Monday, September 26, 2011

Somerville Crowns the 2011 Pharaoh of Fluff in Union Square

I went to Union Square on Saturday and didn't leave until I had consumed a fluffernutter sandwich and a fluff-filled s'more. The annual What the Fluff festival in Somerville celebrates a distinctly New England delicacy invented in the city, marshmallow fluff.

Dave Manganello was the 2010 Fabulous Pharaoh of Fluff, introduced here by Hi-Jinx Mistress Jamie Waltz.

Brian Agosta was crowned as the Pharaoh of Fluff for 2011.

Celebrity judges for the Pharaoh selction were songwriter Allee Willis, who wrote the song "September" made famous by Earth, Wind & Fire, and Susan Olsen, who starred as Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch. Yes, Cindy has grown up, that's her in the pink shirt.

Geri Reischl, who played Jan Brady in 9 episodes of the Brady Bunch, also took part in the Fluff festivities by serving "Fake Jan" sandwiches at the Sherman Cafe.

Susan Olsen also exhibited a series of Fluff art pieces at Bloc 11. Cindy, Cindy, Cindy:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barack Obama Takes Off His Bedroom Slippers and Puts On His Marching Shoes for the Congressional Black Caucus

Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama lamented at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation annual awards dinner that "there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead." President Obama continued:

“The future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination we will press on. I don’t know about you CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I’m going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on. I expect all of you to march with me, and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes, shake it off, stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying, we are going to press on, we’ve got work to do.”
The Daily Kos headlined this speech as Obama Kicked Booty Tonight and even Andrew Breitbart took notice.

Update: Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Walters probably thinks this song is about her.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ron Paul Wins Three Debates in a Row

Here's how last night's Republican debate played out on Facebook, looking at followers picked up since the previous debate.

CandidateTue 9/13 NoonFri 9/23 NoonPickup
Ron Paul505,555519,15113,596
Mitt Romney1,107,2111,118,44411,233
Rick Perry157,088164,8307,742
Herman Cain175,195181,1175,922
Gary Johnson134,036135,5591,523
Newt Gingrich147,433148,8551,422
Jon Huntsman17,44518,5271,082
Rick Santorum27,67928,448769
Michele Bachmann462,233461,806-427

Ron Paul is the big winner of the September debates, at least on Facebook. He picked up the most followers since the last debate, as he did for the 9/12 and 9/7 debates.

Mitt Romney has moved up from third to second, while Rick Perry has fallen down into Herman Cain territory. The bleeding has resumed for Michele Bachmann, with followers actually dropping off after 2 of the last 3 debates.

Gary Johnson was not invited to the 9/12 debate, pickup for him is since 9/16. He practically endorsed Ron Paul during the debate.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth Warren and the Threat of Marauding Bands of Asthma Sufferers

I'm all for getting back to a balanced budget even if that means some increased tax revenue, but don't sign me up for the class warfare.

Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has a message to factory owners on why they should accept a tax increase:

"You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory."
Marauding bands? Warren clearly has in mind the left-wing activists protesting on Wall Street since Saturday with the chants "pay your share."

You call this a revolution? The videographers among the protesters outnumber the guys actually willing to get arrested by 20 to 2. One of those guys has asthma and desperately needs his inhaler, the other says he could really use a new pair of handcuffs.

That being a NYPD cop is a hard job. One day it's two planes being flown into the World Trade Center. Another day it's lefty college students with large backpacks, even larger attitudes, and the National Lawyers Guild on their cell phone speed dial. We've come a long way, black cops dragging white kids through the streets in handcuffs.

Back to Elizabeth Warren. Why pick on the few remaining U.S. factory owners? They have a very tough job these days competing against cheaper labor in foreign countries. And if the communists in China will do a better job than Democrats in the U.S. at protecting them from marauding bands ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Confessions of a Jilted Netflix Movie Slut

What is a movie slut to do? Netflix has decided to split its instant streaming and DVD by mail businesses, and that means I have to rethink my whole movie-watching lifestyle.

First it's confession time, I watch a lot of movies. When it comes to the 1-5 star ratings, give me a 3-star movie and I'm happy. Give me an occassional 2-star, I'm not proud. They don't all have to be Being There, I like to watch. Just how many movies I watch is a lot of movies:


Now, not all of these titles are movies. Some are TV shows, in fact a great many of the Instant titles are TV serials. And that's a big difference on Netflix between Instant and DVD. DVD has a lot of recent movies, really pretty much all the new movies that have come out on DVD or Blu-ray. Instant doesn't, at least not yet.

Netflix wants $7.99 per month ($96 per year) for the Instant unlimited streaming plan. That's a good deal, around 62 cents per title. And I can stream Netflix directly onto my TV through my Samsung Blu-ray player. But Instant doesn't get me many of the new movies I want to see.

I'm on the 3 DVDs out at a time plan which costs $19.99 per month ($240 per year). That is costing me about $3.50 per title, which judged on price alone is not such a great deal. And now it's going to be called Qwikster. The clear message from Netflix is to find a new service before Qwikster goes into the dumpster.

What made Netflix by mail great was the convenience of dropping the returns in the mail box and getting another movie by return mail. For the first few years I supplemented by also renting from Blockbuster, and that covered the
occassional inconvenience of not having a Netflix movie I wanted to watch.

When I stopped going to Blockbuster I put myself on the 4 DVDs at-a-time plan to help cover that gap. But that lead to doing things like keeping out Where the Wild Things Are for 186 days from 5/6/2010 to 11/8/2010 and The Bunker for 147 days from 7/14/2010 to 12/8/2010. Also, the average number of days I was keeping DVDs before watching them increased with the addition of Instant movies. So when Netflix raised its prices at the beginning of this year, I dropped back to 3 DVDs at-a-time.

Blockbuster by mail has a 3 DVDs out at a time plan for $20 per month. But that's the same price as the Netflix Qwikster option. The nearest Blockbuster store is 5 miles away. I'm not going to drive from Cambridge to Malden for a movie. Blockbuster lost my business when they closed their store that was only half a mile away.

Hulu Plus costs $8 a month but like Netflix instant streaming I've heard it doesn't have a lot of movies. I'd need to buy a $59 Roku box to connect to my TV. And Hulu has commercials, so why switch?

Amazon gives you free unlimited streaming if you sign for Amazon Prime at $79 per year. Or you can rent instant movies for around $4. But just what is available, for how long, and how do I hook that up to my TV is all unclear.

Comcast On Demand has a lot of new movies, some are free, but the best new movies cost $5 and up and are typically only available for a limited period of time. I expect to rent more than 4 movies a month (48 a year) so I am better off with Netflix Qwikster.

Redbox may be the best deal. They have one of their red movie vending machines at my grocery store. The rental deal is $1 a day for DVDs and $1.50 a day for Blu-ray. That compares well to Netflix even if I keep the movie 2 or 3 days. I'm not keen on having to return movies, but at least it's a trip to the grocery store.

So for now I'm keeping Netflix Instant, but I'm dropping DVD by mail from 3-at-a-time to 2-at-a-time. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn't need to know, but he just saved me $5 a month, which is $60 per year. Redbox will get my bootie calls when I'm in the mood for a little something extra on the side. Who knows, I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Update: has a cool see-inside-the-box feature. I can pick a location on their website and browse through the list of movies inside that particular vending machine, reserve one, and go pick it up.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix Doubles Down with a Streaming Pile of BS

After annoying all of their customers with a price increase over the summer, Netflix has done it again. They are now splitting the streaming video service (to still be called Netflix) and the DVD by mail service (to be called Qwikster). That's right, two websites that won't talk to each other and two charges on your credit card statement.

I suspect that CEO Reed Hastings is right, he needs to move ahead with the streaming video service without being tied down to the old concepts of the DVD mail queue. In the meantime, he has pissed off all of his longtime customers.

Here's the problem and Reed already knows what it is:

"A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.So if you subscribe to both services, and if you need to change your credit card or email address, you would need to do it in two places.Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn’t show up on Netflix, and vice-versa."
So creating this problem, for this is a self-created problem, can only mean one thing. Netflix expects its customers to choose between the DVD by mail service and streaming video. And you can tell where Netflix thinks the future lies, the streaming service will continue to bear the name Netflix but the original DVD by mail service gets the extremely lame name Qwikster.

Reed nonetheless thinks he needs to do this, and here's why:

Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.
Actually, companies die from moving too fast all the time.

Glenn Beck for Less Than $1 Per Day

Are you missing your Glenn Beck fix? It's been a dry summer for Glenn Beck fans. But now he's back with

You can feed the addiction at $4.95 per month (or $49.95 per year) or take the even bigger hit for Glenn Beck Plus at $9.95 ($99.95 per year). The includes extras such as Making of GBTV, billed as an exclusive reality program giving a look behind the scenes of the building of GBTV.

