Debt ceiling scare tactics

Lots of people – including “leading” economists – are freaking out about the debt ceiling. Saying things like we won’t be able to pay our bills, and that we’ve already agreed to the spending, and the US government will default on the debt, etc. Is it true? Or just a scare tactic so they can continue business as usual?

Seems that most people are assuming that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised then the government will default. And while I agree that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned“, that has zero, zip, nada to do with the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling is simply a limit on the amount the US is allowed to borrow legally. (We’ll forget for the moment that the Fed printing money to buy bonds somehow doesn’t count against the limit.) It simply means that we’ve hit the limit on the credit card. So we can’t borrow more money.

It’s exactly the same as having tapped out your credit card, and the bank account balance is zero. But you still have a job, and you’re still bringing in a paycheck. What do you do?

The typical family would disconnect the cable TV and Internet, buy generic food/toilet paper/soap, cut out the kids cell phones, start doing brown bag lunches, etc. They’d still make their house payment, still pay the electric and water bill, they’d still eat, the kids would still have a place to sleep, and they’d still be able to put gas in the car to get to work.

In other words, they’d still function, albeit at a reduce level.

What does the government do in the same situation? They pretend the sky is falling…. They have money to pay park rangers to block off access to existing roads/parks/scenic pullouts, they have money to give to the Egyptian military, they have money to invade Libya and Somalia, they shut down existing web sites (such as NASA and even the official time site) instead of leaving existing content up – but they don’t have money to pay the interest on the existing debt?

As an example of how relatively painless NOT raising the debt ceiling would be, here’s a link to a CNN story about alternatives to raising the limit.

“Slashing” discretionary spending by 1/3 eliminates the problem.  That could be done be simply withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan and other overseas wars. Fire all the border guards and use the US military to patrol the borders – isn’t that what the military is for anyway?

I’m so sick of the rhetoric around this topic that I hesitated to say anything, because at least 90% will tune it out anyway. But dammit, I have to try to bring some common sense into the discussion.

gk

 

 

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List of Obama’s Executive Actions on Gun Control

I looked around a few days ago when Obama announced his “Executive Actions” on the subject of gun violence, but I didn’t see anything comprehensive at the time.  Of course the media also widely reported them- incorrectly – as “Executive Orders”, which they are not.

I happened to stumble across the complete list earlier tonight, here’s a link to the list on Business Insider, and here it is from their source, at the New York Times.  (The New York Times page has a weird format that makes it hard to use.)

Since it’s public domain info, I’m copying it here as well for ease of access.  I especially like #18, as it’s the exact same thing the NRA proposed. When the NRA said it, the anti-gun crowd was all up in arms, but suddenly it’s great when Obama proposes more armed guards in schools. Yes Virginia, that’s what a “School Resource Officer” is.  Every school my kids have attended – elementary, middle, and high schools, in two different states – have had them. Evidently that’s not universal.

Here are the “Executive Actions”. Pretty meh stuff for the most part.

Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:

  1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
  2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
  3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
  4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
  5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
  6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
  7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
  8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
  10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
  11. Nominate an ATF director.
  12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
  13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
  14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
  15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
  16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
  17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
  18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
  1. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
  2. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
  3. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
  4. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
  5. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
gk

 

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Journal News employees names and addresses

Remember that newspaper story that listed all the people with gun permits in a three county area north of NYC? They got all kinds of publicity about it (so I’m not linking to the story here) and they said they were right to publish the the info because it’s a matter of public record.

Hey – you know what else is public record? The names and addresses of the editors and employees of the Journal News.  A local blogger (Christopher Fountain) decided turnabout was fair play, so he published the names, addresses, phone numbers, email and Facebook addresses, etc. of the Journal News employees. Brilliant!

His blog is titled For What It’s Worth, and here’s a direct link to his post with the info.

I love his take: Editor Cyndee Royle defends her decision and in fact sounds quite smug about it. Her paper is apparently still trying to obtain, and publish, information on how many guns, and their type, are registered to each owner, presumably to make shopping easier for gun thieves. Nothing more disappointing than getting a Remington 870 when you’ve been hoping for a Ruger Mini Thirty.

Let’s keep those cards and letters (and telephone calls, of course) coming.

Here’s a link to a story with an embedded Google map with the address info. It’s a work in progress, but here’s the map of Journal News Employees.

