Monthly Archives: August 2013

NC Voter Suppression–Intentional

Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent leader of the religious right movement for decades, tells us the NC voter suppression is deliberate. Clearly what we just pointed out earlier this week right here has been verified by one of the ruling party strategists.

“The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”

So what we have is a right wing activist telling us in very clear terms the North Carolina law was thought through and intentional in it’s intent to suppress votes from those likely to vote democratic. There are several legal challenges pending…I sure hope this gets put in the mix. Making a mistake is one thing, claiming ignorance is another, intentionally drafting legislation to suppress votes, then telling the world how and why. Well that has to impact the legal rulings.

NC’s Voter Discrimination Law

Called “Voter ID” but beyond line one, it’s a version of discrimination plain and simple. That’s why it here–it’s title and stated purpose are lies. Pushed through as a deterrent against widespread and undetected voter fraud even long-time Republican Colin Powell has come out against it hammering Governor Pat McCrory for signing it:

“What has come out of the legislature is that fraud is widespread and undetected,” he said. “How is fraud widespread if it’s undetected? How can it be undetected if it’s widespread?”

I’m not against requiring a photo ID to vote. But there are many ways to accomplish requiring ID’s without being discriminatory be it age, sex, ethnicity, or as in this case mostly political leanings. Remember, NC had record numbers of young voters turn out for the 2008 and 1012 elections. How the lines are drawn in the NC law:

Voters must have a photo ID to vote. OK, but a Student ID is NOT allowed–A concealed weapons permit IS allowed. Consider the age and voting demographics for a moment: Students—statistically younger, liberal, educated, ethnically diverse. Concealed Carry Permit–statistically more conservative, more white. (I’ll just stop there) I ask who better to eliminate if your current legislature and governor are mostly wealthy, white, conservatives?

So if we take this train a bit farther—a student ID can be used to buy liquor, it can be used to buy a gun, and it can also be used as an ID in the course of obtaining a concealed weapons permit. Just not for voting. I mean who’d want those young adults actively studying economics, history, art, and business to have a say in the state and national elections anyway? Clearly NOT the cronies in power today. By the way this especially riles me as one of my degrees happens to be from a respected NC institution. (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, North Carolina Wesleyan College)

For a student, what’s the alternative? Any person lacking an ID from the narrow acceptable list can obtain a “free” N.C.-issued card. Sounds great until finding what one has to do to get that ID.

Getting a “free” state-issued ID first requires a trip to a Department of Motor Vehicle’s office, taking with you no fewer than four other forms of identification. One of those IDs must be your original Social Security card or a tax form with your name and Social Security number. How many college students, much less the rest of us, can easily put their hands on that?

North Carolina’s new voter ID law would make thousands of young people, many of whom are first-time voters, have a harder time voting and ultimately may entice them to decide, “Why bother?”

And in this case there is so very much more buried deep in the document making it both harder to vote AND harder to determine just who is funding election campaigns: “In addition to requiring photo ID at the polls, the new law reduces early voting time, eliminates same-day registration, ends pre-registration for minors and stops the state’s annual voter registration drive. The law also scales back public disclosure required for 501(c)(4)s, also known as “dark money” groups.”   [2]

But back to the ID. So many questions but few answers. If there is indeed fraud–a position challenged by Colin Powell, numerous research efforts, and me–then an ID makes sense. I can even accept requiring a photo ID. But even Florida, my current home of record doesn’t get this right. For example:

I have a FL voter ID as required to vote. Gotta have it or I’ll be turned away at the polls. To get it I had to register and prove I was from both the state and the district where I intend to vote. But sorry, not so fast, that won’t do. Why? Because even with all the hoops needed to prove I was who I was and am indeed from where I am from, there isn’t a picture of me on the stinking voter ID. Nope, and yes FL requires a photo ID as well as the state issued voter ID. Well I have one of those too. As a middle class guy who drives, is retired from the military, has Merchant Mariner Credentials, TWIC card etc….I have in fact many. But imagine I was a young man from Miami working my own way through college, riding the bus, living at home to make ends meet. I most likely would not, and voting could become more complicated and frankly more expensive. I would have a student ID which IS allowed in FL. In North Carolina–that option becomes illegal in 2016–adding time and expense. We used to call that a poll tax–illegal. Let’s hope this new voting law in NC gets tossed by the courts well before 2016.

Yellen vs Summers

Actually while I state Yellen is the best choice for Fed Chairman, now we have a bomb dropped on Summers. Greg Palast lays out a compelling case indicting Larry Summers as a key player responsible for the Great Recession. Oh and did I mention the memo. Both secret and authentic– a pdf copy here. Well worth reading and writing your representation.