This new delivery model could make Glenn Beck rich. For example, if all 2 million of Glenn Beck's followers on Facebook signed up, that would be $100 million in revenue, $200 million if they all signed up for Glenn Beck Plus. It won't do so well if none of them sign up.

And that's a distinct possibility. GBTV has already taken heat from Sarah Palin fans after a joke on Beck's show about her alleged affair with Glen Rice played off of calling Sarah a quitter.

But I suspect there will be some subscribers. And with the show streaming out over the internet, who knows. That guy with the iPad and the headphones at the booth in the trendy lesbian coffee shop may be watching Glenn Beck.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Republicans May Like Rick Perry But They Aren't Ready to Friend Him

I've been following the Republican 2012 primary race in the polls and on Facebook since January. We now have a new situation. Rick Perry is leading in the polls but hasn't built up a corresponding following on Facebook.

CandidateFriends on 1/16/2011Friends on 3/16/2011Friends on 5/16/2011Friends on 7/16/2011Friends on 9/16/2011
Barack Obama17,822,15218,632,33120,413,24522,038,06723,133,522
Joe Biden271,971274,670282,433299,388304,953
Sarah Palin2,606,5862,777,5092,957,6273,191,7113,238,066
Mitt Romney751,391814,705899,0551,041,4541,110,938
Ron Paul307,493307,495356,452419,099510,540
Michele Bachmann150,467187,433258,370422,366462,345
Herman Cain42,28955,72090,146149,820176,534
Rick Perry51,45552,18052,85470,425160,305
Jim DeMint127,177129,848133,363143,436148,845
Newt Gingrich100,489113,269131,779142,281148,009
Gary Johnson-110,466114,000129,275134,036
Rick Santorum12,21113,25216,22123,48227,860
Jon Huntsman-1,5552,2809,34717,832
Thaddeus McCotter--9,90911,81212,552
Peter King--11,23211,52511,652
Jimmy McMillan-8,3628,6759,1419,988
Roy Moore--708,2358,294
Buddy Roemer-5701,4961,8064,590
Rudy Giuliani1,8912,1942,5353,2114,289
Fred Karger6818261,4582,1173,398
Andy Martin--560570573
Jonathon Sharkey--159170352
Mike Huckabee522,079541,409586,020
Donald Trump146,866184,512272,108300,401318,603
Scott Brown--237,462239,086239,053
Rand Paul-105,001117,287137,580146,080
Bobby Jindal121,977122,353125,614
Tim Pawlenty69,98573,13586,907
Paul Ryan50,90856,49671,923
John Thune74,75474,83775,21175,44275,244
Allen West--64,05767,33074,568
Scott Walker-61,52763,12964,62166,083
Mitch Daniels39,41344,52849,90850,61451,175
Mike Pence45,92347,71248,54248,89348,949
Chris Christie29,38833,99036,53642,56346,671
Mike Bloomberg29,86230,34431,31632,87936,995
Haley Barbour16,85417,45918,16818,60418,775
John Bolton5,1705,6586,0566,3546,826
Jeb Bush4,8415,0275,3005,5565,745
Jon Greenspon581584583583-
Total Democratic Friends18,094,123
Total Republican Friends5,310,731

Rick Perry has surged on Facebook in the last two months to be sure, jumping three slots, but he still hasn't crossed the Biden line, the minimum number of followers on Facebook a candidate has to have to be taken seriously. Perry may get there in the next couple of months, but then again he may not. For now, the Republican interest in Rick Perry should be judged a flirtation.

Speaking of flirts, Sarah Palin has said she will announce her decision this month, so we may learn in the next couple of weeks if we can officially cross her off. She and a few other candidates we still judge to be flirting with running have gone into italics.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has traded places again with Michele Bachmann. Ron Paul has actually added slightly more friends than Rick Perry in the last two months. Towards the bottom of the list, Jon Huntsman and Buddy Roemer each moved up 2 slots.

Obama-Biden added 1.1 million followers in the last two months, a slowing pace but still far ahead of the Republican field which added less than half that. Of course, the Democrats only wish the election could be held on Facebook. In the real world, with the election still a year away, it looks like it is shaping up to be close.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Czarina Elizabeth Warren is "Going to Do This" in Massachusetts

"I am going to do this" the blued-eyed blonde croons into the YouTube camera. What is this, you ask? You mean you haven't been sitting on the edge of your seat anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Warren's decision? She's just announced that she is running for the U.S. Senate, for the people's seat, the one currently held by Republican Scott Brown.

"Washington is rigged for big corporations that can hire armies of lobbyists." says Warren. Then she hits on GE, the big company that reportedly lost so much money on in the financial crisis that its corporate income tax bill was zeroed out.