To create the map, Talk of the Sound submitted Google searches for the names and addresses of all Journal News employees in the New York Tri-State area. By state law, the information is public record.

I wonder how Cyndee Royle likes having her info posted? Note that some of the facebook pages linked to are being taken offline – or maybe they finally learned how to adjust privacy settings – but many of them are still available.

If you think what the Journal News did was unethical, please pass on the links to their info on your Facebook page and blogs. I’m sure calling their phone numbers and/or sending them a nice note explaining your views on the subject via email or snail mail will also be well received.

Here’s another good post from Christopher on the subject.
And one from the Libertarian Advocate about him appearing on CNN discussing why he published the list.

gk

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Worst president in my lifetime

This was a post I did on Facebook back in July on Bush I’s birthday. I decided it needed some  updating because I really hadn’t thought about all the factors that should go into deciding the title of worst president.

Dumbass Dubya has a lock on the #1 slot, but there can be some legitimate disagreement after that.  Anyway, here’s the original post and some comments.

Fourth worst President in my lifetime (Mr “Read My Lips”) and his son Dubya, who took the title of Worst President Ever in a KO from Jimmy Carter. Happy birthday to budget busting Bush I.

In case anyone is wondering, my ranking for worst since 1962 is:
1) Dubya
2) Carter
3) Nixon
4) Bush I
5) Johnson
6) Kennedy
7) Clinton
8) Reagan

(Note – I totally forgot about Ford in the original ranking.)

(Comment) I’m thinking you forgot about the great society… W, Johnson, Carter in my book are 1-3.

(My response) I didn’t forget about it, but I’m trying to look at it from the perspective of what was happening in the country at the time. I don’t remember it personally, but if you go back and read news stories from the early/mid 60’s, the possibility of a race-based war was not far fetched. I think he headed that off. However he did launch the stupid War on Poverty, Medicare/caid, and escalated the political catastrophe that was Vietnam, so he doesn’t get a free pass.I could see moving him up a spot to rank worse than Bush I, but I can’t rank him worse than Nixon. Wage and price controls, EPA, OSHA, taking us off of the gold standard and creating this insipid fiat currency we now have. And there’s much much more. For example, Nixon started the whole “talk small government but grow it like crazy” that the GOP has become. (I give Reagan a pass on his tripling of the debt only because of the disaster in waiting he inherited from Carter via Nixon.)Back to Nixon… A few examples from an article titled “Nixon Reconsidered” (http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/dialogue/hayward.html) should suffice to justify my ranking.

“Johnson has gone down in the history books as the big spender for social welfare programs, yet federal spending grew faster during Nixon’s tenure than during Johnson’s. It was under Nixon that social spending came to exceed defense spending for the first time. Social spending soared from $55 billion in 1970 (Nixon’s first budget) to $132 billion in 1975, from 28 percent of the federal budget when LBJ left office to 40 percent of the budget by the time Nixon left in 1974.”

“While Nixon would criticize and attempt to reform welfare, he nonetheless approved massive increases in funding for other Great Society programs such as the Model Cities program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of the changes in spending policies that Nixon supported, such as automatic cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients and other entitlement programs, contributed to runaway spending trends in successive decades. Federal spending for the arts, which went mostly to cultural elites who hated Nixon, quadrupled.”

Nixon, like Bush I and Dubya, did more to harm the conservative movement and this country than any liberal democrat or communist could dream of doing. They talked a good game, but I judge people on their deeds, not words. Nixon fails that test miserably.

So I got to thinking about it more, and I’m revising my rankings a bit.  Here’s my updated list:

1) Dubya
2) Nixon
3) Carter
4) Johnson
5) Bush I
6) Ford
7) Kennedy
8) Clinton
9) Reagan

The two notable changes are that Nixon moved ahead of Carter into the #2 slot, and Johnson moved ahead of George “Read my lips” Bush I.

The changes were because I decided that Johnson’s initiation of the Great Society programs needed to be re-evaluated in terms of long term impact.

