Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

E-mail Me

Twitter: yourlyingeyes

31 August 2012

Reasons Not to Want Romney as President

They were all over Obama for his lack of leadership and failure to keep his grand promises. Well let's hope that if elected Romney be equally feckless on certain of his policy prescriptions, because from what we've been hearing, we can expect the following from a Romney Administration:
  • Dramatically lower tax rates amidst one of the lowest revenue streams the Federal government has ever seen. Sure he promises to eliminate loopholes at the same time, but at a time when nearly all the income is being earned by the wealthiest, lowering marginal tax rates is almost surely going to dampen any tax gains we get out of a growing economy (if it even grows)
  • Greater hostility toward the Russian Federation, as we have been assured that Mitt views Russia as a foe. We can expect that Russia will jealously guard it's "sphere of influence" and perhaps seek to expand it (and run little incursions into ours) should Washington start rattling its sabers. But we have no true ideological beef with Russia (discounting our childlike wish for all people to live in freedom and democracy). As competing nuclear powers, we should shake hands and agree to respect each other's spheres while agreeing to recognize our neighbors' sovereignty.
  • Continued destabilization and undermining of sovereign governments. The mess that Obama is making of the Mideast would presumably continue under Romney, as he has not uttered a word of criticism other than to hint that he would be even more aggressive in overthrowing stable regimes.
  • High potential for outright war. Romney seems fully signed on with the Neo-Con insistence that no greater threat to America exists (perhaps has ever existed) than Iran's nuclear program. America's complicity in Israeli bombing of Iran would look very bad - should we actually take part - well, that would make us pariahs - unworthy of trust.
  • Even more hubris on Wall Street. Mitt now seems to be Wall Street's man in this election (Obama was their man last go around). Not that Obama has caused them much of a problem, but that stupid Barney Frank bill is not quite their cup of tea. Mitt, being a Wall Streeter himself and damn proud of it, is unlikely to bring them any grief.
  • Much more "free trade". Our trading policies seem to have a consistent result - less work for American men, and more profits for corporations. I'm not sure what the solution is, but racking up tens of $billions in trade deficits month-after month-after month doesn't quite support the contentions of the free-trade cheerleaders that free trade makes us all better off.
  • Immigration "reform" might just get passed under Romney. If he pushes it, he will probably get a rather rude awakening from his own party like Bush got - but there's a chance the loyal opposition has grown weary of the fight, and won't be able to muster up a fight against their own president.
On the other hand, with the current conservative members of the Supreme Court not getting any younger, there is one (or maybe it's two) good reasons to want Romney to win, which I feel trumps all the above:

Labels: ,

28 August 2012

So the Old Movies Had it Right

You know how cheesily the old movies would portray soldiers getting shot - suddenly stopping their movements, then dramatically crumbling in a I've-been-shot fashion and rolling over flat on the ground? As opposed to newer movies where the shooting victim gets basically blown away, hurled backward by the force of the bullet, landing splat on the ground. Well, from the surveillance video of the Empire State Building shooter getting shot by the police, it looks like the old movies had it right.

Here's the video - aside from the color and the clothes styles, it looks it could have been staged by D.W. Griffith:

23 August 2012

This Big Ol' World

There's a lotta friggin people in this world - about 7 billion, an inconceivable number. So where the hell are they all? In hellholes, mostly.

I made a graph of population by country to try to illustrate this. You can see that about half the world consists of 6 countries, only one of which is a modern nation. Granted China may not quite qualify as a "hellhole", but several hundred million of its citizens can be said to work in sweatshops and live in cramped quarters. Though Tom Friedman seems to think India is a role model, it's a depressingly poor country where human feces and urine decorate its public spaces. Indonesia is the world's fourth largest nation, but no one seems to give a rat's ass about what goes on there. Brazil, still the Country of the Future, is, for the vast majority of its population, a crime-ridden slum. And of course Pakistan - sound like a fun place to live?

Then when you turn the corner, our 7th largest country is Nigeria - yes, heaven on earth. Nigeria - an absolutely god-forsaken place - mired in the deepest poverty, terrorized by oil-driven banditry - is larger than Russia! And Russia certainly has its own problems. And look who's 13th on the list - li'l ole Mexico, dwarfing any European nation (not counting Russia). As you can see you have to go past Vietnam - and Ethiopia - We Are the World Ethiopia! - to get to Germany (and civilization).

Note in the upper right I have identifies a tiny little strip of color representing the 9.5 million people in Sweden - the country that is supposed to be our model for how the U.S. can become a modern social welfare nation. And further up, amidst an indistinguishable mash of pixels, lies Finland, the country whose high PISA scores Tom Friedman uses to frighten naughty American children to sleep at night.

But I guess what is most remarkable is that the U.S. sits among these countries third in population, but yet is the wealthiest of all nations and still arguably the most free. It seems to good to be true, doesn't it?

I've put the data and an interactive graph on Google Docs.

22 August 2012

Obama's Awesome Recovery Will Doom Romney!!

That seems to be the attempted meme Obama surrogates are trying to spread. Today in the NY Times an op-ed (or maybe more accurately a blog post) makes such a claim. He provides a rather strange graph that attempts to illustrate this. What he's showing are total jobs created by each president - but for Obama only, he eliminates his first year. He then plots these total jobs on a graph (that has no numeric value on the X-axis) and proceeds to draw lines connecting the dots as if it were a time series. Rather bogus, I'd say - but the man is a History professor, apparently, so I guess we shouldn't expect him to be even minimally competent working with numbers.

Yes, it's true, Obama inherited a very dire situation, but that should have made it easier for him, not harder. When a recession is shallow (as in 2001 and 1991), you're not going to get very dramatic levels of job growth coming out of it. But when lots of people are thrown out of work in a deep recession, that's when you can make real hay on the jobs front. This is what happened in 1983 after the brutal 81/82 recession when unemployment exceeded 11% (it barely went over 10% this time around) - the economy roared. So let's compare Obama's recovery to Reagan's to see just how awesome this recovery really is:
Not even close. But it's even worse than that. Today, the population (non-institutional adults) is 36% greater than it was then - so job growth should be stronger. In fact, job growth hasn't even kept up with the growth in population. A look at job growth net of population growth is downright shocking:
There's just no putting lipstick on this pig - this is one ugly recovery.

Labels: ,

17 August 2012

Don't Play My Song, Dude!

Good lord, another whining 'artist' has sent a "cease and desist" order to a Republican presidential candidate to stop playing one of their songs at a campaign event. The Romney campaign insists the song was played inadvertently and agreed not to play it again. The band is called "Silversun Pickups" and the dreadful song in question is called "Panic Switch". Despite its monumental irrelevance, the story's gotten about as much coverage in the Times as the recent shooting at the Family Research Council office.

These loser, whiny acts rely on blanket copyright licenses to get their music played. Venues don't seek permission from each individual act to play their music, of course - they pay for blanket licenses to play whatever music is covered under the licenses - and three of these (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC) cover just about everything. That's what political campaigns do as well. So in taking advantage of these licenses, an act has no right to dictate what a campaign can play and what it can't - sure, the campaign cannot use your song to actually sell its message - but they can play whatever they want as warmup/backup music at an event - even sodden, minor-key bores as this.

But we are, after all, living right now in The Age of Whining.


15 August 2012

Poverty of Ideas

The upcoming NY Times Magazine features a long piece on poverty whose main point appears to be that Barack Obama has been really good for the poor because there's so many more of them now than when he took office.
And so in 2009 and 2010, the Obama administration put a tremendous amount of money, very quickly, into the hands of low-income Americans. As part of the Recovery Act, the administration extended the eligibility rules for existing programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance, and the combination of the collapsing economy and the more generous rules meant the programs grew quickly. The number of individuals receiving food stamps rose to 45.1 million in 2011 from 27.4 million in 2007. From 2008 to 2010, an additional 6.8 million people, mostly children, began receiving Medicaid. Temporary changes in the eligibility criteria for various tax credits, including the earned-income tax credit and the child tax credit, produced tax refunds for millions of low-income workers, often totaling thousands of dollars a year.
That's all good news, by the way, in case it wasn't clear.

Still, the article does a decent job of at least touching on the pathological nature of today's poverty - except that it's racial component is never acknowledged. But went I reached the lengthy article's penultimate paragraph, I was completely dumbstruck by the author's blindness. After profiling a burly male social worker - a "good guy" clearly - and his interventions with a young man named Damien whose getting D's and F's in school, the author provides what he apparently feels is an upbeat outlook for the kid:
On a Friday night, he invited me to a YAP graduation celebration held in the basement of a Baptist church. Damien received a plaque, and he gave a little speech to his peers and mentors. He has two babies now, he said, and it’s hard, but he also has a high-school degree and a job at a shoe store. [Emphasis added]
That's the 18 year old - he has two babies! No problemo! Actually, there is a problem, as the author explains earlier - but it's not Damien's!
“From a child-development point of view,” Shonkoff told me, “we know that being a child in a family at the bottom end of the disadvantage scale means that you’re going to be less likely to get the kind of parenting or other care-giving that will lead to good outcomes and more likely to face the kind of adversity that leads to bad outcomes.”...a critical factor perpetuating poverty from one generation to the next is family dynamics and their effects on child development. This means that if we want to improve social mobility, we need to find a better way to help disadvantaged parents and their children. [EA]
Yes, that's right, "we" need to find a better way.

Labels: ,

09 August 2012

NY Times: Romney Ain't All Bad

The New York Times's vetting of Mitt Romney is so thorough that their research sometimes compels them to publish mildly flattering portrayals. The article's headline, In Real Estate Deal, Romney Made His Loss a Couple’s Gain, seemed lurid enough to suggest some sort of untoward kickback scheme, but as it turned out was more about Romney being just a good ole' Mormon softie. It's a quick read, and a good opportunity for the Times to promote its objectivity. But what stands out to me is the intensive scrutiny the paper is applying to this candidate for president - which is of course entirely appropriate - in stark contrast to the - well, not mere indifference to any examination of Obama's background, but outright hostility to any efforts to examine it at all.

Labels: ,

03 August 2012

The Power of a Single Idea

There are no problems that can't be fixed by nice white ladies. Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution links to an article in the Times about some sort of special bond that Goldman has purchased to finance a jail program intended to reform recidivism rates among minority juvenile offenders. Much discussion ensues over the economic performance of the bond, gaming, incentives, causes of recidivism, blah blah blah.

All miss what is undoubtedly behind the 'special bond'. As Steve Sailer tirelessly points out, the rich and powerful are endlessly searching for ways to make their daughters' expensively-acquired though useless English/Arts Major degrees worth something. This 'jail program' is being sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and financed by Goldman Sachs for some $9m. Look at the picture in the Times.
Here's the young woman's LinkedIn profile. That's right - she's majoring in "Social Justice Education Through the Arts" at NYU - NYU! - one of the most expensive schools in the world. I know nothing of this girl's background and for all I know she's from a modest background and on a full-ride scholarship. But I'm sure there's plenty like her with dads working at Goldman/Bloomberg dying for more-and-more programs like this to give their kids something to do.

Not the worst thing in the world, and at least they're not using taxpayer's money - at least not directly - and not until the bond matures:)