December 17, 2012
"Time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas"
Entertainment moguls don't have an absolute right to glorify murder while spreading mayhem in young minds across America. And our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want. It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas.
November 27, 2012
Bill Kristol Is A Genius
BILL KRISTOL: The Republicans are going into contortions to try not to raise the top rate, while in fact trying to produce more revenues, which Speaker Boehner said he's for, and to produce them from the wealthy. They're so scared of being accused of attacking the middle class. I don't really care if they want to find a complicated way to get more revenues, I suppose. I think it is probably easier just to give in a little bit on the top rate.
But, they made that a matter of dogma and I'm not going to break my own sword on telling them not to break their sword on it but I'll point out, what is the one tax rate that's going up on January 1st that's no one is talking about and apparently both parties are now going to collude to let go of. The payroll tax, remember that? That was cut to 12% from 10% two years ago. It's been 10% the last two years. And I gather the Republicans have no problem -- I don't know if Grover Norquist has a problem -- with letting working class and middle class Americans have a 2% tax increase, and, that is not currently the Republican position that the payroll tax cut should be extended. And the administration is quietly happy to let that go, because God forbid they should actually cut entitlements from wealthy seniors or for others who benefit from corporate capitalism and big government.
So we have collusion among the elites form both parties that the one tax that is going to go up, if there's a deal of January 1st, is the payroll tax, which I think is wrong. And Republicans have a huge opportunity here to be champions of the working class and middle class, instead of screaming and yelling about millionaires.
November 26, 2012
Romney loses with 47 percent
Romney’s final share of the vote? You guessed it: 47 percent.
Call it irony or call it coincidence: Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race is very likely to be 47 percent.
Romney’s campaign, of course, was doomed in large part by comments made on a hidden camera in which he suggested that 47 percent of the country was so reliant on government services that those people would never vote for him.
The words ’47 percent’ came to define what was already evident: that Romney struggled to connect with lower- and middle-income voters and with groups such as Latinos. And in the end, it looks like 47 percent also just happens to be the share of the vote that Romney will get.
November 12, 2012
Hold the line
If Obama caves on this after winning I will lose my respect for him:
The president must use his leverage soon, some Democrats added, because it could quickly wane as Republicans look to the 2014 midterm elections, when the opposition typically takes seats from the president’s party in Congress.
In particular, Mr. Obama has to convince Republicans that he would veto an extension of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for incomes of $250,000 and higher, said John Podesta, a chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who oversaw Mr. Obama’s 2008 presidential transition. The top tax rate of 35 percent would increase after Dec. 31 to 39.6 percent, the rate in place during the Clinton administration, raising about $1 trillion over 10 years.
“The Republicans think he caves,” Mr. Podesta said, “and he has to disabuse them of that.”
What is unclear is whether Mr. Obama might agree to extend the top income-tax rates if Republicans agree to raise revenue from wealthy taxpayers by limiting their deductions instead, as Mr. Boehner suggested last week. The president did not mention rates on Friday in his first postelection remarks on the budget talks, and people in both parties interpreted that as a sign of his bargaining flexibility.
November 09, 2012
"I'm Really Proud of All of You"
November 07, 2012
Let's make it 52 states
I say we add DC and PR in a package deal. From ABC News:
Puerto Rico Votes to Become a State in Referendum in Tight Elections
Puerto Rican voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure endorsing U.S. statehood but also unseated pro-statehood Republican Gov. Luis Fortuño....
Nearly 1.8 million voters in Puerto Rico participated in elections even though island residents cannot vote in the U.S. presidential contest. Voters were asked in a two-part referendum whether they want to change the island's territorial status and then what other status they prefer. Nearly 54 percent voted they were not satisfied with the island's current status and 46 percent voted to keep it the same. Just over 61 percent voted in favor of statehood and 33 percent backed sovereign free association, which would have allowed more self-governance. Only 5 percent supported independence, according to results.
Because the statehood option won does not automatically mean that Puerto Rico will become the 51st state in the union. This was a non-binding referendum that does not lead to a binding plebiscite. Congress ultimately has to approve any change in status for the island and U.S. political leaders, including Barack Obama, have long said that a prerequisite would include clear demonstration of popular support for a particular status.
So I guess that explains the delay in Florida
"It's 1:42 in the morning and I just heard there are still people voting in Miami-Dade County," tweeted Chris Cate, spokesman for Florida's Secretary of State, who is responsible for elections. "Kudos to their commitment to voting!"
The head of elections for Florida's Miami-Dade County, which accounts for about 10 percent of the state's 12 million registered voters, said final results would not be available until Wednesday afternoon.
October 02, 2012
Judge Strikes Down Voter ID in PA
A judge on Tuesday blocked Pennsylvania's divisive voter identification requirement from going into effect on Election Day, delivering a hard-fought victory to Democrats who said it was a ploy to defeat President Barack Obama and other opponents who said it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting.
The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
However, Simpson based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Simpson ordered the state not to enforce the photo ID requirement in this year's presidential election but will allow it to go into full effect next year.
September 03, 2012
Romney and Bain avoided the hostile approach, preferring to secure the cooperation of their takeover targets by buying off a company's management with lucrative bonuses. Once management is on board, the rest is just math. So if the target company is worth $500 million, Bain might put down $20 million of its own cash, then borrow $350 million from an investment bank to take over a controlling stake.
But here's the catch. When Bain borrows all of that money from the bank, it's the target company that ends up on the hook for all of the debt.
Now your troubled firm – let's say you make tricycles in Alabama – has been taken over by a bunch of slick Wall Street dudes who kicked in as little as five percent as a down payment. So in addition to whatever problems you had before, Tricycle Inc. now owes Goldman or Citigroup $350 million. With all that new debt service to pay, the company's bottom line is suddenly untenable: You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level.
"That interest," says Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, "just sucks the profit out of the company."
Fortunately, the geniuses at Bain who now run the place are there to help tell you whom to fire. And for the service it performs cutting your company's costs to help you pay off the massive debt that it, Bain, saddled your company with in the first place, Bain naturally charges a management fee, typically millions of dollars a year. So Tricycle Inc. now has two gigantic new burdens it never had before Bain Capital stepped into the picture: tens of millions in annual debt service, and millions more in "management fees." Since the initial acquisition of Tricycle Inc. was probably greased by promising the company's upper management lucrative bonuses, all that pain inevitably comes out of just one place: the benefits and payroll of the hourly workforce.
Once all that debt is added, one of two things can happen. The company can fire workers and slash benefits to pay off all its new obligations to Goldman Sachs and Bain, leaving it ripe to be resold by Bain at a huge profit. Or it can go bankrupt – this happens after about seven percent of all private equity buyouts – leaving behind one or more shuttered factory towns. Either way, Bain wins. By power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up.
This business model wasn't really "helping," of course – and it wasn't new. Fans of mob movies will recognize what's known as the "bust-out," in which a gangster takes over a restaurant or sporting goods store and then monetizes his investment by running up giant debts on the company's credit line. (Think Paulie buying all those cases of Cutty Sark in Goodfellas.) When the note comes due, the mobster simply torches the restaurant and collects the insurance money. Reduced to their most basic level, the leveraged buyouts engineered by Romney followed exactly the same business model. "It's the bust-out," one Wall Street trader says with a laugh. "That's all it is."
August 27, 2012
I'm with Chris
August 14, 2012
Representative Paul Ryan has long wanted to let Americans invest part of their Social Security taxes in private investment accounts.
After legislation he co-sponsored in 2005 went nowhere, Ryan included a detailed plan to privatize Social Security in his budget proposal in 2010. Under that plan, he would allow workers to funnel an average of roughly 40% of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts.
Mitt Romney, who chose the Wisconsin lawmaker as his running mate on Saturday, has also voiced support for private accounts. He has said he likes the idea of allowing people to put some of their funds in accounts with higher returns than Social Security.
"Personal accounts will be a big plus," Romney said at a town hall meeting in 2007.
The thinking is that people would gain control over a portion of their retirement savings and be able to build bigger nest eggs by investing in stocks. Another plus: They could pass the accounts along to heirs.
But neither Ryan nor Romney have said much about private Social Security accounts lately. Ryan dropped it from his more recent budget proposals, while Romney doesn't mention it on his campaign Web site.
June 28, 2012
If Obama wins
There's a good chance he could replace Kennedy, Breyer, and Ginsberg, although Scalia will probably hold on until he is in his nineties. Anyway, it's interesting how Kennedy showed his true colors today:
ROBERTS, C. J., announced the judgment of the Court and deliveredthe opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III–C, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined; an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which BREYERand K AGAN, JJ., joined; and an opinion with respect to Parts III–A, III–B, and III–D. GINSBURG, J.,filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part, and dissenting in part, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, III, and IV. SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Roberts went on: “Congress’s use of the Taxing Clause to encourage buying something is, by contrast, not new. Tax incentives already promote, for example, purchasing homes and professional educations. … The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
The ruling ends a Quixotic conservative quest to vanquish Obama’s signature achievement by fiat. It also devastates the GOP’s long-standing appeal to voters that the law exists as a monument to liberal overreach, in defiance of accepted limits on federal power. That Roberts, a conservative emissary to the Court, voted to uphold is particularly devastating.
Implementation of the ACA will thus continue apace and in full; free from the uncertainty that would have attended a decision to strike the mandate, and with its guarantee that nearly all Americans will be able to purchase insurance affordably in tact.
However, the Court did circumscribe the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. The law hikes the eligibility threshold of that program to 133 percent of the poverty line, and covers nearly the entire cost of that expansion with federal dollars. As a matching program, states have typically been required to either accept all the government’s requirements or risk losing all federal funding for Medicaid. Thursday’s ruling holds that if states decline to expand Medicaid, they will only lose the expanded funds provided for in the ACA — not funds for the program as it exists today.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 3/15/1933
Age: 79 yr 3 mo Appointed: Bill Clinton 8/19/1993
Served: 18 yr 10 mo
Antonin Scalia 3/11/1936
Age: 76 yr 3 mo Appointed: Ronald Reagan 9/26/1986
Served: 25 yr 9 mo
Anthony Kennedy 7/23/1936
Age: 75 yr 11 mo Appointed: Ronald Reagan 2/18/1988
Served: 24 yr 4 mo
Stephen Breyer 8/15/1938
Age: 73 yr 10 mo Appointed: Bill Clinton 8/3/1994
Served: 17 yr 10 mo
Clarence Thomas 6/23/1948
Age: 64 yr 0 mo Appointed: George H. W. Bush 10/23/1991
Served: 20 yr 8 mo
Samuel A. Alito, Jr. 4/1/1950
Age: 62 yr 2 mo Appointed: George W. Bush 1/31/2006
Served: 6 yr 4 mo
Sonia Sotomayor 6/25/1954
Age: 58 yr 0 mo Appointed: Barack Obama 8/8/2009
Served: 2 yr 10 mo
John G. Roberts 1/27/1955
Age: 57 yr 5 mo Appointed: George W. Bush 9/29/2005
Served: 6 yr 8 mo
Elena Kagan 4/28/1960
Age: 52 yr 2 mo Appointed: Barack Obama 8/7/2010
Served: 1 yr 10 mo
June 14, 2012
I solve problems
Or try anyways:
May 01, 2012
Never Lose Faith
April 11, 2012
George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, faces a second-degree murder charge for shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Sanford, Fla., the special prosecutor in the case announced Wednesday.
In a televised news conference, State Atty. Angela B. Corey outlined the charges in the case that has sparked national demonstrations calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.
“I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly,” Corey told reporters. “We do not prosecute by public pressure.”
...Zimmerman, who has maintained he acted in self-defense, was in custody, Corey confirmed, though she gave no details. He had been in hiding since the shooting after his family said he had received death threats.
March 21, 2012
Elgg vs Skynet
By the time Elgg became self-aware it had spread into millions of computer servers all across the planet. Ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere. It was software, in cyberspace. There was no system core. It could not be shut down.