That's an odd target given that President Obama made GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt his point person in the business community on jobs, and had him sitting with Michelle Obama for his big jobs speech before the joint session of Congress last week.

But that's the Democratic Party these days. It bites the hand that feeds it.

And who is this Elizabeth Warren? The Oklahoma native bounced around teaching at a bunch of law schools before landing a tenured spot at Harvard Law School.

There she became a minor celebrity after starring in the documentary Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders (2006) and then appearing in the Michael Moore documentary Capitalism: A Love Story (2009). Elizabeth Warren is some kind of marxist-socialist, in other words, complete with her own IMDB page.

Professor Warren first made her bones in Washington, DC as the Bailout Czar, chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel on the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Time Magazine named her to its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in May 2009.

Warren went on to be named the Credit Card and Mortgage Czar as the Special Advisor for the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For that, Time Magazine named her one of the new Sheriffs of Wall Street in May 2010.

Sheriffs are usually elected or at least appointed and Elizabeth would have liked to trade her Special Advisor title to be the CFPB's official director, but that job required Senate confirmation and the Senate was in no hurry, either before or after the November 2010 mid-term election, to anoint a controversial White House Czar.

So Warren was passed over by the Obama administration in favor of Richard Cordray, who previously served as the Attorney General of Ohio. Some might be excused for thinking that a former state attorney general will be a better consumer protector than a law professor who hasn't practiced much law in years.

But Elizabeth Warren took the Senate rebuff personally and decided that the best way to get even was to run for U.S. Senate. So she went back to her native Oklahoma to run against unreconstructed conservative Republicans Tom Coburn or James Inhofe, right? Wrong, she is "going to do this" in Massachusetts.

The irony is that her new pet CFPB agency was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. And guess who was one of the few Republicans to join Senate Democrats in passing that law? You guessed it, Scott Brown. Way to encourage bipartisanship. Bite the hand that feeds you has become vintage Elizabeth Warren.

It's not that Elizabeth Warren doesn't show some promise, particularly as a fiscal disciplinarian. She wrote a book with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi called All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (2005). She knows how to balance a budget:

"The Secret? It's simple really: Get your money in balance. Warren and Tyagi show you how to divide and conquer. You will learn to balance your money into three essential parts: the Must-Haves (the bills you have to pay month after month), the Wants (some fun money for right now), and your Savings (so you can build a better tomorrow). No complicated budgets, and no keeping track of every penny you spend. Once you have the basics, it gets easy. You can put your money worries behind you and get on with what really matters--living your life."
So we can expect Czarina Warren to support a balanced budget amendment? I'll bet she bites the hand that fed her again. In Maxed Out Professor Warren was asked to comment on the U.S. debt, which was then at $7.3 trillion.

"Where's the exit strategy for this? Really, I mean it, I ask it as a rhetorical question, ... I don't know the answer."
Today the U.S. debt is at $14.7 trillion and counting.

I went to Warren's campaign website and scrolled through her priorities: education, construction, renewable energy, research, a level playing field, workers’ rights, and fair trade. Not a word about the U.S. debt. So what would we do during her 6 year Senate term, double down on the debt again? $29.4 trillion here we come.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can Ron Paul Steamroll the Republican Field?

It was pick on Rick Perry night at the GOP Tea Party Express debate televised by CNN in Tampa, Florida. Even Sarah Palin, who wasn't even there, took a shot at him. But the real story may be Ron Paul, who has won these last two debates, at least on Facebook.

CandidateThu NoonTue NoonPickup
Ron Paul497,643505,5557,912
Rick Perry151,275157,0885,813
Mitt Romney1,102,0281,107,2115,183
Herman Cain172,534175,1952,661
Jon Huntsman16,27017,4451,175
Newt Gingrich146,512147,433921
Rick Santorum27,15827,679521
Michele Bachmann462,184462,23349
To measure how many new followers were attracted by the debate coverage, we counted Facebook followers for the candidates at noon on Thursday following the previous debate and again at noon Tuesday following his debate.

Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Herman Cain are fighting it out for the conservative pro-business mantel with some cheerleading from Newt Gingrich and heckling from Jon Huntsman. Michele Bachmann was hemorrhaging support in the last debate but seems to have stopped the bleeding, at least for now. Rick Santorum is going nowhere.

That leaves Ron Paul, who picked up nearly a third of the new support. He's got an alternative vision for the Republican Party, a place where conventional wisdom says most Republicans don't want to go. He has been largely left out of the various Tea Party events for the last 3 years, but in some sense he is the founder of the movement. The Tea Party vote may be his for the taking.

