peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I've been through a few presidential cycles in my cycles around the sun. Not as much as many, but more than a few. I know there are differences and similarities in each. But this time, this time feels ... different.

Cut for my rocking chair on porch moment. )
peristaltor: (J' Acuse!)
Paul Krugman writes stuff. Sometimes I read it. Mostly not. Why?

First, let's start with this not-so-startling example of why we should never, ever accuse the NY Times of being "liberal":

It’s important to realize that there are some real conflicts of interest here. For Sanders campaign staff, and also for anyone who has been backing his insurgency, it’s been one heck of a ride, and they would understandably like it to go on as long as possible. But we’ve now reached the point where what’s fun for the campaign isn’t at all the same as what’s good for America.

Let's focus on that last sentence, shall we? Sanders has been talking about the outsized influence of money during his campaign. Refreshing, it's been, to hear from someone freed from the gag order on which Big Money insists. Wouldn't it be "good for America" to talk about money?

Ah, but to focus on that last sentence, we would first have to consider the first sentence. Specifically, we would have to consider Krugman's "real conflicts of interest here."

Let's go back a few years. Krugman and Steve Keen had a nice online fight about money. Scott Fullwiler points out that, in that nice fight, Krugman makes a bit of a blunder:

...Krugman demonstrates that he has a very good grasp of banking as it is presented in a traditional money and banking textbook. Unfortunately for him, though, there’s virtually nothing in that description of banking that is actually correct. Instead of a persuasive defense of his own views on banking, his post is in essence his own flashing neon sign where he provides undisputable evidence that “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I emboldened.)

Fullwiler goes on to explain Krugman's mistaken conception of how money works, just like Steve Keen tried to do. Ah, but Krugman is a Nobel Fauxbel Prize* winner, dontchaknow. You can't go up against one of those guys and win. It's not allowed.

When Keen refused to back down, Krugman just stopped talking to him.

And nobody did a thing.

Here's the thing, though. Bernard Lietaer has some insight into Krugman's motivations, based on a conversation they had.

Which brings us back to the nearing election. Hillary? Big Money is in the house (well, Senate, State Department, and now Campaign Spendy Chest). Bernie? Not so much.

So out comes Krugman to not mention, but instead just defend the money ... the money system he claims to understand, but cannot clearly and accurately define when anyone is reading. Sure, if the other Bernard is right, and Krugman did say what he said, then yes, Paul would be ostracized and quietly disappear, his NYT bully pulpit gone, his career in shambles.

But if he did this, if he talked about what money really is and who controls it, he would also be ... honest.

Which would be a nice change.

*Alfred Nobel never, ever endowed a prize for Economics. That was done much later, by the Central Bank of Sweden, in 1968. It is given not by peers, but by bankers. And lo, check it out: It's been re-named recently! It's now The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The word I underlined, "Sciences," is a new addition to the prize, implying economics is anything but political, and is instead, somehow, just as objective and universal as physics, chemistry, and medicine.

"Economics is not a science,
and never will be!"
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
The former Finance Minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis does not mince words. In the first interview given since he resigned, this tradition continued.

A short-term deal could, Varoufakis said, have been struck soon after Syriza came to power in late January. “Three or four reforms” could have been agreed, and restrictions on liquidity eased by the ECB in return.

Instead, “The other side insisted on a ‘comprehensive agreement’, which meant they wanted to talk about everything. My interpretation is that when you want to talk about everything, you don’t want to talk about anything.” But a comprehensive agreement was impossible. “There were absolutely no [new] positions put forward on anything by them.”

Things get interesting in the next few paragraphs:

Varoufakis said that Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and the architect of the deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012, was “consistent throughout”. “His view was ‘I’m not discussing the programme – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything.

“So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer.

(Embolden I must!)

I just got back from a camping visit/fireside drinky fest with friends and friends of friends. Myself and one such friend of friend, a finance professional and very nice guy, got to talking over beer and bourbon over things financial. If this guy is any indication, finance in general has been taken over by folks who wish to eliminate local control over currencies and, if necessary, maybe make this possible by moving to a post-state world.

BTW, "Post State" means you don't get to vote. Technocrats take care of you.

I voiced my complete and utter disagreement, of course. Still, after that illuminating conversation, I have to say I cannot be too surprised at what Varoufakis encountered. Continuing with his interview:

It is well known that Varoufakis was taken off Greece’s negotiating team shortly after Syriza took office; he was still in charge of the country’s finances but no longer in the room. It’s long been unclear why. In April, he said vaguely that it was because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup” – the club of 19 finance ministers whose countries use the Euro – “which nobody does.” I asked him what happened when he did.

