peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
From Kevin Kruse's One Nation Under God, we learn about the kick-off to Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential campaign in Abilene, Kansas.

The town staged a massive parade in his honor, with a series of floats depicting events in h is life, ending with one carrying a replica of the White House with him inside. His parents had long since passed away, but the candidate made an appearance at their old clapboard home, using it as a shorthand for his humble upbringing, his family, and his faith.

You get that kind of political spectacle today, of course. What you do not get, especially in this silly era, is the timing.

All of the above happened in Abilene, Kansas, in June, 1952.

Eisenhower secured the nomination in July, 1952.

The next time you feel obliged to comment on the presidential candidacy of anyone, please wait until June of next year. Do not sit through news that contains any campaign information, at least not until June of next year.

Do not feed the beast of silliness.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Which rumors, you ask? Why, those would be about the recent bad press Amazon has been getting.

You know about Amazon, don't you? It's that place online that is sucking the profit from every corner of our economy. Everyone complains out loud about Wal*Mart sucking profit; but that's because it pays and treats its employees so poorly. Amazon treats its employees as bad or worse, but at least they don't work for Bentonville. )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
The other day, a friend forwarded me this link. It opens:

Ira Glass, the man who captivates countless National Public Radio (NPR) listeners with his quirky accounts of daily life around the country, recently asserted that NPR should be supported by free market capitalism and advertising.

Glass came under fire for this presentation, essentially a pitch to advertisers. He later wrote:

Numbers like that mean that companies will come on our shows and pay lots of money for what the rest of the world calls “advertising” and what we call “underwriting.”

I’m talking about the 10- to 15-second announcements during public radio shows that say “Support for this program comes from . . . .” Public radio and TV have always had them.

Yes, they have noted "underwriters," but for the record these were most often charitable foundations, not pitches for car companies and breweries as Glass pitches every week on This American Life. Sorry, Ira, those are ads, not underwriting spots. Suck it up.

I got pretty bummed about the whole thing, including the slickster hip webpage that touted the event. A lot of energy was going into wooing advertisers to public media.

And then I realized I shouldn't be bummed. This has been building for quite some time. Why? Public media in the United States lacks definition as to what public media is.

What follows is my attempt to clarify. Enjoy? )

Yes, it's a biggun. Still, I could use some feedback. And it ain't done yet.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Hello, LJ. How've ya been? I've been busy doing things. One of those things is trying to digest Thomas Picketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It's thick, almost as thick as I am. Which is why it is taking a while.

While I'm letting some time hopefully help stew the meaty data and theories found within, I wrongly decided to look up some thoughts on the book from other readers. My mistake. )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
When last I shared, I noted that we in the United States have no liberal media bias, at least not when it comes to the mainstream, commercially-supported variety so dominant in our society. No sooner did I dare to mention this then the trickle of disclaimers dripped in. "Ah!," some deigned to note, "but look at these examples! Your thesis is therefore bunk!" And indeed, a link had helpfully collected the most egregious examples of pinko commie liberalism from broadcast and major print outlets.

I invite you to check them out. It won't take long; the examples run from September, 2009 to October 2013. All 13 examples.

And here we find a sampling error, exactly the same kind that failed to note the sudden extinction of ammonites following the Chicxulub asteroid impact that also killed the larger dinosaurs. Shall we sample more properly? )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Whoever has made observation on the characters of nations will find it generally true that the manners of a nation, or of a party, can be better ascertained from the character of its press than from any other public circumstance.

-Thomas Paine

Once again, I tripped over a tired trope tossed like a caltrop on an online discussion, the myth that our main news reports are "liberal," aka that they lean to the political left. To be fair, this particular discussor provided a link to a study. All well and good.

Well and good, until you read the darned thing. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)

Hear, hear. I will regain some confidence in our news media when the next shooting atrocity is introduced thusly:

In other news, there was a shooting locally. Police are on the scene and investigating. We will bring a few details as they develop, but will not lionize the shooter in any way, including mentioning his name on air. For the same reason, we do not send our reporters wading into the sewers with a camera to point out the biggest, weirdest or strangest pieces of excrement to float by.