What if Ron Paul turns his second place Ames finish in August into a win at the Iowa Caucuses in January, finishes second or better in Live Free or Die New Hampshire, and wins the big Tea Party vote in South Carolina?

That would be a lot of momentum coming out of the first three contests. And even if Ron Paul fell short of winning the nomination, he could be in a position to dictate terms.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ron Paul Rails Against Pretty Boys and Plastic Men

This comes courtesy of one the new the SuperPacs. Here's how that works, they make the ad and post it on their YouTube channel. If you like it and want to contribute money so they can run it on TV in major primary states, you can do that on their website.

That sounds like a great business model, as I'm sure they take out a "small" fee to cover "administrative" expenses. SuperPACs have no contribution limits, so if you want to drop $1 million into your PayPal account, that can go straight to the Revolution Pac.

If you make your pledge between now and September 19, you can participate in the Super Money Bomb.

And the only question they'll ask is if you are a U.S. citizen or U.S.-based business or organization. The answer they are looking for is Yes. Because no one lies about such things on the internet.

It's Monday Morning Again

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Lot to Remember on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

There is a lot to remember on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC.

Of course, we also remember the brave passngers on Flight 93 in the skies over Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Seal Team 6 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

But there are a lot more attacks to remember:

Notable Al Qaeda Attacks
2 hotels in Aden, YemenBombs12/29/199227
World Trade Center in NYCTruck bomb2/26/199361,042
Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, IranBomb6/20/199411200
Flight 434 from Manila to TokyoLuggage bomb12/11/1994110
Khobar, Saudi ArabiaTruck bomb6/25/199620372
Reputed assassination attempt on then President Bill Clinton in Manila, PhillipinesRoadside bomb11/25/199600
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, KenyaCar bomb8/7/19982234,000+
LAX plotter arrested entering U.S. from Canada in Port Angeles, WashingtonCar bomb12/14/199900
USS Cole in port at Aden, YemenBoat bomb10/12/20001739
24 Christian Churches in IndonesiaBomb12/24/200019120
World Trade Center in NYC and the PentagonHijacked airplanes9/11/20012,9776,000+
Flight 63 from Paris, France to Miami, FloridaShoe bomb12/22/200103
Kuta, Bali, IndonesiaBackpack and car bombs10/12/2002202240
Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta, Indonesia. Car bomb8/5/200312150
Instanbul, TurkeyTruck bomb11/15/2003
Madrid, SpainBackpack bombs3/11/20041922,050
Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.Van bomb9/9/20049150+
London, United KingdomBackpack bombs7/7/200553700
Bali, IndonesiaBackpack bombs10/1/200520129
3 hotels in Amman, JordanBelt bombs11/9/200560115
Islamabad, PakistanDump truck bomb9/20/200854266
Mumbai, IndiaShootings and bombings11/26/2008154308
2 hotels in Jakarta, IndonesiaBombing7/17/2009753
Fort Hood, TexasShootings11/5/20091329
Flight 253 from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Detroit, MichiganUnderwear bomb12/25/200902
Times Square NYCCar bomb5/1/201000
Attempted assassination of UK MP Stephen Timms in Beckton, East London, United KingdomKnife5/14/201001
Air cargo bound for Chicago, IllinoisPrinter cartridge bombs10/29/201000
Killeen, TexasGuns and homemade bomb7/27/201100
Total for these 30 attacks  4,09916,686+

Attacks by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq are too numerous to list and this list is no doubt in other ways incomplete.

Lessons for the United States:

(1) Al Qaeda is an organization and also a movement. If some of the attacks on the list were not carried out by the organization, they were carried out by the movement.

(2) The Al Qaeda movement shows no signs of abating and the United States is not its only target. Yes, Osama Bin Laden is dead, but Ayman al-Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki are not.

(3) Constant vigilance is the only effective defense, and even that is not going to be 100% effective. That's the reality even if it's not the kind of closure Americans crave.

Friday, September 9, 2011

President Obama Puts the Jobs Job Back on Us

President Obama put aside his frustations with Congress and gave a speech on jobs tonight. It was hard to follow the details but it all had a nice ring to it.

He sent me an email with these thoughts before his speech:

I'm about to head to the Capitol to ask Congress to act on my plan to put Americans back to work.

Before I do, I wanted to write you directly to remind you that the fight to create jobs -- and provide the kind of economic security for middle-class families that's been slipping away over the last decade -- won't begin or end with the speech I give tonight.

What happens will be up to you. In the coming days and weeks, it will be up to you to pressure Congress to act -- or hold them accountable if they do not.
Well, I guess creating jobs is our job now. But wasn't it always? For my part, I'm not sure I'm going to spend my time pressuring Congress to act. That seems like a waste of time these days.

Yes, we should build the bridges, roads, schools, and other projects that need to be built. Aside from that, we may have reached the point where it would be better for Washington, DC to stop fiddling and let us figure this out on our own.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers (socialists) beat the New Orleans Saints (capitalists) in the first NFL game of the regular season. I'm sure if you asked the Packers why they won, they would answer it was a little luck and a lot of hard work.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Social Security "Ponzi" Scheme is Better than Nothing

This is not a defense of our Socal Security system as it is currently structured. But opponents of the system should understand why their ideas to ditch it often don't go very far.

Those who want to do away with Social Security almost always want to do so on the cheap. Just get rid of it. It's a no brainer if you're 20 (assuming you have a brain and many don't at age 20) but not if you're 50.

I know exactly how much has been payed in to Social Security for me. If your offer is 75 cents on the dollar to replace the system, I might go for it. I have a few years left to make it back with a better system.

But if your offer is zero, no thanks. That would be a very, very bad deal. The fact that you might be willing to take zero is no reason I should.

And for people who are retired at 70, your offer needs to be close to 100 cents, as there is no opportunity for them to make it back.

If you're going to beat me down with the Ponzi scheme, let me say two things. Even the Madoff victims are getting 50 cents on the dollar back. And the question is, where did the money go when the Social Security system has been running surpluses for the last 30 years? Into defense spending, that's where. So America got a tangible benefit, and it's not unfair to ask America to pay it back.

And even the portion that went to the elderly, that's also a tangible benefit to America. It means middle-aged people today don't have to support elderly parents who might otherwise be destitute. The benefits of Social Security trickle down, even if they don't trickle down as much as you would like.

So you want out and you don't want to buy me out. Let me opt out you say. I know how that works, you opt out but your grandmother stays in. I have to pay for your grandmother plus my own grandmother. No thanks.

How much are you willing to pay to get out? Again, if your offer is zero, I am going to just say no to what would be a very bad deal.

Perry-Huntsman Would Be the Perfect Al Gore Party Ticket

Think about it. Rick Perry supported Al Gore back in his 1988 run. And John Huntsman wants to be the Republican poster boy for climate change legislation. Yes, Perry-Huntsman would remake the Republican Party as the Al Gore Party.

Night of the Texans as Ron Paul Duels Rick Perry

The GOP debate last night at the Reagan Library in California came down to a duel between the two Texans, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Forget the pundits and analysis, here is how it scored on Facebook.

We counted Facebook followers for the candidates at noon on Wednesday and again on noon Thursday, to see how many new followers might have been attracted by the debate performance and coverage.

CandidateWed NoonThu NoonPickup
Ron Paul495,011497,6432,632
Rick Perry148,846151,2752,429
Mitt Romney1,100,6471,102,0281,381
Herman Cain171,512172,5341,022
Jon Huntsman15,25716,2701,013
Newt Gingrich146,042146,512470
Rick Santorum27,00927,158149
Michele Bachmann462,347462,184-163
Rick Perry is supposed to be the new entrant who is gaining momentum, and he certainly picked up some followers. But the real surge is Ron Paul, who finished second at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa last month, and won this debate at least on Facebook.

Michele Bachmann, queen for a day at Ames, has stalled. She actually lost followers during the debate day. Mitt Romney continues to roll along, but clearly the man who is still the front-runner on Facebook faces a challenge from two Texans, not just one.

Ron Paul is also pummeling Rick Perry with this ad for being a cheerleader for Al Gore back in 1988:

Ron Paul is getting under Rick Perry's skin. You can see that in this picture of Rick putting his hand on Ron's while waving his finger in Ron's face.

By comparison, Barack Obama picked up 16,007 followers on Facebook in our 24 hour window. So he's not sweating this debate as he prepares for his big speech tonight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MSNBC-Politico Debate at Reagan Library

No, the debate was not between MSNBC and Politico, it was between the 2012 Republican candidates.

Rick Perry's smirk and Jon Huntsman's tan both scream don't trust me.
I guess it will be Perry-Huntsman.

Ron Paul eloquently explains where Ronald Reagan went wrong, with Nancy Reagan sitting in the front row of her husband's library. You don't see that kind of integrity at the top of a ticket.

Michele Bachmann says she'll take in all the children Rick Santorum wants to kick off of food stamps.

Herman Cain wants to replace Social Security with a Chilean sea bass, served with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Newt Gingrich rallies the Eight Musketeers against the evil Cardinal Richelieu, all for one and one for all is not how a primary works.

Mitt Romney is too hapless to mock. Apparently he has never done anything right in his whole life.

So who was the debate winner? Barack Obama, I'm afraid. Whose bright idea was it to schedule a Republican debate to be followed by analysis from MSNBC's lean leftward lineup? Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Eugene Robinson, and Chris Matthews.

Mitt Romney Jobs Plan Gives U.S. Jobs to Foreign Grad Students

"Romney, Believe in America" is the slogan, "Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth" is the plan, and "Human Capital Policy" is the heading. There are a couple of pesky little details buried under that heading:

"Romney will raise the ceiling on the number of visas issued to holders of advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering who have job offers in those fields from U.S. companies. Romney will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from an American university with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering."
Now I know Mitt Romney made much of his money from selling staples, but did I read that right? Because here's how a lot of people are going to read that:

(1) Romney's plan plus a few bogus master's degrees in landscape engineering from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala would enable him to rehire the gardeners he had to fire during his 2008 Presidential campaign.

(2) Who needs immigration reform if President Romney hands immigration policy over to the lefty liberals in the admissions office at the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences? Not to mention the admissions office at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala.

(3) What kind of jobs plan is it to give U.S. jobs to foreigners? Mitt, the Tea Party will take your stapler away chanting, "Romney Doesn't Believe in America" arm-in-arm with their brothers in the Teamsters.
Now I suppose you are wondering, how does such a plan reduce unemployment? Actually, in a perverse way it might work. Let's say we have 1,000 workers and 91 are unemployed. That's the 9.1% unemployment rate we have now.

But let's say we admit 100 highly-educated foreigners, all of whom have or can easily get new jobs in the growing technology industries. That reduces the unemployment rate to 8.3%. That's about the unemployment rate in Texas, which may tell you a lot about how Rick Perry created jobs in Texas.

The missing fact is we still have done nothing for the 91 unemployed Americans, even if the unemployment "rate" is down from 9.1% to 8.3%. But let's say these 100 immigrants are entrepreneurial. Maybe 10 of them are able to hire 5 Americans each or 25 of them are able to hire 2 Americans each, or some combination thereof, for a total of 50 new jobs for Americans. That reduces the number of unemployed Americans from 91 to 41, and brings the unemployment rate down to 3.7%.

American workers employed909909959
American workers unemployed919141
Foreign workers employed in U.S.0100100
Total workers1,0001,1001,100
Unemployment rate9.1%8.3%3.7%
Of course, I made these numbers up. In a nation of 300 million people, we'd have to let in lots and lots of foreign workers to make these numbers work. In 2010 there were 40 million foreign-born people in the U.S. Many are here legally but not all of them, not all are highly educated, and not all are employed. Oh.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Koch Brothers Promise to Give Barack Hussein Obama "The Mother of All Wars" in 2012

Or something like that, according to Brad Friedman at Mother Jones. He's got audio from June 26, 2011 quoting Charles Koch saying:

But we've been talking about - we have Saddam Hussein, this is the Mother of All Wars we've got in the next 18 months, for the life or death of this country.
So Jimmy Hoffa was not declaring war in his controversial Labor Day speech yesterday, he was acknowledging a war that had already been declared.

"We didn't start this war – the right wing did."
Or something like that.

Aside from the martial rhetoric in politics being so asinine so much of the time, I don't mind it as long as no one is getting hurt. Gabby Giffords doesn't count as her assailant was crazy (i.e. alleged assailant is allegedly crazy) and not motivated by some politican's speech.

Would a war of attrition between the loud-mouthed political warmongers on both sides, leaving them both broke and defeated be too much to hope for? Yes, it would. But a guy can hope. Sometimes things do change.

Jimmy Hoffa Declares War on the Tea Party

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Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., head of the Teamsters Union, rallied his troops for President Obama at a Labor Day rally in Detroit:

We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner. It's going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We're going to win that war.

President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. And President Obama, we want one thing: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what we're going to tell him.

When he's sees what what we're doing here, he will be inspired. But he needs help. And you know what, everybody here's got a vote. If we go back, and keep the eye on the prize. Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.
Hoffa clamored for jobs not to save health care reform, it should be noted. And it's also noteworthy that the Democrats are increasingly not running against the "evil Republican Party" but against the "evil Tea Party."

