2016 Presidential Speculators Need Some Serious Rehab: via HuffPost

2016 Presidential Speculators Need Some Serious Rehab: via HuffPost http://huff.to/ZE2j9Y

Rand Paul vs. Chelsea Clinton in 2024. 

You heard it here first.


Zero dark thirty controversy

Ed Asner, Apologist for Slavery? Martin Sheen Endorsing Murder? David Clennon, Executive Sociopath? Not: via HuffPost http://huff.to/11xIIg2 All it takes is one scene showing torture succeeding in one case to justify torture to depraved minds. They will say if it stops even one terrorist attack it’s worth it. This is an understatement. The Bush administration’s entire legal position, moral position and strategic position on torture was based on the television program 24. We hear people say that it is speculative that unstable people like the shooters in Aurora and Newtown could have been influenced by cultural worship of violence. How about this: people supposedly stable enough to lead the free world are on record as having been influenced by a television show as the basis for having numerous people, most of them innocent, abducted and tortured. The knock on 24 is that it depicts torture as always necessary and as always producing the information that saves civilization when no ethical approach can produce a timely solution. I don’t know, I don’t watch that propaganda and I question who was backing it. Zero dark thirty doesn’t sound that bad but when spreading cultural messages one must beware that the sickos tend to hear the part they want to hear. T.V. morals are dangerous because they can seem to be more real to people than reality. People, even educated people, take principled positions based on a world that doesn’t exist. It happens all the time. It happens constantly. It is aggravated when people don’t listen to opposing positions for a nugget of truth. Take the NRA position on so-called assault rifles and ammunition clips. There is no reason to believe that the proposed bans will confer any benefit. Nobody on the other side has dealt with that. Both sides are at fault there, the NRA for hiding a nugget of truth in a pile of steaming horse feces. As for impressions on twisted minds, think about movie gun rampages. How often is it the bad guys? It’s like a law of hollywood that the biggest shooting rampage in a movie is always done by the good guy. It doesn’t take a lot for that message to get turned around. So ZDT isn’t the worst but it isn’t appealing to our better angels either.

Full text of Bernanke speech far different from media summaries

Did the whole mainstream media lie about Bernanke’s speech, or were some only plagiarizing the others?

He was far more cautious than depicted.  He said that the Fed will step in as needed but he’s been saying that for a year now.

He doesn’t actually say that the QE created two million jobs.  He says that running certain models suggests that the outcome with those programs is two million jobs better than the alternative, but the results of that must be treated with caution.

He notes that there are only four years worth of empirical evidence as to the effects of this type of intervention.

He is very clear throughout that the bar is higher for non-traditional interventions.

Perhaps most importantly, he says that intervention would be in a context of price stability.

He seems to be alive to all the empirical uncertainties, limitations of computer models, potential for adverse effects, the difficulty in assessing counterfactuals, etc.

As far as I can see he nailed it.

He also pointed out that government’s role in dealing with financial issues is the critical thing to look at, with and his comments are clearly against severe austerity measures.

After reading the full text my impression is he’s the only one in the global financial mess that knows what he’s doing.

The lack of any objective analysis of the speech in the media is disturbing. 

He’s clearly loathe to have another round of QE but everybody is talking about it like it’s a done deal for September.

Maybe the conflict of interest that needs to be looked at the hardest is in the media. 

How many financial institutions own how many shares in media conglomerates?

False news reports were just used to shift global markets and send commodity prices rocketing up.  That kind of thing used to be illegal and maybe still is. 

The irony there is that the false news may make QE less likely.  

The last two words in that speech are “price stability”.

Bernanke is clear he doesn’t want to create bubbles or mass inflation.

Commodities are already in a bubble and were grossly inflated even at their 2012 lows.

So jacking up the markets in anticipation of QE makes QE look more hazardous.

The lack of any objective reporting by anyone of the most important economic speech of the year is truly disturbing.

Attack on Chick fil-A was a cheap shot

Initially we heard from the media that the Chick fil-A guy had made this impressive public announcement about his opposition to gay marriage.

Weeks later, we find out it wasn’t like that.

He’s a Baptist and he made a statement to a Baptist reporter for a Baptist magazine that he supported traditional marriage. The quotes I have seen from the statement seem to be more about supporting traditional marriage then taking a stand against gay marriage.

So we were misled. The comments were out of context so that certain interest groups could start some media war, as if the Chick fil-A guy declared war on gay marriage.

Actually, there is no indication that he had any intention that his comments would see a broader audience.

It looks to me like some anti-Baptist online trolls were picking through an online Baptist magazine looking for something so that they could start a fight with the Baptists.

I’m no fan of the Southern Baptists but trying to prevent Baptists from talking with other Baptists about Baptist beliefs is un-American and disgraceful.

What damage did Mr. Chick fil-A do to gay rights in that hotbed of homosexuality, the Southern Baptists? His comments probably set back gay rights back two weeks.