And now, here's Bob with the weather.

Sadly, I find it telling that Charlie Brooker is almost unknown in these here United States. It's as if his body of work attacks a business model that is currently enjoying enormous profits.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I recently tripped on yet another rhetorical caltrop in an online discussion thread, a seemingly off-handed observation that sought to quiet the Sturm und Drang of yet another whiner (this whiner being myself); it was the notion that "advertising has . . . been the fuel for art and entertainment for decades, if not centuries." And while yes, this is technically true, there are reasons—some worth considering, others so powerful that not considering them puts people at peril—obviating the seeming simplicity of this observation.

In a nutshell, I am here proposing that there are good reasons to create ad-free multi-media space, and that those reasons have to do with the negative and deforming effect of advertising itself. This has been a hobby horse of mine for some time, and I thought it might be interesting to introduce this concept with those who might not have considered these issues before. So, riders, saddle up! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I recently banged out a post commenting on a news source I still (kinda) trust, National Public Radio involving the "hidden" disability benefits story. I called it a "great piece of investigative journalism" without considering the flaws in the story. Worse, I didn't consider what I myself have been noticing for years now, that private forces have infiltrated NPR (and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NPR's parent organization which is connected to NPR) distorting the once excellent reporting as a result.

I here apologize to all who read that post of mine. I dropped the ball, and I am sorry. In my excitement over hearing former Pacific North West reporter Joffe-Walt, formerly of Tacoma's "public" station KPLU just an hour south and nestled in my parent's alma mater, I neglected to fact check her story. I blew it.

Though her points were often not completely inaccurate, they were presented in a misleading way that led listeners to some damning conclusions. Beyond the cut lie my angry corrections on what I feel is really important here. )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Just took a road trip, flying down to Phoenix and driving the folks' car back to the North West. Grabbed lunch with [ profile] geezer_also on the way and visited various friends that have relocated south.

What I did not do, though, was watch or listen to any news. None. It was bliss, it was; but now I'm back. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Just caught an episode of This American Life called "Unfit For Work: The Startling Rise Of Disability In America". It turns out those on disability don't get counted on the unemployment roles (since, of course, they are classed as unable to work). It gets interesting! )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)

Now, if any mainstream media outlet would present this explanation instead of jumping on the "painful cuts are necessary" bandwagon, that bullshit trope about the liberal media might be worth its salt.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
It's old news, but Ron Paul will soon no longer hold office. So noted Robert Parry on Alternet late last November. Parry raised some obvious points, but I'm posting here to note that he missed or probably misunderstood many others to the point where he actually might have missed the point Ron Paul represented all along. Those points? )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I've already mentioned Upton Sinclair's 1934 run for governor of California. Having finished the book on which that post was made, I stumbled across a few facts which reinforce the message of that last post. Recall that Sinclair had inspired the EPIC plan; others later organized around the message EPIC presented and started a daily newsletter, which became quite popular, especially in Los Angeles where it was published. Remember also that, other than Sinclair, incumbent Republican Frank Merriam and a third-party candidate named Haight also ran that year.

According to one tally, 92 percent of California's seven hundred newspapers supported Merriam, 5 percent backed Haight, and the rest were neutral. If any paper besides the EPIC News had declared for Sinclair, no one knew about it. The anti-Sinclair press had a stranglehold on virtually every major city; few papers even acknowledged EPIC activities.

(Greg Mitchell, The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, Random House, 1992, p. 225, I emphasized.)

I mention this because of the oft-tossed trope that LJ Cuts are destroying America! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
In typical denial-of-death American tradition, tonight we celebrate the night before the Day of the Dead, pretend the ghouls walk the earth and look oh-so-cute, and engorge ourselves into early graves on sugary treats completely oblivious to the irony.

That doesn't mean there aren't scary things out there ready to go bump in the night, on one's head if need be. And the usual suspects have been bumping the noggins of The Wife™ and I for far too long, clogging the interstitial spaces of our media programming with Boo! and LOOK OUT! and OMG Socialism!!! warnings of all sorts. We can't even answer the phone for fear of being nabbed by a robocaller promoting this Referendum or that Candidate, all hiding behind innocuous caller IDs like "TOLL FREE" or "Seattle" or "Out of Area." Danger, Will Robinson!

