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

Friday, February 28, 2014

US Senator Rand Paul vs Obama and the NSA

Not everyone on Capitol Hill is scared of the national surveillance state -- enter US Senator Rand Paul (read his full article at the link below--excerpt follows):

The NSA is still violating Americans' rights, despite what James Clapper says | Rand Paul | theguardian.com: "The notion that if the NSA had informed us they were monitoring every American would somehow make it OK, does not make it OK. Explaining why you are violating the Fourth Amendment does not invalidate the Fourth Amendment."


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Looting, Detroit Pensions, Politicians Never Say No

The Looting of Detroit’s Pensions — The American Magazine: "Public employee pensions also need better oversight. Unlike corporate pensions, public plans are unregulated except by the governments that sponsor them. And many pension trustees are either union representatives or the appointees of politicians who gained office through union support, giving a fox-regulating-the-henhouse aspect to pension oversight. Pension boards are anything but neutral players in the current debates over pension reform. While pension governance is complex, simple changes — such as making employees help pay off unfunded liabilities, as Nevada’s pensions do — would align incentives toward better management. Detroit’s pensions present a lesson: public employees won’t turn down a good deal. It’s elected officials who have to learn to say no."

Bottom line: history is replete with examples that politicians don't say no, especially when they are enriching themselves at the same public trough. Answer? Abolish all public pensions (in the private sector almost no one receives a pension these days) , everyone on social security and individual retirement accounts -- that's it. But I guess it's too hard for politicians to do the "right thing" particularly when they are "stealing" from the same public trough as the public unions, et al.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Public Policy Failures, Illinois vs Texas and Indiana

In other words, government failure -- read full article at link below (exerpt follows) --

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Jobs Bowl: Illinois vs. Texas and Indiana: "The data show that in 2012, Illinois had a net loss of residents to each of its neighboring states, and that Illinois had a greater net loss to Indiana than to any other state in the union. Indiana doesn’t offer the warm climate of destinations such as Florida and Texas. Illinoisans cross the border because of policy failures. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley correctly predicted that raising the corporate tax rate to the fourth-highest in the nation would drive residents and business across the border."


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Obama Causes US to Fall in Global Press Freedom Rankings

I guess Obama is really proud of this achievement on his watch -- since it was his administration, not Bush, that caused this --

United States Plummets in Global Press Freedom Rankings | Freedom of the Press Foundation: "According to a new report from Reporters Without Borders, there was a profound erosion of press freedom in the United States in 2013. After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group’s global press freedom rankings to number 46. Reporters Without Borders writes that the U.S. faced “one of the most significant declines” in the world last year ... The U.S. fell as many spots as Paraguay . . . Citing the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, including its secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, the authors write that “freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.”..."

Goodbye Freedom. Meet Hope and Change.


Monday, February 24, 2014

European Debt Crisis Visualized (video)

The European Debt Crisis Visualized
Published on Feb 11, 2014 - At the heart of the European debt crisis is the euro, the currency that tied together 17 countries in an intimate manner at the time of the crisis. So when one country teeters on the brink of financial collapse, the entire continent is at risk. How did such a flawed system come to be? Bloomberg Television and Jonathan Jarvis present "The European Debt Crisis Visualized." (Source: Bloomberg)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Using Government to Stop Competition

Think government is good? Think laws protect you? Better think again. Government today does more harm than good; government isn't out to protect you. Government protects those with money and power to lobby and influence the passage of laws that stop fair play, competition, and consumer choice --

Slow cable Internet service providers lobby to kill local broadband | BGR: " . . . Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin writes that that ISPs have successfully lobbied legislatures in 20 different states to pass laws that make it more difficult or even impossible for individual municipalities to build their own broadband networks. What’s more, ISPs apparently aren’t satisfied with their current winnings and are pushing for fresh restrictions in two of the three states where Google has just happened to launch its Google Fiber services...."

Throw the bums out!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Get Rid of the Fed Dual Mandate Before It Completely Destroys the US

The solution, as is almost always the case, is simple --

To Fix Income Inequality Fix The Fed - pgf: "...It didn’t used to be this way. For example, from the period 1948 to 1968, real income for both groups increased more than 85%. This was the “golden age” of the middle class. In JFK’s words, this was a rising tide lifting all boats. When the economy grew, everyone participated. What changed? The operating mandate of the Federal Reserve did. When they had a mandate to stabilize the dollar, wages rose within the context of a stable price level. In 1968 that monetary regime began to get dismantled by Democrat Lyndon Johnson and by 1971 Republican Richard Nixon had it completely demolished, ushering in the floating dollar. After the ensuing misery of the 70’s, a new Fed paradigm emerged that featured a “dual mandate” of price stability and full employment...."

The Fed is now destroying the US economy. Get rid of the dual mandate. Simple is better.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Five Surveillance Myths Stalling NSA Reform

Myths, lies, whatever you want to call them --

Myth No 1: NSA surveillance programs have thwarted terror attacks here at home.
Myth No 2: NSA data-crunching programs only work if you collect all information on everyone.
Myth No 3: All relevant decision-makers were briefed on the programs and approved them.
Myth No 4: There’s simply no other less-intrusive way to achieve the same ends.
Myth No 5: President Obama’s changes sufficiently address the privacy violations revealed in the last eight months.

Five surveillance myths stalling NSA reform, debunked | Michelle Richardson | Comment is free | theguardian.com: "The Day We Fight Back deserves truth amidst the administration’s half-truths and trolling. From thwarted attacks (zero) to President Obama’s new rules (not good enough), this is what you need to know to make real reform happen . . . ." (read more at the link above)


Thursday, February 20, 2014

US in decline and denial, Texas moves ahead (slides)

Fs 140211 Slides source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/206656951/Fs-140211-Slides
I guess they are too arrogant in Washington to notice Texas is doing so much better than New York, California, Illinois, etc.--you know, the big "Democratic, Blue States." If Obama really wanted to help "working people" and increase jobs, he would sit at the feet of Texans and learn something about how the economy really works.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mortgage Delinquencies, the Disaster Still to Come

Think housing has "come back?" Better think again --

"properties remain delinquent for years throughout the entire NYC metro without being foreclosed. This table shows with hard numbers that this is actually the case" (source infra)

The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster: "  . . . this notion of a housing recovery is simply wishful thinking. My charts, graphs, tables and other solid data have been greeted with skepticism. . . . the table completely confirms what the first table shows about the NYC metro. It also shows that the 21 million modifications and other "solutions" have not solved anything. They have simply kicked the can down the road. If you read the latest call report filed with the FDIC by "too big to fail" banks, you will see that the first lien portfolio owned by two of them has a delinquency rate of more than 17%. No recovery in their portfolios! ... I am confident that the hard data which I continue to publish reveals that major housing markets are still headed for a crash. . ." - Keith Jurow (real estate analyst and former author of Minyanville's Housing Market Report. His new subscription real estate report – Capital Preservation Real Estate Report) 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Biggest Problem: Elitists Running the Federal Reserve, US Supreme Court, Government

The problem is these so-called "experts" are not very good, whether it is trying to control the economy, judging, or running the government -- we have never had a more elitist government, in every branch, than today, and it shows in the poor direction and condition the nation is in--even the Harvard Business Review is starting to get a clue how bad this situation is --

How Economics PhDs Took Over the Federal Reserve - Justin Fox - Harvard Business Review: "... A Fed with lots of PhD economists is probably a good thing. A Fed with only PhD economists in its top jobs would be limiting itself. Diversity brings all sorts of positive side-effects; monocultures are fragile and unhealthy. The FOMC hasn’t gotten nearly as narrow in its recruiting as the Supreme Court, where the nine justices are the product of just three law schools (Harvard, Yale, and Columbia), and eight were U.S. appeals court justices before joining the Supremes. Let’s hope it never does."

You see, these elitists start to think they do "really know better,"--I would rather have real wisdom, born of experience, than these so-called know-it-alls who completely missed the bubble and crash of 2008, who think any program can be justified if it is a "tax," etc., and who are truly "ignorant" in the full meaning of the word.


Monday, February 17, 2014

PIMCO, Bill Gross, Medieval Investment Outlook

Are the "dark ages" upon us?

PIMCO | Investment Outlook - Most ‘Medieval’: "... So our PIMCO word of the month is to be “careful.” Bull markets are either caused by or accompanied by credit expansion. With credit growth slowing due in part to lower government deficits, and QE now tapering which will slow velocity, the U.S. and other similarly credit-based economies may find that future growth is not as robust as the IMF and other model-driven forecasters might assume. Perhaps the whisper word of “deflation” at Davos these past few weeks was a reflection of that. If so, high quality bonds will continue to be well bid and risk assets may lose some luster. In any case, don’t be a pig in today’s or any day’s future asset markets. The days of getting rich quickly are over, and the days of getting rich slowly may be as well. Most medieval, perhaps...."

Read the full article at the link above and draw your own conclusions.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jesse Ventura, off the grid, hiding from drones

“I’m off the grid. I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me and you won’t know exactly where I am,” Ventura said, talking over the host’s question as to whether it was a hoax. The former third-party governor hosts a show called “Off the Grid” on Ora TV. Ventura said he could remain off the map “as long as we have solar power and we can reach the satellite.”

Jesse Ventura hiding from drones - Tal Kopan - POLITICO.com: "“I view the United States, today, much like East Berlin. And I’m off the grid. I’ve tried for 20 years to warn the country about the Democrats and Republicans, and nobody’s listening.”"

Excuse me Jesse -- if you are relying on "the satellite," you are "on the grid." Get real!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Congressman Mike Rogers, His History of Fabrications

How such an irresponsible person could be elected to Congress, much less hold a Committee chairmanship, is beyond me --

Mike Rogers' Comments Are Latest in Disturbing Pattern of Intelligence Officials Attacking the First Amendment | Freedom of the Press Foundation: "Mike Rogers has a long history of fabrications, this is just the latest in a disturbing pattern of top intelligence officials suggesting we should the First Amendment should not apply to journalists reporting on the NSA." (read more at the link above)


Friday, February 14, 2014

Obamacare Is The Political Issue 2014

Forget the "spin" and noise from the mainstream media, here's the issue that will ride the train all the way to the November elections --

WASHINGTON: Obamacare: The political issue that keeps on giving - Politics Wires - MiamiHerald.com: " . . . Polling suggests people’s attitudes towards the law are not changing. Gallup’s national survey Jan. 31-Feb. 1 had 51 percent disapproving, roughly the same number since the fall. The survey also found 37 percent thought the law would make their family’s health care situation worse, one-fourth said it would improve it and about one-third thought it would make no difference. Those numbers suggest “this issue is here to stay,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “It says it’s going to be one of the big issues in this election.”"


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rand Paul opens a crack in the Facade

"Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated United States citizens or permanent residents who are or have been customers, users, or subscribers of phone service in the United States since 2006, bring this action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants' mass, suspicionless, non-particularized collection, storage, retention, and search of telephone metadata related to every domestic or international phone call made or received by Plaintiffs and class members ... under the auspices of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, 50 U.S.C. § 1861, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution .... Plaintiffs and class members seek a declaration that the Mass Associational Tracking Program is unconstitutional, an injunction forbidding the government from continuing the MATP, and an order to the Defendants to purge from its MATP databases all of the telephone metadata related to the communications of Plaintiffs and class members." - Rand Paul v. Barack Obama, a class-action lawsuit over NSA spying, taking on President Barack Obama; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency; and FBI Director James Comey. (source: http://www.politico.com/playbook/)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Our Unfair Tax Code, Corporate Tax Havens

Corporations like to be considered "persons" under the law, except tax law, where they always want "favored" treatment --

IBM Uses Dutch Tax Haven to Boost Profits as Sales Slide - Bloomberg: "“They’ve got a lot of ways to beat earnings and they definitely take advantage of it,” said Josh Olson, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. “It’s part of how IBM operates.” IBM ended 2013 with a tax provision $1.84 billion lower than it initially projected, thanks to a tax rate of 15.6 percent -- compared with its forecast of 25 percent. Without the lower rate, the company’s earnings per share would have fallen from the previous year instead of rising, and net income would have missed analysts’ estimates by about 14 percent instead of 2.9 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

IBM has a tax rate of only 15.6 percent. A self-employed "person" (e.g., sole proprietor business) in the US with a gross income of $100,000 has a tax rate of 36.6 percent  (15.3% self-employment tax + 21.3% income tax) -- more than double what IBM and other multi-national corporations pay! Where's the "fairness" in that?

On top of that, startups--entrepreneurs--are creating most of the new jobs in this country, not big corporations. So why is Washington penalizing the self-employed, entrepreneurs, small business? Does the US government want recession, unemployment, etc., -- more dependency on Uncle Sugar? Tax the corporations, and give entrepreneurs, the self-employed, the tax breaks!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First Look Media (video)

First Look Media from First Look Media on Vimeo.

A refreshing new source of real journalism. If you are tired of  being misinformed by mainstream media, government propaganda and Obama sycophants, this may be for you.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Companies Flee US Tax System (video)

Companies Flee U.S. Tax System: Video - Bloomberg: "Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg's Zachary Mider reports on a Congressional law that penalizes CEOs whose companies move their legal addresses to tax havens. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)"

What's it going to take to get Obama, the Democrats, and the Republicans to do comprehensive tax reform?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Retail Stores Closing, Rotting Homes, Gundlach, Subprime Bear

Think real estate has "turned a corner" and on its way up? Commercial retail will be shutting down stores nationwide, and housing is rotting away in the foreclosure pipeline (this is what happens when the Fed creates a housing bubble and then tries to re-inflate it without letting markets clear) --

Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear - Bloomberg: "“These properties are rotting away,” Gundlach, 54, said last week on a conference call with investors, about homes stuck in foreclosure pipelines, adding that it could take six years to resolve defaulted loans made to the least creditworthy borrowers before the real-estate crash."

By the way, Gundlach is not afraid of brashness, and being a contrarian, having called for abolishment of the Federal Reserve, and previously warning investors about subprime. (source supra)


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chinese Billionaires Are Not Buying Superyachts (video)

The Billionaires Who Just Don't Like Superyachts: Video - Bloomberg: "Makers of the world's largest megayachts convened in London last week to meet with media and buyers but there's one question that has them all scratching their heads: Why aren't the Chinese buying their boats? Bloomberg's Angus Bennett reports. (Source: Jan 27 - Bloomberg)"


Friday, February 7, 2014

What you need to know about Cybersecurity (NPR audio)

What you need to know about Cybersecurity (NPR audio)

 Interview: P.W. Singer, Author Of 'Cybersecurity And Cyberwar' : NPR: In Cybersecurity And Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, P.W. Singer looks at cybersecurity issues faced by the military, government, businesses and individuals, and what happens when you try to balance security with freedom of speech and the ideals of an open Internet....


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Rules for Success (video)

Billionaire Eric Schmidt's Rules for Success: Video - Bloomberg: "Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt talks to Bloomberg Television about everything from the last time someone doubted him to how he identifies talent. (Source: Bloomberg)"


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sherlock, Season 3, Free Episode

Great article on the best show on traditional TV, now in its 3rd season -- (read full article at link below, excerpt follows) --

Emily Nussbaum: “Sherlock” and Its Audiences : The New Yorker: " . . . Holmes sees connections but can’t connect. He’s like a Google algorithm, if it were sexy and wore dashing wool coats. Halfway through his best-man speech, he describes a case in which a number of lovelorn women have had one-night stands with a “ghost” who disappears the next day. Sherlock gathers these lonely hearts in an elegant auditorium, where he interrogates them, searching for a pattern. It’s only gradually, as the camera toggles from closeups to dramatic shots from above, and then abruptly to images of Sherlock in his office, that we recognize what we’re actually seeing: a poetic representation of a virtual experience—Holmes is online, meeting the women through a discussion board. When his conversations end, the women vanish, and he closes his laptop. The show is at its best in such moments, these sequences that capture the semi-virtual, semi-real ways that we think, and feel, and meet, and connect today. It’s a rare attempt to make visible something that we take for granted: a new kind of cognition, inflected by passion, that allows strangers to think out loud, solving mysteries together."

Watch a free episode online here. (expires 3/4/2014)


Monday, February 3, 2014

One More Reason Why I Cut the Cord and said goodbye to Cable TV

MSNBC interrupts Congresswoman for report on Justin Bieber - WTF? WTF!
Can you get any more inane that the mainstream media is today? This is one more reason I "cut the cord," returned my cable box, and living happily getting all video content via the internet and Chromecast (only a one-time cost of $35!).


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Obama proposes creation of six more Solyndras

Obama proposes creation of six new tech manufacturing hubs | Business Tech - CNET News: "Obama did not indicate where the hubs would be located or what they would specialize in."

OMG more Solyndras? see: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-09-18/news/ct-met-kass-0918-20110918_1_solyndra-loan-guarantee-obama-fundraisers-obama-white-house What is it with Obama, tech manufacturing, and his corrupt practices and track record of failure?

If Obama, or Washington, really wanted to help, they would: 1) enforce net neutrality and ensure access to fast, cheap, internet, at least in all urban areas; 2) enact comprehensive tax reform and stop discriminating against entrepreneurs, small business, and self-employed; 3) directly fund infrastructure, particularly in urban areas (Detroit was the tip of the iceberg).


Saturday, February 1, 2014

6 Worst Members of Congress (video)

The 6 Worst Members of Congress
Jan 24, 2014
Abby Martin calls out 6 of the most corrupt and least popular members of congress, going over some of the conflicts of interests and blatant hypocrisy that have come to characterize the 113th Congress.

Unfortunately she left out Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan - the worst!

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The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects