Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solving sequestration is a click away

Don't believe the hype. You can solve the sequestration problem that purports to send our economy over a fiscal cliff in a few weeks. It's easy - really! I did it. It takes minutes. It's called priorities. Make them.
The New York Times put together this very good online budget puzzle that was released a little more than two years ago and asks if you can solve the $418 billion FY15 budget shortfall. What's great about the puzzle is that it totals up all your tax increases and spending cuts and gives you a rough dollar amount. 
This puzzle is incomplete. It doesn't, for example, allow for tariffs, something I would implement if I were president or a Representative to Congress. It doesn't allow for the implementation of a transaction tax on Wall Street, another thing I would consider. It doesn't allow you to cut specific departments. But it's a good start towards balancing the federal budget.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nader: Implement speculation tax to stave off 'fiscal cliff'

By Ralph Nader
In the debate over the “fiscal cliff,” President Obama and congressional Republicans have returned to the proposals that they were sparring over before the election. They remain at odds over key elements of revenue and spending. Yet both sides are unwilling to consider a minuscule tax on financial transactions that could be a major source of income.
A financial transaction tax would apply to purchases and sales of derivatives, options and stocks. The tax would be small, half a penny or less on each dollar of the transaction value, depending on the product. This idea is often called a “speculation tax,” because it would hit hardest at frothy high-volume trading as opposed to sober long-term investment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't forget to vote!

Whatever you do today, don't forget to vote.
Even if you hate all the candidates. Show up and blank the ballot.
Just vote. It's important. That's all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

More inaccuracies at 'This American Life'

For those of you who listen to "This American Life" and have heard about the inaccuracies at the program which is heard locally on NHPR, don't be surprised if you hear more - or not really telling the entire story.
The latest problems with the program come from the "Nothing in Moderation" segment that aired this weekend, put together by the former reporter for the Concord Monitor, Sarah Koenig.
This episode, which covers some of the problems at the Statehouse, including the banning of Annmarie Timmins from a press conference at Speaker William O'Brien's office, something I covered extensively, is a pretty good one. But it's those nagging problems that just drive me nuts.
First, there is the line that the first thing the Republicans did when they took over the New Hampshire House in 2010 was to vote to allow handguns at the Statehouse.
Well, technically, no. This act was a repeal of a previous law approved by Democrats when they controlled the Legislature for four years. "This American Life" makes it sound as if handguns were never allowed in the NH House until the Republicans took over and voted, first thing, to allow them to be brought into the chamber. Nope, sorry, incorrect and bad use of language. For centuries, guns have always been allowed in the Statehouse until the Democrats took over and banned them. The act was a rescinding of a bill.
Then there is the line that Republicans cut the University of New Hampshire budget by 50 percent. Democrats have used this line too. Not only is it not accurate but it is a manipulation of the numbers and bad use of language.
State appropriations for higher education were not cut in half. The budget was cut by 6.1 percent. The system has a budget of $535.3 million; the state put in $35.7 million instead of $68.2 million. While is it less than half the amount that was put in the previous year, it's only a 6.1 percent cut of the university budget.
When the Democrats and "This American Life" continue to state that the Republicans in the Legislature cut the university budget in half, they are making it seem as if it is a much larger cut than it is.
New Hampshire, however, isn't alone when it comes to higher education cuts. All but four states cut their contributions to college budgets in FY12, some as high as 25 percent.
Instead of raising tuition and fees, maybe the university system should have considered cutting some of the pay scales of its employees, something that happens in the private sector all the time to keep a business afloat. More than $320 million goes to personnel costs. And 10 percent cut in personnel costs - not unheard of in the business world when times are really bad - would add back in almost all the money cut by state government. Why is it always the students who are made to suffer?
Personally, I don't believe in cutting higher education. It's important. It can bring people out of poverty. But let's not make things up. It's bad enough without having to make things up.
I'm told they spent weeks working on this segment. So there isn't any excuse for manipulating the language and being inaccurate with that kind of time to work on one segment. A five minute Google search revealed the inaccuracies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nope, not gonna do it ...

Alas, we're six days from the election and I should have thrown something together yesterday at the one week point. Umm, yeah, but I was still dealing with hurricane messes, OK?

Here's where we're at via the Real Clear Politics Electoral College map. They have a ton of toss up states - in other words, it's still anyone's game and anyone's guess.

Personally, I don't really care who wins at this point. My life probably isn't going to change, either way, for the better. In fact, it will probably get worse regardless of who wins.

President Barack Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction and Republican Mitt Romney isn't going to do any better.
They both are small S socialists - one is a semi-corporate socialist and the other is a definitive corporate socialist.
Neither has a real plan to fix the deficit and the debt, neither will tackle the problem of the Federal Reserve manipulating the currency, neither addresses the globalization problem and the fact that globalization is the real economy problem here, neither offers any real cuts to our defense department - or really, the offense department, etc.
Having said all that, I do like to guess sometimes and I really should take a big guess. Here are some thoughts on the outcome.
First, I don't believe the notion that Romney is going to win by a landslide no matter what FoxNews says and I don't believe that the president is going to win by a landslide. The race is going to go down to the wire. We might not even know who the winner is for days after Nov. 6. That's a safe bet, believe me.
The country is so divided at this point.
And that's what makes speculation so difficult.
However, can I get closer than the first chart? Sure. Maybe. Here it is:
Even though both candidates are obsessed with our fine state, it is insignificant. The four votes don't mean anything unless Obama really doesn't have New Mexico and Iowa and if he doesn't have those states, it will be a blowout for Romney.
It is basically down to Ohio and Wisconsin - Romney needs one, Obama needs both. Obama doesn't have anywhere else to get the votes. At the same time, I don't know if Romney can win either Wisconsin and Ohio. I'm just not sure at this point. It's either going to be Obama by 1 or more, or Romney by 3 or more. It's that close.
Let me close by saying that the most important thing isn't the guessing - the most important thing is getting out there and voting, no matter what or who for.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

With 30 days left, it's anyone's guess ...

It's now 30 days before the presidential election.
During the summer, I posted a 100 days map of how I thought the presidential race would go, based on that data. We're a month away. Here is another map.
First, a lot has changed since then. President Obama had a disastrous debate performance; Mitt Romney was recorded on hidden camera making derogatory comments about the 47 percent percent of people who don't pay taxes.
But at the same time, not a lot has changed on the map. I've added some toss up states to mess around a bit. I think these states could go either way.
Figuring the scenario I have now, with Obama losing a few of the normally red states he gained in 2008, it could come down to this: If Romney can win Florida and Wisconsin, he wins the presidency and doesn't need Ohio. If he can win New Hampshire, Florida, and New Mexico, he doesn't need Ohio or Wisconsin.
I think Florida will go red. I think New Mexico stays blue. That means Romney needs either Wisconsin or Ohio, not both. It's the only route to the White House. The campaign seems to be spending a lot of time in Ohio. Maybe they know something everyone else doesn't. Bush won Ohio in 2000 and 2004 but didn't win Wisconsin. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, is from Wisconsin.
I suspect, barring a major disaster, another botched debate, a bomb going off, or some other major incident, the presidential election will go right down to the wire. It will be 2000 redux, with Gary Johnson possibly playing "Nader spoiler" (I hate that term but I have to use it) against Romney. I'll also take a look at all the numbers again a week or two out and see what they say.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Hippo takes a little off the top

I don't know if anyone else noticed this but recently, The Hippo took a little off the top. The weekly newspaper based out of Manchester that covers arts, politics, sports, and news from around the Granite State slimmed down its size significantly sometime in the past couple of months.
(I wish I had an older version to show the side by side because it's significant).
The change was probably made to save a bit of money on printing costs. Or, it might have been done to adhere to another press run from the outsourcing company (in the past, The Hippo was published by the Concord Monitor parent company; I don't know if that is still true or not ... the new size is, however, more in line with the Monitor's Insider publication).
That being said, two positives came of the chopped off top: There are more color pages inside the publication, which is nice, and there are more pages inside now too. This edition was almost 90 pages in length (In 2007, The Hippo was often as high as 70 pages with the larger format; in 2009, it had dropped down to 56 pages).
Previous editions of The Hippo, especially after the economic crash, physically showed the drop in print advertising which was a sign of the times back then, hence the smaller editions. The change in formatting makes for a more breezy read while still offering all the things the previous editions of The Hippo offered.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Remember this iconic graphic?

