Romney Stays True to Form, Blames Obama’s Habit of Helping People for Winning a Democratic Election

CNN Political Ticker 

“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said in the afternoon call, according to audio aired on ABC News.

Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies — some of them this election year — that appealed to key constituencies.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” Romney said, according to The New York Times. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women,” he continued. “And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.” The president’s health care reform plan, he added, also brought out support from African Americans and Hispanic voters.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Looks like Romney being “completely wrong” about his comments on the 47% were themselves completely wrong.  The sad fact here is that I don’t think Romney gets that his “I’ll give you a 20% tax cut that doesn’t affect the deficit” was his own cynical attempt at “buying” the electorate….by advocating policies he thought were right for the country.

This GOP notion that the entirety of the Obama electorate, or even a sizable portion of it, just wants free stuff, is what is costing the GOP support.  It’s a foolish notion, based on bloviating talkers on the radio, that was never based on any objective reality.  It’s always been a subjective opinion.  And a fairly unpopular one.

I think the thing that threw the GOP pollsters and faithful off was the this notion that the U.S. is a “conservative” nation (based on polls like this).  They think that because twice as many people self-identify as “conservative”, they are therefore going to be Republicans.  But when asked to self-identify, we find a greater number of people find themselves to be Democrats.

This is the GOP-Disconnect.  Yes, many more Americans consider themselves to be conservative rather than liberal.  But we also find more Americans consider themselves to be Democrats than Republicans.

Conclusion…Republicans assuming all Democrats are liberals is just flat out wrong.  Republicans assuming all Democratic voters are just poor commies wanting free stuff are just wrong.

Until the GOP (and more importantly, their loudest media representatives) can come to terms with this disconnect, expect more “candid” comments like the ones Romney made…it’s what the GOP faithful truly believe…and it’s just not true.

 

Advertisements

Iraq records huge rise in birth defects, the Cost of War, Continued….

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujahs homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

via Iraq records huge rise in birth defects – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The Iraq War happened.  Even when many in this country can’t remember how Wall Street destroyed the economy four years ago and are now poised to vote for a Wall Street Tycoon, err, “Job Creator, we also forget about the nearly decade long occupation of Iraq.   There’s going to be more to this story.  I’ll write about it from time to time, but if anyone wants to dedicate their lives to solving a real and horrid problem…this is a good one.

You can also continue to advocate against offensive, BASED-ON-UTTER-BULLSHIT WARS!!

The problems they cause tend to last for generations.  Generations.

If you’re wondering why I fight for peace so hard, this is reason N!.

Big Oil profits from high gas prices lead to attacks on Obama about high gas prices…sponsored by Big Oil

Fossil Fuel Industry Opens Wallet to Defeat Obama – NYTimes.com 

This year’s campaign on behalf of fossil fuels includes a surge in political contributions to Mitt Romney, attack ads questioning Mr. Obama’s clean-energy agenda, and television spots that are not overtly partisan but criticize administration actions like new air pollution rules and the delay of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

“Since Obama became president, gas prices have nearly doubled,” said one advertisement by the American Energy Alliance, a group financed in part by oil executives. “Tell Obama we can’t afford his failing energy policies.”

Wasn’t Citizens United AWESOME?

Now our most powerful and wealthy corporate “people” can dominate the political landscape in a truly Randian paradise. We’re almost there, just another few years of tax cuts, attacks on unions, and a few more years of high gas prices and the future residents of Galt’s Gulch will finally have the firm grasp on the reins of power they’ve always known they should have.

 

United States Total Employment By President 1977-2012 (Misleading Statistics Lesson)

I was recently going about my daily business when I was confronted on the Facebook with the following chart…

"Reason" Magazine Net Jobs Analysis...From the Mercatus Project of George Mason University*

Taking these raw numbers without any context leaves a bit to be desired on the “providing insight” part of statistical analysis.

During the ensuing discussion, I noted a couple of things…first that 5 months remain in Obama’s first term. At the current roughly 200K-job/mo pace we are gaining, that’s another 1M on his tally.  As we’ll see in a moment, looking at *how* these numbers came about can be quite enlightening.

As noted in the charts, all raw data is provided from here.

