Sunday, August 19, 2012

* of the more depressing parts of the... of the more depressing parts of the job of being a political reporter is watching an audience fully absorb a blatant and knowing lie. Which is, of course, what this is....

"I want you to know I heard something the other day that really surprised me... What I heard is that the president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. (Boos.) Yeah. We value work, our society which celebrates hard work, we look to a government to make it easier for jobs to be created and people to go to work. We do not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who are not willing to work. And so I'm gonna put work back into welfare and make sure able-bodied people can get jobs."

At stop after stop, in ad after ad, Romney just keeps using it. How can this be possible?

Mark Twain said that there were "lies, damned lies and statistics."

Somehow the mainstream media has completely failed to report on Willard, AKA Mitt Romney, repeat "statistician."

It just doesn't seem to matter when a lie is told over and over to audiences who never knew that it was a lie.

And because the media is too lazy to refute a lie every time it's told, never will.
What to Do With Political Lies
Fact-checkers are no longer enough: If lies are going to be repeated, the truth needs to be, too.
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*Education, housing, healthcare.* *There...

Education, housing, healthcare.

There are no dreams when these aren't available.

The numbers tell a tale of constraint, not culture.
Infographic: How The Poor Spend Their Money Vs. The Middle Class
The rich get richer. It's one of those old mantras that's tough to really calculate. After all, didn't everyone's 401k tank in the last few years? Don't rising gas prices suck equally for everyone? Ye...
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

*Got to love Insurance Companies. Such great...

Got to love Insurance Companies. Such great examples of decency.

Such fuel for cynicism and sarcasm.
The Reward for Donating a Kidney: No Insurance
It is unclear how often kidney donors have trouble obtaining insurance, but advocates say the fear of being uninsurable may be a powerful deterrent to donation.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

How old was I, when I became a suspect for life?

I'm trying to remember how old I was, when I discovered that I was "a real suspicious guy."

I was 18. It was the summer of 1968, in Chicago, just before the Democratic Convention. It was late evening. My dad owned a television repair business on 63rd Street.

When we closed up shop, we put the televisions we were working on in the vault and carried the repaired sets to the van out front, so we could make deliveries on the way home. That's where the trouble started.

As we were getting into the van, a police car, with lights flashing, blocked us in. Two officers got out, guns drawn, and told us to get out of the van with our hands up. They were convinced we were burglars.

I thought this would be straightened out immediately. The business name was "C. Ingram's Radio and Television." The Van was registered in his name, Case closed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

What About Other People's Suffering? -

Losers suffer and the very thought that some people might consider them losers drives some people into a state of total rage.

Not at the winners, but at the people worse off than they are. The idea that they might have something in common with the long term unemployed, the ill housed and near homeless, is about as acceptable as sharing a toilet with black people was to a white Mississippean in, say, 1948.

Like them, they will tell you that the situation and its proposed solutions are "Un-American," even unconstitutional.

Like them they weren't raised to be magnanimous or compassionate in the face of change.

Even if they were born with their advantages, they feel that they've worked hard to gain them and they have the right to do whatever is necessary to keep them.

God knows what they'll do to get them back.

Other People's Suffering -

“The publication last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior” provided fresh fodder for the liberal critique of the Republican Party and the corporate ethic.
The paper, by Paul K. Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, and four colleagues, reports that members of the upper class are more likely than others to behave unethically, to lie during negotiations, to drive illegally and to cheat when competing for a prize.”

“A third scholarly essay, “Power, Distress, and Compassion: Turning a Blind Eye to the Suffering of Others,” produced similarly striking findings. In a test measuring empathy, each participant was assigned to listen, face to face, from two feet away, to someone else describing real personal experiences of suffering and distress.
The listeners’ responses were measured two ways, first by self-reported levels of compassion and second by electrocardiogram readings to determine the intensity of their emotional response. The participants all took a test known as the “sense of power” scale, ranking themselves on such personal strengths and weaknesses as ‘‘I can get people to listen to what I say’’ and ‘‘I can get others to do what I want,” as well as ‘‘My wishes do not carry much weight’’ and ‘‘Even if I voice them, my views have little sway,’’ which are reverse scored.
The findings were noteworthy, to say the least. For “low-power” listeners, compassion levels shot up as the person describing suffering became more distressed. Exactly the opposite happened for “high-power” listeners: their compassion dropped as distress rose.”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

*Way too Politi to handle the facts, Politi_fact_...

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Way too Politi to handle the facts, Politi_fact_
Politifact, you're fired
Video on Rachel Maddow reviews yet another instance of Politifact not living up to its name; this time by declaring two factual statements made by President Obama only "mostly true."
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*"Back in 1994, while plotting his takeover...

