When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicago Police Guilty of Covering Up Bartender Beating by Cop

From the Windy City--the "Chicago Way"--Chicago Police Found Guilty of Covering Up Bartender Beating - ABC News: "The Chicago Police Department has been found guilty of covering up the beating of a female bartender by a city police officer, and was criticized for honoring a "code of silence" in which officers cover up for one another's misdeeds. Bartender Karina Obrycka was awarded $850,000 by a federal jury on Tuesday. Obrycka sued the police department and former police officer Anthony Abbate for a 2007 incident in which Abbate jumped behind her bar at Jesse's Shortstop Inn and, when reprimanded by Obrycka, assaulted her. The altercation was caught on surveillance tape, but Chicago police officers ignored the tape's existence and failed to mention in their police report that the assailant was a city cop. Obrycka's attorney presented evidence, including hundreds of phone calls between Abbate and other cops in the hours after the incident, that convinced the jury there was a widespread effort to cover up the attack. . . . "


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disruptive Innovations Could Cure Health Care

Our health care crisis--the anwer isn't Obamacare (it's just a band-aid, and an expensive one at that). But maybe there is a way out--

Will Disruptive Innovations Cure Health Care? - Harvard Business Review: "Our major health care institutions—medical schools, groups of specialist physicians, general hospitals, research organizations—have together overshot the level of care actually needed or used by the vast majority of patients. Indeed, most players in today’s health care system are in a lockstep march toward the most scientifically demanding challenges. Between 1960 and now, for example, our medical schools and residency programs have churned out specialists and subspecialists with extraordinary capabilities. But most of the things that afflict us are relatively straightforward disorders whose diagnoses and treatments tap but a small fraction of what our medical schools have prepared physicians to do. Similarly, the vast majority of research funding from the National Institutes of Health is aimed at learning to cure diseases that historically have been incurable. Much less is being spent on learning how to provide the health care that most of us need most of the time in a way that is simpler, more convenient, and less costly."

There is a better way--simpler, more convenient, less costly.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From Windows 8 to Windows 7: why downgrade

From Windows 8 to Windows 7: why I downgraded | ZDNet: "So, what, specifically, was it that I disliked so much about Windows 8? Primarily, I can't stand the new UI (User Interface). I didn't like it from day 1, I don't like it now, and I don't have the interest or patience to force myself to like it (which, despite the number of optimistic ways I've seen other people spin it, is what you have to do if you hope to enjoy it -- especially with a mouse and keyboard)."

As I've said before--stay away from Windows 8 if you are a content creator and need to use a keyboard and mouse. Instead, go Windows 7 on your non-touchscreen Notebook or Desktop PC.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FTC does not have a case against Google

Finally--it appears some sanity is prevailing in Washington--

Google may dodge FTC's antitrust bullet, report says | Internet & Media - CNET News: "Regulators aren't sure they have enough evidence for an antitrust lawsuit and are examining whether consumer benefits of Google's search approach outweigh harm to competitors, Bloomberg reported, citing three unnamed sources."

No kidding--this was obvious to most non-biased people a LONG time ago--in the meantime the FTC has wasted millions in taxpayer funds chasing a meritless case, hiring expensive outside counsel (I would love to know the particulars of that "sweetheart" personal services contract--"only inside the beltway"), just to harass one of the most respected companies in the world--and a large generator and platform of new businesses which use Google apps and other services at low, or no cost.

Microsoft and some other competitors of Google have been lobbying the FTC and other federal departments and agencies to "harass" Google--
"Those rallying opposition to Google include two industry groups, FairSearch.org and Icomp; Microsoft is a member of both groups, but other companies involved with the groups include comparison shopping sites Foundem and Nextag and travel sites Kayak, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Hotwire."
And of course I am sure China and radical foreign Islamists (YouTube anyone?) who oppose Google's stance on free speech and a free internet would also want the FTC to do their dirty work.

As one commenter on the above cited article wrote--
"Why not investigate whether sufficient legal authority to hire outside council [sic] ever existed in this case. 'Microsoft told me to.' is not legal justification for wasting taxpayer money and trashing the Constitution."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Obama's speech on Election Night: One Sentence of Hope for Tech

A simple sentence--but perhaps provides hope for technology, innovation, and internet freedom unfettered by government instrusion, obstruction, and limitation--

Obama's speech on Election Night: The full text - San Jose Mercury News: "A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow."