And “upon further review” I moved Nixon up a notch as well.  I think he’s moved past Carter into the #2 position when I consider the long term damage caused by taking us off the gold standard in 71.In 1971 a Big Mac cost an average of 50 cents. Today it’s $4.33. Exact same product, 866% more expensive because of his fiat inflation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So anyway, that’s my “worst presidents in my lifetime” update. Any disagreements?

gk

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Fiscal Insanity

Ran across this post in today’s Daily Reckoning. Those of you who like to think we can go on printing money without consequences should read – not just this article, but basically everything they publish.  I wouldn’t call it “doomsday” stuff, but predicting financial collapse for those who think money can be summoned into existence at will isn’t rocket science.  Here’s a quote from the article I linked to:

And then there are the Americans north of the Rio Grande, whose government prefers to dress its printing up in fancy names. They try to bamboozle the crowd with academic-sounding terms like Quantitative Easing and Operation Twist. The average man on the street has no idea what these terms mean. But he trusts his Dear Leaders because he is told to trust them. He swore an allegiance to the flag every morning while in school…and he takes this more seriously than his own common sense, long since abandoned.

Republicans…Democrats…Bernanke…Greenspan. No matter. It’s the same people pulling the same old tricks. Aside from faces and names, there is no change. It’s an illusion, designed to make the audience think they have a say in what happens on stage. But the script has already been written. And this is a rerun.

Call it QE, Call it Twist. Call arguments from the opposition “totally false.” In the end, the result is always the same. A shrinking currency…inflation…the ultimate in centrally organized counterfeiting on the grandest of scales.

Ah, I feel better now. Hopefully at least a few of you will get the message and vote the bums out. And by “vote the bums out” I mean exactly that. Re-elect no one.  Fire them all. Do you think the dumb asses in DC would get a clue if we didn’t send any of them back? Want to bet that their replacements would get the message?  Let’s make this a REAL “tea party” and get rid of ALL the jerks spending our money.

BTW – I say REAL tea party because – while I agree with many in the Tea Party movement, I disagree with many as well. God doesn’t belong in our government. He’s not in the Constitution, and if you think that’s a mistake or oversight, you’d better think again. Every single word in the document was parsed by some of the smartest, best read, and best educated people in the world. Those dead white guys – the Founders –  knew what they were doing.

We are NOT a democracy. We are a republic. There’s a big damn difference, and you crazy ass psycho Republicans should look it up at some point.

gk

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Krugman’s Fantasy World

This is what passes for great thinking these days.  In this article in the Guardian, Paul Krugman essentially says “Hey, we’re all broke and deep in debt. What should we do?” He answers by saying (again, I’m paraphrasing) “Print more money and spend it! Give it away! Go ahead, it won’t hurt a thing! Free money for everyone! It’s patriotic!

The sad thing is that he’s a Nobel prize winner for putting ideas like this into print, so some people actually think he must be brilliant. He’s even worse than Keynes (who advocated saving surpluses and spending the savings to lessen the impact of recession/depressions) because he actually thinks you can print and spend money you don’t have forever. It’ll all work out just fine thank you.

And yes, if you use a short enough timeframe, printing money looks like it works just fine. (Like Douglas Adams using leaves for money – everyone seems rich!) But every government that’s ever tried it has eventually disappeared. The French Revolution was way back in 1789, but the hyper inflation that led to Nazi Germany was less than 90 years ago.

gk

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AT&T Still, Still Sucks

Guess who I’m on the phone with because of ANOTHER incorrect bill…. That’s right, AT and fucking T. Never again. When this contract is out, I will never again deal with AT&T. Never. Ever…. Ever.

This latest fiasco is caused by me (according to AT&T) because I ordered a “3 month free trial” of HBO/Cinemax on Feb 27th.  I canceled it last week, on May 15th. Feb 27 through May 15 is less than 3 months on every calendar I’ve ever seen. But AT&T insists that I owe for the service from May 9th (the start of my billing cycle) through the 15th, because evidently THEY CAN’T SUBTRACT 2(FEB) from 5(MAY).

Go ahead, do the math. I’ll wait……

If you came up with more than 3 months from Feb 27th through May 15th, you need to apply at AT and stupid fucking idiots R us T, because that’s what they did.

I canceled more than a week early (technically I could have waited until May 27th) precisely to AVOID this idiocy, but they are utter morons. Kept getting mad at me when I told them that I shouldn’t have been billed starting on May 8th, because that was way less than 3 months. I actually had to count to them (Feb is month 2, March is 3, April is 4, May is 5) to get them to do the math (literally, 5-2=3) and see the problem.

Absolute morons.