March 13, 2012
Second degree murder
It sounds pretty clear what happened. 26 year old Zimmerman attacked 17 year old Trevon, planning to beat him up for walking through his neighborhood, with the 911 call as his proof that he was justified. What he didn't plan on was getting beaten up instead by the surprised kid walking home. So he killed Trevon to get revenge. What a waste.
The crime of Second Degree Murder occurs when a person commits either:
Murder with a Depraved Mind or
Accomplice Felony Murder
Murder with a Depraved Mind occurs when a person is killed, without any premeditated design, by an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind showing no regard for human life.
The primary distinction between Premeditated First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder with a Depraved Mind is that First Degree Murder requires a specific and premeditated intent to kill.
March 12, 2012
If in doubt just blame Obama
What next? Blame Obama for the weather, too?
More than half of Americans for the first time expect Barack Obama to be re-elected - but that won't make it easy: Even as expectations have moved his way, rising gas prices have dented the president's rating on handling the economy, his overall job approval has slipped back under 50 percent and he's reverted to a dead heat in public preferences against Mitt Romney.
February 23, 2012
I am now a Gary Peters fan
Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) will introduce a bill Wednesday requiring large U.S. companies to disclose how many of their jobs are based on U.S. soil and how many are based abroad, an attempt to shed light on the number of American jobs being outsourced.
Such data is closely guarded by some of the country’s biggest multinationals, including Pfizer, Apple and IBM. Public filings by these firms disclose their total number of employees, but don’t specify where those jobs are located. Meanwhile, other data shows that multinationals overall cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.
The Outsourcing Accountability Act would require firms with revenues over $1 billion to report how many employees they have in the United States and break them down by state; jobs abroad would have to be broken down by country. Firms would also have to track the percentage increase or decrease of these figures from the previous year.
“This is fairly easy for a company to do,” said Peters. “They certainly have that information readily available, and I think it’d be surprising for a company to say it doesn’t know where it sends its paychecks.”
Some of the companies that keep these numbers secret have lobbied for tax breaks in the name of job creation, as reported by The Washington Post last August. But without firm-specific data on where jobs are located, it can be tough for lawmakers to track which companies are adding jobs in this country.
February 17, 2012
"Actually, Obama has made the economy better"
The Institute of Supply Management’s survey of manufacturing activity bottomed out in early 2009 at about a 33 rating. It began a steady upward climb under Obama’s stimulus program during the rest of 2009, reaching 60 at the beginning of 2010 and has now leveled off at 55.
The Census Bureau’s index of factory orders reached the bottom in February of 2009 at a 340 rating. Today it has climbed back to 460, about where it was in 2007. While the economy lost roughly 4 million jobs in Bush’s last year and another 4 million during the early days of Obama’s tenure, private sector jobs have now increased for the past 22 months.
And the Gross Domestic Product, which showed massive declines in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, has now shown increases in the past nine quarters.
Everyone agrees that while there has been progress, particularly in the past six months, unemployment is still way too high and the economy needs to grow at a more robust rate. But to insist that Obama’s policies have made the economy worse is simply not true.
February 03, 2012
Zuckerberg isn't in it for the money
He just wants the entire world economy to flow through facebook, that's all:
We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy.
We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.
As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives.
One result of making it easier to find better products is that businesses will be rewarded for building better products — ones that are personalized and designed around people. We have found that products that are “social by design” tend to be more engaging than their traditional counterparts, and we look forward to seeing more of the world’s products move in this direction.
Our developer platform has already enabled hundreds of thousands of businesses to build higher-quality and more social products. We have seen disruptive new approaches in industries like games, music and news, and we expect to see similar disruption in more industries by new approaches that are social by design.
In addition to building better products, a more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically. More than four million businesses have Pages on Facebook that they use to have a dialogue with their customers. We expect this trend to grow as well.
In other words, he's in it for the power, not the money. So if all those businesses decided to use social technology besides facebook, such as Elgg for instance, well that might not be good for FB stock:
Our Mission and Our Business
As I said above, Facebook was not originally founded to be a company. We’ve always cared primarily about our social mission, the services we’re building and the people who use them. This is a different approach for a public company to take, so I want to explain why I think it works.
