Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Bain of Mitt's existence

The Mitt-wit's iPhone app
The Mitt-wit is jetting around the country telling Americans that his experience running Bain Capital makes him a perfect fit to run America.


Well, if it's like what Bain did to some American companies, he'll run this country into the ground, sell off the assets and pocket the profit.


Here's an excellent story on how Bain/Romney raided a company called Ampad and walked away with $100 million, much of which was then hidden in offshore accounts.


Yes, Bain was successful most of the time, but its success was measured by big returns to investors rather than jobs created. In fact, instead of adding value, like a legitimate product, to our world, Bain merely rewarded the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. 


Bain/Romney accelerated the income gap over the last 30 years, which now hampers our economic recovery.


In Vanity Fair, economist Joseph Stiglitz brilliantly dissects "The 1 Percent's Problem."


In language devoid of wonkish econo-speak, Stiglitz nails what he calls "the price of inequality."


Here's a sample graph:


"When corporate C.E.O.’s argue that wages have to be reduced or that there must be layoffs in order for companies to compete—and simultaneously increase their own compensation—workers rightly consider what is happening to be unfair. This in turn affects their efforts on the job, their loyalty to the firm, and their willingness to invest in its future."


Stiglitz points out that the 1 percent would benefit even more in the long run if they would ensure that the base of the economy remained sound. But, in general, the 1 percent doesn't care about our economic foundation.  


One percenters, like Romney, are too busy stashing their cash around the world to care what is happening to the 99 percent.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Big Gulp?! And other outrages

via The Onion
What's a nation to do when your basic 32-ounce cup of Mountain Dew gets banned in the Big Apple?

Well, we fight back by downing 64-ounces of Diet Coke in a single sitting, that's what.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed banning the sale of large sodas and sugary drinks at all venues in New York City.

Say what?

Yeah, Bloomberg is serious about the obesity problem in America and he wants New York to lead the way in fighting it.

Public Enemy No. 1: Big Gulp.

Well, this is America, Bloomberg. We have the freedom to be as obese as we want to be. So what if we're a nation of fat slobs. We're free fat slobs.

“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said in the New York Times. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”


Say what?


Is Bloomberg a do-gooder Democrat? Or a pro-government Commie?


What in the world is going on?


Well, I like Bloomberg. He's pro gay marriage, pro gun control and sensible on immigration.


He's one of the few Republicans I could vote for. Of course, he couldn't win any Republican primary outside of New York. Actually, Bloomberg is now an independent after being a Republican and before that, a Democrat. Every lineup needs a switch-hitter.

It seems unlikely that Bloomberg will prevail on this issue. Since he hasn't been able to control guns in New York, it's likely that city will see a rise in armed robberies - all for a Big Gulp. 


Enough of obesity and Big Gulps, let's talk about the economy and the "job creators."


Okay, that's enough on the economy.

Let's get back to the birther movement. 

The Mitt-wit's new BFF, The Donald, went on an epic rant recently about Obama's birth certificate. Yes, he did this last year, too, but this is an election year.


Stay tuned, this birther story isn't going anywhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't fill 'er up

Getting a full tank of gas is a luxury these days.

My car only takes about 15 gallons, but, at $4.22 a gallon, it costs more than $63 dollars to fill up.

And, my 1995 Camry gets about 25 miles per gallon in the city. Imagine all those giant SUVs. It's more than $100 to fill them up.

I do what I see others doing these days: Ask for $30 worth of regular gas, whip out the charge card and shrug.

Also, I drive a lot less these days. Fewer trips, fewer miles.

For those who still believe that Oregon's gas prices are the highest in the nation, here's a link to AAA's website to get enlightened.

You'll notice that Oregon's average, as of May 29, 2012, is $4.25 for a gallon of regular gas.

In Washington, it's $4.27 a gallon.

In California, it's $4.28 a gallon.

If you can find a station that'll pump your gas in California or Washington, you're likely to pay about $1 more per gallon for a total of over $5 per gallon.

Clearly, if Oregon joined the other states in going all self-serve, gas prices would likely rise, not fall.

Now, look closer at the numbers where most of the drivers live in these three states.

In Eugene, it's $4.30 a gallon. Bend is about what Portland is at $4.23 a gallon.

Medford, near the border of California, has our highest price at $4.32 a gallon.

In Washington, Bellingham shocks drivers to the tune of $4.42. The Seattle area averages about $4.32.

Spokane, far removed from refineries, is sitting pretty at $3.96.

Now, in California, the L.A. area is only about $4.30 a gallon. Meanwhile in San Francisco, where there are refineries, drivers pay about $4.37 a gallon.

In general, rural areas are cheaper than urban areas.

Now, for all those who think that these "all-time" high gas prices are President's Obama's fault for rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, these prices are not the all-time high. No, those occurred in the summer of 2008 when Bush II was president. In fact, oil reached an all-time high of $145 per barrel then.