I posted about AT&T’s general incompetency last year here, and again earlier this year here.  I do not understand how anyone would voluntarily deal with a company this bad on all levels. I had to ask to speak to a supervisor again tonight, just to hear him tell me that I owed from May 9th through the 15th.  Words cannot describe the loathing I have for these incompetent boobs.

Argghhhhh!!!!

gk

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AT&T Still Sucks

Wow, 4 times tonight my AT&T U-Verse service has crashed for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.  No TV.  No Internet.

All the TV’s will freeze up and and Internet service drops. Wired and wireless. No light flickers, nothing else in the house is affected, just AT&T U-Verse quits.

I reported this to AT&T 6 times tonight.  SIX.  3 times via online chat sessions that dropped before the “helpful” AT&T rep did anything or actually reported the problem – because THE DAMN AT&T U-VERSE SERVICE DROPPED WHILE I WAS REPORTING THE PROBLEM!!!

And 3 times when I called in to 800-288-2020.  The first two is because AT&T disconnected me because I have home U-Verse service, and they wouldn’t take a trouble report BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE AN AT&T PHONE NUMBER!!!

I’m serious. The stupid damn AT&T automated IVR system routed me to a place where if I didn’t have an AT&T phone number I was not allowed ANY other options.  No “Please press 0 to speak to a representative” or “Please stand on your head and spin clockwise 3 times while saying blow me” – no nothing.

Simply a recorded message saying (I’m paraphrasing) “I’m sorry, that department is closed. Please call back during normal business hours. Thank you for calling – Goodbye.”

I am really close to telling AT&T goodbye. About a year ago I posted about how AT&T sucks, but damn, 6 attempts to report a problem takes “suck” to a whole new level.

I actually copied the last two chat sessions – since I discovered AT&T doesn’t have that capability after the first chat session crashed and they didn’t keep it…

Remember,  this is the 2nd time I’m attempting to get help from them – the service dropped during the first attempt.

System
Connecting to server. Please wait…
System
Connection with server established.
System
Technical Support Topic: TS&R: More Help
System
Nishanta Adhikary has joined this session!
System
Connected with Nishanta Adhikary
Nishanta Adhikary
Thank you for contacting AT&T U-verse Member Support. My name is Nishanta {na6044}. Please allow me a moment to review your account details with the information you have provided.
Nishanta Adhikary
Meanwhile may I know the name on the U verse account?
You
I am tired of this crappy service – (Name)
You
it won’t even stay up long enough to finish a chat
Nishanta Adhikary
Thank you for confirming…
You
System
Welcome (Name).
System
Connecting to server. Please wait…
System
Connection with server established.
System
Technical Support Topic: TS&R: More Help
System
bc740r(BISHWARUP) has joined this session!
System
Connected with bc740r(BISHWARUP)
bc740r(BISHWARUP)
Thank you for contacting AT&T Uverse Member Care. My name is Bishwarup (bc740r). Please allow me 2 minutes to review your account details with the information you have provided.
bc740r(BISHWARUP)
I was able to access your ac
You
I tried to paste in the last chat session but it won’t let me
You
is there a number I can call to actually talk to someone to report this problem
System
Your agent has been disconnected from the system, you are now being transferred to your original queue. Please stand by…
System
Nishanta Adhikary has left this session!
System
nr475y(Nikky) has joined this session!
System
Connected with nr475y(Nikky)
nr475y(Nikky)
Thank you for contacting AT&T U-verse Member Support. My name is Nikky(nr475y) Please allow me a moment to review your account details with the information you have provided.
You
the 800 288 2020 number won’t allow me to report the problem
You
it says the office is closed
nr475y(Nikky)
I am so sorry for the inconvenience caused.
You
Just get it fixed
nr475y(Nikky)
could you please let me know the issue?
You
the whole system dies when it rains. no tv, no internet
You
it’s cut out 3 times already tonight
You
I am sick and tired of typing this same info
You
It’s like rain fade with satellite, except the internet also dies
You
with this error: Gateway Authentication FailureGateway Authentication Failure. Please contact your Service Provider.