I'm waiting for the Barack Obama version.
Oh, there isn't one yet? No, there isn't. Hmm. Soldiers are still dying over there, right? Yup. So, where is the montage? Where is the artistry? Where is the outrage? Yup, I know, not there now. Sigh.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Media on Presidential Campaigns: Examine Thyself

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader
The media coverage of the Presidential campaigns is a dreary repetition of past coverage. Stuck in a rut and garnished by press cynicism and boredom, media groupthink becomes more ossified every four years.
This massive mental motion-sickness confines reporters, editors and producers to the following all too predictable patterns:

1. They follow the money, whenever disclosed, but don’t diligently pursue the quid pro quos which NBC’s David Brinkley described as “deferred bribes.” Like a constant posting of a basketball game’s score, this reporting of cash register politics goes on and on. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Limbaugh returns to WRKO

After nearly 2.5 years on Clear Channel's WXKS AM 1200 station, WRKO announced today that it would be getting Rush Limbaugh back on the station, starting later this month. The station will be moving Michelle McPhee, who has been hosting the midday hours, to the morning show with Todd Feinberg.
This announcement comes on the heels of the station extending its option for Howie Carr indefinitely, meaning he ain't moving to the FM dial any time soon.
Here's what the new lineup:

5:30 to 9 a.m.: Todd Feinburg and Michele McPhee
9 to 11 a.m.: "The Financial Exchange" with Barry Armstrong
11 a.m. to noon: "The Kuhner Report" with Jeff Kuhner
Noon to 3 p.m.: Rush Limbaugh
3 to 7 p.m.: Howie Carr

It's a great move for McPhee, who will now be in drive time, and will be sharing all her hot news with the world first thing in the morning.

Monday, July 30, 2012

At 100 days to go, Obama by a nose?

A prediction of the Electoral College map, July 28, 2012.
All the talk about a hypothetical Electoral College tie over the weekend led me to mess around with the map the other day while drinking my morning coffee. Here's where I predict the presidential election will go, as of this weekend: Obama by 5 Electoral College votes. 
Call this the Gary Johnson effect. 
Johnson's ballot access will shave off enough votes from Romney in New Hampshire and New Mexico to hand the election to Obama. However, the drawback of assuming that statement is that Johnson's current polling shows he is drawing from both sides of the fence (folks like me, for example, who would be more likely to vote for a true populist Democrat like a 1990s Jerry Brown or a 1980s Fritz Hollings who won't go near Obama or Romney so ...). Not unlike the false presumptions about Ralph Nader in 2000, Johnson's supporters are all over the map politically. 
The other piece to the puzzle is that we don't know who Romney's running mate is and that could influence voters in one of the states. A Kelly Ayotte on the ticket pulls NH away from Obama as would Johnson not making the ballot here (unlikely). It would also draw some women away from Obama. Someone like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the ticket - very unlikely but who knows - throws that state into the Romney tally and that would ensure a victory for Mitt. 
We also don't know where the Green Party's Jill Stein factors into the scheme of things. She has matching funds - meaning she'll have advertising, not unlike Nader. She could shave off enough votes for Obama in a place like Massachusetts to throw those EC votes to Romney (he is still popular with indies there, despite what the Globe says). 
You too can have fun with the map here:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Argus Champion reborn

I happened to be in the Lake Sunapee region on July 28, and while getting some sandwiches, saw a copy of the July 27, edition of the Argus Champion sitting on a news rack in a store.
Previous readers of Politizine will note that I wrote about the newspaper closing back in 2008, and even nosed around to see if it could be saved at the time, to no avail. The owner preferred to close the newspaper than save it.
There was a lot of fuss about the newspaper closing - which at the time, was the oldest, active newspaper in the state, dating back 185 years.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ralph Nader's summer reading recommendations

Or, in other words, jolting the mind for action ...

1. Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2012. This book is for corporate accountability and the grossly uneven relationships between corporate personhood and real people. Clear, historically founded, compellingly invigorating and connected to a growing movement (see

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Obama Can Do More on Oil Prices

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader
Gasoline and heating oil prices are ratcheting up. In California, some motorists are paying over $5 per gallon. President Obama declared that "there is no quick fix" for this problem. Meanwhile, the hapless but howling Republicans are blaming him for the fuel surge as if he is a price control czar.
Indeed, President Obama has some proper power to cool off retail petroleum prices. David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's Budget Director, said it plainly on CNN last week, "Stop beating the war drums right now [against Iran], and Obama could do that, and he could say the neocons are history." Having done his stint on Wall Street, Stockman knows that war talk by the war hawks inside and outside of our government is just what the speculators on the New York Mercantile Exchange want to hear as they bid up the price. Your gasoline prices are not charging up due to strains between supply and demand. Speculation, with those notorious derivatives and swaps, is what is poking larger holes in your fuel budget, according to Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyers. The too-big-to-fail Wall Street gamblers - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley - are at it again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