With crude oil going for $90 a barrel today and demand for gas declining, what gives?

Well, a brief, refinery fire in Washington, "routine maintenance" in California and switching over to summer grade of gas are the excuses exploited by the oil companies to drive up the price of gas.

Speculators can also claim victory in putting the pedal to the metal on oil prices.

Oil companies are gouging drivers because they can. Plus, we give them even more money in the form of enormous tax breaks. Talk about drilling their point home.

We're completely addicted to their product and there is no 12-step program to help us.

We all can't afford an electric vehicle or even a hybrid. But, it looks like we won't have much choice much longer.

It's either that, or ride a bike, work from home or walk.

No, that's progress.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fish wrap getting scarce

Magnifying glass not included
Could The Oregonian, Oregon's largest daily newspaper, cut delivery of its newspaper to just three days a week?

It's possible considering that its parent company, Advance Publications Inc., did that very thing to the last daily newspaper in New Orleans, The Times-Picayune.

The change to three days a week probably won't happen overnight for The Oregonian, but, you can be sure, it's coming.

The physical newspaper will go the way of "The Godfather's" Luca Brasi, sleeping "with the fishes."

The Times-Picayune isn't the first to go semi-digital on its way to all-digital, but it is the biggest.

A few caveats, though. The Times-Picayune lost half its readership, when it lost half its citizens, after Hurricane Katrina. Also, New Orleans isn't that great of a reading town. It was known as the largest city without a book store, well before Katrina.

Still, in March 2005, The Times-Picayune had 260,000 subscribers. Today, it has just 133,557.

Smartphones and tablets are the new delivery vehicles for the daily newspaper. They're a far cry in size from those super-wide broadsheets of a few years ago. I've tried an iPad, but it's far slower and clunkier than this laptop.

Since I don't own a smartphone or tablet, I peruse news sites on my desktop or laptop. The screen size of 14 inches sure beats a 4-inch smartphone, but it's hard to fit into my coat pocket. Actually, it doesn't fit.

Eventually, I'll have to get a smartphone. When I do, I'm sure all the newspapers will charge a viewing fee for online access.

I signed up for the New York Times because they ran a special for $5 for three months. After that, it jumps to $8 bucks a week, I think. That's too steep for me. However, I would pay $1 a week for online access and I'm sure 50 million others would, too. In the future, the economy of scale will rise exponentially.

Unburdened by newsprint and distribution costs, online newspapers should flourish someday.

For now, though, almost all papers have scaled back their coverage because of layoffs. Reporters are now called "content providers."

The newspaper "boy," now often a man or woman, will no longer have a job. Pressmen/women will lose jobs, too. Newsprint and ink producers will have to shrink their workforces, as well.

Large journalism schools certainly won't be needed.

New skills, all digital-related, will have to be learned.

These employment shifts have been going on for years, particularly from the industrial to this digital age.

Traditionalists can moan all they like, but that's just the way it is.

Friday, May 25, 2012

News of note

Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye featuring Kimbra
A few stories worth checking out:

NPR had story on the escalating costs of higher education.

It divides the costs into "sticker" price and "net" price for public and private institutions.

The upshot is that the "net" price for a private college education is now almost 6 times what a public education costs.

We're talking net price of $12,970 for private versus $2,490 for public.

Of course, living costs are nearly the same between private and public schools, or about $10,000 per year.

Cheery news for those who have yet to take the plunge.

In other news, there's a new biography out about Barack Obama. Here's a link to pictures of "Barry" in his early years.

Speaking of Barry, check out the electoral map from the Huffington Post, which has Obama up 284 to 181 for Mitt. Of course, you only need 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

I agree with the Huffpo on this, but Real Clear Politics shows Obama up just 227 to 170 for Mitt.

The mainstream media will portray a tight race until the end so that they can maximize their advertising dollars.

Obama will carry Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. With those states, he wins the presidency.

Meanwhile, Intrade shows a modest shift, with Obama at 57.5 to Mitt's 39.1. That's not a landslide in Mitt's favor no matter how his side wants to spin it.

Can't count on Obama's re-election just yet, but Mitt's post-GOP primary lockdown bump is not even the size of a speed bump.

To a Republican, though, a speed bump is just the free marketplace at work.

Speaking of a speed bump, I just paid $4.17 per gallon, with the Fred Meyer 3-cent discount, for a gallon of gas.

I'll close, though, with a link to the mp3 of "Somebody That I Used to Know," by Gotye featuring Kimbra.

Now, this is what I'm talking about.

And a capella.

Awesome instrumental.

And, the kid version.

Have a good Memorial Day weekend.

The old college try

OSU-Cascades on the COCC campus
It seems some in Bend are intoxicating themselves with the belief that a full-fledged, four-year university is just around the corner here in the middle of nowhere.

It's been widely reported that Bend is the largest city in the country without a four-year university within 100 miles. However, we do have OSU-Cascades, a one-building extension of Oregon State University, on the campus of Central Oregon Community College (COCC) on Bend's west side.

It's also widely known that Bend is represented by anti-government legislators who claim they favor government spending, only if it's spent in Bend.

There seems to be a recent push, by local officials and the president of Oregon State University, to expand OSU-Cascades at COCC.

In the last legislative session, OSU-Cascades got more than a million dollars to buy a building (which bailed out a struggling landowner) for graduate courses adjacent to Bend's Shevlin Center, about two miles from OSU-Cascades at COCC.

Then, the Bend park district bought some land, at presumably depressed prices from another struggling property owner in the Shevlin Center, with the hopes of either building another recreation facility there or partnering with OSU-Cascades for its expansion there.

Well, as is also well known, reality bites.

What is the vision for OSU-Cascades and COCC? Can Bend adequately support a community college and a separate four-year university so close by?

If so, Bend would go from one of the least-served by higher education to the most over-served by higher education.

Obviously, that is not going to happen.

There is no sense in creating a university at a "business park," which is Shevlin Center, while one of the most scenic areas in the state, the COCC campus, remains a community college.

If college educators truly believe in evolution, they would realize that COCC should evolve into OSU-Cascades.

They should also realize that Central Oregon would be best served if COCC moved to its Redmond satellite campus to better serve the region.

OSU-Cascades, then, on the campus of the current COCC would be a natural draw to students at the main, and over-subscribed, OSU campus in Corvallis.

This all assumes there is any money in state coffers for an expansion of OSU-Cascades.

Obviously, there is not.

Republican legislators, particularly those from Bend, make sure there is no state money for higher education. (Republicans believe that government can't do anything and get elected to prove it.)

State support for higher education has plummeted during these austerity times, which, for Oregon, has been ongoing for more than three decades.

Consequently, college costs for students have escalated to the point that a college education in Oregon is becoming accessible only to the financial elites or suckers from California.

Republicans have never grasped the notion that government spending includes spending for higher education.

So, as Republicans have starved government of revenue (can't raise the beer tax or any other tax), they have also starved education, particularly higher education, of the necessary funds to be competitive with other states or countries.

Republicans operate under the principle that you can have whatever you want, and not have to pay for it.

This is America, dammit. We don't need no stinkin' taxes.

Of course, with thinking like that, we will never have a four-year university in Bend.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photo, story of the day

In the photo that has hung in the West Wing for three years, President Obama looks to be bowing to 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia, his arm raised to touch the president’s hair — to see if it feels like his.

The New York Times had a gem of photo by Pete Souza and story by Jackie Calmes published yesterday.

Here's the link: "When a Boy Found a Familiar Feel in a Pat of the Head of State"

In case the link doesn't work for you, below is a cut-and-paste version of the story.

Also, for more White House photos click on this Flickr link.

By JACKIE CALMES


WASHINGTON — For decades at the White House, photographs of the president at work and at play have hung throughout the West Wing, and each print soon gives way to a more recent shot. But one picture of President Obama remains after three years.
In the photo, Mr. Obama looks to be bowing to a sharply dressed 5-year-old black boy, who stands erect beside the Oval Office desk, his arm raised to touch the president’s hair — to see if it feels like his. The image has struck so many White House aides and visitors that by popular demand it stays put while others come and go.
As a candidate and as president, Mr. Obama has avoided discussing race except in rare instances when he seemed to have little choice — responding to the racially incendiary words of his former pastor, for example, or to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida. Some black leaders criticize Mr. Obama for not directly addressing young blacks or proposing policies specifically for them.
Yet the photo is tangible evidence of what polls also show: Mr. Obama remains a potent symbol for blacks, with a deep reservoir of support. As skittish as White House aides often are in discussing race, they also clearly revel in the power of their boss’s example.
The boy in the picture is Jacob Philadelphia of Columbia, Md. Three years ago this month, his father, Carlton, a former Marine, was leaving the White House staff after a two-year stint on the National Security Council that began in the Bush administration. As departing staff members often do, Mr. Philadelphia asked for a family photograph with Mr. Obama.
When the pictures were taken and the family was about to leave, Mr. Philadelphia told Mr. Obama that his sons each had a question. In interviews, he and his wife, Roseane, said they did not know what the boys would ask. The White House photographer, Pete Souza, was surprised, too, as the photo’s awkward composition attests: The parents’ heads are cut off; Jacob’s arm obscures his face; and his older brother, Isaac, is blurry.
Jacob spoke first.
“I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.
Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?” He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.
“Touch it, dude!” Mr. Obama said.
As Jacob patted the presidential crown, Mr. Souza snapped.
“So, what do you think?” Mr. Obama asked.
“Yes, it does feel the same,” Jacob said.
(Isaac, now 11, asked Mr. Obama why he had eliminated the F-22 fighter jet. Mr. Obama said it cost too much, Isaac and his parents recounted.)
In keeping with a practice of White House photographers back to Gerald R. Ford’s presidency, each week Mr. Souza picks new photos for display. That week, Jacob’s easily made the cut.
“As a photographer, you know when you have a unique moment. But I didn’t realize the extent to which this one would take on a life of its own,” Mr. Souza said. “That one became an instant favorite of the staff. I think people are struck by the fact that the president of the United States was willing to bend down and let a little boy feel his head.”
David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s longtime adviser, has a copy framed in his Chicago office. He said of Jacob, “Really, what he was saying is, ‘Gee, you’re just like me.’ And it doesn’t take a big leap to think that child could be thinking, ‘Maybe I could be here someday.’ This can be such a cynical business, and then there are moments like that that just remind you that it’s worth it.”
A copy of the photo hangs in the Philadelphia family’s living room with several others taken that day. Mr. Philadelphia, now in Afghanistan for the State Department, said: “It’s important for black children to see a black man as president. You can believe that any position is possible to achieve if you see a black person in it.”
Jacob, now 8, said he indeed does want to be president. “Or a test pilot.”


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why doesn't Mitt 'Believe in America?'

Who knows why.

Can't say it's a Mormon thing, but you never know.

I received a solicitation in the mail today from the Mitt-wit's campaign that starts off with the sentence "... you are one of America's most notable Republicans ...."

Really? Moi?

Anyway, it is your standard campaign letter, but one that asks for $5,000. However, if I'm not that much of fan, the lowest amount of $100 would be acceptable to a man who is worth about $250 million.

I routinely get e-mails from President Obama's campaign and they're just asking for $3.

Mitt-wit's slogan is "Believe in America."

This from a man who stashes his millions around the world in untraceable, non-American accounts.

Why should anyone believe in Mitt if even he doesn't put his money where his mouth is?

Why should anyone give Mitt a dime?

He's got enough to waste on his ego-trip of a campaign.

It's like Meg Whitman, who Mitt praised the other day. Meg wasted her millions on a disastrous run for  governor of California.

Meg, who made her bones with eBay and now heads Hewlett-Packard, got kudos from Mitt on the day HP announced it was eliminating 27,000 American jobs, but not cutting any jobs in China.

By the way, HP only made a $7.1 billion profit in 2011, so, obviously, heads had to roll.

Mitt, who recently said he likes "to fire people," can relate to Meg.

When he ran Bain Capital, the vulture capitalists would gobble up companies, raid their coffers, force them to close and then see the jobs emerge overseas. It is job creation, just not in America.

It's clear to see that Mitt doesn't believe in America.

Maybe, during the debates in the fall, someone will ask him why not.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Madness update

As the presidential polls ebb and flow, to and fro, there is one political constant in the age of Obama:
racism.

Proving that the desert sun bakes brains beyond the beyond, the secretary of state of Arizona, Ken Bennett, requested proof from Hawaii that President Obama was born there before he could  be placed on the ballot in Arizona.

After Hawaii exposed how ridiculous this was, Bennett backed off.

“If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent,” Bennett said in an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR. “He’ll (Obama) be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has.”


But, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County sent a deputy to Hawaii to investigate whether Obama was born in Hawaii and whether or not Hawaii is even a state.


This spring fever, though, is spreading. 


In Iowa, the state GOP is questioning Obama's citizenship. Evidently, Iowan Republicans just discovered that Obama carried Iowa in 2008.


Don Racheter, chairman of the Iowa GOP’s platform committee, said this:


 “There are many Republicans who feel that Barack Obama is not a ‘natural born citizen’ because his father was not an American when he was born and, therefore, feel that according to the Constitution he’s not qualified to be president, should not have been allowed to be elected by the Electoral College or even nominated by the Democratic Party in 2008, so this is an election year. It’s a shot at him.”


Where were these birthers in 1968 when George Romney, Mitt's dad, ran for president?

Everyone knew that George Romney was born to a polygamous sect (no, not Islamic) in Mexico but it didn't register as an issue before Romney dropped out. I wonder why? Hmm? Let's see, Romney didn't have a Mexican accent? And, even after living south of the border, he no longer had that brown glow on his skin. What could it have been?


Meanwhile, at a speech at Ohio University, the president of Fox News said "we still don't know anything about Obama."


Well, duh, he watches Fox News.


Yet another study shows that those who watch Fox News know less than those who don't.

Priorities for Bend parks, recreation

Does Bend really need another $40 million recreation facility less than a mile away from a huge, private enterprise that may go out of business in this wretched economy?

Uh, no.

The Bend park district should find a way to work with the Athletic Club of Bend to bring it into the public fold.

Otherwise, if the park district goes ahead with a new, largely unnecessary facility, it will put the Athletic Club out of business anyway.

The Athletic Club, with its indoor tennis and racquetball courts, would bring something new to the park district.

But, Bend's westsiders are known to get their way and it is up to the rest of us to try and stop this boondoggle.