nr475y(Nikky)
Thank you for the information
You
Everything else in the house stays working. no power glitches.
nr475y(Nikky)
Please be with me I will quickly go ahead and check for the information.
You
all TV’s lose signal up and all internet (wireless and wired devices) freeze up and get the not connected error.
nr475y(Nikky)
How long have you been experiencing this issue?
You
6 or 8 months
nr475y(Nikky)
Did you perform any troubleshooting steps so far from your end?
You
what am I supposed to do on “my end”? All devices have been restarted multiple times. It’s the ATT UVERSE THAT DROPS – FIX IT
nr475y(Nikky)
ohh
You
It’s your bo that I’m renting
You
box
nr475y(Nikky)
I will need to run some line test from my end
You
the last guy did that right before your service dropped earlier too
You
about 15 minutes ago
nr475y(Nikky)
I want to make sure I get this issue resolved for you. I will transfer this session to our 2nd level of technical support. The next specialist will be able to
view our entire conversation and you wouldn’t have to repeat yourself.
Can I go ahead and transfer our session?
You
yes – will it be saved if my end drops again?
You
it’s getting ridiculous
nr475y(Nikky)
I can understand your concern
nr475y(Nikky)
yes they will take care of the issue
System
You are being transferred to another queue. Please stand by…
System
nr475y(Nikky) has left this session!
System
Tier2 – Lawrence (lr7563) has joined this session!
System
Connected with Tier2 – Lawrence (lr7563)
Tier2 – Lawrence (lr7563)
Hello, I want to thank you for chatting AT&T U-verse Tier 2 Technical Support from Arizona! My name is Lawrence, and my personal ID is lr7563. How may I help you today?
You
the last rep said you could see our chat – so I surely hope I don’t have to explain it again for the 3rd time tonight…
You
Gateway Authentication FailureGateway Authentication Failure. Please contact your Service Provider.

You
everything dies. TV and internet – 3 tv’s and all wired and wireless devices
You
goes out for 3 or 4 minutes and comes back
Tier2 – Lawrence (lr7563)
After looking over the chat session and the information you have provided, I understand that we are currently having an issue with intermittent services , would you say that is correct?
You
everytime it rains
You
that means yes, it’s intermittent
You
yup, just lost it again
You
so you’ll never see this
System
The session has ended!
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Rombama? Robama? Obamney?

Rombama? Robama? Obamney?  I don’t know what name will ultimately be used for this seemingly inevitable putridity of a choice, but it will suck.  Because there is no real choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Except for a few of the “I’m more Christian than Christ” stupidities that all Republicans evidently have to parrot, they have the same positions on everything that matters.  Real stuff, like continuing stupid wars, TARP, bailouts, stimulus, payroll tax cuts, and of course RObamaCare.

Though Romney will loudly shout about the nuances that make his positions ever-so-slightly different than something Obama said, when you actually look at the policies, they both have the exact damn same positions.

Here’s a link to a story on The Root that compares some of the similarities.

Santorum is even doing it now with his new ad. (Just to be clear, I think Santorum would be an absolute disaster as President, doing everything he can to drag us back to the dark ages, but he’d be better than either Romney or Obama – because most of Santorum’s stupidity wouldn’t pass congress.)

The Tea Party Tribune goes after ObamneyCare as well. No, I haven’t read the site before tonight, it came up in a search. But I like the way the article ends: Romney is smart … he graduated from Harvard. Strange, so did Obama. Gee, it appears the striking similarities between Romney and Obama are quite, well, striking. Let’s just call it hope and change … Republican style.

Even PolitiFact can’t deny that there’s really no difference between ObamaCare and RomneyCare.

Meet the new boss…. Same as the old boss….

Send a REAL message.  Vote Libertarian and show the Republicrats we don’t like the “choice” they are giving us.  If you can’t bring yourself to vote Libertarian, at least vote against the incumbents.  You know, the dimwits who voted for RobamaCare, who voted for the bailouts, who voted for TARP, and for Afghanistan/Iraq.  FIRE THEM ALL!

gk

 

 

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5D Mark III Availability

I posted links to some REAL reviews of the Canon 5D Mark III yesterday, and mine arrived from Adorama yesterday as well.  Since I only placed my order on Friday (March 23rd) and I’ve heard horror stories about other places, I decided to write a post about it.

In short, Amazon is out. They currently say “Usually ships within 1 to 3 months”.  I also saw a post about B&H stock (sorry, I don’t remember where) where it said they sold out of their initial stock of 800 and had 4000 backordered. Even Adorama now says it’s back to taking “preorders”  and they’ll ship when they get more. Adorama was showing that they had it in stock when I ordered Friday – which is why I ordered from them. :-)

In short, this is obviously a hot item. I would recommend calling before placing an order with anyone.

gk

 

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