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*"Back in 1994, while plotting his takeover of the House, Gingrich circulated a memo on how to use words as a weapon. It was called "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control." Republicans were advised to use certain words in describing opponents — sick, pathetic, lie, decay, failure, destroy. That was the year, of course, when Gingrich showed there was no floor to his descent into a dignity-free zone, equating Democratic Party values with the drowning of two young children by their mother, Susan Smith, in South Carolina.

Today, if you listen carefully to any Gingrich takedown, you'll usually hear words from the control memo.
He even used them, as former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams wrote in National Review Online this week, in going after President Reagan, calling him "pathetically incompetent," as Abrams reported. And he compared Reagan's meeting with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.""*
Deconstructing a Demagogue
Over four decades, Newt Gingrich has perfected the politics of personal destruction.
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Banks Taketh, but Don’t Giveth -

Nearly everyone I know has had a bank make errors in the bank's favor, but I don't know anyone whose bank made an error in their favor without somehow punishing them for the bank's mistake. What happened to the Ephrons is starting to look more like willful fraud than a mistake.

Say, for instance, they record a deposit as larger than it actually is. They are guaranteed to withdraw the amount just after you've paid a major bill while ignoring the deposit you just made that would have covered the cost. 

Then, they assess their fees.

In the nineties, I had a bank that told me they'd never charge a fee for a bill paid electronically. In fact, they charged me $10.00 every time the monthly bill was paid. Unfortunately, I wound up in the emergency room a week after the account was opened, followed by a two week stay  This was followed by a flare up of a chronic condition. I wasn't worried, I had enough in the account to cover six months, or so I thought. 

Then I got the notice that my internet access account would be closed for non-payment. The phone company gave me 10 days notice. My electronic payments were going out days late. So, late fees were charged on top of the regular bills. Instead of no fees that ten dollars was assessed on each bill and charged again when the companies sent the bills, now overdue, a second time for payment. Oh, and they would finally pay the original bill but not the late charges which added up in just three months to more than I had left in the bank.

At that point the bank added a $60 fee and froze my account. It took a month to get the bank to reverse the charges for the 'no fee' service. I paid the phone company by money order. (Remember they gave a ten day notice,)

The bank still wanted me to pay $60 to unfreeze my account. I told them what the temperature range in hell would be on the day that ever happened.

I also told them I'd sue not just the bank, but the bank manager if their mistake was placed on my credit report by that bank. 

The net result is I still have good credit, and a new and better bank.

The Ephron's bank makes mine look like child's play.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Will Somebody Please Get the Story?

COMMERCE CITY, CO - SEPTEMBER 03:  Local resid...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Foreclosures, as numbers are either up, down or unchanged. Bankruptcies too, are changed for better, worse, for reorganization or not at all. More people are employed or fewer, and it all gets reported as if it was a race and the only thing important was what horse was in which position.

The numbers, as reported in the papers and on TV are just the crudest description of what's going on and, as reported, are mostly useless for figuring out what the problem is and how to fix it. Unemployment may be down, but are hours and wages adequate? Are banks selling homes for a fraction of the mortgage rather than adjust payment, interest rate and length with families? Are new businesses the ones going bankrupt, or is it established community institutions?

People are foreclosed. People and their businesses go bankrupt. People are employed and unemployed. People and their stories are behind those numbers. People also have a big political decision to make that's driven by the reality behind the numbers. 

Unfortunately, obvious horse crap from politicians is treated as if it were fact because they say so. More subtle distortions are ignored in favor of who is ahead in a poll and whatever outrageous, often racist position they're promoting today in the race to the bottom. 

People want to know if anything is working and how long it will take. what jobs will come back and what's gone forever. They want to know why. They need honest evaluations of how. They need to know who is actually working on the problem and who is just running their mouth.

If all you present when covering the economy is whether this or that set of numbers is up or down, of course no one is calling you. Unlike political campaigns, no one is paid to feed the media when it should be out finding the facts. There is no ready told story, nor anyone to do work. Real life has no PR department. Just some really important stories that people really want to hear.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

What Are They So Afraid Of?

Anyone and everyone who differs from them, apparently in any degree. And that's just for starters.

What's worse is the lengths they'll go to justify their fears. Their willingness to craft non existent incidents, to weave tales from fantasy aren't the end. They're the beginning.

We need to tell them that the Bill of Rights is not a sign of America's weakness. Due process extended to our enemies is evidence of our strength. Special tribunals and secret prisons are evidence of fear and weakness.

Even if Congress is weak and fearful, we, the people, are not afraid. And we,the people, are not weak.
con·cept: 2012