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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Eric Schmidt's 2014 Predictions (video)

Eric Schmidt's 2014 Predictions - Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- In a rare interview, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt gives Bloomberg his outlook for 2014 trends. (Source: Bloomberg)


Monday, December 30, 2013

Obama, ObamaCare, Mess Multiplied

The Obama administration is now in a panic over the Obamacare mess -- the headlines are hard to miss --

Obamacare Is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes | The Weekly Standard

Obama Repeals ObamaCare - WSJ.com: "... The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law's success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday (Dec. 19), with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt (for 2014). Individuals whose health plans were canceled (due to Obamacare) will now automatically qualify for a "hardship exemption" from the mandate. If they can't or don't sign up for a new plan, they don't have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30...."

So what's wrong with this? We now have a law, upheld by the US Supreme Court as a valid tax,  mandating everyone buy or be covered by health insurance, but now filled with so many exceptions and exemptions arbitrarily imposed by Obama as to make the whole thing financially unsustainable. You don't think the health insurance companies are going to eat those losses, do you? As a result, prepare for massive increases in health insurance costs for 2015 and beyond. In their panic to appease millions who have lost their health insurance and were lied to by Obama about "if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance," the Obama administration has now completely undermined the whole program. Obamacare only works financially if you force healthy Americans to buy health insurance they don't want -- in the same "pools" as those who have chronic health conditions. The insurance companies were not consulted before Obama issued these last-minute changes--legislating on the fly!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Prediction: Democrats Lose the Senate

The Obamacare mess (otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act) -- from the pathetic website (which cost half a billion dollars--LOL!) to millions of cancellations of health policies (that were affordable), and which people had been assured they could keep when Obama and other Democrats, for years, promised lied "if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance," will lead to the Democrats losing seats in the November 2014 elections, including control of the US Senate --

Rough health law fallout tightens key Senate races: "....Thanks to the fiasco that followed the launch of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Democrats are now bracing for hard-fought Senate races in states they hoped to win with ease just two months ago. Weeks of technical problems with the health insurance enrollment website combined with anxiety over insurance cancellations for millions have erased early advantages enjoyed by Democratic candidates Peters in Michigan and Mark Udall in Colorado...." source: AP (read more at link above)

GOP surges ahead of Democrats in 2014 generic ballot - CBS News: "... Democrats are being hurt by President Obama’s low approval ratings: 55 percent of those surveyed said they are more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who opposes the president, versus just four in 10 who would choose a candidate who supports him. There has been a huge drop in support for Democrats among men. In October, 46 percent opted for the Democrat on the generic ballot. In the most recent survey, just 35 percent did...."

There are consequences in politics. You hit people in the pocketbook, you lie to them, you run their government incompetently, based on lies, spin and deniability, be prepared for blowback at the next election. Obama and Democrats can't spin themselves out of this vortex.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Charity Scam Alert

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a "consumer alert" urging donors to do their homework. "Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers," the IRS says. What can you do to help protect yourself against scamsters?

1. Check out the IRS website (IRS.gov), and go to "Exempt Organizations Select Check," which is designed to help donors find "legitimate, qualified charities."

2.You can also look for qualified charities on the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema.gov).

"Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations"... "Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations." . . . "For security and tax-record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift." For more details, see IRS Publication 526

(sources for this post: IRS and Wall Street Journal)

Friday, December 27, 2013

House Prices Boom, Why is this time different?

The current housing boom is the first nationwide boom since the postwar era not driven by increased demand for owner-occupied housing, but instead, investors. source


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Unemployment Rate? 7% or 13%? It Depends

Love Yourself Some Treasuries - Bloomberg: "The Fed has said it wouldn’t raise its federal funds rate until the unemployment rate -- now 7 percent -- comes down to 6.5 percent. That target is becoming less meaningful, however, because the decline in joblessness has been primarily the result of a falling labor participation rate, not rising employment. If the participation rate hadn’t dropped from its February 2000 peak because of the retirement of members of the baby-boom generation, discouraged job-seekers and youths who have stayed in school during the recession, the unemployment rate now would be 13 percent."

So now liberal progressive economists like Paul Krugman are in a real quandary -- they want Obama to look good by having a falling unemployment rate, and the statisticians in Washington have done everything they can by redefining unemployment as excluding  the long-term unemployed and discouraged workers from those classified as unemployed (hence a real jobless rate of 13% becomes 7%). Yet they do not want the Federal Reserve to start tapering and raising interest rates -- something that is a real possibility now that the official unemployment rate (7%) is only a half of one per cent from the target (6.5%) to start doing exactly that! So what to do?

If the liberals from inside the beltway to the New York Times were honest, they would tell the American people the truth -- the real unemployment rate is about 13%, the Obama recovery has been dismal, and tapering and raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve is way premature.

But how they spin it from here into 2014, is anyone's guess.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Secret Donors, Conflicts of Interest, the Center for American Progress

The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think Tanks [Updated on 5/24] | The Nation: "The Center for American Progress, Washington’s leading liberal think tank, has been a big backer of the Energy Department’s $25 billion loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects. CAP has specifically praised First Solar, a firm that received $3.73 billion under the program, and its Antelope Valley project in California."