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: The Solution is Obvious

An open letter to Tim Geithner on how to dodge the next debt crisis - The Washington Post: "The solution is obvious, along the lines that my colleague Geoff Colvin and I proposed in September: broadening the tax base so that we can lower rates while increasing tax revenue; treating income from capital and work the same way; and trimming the growth of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, especially for people like me who are well off. Much of this has become the conventional wisdom in Washington — and it’s actually wise."

So why is Washington having such a problem with the fiscal cliff?


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Autonomous Policing is the Future

Some civil libertarians seem to be upset by the following--I'm not. Webcams and digital storage are cheap and should be installed everywhere in public and other places where no Fourth Amendment protection applies. Autonomous policing is the future, and will reduce crime.

Police allowed to install cameras on private property without warrant | Ars Technica: "A federal judge has ruled that police officers in Wisconsin did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly installed cameras on private property without judicial approval. The officers installed the cameras in an open field where they suspected the defendants, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, were growing marijuana. The police eventually obtained a search warrant, but not until after some potentially incriminating images were captured by the cameras. The defendants have asked the judge to suppress all images collected prior to the issuance of the search warrant. But in a Monday decision first reported by CNET, Judge William Griesbach rejected the request. Instead, he approved the ruling of a magistrate judge that the Fourth Amendment only protected the home and land directly outside of it (known as "curtilage"), not open fields far from any residence. The Fourth Amendment protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." The court ruled that under applicable Supreme Court precedents, "open fields, as distinguished from curtilage, are not 'effects' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment."

Sounds pretty straightforward to me.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Palestine: One state, two states or even three states?

Enlightening--and worth watching:

One state, two states or even three states? - The Cafe - Al Jazeera English - "Palestinians have lived under occupation for more than 60 years. Their homes and land have been stolen and their status reduced to that of refugees in their own country. But instead of uniting against a common enemy, Palestinians are divided, between the Islamists in Hamas who rule Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that governs the West Bank. Many accuse the PA of being Israeli stooges and their mismanagement of everything from unemployment, sky-rocketing prices, water rights, taxation and border issues have made them deeply unpopular. Postponing elections simply prolongs the crisis. The paradox is that Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the occupied territories, is booming, with aid money pouring in to assuage the world's guilty consciences. Many worry that this is breeding an aid-dependent culture and further weakening Palestinian resistance. And what hope is there of any permanent solution? Will the Palestinians continue to live in limbo, in one state, two states, or even three states?"

About The Cafe - a truly democratic forum for ideas, hosted by Mehdi Hasan. The programme discusses global themes with people who are experiencing these events first-hand - from the global economic crisis to resource wars and ethnic cleansing.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Obama's hometown Chicago

One thing the Obama administration should do in the next four years--look at America's cities and do something!! Most U.S. cities are not in good shape and yet, they are the economic growth engines of the country. Here's a profile of the President's hometown in one recent article:

America's 50 Best Cities - The Best Places to Live - Businessweek: "Chicago--Rank: 28; Population: 2,679,998--The Windy City, America’s third-largest metropolis, would rank much higher if it were evaluated purely on its strong universities and thriving entertainment. Chicago is as hot as any city, thanks to its fine dining in such neighborhoods as Lincoln Park, nightlife in its more than 800 bars, and strong acting chops honed at such places as Second City and the Steppenwolf Theatre Co. To climb higher in the list, however, Chicago must address its increasing gang violence and high crime, as well as poor air quality and major economic issues. Bars: 807; Restaurants: 6,438; Museums: 76; Libraries: 99; Pro sports teams: 8; Park acres per 1,000 residents: 4; Colleges: 42; Percent with graduate degree: 9.3; Median household income: $56,121; Percent unemployed: 9.8"

I might add that any city where only about 50% of public school students graduate from high school (54% in 2004), is  a city destined not for greatness, but decline. If something isn't done, I'm afraid Chicago (and other U.S. cities) will succumb to the Detroit disease.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Dumbing Down" the "Intelligence"

What happened after the Benghazi attack, in which the US ambassador was killed, can only be described as an "inside the beltway" process of "dumbing down" the "intelligence"--

Sources: Office of the DNI cut "al Qaeda" reference from Benghazi talking points, and CIA, FBI signed off - CBS News: ""The intelligence community assessed from the very beginning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," DNI spokesman Shawn Turner tells CBS News. That information was shared at a classified level -- which Rice, as a member of President Obama's cabinet, would have been privy to. An intelligence source says the talking points were passed from the CIA to the DNI, where the substantive edits were made, and then to FBI, which made more edits as part of "standard procedure.""

