Yearly Archives: 2012

The Childishness of Presidential Election 2012

In early August the Presidential election slipped to a new low. It began when Barack Obama said, “He’d ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year. It’s like Robin Hood in reverse — it’s Romney-hood.”

Romney countered by saying, “We’ve been watching the president say a lot of things about me and about my policies. They’re just not right. If I were to coin a term it would be ‘Obamaloney.’ He’s serving up a dish which is just simply in contradiction of the truth.”

It’s not bad enough that either man made such silly statements, I find it worse that the statements have become major news stories. A search on Google News showed over 36,000 results for “Romneyhood” and roughly 4,000 results for “Obamaloney.”

This is the most childish Presidential election I can remember, but the mudslinging is not as bad as it’s been in the past. I recall learning of some fairly low-brow elections from the 1800’s, mainly the 1884 election between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine. While the attacks were fairly childish, in my opinion, they were put together much more eloquently and in a way that sounded intelligent. The Cleveland campaign put together a poem referencing Blaine’s involvement in unethical business deals with the railroad industry and his behavior after they were exposed. “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine.” The Blaine campaign responded with an equally childish poem “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.” This poem reminded voters that Cleveland was alleged to have fathered a child out of wedlock.

In 2004 Walter Shapiro of USA Today wrote of the mudslinging in the 1988 campaign, “George H.W. Bush benefited politically from an explosive independent ad that featured Willie Horton, a black rapist released from prison under a furlough program championed by his Democratic rival, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. The coded message in that vicious commercial, which used a photograph to highlight Horton’s race, directly played on white fears of crime.
Such racist scare tactics are as unlikely today…”

While I’m not aware of any racist scare tactics, scare tactics are alive this election season, as well. Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super PAC, released an attack ad – which has not actually aired and owes its notoriety to media coverage – effectively blaming Mitt Romney for the cancer death of a laid-off steelworker’s wife. The ad features Joe Soptic, who lost his job and his health benefits after Romney’s Bain Capital closed the GST Steel plant in Kansas City, Kansas in 2001. What the ad fails to mention is that Soptic’s wife had health insurance through her job until she quit in 2002 or 2003 due to an injury. The ad also fails to mention that she died in 2006, a full 5 years after he was laid-off. The ad is designed to paint Romney as a vulture-capitalist, but there is a subtle hint that universal health care, something promoted by both major party candidates, would have kept his wife alive.

Instead of getting pulled into the distraction that is Presidential election 2012, I encourage you to get involved at the State or local level. This could be as simple as writing a letter to the editor of your local paper in support of your favorite candidate or something more involved like lobbying your State Legislators to pass legislation reducing the size, scope and/or power of the government on at least one issue.

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Arizona woman spends four months in jail because authorities thought she was Mexican…
“There are a lot of bad players in this travesty, but the bottom line is that they all had access, or could have had access, to Torres’ birth certificate, and they could have easily verified that it was legit.”

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FUCKING STUPID: Ogden, Utah pols attack free speech in parks, misdemeanor for swearing…

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Wikipedia locks possible VP pages after Colbert joke

Politico: “The pages of Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and (following yesterday’s Drudge bump) David Petraeus have been locked after Colbert, citing a Fox News report about the jump in revisions to Sarah Palin’s page in 2008, encouraged viewers to ‘go on Wikipedia, and make as many edits as possible to your favorite VP contender.'”

This comes on the heels of a report earlier this week by Micah Sifry: “None of Wikipedia entries for the current candidates being bandied about by Romney-watchers — Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Kelly Ayotte or Pawlenty — are currently showing anything like the spike in edits that Cyveillance spotted on Palin and Biden’s pages back in 2008. But most of those came in the 24 hours prior to the official announcement.”

Stephen Colbert of course deserves full credit for throwing the monkey wrench in Wikipedia when he told viewers: “We could be looking at Vice President Season Six of Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer. So, Nation, let your voice be heard in this history decision. Go on Wikipedia, and make as many edits as possible to your favorite VP contender.”

Sifry responds: “Oh well, I guess we all just pushed the needle deeper into the haystack.”

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Gary Johnson’s latest ad pitch

Fraught with source-less public opinion numbers, Gary Johnson’s latest ad is positive affirmation that he’s 100% on your side of the composite voter survey. With that kind of message, it can’t hurt that the video style leans towards Apple, but with awkwardly obvious b-roll clips (is that Dick Cheney sipping wine and gazing into the sea?).