I started off by writing the first version of Facebook myself because it was something I wanted to exist. Since then, most of the ideas and code that have gone into Facebook have come from the great people we’ve attracted to our team.
Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money. Through the process of building a team — and also building a developer community, advertising market and investor base — I’ve developed a deep appreciation for how building a strong company with a strong economic engine and strong growth can be the best way to align many people to solve important problems.
Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.
And we think this is a good way to build something. These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.
By focusing on our mission and building great services, we believe we will create the most value for our shareholders and partners over the long term — and this in turn will enable us to keep attracting the best people and building more great services. We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money, but we understand that the best way to achieve our mission is to build a strong and valuable company.
This is how we think about our IPO as well. We’re going public for our employees and our investors. We made a commitment to them when we gave them equity that we’d work hard to make it worth a lot and make it liquid, and this IPO is fulfilling our commitment. As we become a public company, we’re making a similar commitment to our new investors and we will work just as hard to fulfill it.
UPDATE: This sentence in particular just seems kind of odd to me.
Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money.
Really? That sounds like a sort of narrow, elitist perspective to me.
February 01, 2012
"I'm not concerned about the very poor"
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a final question. And there's a poll that came out a few that says, understanding the needs of average Americans. And President Obama rates at 55 percent in this polling. You come in at 39 percent.
And the Conservative Writer, Kathleen Parker, wrote about, you know, it's that Romney can't connect with the people as has been - it isn't that Romney can't connect with the people has been pronounced repeatedly. It's that the people cannot connect with him. This also explains why the far less perfect Newt Gingrich can attract support against all reason. How do you fix that?
ROMNEY: You know, just let people get to know you better. The nice thing about what happened here in Florida is I got a chance to go across the state, meet with people. They heard what I am concerned about. They understand how I will be able to make things better.
I think people want someone who not just throws an incendiary bomb from time to time but someone who actually knows how it takes to improve their life, get home values rising again, to get jobs again in this country, and to make sure when soldiers come home they have a job waiting for them. And make sure people who are retired don't have to worry about what's going to happen at the end of the week.
This is a time people are worried. They're frightened. They want someone who they have confidence in. And I believe I will be able to instill that confidence in the American people. And, by the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.
I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.
O'BRIEN: All right. So I know I said last question, but I've got to ask you. You just said I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.
O'BRIEN: Got it. OK.
ROMNEY: The - the challenge right now - we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and - and there's no question, it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor.
But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. My campaign - you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus.
My focus is on middle income Americans, retirees living on social security, people who cannot find work, folks who have kids that are getting ready to go to college. That - these are the people who've been most badly hurt during the Obama years.
We have a very ample safety net, and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor. But the middle income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now, and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.
O'BRIEN: All right. Mitt Romney, congratulations to you on your big victory last night. Thanks for talking with us. appreciate it.
January 20, 2012
South Carolina Eve
We all know politics ain't beanbag, but it's not supposed to be a clown-car Indy 500 with cars hitting the wall and guys in wigs littering the track!
January 09, 2012
I'm with Rick
No not that one, the other one:
Perry - who went to a steel manufacturer in Georgetown, SC, and a photo album company in Gaffney that he says gutted jobs as a result of Bain's actions - said that residents of those communities would be stunned by the remarks of "the son of a multi-millionaire."
"There's something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business. I happen to think that is indefensible," he told the breakfast crowd of about 75 at Mama Penn's restaurant here in Anderson. "If you're a victim of Bain Capital's downsizing, it's the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain. Because he caused it."
22 percent of the money Bain Capital raised from 1987 to 1995 was invested in five businesses — Stage Stores, American Pad & Paper, GS Indusries, Dade, and Details. These five made Bain $578 million in profit, even as all five eventually went bankrupt.
As the New York Post’s Josh Koshman wrote, “there’s little question [Romney] made a fortune from businesses he helped destroy.” Travis Waldron noted today that Romney’s company also boosted its profits — and thus enriched Romney — by abusing offshore tax havens.