MTV airs NDAA PSAs ... wow

Thoughts on the contraception controversies

Here are some simple thoughts about the contraception controversies going on right now.
First, what Rush Limbaugh said on a recent program about a young woman testifying about the issue was inappropriate and offensive, and like a lot of what is going on in the political world, was unnecessary for moving the issue forward. Speaking out on an issue often makes people targets (I know this from firsthand experience). But targeting this woman - or any woman - with the use of words which suggest promiscuity for wanting an active and healthy sex life and decent insurance coverage is just wrong in so many ways.
Of course, we shouldn't expect much from Limbaugh (or Limboob, as I've often called him), since he is wrong a lot of the time and has a tendency to go overboard on things (marriages, drugs, hypocrisies, opinions, etc.).
Second point, and let's be very clear on this one: The government, insurance companies, and businesses/nonprofits that offer health benefits to employees are not responsible for preventing unwanted pregnancies. The people having sex are the ones who are responsible for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Minimum Wage: Catching up with 1968

Guest Perspective By Ralph Nader
How inert can the Democratic Party be? Do they reallywant to defeat the Congressional Republicans in the fall by doing the rightthing?
A winning issue is to raise the federal minimum wage,stuck at $7.25 since 2007. If it was adjusted for inflation since 1968, not tomention other erosions of wage levels, the federal minimum would be around $10.
Here are some arguments for raising the minimum wage thisyear to catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was half of what it istoday.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stein easily wins in Arizona

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein won the six-way primary in Arizona last night with 69% of the vote, according to an email.
Stein has also won in Ohio, Minnesota, Maine, Illinois primaries and conventions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A victim of the housing crisis

This house near Port Charlotte Harbor in Florida still remains empty, nearly four years later, a victim of the housing crisis.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NENPA Awards

The New England Newspaper and Press Association Awards have come and gone and this year, I didn't win any. Frankly, it shouldn't be that surprising since I switched jobs a few months before the entry period ended.
When I was asked to recommend some potential entries, there were only a few stories I thought might be worthy. At the time when I was looking at the entry dates, I realized that during the nine month period of the awards that I would be eligible, I worked without a reporter for almost four of those months. And during some of those months - nine weeks to be exact - I was doing one and a half papers by myself and two websites - yikes. How did I do it? I have no clue. But, in other words, I was not working in the best conditions to be doing your best work, which happens in this business sometimes.
NENPA also eliminated the election category this year, which I won last year and Belmont has won in previous years, I believe. Elections are important because you have a responsibility to voters. It's important to make the coverage matter. I don't know the logic of removing the coverage award - maybe the org doesn't think it is as important as it once was.
I like to win awards but I prefer to do the quality work that makes you eligible to win the awards. That's just as important; in fact, it's more important. 
Anyhow, congratulations to all my friends who won this year, including some former members of my Lexington crew that won a bunch. Hats off to you folks. :-)

Greens on the ballot in Utah

I received an email earlier today noting that the Greens had made ballot status in Utah. This is the 19th state the Green Party will be on, so far, without missing a single petition deadline at this point, thanks to the efforts of Jill Stein and others. Imagine for a moment how cool it would be to have a debate with President Barack Obama, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and whoever the GOP puts up. Wow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oh how quickly we forget ...

File this in the catching up with stuff bin ...
I happened to be quickly skimming last week's edition of the Hippo while sipping coffee this morning and noticed the latest Granite Views column by Jody Reese knocking Republicans at the Statehouse for trying to return $85 million in No Child Left Behind money to the federal government.
Right out of the gate, Reese makes a big blunder.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nader: Can Democrats Landslide Republicans?

By Ralph Nader

I often ask Congressional Democrats these days is: "If you agree that your Republican counterparts in Congress are the most craven, corporatist, fact-denying, falsifying, anti-99 percent, militaristic Republicans in the party's history, then why are you not landsliding them?" Their responses are largely in the form of knowing smiles and furrowed brows. 

Green Party's Stein wins big in Ohio

According to a press release I received on Monday, Green Party candidate Jill Stein won 90 percent of the delegates at the party's Ohio convention during weekend caucusing there. It was the first contest for the greens in 2012.
There has been a lot of heightened press awareness about the party now that former television actress and comedian Roseanne Barr is running for the nomination too.
The greens are on a bunch of state ballots at this point and the Stein campaign is actively fundraising in an attempt to secure federal matching funds. In order to do that, a candidate must agree to spending limits and receive at least $5,000 in at least 20 states.
So far, Republican Buddy Roemer is the only candidate who is receiving federal matching funds.

Santorum's trifecta ...