The park district is presenting its plans for a multi-million bond measure in public meetings next week.

Among the projects, the most needed items are:

-- buying land for parks in Southeast Bend. The park district grossly under-served this area during the last growth spurt.

-- a safe float passage at the Colorado dam. This would be another big benefit to Bend's summertime tourism and also for the people that live here and like to float the river through the heart of Bend.

-- Deschutes River trail and parks. This is a no-brainer while land prices stay depressed.

-- Pine Nursery Park phase II would be good for Bend as it becomes a regional hub for organized sports like soccer, baseball/softball and lacrosse.

As for the park district's involvement in paying for dredging of Mirror Pond, this is a non-starter.

As I've noted before, paying for the maintenance of Bend's iconic place, belongs to a range of stake-holders and the park district is but one.

Those who live on the river across from Drake Park should pay more than any citizens of Bend, because they benefit directly from any improvements to Mirror Pond. Likewise, those who live closest to the Drake Park should pay more than other citizens because they, too, will financially benefit from upgrades at Mirror Pond.

The city of Bend, which is a separate government entity from the park district, should also pony up.

Plus, Pacific Power, which owns a small hydro facility on Mirror Pond's north end, should also pay for Mirror Pond's upkeep.

And, let's not forget the tourism organizations here. They use Mirror Pond to sell Bend to outsiders.

They should take a portion of those room taxes and pay into the Mirror Pond fund.

Anyway, the lazy way of just having property taxpayers fund the entire wish list is what will likely prevail.

Show up to the meetings next week and give the park district an earful.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Racists in our midst

Oregon's decision to ban Indian mascots at its schools brought forth ridiculous arguments that the state isn't doing anything about the Vikings, Irish, Scots or Highlanders among other ethnic mascots across the Beaver State.

Critics harped on the notion that the state board of education was practicing "political correctness" at its worst.

Well, it's time to for a little schooling.

Let's say the U.S. invades Norway, conquers the indigenous people and herds them onto reservations.

Then we appropriate their mascots, with horned helmets, and use them for our own entertainment purposes.

Let's see, the English did invade Ireland and, to this day, the Irish have the gall to whine about it.

Can you imagine if we landed in Galway and proceeded to expand across the Irish landscape all the way to Dublin while forcing the native people to live on land once deemed inhospitable? Then, we could start public schools and use a mascot of a drunken Irishman? (I say this as one who is proudly half-Irish).

In case you don't get my drift, the deal is this: There is absolutely no similarity between the use of a mascot of a Viking at an Oregon high school and using an Indian head with the name of "Savages" at another Oregon high school.

Only a racist couldn't differentiate between the two.

Sadly, there are still too many racists among us.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Historic day for Oregon

Enterprise High School 'Savages'
On Thursday, Oregon went where most states won't. It banned Native American mascots at public schools.

If those 15 schools won't comply by 2017, they'll lose state funding.

"I'm overwhelmed, but I'm holding back on my emotions -- I have a meeting to finish," said board Chairwoman Brenda Frank,  a member of the Klamath Tribes, in The Oregonian. "It's been a long time coming." 


Indeed.


Like most states, Oregon has treated its indigenous people, along with African-Americans, poorly.


This change in mascots, is a small, symbolic step, but one worth taking.


School districts are whining that during this age of plummeting resources, this is not the time to impose such a needlessly costly measure.


Of course, there is never a good time to do the right thing. But, districts have five years to comply with the new rule. That's more than enough time.


This issue of Indian mascots has been around for decades. 


Forty years ago, Stanford University changed its mascot from the Indians to the Cardinal. Yes, the Cardinal is a ridiculous name. The students chose Robber Barons after the school's namesake, but, obviously that wasn't used. 


Has Stanford gone downhill since then? Au contraire. Stanford is more respected now than it was then.


In Enterprise, in northeast Oregon where Chief Joseph once lived, the team is known as the "Savages."

Twenty years ago, the editor of the local paper, the Wallowa County Chieftan, took the widely unpopular stance that the Enterprise logo had to go.


Also, a little over 20 years ago, The Oregonian newspaper took an ill-advised stance of not using the name of Native American mascots in its sports stories. It made for awkward reporting. Plus, instead of shining light on the issue, the paper muddled it. In order to change things, they must be confronted on a daily basis.


The Oregon schools with Native American mascots haven't been around that long, in comparison to actual Native Americans, so the argument that "tradition" will be lost is bogus.


To reduce Native Americans to caricatures is offensive to most reasonable citizens.


It's time to not exploit Native Americans, but help them achieve a better life.


It's important for Oregonians to show respect to all of its citizens. And, it starts with the original Oregonians.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Banned from TED

You can't handle the truth!

That's what TED had to say to its worldwide audience after it deemed one of its speeches too politically controversial to post online. Evidently, it found one idea not worth spreading.

TED, the website that offers "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world," wouldn't broadcast a speech by a venture capitalist from Seattle.