Johnson will need to turn all that issue agreeing into impressive crowd mojo and increased fundraising if he’s going to claim the media spotlight as the non-duopoly contender.

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The cornucopian case for oil and next gen energy

Brian Wang at Next Big Future provides a ten-point list on the U.S. energy situation that should help put to bed the belief that we’re running full speed off the energy cliff (he also makes a strong case for more nuclear research).

Here’s some ridiculously high numbers of untapped oil in the U.S.:

10. Assigning estimated barrels of oil to various basins and shale oil plays plus including an estimate of yet to be discovered shale oil, I came to an estimate of oil in place. Oil in place in the continental US is from about 3 trillion to 5 trillion barrels of oil not including the 4.5 trillion barrels of oil shale.

1.53 trillion barrels Piceance Basin of Colorado (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.44 trillion barrels Green River formation (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.32 trillion barrels for the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado. (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
260-500 billion barrels Monterey Formation (tight oil)
271-503 billion barrels Bakken Formation (tight oil)

Aggressive use of new fracking technology and combined with fire flooding and water flooding could enable 20-30% recovery rates. Large amounts of the Oil shale is likely recoverable with fire flooding. So 6.5 trillion to 9.5 trillion barrels of oil, with 20-30% recovery rates is 1.3 to 2.8 trillion barrels of oil. Oil Shale like in the Green River Formation cannot be recovered with horizontal drilling. It will require fire flooding or some other likely insitu method.”

Our current global burn rate is estimated to be 85-90K barrels per day. Doing some back of the napkin math — 1.3 trillion barrels of oil from the U.S. alone would last the entire world well over 39,000 years at current consumption levels.

Even accounting for a world population that consistently expands, it’s a solid cornucopian case for oil.

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Rand Paul to speak, endorse Romney at GOP convention

Hammer of Truth has learned that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has made the cut to speak at the week-long event held in Tampa Florida beginning, according to an announcement by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. The announcement comes just a few days after news that Congressman Ron Paul — Rand’s father and erstwhile presidential candidate — would be barred from speaking. A side rally dubbed “Paulfest” is officially being organized by Paul supporters outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum as a protest by the Paul campaign at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome.

Rand Paul is already the libertarian favorite for 2016 should Romney fail to oust Barack Obama. We’ve been informed by sources inside the Paul campaign and D.C. Republicans that Rand Paul will be endorsing Mitt Romney (again) and that there’s virtually no chance that he’ll be picked for the VP slot.

Regardless of party politics playing an apparent role, Rand is one of two speakers newly selected — Rick Santorum was announced at the same time — that shows the 2012 GOP Convention is not a completely closed tent affair to the vociferous votes of libertarian or christian evangelicals.

After showing their primary clout in sinking Romney’s favorability ratings enough for several losses, it was wise not to exclude them.

Update: Added clarification on details of Ron Paul’s rally.

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Wayne Allyn Root: The Obama scandal is at Columbia…
Reason: “Why is Wayne Allyn Root giving him free campaign advice when he should be using his inside voice to talk to, and about, Libertarian Party candidates?”

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Romney negative on Fed’s QE3 intentions

Once again we can partially agree with Romney, though it’s painfully obvious he’s just been listening to Ron Paul’s fiscal conservatism and wants to hitch a ride on that political undercurrent. From CNN:

“I am sure the Fed is watching and will try to encourage the economy. But I don’t think a massive new QE3 will help the economy,” Romney said, referring to a program called quantitative easing.

While July’s just-released jobs figures showed the public sector taking a major beating, Romney repeated his belief that a government stimulus program is not the right course, saying the first one did not work and “expecting a different result is, as famously said, the definition of insanity.”

It’s a testament to Ron Paul’s vigorous House actions to audit the Federal Reserve that this is even being brought up on the campaign trail, much less by the same guy who less than six months ago claimed credit for the structured bankruptcy nature of the ill-fated U.S. auto maker bailouts: see more…

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NASA gold: Curiosity sticks Mars landing..
Let the science begin: Raw images start pouring in…
NASA’s naughty tweet: “GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!”
ROVER’S BRAINS: 2.5 million lines of C…

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Ron Paul delegate purge sparks GOP civil war in Maine…
Paul fans plan parallel rally…
Cheney not going to Tampa…
Nor W, Bush Senior…

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Economic Death Spiral

If I said an economist said that the American economy was heading into a “death spiral,” most people would likely think I was referring to Peter Schiff, Bob Murphy or someone from the Mises Institute. They would be wrong. Reuters reports Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank said, “After a four-decade-long, $50 trillion expansion of credit, if credit now begins to contract, the debt-deflation death spiral of the kind described by Irving Fisher would destroy our civilization. Austerity is death.” is reporting that other mainstream economists are coming to similar conclusions. Laurence Kotlikoff, a former member of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers estimates the true fiscal gap is $211 trillion when unfunded entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are included.

Duncan added, “Private sector debt has already started to contract a little bit, and if it were not for these trillion-dollar budget deficits by the U.S. and most other governments, topped up by a whole lot of paper money creation, we would have already spiraled into a new Great Depression.”

It seems Duncan is advocating for and against government spending and inflation. He argues, “many people who agree with the Austrians believe we should just now take our medicine and allow the system to adjust. But I don’t think they realize how harsh the medicine would be.” He adds that slashing government spending would immediately lead to a new depression. Duncan concludes, “We can take advantage of this opportunity and borrow and invest at 1.5 percent interest or we can collapse into a depression. Those are our options. Be imaginative and brave or fail because of our past mistakes.”

I like his proposal to “be imaginative and brave” and believe that we should learn from past mistakes. However, I do not believe that more government spending will solve the problems caused by government spending. Duncan’s approach seems akin to a doctor telling a bleeding patient “in order to stop the bleeding, we must make another cut.”
Whether Duncan is right or wrong about how to proceed, the economy will eventually collapse. The question is not “How do we stop it?” The question is “Are you prepared?”

When the economy collapses, everyone will need to know how to barter, hunt, gather, grow and store food and water. I know I’m not ready for the collapse, but I’m preparing. Are you?

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Space privateer Elon Musk: The goal is Mars…
“it’s important we get out there and explore the stars, both for defensive reasons and ensuring the continued existence of [human] consciousness”

CURIOSITY ABOUT LIFE: NASA’s car-sized rover scheduled to land 1:31AM EDT Monday…
Seven minutes of terror…

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OLYMPIC VICTORY: USA basketball team beats Nigeria 156-73, accused of running up score..
Carmello Anthony: “one of the best shooting displays the sport of basketball has ever seen”…

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GSA facing Congressional inquiry after nearly $44M bonus scandal in 2011…

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Vermont farmer Roger Pion flips out, runs over SEVEN cop cars with monster tractor, no injuries…

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DIY: Digital printer makes lower receiver for gun, cheap

The replicators on Star Trek can’t be far now, except it’s not food the budding tinkerers are thinking about making, it’s guns:

HaveBlue’s custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal.

The lower receiver was created using a fairly old school Stratasys 3D printer, using a normal plastic resin. HaveBlue estimates that it cost around $30 of resin to create the lower receiver, but “Makerbots and the other low cost printers exploding onto the market would bring the cost down to perhaps $10.” Commercial, off-the-shelf assault rifle lower receivers are a lot more expensive. If you want to print your own AR-15 lower receiver, HaveBlue has uploaded the schematic to Thingiverse.

HaveBlue tried to use the same lower receiver to make a full-blown .223 AR-15/M16 rifle, but it didn’t work. Funnily enough, he thinks the off-the-shelf parts are causing issues, rather than the 3D-printed part.

While this pistol obviously wasn’t created from scratch using a 3D printer, the interesting thing is that the lower receiver — in a legal sense at least — is what actually constitutes a firearm. Without a lower receiver, the gun would not work; thus, the receiver is the actual legally-controlled part.

Yes, it’s technically an illegal gun until he registers it. But as inventors like this keep pushing the boundaries of possibility in DIY weaponry, attempts to regulate and control firearms have definitely run into a new wrinkle.

For ways to have your own Maker Bot to construct future guns for you, just follow the handy instructions. I’m guessing we’ll eventually get around to the replicators that take voice commands for food only after we’re able to shoot them if they don’t comply (or tries to poison us).

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Obama batting diplomatically against Turkey

August is largely considered a slow news month in political circles, so it’s interesting that the biggest story is about a photo of Obama holding a baseball bat while talking to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (yeah, that guy is so getting his Google love on right now).

Here’s the photo causing so much heartache among pundits:

From CNN: “White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the photo on Tuesday and promised get some answers but so far nothing.”

“The photo is getting quite a bit of attention in overseas publications wondering about “hidden messages” or the “symbolic meaning” of the president holding the baseball bat.”

A variant of the story has been circulated by most major news outlets, but the White House remains tight-lipped as always as this is obviously a nice way to let the Chicago-bred politician have a meaningful prop for the media to speculate over… instead of how many “official” trips were made on Air Force One during July that also doubled as fundraising or campaign trips on the taxpayer’s dime (this is called “the real issue” folks, look it up).

I don’t see the problem here. I short, we should be happy he’s making $10 phone calls to handle the office — baseball bat in hand — instead of flying out to Turkey and realizing there was no chicken dinner fundraiser on the way.

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One Step Closer to an Audit of the Fed

Representative Ron Paul is now closer than ever to getting something he’s wanted since he was first elected to Congress, a full audit of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act sailed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 327-98. This is the second time this bill has passed the House, although it is the first time it passed as a stand-alone bill.

Fox News reports, “But lost in the bipartisan revelry was the fact that eight co-sponsors of the legislation actually voted against it… The eight House Democrats who switched their stance on the issue without an explanation find themselves in good company, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also pulling off a mystifying pivot.

In 2010 and 1995, Reid boasted that he had tried in vain to pass legislation to audit the Fed. The Nevada senator, however, is now refusing to bring the bill, which would fulfill his self-professed yearning, to a Senate vote.”

Angel Clark writes, “Perhaps seeing the overwhelming support the H.R. 459 received in the House of Representatives made Reid wary of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act passing.”

Exactly what would happen if the Senate voted on and passed the bill to audit the Fed?

In 2009 Jim Babka of DownsizeDC presented five possibilities:

Outcome #1: The audit is ignored.
The FED is a complex operation, and the audit will reflect that. There may be no soundbites that the media and the public can understand. The audit report may simply be ignored, and then forgotten.
Outcome #2: The FED gets a passing grade.
We can’t guarantee that the audit will tell us what we want, or that the auditors will even focus on the things we think are important. The audit will most likely be conducted by establishment insiders, not by people like us. The result could be the exact opposite of what we expect.
Outcome #3: The audit reports bad things, but nothing is done about it.
We think this is the most likely result. In the 1980s the Grace Commission found massive examples of government waste and fraud, but nothing was ever done about it. Instead, the problem just got worse. People may pay attention to the audit, just as they did the Grace Commission, but that doesn’t mean real change will happen.
Outcome #4: The auditors report big problems, and Congress decides to fix the FED.
This may sound like the result we want, but it could be the worst outcome. We want to end the FED, not have Congress micro-manage it.
Imagine what would happen if money creation was a partisan political power. Imagine the consequences if a single branch of government, Congress, could both spend money, and create it.
Have you ever watched a Financial Services Committee hearings on C-Span? It’s frightening. I hate the FED, but Lord, please, don’t let these people control our money supply!
Outcome #5: The auditors report horrifying things, and Congress decides to close the FED.
This is what we want , but it’s the least likely result. This outcome would only happen if there was a huge army pressuring Congress to make it happen.

While I would be thrilled to see the Federal Reserve audited and/or abolished, I won’t hold my breath. Instead, I’ll do everything possible to make the Fed irrelevant to my life.

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Romney’s staff doesn’t know how to spell Bain Capital

In what is probably the most under-reported campaign website gaffe of the 2012 presidential election, we’ve learned that between Mitt Romney’s digital staff of well over 80, none of them were able or willing to correct a glaring mistake in tagging posts. The most recent “error” takes place as recently as a couple weeks ago.

Here’s a snapshot of the tag results page for Bain Capitol, with 10 results:

And here’s a snapshot of the tag results page for Bain Capital, with 0 results (and an error to boot):

Now of course there’s an argument to be made that the auto-complete feature in many CMS platforms may have played a role in the company name faux pas, but with such a large web team overseeing all that’s published, I’m willing to bet ($10,000 fucking dollars, yo) that this is an intentional misspelling to further confuse Romney’s time at Bain.

UPDATE 8/29: The Romney campaign has added correct Bain Capital tags to two posts with the correct spelling in addition to the “o” variant. So that’s two semi-corrections and eight still tagged wrong. Ahh, corporate bureaucracy in action.

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DEATH BY SNOO SNOO: Life imitates art as Nigerian man raped to death by 5 jealous wives…

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POLL: 86% of voters don’t want tailored political ads…
HOT FLASHBACK 2004: “Imagine: Video speeches and explanations of positions by the candidate to the Internet audience will be the norm. Interactive sessions where a vote can be culled based on their exact concerns. The feedback from this will lead campaigns to craft email announcements to supporters based on their concerns and keep them abreast of developments on a much more targeted basis.”

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Albright recalls Romney thanks for ‘keeping my mouth shut’ on Olympics uniforms made outside USA..

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