We’re going to start with Jimmy Carter.  In the following analysis, we are calling the inaugural month the first one they are responsible for, going through December of their last year.   A quick comparison shows this to be very close to how Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center* did the original chart.

Non Farm Employment under Carter, Seasonally Adjusted

Non Farm Employment under Carter, Seasonally Adjusted, 1977-1980

From here you can see something that will be a consistent theme in the following analysis…a stagnant job market causing issues for a sitting President.  Employment peaked in March, 1980, having moving little since the previous summer.  The long, hot year and rising unemployment was too much for voters, and a change was made.

Enter the Reagan…

Total Employment Reagan, Seasonally Adjusted, 1981-1988

Total Employment Reagan, Seasonally Adjusted, 1981-1988. One can see how Reagan faced initial skepticism, but has gained long-term respect.

Here we see Carter’s “malaise” lasting well into 1983.  The lowpoint in unemployment, to Reagan’s great fortune, came late in 1982.  By the time the election rolled around in 1984, everything appeared to be on track.  Employment continued to expand throughout the rest of his term.  Then we had to pay for it, and the business cycle shifted again.

Total Employment, Bush the Elder, Seasonally Adjusted, 1989-1992

Total Employment, Bush the Elder, Seasonally Adjusted, 1989-1992. Here we see Bush the elder’s problem, employment peaking two and half years prior to the election.

Bush the Elder saw the peak of the Reagan “what’s debt?” economic expansion, and watched as nearly 2M jobs evaporated after peaking in Jun of ’90. Economic recovery in job form came only in the last few months before the 1992 election, not nearly enough to stop the new kid on the block from stealing heart and minds and electoral votes.

Next we get to *see* what the longest and largest and most stable economic expansion in U.S. history like…in bar graph form.

Total Employment, Clinton, Seasonally Adjusted, 1993-2000

Total Employment, Clinton, Seasonally Adjusted, 1993-2000. It really is pretty impressive, standing there all big and growing like that, Mr. President.

Like all the other graphs, I’ve marked the low and high point in employment during Clinton’s term. That’s how it’s done, folks.  Really can’t ask for more.  Well…maybe a bit less disgracing the Office of the President.  He did, however, get impeached for that.  Not sure if it was the peace and prosperity or the blowjob that got him impeached, but something sure made the Republicans mad.  It didn’t stick in the Senate, but did doom his VP.

Regardless, after so much peace and prosperity, we decided it was time for a change.   And oh what a change it was.

Total Employment, Bush the Lesser, Seasonally Adjusted, 2001-2008

Total Employment, Bush the Lesser, Seasonally Adjusted, 2001-2008. Bush was all over the map. First losing 3M jobs, then finding 9M building houses, then losing 4M in a year after the bust.

Oh George.  What can we do about this one.  If you want to see what a bursting real estate bubble looks like?  Click on that one.  First we see the extended era of peace end on 9/11.  Then we see the prosperity depart as we marched to war, hitting the  low employment point just as the mission in Iraq was “accomplished.”    Then we went on an easy-credit mortgage-fueled home-building binge, topping out with the greatest number of working Americans ever reported, 138,023,000 in January 2008.

By the end of 2008, 4M of those jobs had disappeared, and the Great Recession wasn’t nearly done.

Total Employment, Obama, Seasonally Adjusted, 2009-2012

Total Employment, Obama, Seasonally Adjusted, 2009-2012. Here we see the second half the Great Recession, with 4M more jobs going away in Obama’s first year. Since then there’s been a steady grind upwards, as we work to recover lost ground.

And this brings us up to the present data (Jul 2012).  Here we see the graphic and dramatic employment results of the Great Recession.  Four Million Jobs gone in the first year, reaching Obama’s lowpoint in February of 2010.  Since then (as the “failed” Stimulus package was implemented) we’ve seen steady employment gains over the intervening two years, finally within grasping distance of where from we started.

To wrap the whole thing together…here’s the whole thing together…

Total_Employment_1977_2012

Total_Employment_1977_2012. All of it. Together.

Here we see each and every year laid out side by side.  Now longer term business cycles become more apparent, and we see the huge dip created by the crash of 2008.

All in all I wanted to provide this analysis because I found the original chart to be so incredibly lacking in context as to be misleading.

* the Mercatus Project is funded (to a noticeable degree) by the Koch Bros, who have used some of the $100M they pledged to unseat the current President producing graphs like this…which don’t tell the whole story.  Often telling so little of the story, they might as well be lying.

"Reason" Magazine Net Jobs Analysis...From the Mercatus Project of George Mason University*

Taking these raw numbers without any context leaves a bit to be desired on the “providing insight” part of statistical analysis.

Basic Economic Math for U.S. Americans (re: Taxes, Revenues, Debts, Deficits, and Defaults)

Remember when you were in the seventh, or maybe eight grade, and your teacher came in and said you were going to learn something called “Algebra”?   Remember how you were all like, “What could I possibly ever need to know this for?!  I’m never going to need to know this stuff!”.

Guess what?  This week is that week.  This is why you need to know this stuff.

We have some fairly important decisions to make in the near future as U.S. Americans on the direction our country needs to take.  I’m sure many of you have divergent opinions on what that direction is, or what we need to do to get there.  So do I.  This post isn’t about that.  This post is about math.  Basic economic math.

Without having this foundation in verifiable, repeatable reality (1+1 always equals 2 in basic math), it is difficult to build a framework of understanding for large and complex systems.  If you don’t know how much of something something else is, or if it’s becoming smaller or larger relative to that thing, it’s hard to make important decisions regarding how you would like things to change (and how to functionally make that happen).

I’ve touched on this subject before.  I think it is fundamental to the disconnect we are now experiencing in this country.  We suck at math.    So without further ado…let’s define terms.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT WORD?!

The two most important numbers in the debt equation are the Debt [D] and GPD [GDP].   Debt is *numerator*.  GPD is the *denominator*.   This gives us a debt-to-GDP ratio.   D/GDP = Debt Ratio.

The largely agreed upon goal for the U.S. economy, that is considered “stable” by pretty much everyone, is a 50-60% Debt to GPD ratio.  What this means is that at any given time, we are carrying a debt load that is slightly larger than one-half (.6 or 60%) of our yearly earning power.    Countries in such a balanced situation to do a few things easily…one, they can borrow quickly and cheaply to deal with crises; two, they can quickly pay down debt if need be to smooth out boom/bush business cycles and three, they aren’t as exposed to downturns in others markets (as opposed to a country with no debt that instead uses a “sovereign wealth fund“).

So…now we have the main component of this this quation…the D/GPD ratio.

You have probably heard a LOT a about “spending” over the past few months, and how it is “out of control”.   You may have even seen some folks cite *yearly deficits* as evidence that “spending is out of control.”

A deficit (and it’s alter ego the “surplus”) is simply the difference (negative for deficits, positive for surplus) between the amount of revenue the government takes in and the amount of spending it puts out.

Part of the disconnect that is happening right now is we are seeing huge deficits, focusing solely on the “spending” side of the equation, and don’t seem to be largely aware how badly *revenues* have dropped off during the recession.

To simplify:  Revenues [R] – Spending [S]= Deficit(-)/Surplus(+) [I]

HOW DO ALL THESE THINGS WORK TOGETHER?!

Remember how I mentioned how there would be Algebra?   Here’s where it all comes together…..(and perhaps, can all fall apart).

There are two final factors that need to be addressed before we can get a final equation that captures the situation.  The are interest rate (i) and growth (G).   Interest, in this case, is interest on our debt.   Growth, in this case, is the change in GDP.

This gives us a Debt-to-GPD ratio that looks like this:

(D+I)*i/GPD*G = Debt-to-GPD Ratio

Which read as  “Debt (D) plus income (I) times interest rate (i) divided by GPD times Growth.

Notice that last equation.  We’ve been hammered by folks that this whole problem is caused by a single thing *spending*.   However, when we look at the whole forest instead of that one tree, we see that spending is a part of the annual deficit/surplus which changes the debt which is the divided by GPD that has been multiplied by the amount of growth (both positive or negative).

When someone says spending “is the whole problem”, they are lying to you through omission.    The deficit/surplus isn’t solely created by spending, it is the *difference between spending and revenues*.     As I’ll illustrate in the next segment of this piece, a good portion of recent huge deficits have been created by corresponding huge drops in revenue.