In other words, Rice knew, Obama knew, in fact everyone "inside the intelligence apparatus" knew that it was a terrorist attack--nonetheless, Rice went on multiple national television shows 5 days after the attack and maintained the "intelligence" indicated it was a spontaneous "protest" over some obscure YouTube video. This would be hilarious but for the tragic consequences of the attack.

Spin it however you want--this is pathetic. There is nothing honorable in the performance of Rice, Obama's posturing, or the DNI--which should be abolished. Part of the obvious problem here is we have too many "intelligence" agencies, each of whom wants to have their own input on the "end product" resulting in a very poor quality product.  If Steve Jobs were running this show, DNI would have been abolished and the head of the CIA would report directly to the White House with the latest and best intelligence.  We don't need a dozen bureaucracies to do one job in Washington! But you think anyone in Washington is going to streamline an inefficient and bloated government? That would save taxpayer funds and lessen the deficit!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All In: General Petraeus, Broadwell and the book

As I write this, I note that Broadwell has taken her website off-line.  She and her (almost silent) co-author Vernon Loeb's book "All In" about David Petraeus, received some endorsing comments prior to recent disclosures.  Wonder if Doris Kearns Goodwin or David Gergen would like to reconsider their published comments, which were used to sell the tome?

All In: Gen. Petraeus: (from cached copy of Broadwell's website)
"Doris Keans [sic] Goodwin, Pititzer [sic] Prize-Winning Author--"This majestic biography will set the standard for all future works about General Petraeus. With superb narrative skills, Broadwell simultaneously provides an intimate look at Petraeus the man, a fascinating account of modern warfare, and an elegant study of leadership."
"David Gergen, Director, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership--"Teddy Roosevelt once said that it is not enough to be intelligent; a leader must also be honest and fearless. In General David Petraeus (himself a T.R. fan), America has been fortunate to have a soldier-scholar who is all three. Paula Broadwell, soldier-scholar in her own right, tells the Petraeus story masterfully, providing especially rich detail and insight into his Afghanistan mission. This book helps us understand how Petraeus has become the living legend he is.""
So much for Broadwell. Some soldier. Some scholar. She went "All In." Oh, I am sure she will survive--and I won''t be surprised to see her re-surface with her new tell-all book, exercise videos, a spread in Playboy or Hustler, and even her own reality show!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Why my iPad can't replace my laptop

Also why Microsoft is off-track with Windows 8--

Why my iPad can't replace my laptop: It's the trackpad | iPad Atlas - CNET Reviews: "Adding a keyboard to an iPad, like the Logitech/Zagg Keyboard Case for iPad 2, solves the problem of text entry. That's great for when you have to write a long essay, or are working on a chunk of your Great American Novel, or just want to jot down some notes. It's not so great when you have to edit a document, or create a blog post with embedded links, or do simultaneous Web research and writing. To do anything more than text entry and a few other commands, you'll have to reach up and touch the iPad's screen, which isn't exactly ergonomic or time-efficient when you have the iPad propped up and a keyboard attached. In fact, it's downright awkward. This is why touch-screen laptops haven't taken off. No one wants to touch a screen while typing on a keyboard. I want a trackpad when I work, or even a mouse. Touching the screen makes no sense in "laptop" mode. I'd rather use the iPad as a straight-up tablet, which brings me back full circle and defeats the purpose of the keyboard."

Now somebody is going to make an OS where you can disable "touch" and use a tablet with a keyboard and mouse--but we're not there yet.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Obama and Rice wrong about Benghazi -- it was a terrorist attack, not an obscure YouTube video protest

You can watch the CNN report above--bottom line: Barack Obama and Susan Rice were wrong and misinformed the American people about the attack in that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador and others--it was a terrorist attack by an Al Qaeda related group, and was not a spontaneous demonstration about an obscure YouTube video that Obama and others in his administration made such a big deal about. I previously posted about the gross incompetence and/or malfeasance of the Obama administration in this matter (see Just how inept is the Obama administration? and Attack in Libya - Obama and Hilary need to explain this). It is good that Petraeus is finally clearing the air from the confusion and misinformation planted by the Obama administration.

If Obama and Rice were unsure of the facts about Benghazi, they should not have jumped to conclusions, as Rice did on national television five days after the attack, when she blamed an obscure YouTube video instead of blaming the culprits--the terrorists!