The response to the article was and is an attack on everybody’s rights to communicate, to have their own thoughts and to associate with like minded people. It’s not just an attack on the Baptists. It’s an attack on the culture that made gay rights and other rights possible.

The Baptist article sounds like the kind of piece people sometimes arrange to appeal to a specific population. It has elements of an advertising gimmick- I’m like you, buy my product. Don’t be surprised if Mr. Chick fil-A’s real world view is somewhat less Baptist than depicted. You don’t go from 0 to 1600 restaurants on hail Mary’s, or whatever it is that Baptists do. A saintly man would use success to ensure good wages, benefits and pensions for his workers, leaving less funding for expansion. Rapid expansion in a market already as competitive and saturated as fast food is not consistent with such priorities. It suggests more a ruthlessly objective focus on bottom line business principles. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but it isn’t a holy mindset.

So this guy does some light puffery piece where he’s trying to look Baptist to the Baptists and gets blindsided with a fight that he doesn’t seem to have been looking for. He’s going along to get along and may have overstated his position. I’d hardly expect him to be drawing the Baptist’s attention to the fact that Chick fil-A’s policies prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (which they do). If he was interviewed by a gay magazine he would have probably mentioned the latter position and steered clear of the gay marriage issue.

I don’t see that as being a problem. You can get along with most people by focusing on areas of agreement and you can start a fight with almost anybody by focusing on areas of disagreement. There’s nothing nefarious about being agreeable, it’s good manners.

Turning somebody’s agreeable conversation in a puffery piece into some great national tragedy is out of line. He isn’t inciting hatred, he just doesn’t agree with gay marriage. The price of freedom is that people will say things you don’t agree with. Deal with it.

[and before somebody goes histrionic on me, “puffery” is not related to the anti-gay slur “poof”. If you don’t know what it means, look it up]

UFO silliness in the Baltic Sea


Some divers trolling for attention around Sweden have found some rock outcrop under the ocean that looks unusual and have turned this into a silly UFO hunt.

Unless there are UFOs made of solid rock it is already a dubious premise.

The lack of current volcanism in the area is irrelevant. In Finland for instance, there is an ancient bed of metamorphosed igneous rocks from eons ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Lapland_Greenstone_Belt

As continents collided and a rift closed the activity ceased.

And then there is the point that if you dig down far enough anywhere you eventually reach igneous rock.

That it would be exposed at the bottom of a sea isn’t that surprising.

The rock may have magnetic qualities. Given that Sweden historically had a major trade in iron ore, the presence of some magnetic rocks is not entirely surprising.

I do however wonder if the alleged electrical interference has been overstated for theatrical effect.

Bear in mind that the people who found this are treasure hunters, not scientists per se. They were looking for some Hollywood outcome at the outset and if short of funding have an incentive to do anything to generate interest and possibly funding.

If mushroom shaped rocks are signs of ET, then I suppose ET has already landed in numerous places above the surface: https://www.google.ca/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1138&bih=525&q=mushroom+rock&gbv=2&oq=mushroom+rock&aq=f&aqi=g6g-S4&aql=&gs_l=img.3..0l6j0i24l4.1219.8907.0.10063.…0.0.qerPXU9uZ6Y

It is in fact a common erosion feature.

I would also point out that, if the rock is not native, it may be a glacial deposit from one ice age or another.

It is possible given the changes in sea level over the millenia that at some point the rock was not far above sea level. The pounding of waves over time produces a characteristic mushroom shape when there is an igneous intrusion where the base is constantly hit by waves and the rest of the rock towers over it.

There is I suppose a hypothetical chance that the rock could be ejecta from a meteorite collision but that doesn’t match the facts as well.

The trail described could be from the rock being pushed by a glacier.

If one looks at the pictures of the thing, it looks odd but nothing like a spaceship.

Then there is the artist’s rendition, which looks conspicuously like the Millenium Falcon.

If the high tech equipment has problems near the rock, why not use low tech? Take pictures the old fashioned way.

Excusing the lack of closeups by electrical interference sounds like all the people that saw a sasquatch or the Lock Ness Monster but left the lens cap on.

This seems a lot like those cases where some bumpkins in the southern US make a hazy movie of a sick looking dog and claim that they’ve found a Chupacabra. Then the mainstream media actually play it.


Redistricting and media abdication

A common theme in the media was that the past elections were bad for the Democrats because they would give control over “redistricting” to the Republicans.
This follows a 2006 Supreme Court decision that gerrymandering- fraudulently drawing lines for congressional districts in order to artificially favor one party- was not unconstitutional unless the rights of a minority group were affected.    I’m skeptical that a deliberate fraud in the nature of what was considered in the decision could be constitutional, but haven’t read the decision so I won’t say that it was wrong.  If correct, it is a gaping hole that needs to be fixed.
Of course some alteration of natural district lines can lead to superior and more proportionate results- say if an area with two seats is about half Democrat and half Republican, arranging it so that one Democrat and one Republican come out is probably a more reasonable result than two coin tosses that could leave half the population there without a voice.  This kind of issue is probably one of the reasons the court didn’t want to get into it.   It’s an abuse of process in some cases but it would be a headache for the courts to try to draw a line.
Part of the policing process should involve the press.   When the press implies that one party will be gerrymandering and that this advantage should be sought after, the conduct of the press is reprehensible.   The press should be outing all official reprehensible conduct, not just that which is unconstitutional.   They have time to go after Eliot Spitzer’s love life but write about the prospect of Republican politicians deliberately misconducting themselves in their official capacities as if it is a desireable thing.  What’s up with that?
If Watergate happened today we’d see the media falling over each other trying to explain it away, minimize or rationalize it, and the best apologist would probably get a pulitzer for investigative journalism.  Something’s wrong.