“It’s not that it didn’t go down well – there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on, to make sure it’s logically coherent, and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply.”

(Bold words, I hope you agree!)

Exactly. The economics has been agreed upon for those at the top; alternate economic positions—even ones backed by empirical evidence—need not apply. The Technocrats rally 'round their own, and ignore the rest.

Expect shit to get interesting. Everywhere. Well, everywhere finance professionals continue to be Wrong and In Charge.

Thanks to [ profile] solarbird for the link and interest in following this shit once again!
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)
Fun time! I got to receive two very different posts on two very different topics today in the same Friend's Feed. Trouble is, they aren't "different" at all.

The first comes to us from our Friends at Faux News.

Oh, a surf bum who eats well on the taxpayer dime! The horrors! I haven't heard about this since . . . the 1970s. Lobster-eating food stamp recipients were a common trope back then, too.

Next, compare poor Jason's chosen fate to that of others, like you and I, perhaps. Jesus, Perry, down what rat hole are you scurrying now? )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
But hey, don't take my word for it. Check out some of the science!

peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I don't feel like thinking too hard today, so instead I'll make and defend a simple observation: Today's conservative politicians rely overly-much on visceral topics instead of intellectual arguments in order to attract the undying support of those who hold those emotional trip wires tautly. In other words, modern conservative activists and many of the elected representatives that respond to them have developed a vocabulary of dog-whistle scare tactics to simultaneously frighten their base and thus shore up support by promising to, if elected, curb the scary and icky.

Ooga booga! Scary ahead! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Over two years ago, I read Thomas Geoghegan's Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?, a somewhat rambling collection of observations about the differences between the United States and Germany. In it, he noted that, quite unlike the American experience, German broadsheet newspapers were thriving. Yes, in a country that also has the intertubes, newspapers were being read. Of course, there were other differences in German life that led to that thriving newspaper business. The important question to ask is which differences should we in the States emulate?

Don't care about news? Don't click. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
When I last mentioned Lewis Powell's now-infamous memorandum, I did so in a fairly limited scope, in explaining the silliness that might be behind the IRS investigation. I also found and quoted excerpts from a book, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson. I've since read that book, and just in time for Money And Ethics In Politics month! If you want a good run-down on the real story of how money got into politics in such unprecedented amounts, start with Mr. Powell's Memo, then head over to Hacker and Pierson's book.

I'll try to focus on a few salient points. )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
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 stumbled upon a New York Times article concerning sustainable development that posits a problem with a popular model, that of the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development. Those pillars are the Environment, Society, and the Economy. Here's a National Council for Science and the Environment page discussing the issue, and an image from the same page depicting the pillars in question:

Hmmmm. . . . )
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)
"If there is one thing the Republican party has got to learn it is that you can't get votes by just denouncing. You got to offer some plan of your own. They only had one platform, 'Elect us, and maybe we can think of something to do after we get in, but up to now we haven't thought of it, but give us a chance, we may.'"

The funny thing? )

The applicability made me giggle.
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)
I recently noted that Mitt Romney's family has a private equity firm named Solamere that has an interest in voting machines. I expressed concern that this ownership is, if nothing else, a clear case of conflict of interest. Would-be public officials would do better to earn public trust by not owning a stake in the very machines needed to tabulate the ballots that get them to public office.

[ profile] oslo raised some points about how much influence over said voting machines Romney or his family would actually have, noting that his interest probably isn't enough for control over said machines. Noted, but the conflict still (in my opinion) out-weighs the real-world influence he may or may not have.

It seems, though, that LJ-cut tags rob readers of the much anticipated punchline! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I don't ask this as a hypothetical. You see, a company owned by the Romney family may own the machine on which you cast your ballot:

Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.

In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who "owns" the White House. . . .

The investment comes in part through the privately held family equity firm called Solamere, which bears the name of the posh Utah ski community where the Romney family retreats to slide down the slopes.

Unlike other private equity firms, Solamere does not invest in companies directly. Instead, Solamere invests in other private equity funds, like H.I.G. Capital. Solamere calls them partners. These partners, like H.I.G., then invest in various enterprises, like Hart Intercivic, the nation's third-largest voting machine manufacturer.

When people raise throw about phrases like "conflict of interest," this is exactly the kind of thing to which they might be referring.

I'm not accusing Solamere of colluding to fix the election. Rather, I am pointing to a very simple rule of thumb: even if you aren't a shitty person, don't do shit that even looks shitty.

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
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)

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