Washington institutions (like the liberal Center for American Progress) esteemed for their independent scholarship don’t disclose donations from corporations and foreign governments --

"CAP (Center for American Progress) is a strong proponent of alternative energy, so there’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of its advocacy. But the fact that CAP has received financial support from First Solar while touting its virtues to Washington policy-makers points to a conflict of interest that, critics argue, ought to be disclosed to the public. CAP’s promotion of the company’s interests has supplemented First Solar’s aggressive Washington lobbying efforts, on which it spent more than $800,000 during 2011 and 2012." (source supra)


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dying with Grace

The United States cannot sustain, economically or otherwise, 7 out of 10 Americans dying in institutions, intubated, infiltrated, invalidated -- and wasting, needlessly, billions in Medicare funds for terminal conditions --

The Art of Dying by Gayatri Devi - Roundtable | Lapham’s Quarterly: "... In twenty-first century America, there is no such “how to” manual on dying. Nor does our state-of-the-art modern medicine offer much help.
Fact: Seven out of ten Americans wish to die at home, die the Good, the Valid, Death.
Jane abhorred whispering, so Steve and I included Jane in our discussion of the mechanics of her death.
Fact: Seven out of ten Americans die in institutions, intubated, infiltrated, invalidated.

“This is a treatable problem,” Steve said.
“Yes,” I said, “but she is going to be worse off afterward.”
We went back and forth like this for half an hour. Jane and Sam listened intently, following the argument like spectators at a tennis match. In the end, Steve acquiesced even though his suggestions were in line with what my hospital colleagues would recommend. What I was proposing was not the medical norm..." (read more at the link above)

There is a better way, dying with grace. 

Less is More.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

China, US, both waste resources, just differently

China may be throwing money away on "ghost cities" but the US government is throwing away money on useless things too -- like a bloated, unneeded military infrastructure --

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Does the US Have Enough Military Bases?: "...Questions: Given that any satellite can pick up this information, is there any rational reason to have "secret bases"? Is any base really a secret? Would US security be hampered if 25% of the bases were shut down? 50%? 80%? The answers are 1-no, 2-no, 3-no, no, no...." (read more at link above)

Coming -- a rebalancing of military spending (meaning cuts, big cuts) once Washington gets serious about reallocating limited resources, instead of just tax, spend, waste, and ask for more.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Americans must never make the mistake of wholly 'trusting' our public officials"

Bad week for the NSA, first the Court ruling declaring NSA practices likely unconstitutional. Then the day after Obama met with tech leaders for two and half hours (solely about the NSA), the White House releases the Report, and having read it, here's a money quote:

Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence  and Communications Technologies --

“Americans must never make the mistake of wholly “trusting” our public officials. As the Church Committee observed more than 35 years ago, when the capacity of government to collect massive amounts of data about individual Americans was still in its infancy, the “massive centralization of . . . information creates a temptation to use it for improper purposes, threatens to ‘chill’ the exercise of First Amendment rights, and is inimical to the privacy of citizens.” ( p. 116) (read more at the link above)

If I were with the NSA (or CBS News), I would be looking for a rock to crawl under.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is Congressman Mike Rogers a Liar?

Fox News, December 2, 2013The evidence surrounding the case of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests he did not act alone when he downloaded some 200,000 documents, according to the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee. "We know he did some things capability-wise that was beyond his capabilities. Which means he used someone else's help to try and steal things from the United States, the people of the United States. Classified information, information we use to keep America safe," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Fox News.

Reuters, today (11 days later) - reporting on comments made in "a rare interview at NSA's heavily guarded Fort Meade headquarters" with "Richard Ledgett, who leads a task force responding to the leaks": The NSA's internal review has determined about 98 percent of the scope of the material that Snowden had accessed, and officials have found no evidence that he had help either within the NSA or from adversary spy agencies.
So how could Congressman Rogers have known something that the NSA itself says there is no evidence of? Just more pathetic lies from Washington officials about the NSA -- Congressional oversight? -- LOL!

Clowns and fools and LIARS! At this point, anybody who votes for Mike Rogers is irresponsible. He didn't do his job of oversight as Committee chair, and he has lied to the American people about the facts. Guys like this are not worthy of holding public office or serving in any capacity in government.


Monday, December 16, 2013

John Hagel: Move to the City, Learn Faster (video)

John Hagel: Move to the City, Learn Faster- Published on Dec 1, 2013 - Cities of Knowledge: Why We Learn Faster in Cities Than We Could On Our Own -- " . . . In our 'flat' digital world, in which we can connect virtually with anybody we want, one could argue that the notion of an innovation hub is outdated. However, in today's lesson, innovation guru John Hagel explores the paradox that, despite the fact that technology infrastructure has made location unimportant, we're becoming more urbanized at a more rapid rate than ever before. Why is this? According to Hagel, learning faster is becoming more and more important, and we simply learn faster in cities than we could on our own...."