Why?

Well, according to National Journal in a piece titled "The Inequality Speech That TED Won't Show You," Nick Hanauer, an early investor in Amazon.com (meaning he's very rich man today) believes that "he, and other wealthy innovators like him, doesn't create jobs. The middle class does -- and its decline threatens everyone in America, from the innovators on down."

TED appeals to conservatives because it offers speakers who demonstrate that it was their own hard work, acumen and perseverance that got them where they are today.

Implicit in this paradigm is the belief that low taxes on the rich spur economic growth.

Hanauer says this isn't true.

Consider this provocative closing from his speech:

"We've had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an eco-systemic  feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That's why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.

So here's an idea worth spreading.  

In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are consumers, the middle class.  And taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class, is the single smartest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich."

Obviously, these beliefs go against the grain of current orthodoxy at TED and within the corridors of corporate America and the GOP.

Making a case for higher taxes on those most capable of paying them is never popular, particularly during a presidential election year.

But, it's an idea worth spreading, whether TED believes so or not. 

On deficits, budgets and Mitt-wits


"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
                                                                                                      ~John Kenneth Galbraith

That about sums up modern America.

The Republican Party represents the wealthy in our society. And, Mitt wants to be president of this small but powerful group. He clearly doesn't want to be president of all Americans because that would include minorities, Democrats, non-Mormons and gays.

Mitt is the poster boy for the entitled class, those who inherited wealth and, shockingly did not squander it, but rather enlarged it beyond all usefullness.

Those who have done the least amount of actual work, such as Wall Street banksters and vulture capitalists known as the Mitt crowd, but who have acquired mansions of undeserved wealth, are the first ones to whine the loudest that they are the victims of  "class warfare."

It's the Orwellian way. Accuse others of behavior that you, yourself, are engaged in.

Bush II was a master of this and he was loved by the 1 percent. Plus, he gave them huge tax breaks that were still not enough for people like Mitt who felt compelled to hide mega-millions in off-shore accounts.

Obviously, giving tax cuts to the wealthy is like supplying a crack addict with a daily fix. It's never enough.

That is why the GOP is commonly referred to as the Greedy Old Party.

Republican teabaggers are fixated on the deficit even though they want to enlarge it through even more tax cuts and more military spending.

The Republican-controlled House passed the Ryan budget, which was inspired by Ayn Rand's "The Virtue of Selfishness," and transfers more from the poor to the rich.

The "weeper of the House," John Boehner, is threatening to shut down the government and default on America's financial obligations rather than raise the debt limit. Yeah, that worked so well last summer.

The Mitt-wit wants to get America "working" again by giving his buddies more tax breaks.

Yeah, that worked well for the past decade.

It would be nice, for once, to hear that the "era of big selfishness is over."

We can only hope.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Telfer trounced, 68 to 32

Less than two years after being the Republican candidate for state treasurer, state Sen. Chris Telfer got stomped in her re-election bid in the GOP primary.

In the first batch of numbers tonight, Telfer was losing to Tim Knopp by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin. The second batch of numbers showed the same spread.

Four years ago, Telfer easily won her Senate seat over her Democratic opponent by 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

Knopp, a former state House majority leader and known for his nasty politics, stunned the incumbent when he announced his bid earlier this year.

And, he came out with a barrage of negative ads, paid for by the builders' organization he represents and also by the infamous Koch brothers.

Knopp is an extremist on social issues and that always plays well with the base during the primary.

Telfer, a former Democrat and therefore deemed a RINO, is a social moderate, which is consistent with the vast majority of statewide voters.

Also, Telfer did the unforgivable, in the eyes of GOP wingnuts, by working with Democrats to pass legislation that benefited not just her constituents, but all Oregonians.

After the Tom DeWolf debacle, in which another RINO was hounded out of office as a Deschutes County commissioner, here's hoping that no more Democrats go over to the dark side where the local majority, in voter numbers, resides.

Even though Knopp's hero Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat, Republicans today, particularly in Deschutes County, have no use for any former Democrat.

And, since Telfer is a woman, perhaps she now realizes that the GOP "war on women" means her, too.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Investors favoring Obama

Global investors and the U.S. website Intrade.com show President Obama holding double-digit leads that he'll win re-election.

The Bloomberg Global Poll asked clients worldwide who would be a better leader for the global economy and they favor Obama 49 percent to 38 percent for Mitt Romney.

The odds at Intrade.com of Obama winning have held steady for awhile now. Obama trades at near 60 dollars a share while Mitt hovers in the mid-to-upper 30s.

The aggregate of national polls at Real Clear Politics show Obama with just a one-point advantage.

Of course, national polls are largely irrelevant. It appears, once again, that Ohio, where Obama holds a slim lead, will decide the whole contest.

In the electoral count, RCP projects Obama at 253 to Mitt's 170.

Should Obama win Ohio's 18 electoral votes, he would surpass the 270 benchmark needed for re-election, given RCP's reading of state poll averages.

Still, it's a long way to November. The numbers are fluid. Mitt could flip-flop his way to a lead.

Or, Obama could pull away.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pranks, gays and Mitt

In the game of "spin," which is what presidential politics is all about, Mitt Romney just got spun.

Or, rather he got "pranked" by a Washington Post story that was held a day because of President Obama's marriage equality proclamation.

Yes, it is absurd to dredge up stories from Mitt's high school years, but this is what he signed up for when he decided to run for president six years ago.

Obama is getting trashed for having eaten dog meat as a child. The Rev. Wright issue is being trotted out yet again. And, birthers never go away.

That Mitt was a bully at an "elite" all-male prep school shouldn't surprise anyone. Afterall, Mitt was born into the "entitlement class," which protects the status quo at all costs even if it means picking on the weak or vulnerable.

The fact that the victim almost 50 years ago was presumed gay by his classmates took on a different resonance after Obama's announcement.

Instead of attacking Obama over his new-found stance, Mitt had to apologize to "anyone he may have offended."

But, the Mitt-wit went farther off-message by saying he's now opposed to civil unions, even though he was in favor of them when governor of Massachusetts.

And, what about this message: Mitt is in favor of  gays adopting children.

The casual observer, or independent voter, may hear Mitt's comments and say, huh?

What does Mitt really stand for? He's not entirely sure himself, which is why he would rather discuss anything else but gay marriage.

Hating on homosexuals unifies the base of Mitt's support, but it doesn't reach out to those who have better ways to spend their time.

Hate is counterproductive, which means it doesn't help our current economic situation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A no-win situation for Obama

So President Obama has been "outed," by his own team, as a closet gay-marriage supporter.

Big surprise. He was for it in the 1990s before he was running for national office. When he ran for the Senate in 2004, he knew the issue was too toxic for rational discussion and opposed gay marriage while backing civil unions.

His called his position as "evolving," which is a double negative for the right-wing extremists in this country.

"Oh my god, he's for gay marriage and evolution!" they cry.

There isn't much upside, though, for Obama's announcement. He already had the "gay" vote and the money that goes with it. He never had the extremists out there. However, he could lose some independents in pivotal swing states. It's a risk he is willing to take. That takes guts.

You expect the extreme conservatives to wail in protest while delighting in what this could mean for Republicans in the November election.

 But, wingnut commenters at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal websites are also ticked that it took Obama so long. Go figure.

A short-lived Fox News headline read: "Obama flip flops, declares war on marriage."

But, Shep Smith, the only near-right talking head on Fox News could get fired for saying this to colleague Bret Baier:


"What I'm most curious about is whether it's your belief that -- in this time of rising debts, and medical issues, and all the rest -- if Republicans would go out on a limb and try to make this a campaign issue while sitting very firmly, without much issue, on the wrong side of history on it."


The Fox News comments were a little more low-brow:


"Perversion is perversion......calling it 'marriage' doesn't change it."


At the WSJ site, the comments were a bit more nuanced:



"But does he support gay divorce?
A lot of divorce lawyers out there, you know --
and they vote!
More to the point: they got money!"

"I am so glad Obama's daughters are in favor of gay marriage. 
Is he consulting them on the anti-missile shield for Europe and the nuclear crisis with Iran? 
I think their opinions on these issues will provide great insight..."

"What is the alternative here? We just keep treating these people different from everyone else?"

"Romney, being a good Mormon, thinks that marriage is a union between a man and one or more women."
"I suppose we now need to change the wording on the Statue of Liberty to reflect maybe something catchy like 'give your sick, illegal, and various deviants', the dems need their vote."

But, for the truly bizarre, the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay wing of the GOP, came out against President Obama's position on gay marriage. 


Obviously, to be gay and a Republican takes self-loathing to a whole new level.


Ind the end, leave it the GOP godfather, Rush Limbaugh, to put it all into perspective by declaring:



"We've Arrived at a Point Where the President of The United States is Going to Lead a War on Traditional Marriage"


By the way, Rush has been married four times and has no children. Now, that's traditional.

The mean inherit the nation -- for now

Tuesday's results in North Carolina and Indiana show that Americans have a pretty good mean streak.


Indiana ousted Republican Dick Lugar for a freakish teabagger whose views are definitely not mainstream.


Here's a sample from Richard Mourdock, who won in a landslide:


"Let's do away with the departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development," Mourdock, 60, told ABC, adding that he also wants to dump the IRS.

He says the budget plans of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have not gone far enough.
"I think there needs to be more partisanship" in Washington, he said.
Okay.
In North Carolina, homophobia reigns. Voters overwhelmingly banned same-sex marriage. Yes, this is the south where marrying relatives is still condoned.
Still, the marriage-equality gambit should show Democrats that this is not an issue on which to run a presidential campaign. All it does is incite the loonies and they flock like zombies to the voting booth.

Meanwhile, there are a number of alarming stories out there about right-wing extremists and their threats of violence.

In Virginia, a "GOP Newsletter Calls for Armed Revolution if Obama Re-Elected."

In Missouri, a teabagger said they "have to kill the Claire bear." Naturally, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is getting additional security.
Should Obama get re-elected, it appears some Americans may go ballistic.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Charge user with alarm fee

In Seattle, 98 percent of alarm calls are bogus
The city of Bend wastes $111,000 per year on false alarms caused by  alarm systems at homes and businesses

This is yet another way those without alarm systems subsidize the people who do.

This transfers tax money from the many to the few.

For great background on this topic check out award-winning, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston's terrific book called "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)."

Home alarm systems are generally for the rich and the paranoid, which are sometimes one and the same.

Alarm systems for retail businesses make sense since these stores are usually vacant overnight and have lots of stuff worth stealing.

But, one of the reasons why people move to a place like Bend is that, compared to a big city, there is little crime here.

The extra expense of a home alarm system really isn't needed in Bend unless the house is vacant much of the year or is in foreclosure, which is a common occurrence these days.

The alarm companies, like ADT, make a killing on home alarm systems because they provide no security at all, but transfer it to the local government police agency. They just collect the monthly fee but saddle the local cops with the bill.

Throughout the country, like in Seattle, millions are wasted every year on false burglar alarm calls. In fact, almost all burglar alarm calls are false.

Not only that, but time and manpower wasted on false alarms means that real crimes are not being solved. A classic lose-lose proposition for the taxpayer, but a win-win for big alarm companies like ADT.

The real solution to the problem of false alarms is to make the alarm companies, instead of local police, respond to the alarm calls. Let the alarm companies pay for a local private police force to manage all these false alarms. Or bill the alarm companies for false alarms.

Otherwise, the fines on home or businesses for false alarms should escalate proportionally to offset the cost to taxpayers.

And, if that doesn't work, assess each business or home that has an alarm system with an annual fee to offset the cost to the taxpayer.

Let's stop subsidizing corporations like ADT who make millions off the taxpayer while providing no service at all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bush deficit dwarfs Obama's

For the teabaggers who suddenly became concerned about the federal deficit after President Obama pushed through the $874 billion stimulus, here's some relevant news for you: The deficit run up by President Bush far exceeded anything Obama has done.

The Washington Post provides the charts to show how it's not even close. Bush added $5.1 trillion to the deficit, while Obama has added just $983 billion.

The Bush tax cuts alone added $1.8 trillion to the deficit.

The GOP-led House wants to extend those tax cuts without paying for them. In essence, Republican lawmakers could care less about deficits or teabaggers, for that matter.

On a related note, here's a story about how the Republicans hired a firm in the Philippines to make calls on behalf of Mitt-wit Romney's presidential campaign to attack "high unemployment" under Obama.

Note to the GOP, the Philippines is not a state in America. Hiring workers overseas does not help our employment situation at home.

On another related note, Real Clear Politics now projects, if the election were held today, Obama would start with 253 electoral votes and Romney with 170. To win the presidency, 270 electoral votes are needed.

RCP moved Pennsylvania and Nevada from the "toss-up" category to the "leans Obama" category.

Even the Wall Street Journal notes that Romney's chances of winning in November relies on him winning at least six states that Obama won in 2008. Ohio and Florida are still toss-up states that slightly favor Obama in the polls, but Virginia is definitely leaning towards Obama, according to the latest Washington Post poll, which has Obama up by 7 percent over Romney.

I think the more America sees of Romney, the less likable, and electable, he becomes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

They're super rich and we're not

Check out the graph to the right that shows, rather starkly, how American productivity has increased over the past 40 years, but hourly compensation has not.


It's obvious that class warfare is over. The rich won long ago.


And, like Mitt Romney, they hid their money from the country that created the conditions for accumulation of wealth that can't possibly be used in one's lifetime.


Check out this graph below of where Mitt has sheltered his wealth, estimated at $250 million.








The growing economic inequality is seen as a good thing by a former colleague of Mitt's at Bain Capital. Check out this long-form story for some insight.


Edward Conard retired at the age of 51 after accumulating hundreds of millions in wealth, like Mitt, in the buying and selling of companies.



Conard's mother was a kindergarten teacher. His father was a Ford engineer. 

He believes he took the harder path in life, by not becoming a lawyer. Maybe one day he'll realize that he had a less positive impact on society than his parents.



Conard feels, like many in his class, that he is more valuable than almost everyone else in our country. 


He has a book coming out titled: “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong.”

As he told the Times' reporter: "Economics is counterintuitive. It just is.”

Well, to the unaware, it's counterintuitive. To those of us who know the price of a gallon of gas or of milk, it is quite intuitive. 

We lose, and they win.

There is nothing more economic than that. In order for someone to be rich beyond all reason, millions have to be poor, beyond all dignity.