When you understand that “spending” is one of that largest factors in GROWTH, you should start to wonder about what the point of cutting spending, and hampering growth, is going to do to *help* our overall fiscal situation (the GDP-to-Debt Ratio).

Cutting spending during a recession is like taking the foot off the gas and declaring, “We’ll coast up this hill!”

Coming in the next Part…

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RECENT U.S. AMERICAN HISTORY BY U.S. AMERICANS?! (these are actual responses to actual questions I’ve answered over the past few days…hopefully this covers yours as well)

Penis, Palin, and Policy

UPDATE: Near the end of the video I mention the Republican 2012 Presidential campaign strategy (alleged).  It seems to be working…

Unless shares rally, they are on track for a sixth straight weekly loss — longest losing streak since the fall of 2002. The market’s last seven-week stretch of losses began in May 2001, as the dot-com bubble deflated.

Stocks have suffered this month after a raft of weak economic news dampened hopes for a speedy recovery. Traders fear that weaker hiring, industrial output, and a moribund housing market are reversing a bull market that lifted the Dow Jones industrial average 20% the past year.

The Dow is down 5% since June began.

Shares bounced back Thursday after a report that U.S. exports unexpectedly hit a record in April.

[full story]

It’s almost like there’s some underlying “uncertainty” in the market about whether or not the U.S. will default on its loans that is causing everyone do do weird things just in case.   For example…

Treasuries are considered the safest and most liquid, investments in the world. The U.S. is the world’s biggest debt issuer. It has $14.2 trillion of debt outstanding, while marketable Treasuries total $9.7 trillion. Central banks and other overseas investors own $4.48 trillion, or 46 percent of marketable debt.

The negative position reflected trades that would profit from a decline in Treasuries. Cash and equivalents, the largest component of the Total Return Fund, rose to 37 percent from 35 percent in April, under the revised categories.

Gross has been betting against U.S. debt through short sales, in which the Total Return Fund would borrow and then sell government bonds, hoping to profit by repurchasing the securities at a lower price in the future. The fund’s annual report showed that, as of March 31, it had sold short about $2.2 billion of Treasuries that mature in about 10 years and $5.8 billion of agency debt that comes due in 2041.

[full story]

That’s a whole lot of technical finance talk, but what it amounts to is this…

While the swaps are costly for the fund, given that it must pay out more than it takes in under the contracts, Gross would reap profits from the trades should long-term rates rise, causing Treasuries to tumble. Conversely, a decline in long-term rates would punish the fund’s returns.

The bet here is that there is very little chance long term rates will fall.  An unattractive dollar has to have higher rates to be more attractive…this is especially true when there is an open question about default (and a goodly portion of the people tasked with answering that question don’t  seem to understand  it).   These kinds of bets, and positions, are how a small crack in a dam becomes a total failure.   They are essentially acting as a lever, just watching for an opening to stick  in, and break the whole thing wide open.

Of course, simple and responsible lawmaking would make bets like this complete folly…but if you haven’t noticed lately, simple and responsible lawmaking is not very high on certain folks agendas.

UPDATE2: Quick reminder of what happened…

And what happened the next day...

Imagine the firestorm that would be raging on Republican propaganda outlets right now if the stock market had dropped 2.2 percent within 24 hours after Democrats had voted unanimously not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

The entire right-wing noise machine — from Fox & Friends to Limbaugh, from Hannity to O’Reilly — would be singing the same refrain: The stock market has sent a clear message of disapproval over the Democrats’ irresponsible vote. Whether that assertion was true would not matter. They would make it true simply by unanimously agreeing that it was.

But because it was Republicans who voted irresponsibly, right-wing media sees no relationship between the vote and market drop.

Goemon : Pirate Ninja (movie review)

I was wandering through the new flicks on Netflix this weekend when I ran into this listing.