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Liberal Progressives Take Over New York City, Time to Get Out

After years on the sidelines, New York's liberals retaking control," by Reuters' Victoria Cavaliere : "With Bill de Blasio taking office as mayor in January, New York City appears poised for a resurgence of liberal policies. After 20 years of Republican leadership, not only will America's largest city have the most liberal mayor in a generation, helping him implement change will be a progressive-leaning City Council and a longtime liberal ally in the new public advocate. ... [T]he last election marked a major change in New York City politics, with a new breed of highly liberal politicians ready to enact a series of progressive policies that would have been dead on arrival under Bloomberg or his predecessor Giuliani. (from Reuters via Mike Allen at Politico)

Douglas Muzzio, an expert on New York City politics and a professor at Baruch College at the City University of New York. ‘People projected their frustration, their anxiety, their expectations, their dreams on Bill. In that sense it wasn't dissimilar from the 2008 election of Obama.’ …(source supra)

Time to get out of New York City (if you haven't left already). And don't just take my word for it, here is (one of  his many posts on the subject) Andrew Sullivan. What I like particularly about the progessive liberal takeover of New York City, is that the whole nation can watch, from afar, the disastrous results of progressive liberal policies as they occur over the next few years. I expect the so-called mainstream media will at first exist in a state of denial about the disaster taking place in front of their eyes. But eventually, the results will be too painful for even them to ignore. How long will it take?


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Federal Reserve Creates a Bust to Bubble Economy

The whole problem with the Federal Reserve is that the mistake of the double mandate requires them to try to achieve a full employment economy. Unfortunately, that means creating a "bubble economy" because "full employment" only occurs in a "bubble economy" in the modern world as created by central bankers and governments around the world -- and what's the inevitable fallout? --

Nouriel Roubini warns that policymmakers are powerless to rein in frothy housing markets around the world. - Project Syndicate: "....In countries where non-recourse loans allow borrowers to walk away from a mortgage when its value exceeds that of their home, the housing bust may lead to massive defaults and banking crises. In countries (for example, Sweden) where recourse loans allow seizure of household income to enforce payment of mortgage obligations, private consumption may plummet as debt payments (and eventually rising interest rates) crowd out discretionary spending. Either way, the result would be the same: recession and stagnation. What we are witnessing in many countries looks like a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck. And, like last time, the bigger the bubbles become, the nastier the collision with reality will be."

Remedy: repeal the double mandate; have the Federal Reserve focus solely on a sound currency and banking system. Unemployment is an issue of fiscal policy (President and Congress) not monetary policy (Federal Reserve).


Friday, December 13, 2013

First Secret Courts, Now the Secret Federal Reserve -- Had Enough?

Rand Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill: " . . . See the pattern? The Federal Reserve fought against releasing its emergency lending data. It was finally forced to, and the sky didn’t fall. It’s been fighting to keep evidence of foreclosure abuses secret, making people wonder whose interests it serves. And it doesn’t appear to be drafting the rules that would circumvent its own bailout powers, to the worry of many. These are the abuses that stick with people and make the public think there’s more shadiness that they don’t know about. These are all self-inflicted wounds, and reflect the choices that the Federal Reserve has made on its own. Reform happens. Whether it comes from people who want to see the Fed do a good job or those who are looking for excuses to be for hard money is a choice that the Fed has helped influence...."

Arrogance, secrecy, lack of accountability . . . . power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Microsoft in Decline

Yes Microsoft is still profitable -- but for how long? BlackBerry was profitable until everyone realized that the iPhone wasn't some fluke --

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): The Microsoft Future - Seeking Alpha: "The problem that Microsoft faces is that its market share has been declining over the past five or six years. Around 2008, Microsoft had a 90 percent market share for Global Computing Platforms and a 90 percent market share of Personal Computing Devices Shipped. Microsoft is losing market share. In terms of Global Computing Platforms, Android now has the biggest market share at 60 percent of the market. In 2008, Android had nothing! Microsoft is still ahead of Apple who has just 14 percent of the market. In 2008 Apple has about 6 percent."

The irony is that Microsoft has trashed the one market it had a lock on -- desktop and notebook PCs -- by forcing users to adopt Win8.x, an OS optimized for touchscreen tablets!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New York City mayor-elect faces immediate fiscal crisis

I've already made clear my prognosis for New York City -- get out while you can. Meanwhile, reality is slowing dawning upon the New York City electorate who voted de Blasio into office --

NYC mayor-elect will face immediate fiscal crisis | CharlotteObserver.com: "... New York City Mayor-elect . . . de Blasio's most immediate crisis is presented by some of his staunchest allies: the city's unions. All 300,000 members of the municipal labor force have been working on expired contracts for years, declining to negotiate with outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg in hopes of striking a more favorable deal with de Blasio....If de Blasio were to fully acquiesce to the unions, his scramble to fund the raises would have immediate and dramatic ramifications. Agency budgets would be slashed, meaning vital services, from trash pickup to police staffing to school supplies, would likely be cut. City workers would be laid off. And de Blasio would have little choice but to raise the one tax he can control, the property tax, which could drive homeowners and businesses from the city...."

OK let's see how the progressive liberal deals with reality. More to come.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Well Run Organizations vs Obama Administration, HealthCare.gov

How Willful Ignorance Doomed HealthCare.gov - Clay Shirky - POLITICO Magazine: "Testing means seeing what works and what doesn’t, and acting on that knowledge, even if that means contradicting management’s deeply held assumptions or goals. In well-run organizations, information runs from the top down and from the bottom up."

When did the Obama administration stop listening? And I don't mean fund raising events, or Rose Garden or other photo-ops, I mean really listening. To the people.

Why did Snowden do what he did? The NSA and the government, as a whole, stopped listening, and even prosecuted whistleblowers

Dysfunctional organizations, led by inepts and incompetents, wake up and wonder what happened and why.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Michelle Obama, First Lady

One of the few "good ones" left in Washington -- the First Lady --

Michelle Obama 'leans in', just not in the direction privileged feminists want | Enuma Okoro | theguardian.com: "...I am not even sure where to start to respond to Michelle Cottle's recent Politico article in which she calls first lady Michelle Obama a "feminist's nightmare".... What these so called feminists fail to see is that Michelle Obama is a social and political activist working passionately in arenas commonly ignored by white politicians and white feminists: the needs of the children and youth raised in low-income communities, including equal access and availability to health and nutritional education. Focusing on obesity and exercise for young people is not only a needed form of social activism to help predominately minority youth break cyclic issues of health, education and low self-esteem, but it also shows foresight and wisdom towards creating and sustaining healthier communities overall...." (read more at the link above)



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Memo to Marissa: Katie Couric, Old Media will NEVER save Yahoo

Marissa Mayer has just made her first major mistake, throwing away countless millions of Yahoo's limited assets on Katie Couric --

Leaving ABC News, Couric Describes Move to Yahoo as ‘Being of the Moment’ -- Katie Couric said that her decision to join Yahoo as its “global news anchor” came after the new chief executive, Marissa Mayer, reached out to her....

This is laughable. Katie Couric, as Leo Laporte and others have noted, is a has-been. Old media will never save nor help Yahoo to get to where it needs to go. What was Marissa thinking? I am afraid she acted way outside her competence zone on this one. It was truly, a move of the moment, because whatever flash it brought will soon quickly die out. Marissa would have been wiser to spend all the money she is throwing away on Couric, on bright, talented engineers and programmers.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

ICANN, like NSA, a self-serving bureaucracy killing the internet

All of the hopes, dreams, and promise of the internet, dashed by the NSA and ICANN et al:

ICANN leaders push for broad-based Internet governance | PCWorld: "The revelations this year of NSA surveillance by former contractor Edward Snowden have stirred up Internet governance issues, ChehadĂ© said. “That’s, frankly, almost irrelevant at this point,” he said. “What is more important is to focus ... on a future that allows all people—governments, businesses, civil society, technical organizations—to feel that they together have an equal footing in the governance of the Internet. That’s the future.”

Such grand words! Unfortunately, ICANN abandoned "serving in the public interest" and instead has adopted its own self-serving mission of greed -- read more here.

And the NSA long ago went astray of its mission, and became an out-of-control self-serving bureaucracy, complete with secret rubber-stamp FISA court, in the absence of any real overight or Presidential direction, all in the name of "national security." The legacy of the Bush-Obama era is that the NSA and the other self-serving bureaucracies, DHS, TSA, et al, have made "national security" a suspect phrase. No thinking American today believes anything that the NSA or these other acronyms say, as they have been shown to lie consistently to the American people, including under oath to Congress, and as a result, they are not trustworthy. And they have almost nothing to show for all of the billions of dollars wasted on their grand schemes of "keeping America safe." Puh-leeze, get off the security theatre and BS! And stop lying to the American people!

So how does a low-level government contract worker walk off with all of the NSA top-secret classified documents? That's not hard to do when the government agency, in this case the NSA, is an arrogant, fat, lazy, inept, self-serving bureaucracy, accountable to no one except the small-minds who run the NSA. And to think that the NSA had Congress and the public believing they were doing a good job and were good stewards of the billions in tax dollars wasted on their grand schemes of spying on Americans and the rest of the world! That is, until Mr. Snowden exposed all of their secrets to the world. One man did what the FISA court, Congress, and the President all failed to do -- hold the NSA accountable.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Maybe Microsoft is Starting to "Get It"

So maybe, just maybe, Microsoft may get it --

Maybe Microsoft is Starting to "Get It" - Julie Larson-Green, Executive Vice President, Devices and Studios at Microsoft, November 21, 2013 - UBS_LarsonGreen.docx: "So I think there will always be for a long time, for my lifetime, there will be desktop computers where people are doing precision movements with a mouse which are highly tuned towards productivity and typing, as well as maybe something on your wrist, or something on your head, or something in your pocket that you will want to interact and see your e-mails, hear notifications, get access to corporate data that you need to do your job, as well as interact with friends and family...."

So, Julie, When is Microsoft going to make an up-to-date OS for desktop computers "where people are doing precision movements with a mouse which are highly tuned towards productivity and typing" and a non-touch screen?


Thursday, December 5, 2013

NSA and its "Golden Age of Sigint" crushed by Snowden

It's always a good thing when arrogant pricks like the NSA get their comeuppance --

N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power - NYTimes.com: "...Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries [that probably includes ordinary Americans] in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact."..."

The strategy document, provided by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, was written at a time when the agency was at the peak of its powers and the scope of its surveillance operations was still secret. Since then, Mr. Snowden’s revelations have changed the political landscape."

In other words, the big, bad NSA with its grand schemes and plans, billions of  taxpayer funds to just throw away on useless projects, and free to do as it pleased by a clueless President, rubber-stamp secret Court, and dysfunctional Congress, was stopped by just one David -- thank you Mr. Snowden!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why Care About the NSA? (video)

Why Care About the N.S.A.? - Video - NYTimes.com: "Why Care About the N.S.A.? BY BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER November 25th, 2013 A short film explores whether ordinary Americans should be concerned about online surveillance."


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Ineffectiveness of NSA Programs

Defund the NSA (National Security Agency), if for no other reason than it just isn't producing anything of value that couldn't be replicated for less money by several other existing federal agencies --

Wyden, Udall Issue Statement on Effectiveness of Declassified NSA Programs | Press Releases | U.S. Senator Ron Wyden: ". . . . it appears that multiple terrorist plots have been disrupted at least in part because of information obtained under section 702 of FISA. However, it appears that the bulk phone records collection program under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act played little or no role in most of these disruptions. Saying that “these programs” have disrupted “dozens of potential terrorist plots” is misleading if the bulk phone records collection program is actually providing little or no unique value. . . ."

That pretty much sums up the NSA: providing little or no unique value.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

How Obama's Willful Ignorance Sunk His Presidency

Any President, including the present person occupying the office, who decides to rely on "deniability" as his or her key strategy, is courting disaster in the long-run:

How Willful Ignorance Doomed HealthCare.gov - Clay Shirky - POLITICO Magazine: "HealthCare.gov is a half-billion dollar site that was unable to complete even a thousand enrollments a day at launch, and for weeks afterward. As we now know, programmers, stakeholders and testers all expressed reservations about HealthCare.gov’s ability to do what it was supposed to do. Yet no one who understood the problems was able to tell the president. Worse, every senior political figure—every one—who could have bridged the gap between knowledgeable employees and the president decided not to. And so it was that, even on launch day, the president was allowed to make things worse for himself and his signature program by bragging about the already-failing site and inviting people to log in and use something that mostly wouldn’t work. Whatever happens to government procurement or hiring (and we should all hope those things get better) a culture that prefers deluding the boss over delivering bad news isn’t well equipped to try new things...."

Pardon me, but don't blame the culture, blame the leader.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quantitative Easing, Fed Pumping Up Wall Street, QE Trap

Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer - WSJ.com: " . . . In its almost 100-year history, the Fed had never bought one mortgage bond. Now my program was buying so many each day through active, unscripted trading that we constantly risked driving bond prices too high and crashing global confidence in key financial markets. We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing. It wasn't long before my old doubts resurfaced. Despite the Fed's rhetoric, my program wasn't helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American. The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn't getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash. . . ." (read more at the link above)

And now we are in a QE trap -- but few are talking about it -- yet.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Another Obamacare bombshell (video)

Obamacare bombshell: IT official says HealthCare.gov needs payment feature: "....Another day, another big, bad black eye for HealthCare.gov. A crucial system for making payments to insurers from people who enroll in that federal Obamacare marketplace has yet to be built, a senior government IT official admitted ...Henry Chao, visibly stunned Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) when he said under questioning before a House subcommittee that a significant fraction of HealthCare.gov—30 to 40 percent of it—has yet to be constructed. "We still need to build the payments system to make the payments [to insurance companies] in January," testified Chao, deputy chief information officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that operates HealthCare.gov. That so-called financial management tool was originally supposed to be part of HealthCare.gov when it launched Oct. 1, but officials later suspended its launch as part of their effort to get the consumer interface part of the site ready. The tool will, when it works, transmit the subsidies that the government is kicking in for many enrollees to offset the costs of their monthly premiums...."


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Qualcomm CEO Says NSA Fallout Impacting Its Business

Government bureaucracies like NSA only think about themselves, perpetrating and expanding their power, budget, and programs, with little if any thought of all of the unintended disastrous consequences that result --

Qualcomm CEO Says NSA Fallout Impacting China Business - WSJ.com: "Chief Executive Paul Jacobs acknowledged U.S. restrictions on Chinese companies and revelations about surveillance by the National Security Agency are impacting its business in the fast-growing country. "We are definitely seeing increased pressure," said Mr. Jacobs in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "All U.S. tech companies are seeing pressure." Mr. Jacobs stopped short of saying the pressure hurt its sales, but he did say it affected the way the company operated in China...The company doesn't build cutting edge technology there, but it does build some older trailing technologies in China. Mr. Jacobs said it is "very delicate balancing act that goes on. There's no question there is an impact." In the fiscal year ended Sept. 29, Qualcomm generated $1 billion in revenue from China."

Concepts like public service, stewardship of public funds, careful allocation and re-allocation of limited resources, limited government powers, freedom of enterprise, and individual  freedom itself, are foreign concepts in Washington DC today. Welcome to Big Brother Government. And if that puts YOU out of business, well too bad! There's always food stamps and Obama and his administration take great pride in that as do Walmart and all the other corporate welfare Queens (including Coke and Pepsi -- average SNAP recipient drinks much more sugar soda than average American) who financially profit from the SNAP program a/k/a food stamp program:

Chart of expansion under Obama of SNAP program
Obama expansion of the Food Stamp Program a/k/a SNAP --more than doubled in just three years (2008-2011) -- what a recovery!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Is What a "rubber-stamp" "kangaroo" Secret Court Looks Like


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obama, Broken Technology, Inept Leadership

Think I've been too hard on President Obama? -- read the article at the link below (quote from it follows) --

Obama's Broken Promise of Better Government Through Technology - Businessweek: "The disastrous launch of healthcare.gov,the online portal that was supposed to be the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act, has dealt a devastating blow to Obama’s vision."

Oh that vision thing again--is there somewhere one can go to opt out of the vision thing?


Monday, November 25, 2013

Malala Yousafzai (Video)

The Making of Malala - Video - NYTimes.com: "The Making of Malala

The story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl, told by The Times’s Adam B. Ellick, who made a 2009 documentary about her before she was an international star."


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obama The Great Incompetent and His Inept Administration

“This is real simple,” Mr. Obama said, during a speech in Maryland on Sept. 26 (2013). “It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans side by side the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. You just go on, and you start looking, and here are all the options.”(source infra)

Nothing like a clueless incompetent leader with an inept administration to boot. While the Obama administration is doing everything it can to stop anyone from talking about its incompetence -- see below for the unbelievable background to the Obamacare website mess -- even the New York Times is getting a clue of how incompetent Obama and his administration really are:

Tension and Flaws Before Health Website Crash - NYTimes.com"... questionable decisions and weak leadership...turned the rollout of the president’s signature program into a major humiliation....“Cut corners, make date,” said one specialist, who like most of the people interviewed for this article would not allow his name to be used because the Obama administration has requested that all government officials and contractors involved keep their work confidential...In the last week of September, the disastrous results of the project’s inept management and execution were becoming fully apparent....." (read more at the link above)

Wonder if Obama or anyone in his administration has ever heard, much less understands, the phrase the devil is in the details?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Show me the money! Obama breaking records in his quest for cash

Who cares about real governing -- it's all about the money in the Obama administration --

A record-breaking fundraising spree by Barack Obama has seen him make 30 separate visits to wealthy donors since April, according to a Guardian investigation into campaign finance trips that are running at more than twice the rate of the president's two-term predecessors.(source infra)

Revealed: Obama's record-breaking effort to tap wealthy donors for cash | World news | theguardian.com: "Obama has made 30 separate fundraising trips since April – more than twice the rate of his two-term predecessors – in bid to help Democrats win in 2014 midterm elections" (read more at the link above)


Friday, November 22, 2013

New York City elects Mayor "Hollande" - Get Out While You Can

New York City elects an Hollande --

"New York has now ended 20 years of Republican mayors and voted in Bill de Blasio. He is not just a Democrat but the sort of Democrat most Europeans thought extinct, a leftwing liberal one." - The Guardian

What's coming? Higher taxes, higher crime, more regulations, less opportunity. Get out while you can.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Trial of Bo Xilai (video)

The Trial of Bo Xilai - Video - NYTimes.com: "The Trial of Bo Xilai,  October 25th, 2013 - An appeals court upheld a verdict of life in prison for Bo Xilai, a Chinese official who was once among China’s highest-ranking Communist Party leaders."


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Washington Disruption

Washington's (meaning the entrenched and corrupt governmental, political, K Street, and media establishment) worst nightmare: its complete disruption in the form of Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and their progeny, soon to be escalated, expanded, and well-funded by a multi-billionaire with the same idealistic motives, and none too soon:

An Interview With Pierre Omidyar - NYTimes.com: "Q: This next step seems focused on secrecy and transparency. What pulled you in that direction?

A: A number of things happened: Even before the Snowden leaks, we saw a number of what I would characterize as missteps by the Justice Department. We saw the Justice Department wiretap the A.P. newsroom. We saw [Fox News reporter James] Rosen being labeled as co-conspirator label in affidavits; we see the many leak prosecutions including the use of the Espionage Act. It alerted me to the fact that even in this great country of ours with this fantastic Constitution, there’s a real pressure against press freedoms that’s going on. Perhaps unintentionally in the hot pursuit of leakers and trying to protect secrets, we are really putting pressure on press freedom here. When you have mass surveillance, it’s impossible to meet the intent of the First Amendment because reporters can’t talk to sources because sources are afraid to talk." (read more at link above)(emphasis added)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Snowden Leaks, Changing the Rules of the Game

Fascinating read in the New York Review of Books (excerpt follows) of how one man, Edward Snowden, defeated Obama, Holder and his DOJ, the NSA, and their architecture of oppression --

The Snowden Leaks and the Public by Alan Rusbridger | The New York Review of Books: " . . . architecture of oppression. In Snowden’s view, the traditional forms of oversight—secret one-sided courts and closed congressional or parliamentary committees—are inadequate, not least because they have only partial information and poor technical understanding and are frequently misled ...Lacking confidence in the courts or Congress, Snowden approached the other people who, in any modern democracy, are there to uncover truth, host debates, and hold people to account—journalists. . . . he may have thought something like this:

• The material will be highly complex to outsiders. It will take a team of people thousands of hours to reveal the full texture of what I want the world to understand. Serious mainstream newspapers sometimes do that kind of thing quite well.

• But I want this to be handled by people who are passionately, obsessively interested in this subject. People who will realize its true significance, who grasp the legal and political background, and who can return repeatedly and forensically to the subject in depth and at length. That’s what bloggers and specialist documentary makers can do well. . . . Whatever his actual reasoning, we know that Snowden chose rather cleverly. He came, via Greenwald, to The Guardian, a news organization with a huge audience (now the third-largest English-language readership in the world) and a track record of taking on some formidable organizations and individuals. He shared other documents with The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman. And he also involved two journalists—Greenwald and Poitras—who not only lived outside America but came from a completely different kind of journalistic tradition. . . ." (read more at link above)


Monday, November 18, 2013

Best Case, Worst Case, Scenarios For US In Syria

Obama’s Uncertain Path Amid Syria Bloodshed - NYTimes.com: "But as Mr. Kerry held meetings in London with representatives of Syrian opposition groups . . . in the hopes of reviving a proposed peace conference, the prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough appeared dim. Mr. Assad’s position is stronger, and the rebellion has grown weaker, more fragmented and more dominated by Islamic radical factions."

Worst Case Scenario For The US In Syria - Business Insider: ".... Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy reports a diplomatic push for peace talks, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, "is about all Washington is willing to provide" — even though several senior State Department officials consider that to be more bad policy. “The only person who wants the Geneva conference to happen is the secretary,” a senior U.S. official told FP. “Who’s going to show up? Will they actually represent anyone? If not, why take the risk?” All in all, the U.S. strategy in Syria has gone as badly as Assad and his allies would hope. . . ."

Best case scenario, now that the Syrian conflict is essentially between pro-Assad Syrian government forces (supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah) and radical Islamists (Al-Qaeda, supported by Saudi Arabia?), is to have John Kerry negotiate (with and through Putin) a peace between Assad and the remaining "good rebels"--giving them a "place at the table" in Damascus, and then the US supporting eradication of the Al-Qaeda vermin within Syria.  Any stable, secular government in Damascus is better than any radical Islamist government ever would be -- better for Syria and its people, better for the region, better for Israel, and better for US interests. And if the Saudis can't get that, too bad.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Obama, A Victim of His Own Success

Elected without a clue as to how Washington really works (nor the world, as noted by Bill Clinton), the inexperienced freshman Senator from Illinois, rode a wave of Hope and Change right over the Clinton machine, the economic collapse of 2008, and the disastrous Bush Presidency, straight into the White House. People were joyous, Hope and Change were on the way!

Unfortunately, with few exceptions, it turned out to be more of the same. More of the same Bush administration policies-- more NSA, secret Courts, secret wars a/k/a drone attacks, more Police State, more intrusions and infringements of freedoms, including freedom of the press and other Constitutional rights, more Wall Street bailouts, more federal prosecutions for leaks, more Patriot Act insanity, more out-of-control and wasteful government bureaucracy and spending (how could anyone forget the infamous GSA scandal--which is only the tip of an iceberg of continuing gross US government waste). Meanwhile comprehensive tax reform, comprehensive entitlements reform, immigration reform, and investments in infrastructure languish because a President doesn't know how to get things done. All he can do, all he is good at, or good for, -- and after all, these are the only things that got him elected in the first place (other than just the excitement of the prospect of having the first African-American elected President) -- is make speeches, blame Republicans, and attend political fund-raising events and ceremonial functions.

His one signature achievement—health care insurance reform via the so-called Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare, passed in his first term when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate—has now turned out to be an unmitigated disaster, a major embarrassment, or as one Democrat Senator predicted earlier this year, a huge train wreck.

Poor Obama, with no prior management or executive experience—in either business or government—he is now at wits’ end on how to get things done, especially now when things (e.g., Obamacare) invariably turn out bad, as they often do when allowed to just develop on their own.

I think of Ike—Dwight Eisenhower—on the eve of D-day. An historic, unprecedented massive invasion of a continent, coordinating multi-national forces (and egos), unknown risks, high probabilities of failure (even Churchill was greatly apprehensive), months in the planning—but Eisenhower was in command, he planned and knew the details, and on the eve of the launch of the operation, where was he? He was not ensconced at headquarters, surrounded by subservient staff and a sycophant news media. We know where Ike was because we have the photographic evidence-- he was with the troops, their faces already blackened in preparation for the invasion. And yet, Eisenhower had already prepared a statement taking total and full responsibility for a failed invasion, should it have occurred. That’s leadership.

In comparison, the launch of the ACA a/k/a Obamacare should have been a piece of cake. The website?—it’s not rocket science, but it does require careful planning, testing, and execution by engineers, programmers, and designers, prior to launch—ask Amazon, Google, etc. The cancelled policies? Obama (and other Democrats) should have never promised that “if you like your current health insurance policy you can keep it. Period." He (and other Democrats) either knew, or should have known, at the time, that was not true. I’ll take Obama’s word that he thought it was true at the time he said it – many, many times he and others in his administration said it -- including as recently as last year’s Presidential campaign for re-election. That fact alone shows inept leadership. He didn’t even know the consequences of  his own health insurance reform legislation! And yet he was making irresponsible, untrue promises about his program which has now negatively impacted millions of Americans whose own affordable health care insurance has been cancelled due to the requirements of Obamacare.

Mr. Obama is now in a predicament of his own making. He cannot just issue an order for all policies to be renewed, like he would have everyone believe—sorry, not only is Obamacare itself at risk of "death spiral" by the effects of such an edict, but insurance companies are regulated by both federal and state governments. (See: The White House’s Obamacare fix is about to create a big mess). Insurance policies have to be approved by state regulators. Many of those cancelled policies cannot be renewed as a matter of state law and regulation. In preparation for the roll-out of Obamacare and its requirements, the Obama administration told the states—here are the criteria ALL policies have to meet. In reliance on the instructions and regulations issued by the Obama administration, each of those fifty states over the past year(s) formulated plans and approved policies for 2014 and beyond, and told insurance companies which policies could not be issued or renewed after 2013. And now Obama changes his mind? You’re kidding right? Unfortunately for Obama, and the millions of Americans with cancelled health insurance due to Obamacare, that is not how the world works.

More on this subject:
Why Obama Can't Just Uncancel All Those Insurance Plans - Businessweek

If Healthcare.gov Isn't Fixed By December, What's Obama's Plan B? - Businessweek


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Adrian Cardenas, Losing Yourself in the Game

Recommended: article by Adrian Cardenas in the New Yorker (excerpt below) --

Why I Quit Major League Baseball : The New Yorker: " . . . In moments like these, it’s true that a batter doesn’t really hear or feel anything. You master the ability to lose yourself in the game, because that’s what you need to do—to not be conscious of being conscious. . . . When you lose yourself in the game, as you must, it’s all too easy to lose your sense of home. It didn’t take long for me to see how it happens, as I became friends with players and heard about the relationships and marriages that broke up, the relatives and close friends who faded from view, the parents or grandparents whose funerals were missed because of an expected call up to the majors. Sometimes I’d stay awake through the night, almost laughing to myself, mentally weighing the small fraction of success against the overshadowing personal and professional failure that comes with being a ballplayer." (read more at link above)


Friday, November 15, 2013

March Against the Mainstream Media November 16 (video)

Join the Media Revolution: Unplug the MSM | Call to Action - Published on Nov 14, 2013 - Abby Martin gives a call to action for a March Against the Mainstream Media on November 16 by talking about the abysmal failure of the fourth estate and the lack of public knowledge about important issues. More info: http://mamsm.info/

LIKE Breaking the Set @ http://fb.me/BreakingTheSet
FOLLOW Abby Martin @ http://twitter.com/AbbyMartin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obama, Promises Made, Promises Broken

Remarks by the President at GOP House Issues Conference | The White House: " . . . .The last thing I will say, though -- let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues.  If you look at the package that we've presented -- and there's some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating, we were in the process of eliminating.  For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your -- if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making.  And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge. And so we were in the process of scrubbing this and making sure that it's tight.  . . ." --President Barack Obama - Remarks by the President at GOP House Issues Conference, January 29, 2010 (White House Transcript from link above)

Any question about who dropped the ball?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elizabeth Warren 2016

Democrats (and Americans) should have 2 Democratic Party choices for President in 2016--the dinosaur epoch Hillary-Billary show from the 1990s with all baggage intact, or a fresh new face--energetic, hip, female, US Senator from Massachusetts (born and grew up in Oklahoma!), whose political positioning is more mainstream Democratic Party 2016--US Senator Elizabeth Warren. As things are going now, by 2016, the public is going to be way past being tired of the Washington dysfunction, the old conventional inside the beltway politics, K Street, the empty rhetoric and now obvious incompetence of the Obamaman who always blames someone else because he can't seem to figure out how to lead or manage as Chief Executive of the USA. Republicans are going to serve up either Christie, Cruz, or Paul--and any of those three means BIG CHANGE in Washington--the winning theme for 2016. Democrats are going to serve up either Clinton or Warren. Clinton represents the past--from her own healthcare fiasco of the early 1990s to Whitewater  to Monicagate to Benghazi. Warren represents the future. Clinton wants to have a discussion about the NSA. Warren wants to kick ass (as does almost everyone else in the USA outside the political establishment). Really, who do you think the grassroots (and I am not talking about the big money of the DC-WallStreet axis of evil the Clintons have been courting for 20+ years) is going to support and get enthused about? Wall Street and the Clintons are big chums. Wall Street is terrified of Warren.

Oh, by the way, the New Republic has a good article on Senator Warren: Elizabeth Warren is Hillary Clinton's Nightmare | New Republic; as does Businessweek: Why Elizabeth Warren Should Run Against Hillary Clinton for President - Businessweek (yes, Businessweek!).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

US Navy joins NSA in US intelligence snafus

First some low-level contract worker walks off with all of the NSA's top secret classified documents. Now the US Navy Vice Admiral who is the Navy's top intelligence officer, and the US Navy’s director of intelligence operations, were both placed on leave Friday, November 8, and their access to classified material was suspended, the Navy said in a statement. "Both admirals are being investigated for their ties to a Singapore-based defense contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, whose chief executive was arrested in September on charges that he bribed other Navy officers into giving him classified or privileged information in exchange for prostitutes and cash." Two admirals face probe in Navy bribery scheme - The Washington Post.

You have to hand it to the US government and the Commander in Chief, when it comes to security and intelligence, they really run a tight ship! And these are the clowns and idiots who are keeping us safe? LOL!  Intelligence, Security, Prostitutes, Cash -- see a disconnect here? This reminds one of the US Secret Service whose whoring around finally caught up with them in Colombia.

And if you wonder why neither China nor Russia showed any interest in obtaining Snowden's documents, it's most likely both China and Russia already had everything Snowden had, long before he ever downloaded anything onto a thumbdrive. Whether somebody inside the NSA gave it to them (for prostitutes and cash?) or they used a backdoor or credentials, I'll leave for others to investigate. But remember, this is the same national security and intelligence apparatus that couldn't stop the Boston bombers (even after being given advance warning by Russia) nor make a facial ID after the suspects were caught on security cameras! And the Great Leader is a guy who, through his now National Security Advisor, tried to tell us that Benghazi was the result of a YouTube video. God help us.


The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects