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Flagrancy

to Reason

Popular election may work fairly well as long as those questions are not raised which cause the holders of wealth and industrial power to make full use of their opportunities. But if the rich people in any modern state thought it worth their while ... to subscribe a third of their income to a political fund, no Corrupt Practices Act yet invented would prevent them spending it. If they did so there is so much skill to be bought, and the art of using skill for the production of emotion and opinion has so far advanced, that the whole condition of political contests would be changed for the future.
    A.L. Lowell, president of Harvard University, 1926. Public Opinion and Popular Government, based on lectures at John Hopkins in 1909.

All the old blogs
are gone now

or the people
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    running government like a business:

    What kind of business are we supposed to run government like? A Wall Street bank? It's not so much a bank holding company as a bank held company, but OK. Let's run public finance like Goldman Sachs (this should be easy for Goverment Sachs), and instead of looking at a debt to GDP ratio look at leverage. Wall Street would warn that we are seriously under-levered at less than 1 to 1. Back in the old days they'd expect 12 to 1, but the standard for a Wall Street bank is now more like 30 to 1, so we need to get out there and spend $408.8 trillion dollars to get back on track.

    When we invest it all into tranches of securitized sub-nuclear warhead swaps and accidentally vaporize the planet because of an unexpected credit event on Uncle Merv's Citigroup Card we can go ask God for a bailout.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-08-02 18:56:59 CST | link


    the courts are closed:

    well of course, an economy based on fraud can't run if the courts were open.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-08-02 16:31:33 CST | link


    merely 19 million more uninsured Americans than when Obama was elected:

    The Orlando Sentinel's Kate Santich starts this story out with a tear jerker, about a family that goes bankrupt, despite the fact that they're covered by two health insurance policies, when their infant daughter ends up in intensive care with a rare disorder. Then Santich hits the compression button and sends your blood pressure rocketing into the heavens:

    "To this day," Simon said, "we still have creditors calling us, wanting to talk to Ellie. They'll say things like, 'We want to discuss how she's going to take care of this overdue bill.' I just lose it."

    Ellie Sutherland died June 26. She was two months shy of her fourth birthday.

    Maybe things would be better under the new laws, once they actually kick in, any year now:

    If Ellie had been born today, her parents' insurance plan — because of the federal health-care overhaul — would have no limit on how much coverage the policy would pay out over a lifetime. If Ellie were born in 2014, there also would be strict out-of-pocket limits that would include such things as prescription-drug costs.

    But a major problem for this family, unshockingly, is in large part rescission and spaghetti contracts that are the profit centers of the insurance industry. The monumental historic pinnacle of Barry's 11-dimensional chess game doesn't do much about either:

    For the first trip to Johns Hopkins, for instance, Marsha had gotten preapproval from her insurer, only to have the company deny coverage when the bills came due. And though the policy had a $10,000 out-of-pocket cap, there were so many copays, deductibles and prescription costs excluded that the Sutherlands spent close to $20,000 the first year alone.

    It's what the industry calls "innovation", I guess. Anyway, this is still going to be a huge fucking problem, and will just get bigger after Obama's new Super Congress decides how to gut the only heath insurance programs in this country that actually work:

    Two years ago, researchers at Harvard and Ohio universities reported that 62 percent of all bankruptcies were related to medical debt. An American family, they said, filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of illness every 90 seconds — and three-quarters of those families had health insurance.

    Although the data used for the study is now 4 years old, most experts interviewed said the problem is likely only to have worsened, at least until this year, as out-of-pocket medical costs have continued to spiral.

    In addition, widespread layoffs have contributed to the rapid rise in uninsured Americans, who now number more than 59 million.

    To top it all off, after the mother quits to take care of the child full time, the father is let go after the insurance companies jack up his company's premiums 70%.

    The job loss, ironically, made his daughter eligible for Medicaid at last. Suddenly, all the battles over coverage were over, and administrators even asked whether the girl might need a wheelchair.

    The Sutherlands were still paying off the $5,000 tab for the wheelchair their private insurance refused to cover.

    ...

    Despite the debts wiped away by the bankruptcy, the Sutherlands still owe about $2,000 on Ellie's medical bills, not including her funeral expenses. Marsha and Simon have no credit cards, and they no longer have any insurance coverage themselves. For now, they simply hope they don't get sick.