I am, of course, referring to our campaign season. Yes, one of our better presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, did say that "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Thing is, things changed. )

If you like the story of Uppie's campaign but don't want to wade through a doorstop of a book or even a New Yorker article, check out the On The Media piece, The World's First Political Consulting Firm for a good interview with Jill Lepore, the author of the NY piece.

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
The Planet Money blog mentioned the new iPhone 5 coming out soon, and quoted a note from someone at JPMorgan. The claim, according to Planet Money:

The JPMorgan note seems very mathy and precise. It starts with the full cost of the new phone, subtracts the value of the imports in each phone (imports are subtracted from economic growth numbers) and estimates the total number of phones likely to be sold in the last three months of the year.

Bottom line, according to the note: The new iPhone could add 0.33 percent to U.S. economic growth. That's actually a lot, when you consider that total economic growth is only about 2 percent.

A pretty bold claim, do you think? Jacob Goldstein thinks so, and savages the note's claim as the blog post continues: "But to arrive at that conclusion, JPMorgan assumes that every single dollar people spend on new iPhones would not otherwise have been spent on anything else during the last three months of the year." Goldstein goes on to explain Keynes' paradox of thrift, where money spent in one sector of the economy is simply taken from another, so a growth in one sector is not necessarily a boost for the economy as a whole. Got that?

So, what did Mr. Goldstein miss, and why might the JPMorgan note be accurate? Let's consult Ellen Brown for the answer:

Here is how the credit card scheme works: when you sign a merchant's credit card slip, you are creating a "negotiable instrument." A negotiable instrument is anything that is signed and convertible into money or that can be used as money. The merchant takes this negotiable instrument and deposits it into his merchant's checking account, a special account required of all businesses that accept credit. The account goes up by the amount on the slip, indicating that the merchant has been paid. The charge slip is forwarded to the credit card company (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), which bundles your charges and sends them to a bank. The bank then sends you a statement, which you pay with a check, causing your transaction account to be debited at your bank. At no point has a bank lent you its money or its depositors' money. Rather, your charge slip (a negotiable instrument) has become an "asset" against which credit has been advanced. The bank has done nothing but monetize your own I.O.U. or promise to repay.

When you lend someone your own money, your assets go down by the amount that the borrower's assets go up. But when a bank lends you money, its assets go up. Its liabilities also go up, since its depostis are counted as liabilities; but the money isn't really there. It is simply a liability -- something that is owed back to the depositor. The bank turns your promise to pay into an asset and a liability at the same time, balancing its books without actually transferring any pre-existing money to you.

(Ellen Hodgson Brown, Web of Debt, Third Millennium Press, 2008, p. 284, italics Brown's, emboldening mine.)

For further evidence that Planet Money is missing the bigger picture, let's consider the "mathy" bit of the JPMorgan note, which opens with "We believe the release of iPhone 5 could potentially add between 1/4 to 1/2%-point to fourth quarter annualized GDP growth." That's a very specific claim. He or she goes on to explain that $400 of the estimated $600 purchase price will stay in the US and thus boost GDP, the balance going to pay the factory in China.

And here's what Mr. Goldstein is missing, and what the JPM analyst might be getting: Most iPhones are probably purchased with credit cards. Seriously, have you been to an Apple store? Credit cards are no problem; every sales rep carries a wireless card swiper unit. Pull cash from your pocket, and the sales person immediately has to take you to another part of the store where the hidden cash drawer is stashed; if the purchase is a sizable one, you'd best hope you brought exact change.

Most iPhone purchases will therefore generate bank debt money, only a fraction of which will likely be paid off immediately. Most of these Number 5 Units will generate debt that will probably linger on the balance sheets of the holders for months, debt money that Apple will spend here in the US.

And as I've mentioned before, Planet Money correspondents have never, ever showed even an inkling of understanding how our bank debt money generating system works. Seriously, now that they have a transcript of the story that incited my linked ire, head over and read what they missed.