If you don’t know yet, Summers is the leading candidate for the next Fed Chairman being put forth by the Obama Administration. Hopefully this will change their minds.

Missing Media–Deficit Ignorance

Deficit is shrinking, but after listening to political commentary, Americans think otherwise. A few days ago Paul Krugman mentioned he’d like to see a survey on what Americans knew about the deficit. And now we have just that after Google willingly volunteered.

Lets take a look at the deficit over the recent past. As we covered yesterday, the deficit is and has been going down, nearly to the point it was before the recession and still falling :

Deficit Aug 13

Meanwhile we have politicians on the far right and especially the Tea Party saying we have a Trillion dollar deficit per year, some like Virginia’s Cantor have said it is growing this comment on 5 Aug 13 just a few day ago. Hello? So the question, what does the public believe. Here are the survey results so far when asked: How do you think the US Federal Government’s yearly budget deficit has changed since January 2010?

viewsurvey=qyz5ytgc2grp4&question=1&filter=&rw=1

Results as of 1700 EST 13 Aug 13. (Click on the graph for a link to the most current survey results)

Oh how wrong we can be. I’m not surprised however as I continue to witness the discussion. We are being bombarded with misinformation as so called congressional “leadership” attempts to build support for their party positions before the next debt ceiling  battle–sure to be this fall sometime. The questions I have: Where is the national media? The Cantor interview for example took place on Fox News Sunday. Why were viewers not informed immediately of this misinformation? Why is it even lawful for a politician to misstate facts he/she knows or certainly has a responsibility to know, in what is no less than a deliberate attempt to mislead average citizens?

 

Deficit Down 37.6 Percent Through July

While Rand Paul and Eric Cantor continue to rave about how the deficit is growing it turns out, as many of us already knew, they are full of something, themselves perhaps.

We will see another round this fall where certain radical right politicians try to shut the government down instead of increasing the debt limit. Curious if they will get their fact straight before then. Meanwhile the New York Times covers the issue nicely and with actual facts instead of the lies and misinformation from the mouths of kooks (Rand actually told Bloomberg last week we run a Trillion dollar deficit annually! But that was right before he recommended Friedman—dead since 2006—as Chairman of the Federal Reserve): Here’s a quote from NYT:

July’s figure raises the deficit so far for the 2013 budget year to $607.4 billion, the government says. That’s 37.6 percent below the $973.8 billion deficit for the first 10 months of the 2012 budget year.       

The Congressional Budget Office has forecast that the annual deficit will be $670 billion when the budget year ends Sept. 30, far below last year’s $1.09 trillion. It would mark the first year that the gap between spending and revenue has been below $1 trillion since 2008.

It will be fun watching this fall, I just hope reality prevails and the constituents finally see through the fiction. Perhaps Washington can vote for a little fact based reality. Hmm?

WSJ Misinformation

Since we’re talking affordable care, Paul Krugman and Aaron Carroll do a masterful job today separating the misinformation from reality in yesterdays Wall Street Journal editorial on  the prospect that Oregon’s Medicaid system might seek to limit spending on treatments with low effectiveness and/or patients who aren’t going to live much longer in any case. But the WSJ has a slight conflict here, and these two bring it to light:

” On one side, it’s fanatically opposed to Medicaid expansion — that is, it’s eager to make sure that millions have no health coverage at all. On the other side, it claims to be outraged at the notion of setting priorities in spending on those who do manage to qualify for Medicaid. It’s OK for people to die for lack of coverage; it’s an utter horror if taxpayers decline to pay for marginal care.”…

…..“Now, the Journal isn’t really confused on this point. Surely it understands the difference between rationing care and limiting public spending on care. The point, however, is to confuse readers, and make them think that spending controls on Medicaid are the same thing as having bureaucrats pronounce death sentences on the middle class.”

Just like yesterdays topic, folks are deliberately trying to confuse the public. In this case the Wall Street Journal…sad. Read up before falling for the BS simply because it comes from a “respected” journal

Budget (Mis)information

Limon Colorado, fueling the car I met a man, said something about “all the military cutbacks caused by ObamaCare”. What? Being a diligent tracker of the federal budget and understanding the time-lines of when the Affordable Care Act will be implemented and when the showdown began over the debt ceiling–in turn beginning what is now Sequestration–implementing significant government/military cuts, I know better. So I thought this probably isn’t his original idea and took a look.

Here is what Capital Hill Blue says:

“The cost of the health care overhaul — at least for the foreseeable future — is not contributing to the federal deficit. Obama and congressional Democrats made sure it was paid for through a combination of Medicare cuts, tax increases borne largely by the wealthy and an assortment of new taxes and fees on health care industries.”

