, as they fly in private jets but say they want to bring the joys of monopoly to the flying public.  Note:  The Obama administration is said to be seriously considering supporting this.

There it is, the top five items on the Christmas list for conservatives.  Remember where you saw it first.

Federal Judge in Utah Rules People Can Live Together if They Want – New York Times Totally Misconstrues the Case

Reporting at Its Worst – Freedom at Its Best

Here is the headline from the New York Times article on a federal court ruling on whether or not the state of Utah could prohibit co-habitation among more than just one man and one woman.

A Utah Law Prohibiting Polygamy Is Weakened

That headline is factually and analytically incorrect.  In fact the ruling stated specifically that Utah could continue to deny the right of polygamy, which is the legal, state sanctioned marriage between more than two individuals.

So what did happen?  Well the court has ruled that no, the state of Utah cannot prohibit more than two people living together. More than two people living together is not polygamy  And it is none of the business of the state how people live as long as the arrangements are voluntary and not harmful to anyone.  In short it is the very heart of a conservative ruling by a presumably conservative judge appointed by the conservative Republican President George W. Bush.

Judge Clark Waddoups of United States District Court in Utah ruled late Friday that part of the state’s law prohibiting “cohabitation” — the language used in the law to restrict polygamous relationships — violates the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion, as well as constitutional due process. He left standing the state’s ability to prohibit multiple marriages “in the literal sense” of having two or more valid marriage licenses.

Judge Waddoups, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote a 91-page decision that reflects — and reflects upon — the nation’s changing attitude toward government regulation of personal affairs and unpopular groups. The Supreme Court supported the power of states to restrict polygamy in an 1879 decision, Reynolds v. United States.

So why the erroneous, completely misleading headline?  Probably lazy incompetent journalism; in other words, the industry standard in 2013.

As for conservatives one waits to hear their applause of the ruling, their ecstasy that the court has ruled that no, the state of Utah cannot intervene in the private lives of its citizens where no legal issue with respect to the state of Utah are involved.  Of course no such applause will be forthcoming.  Conservatives do not want the state to leave citizens alone, they want the state to mandate citizens behave the way conservatives want them to behave.  

Reporting that would be true journalism.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Conservative Iowa Senator Charles Grassley Gets $325,000 Subsidy as a “Farm Manager” and Other Horror Stories From the December 11 WSJ

Just a Bad Day All Around

Sometimes the news is uplifting, but mostly it reflects the worst of American politics and business.  Such was the case on Wednesday, December 11 as published in the Wall Street Journal.  For example there are these nauseating stories.

  1. Part of the negotiations on a new farm bill, you know, the one that cuts nutrition assistance for children, is whether or not to restrict subsidies that go to farm managers to people who actually manage the farm.  Right now the definition is so loose that someone like Iowa’s Republican Senator Charles Grassley has collected over $325,000 over a period of several decades.  Of course, Sen. Grassley has no problem in condemning those who rely on food stamps as just a bunch of no good people living off the work of others. 
But maybe Sen. Grassley is a full time farm manager, after all, given his record in Congress it is clear he has done nothing there.  And while we do not know what kind of farm Mr. Grassley ‘manages’ the image of pigs feeding at the trough is one that comes to mind.

  1. Without even knowing what is in the compromise federal spending bill conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation were opposed to it.  Of course, knowledge and details of an issue are never actually a part of their positions anyway.
3.  Video game manufacturers are successfully fighting any efforts to study whether or not there is a link between violent video games and violent behavior.  The Entertainment Software Association, which includes among other member Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo maintain that there is no link, and to make sure everyone believes them they want to prevent any studies by independent researchers to determine if there is any link.  And no, the massive profits they make from these games are not a factor in their position.

  1. It was announced that Italy has finally pulled out of a recession.  This good news is tempered by the fact that the two year recession was entirely man made, a result of incredibly stupid economic policy by incredibly stupid European policy makers who had no problem inflicting misery upon millions, as long they retained their lavish life style.
  1. And finally, the editorial in last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal newspaper is a full attack against some Democrats fighting free speech.  Well it turns out what the Democrats want is for a think tank, which of course is granted tax exempt status, to identify its donors.  This is in no way impinging on the freedom of speech of those who write policy statements for the think tank, but a way of exposing whether or not the so-called research group is really just an industry shill.  While we have no idea if they are, given the opposition to releasing the names of donors it would seem highly likely that they are.  After all, otherwise why the secrecy?

George Will Leads the Conservative Argument that Raising the Minimum Wage Hurts Low Income Workers

It’s So Nice When Conservatives Are Looking Out for the Low Income Families

With the failure of the federal government to raise the minimum wage, now in real terms lower than it has been in decades, action is turning to states and local governments.  This has horrified conservatives who feel that low income people deserve to be low income people, that they are to be punished for being poor. 

The argument that conservatives make is that no, they are not the enemy of low income workers, they are their friend and are just looking out for their interests.  So Washington Post columnist and Fox News blatherer George Will is now writing about how raising the minimum wage will harm all those low income laborers.

Mr. Will’s thesis is that raising the minimum wage will reduce employment, which is probably true to a very small extent. (Mr. Will relies on a study from the Heritage Foundation for his ‘facts’.  That alone tells you his analysis is bogus.)  Most minimum wage workers are employed in the service industry and are not replaceable.  If they were they would have been.

But there are two very real arguments that easily refute Mr. Will and his ilk.  The first is that the minimum wage has declined in real terms, so if Mr. Will was correct in his economics there should be huge gains in employment amongst those earning minimum wages.  There has not been.  Unemployment rates for those who would be paid the minimum wage if there were even jobs available for them is very high.  So lowering the mnimum wage in real terms has not helped, just as we economists has said it will not and contrary to what conservatives have said.

And the second argument is that if raising the minimum wage is so damaging to low income workers, why have these people not led the fight against it?  There are no attempts, organized or otherwise among those earning minimum wages to stop any increases because it is harmful to them.  Of course Mr. Will would counter by saying that in addition to being poor these people are also stupid and don’t know what is good for them, so they need wise men like George Will to set them straight.

Mr. Will, like all prominent conservatives is a highly privileged individual, he has no idea of what it is like to try and survive on the minimum wage.  His only contact with real working poor is probably only the people that clean his house or take care of his lawn.  If he did know them he would know that they are hard working, often holding multiple jobs just to try and survive economically and that they are a lot smarter than the average Washington Post conservative columnist.  How do we know they are smarter than people like George Will?  Well you don’t see them writing the nonsense that he does.