Media, not Tea Party, sends the loudest message about who is in charge

So the turnout of voters under 30, disproportionately Democrats, was something around 13% in this election.  Having been convinced by the media that the Republicans were unstoppable, why would they show up?
So the right wing media have again shown an ability to generate a self-fulfilling prophecy through misleading journalism.  That at all times the population eligible to vote had a much lower view of the Republicans was consistently suppressed, and instead soft numbers about probable voters instead of eligible voters was used to generate the self-fulfilling prophecy.
If the media had done the same thing to affect the price of a stock there would probably be arrests, but deliberately misleading the public with false news to generate an election outcome for some reason is tolerated.   That kind of behaviour by the media belongs in Stalinist Russia.
The election is portrayed by the media as being about the economy, but it couldn’t be about that. The results were a large swing in favor of the party that destroyed the economy, and other polls that were published stated that the voters were aware that Bush and Wall Street are mostly to blame for the economy.   Electing people that want to repeal the new constraints on Wall Street is an unintelligible response.
The media did it’s best to generate a climate of alleged “voter anger” directed at the Democrats, and pimping the Tea Party, while making no effort to educate voters that the Tea Party and Republicans generally want to go against the voters’ stated objectives.
The 2008 collapse, which had been building since 2004, was a direct result of corporate lawlessness and a failure of the government to adequately regulate.  Only a complete idiot could honestly believe that an excess of regulation and too much government interference were what led to the economic collapse.
Again, I don’t see the people in charge of the Tea Party as people that believe in freedom from government.  Quite the opposite, they are about oppression by fraudulent government, seeing government as little more than a propaganda organ of big business.   Much like Stalinists, but  in favor of big business rather than big labor.   Given the facts, the position that the economic problems are a result of too much regulation is Orwellian.  It is what Goebbels would say.  The Tea Party does not represent a return to honest government and honest government is the worst fear of their leadership.
Polls suggest that the electorate want jobs, and again the right wing have successfully confused them.  The right wing is about closing jobs here and sending them to East Asia.   The right wing is famous for “jobless recoveries”.   If you want jobs, don’t vote for a Republican.  Ever.
The Tea Party people now want to cut government spending.  If there is a way to do that to a meaningful degree without cutting lots of jobs, I’ll be duly impressed.  The only way that the Tea Party and Republicans can do what they’ve said they are going to do is if they do the opposite of what the country wants- cut even more jobs, which will take more money out of the economy, lead to more foreclosures, and speed up the economic death-spiral.   Selective cuts, especially to things like military junk, may be manageable.
For the most part stimulus spending is a waste of time- a trillion dollars now so that we delay the collapse for a year or two and make every subsequent year worse, is just a bad idea.  Better to take the medicine now althought it is never politically popular to tell the public that doing nothing is the best option.  There may of course be some specific cases where the cost-benefit is there and in particular we can’t lose track of spending on preventative maintenance on infrastructure now will probably save greater expenses in the future.
The central problem of the few Tea Party and Republicans who want the country to improve is that it is not possible to turn the country around with their model.  Central to any recovery has to be that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy laws apply in the same manner to low minimum wages as they do to government subsidies.   The Fordism model for building America cannot work if every business can opt out of it without consequences and move production offshore.   Whether a company has an advantage through a subsidy by the people through the government or is subsidized by the people by low labor costs is only a difference in semantics.
The right wing is creating an environment in which it will only be possible for America to compete by reverting into the equivalent of a third world country.
This global “race for the bottom” doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Better to tell corporations  that if they break with the program, they break with it completely, and if they want to make shoes with laborers in Thailand making 10 cents per hour, then they can go see how much they sell to the Thais.   Otherwise they are freeloaders being carried by everyone else.
Another problem, the demographic bulge with the baby boomers, can only be resolved by going against the other right wing agenda and opening up immigration.  A good immigration policy can smooth out the demographics.   A number of billionaires have called for an improved immigration policy for presumably this reason. If you have too much of your population retired there is a huge burden on the remaining workforce.  The longer the wait to open the borders the worse the problem will be as people aren’t going to just walk into the country and immediately pick up all of the slack.
The “Tea Party” types have tied their hands by confusing empirical issues with philisophical issues and have said, essentially, that they will vote against anything that could possibly work.   Doing more of what got America into this hole in the first place is just going to dig that hole deeper.