Was it the Obama administration's intent to provide cover, aid and comfort to an enemy? Or was that just an "unintended consequence" of the Obama administration's campaign of misinformation about Benghazi?

Susan Rice on ABC's This Week, September 16, 2012--five days after Benghazi attack


Saturday, November 17, 2012

After Benghazi, Muslims attack free speech

If you haven't noticed, Muslims worldwide are now attacking free speech (you can read an example at the link below). And who began this war on free speech--who else but the Obama administration!!--

WEISS: After Benghazi, Muslims attack free speech - Washington Times: "It’s unclear if the Obama administration’s purpose in condemning the now-infamous “anti-Islam YouTube video” was to deflect from Obama’s failed Middle East policies, and those of Benghazi in particular, or if it was his intent to “protect Islam from negative stereotypes” as he promised to do in his Cairo speech. Either way, his constant denunciation of the 14-minute, amateurish, anti-Islam YouTube clip signals weakness to the Muslim world and may have given license to Muslims in the West to demand restrictions on freedom of speech."


Friday, November 16, 2012

Who in the Obama administration decided to edit the "truth"

Petraeus' testimony leads one to the conclusion that the Obama administration took the intel info from the CIA and decided to "edit out" that Benghazi was a "terrorist attack" not a "spontaneous" protest out of control.  Can Susan Rice tell us who gave her the talking points she used to state multiple times on national TV, that the ONLY intelligence she had was that Benghazi was a spontaneous protest over an obscure YouTube video? How about Obama? He appears to be clueless and left out of the loop-- Attorney General Holder doesn't tell Obama that his own CIA head is under investigation; Obama isn't getting the same intel Petraeus is sending to the White House. WTF! It appears Obama has told everyone in his administration to keep him in the dark so he can always use "denial" as a cover--"I wasn't told."  Real leadership? We may be in for 4 really bad years if this is the way the Obama administration is going to operate.

Intel officials unable to say who changed CIA talking points on Libya, lawmaker says | Fox News: "Petraeus' testimony both challenges the Obama administration's repeated claims that the attack was a "spontaneous" protest over an anti-Islam video, and according to King conflicts with his own briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14. . . . "His testimony today was that from the start, he had told us that this was a terrorist attack," King said"

OK, so who in the Obama administration decided to edit the "truth"?


Belize: more on McAfee

3 detained in killing of Internet pioneer's neighbor in Belize - CNN.com: "Martinez said there had been "some sort of misunderstanding" before Saturday between McAfee and Faull about the dogs. McAfee, 67, told Davis on Tuesday that he did not kill his neighbor, the reporter said. "He says that he's had very little contact with Greg over the past three years," Davis said. "They've spoken maybe 50 words total. Nonetheless, there was antagonism there. McAfee admits that." McAfee told Davis that, when police visited his home on Sunday, he hid from them. "McAfee saw them coming and he dug a hole in the sand and buried himself in the sand, he says, and he put a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe," Davis said. "He said it was extremely uncomfortable, but he believes that the police will kill him if he turns himself in.". . . Faull, a construction contractor from central Florida, moved this year to Belize "to transition to more adventures based in Belize," his family said in a statement. Several years ago, he had bought a house on Ambergris Cay in Belize that had been damaged in a hurricane, the family said. "Greg worked part-time for the past three years to rebuild the home," it said. "He recently completed work and had the property ready to offer as a vacation rental when he was murdered.""


Murder in the Tropics

No other way to say this--bizarre! The founder of the anti-virus software firm McAfee is wanted for questioning by police in Belize over the murder of his neighbour. He is described as a 'person of interest' rather than an 'suspect'. However, journalist Joshua Davis said he had been receiving calls from John McAfee at 'all hours of the day and night' as he attempted to evade police over fears of 'not getting a fair trial'. Mr Davis said the multi-millionaire told him he had changed his appearance and hid in the sand with a cardboard box over his head when the police came to question him.--BBC
McAfee (source:BBC)

Tech multimillionaire - wanted for questioning in connection with a murder; earlier invaded by the gang-suppression unit of a small Central American country. Uh, I think we need an intervention here.  Click link below or thumbnail at left for the BBC story. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20326170


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Google and anti-trust: a debate over Internet search