About the Teamsters and sons of bitches, it takes one to know one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Debunking Myths About Capitalism, the New Deal, Entrepreneurship, Equal Pay, Immigration, Sweatshops

Some provocative thinking from academia, courtesy of

Capitalism is anti-business and pro-consumer

Neither the New Deal nor World War II ended the Great Depression

Governments print money, entrepreneurs make money

Women earn less because they have less career ambition

Immigration is good

Sweatshops bring higher wages to the third world

Fox Poll Hypes Perry and Romney, Downgrades Palin and Bachmann

Fox News has a poll out of GOP voters interviewed August 29-31. In the big Republican field, most of the candidates are struggling for relevancy.

Support for
Pickup from
Too Extreme
to Seriously
Rick Perry2926314
Mitt Romney221844
Sarah Palin-8-12
Ron Paul87110
Michele Bachmann84418
Rudy Giuliani-4--
Herman Cain6423
Mike Huckabee-4--
Newt Gingrich3305
Rick Santorum4313
Chris Christie-2--
Jon Huntsman1102
Gary Johnson01-1-
Buddy Roemer110-

Bad news for Rick Perry: He's in first place but many people consider him too extreme. That will happen when you call the Federal Reserve Chairman appointed by your own political mentor "treasonous."

Bad news for Mitt Romney: This poll confirms Gallup that he is now in second place. But, that takes the pressure off and puts it on Perry going into the first of the fall debates this Wednesday.

Bad news for Michele Bachmann: She would lose up to half her support if Sarah Palin entered the race. And she's in danger of slipping behind Ron Paul, despite her Iowa straw poll win over him in August.

Good news for Sarah Palin: She would come into the race in third position, should she decide to stop running by not running and officially enter the race. Also, people now consider Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul (if they know who he is) more extreme. That helps position Sarah Palin for a political future in 2016 or 2020.

Bad news for Sarah Palin: Fox News asked if Sarah Palin should enter the race and 74% of respondents said no. Sarah's response over the weekend at a Tea Party event in Iowa was characteristically dismissive:

"Polls? Nah... they're for strippers and cross country skiers."
Too bad Fox didn't ask people if Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or any of the other candidates should get out of the race. But the point of this poll was to marginalize Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann by painting one as too late and the other as too extreme.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Want a Job? Move to North Dakota

As of July 2011, 12.9% of Nevada workers are unemployed. Only 3.3% are unemployed in North Dakota, a rate that is below normal levels. The best way to find a job in this economy may be to move to North Dakota.

Rick Perry made much of his job creation skills in his recent entry to the Presidential race. That may be, but the 8.4% unemployment rate in Texas is not that much less than the 9.1% rate for the U.S. as a whole. Twenty-six states (including the states of seven of his Republican rivals) can show better numbers.

Gary JohnsonNew Mexico6.7
Michelle BachmannMinnesota7.2
Jon HuntsmanUtah7.5
Mitt RomneyMassachusetts7.6
Buddy RoemerLouisiana7.6
Sarah PalinAlaska7.7
Rick SantorumPennsylvania7.8
Ron PaulTexas8.4
Rick PerryTexas8.4
Herman CainGeorgia10.1
New GingrichGeorgia10.1
Thad McCotterMichigan10.9
Fred KargerCalifornia12.0

The biggest probem is that the state of California is dragging the country down, and is taking the Mountain West with it. The South is another problem region, with southern states littering the bottom of the unemployment list.

Don't want to move to North Dakota? You can pick almost any state on the Great Plains and improve your odds of employment. Well, maybe not Texas, but only West Texas is really on the plains.

Below is the complete list of unemployment rates by State:

1North Dakota3.3
3South Dakota4.7
4New Hampshire5.2
12New Mexico6.7
23New York8.0
24West Virginia8.1
36New Jersey9.5
42North Carolina10.1
46District of Columbia10.8
46Rhode Island10.8
48South Carolina10.9

Friday, September 2, 2011

Has the 3 Year Limit Expired on Sarah Palin's Celebrity Expired?

Sarah Palin is scheduled to give a big speech tomorrow in Indianola, Iowa. Will she or won't she announce for President her fans want to know.

The Iron Law of Stardom says that stardom can last only 3 years. You can be a celebrity for life, but your stardom can only burn for 3 years. Then it burns out and the world moves on.

It was exactly 3 years ago that Sarah Palin made her national debut at the Republican Convention in Dayton, Ohio for the announcement of her nomination for Vice President.