Heritage Foundation, the great right wing think tank states:

But this was right above “The Right Way Forward For America, After repeal of ObamaCare……” Not even trying to fool the public into believing they are an unbiased party on this issue, much like the, Heritage Foundation Published Welfare, Undermining True Reform,  Which turned out to be absolute bull malarkey attempting to be passed off as “research”.

And then there is the ObamaCare Facts page. Take a look as I’m not going to quote it all here. But to have worked in the military budget process and staying in tune with spending since, I assure you the cuts underway right now as part of Sequestration are unrelated to ObamaCare. This all started when the Tea-party faction of the US House held the debt ceiling increase hostage to a vote on a balanced budget amendment. It is simply a fight over the debt ceiling being raised to accommodate spending already voted for and funded by the very legislative bodies arguing today about whether to pay the bills, or default.  Very thoughtful.

In the end it appears Mr. Gas Pumper may have had this thought all by himself, or perhaps the nephew he mentions as in the Navy, Crew Chief for the Blue Angles, may have an influence. Again as with many other budget and economic “facts”, positions are indeed held specifically because of beliefs. Often political, sometimes otherwise, but the fact remains, many Americans are Blinded by Belief in spite of the facts or rational thought.

Inflation? Mirhaydari Missing the Mark-Again (and again, and….)

Yesterday’s MSN Money headliner, Anthony Mirhaydari, still claiming inflation is just around the corner. Guess if you hold that view for long enough–now over 4 years–it’ll get right sooner or later. Fortunately it’ll be later, and if  Bernanke stays in the seat or as I hope is replaced by Yellen, we won’t see it as a problem at all. My concern right now is deflation, but that for another day.

This week even Kiplinger’s Personal Finance talked about the lack of inflation in spite of the pundits yelling about QE being sure to cause not just inflation but “hyper”-inflation.  This inflation scare has been ongoing since QE began in November of 2008 and we have yet to see inflation. So why don’t guys like Mirhaydari get it? Are they leaning so far in one political direction they won’t or can’t learn. Or maybe never got beyond Econ 101 where we all learn the absolute basics like “increasing the money supply will cause inflation”.

If any of us choses to write about and attempt to influence economic thought, surely they would have gone on to 201, 301 where all the exception come to play such as Keynes regarding liquidity traps–where adding money to the mix will not impact inflation until nearly all excess production capacity is used up.  And adding money is really the ONLY way to fix a liquidity trap without causing a full scale depression. The number of folks still yelling inflation are dwindling rapidly as the years have proven them wrong. Theseall  few diehards are perhaps too stubborn to learn or maybe have a financial or political stake. Unfortunate when logic, education, and the lessons of history become clouded by politics.

Meanwhile a lot of investment capital went onto inflation offsets in 2008 and has remained there. Those investors continue to lose equity. All the while we have stated the obvious, no inflation yet. With the right folks on the job at the Fed we have a long way to go before we see real inflation cutting into our equity, and I’ll be watching. Frankly I won’t be concerned at all until unemployment–including shadow unemployment–nears 5%. If you read back I’ve already been watching, writing, and so far being on the money.

More Janet Yellen

Abut the replacement for the Federal Reserve Chairman, I don’t stand alone. Here’s a take from Economitor’s  James Hamilton:

“Yellen is brilliant and tough. She displays this not by needing to prove to you that she’s the smartest person in the room, but instead by always asking the right questions. If someone disagrees with her, her first instinct is not to try to bully them, but instead to try to understand why they have reached a different conclusion than she has. Because of this attribute, Yellen is one of the people I would trust most to be able to sort out what the key problems are and what needs to be done in any new situation. “

See more at: http://www.economonitor.com

 

U.S Ungovernable?

I usually don’t direct comments toward a party but after now the 40th vote to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, I just can’t help it. The masters however beat me to it. Paul Krugman; Chaos Looms:

“Over the longer run the point is that one of America’s two major political parties has basically gone off the deep end; policy content aside, a sane party doesn’t hold dozens of votes declaring its intention to repeal a law that everyone knows will stay on the books regardless. And since that party continues to hold substantial blocking power, we are looking at a country that’s increasingly ungovernable.”

Reports everywhere are calling this the most unproductive congress ever. Someone fill me in on the cost of 40, yes FORTY votes, all done with the foreknowledge they will not fly, just getting on the record after the fact. Jus what amount of U.S tax money, yours and mine, have these obstructionists spent? But wait, this fall we’ll see a stand-off sponsored by these same guys over the government spending too much money. Any bets?