Google continues to come under attack and meritless investigations by the FTC, European Union and others. Anybody who has knowledge of the technology behind search, and antitrust law, would not waste the taxpayers money. But of course bureaucrats and others have to justify their salaries etc.--

Google and anti-trust: The new debate over Internet search - Society and Culture - AEI: "Since publishing “The Anti-Trust Paradox: A Policy at War With Itself” in 1978, Judge Robert Bork has been among the most influential analysts and critics of U.S. anti-trust law. Judge Bork and other “Chicago School” thinkers have profoundly shaped constitutional jurisprudence with respect to anti-trust for more than three decades. In a new paper entitled “What Does the Chicago School Teach about Internet Search and the Anti-Trust Treatment of Google?,” Bork and Gregory Sidak analyze and weigh the merits of the anti-trust concerns that have been raised concerning Google and the market for Internet search. Join AEI for a luncheon in which experts in the fields of anti-trust, law and economics and technology policy will discuss the market for Internet search, the evolving competitive landscape and the proper role of government regulation in this sphere." (video above)

Excerpt from “What Does the Chicago School Teach about Internet Search and the Anti-Trust Treatment of Google?”--"None of the purported antitrust problems that Google’s critics have raised indicates that Google is behaving anticompetitively. Google’s ranking of specialized search results in general search pages is not an attempt to monopolize vertical search. Rather, it is a product improvement that enhances value for consumers. The characterization of top placement on a Google search page as an essential facility lacks any foundation in antitrust law. The claims that Google has hindered the ability of rivals search engines to compete for users, advertisers, and OEMs by reaching minimum efficient scale are false. Moreover, one cannot reasonably conclude that the necessary scale to compete in search approaches Google’s scale. Given the serious factual, logical, and economic flaws in the antitrust complaints about Google’s practices, one can reasonably conclude only that Google’s competitors are seeking to use antitrust law to protect their own market positions. However, punishing Google for being a successful competitor would stifle innovation and dynamic competition. . . Such use of antitrust law undermines its unequivocal purpose—to protect consumers."


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tablet talk: Microsoft Surface worth buying?

I'm no Apple fanboy, but the outlook for Microsoft isn't good--from their Windows 8 OS to their new tablet--

Microsoft Surface: Why is the new tablet so much worse than the iPad? - Slate Magazine: " . . . the new tablet’s flaws are glaring: It’s too slow, it’s mercilessly buggy, and the add-on that’s supposed to set it apart from the iPad—its touch-cover keyboard and trackpad—is nice but far from revolutionary. At $499 for the base model, plus $120 for the almost-required touch cover, the Surface is also not very competitive on price: You can get the newest standard iPad for the same $499, the still pretty good iPad 2 for $399, and the new iPad Mini for $329. . . . "

Bottom line: either buy the Nexus 7 or go Apple (iPad or mini iPad).


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ron Paul: We're Broke and Already Over Fiscal Cliff (video)

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, talks about U.S. fiscal policy, and the prospects of political compromise on the nation’s budget defict. Paul speaks to Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)


Monday, November 12, 2012

All In: The Education of General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

Watch the video at the C-SPAN link below (recorded February 6, 2012)--no mention by Ms. Broadwell of her "personal relationship" with Petraeus:

[All In: The Education of General Petraeus] - C-SPAN Video Library: "Former Army officer Paula Broadwell talked about David Petraeus' military career and his impact on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. General Petraeus gave her access to himself and his team for the book. She was joined by her co-author Vernon Loeb in responding to questions from members of the audience at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C."

And now for the rest of the story (with apologies to Paul Harvey)--

David Petraeus: Was the relationship discovered by FBI months ago but hushed due to election? | Mail Online: "The FBI began an investigation  in February after discovering the  60-year-old’s computer had been accessed by someone else - believed to be his 40-year-old mistress Paula Broadwell - prompting fears of a major security breach. This led to the discovery of hundreds of explicit emails including one referring to ‘sex under a desk.'. . . "


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Is France a "Luddite" nation?

This is a classic example of old media and government (in this case the French government) joining together to thwart innovation and new technology (in this case Google) merely because it "upsets" the "established order."  Watch Jeff Jarvis enlighten the French and turn the question around: "Are old media and government too powerful?"

Is Google too powerful? - FRANCE 24: "Is Google too powerful?--On the old continent taking on old media, Eric Schmidt meets the French president in a bid to thwart plans to tax links to media websites. Fran├žois Picard’s panel argues over whether the IT giant is stealing money or making it for an ailing French press." 