    It's just so fucking stupid how simple it would be to fix this, and how the second order effects would stop so much buffoonery in our national politics: putting healthcare costs on par with other industrialized countries would halve our medical bills, repairing the long term debt outlook without any painful cuts or tax increases, making it infinitely less risky to start new businesses, dramatically lower labor and human resources costs for existing business, dramatically enhance labor and social mobility, all of which would greatly enhance the job prospects of the portion of the 2.3 million health insurance industry workers that would have to be let go as the industry downsizes into supplemental coverage provision, and all contributing thusly to any economic recovery that might take place, some far off day when our economic system is no longer built on a foundation of fraud.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-08-02 12:35:53 CST | link


    Anybody might get lucky out of wedlock but only a religious prude would feel guilty about it:

    Nobody who actually read Breivik's Compendium of Scribbles From The Internets closely enough to note that a section criticizing the left for being sadomasochistic was plagiarized from the Unabomber would question whether he was a Christian. When he's shopping for guns on the black markets of Prague and fails to find any he sleeps with two women and agonizes: "screwing around outside of marriage is after all a relatively small sin," he says, "compared to the huge amounts of grace I am about to generate with my martyrdom operation". He comes up with such lame excuses for his failure to maintain his chaste, pious purity over and over again, whether it's a consensual hookup or "high quality model escorts": he'll be forgiven by his god -- that'd be Jesus, k? -- for re-uniting Christian Europe against the interloper hoards of Islam.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-08-01 18:37:03 CST | link


    on the bright side they haven't passed Obama's requested $4T in fiscal contraction. yet.:

    Just $900B in cuts over 10 years to pay for the $900B pricetag on last Decembers' tax breaks for the rich. On the downside, they aren't even talking about doing anything about this:

    Practically speaking what we’re dealing with here and what we need to recognize is not an interruption to a long process of economic growth, a recession or some shock to aggregate demand. It is an incurable disease at the heart of the system.

    Or rather, their campaign donors are doing everything they can to make the disease worse.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-08-01 15:43:10 CST | link


    The implication of Obama's promise not to default on our debt obligations to the banks, but to default on budgeted obligations to the rest of the country, implies an intention to violate the Presentment Clause by deciding which parts of a law (this year's budget, which doesn't expire until October 1st) to ignore. That's not going to fly in court.

    Given how naked his priorities are revealed by his assurances to the financial sector and nobody else, we might as well hope that he's impeached for the partial shutdown so we don't have to primary him.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-29 17:51:12 CST | link


    apocalypse never:

    Japan's credit rating was cut across the board last February and they're current borrowing 30 year debt at 2.2%, almost half what we do. We should double our debt to GDP ratio and work hard to downgrade our credit rating, it worked out well for Japan.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-29 16:54:21 CST | link


    the lesser insanity:

    Over the course of this debt ceiling nonsense Obama has been asking congress for a budget plan that reduces federal spending by $3 trillion dollars and raises tax revenues by $1 trillion dollars. That's a -2.8% of GDP drain on the economy, which would put us right back into a recession. In terms of just simple fiscal policy we should all be fighting Obama and rooting for the lesser evil, Orange Boehner's -0.64% of GDP.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-29 16:51:24 CST | link


    bush's third term:

    Sterling Newberry is pretty harsh through the whole piece -- he's putting Barry up for Worst Ever, after all -- but especially on this debt ceiling nonsense:

    What is worse is that the actions of the President are irrational even in his own political lexicon. He is either insane, which I do not for a moment believe, or he is lying, which he pretty clearly is. Let's review his own words:
    For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

    This is red meat for liberal base, but it is clear that Obama does not believe this. If Obama believed that Bush's policies created the problem, then why has he continued virtually all of them: Bush tax cuts, both occupations, subsidies for the health insurance and pharma industries, and almost all of the spending. In otherwords, he's saying one thing for liberal base people, but his budget proposal does not:

    1. End the tax breaks.
    2. End the occupations and wars.
    3. End most subsidies for the health care industry.
    4. End expansion of the military.

    Instead, it cuts entitlements, and domestic discretionary spending. In fact, he comes as close to closing the domestic government, absent spying on Americans, groping their genitals, and locking them up, as is possible.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-28 15:07:03 CST | link


    The "$16 Trillion Dollar Secret Slush Fund":

    All these news items and panicked blogs about the Fed loaning out a super-secret $16 trillion during the financial crisis are based on Table 8 of the GAO audit, page 131, which adds up the Fed's short term emergency lending windows into a vaguely meaningless number:

    Table 8 aggregates total dollar transaction amounts by adding the total dollar amount of all loans but does not adjust these amounts to reflect differences across programs in the term over which loans were outstanding. For example, an overnight PDCF loan of $10 billion that was renewed daily at the same level for 30 business days would result in an aggregate amount borrowed of $300 billion although the institution, in effect, borrowed only $10 billion over 30 days. In contrast, a TAF loan of $10 billion extended over a 1-month period would appear as $10 billion.

    Business Insider is out to lunch and thinks that if I borrow $1 from you every morning and pay back $1 every night for a week that you've added $7 to the monetary base. Using this number makes the actual amount of welfare the Fed and Treasury dished out to Wall Street sound like a pittance, and they can turn around and talk about how they've paid it all back minus a rounding error.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-25 14:57:22 CST | link


    it'll be easier to stab you all in the back if you close ranks in front of me, thanks:

    I’m almost starting to believe Stupid Party vs. Evil Party. The elected officials on both sides are evil, but one base digs in and fights while the other vacillates between interpreting betrayal as 11-dimensional chess and interpreting betrayal as virtuous, healing compromise. Clearly, one base is stupider than the other.

    In 11-dimensional chess land I figure the President is just playing along and giving the teabaggers exactly what they want, good and hard. Lucky for us they don't seem to realize that he's one of them, and won't accept a carbon copy of their own demands.

    Between an actual default of some kind now or kicking hundreds of millions of future retirees down the stairs I think I'd prefer the default. Maybe if we bring on the next inevitable financial crisis on purpose, ahead of schedule, and entirely due to Washington refusing to issue checks, the asshats in Washington will have a harder time bailing out the financial sector and actually be forced to put it back in its place, in coach rather than the cockpit. I don't see any potential upside to shafting future me and future you.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-25 00:59:36 CST | link


    quality control in the asylum never was what it used to be:

    Pamela Geller is upset that she helped inspire Breivik's maniacal, homicidal fear and anger, and complains:

    Notice that no attention is being paid to last week's jihad attack in Mumbai.

    Google News hits for "mumbai terrorist attack": 4,742. For "norway terrorist attack": 3,838. Maybe Geller is the one who isn't paying any attention.

    Almost none of the incoherent, Geller-like ravings in Breivik's "compendium" are his own, the guy apparently spent the last three years and a hundred thirty thousand euros cutting and pasting screeds from the internet. An opening section is an unattributed plagiarization of Raymond V. Raehn's 2004 "The Historical Roots of 'Political Correctness'", which in turn seems to consist largely of plagiarized passages from Pat Buchanan's 2001 "The Death of the West", who plagiarized his material from lord knows where.

    Charles Johnson quotes Breivik on his motivations, and convincingly concludes that "Anders Breivik massacred up to 100 people just to market his and Fjordman's Islamophobic musings". It would be more accurate to say that Breivik wanted to market Pat Buchanan and frequent Geller guest-blogger Fjordmans' Islamophobic musings, with Buchanan's contributions three times removed, presumably to preserve their movement's credibility.

    Breivik's only musings in the thing seem to be his own navel gazing autobiography and a diary of the attack planning that, minus the bomb recipes, is mostly a long monologue on which wine would go best with the high end escort models he intends to pay for sex the night before the attack.

    But I don't think he did adequate research to see how his intended audience would respond to murdering dozens of children. I haven't seen right wingers calling each other fascists like this since it was the hot new trend of 1922.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-24 19:05:06 CST | link


    on the one hand we endorse multiculturalism and support more of it, on the other hand it is an abject failure and must be destroyed:

    The editors of the Jerusalem Post don't make any fucking sense whatsoever:

    Fostering an open society untainted by xenophobia or racism should go hand in hand with protection of unique European culture and values. ... But Oslo’s devastating tragedy should not be allowed to be manipulated by those who would cover up the abject failure of multiculturalism.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-24 17:22:14 CST | link


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-23 13:39:13 CST | link


    It's important in difficult times like these to take care not to alienate our allies by spreading the seeds of hatred. To defeat terrorism we must turn away from bigotry and embrace tolerance. But while it's important to stress that not all Scandinavians are terrorists, it's still just a cold fact that most terrorists are Scandinavian.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-23 13:12:12 CST | link


    We must amend the constitution to prevent the spread of Udal law before it's too late.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-23 12:59:57 CST | link


    I demand that Karl Rove issue a statement condemning Norse terrorism. It is imperative that we assist the good Norwegians and help them reform Norse fundamentalism from within.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-23 12:57:21 CST | link


    profit without the ???s:

    1. The small government and traditional conservative work to end regulation and shove the externalities into the courts, where traditional conservatives believe they belong.
    2. The small government and business conservative work to neuter tort law.
    3. Profit.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-22 17:52:26 CST | link


    storming in and out of meetings:

    It’s the combined capacity of abl and jane to get so fucking whipped up over such a fucking inconsequential episode that really fucking impresses me, motherfuckers.

    So like, if there’s an argument to follow amidst all the hyperventilating, Jane’s position is “Obama wants to position himself as a deficit hawk and doesn’t want to own the debt limit, but I think he can’t and he knows it and hence this outburst of frustration”, and ABL thinks “Obama is exploiting racist fears of crazy negros with this rare expression of something resembling emotion, somehow”? Have I got that right?

    As someone who often gets incredibly angry over the most trivial hypocrisies I don’t understand how this disagreement is capable of inspiring minor irritation, let alone their seething rage.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-15 11:18:02 CST | link


    raise the roof:

    Looking at the polls (CBS News/New York Times Poll. June 24-28, 2011) you'd have to believe the country is suicidal. 82% think failing to raise the debt limit is likely to cause a financial crisis and "will harm the financial future" of not just their children but their grand children, so, of course, only 38% actually support raising it, with 41% against and 18% going with "neither", whatever the hell that means.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-11 18:46:51 CST | link


    cat food commissions :

    That Obama is willing to gut social security comes as no surprise, but I can't believe he's still using that awful "win the future" line.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-11 18:45:26 CST | link


    fiat rage:

    Gosh, I dunno. When I have the rare occasion to posit to a gold bug that the dollar is valuable for paying debts and taxes and is backed by nuclear armageddon they seem surprisingly receptive to the argument, like nobody'd explained to them before that the barrel of a gun is as good as any other metal for propping up a fiat currency.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-11 18:44:27 CST | link


    and he still buries the lead just like they taught him:

    From the last couple paragraphs of Chris Hedge's review of the documentary "Page One: Inside the New York Times":

    The Times ... where I spent 15 years ... is a labyrinth of intrigue, gossip, back-biting, rumor, false piety, rampant ambition, betrayal and deception. Those who play this game well are repugnant. They are also usually the people who run the place.

    When you allow an institution to provide you with your identity and sense of self-worth you become an obsequious pawn, no matter how much talent you possess. You live in perpetual fear of what those in authority think of you and might do to you. This mechanism of internalized control?for you always need them more than they need you?is effective. The rules of advancement at the paper are never clearly defined or written down. Careerists pay lip service to the stated ideals of the institution, which are couched in lofty rhetoric about balance, impartiality and neutrality, but astutely grasp the actual guiding principle of the paper, which is: Do not significantly alienate the corporate and political power elite on whom the institution depends for access and money.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-08 14:04:25 CST | link


    chained:

    It's weird how half the republicans are convinced that we're already suffering through hyperinflation, and half want to claim CPI is too high and use some lower, alternative measure so they can gut social security. But it's the half that can hold both thoughts in their heads at the same time that scare me.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-08 13:14:02 CST | link


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-08 13:07:40 CST | link


    jive:

    Wall Street supports business process patents, unless they have to pay for them too. They also support low deficits, unless we're going into debt to save Wall Street. And the rule of law, unless Wall Street breaks it. And Wall Street firmly believes that the creative destruction of capitalism is a powerful force for good, unless it happens on Wall Street.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-08 12:42:06 CST | link


    drinking by oneself is a common test case for specific disequilibrium:

    If I was a rational economic agent I would not have wasted four hours of my life reading anonymous commenters on Stephen Williamson's blog defend DSGE models by whining that nobody's read their recent paper that proposes a DSGE model that takes my irrational behavior into account.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-05 00:49:14 CST | link


    we're pretty well within our means:

    If the government managed its finances "just like families do" it wouldn't blink at taking out mortgage debt worth 500% of GDP. The mortgage calculator dohickeys all consider that "conservative" at the 30 year rates the government is borrowing at.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-07-04 12:32:37 CST | link


    imagine!:

    "A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy," the company's website boasts. "A person you control... yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!"


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-06-29 13:30:59 CST | link


    obamuncare:

    While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act never required any review of insurance rescission due to "fraud" or paperwork errors, Obama has unilaterally narrowed the scope of external review when people feel their coverage has been unfairly dropped to only rescissions due to "medical judgment", while also drastically shortening the period during which patients may challenge their insurance companies before an external panel over this narrow scope.

    So after you've spent half your life paying gigantic portions of your income to an insurance company because you followed Washington's mandated behavior like a good little citizen, when you some day have the indecency to become really sick and need that insurance you'll have maybe a 50/50 chance. That's how they make their money, after all. But I didn't know that congress gave Obama the power to unilaterally declare this or that additional way the insurers may happily fuck you for a profit.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-06-28 13:05:15 CST | link


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