While everyone within the sound of my clicking computer keys is downplaying Rick Santorum's solid wins last night in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, they shouldn't be. Yes, these weren't big states like Florida or Texas. Yes, Missouri doesn't even pick delegates yet. Yes, the other two were tiny caucus contests. However, these were big wins for him in places where Mitt Romney did well in 2008 against John McCain. In other words, clearly, there is uncertainty out there for this field and for this party, which is intriguing too, considering all that the nation has gone through during the last three years, never mind 11 years.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gingrich's "rambling"

I must be alone. While GOPers are complaining about Newt Gingrich dragging out the primary campaign, with only five states voting, watching his press conference last night after the Nevada Caucus was actually quite amusing. Am I alone in thinking he should continue? Why not?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Think the new jobs numbers are good? Think again

Check out this post: ["Contrary to Government Claims of 243,000 Jobs Created, Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs Were Actually LOST In January"]. Post this link far and wide. More than a million people fall off the cliff in a single month and we're rah-rahing that 235,000 jobs were created. Wow. 

Follow the Bills

In the Public Interest/By Ralph Nader 2/1/12

Looking at millions of individual bills that makeup the 2.7 trillion dollars of annual health care costs opens a gigantic window on the massive waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and sometimes criminal over-billing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dead people voting in South Carolina

Regardless of what anyone may think of Project Veritas' latest political stunt, Primary of the Living Dead, which purports to show just how easy it is for dead people to vote here in New Hampshire, since we require no form of ID before voting here, this "real investigation" by the AG of South Carolina should concern everyone: ["South Carolina's Attorney General detects voter fraud"].

Vanity Fairs, piling up ...

Four months worth of Vanity Fairs have been piling up in my house. I'm finally getting a chance to at least breeze through them. One thing is becoming clear though: Editor Graydon Carter and the team are a little obsessed about Rupert Murdoch and the phone hacking scandal. Just sayin' ...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jobs of the Top 1% of households

Interesting graphic here from the NYT two Sundays ago: ["The Top 1 Percent: What Jobs Do They Have?"]. Now, it's important to note, that these are the top households, not individuals. So, when you see cops, teachers, and, ahem, journalists, on the list, they are probably living with more affluent individuals.
Although, at the same time, in order to be in the Top 1 percent, a household needs to have as much as $343,000, adjusted gross income, according to ["Top 1 Percent: How Much Do They Earn?"].
So, in real terms, police and teachers are only in the Top 10 to 15 percent of household wage earners in the country, depending on the number of years in, overtime, detail pay, deductions, and what their spouses earn, etc.

The Jirga Medal of Honor

 In the Public Interest By Ralph Nader 1/24/12
The U.S. war in Afghanistan is testing so much futuristic detect and destroy weaponry that it can be called the most advanced all-seeing invasion in military history. From blanket satellite surveillance to soldiers’ infra-red vision to the remotely guided photographing, killer drones to the latest fused ground-based imagery and electronic signal intercepts, the age of robotic land, sea, and air weaponry is at hand.
U.S. and NATO soldiers and contractors greatly outnumber the Taliban, whose sandals and weapons are from the past century. Still, with the most sophisticated arsenals ever deployed, why are U.S. generals saying that less than 30,000 Taliban fighters, for almost a decade, have fought the U.S. led forces to a draw?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Iran: The Neocons Are At It Again

 In the Public Interest by Ralph Nader 1/11/12
The same neocons who persuaded George W. Bush and crew to, in Ron Paul’s inimitable words, “lie their way into invading Iraq” in 2003, are beating the drums of war more loudly these days to attack Iran. It is remarkable how many of these war-mongers are former draft dodgers who wanted other Americans to fight the war in Vietnam.
With the exception of Ron Paul, who actually knows the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, the Republican presidential contenders have declared their belligerency toward Iranian officials who they accuse of moving toward nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime disputes that charge, claiming they are developing the technology for nuclear power and nuclear medicine.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is Best Buy going under?

Interesting column here from Forbes: ["Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually"].
It is (or was) bound to happen when you consider what is going on in the world, especially with music, books, soon movies, and other types of products that can be downloaded or purchased online. The big chain stores - that gobbled up all the business from the small stores - are going to go the way of the dinosaur at some point. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A $4 million vaca? Really?

 It looks like it: ["With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama’s Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises"].
In fairness, the president, or any president actually, can vacation wherever they like. But this is getting a bit ridiculous. Jetting off here; traveling over there; playing golf there, etc. The next thing you'll read is the Democrats blaming Republicans for the high cost of the vacation because they stalled a bill which kept Obama from leaving with Michele or something trivial like that.