Jeff JARVIS. Author of "What Would Google Do?" - from New York;
Philippe MOREAU-CHEVROLET. Columnist, Nouvel Observateur;
Olivia PHELIP. Editor-in-Chief, JOL Press;
Waddick DOYLE. Professor, AUP School of Communications.

Produced by Anelise Borges, Fran├žois Picard, Shamira Muhammad, Mary Colombel.

Part 1--http://www.france24.com/en/20121029-debate-Is-Google-too-powerful 

Part 2--http://www.france24.com/en/20121029-debate-Is-Google-too-powerful-part2

Oh, you might need to know the meaning of "luddites"--In modern usage, "Luddite" is a term describing those opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general. (source: wikipedia)

Apparently, France is becoming a "Luddite" nation.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

TSA iPad theft problem

Forget about terrorists, forget about the "security theater" known as airport screening, the biggest threat to air travel security is now apparently the systemic problem of TSA agents stealing your stuff--

What TSA’s iPad theft problem means for your next flight: "TSA agents seem to have a thing for iPads. Apple’s tablet computers are easy to swipe from unwitting airline passengers and can be sold quickly online, as I noted earlier this year. You’d think the TSA would do something about the wave of thefts reported this spring. But instead, it has apparently done nothing. Less than nothing, if a new investigation from ABC News is to be believed. But the report shines a light on a system that allows more than a few rogue TSA agents to get away with filching your electronics. That institutional flaw also allows other airport employees and airline workers to commit additional crimes against air travelers. The problem may be far bigger than the broadcast suggests. . . ."


Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiscal Cliff? Obama is on the right track

President Obama said today: "I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes . . .while there may be disagreement in Congress over whether or not to raise taxes on folks making over $250,000 a year, nobody -- not Republicans, not Democrats -- want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year."
Everyone is talking about the "fiscal cliff."  Well the President today made clear that the solution is to deal with both sides of the ledger--revenue and expenditures.  The Republicans will be making a BIG mistake if they don't engage with the President. The fiscal problem cannot be solved by cutting expenditures alone--no respected economist has recommended that. At the same time, too many rich people (like Mitt Romney) are paying tax rates of LESS than 15%--give me a break!  Message to Congress: either engage in full tax reform (see Simpson-Bowles) or give the President what he advocates.

Bush tax cuts remain fiscal cliff crucible - Nov. 9, 2012: "The crux of the controversy is whether to extend the portion of the Bush tax cuts that apply to income over $200,000 ($250,000 for those who are married). If they were allowed to expire as scheduled on Dec. 31, the top two income tax rates would increase to 36% and 39.6% next year, up from 33% and 35% this year. Investment tax rates would rise too from their current level of 15%. Obama and Senate Democrats want to let them expire. Boehner and House Republicans want to extend them. 

Obama's agenda of revenge?

Obama's agenda of revenge?--if so, it's a bad omen:

Spite and revenge is the new hope and change - The Week: "Obama's "revenge" remarks are at least as revealing about this campaign, and of Obama's approach to both this election and to public policy, as were Romney's 47 percent statements. The president, in both his campaign and his administration, has gone fully populist, attempting to divide the country along class lines as a distraction from his record in his term in office. In fact, the best description of Obama's politics since September 2011 is "the politics of revenge.""

How does Obama expect to govern, much less deal with the fiscal cliff, if his agenda is revenge?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post election analysis: Romney campaign made fundamental bad decisions

Why did Romney lose? It's not "rocket science" as they say--here's the best analysis I've come across (you can watch the video at the BBC link below):

BBC News video - Romney campaign 'made fundamental bad decisions': "Soren Dayton is a Republican strategist and former staffer on John McCain's presidential campaign. Speaking to the BBC's Jon Sopel, he criticised Romney's decision to swing to the right on immigration as, "profoundly damaging and misguided". On the campaign's failure to win over female voters he said, "There were some dumb things said - frankly stupid and profoundly insensitive - that created a problem." Mr Dayton said there were "fundamental bad decisions" which included letting the Obama campaign define who Romney was."

Bottom line: irrespective of your political leanings or candidate preferences, unquestionably the best campaign won.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama's re-election speech: a re-write of history and an omission

You can read the full text for yourself at the link below--but of all the things I was surprised by in Obama's re-election speech, two stick out:

1. A small thing, but significant: "Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny . .  . "  A former colony?  Which of the thirteen colonies is he referring to? And Obama is a Harvard law graduate? If you don't know and understand that America was formed from thirteen independent, original colonies, you are woefully ignorant--particularly to be President of these United States. No wonder Obama thinks the federal powers are unlimited (and unfortunately, our present Supreme Court apparently agrees--at least as long as you characterize the "power grab" as a "tax").