I'll cut what they said. )

As you can see, they display nothing but mysticism and/or ignorance for the role banks smaller than the Federal Reserve play in creating money. The only difference between the Fed and the smaller depository banks is the fractional reserve requirement, something absent from the Fed itself. They even, if I remember correctly, fail to note that the Fed itself is a conglomeration of private banks.

So, sorry, Planet Money folks, but if every iPhone is bought with a credit card and the balance carried for just three months, then yes, that new money will circulate in the fourth quarter and thus boost our nation's economic activity, just as the egghead at JPMorgan claims. Ellen Brown explains why above. If you don't understand that excerpt—and I have every expectation that you won't—it's time for you to become reporters and do some actual research.

Or is how banks literally make our nation's money something your sole sponsor Ally Bank would rather the American people not learn?
peristaltor: (Default)
I have to admit, I was a bit shocked when a simple observation of mine, that the GOP has a plank in its platform stating its aim to "explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail-processing system", blew up into such a kerfuffle. The GOP, after all, has long been the party supported by anti-union forces in general and business leaders with private operations that compete with the USPS. Sometimes both.

I guess I was surprised by the anti-union rhetoric spewed in that post simply because I have long held a different mindset as to what drives union membership, one that seems to me as totally non-controversial, as natural as laws driving cloud formation. My mindset has blinded me to mindsets that lack this simple understanding about human nature, that instead rely upon a complex political and pseudo-economic rational for explaining the very phenomenon of unions. I'll address the latter later, but first I'd like to share my theory regarding the bargaining power of individuals more and less alone. )

So, where does that bring us today, and what can we expect tomorrow? )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
When last I ranted I promised to share any "gems" I found in the 2012 Republican Party Platform. I don't like posting too often, but traipsing across this item just got my blood boiling. Let's read:

Restructuring the U.S. Postal Service for the Twenty-First Century

The dire financial circumstances of the Postal Service require dramatic restructuring. In a world of rapidly advancing telecommunications, mail delivery from the era of the Pony Express cannot long survive. We call on Congress to restructure the Service to ensure the continuance of its essential function of delivering mail while preparing for the downsizing made inevitable by the advance of internet communication. In light of the Postal Service’s seriously underfunded pension system, Congress should explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail-processing system.

This bit of dreck deserves to be examined line by line. Strap in. )

I'm going to stop reading this Platform thing for a while. It's too full of the stoopid, if not of the Pure Evil.

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.


Aug. 13th, 2012 04:32 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
Just finished yet another book that gives me that Our Future Is Soooo Fucked feeling, Andrew Blechman's Leisureville, a more in-depth look into America's planned retirement communities than, surprisingly, anyone has yet undertaken. These places are hardly new; Ben Schleifer developed the first ironically named Youngtown in 1954 by simply buying an old dude ranch, gussying up the barracks and transforming them to a community center, parking mobile homes on lots and paving the roads to them. Add water, sewer and power, price the units low enough that people could pay for a lot with their meager Social Security allotment and pensions, and open for business. Youngtown's initial open house caused a traffic jam three hours long when ten times the ten thousand expected to turnout jammed the narrow county road north of Phoenix, then just a sleepy burg itself.

What Schleifer started has been copied again and again; but now certain copies have metastasized into engines of social change, sadly probably not for the better. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
In an out-of-town visitor induced haste, I briefly posted one of my pet peeves about what news has become, notably a race to the bottom of the attention span, constantly trying to keep the attention of the viewer despite a complete lack of engaging detail and even though there are a lot of stories they could be covering. Years ago, This Hour Has 22 Minutes did the best parody of this phenomenon, reporters blathering on about how a door will soon open and someone will say something important, complete with a crawl talking about "The Doors first album was released in 1969," just as a tangental observation. (One day more advanced online search will allow me to share gems like this.)

Today, though, I thought I would go over my observations about current news coverage and how they are hobbled by their chief reason for existence, their need to keep corporate sponsors coughing up that corporate cash. )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.


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