Based on a Japanese folk legend that echoes the tale of Robin Hood, this ninja thriller follows the exploits of Goemon Ishikawa (Yôsuke Eguchi), who leaves his fighting clan after its chief is murdered and uses his skills as a thief to help the poor. But after learning the identity of his leader’s killer — the traitorous XXXXXXX (Eiji Okuda) — Goemon sets out on a bloody path of vengeance, joined by his loyal friend, XXXXXXX (Takao Ôsawa)

[note: I XXX’ed a couple spoilers there.]    If you have a Netflix account, or want to sign up for the free trial, you can do so here and watch the movie.

So…why this movie review and a blatant advertisement for Netflix?   Umm, this movie is the most ninja thing I’ve ever seen.   For someone who thought the concept of a Robot Pirate Ninja was pretty cool, seeing a movie about a Pirate Ninja is a welcome experience.   Double that with the knowledge that they nailed the general attitude (as evidence by the titular character) and dedication one must have for this kind of work, and this movie is already nearing the limits of potential awesomeness.

Tell that whole story over a backdrop of action and effects that brings to mind both Dragonball Z and 300, and you’ve got a winner in my book. An epic one.    There were probably five or six scenes in this movie where the only appropriate response is, “Oh wow, that’s sooo ninja.”

So if you enjoy watching ninjas wreck shit on screen, and have been waiting for a (mostly) live action feature focused one how totally freakin’ ninja one guy can be, Goemon is the flick for you.

This is how “they” are taking over (the last 49% they don’t already have)

Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide http://m.gizmodo.com/5546244/how-to-watch-hulu-in-android-in-3-easy-steps

Should be “how lawyers and marketing are making a killing by killing innovation and competition.”

BTW, I loved how I got three warnings how it wouldnt work in pop-UPS, but my palmtop computer (like the laptops of old) kept acting like “hey, I got this”.

And it does.  Other flash based video works just fine, thank you.  No lawyers or exclusive distribution deals necessary.

Glenn Beck’s war on the FCC (and Satan worshippers)

Glenn Beck’s War on the FCC  (and Satan Worshippers)

By handling these issues the way he does, Beck unfortunately makes real debate more difficult—though at least millions of Americans now knowsomething about diversity, localism, and net neutrality. Unfortunately, they also “know” that Obama worships Satan, that the Internet is about to become a “public utility,” and that the FCC will shut down conservatives with network neutrality.

Nicely done piece re: the useful idiots I mentioned a couple days ago. Bonus: it even includes some of their comments to the FCC.

UPDATE: It’s quite sad to see Fox start to make this an “us vs the marxists/communists/terrorists/socialists/nazis” thing.   Especially when the way they are going about it is to just play word association with their geriatric audience.  Those folks don’t understand the Internets as it is, much less a discussion about the technical underpinnings.  Beck using this ignorance to tell them the opposite of the truth (in the name of God, no less).

Beck also seems to think that the Republican led FCC was also actually run by marxists/communists/terrorists/socialists/nazis as they are the ones that started to notice that despite “Liberals” being voted into nearly two thirds of both houses of Congress (and then later the Presidency), 91% of political-talk radio was “Conservative”.  And it was also controlled by a small group of huge corporations that used economies of scale to crush any competition.  This is the result of the 1996 Telecom Act, not the result of the end of the fairness doctrine.   I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, deregulation leads to consolidation, not competition.

One of the most consistent ways to get a monopoly out of a market is to remove the rules that govern it.  Eventually someone “wins”.  Which means everyone else loses (in the context of the “market”).   We’ve watched the banks do the same thing (deregulate, consolidate, “win”) in much the same time frame.

Now the pendulum is swinging back to rational land, and Beck is there to try and rewind the clock back to crazy-time.   I wonder here if he knows he’s lying or has just kept himself ignorant of what the words he uses actually mean.

Actually, to be honest, I don’t really wonder all that much about what actors *really* thinks of politicis, and Beck is an actor extraordinairre.  One of the highest paid enteratainers on the planets, thank to media consolidation, Rupert Murdoch, and the FCC rolling back media ownership rules under Bush (they also got a special exemption for News Corp to buy (and destroy) the WSJ).

In other words, when you are chowing down at the trough, you certainly don’t mind lying to your viewers to keep the gravy rolling. *chomp* *chomp* Net Neutrality *chomp* is *gulp* *chow* *chew* *chomp* marxists/communists/terrorists/socialists/nazis *!BUUUURRRRPP!!