2. A glaring omission--no thanks, no mention of, Bill Clinton. Never, in the history of this Republic, has a past President taken such an active, and significant, role in a Presidential race. I understand Obama called Clinton after calling Romney, but still, public acknowledgement, and thanks, should have been made.

BBC News - Full text: Obama's re-election speech

Tomorrow: a post-election analysis of the Romney campaign (hint: it's not "rocket science").


Election over--time to get down to business--the tax myths

The Tax Break Myth: They're Not Really For the Middle Class - Josh Freedman - The Atlantic: " . . . While rhetoric about tax expenditures is bandied about, the actual effects get lost in the fray. Do tax expenditures (like home mortgage deductions) actually benefit the middle class? Or, put differently, are tax expenditures a "middle-class welfare state", as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein described them last year? The answer is: not as much as you might think. While there are differences between types of tax expenditures, most of the largest tax expenditures help a few people in the middle class a bit while helping wealthier Americans much more. The tax code may have become a type of middle-class welfare state, but in its current form is one of the most regressive and least efficient middle-class welfare states possible."

We would be better with complete tax reform--no deductions, a flat tax on all income above $15,000 per year, elimination of the employee's portion of the payroll tax, and an employer's "payroll tax" on actual gross payroll compensation (including within "compensation" all stock options and other transfers to employees by employers). Of course, I also favor individual, self-funded retirement accounts, and elimination/phase-out of ALL pensions and other retirement plans except, of course, Social Security, which should be broadened to cover everyone (many government employees are "exempt").


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012 - Not much of a choice

Final post before the votes counted--

RealClearMarkets - Obama's Jobs' Spin Speaks to Desperation: "while it is amazing that the American people would even consider giving a CEO with a performance record like Obama's another term, it is even more amazing that the best candidate that the Republican Party could come up with to oppose him is in serious danger of losing."


Monday, November 5, 2012

Forget the mainstream media pro-Obama hype and spin - this election could go either way

What will the election outcome be? Well who do you believe?--

Nov. 1: The Simple Case for Saying Obama Is the Favorite - NYTimes.com: "By NATE SILVER--If you are following some of the same people that I do on Twitter, you may have noticed some pushback about our contention that Barack Obama is a favorite (and certainly not a lock) to be re-elected. I haven’t come across too many analyses suggesting that Mitt Romney is the favorite. (There are exceptions.) But there are plenty of people who say that the race is a “tossup.” What I find confounding about this is that the argument we’re making is exceedingly simple. Here it is: Obama’s ahead in Ohio . . . ."

Karl Rove: Sifting the Numbers for a Winner - WSJ.com: " . . . Desperate Democrats are now hanging their hopes on a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll showing the president with a five-point Ohio lead. But that survey gives Democrats a +8 advantage in turnout, the same advantage Democrats had in 2008. That assumption is, to put it gently, absurd. In addition to the data, the anecdotal and intangible evidence—from crowd sizes to each side's closing arguments—give the sense that the odds favor Mr. Romney. They do. My prediction: Sometime after the cock crows on the morning of Nov. 7, Mitt Romney will be declared America's 45th president. Let's call it 51%-48%, with Mr. Romney carrying at least 279 Electoral College votes, probably more. --Mr. Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, helped organize the political action committee American Crossroads."

One thing for sure--they both can't be right!! Here's the real map as best as I can tell on the eve of the election--you can plug in the actual results as they occur in real time: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/obama_vs_romney_create_your_own_electoral_college_map.html

projected electoral college map

Yes, I have Virginia as red (for Romney) as the most reliable polls have a slight edge for Romney. IF Romney wins Virginia and the other states he is currently leading, the map will look as shown above--quite a difference from what mainstream media would have you believe (LOL)!! That would leave New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado--just 7 states. Yes, it's possible Romney won't win ANY of those 7 states. It's also possible he could win the election by winning Ohio and just one other state among those 7 toss-ups. If Romney wins more than that, it's not a "close" election (at least in electoral college votes). Stay tuned.


Obama's Unemployment Problem

Of all the headwinds the Obama administration is facing in this election, this is probably the toughest: Unemployment has only fallen because fewer Americans are looking for work, not because more Americans are finding jobs. --
chart showing US Labor Participation Rate
Source: Heritage Foundation calculations from U.S. Dept of Labor

Not Looking for Work: Why Labor Force Participation Has Fallen During the Recession: "Lower Participation = Lower Unemployment Rate. As high as the unemployment numbers are, they still overstate the economy’s performance. Since the recession began, the labor force participation rate—the proportion of adults either working or trying to find work—has fallen by approximately 2 percentage points. The government counts only people actively looking for jobs as unemployed. The drop in labor force participation accounts for the entire net drop in the unemployment rate over the past three years."


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Still an Economy Election

The facts--just the facts:

Fix this economy - NYPOST.com: "Bill Clinton stumbled into the truth about the US economy recently when he conceded that Mitt Romney is right, “It is true, we’re not fixed.” During the more than three-year Obama recovery, we’ve recovered only 4.8 million private-sector jobs of the 8.9 million lost in the Great RecessionAt the current pace of job creation the past two years (and assuming labor force participation stays constant), the economy won’t return to the Bush low of 4.4 percent unemployment for nine more years. The current level of private-sector jobs remains nearly 13 million below where it would be if the labor market were back to normal and creating jobs at what economists call a “trend recovery.” And what kind of recovery is it when incomes decline faster than during the preceding downturn? The Great Recession never ended, not really. It just morphed into the Long Recession. So things are most definitely not fixed. And in some ways, they’re getting worse. The United States now ranks seventh of 144 nations in the World Economic Forum competitiveness rankings. In 2008, it was first. Fewer new firms are being formed today than two years ago when the recession ended, according to a Hudson Institute study. US government publicly held debt as a share of GDP was 41 percent in 2008; it’s projected to be 76 percent next year — and, under the most recent Obama budget, it’ll more or less stay at that historically high level for another decade."


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who Has A Plan for Economic Recovery?

OK, I get it--the election is about the economy: Change (Romney) vs More of the Same (Obama). And I expected the liberal economist Paul Krugman to blast Romney in the New York Times, but I was surprised to read what he wrote about Obama--

Pointing Toward Prosperity? - NYTimes.com: "So, is Mr. Obama offering an inspiring vision for economic recovery? No, he isn’t. His economic agenda is relatively small-bore — a bunch of modest if sensible proposals rather than a big push. More important, it’s aimed at the medium term, the economy of 2020, rather than at the clear and pressing problems of the present."

As I've said before, pick your poison.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Windows 8 does not make sense on business desktops

Windows 8 redux--

Does Windows 8 make sense on business desktops? TechRepublic: "“The new UI would inhibit users who are used to the traditional UI. I believe businesses will turn their backs on Windows 8 unless major changes are made. Users do not want a tablet experience when working on a desktop or laptop computer.”"

What is it about the above that Microsoft doesn't get?


Thursday, November 1, 2012

How the Democrats Lost This Election

In order to keep the campaign on message, Carville hung a sign in Bill Clinton's Little Rock campaign headquarters that read:
Change vs. more of the same
The economy, stupid . . . 

It's still about the economy, stupid--

How the Democratic Base Could Lose This Election for Obama - Clive Crook - The Atlantic:
"President Obama is prepared to veto legislation to block year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, collectively known as the 'fiscal cliff,' unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates for the wealthy, administration officials said." So reported the Washington Post on Thursday. The article assumes, plausibly, that nothing will actually happen until after the election, and points out that whoever wins, the tactical calculations will then look different. True. In the meantime, though, this veto talk gives Romney an opening. . . . The Democrats are so keen raise taxes on the rich that they're willing raise everybody's taxes in order to do it. Democrats apparently think Obama's position is more appealing to centrist voters than Romney's. They're wrong. . .  Romney can say he's prioritizing growth--that that's his overriding goal. The only way to read the Democrats' reply is that redistribution matters more. Their position looks all the more unreasonable if you agree with Democrats (as you should) about the economic dangers of an abrupt fiscal contraction. As good anti-austerity Keynesians, they should be more willing than Republicans, not less, to delay tax increases while the economy's so weak. Their zeal to raise taxes on the rich outweighs every other consideration: That's the message. . . . --but if Obama isn't careful, the base-pleasing hard line on the fiscal cliff could send Romney to the White House. Courtesy of progressives."


The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects