No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Archive for September, 2010

September 29, 2010

Social Security Crater – end-of-summer 2010 update

by @ 20:03. Filed under Social Security crater.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full update, and in the interim, the Social Security Trustees issued their 2010 report while the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance portion of Social Security began running 12-month primary (or cash, if you prefer) deficits. This will be a long one, so do read through.

July “Trust Fund” Performance

In July, the Disability Insurance (DI) “Trust Fund” took in $7,762 million in taxes and $4 million in “interest” as it cashed in some more Treasury securities to meet its obligations, and had $10,704 million in expenses. The overall deficit of $2,938 million (or -37.83% of total income) was the third-worst in dollar terms and 6th-worst in percentage terms in the “modern” era of Social Security (which began in January 1987 as the effects of the 1983 reforms took full effect). The primary (cash) deficit of $2,942 million (-37.90% of non-interest income) was the 4th-worst in dollar terms and 14th-worst in percentage terms. That dropped the “Trust Fund” value to $193,354 million.

The 12-month overall deficit was $19,419 million (-18.35% of total income) and the 12-month primary deficit was $29,399 million (-30.68% of non-interest income). All were the worst 12-month performances in the modern era.

The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) “Trust Fund” took in $48,092 million in taxes and $19 million in interest, and had $48,535 million in expenses. The overall deficit of $423 million (-0.88% of total income) was 21st-worst in dollar terms and 25th-worst in percentage terms. The primary deficit of $442 million (-0.92% of non-interest income) was 30th-worst in dollar terms and 35th-worst in percentage terms. The “Trust Fund” value declined to $2,407,709 million.

For the first time since the effects of the 1983 reforms took full effect, the OASI “Trust Fund” ran a 12-month primary deficit, which was $1,747 million (or -0.30% of non-interest income). The 12-month overall surplus of $106,791 million (+15.62% of total income) was the worst monetary performance since 9/1998-8/1999 and the worst percentage-of-income performance since 1/1996-12/1996.

August “Trust Fund” Performance

In August, the DI “Trust Fund” took in $7,365 million in taxes and $14 million in interest, and had $10,534 million in expenses. The overall deficit of $3,155 million (-42.76% of total income) was the worst in dollar terms and the 2nd-worst in percentage terms. The primary deficit of $3,169 million (-43.03% of non-interest income) was the 2nd-worst in dollar terms and 4th-worst in percentage terms.

The 12-month DI deficits worsened to an overall $20,001 million (-18.90% of total income) and a primary $29,976 million (-31.28% of non-interest income). The “Trust Fund” value declined to $190,199 million. To put that 12-month primary deficit another way, taxes only paid for 68.72% of Disability Insurance total outgo between September 2009 and August 2010.

The OASI “Trust Fund” took in $43,384 million in taxes and $25 million in interest, and had $48,516 million in expenses. The overall deficit of $5,106 million (-11.76% of income) was 3rd-worst in dollar terms and 4th-worst in percentage terms. The primary deficit of $5,131 million (-11.83% of non-interest income) was 4th-worst in dollar terms and 6th-worst in percentage terms. The “Trust Fund” value declined to $2,402,603 million.

The 12-month primary deficit worsened to $3,637 million, or -0.63% of non-interest income. The 12-month overall surplus declined to $104,873 million (+15.34% of total income), again the worst monetary performance since 9/1998-8/1999 and the worst percentage-of-income performance since 1/1996-12/1996.

Tax Revenues Flat Year-Over-Year

Taxes taken in for the purposes of Social Security were essentially flat for both July and August. July 2010’s tax take of $55,854 million was a mere 0.87% behind July 2009’s tax take. August 2010’s tax take of $50,749 was actually 0.18% higher than August 2009’s tax take. I mention that because in the previous update, I noted that early-2010 performance lagged well behind early-2009 performance.

2010 Trustees’ Report

The one positive I can say about the 2010 Trustees’ report is that its projections of 2010 pretty much mirror reality. Based on nothing more than wishful thinking, the Trustees, mostly appointees of President Obama, assumed that the provisions of PlaceboCare would radically increase taxable wages at the expense of spending on health insurance (which is not taxed and will not be taxed for Social Security purposes, but which will eventually be taxed to pay for various provisions in PlaceboCare). That had the effect of extending the fund-exhaustion dates for the OASI Fund from 2039 to 2040 in the intermediate case and from 2031 to 2032 in the high-cost case. That change did not change the combined OASDI fund-exhaustion dates of 2037 for the intermediate case and 2029 for the high-cost case because the DI fund-exhaustion dates dropped from 2020 to 2018 in the intermediate case and from 2016 to 2015 in the high-cost case.

The reason why I say that the increase in taxable wages, and thus taxes, is nothing but a hope is companies are already starting to either radically raise health-insurance premiums or drop health insurance entirely with no sign that wages are increasing to compensate.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at those assumptions. Under the intermediate case, the Trustees assumed that 2010 taxable payroll (the portion of wages that are subject to the FICA/SECA tax) would be $5,676 billion in the 2009 report and $5,459 billion in the 2010 report. Despite the Consumer Price Index never assumed to be above the long-term average of 2.8% in the 2010 report, while it was assumed to be as high as 3.07% (in both 2013 and 2014) in the 2009 report before returning to the long-term average of 2.8%, by 2018, the trustees assumed taxable payroll would be $8.446 billion in this year’s report, compared to $7.961 billion in last year’s report.

In the longer term, the spread between last year’s and this year’s sets of assumptions for taxable payroll, and thus taxes from said payroll, becomes even wider. For 2040, the Trustees assumed taxable payroll would be $21.258 billion (or $9.284 billion in constant 2010 dollars) in last year’s report, while they assumed the same would be $22.198 billion ($9.863 billion in constant 2010 dollars). GDP in the same year was assumed to be $59.581 billion ($26.021 billion in constant 2010 dollars) in last year’s report, and $60.794 billion ($27,011 billion in constant 2010 dollars) in this year’s report.

While there are other technical changes in this year’s report I would like to include in my “re-modeling”, I haven’t been able to figure out how to work the bogus assumption of a PlaceboCare wage increase out of the model. I will, therefore, stick with last year’s model, modified by actual performance.

The Unfunded Cliff

The most-popular measure of how far in the red the combined OASDI “Trust Funds” are is the “75-year open-group unfunded obligation”. That measure, expressed in “present-value dollars”, which assumes the effects of both inflation (2.8%) and the long-term interest rate “earned” by the “Trust Funds” (5.7%), is how much money would need to have been put into the combined “Trust Fund” at the beginning of that particular year for it, along with every penny of tax possible over the succeeding 75 years, for the fund to not hit zero before the end of that 75 years. In January 2009, the Treasury would have needed to come up with $5.3 trillion to put into the “Trust Funds”, and then combined the operations of the two, to get Social Security through the end of 2083. In January 2010, the Treasury would have needed to come up with $5.4 trillion to get things to the end of 2084.

Even though using “present-value dollars” is a generally-accepted accounting practice, that grossly understates the problems in two ways. The first is that it does not leave any money in Social Security at the end of the 75 years, while there would be a long line of people promised that money.

There are two alternate measures that take differing looks at that; the “infinite open-ended obligation”, which extends the 75th-year conditions out to the indefinite future, and the “infinite closed-ended obligation”, which only takes the taxes for those who were at least 15 years old the year of the report and then pays out until the last one of them dies.

The “infinite open-ended obligation”, which is a test of the very-long-term viability of Social Security, was $15.1 trillion in “present-value” as of 2009, and $16.1 trillion in “present-value” as of 2010. Of note, while the various methodology changes resulted in a positive change at the 75-year level between 2009 and 2010, those same methodology changes resulted in a further negative change on the infinite level.

The “infinite closed-ended obligation” measures what it would take to pay those even marginally-promised Social Security with just the money paid by those people. Last year, the “present-value” of that unfunded obligation was $16.3 trillion. Now, it’s $17.4 trillion.

That leads me to the second way the “present-value dollar” amount grossly understates the problem. It assumes the money to pay off the “Trust Funds” and service the future interest is there. News flash; the only thing that is there is a promise to pay off the “Trust Funds” in full, and specifically, there is no authority for Social Security to borrow funds to meet its obligations. Using last year’s Trustees’ report as a guide, with the only modification being putting the combined funds’ August 2010 balance in instead of the calculated balance for August 2010, it would take $7.9 trillion over the next just-over-26 years to monetize the Trust Funds as the securities get called. With total outgo at about $45.2 trillion (and actual benefits less than that) over those same just-over-26 years, about 17.5% of what is allegedly fully-funded is actually an addition to the publicly-held debt. Of note, that does not count the interest to service that debt, which would also be borrowed, which would be significant both in the just-over-26-year period and beyond.

The nightmare really begins after the “Trust Fund” dries up because at that point, Social Security would be limited to paying out what it took in in taxes. In 2038, $0.759 trillion of the $3.32 trillion in theoretical outgo (22.9%) would not be able to be paid out. In 2050, $1.091 trillion of $5.457 trillion (20.0%) cannot be paid out. In 2060, $1.722 trillion of $8.445 trillion (20.4%) could not be paid out. In 2083, the last year of the 75-year look from 2009, $5.152 trillion of $23.840 trillion (21.6%) could not be paid out.

September 27, 2010

Roll bloat – Sacred honor edition

by @ 20:29. Filed under The Blog.

When one paraphrases the end of the Declaration of Independence as part of the blog’s tagline, one earns an automatic consideration to be added to the overstuffed roll. When one makes sense, like Ben Froland, I’ll add it gladly, even if it takes beating me over the head to remember to do so.

New NRE poll – What should be the new NRE logo?

by @ 14:41. Filed under NRE Polls, The Blog.

A while back, I blegged for some help with a new logo. A couple of people stepped up and delivered what I consider ass-kicking logos. Here’s where I need your help in helping me decide which one.

First up, a design from J. Gravelle from The Daily Scoff:

Next up, a design from Mr. Tastic from Neo-Con* Tastic:

What should be the new logo of NRE?

Up to 1 answer(s) was/were allowed

  • J. Gravelle's design (65%, 13 Vote(s))
  • Mr. Tastic's design (20%, 4 Vote(s))
  • J. Gravelle's design with Mr. Tastic's camo background (10%, 2 Vote(s))
  • Mr. Tastic's design with no background (10%, 2 Vote(s))
  • Keep the current non-logo (10%, 2 Vote(s))

Total Voters: 23

Loading ... Loading ...

I can’t promise to abide by the vote if it’s either close or sparsely voted upon, but the best way to make sure I do so is to vote for your favorite and get your friends to do the same. I’ll leave this up until the wee hours of October 13th, so you have some time to get them in line.

One side note – sorry to disappoint those of you who wanted the fedora as my Twitter icon, but the nuke is staying for a while thanks to Matt Kenseth self-destructing yesterday.

Revisions/extensions (3:27 pm 9/27/2010) –You’re not dealing with the Milwaukee Election Commission, the Government “Accountability” Board, or Chicago election officials here. I’ve already had to wipe out 4 “votes” that came from somebody who had already voted. No, I won’t tell you how I know the system was gamed.

PolitiCrap: Sullivan’s Claims (load one)

by @ 14:25. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The team found Jim Sullivan’s claims about his record so full of it, we’re recommending courtesy flushes. The first load:

“I have worked tirelessly to grow our local economy, bring new jobs and industries to the region, ease our tax burden,”

Fact: in 2007 Jim Sullivan voted for the largest state tax increase in U.S. History when he cast a yes vote for SB40S Vote Sequence 102:, the Senate version of the state budget.

Fact: SB40S included a $15 billion tax increase to fund Healthy Wisconsin, a government run health care program that would have meant an average of $510 in higher taxes for every Wisconsin worker.
Wall Street Journal. July 24, 2007

Fact: Healthy Wisconsin would have increased payroll taxes on employers by $1,000 per employee.
Wall Street Journal. July 24, 2007

Fact: Healthy Wisconsin would have put Wisconsin’s budget $4.79 billion further in debt.
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. June, 2008. Vol 21, 4

This is just me talking, but we really need something stronger than “Total Crap” for stuff like this.

PolitiCrap: Barrett’s Jobs

by @ 13:16. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I know, I should have put this up when it went up over the weekend, but I was trying to enjoy a fall weekend here in Wisconsin. Aaron Rodridguez of The Hispanic Conservative took on Tom Barrett’s claims that he revitalized the Menomonee River valley:

Overall, what was Mayor Barrett’s role in developing the Menomonee Valley? Well, by the time Barrett came on the scene, most of the modern real estate had already been developed. However, Barrett’s campaign ad touts his role in bringing Ingeteam, Helios USA, Talgo, and Republic Airways Holdings to the Valley. So let’s look at these.

*Ingeteam received $1.66 million in clean-tech manufacturing tax credits from the federal government to build wind turbine generators in Milwaukee. Ingeteam followed the money and Governor Doyle took the credit.

*Helios USA received $1 million from the federal government to invest in green technology in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. (a private firm) supported Helios USA with a $500,000 loan to build a 40,000 square-ft factory. The funding to make it happen did not involve Mayor Barrett.

*Talgo came to Wisconsin because the federal government awarded us $823 million in stimulus funds to build a Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line, $12 million to improve service between Chicago and Milwaukee, and $1 million on a route between Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. Without a federal subsidy of $835 million, Talgo wouldn’t have considered the move. Antonio Perez, Talgo’s CEO, said the reasons for choosing Milwaukee were based on economic conditions, logistics, cost of living, training facilities in the area, and an available work force – none of which has anything to do with Barrett.

*Republic Airways received a sizable carrot of $27 million in state income and payroll tax credits through 2021. It was a considerable incentive, but the deal-clincher was that Republic Airways already owned hangar space in Milwaukee, which beats renting one in Colorado for $2 million a year.

Google/Verizon “Net Neutrality” agreement – pros and cons

by @ 12:36. Filed under Business, Politics - National, Technology.

Recently, Google and Verizon made an agreement-in-principle on what forms of new regulation on internet service providers they were willing to and unwilling to accept. The summary from Google’s and Verizon’s CEOs sound completely high-minded, but as always, the potential devils are in the details. Let’s take a quick look at each of the key elements:

  • Consumer protections – The key word here is “lawful”. I’m leery of overextending this provision as just about any activity, including activity that continuously maxes out the contractually-available bandwith like, say, hosting a web server or watching YouTube videos 24/7, can be on either side of that line. Businesses that self-host web servers do pay a premium for consistent access to said server.
  • Non-discrimination requirement –The first part, preventing undue discrimination of traffic causing harm to competition, is indeed a worthy goal. A non-binding presumption against prioritization of network traffic is a wee bit inconsistent with another item in the proposal allowing for prioritization of network traffic (which I’ll deal with in a bit).
  • Transparency –To put it simply, clarity is good.
  • Network management –Take it from someone who has been at conferences where there has simply been too much traffic for the available wi-fi – this tool is absolutely, positively necessary for ISPs. Indeed, one of the tools allowed is a by-general-class prioritization of network traffic.
  • Additional online services –As long as the ISP delivers its contractually-obligated speeds for the general internet, all the more power to it if it also uses the network for a faster product. Of course, the way this is written, The Mouse might not be too happy because it would make the current execution of illegal.
  • Wireless broadband –I’m shocked, SHOCKED to see that business partners Google and Verizon Wireless don’t want most of these new regulations on wireless broadband, and most-specifically the non-discrimination requirement.
  • Case-by-case enforcement –I like the idea of limiting the FCC’s role to enforcing the law, and the encouragement of third-party resolution processes.
  • Regulatory authority –If I’m reading that portion correctly, it establishes a very bright line of what the FCC can (ISPs) and cannot (content and software) regulate, and what other regulatory authorities cannot (ISPs) regulate. As someone who is wary of what some of those pushing for “neutrality” see “neutrality” as, I really like the idea of keeping the FCC out of the content-regulation business.
  • Broadband access for Americans –What is this doing in here? Seriously, why do ISPs have to bear the burden of making sure content is usable by those with disabilities? Shouldn’t that be left to the makers of consumer hardware that connects to the Internet?

On balance, the agreement could be a bit better, but leaving it solely in the hands of government would almost certainly make things a whole lot worse.

Say good-bye to AirTran (and “hub” status at Mitchell)

by @ 11:10. Filed under Business.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Southwest will, pending regulatory approval, buy AirTran for $1.4 billion. While most people believe (well, hope) this means more flights out of Milwaukee, I have an alternate take.

AirTran currently has 47 daily departures out of its “second national hub” to, ultimately, only 3 “non-stop/first-stop” destinations not served by Southwest out of its Chicago Midway hub-in-all-but-name on a “non-stop/first-stop” basis in its roughly-210 daily departures – Atlanta (which is directly serviced by AirTran out of Mitchell 4 times daily and AirTran out of Midway 8 times daily), Washington-Reagan National (directly serviced by AirTran out of Mitchell 3 times daily – Southwest directly services “nearby” Baltimore/Washington International out of Mitchell 3 times daily out of 10 total departures from Mitchell, and out of Midway 7 times daily, and “nearby” Washington-Dulles out of Midway 6 times daily), Dallas/Fort Worth (directly serviced twice daily by AirTran; Southwest requires at least 1 stop between Midway and Dallas-Love Field). During the winter, AirTran does offer a daily non-stop flight to Sarasota from Mitchell.

Even though Midway is severely limited in the types of aircraft it can service because it is on a completely-landlocked one square mile plot of land, it is just large enough to service the Boeing 737s that make up Southwest’s fleet and just under half AirTran’s fleet and the Boeing 717s that make up the other part of AirTran’s fleet. Southwest already had the majority of gates at Midway; with the takeover of AirTran, the only non-Southwest service at Midway will be Delta service to their hubs in Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit (the latter 2 using contracted regional airlines), Frontier service to their hub in Denver, Porter Airline turboprop service to Toronto (their hub), and not-yet-launched service by Branson AirExpress to their hub in Branson, Missouri. Something tells me that, instead of a combined 57 departures, or even 47 that AirTran has now, the new Southwest/AirTran will have something far closer to the 10 departures the current Southwest has now.

September 26, 2010

Recommended Reading (09/26/10)

by @ 16:49. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Here are, in my view, interesting, noteworthy columns and articles from the past week that I highly recommend: 

Velma Hart: Citizen Journalist

“Shaming the White House press corps, a regular American named Velma Hart recently asked President Barack Obama the toughest question he has heard since being elected to the Oval Office.


The president was taken aback ..”

Top 10 Failures of Obamanomics

“Simply put, candidates who propose job-creating policies and show how their opponent’s policies are killing jobs will win decisively in 2010……so let’s examine the top 10 job-killing policies of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine.”

The Tax Hikes Cometh

“Let’s examine what the 111th Congress has accomplished so far. There was a $1 trillion stimulus bill that failed to jumpstart the economy. There was a $1 trillion health care overhaul that the public did not want. There was a financial bill that gave huge amounts of power to unelected regulators. And now, for their final trick, the Democrats who run Congress have decided to leave Washington without doing anything to prevent the largest tax increase in history. God only knows what they are planning for an encore.”

House Democrats Pass Bill to Grill School Children about Sexual Preference

“Introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), H.R. 6109 requires HHS to obtain, retain and analyze sexual identity information from patients who seek healthcare, including children.”

A two-step process to fight poverty

“Everybody wants to make themselves feel better by throwing someone else’s money at the problem, but what many people don’t seem to notice is that it seldom improves the situation. Yes, it will cost money to fight poverty, but there’s a smart way and a dumb way to do it. The dumb way to do it is our current system. Here’s the smart way to do it.”

The waste of recycling

“Green evangelists believe that recycling our trash is ‘good for the planet’ — that it conserves resources and is more environmentally friendly. But recycling household waste consumes resources, too.”

Happy Smelly Cheese Day

“These early autumn months are filled with some ‘holidays’ that are worth paying attention to.”

September 24, 2010

Drunkblogging the first Wisconsin gubernatorial debate

by @ 18:07. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, or at least alcohol, I’ll be drunkblogging the first Wisconsin gubernatorial debate between Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett. The fun will start somewhere around 6:45 pm, and C-SPAN will be taking it national on the main channel.

Since it’s a drunkblog, there is a blanket language alert. As usual, I will be using CoverItLive, so no refereshing will be needed. Reader comments on CiL are welcome, but will be published only at my discretion.

PolitiCrap – Kagen’s Social Security ad

by @ 10:12. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Author’s notes – I do have to thank Jeremy Shown for twigging onto this ad that has been running in northeast Wisconsin and Jo Egelhoff for including that twigging in Wednesday morning’s roundup. Since I’ve picked up Social Security’s future as sort of a “hobby”, I decided to make that my initial contribution to PolitiCrap.

Also, since this is mine, I will post the entire thing here.

The ad and claim:
[youtube] [/youtube]
U.S. Representative Steve Kagen’s (D-8th District) Social Security ad claims that his Republican opponent, Reid Ribble, wants to “…phase out Social Security, forcing Wisconsin’s seniors to fend for themselves”. It goes on to use a partial-sentence quote from Ribble made at a candidate forum: “…(S)omehow we have to establish a phase out of the current Social Security system…”.

The facts:
That partial-sentence quote came from a candidate forum hosted by the Fox Valley Initiative on 11/3/2009, and does not include either the end of that sentence or the preceding sentence. The parts that were omitted by the Kagen campaign prove the lie. The fuller quote, taken from the Appleton Post-Crescent taping of the forum, with Ribble’s answer beginning at the 1:33:00 mark and the question being answered at the 1:30:40 mark, is, “There’s been a promise made and for those of you that are in their retirement years, you lived and planned your life based on a promise by your government. And so somehow we have to establish a phase out of the current Social Security system to a new system, and that will have to happen over time.”

Scott Crevier, who recorded that commercial, also provided a more-recent video of Ribble on Social Security, taken at a candidate forum in Appleton on 9/7/2010. At that forum, Ribble said, “”Well, I never said I would privatize Social Security. I think its okay for them to make their accusations. They’re going to make those accusations anyway because honesty has never been part of the political spectrum in this country. We need to have is to have some people begin to speak honestly. I’ve not come out publicly in support of privatization, but I have come out publicly in support of personalization, and they are quite a bit different. Privatization is where you’re allowed to take some of that money and invest it outside the system. Now that’s okay unless you’re the guy that retires when the stock market crashes 4000 points and now the taxpayers on the hook for it anyway. And so, what I do believe is in personalization, and by allowing your investment in Social Security be yours, and invest it through the current system, we can now protect our seniors, and we can now protect our grandchildren. And that’s at the end of the day, our objective, is that we have to protect both, and there is a way of getting that done.”, as part of its look at the nationwide Democrat attack on Republicans on Social Security, said this about the ad, “But it is misleading to say Ribble would force ‘Wisconsin seniors to fend for themselves,’ and to suggest that Ribble would phase out the program without replacing it with a new plan.”

The rating:
Total crap
Total crap

Revisions/extensions (1:06 pm 9/27/2010) –Two updates: First, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Charlie for making this the on-air PolitiCrap on Friday. I didn’t quite anticipate that.

Next, PolitiFact Wisconsin took a look at this commercial, including an element I hadn’t explored – Kagen’s attempt to call Ribble a “politician”. They came to the same conclusion and lit Kagen’s lying pants on fire.

PolitiCrap – Social Security Solvent?

Wendy from Boots and Sabers has fired the first Social Security-related salvo at FDR’s grandson’s and AARP’s claim Social Security is “solvent”. The analysis:

I admire Mr. Roosevelt’s family loyalty, but this graph from the very first page of the Congressional Budget Office’s “Long-Term Projections for Social Security: 2009 Update” debunks Roosevelt’s claim.

If the AARP study claims that the Social Security Trust Fund could pay UP TO 78% of benefits, it ain’t “sound.” “Sound” would be 100%, don’t you think?

Total crap

I could add to that by noting things got even worse since the 2009 CBO report, with the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance portion (the main part of SocSecurity) running primary (cash) deficits now, or that the Disability Insurance “Trust Fund”, which is now in the final stage of collapse as both tax revenues and interest are not enough to cover the costs, will be fully-exhausted well before 2020. Oh wait; I have been.

September 23, 2010

Thurday Moron Hot Read – Ace’s “Waterloo: The Democrats Doomed Themselves With ObamaCare”

by @ 18:15. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Ace linked to four five articles explaining how PlaceboCare is proving to be essentially what Sen. Jim DeMint said it would (though, it’s more Pyrrhic than Waterloo). While the articles are worth reading themselves, the way Ace linked the five, and especially the way he closed, is classic AoSHQ Moron:





You exercised raw political power without regard to our opinions, just to show you could. We’re stupid animals, you thought; these stupid animals will all fall in line when we tug on the leash hard enough.

No. And we’re not just tugging back. We’re going for your fucking throats.

You exercised raw political power.

Our turn, bitches.

PolitiCrap – Vote Fraud

by @ 17:57. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

This one is so quick a hit, I can’t simply excerpt it. While I can’t make you go over to Sykes Writes to see the full take, I can at least make you go there to comment. As a bit of background, Patrick noticed these billboards popping up all around southeast Wisconsin.

Claim: Voting Fraiud is a felony.

Analysis. It is. A felony for voter fraud carries a maximum penalty of up to 3 1/2 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.


PolitiCrap – Lassa’s Deficit Claim

by @ 17:10. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

WPRI’s Christian Schneider took a look at the northwest part of the state and state Senator and Democrat nominee for the 7th Congressional District seat Julie Lassa’s claim that the state budget deficit (which, BTW, just hit the $3.1 billion mark in biennial structural terms after starting off at $2.1 billion the day Jim Doyle signed it) is the sole fault of the national deficit. The close of a :

Recession or not, Julie Lassa repeatedly voted for budgets that left the state with large deficits – including the budget to which the NRCC ad refers. And her attempt to pull one sentence out of a lengthy report to obfuscate this politically damaging vote makes her claim…

Total crap

PolitiCrap – Oshkosh Northwestern’s Scoop

We took on a claim from the Oshkosh Northwestern that Republican Senate nominee Ron Johnson sought stimulus funds to the Grand Opera House when he was treasurer of the Grand’s board in March 2009. Let’s go to the quick:

Perhaps most revealing was the paper’s response to inquiries from PolitiCrap. We originally emailed the reporter, asking:

“Do you have any basis for your story on Ron Johnson and the stimulus funds other than the single email that you cited?”

The email was referred to the city editor, Karl Ebert, who answered with one word “yes.” We then responded:

Well, let me rephrase; In your article in which you report that Ron Johnson supported the use of stimulus funds for the Opera House, you cite an email… which does not say he supported the use of stimulus funds.. only that he inquired about it. What other basis for the the lede do you have and are you wiling to share/explain?

The response?

The word “supported” was not part of our reporting.

Karl Ebert

Cute. But not an answer.

The bottomline, as one of the team writes: The newspaper ran “a story based on a claim off of an email based completely on hearsay.”

Total crap

September 22, 2010

Late Wednesday Night Hot Read – Christian Schneider’s “2010: The Year America Chose…An Ideology”

Christian Schneider explains why the Democrats are facing a wipeout of epic proportions in less than 6 weeks:

On the other hand, 2010 is a direct rejection of the incumbent ideology. Voters are going to punish liberal politicians for carrying through on what they actually believe.

Voters are tired of paying higher taxes for lower quality government. They’re fed up with the underhanded way in which policy is made by buying votes with pork projects. They strongly reject the notion that government has the wherewithal to manage their health care. (In a Rasmussen poll out this week, 61% of Americans believe ObamaCare should be repealed.) Voters recognize that putting government in charge of making something cheaper is a little like putting Roger Clemens in charge of baseball’s steroid policy.

The upcoming voter revolt isn’t going to happen because of superfluous issues. It’s not going to happen because people think Barack Obama was born in Stankonia. Or because Nancy Pelosi has had enough skin removed from her lips to create a spare Justin Bieber. It’s going to happen because liberals did exactly what they said they were going to do; and the results, as predicted by conservatives, have been disastrous.

As always, I recommend reading the entire thing, as it includes a reference to “Sixteen Candles” and explanations for 2006 and 2008.

Side note, that marks the second appearance of “wherewithal” on this blog today. I don’t know what that means.

Bleg time – Get DaTechGuy on the radio

by @ 18:56. Filed under The Blog.

You’re probably sick of these blegs, and I honestly don’t know how many of you have both the wherewithal and the need to advertise on a station based in Worchester, Massachusetts that reaches into Boston (WCRN does stream on the web), but in case any of you do, Pete DaTechGuy has an offer for you to get anything between 10-second live-read plugs and full 60-second commercials on a 1-hour Saturday night show he is pitching to the station. He needs to get 12 minutes’ worth of regular ads sold to make the show work, and trust me, he needs for this thing to get off the ground.

If you can help one of the most-fearless bloggers on the planet out, go on over and let him know.

PolitiCrap – The “Maverick” Label

by @ 15:57. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

The second edition PolitiCrap is now up. This time, George Mitchell looks at a story that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a few days ago that characterized Feingold’s voting record as breaking to both the left and the right. Here’s the close of the analysis and the rating:

In radio promos for Journal Sentinel political coverage, Gilbert says the paper wants to give readers the information they need to evaluate statements by candidates. But in this case, the paper effectively has recast one candidate’s main claim. To Feingold’s advantage, Gilbert’s story reframes the major concern Johnson has with the maverick label.


Roll bloat – We’re not clowning around

by @ 11:56. Filed under The Blog.

Jo Egelhoff of Fox Politics thinks highly enough of Jeremy Shown (not pronounced with “own” at the end) that he guest-blogs for her from time to time. She is a good judge of character, so it’s time to add Rhymes With Clown to the roll. Anybody who has “agitate” as part of their blog description is someone with potential, and someone who does it from the right side of the aisle is definitely worth reading.

Wednesday Hot Read – The first PolitiCrap fact-check

by @ 11:01. Tags:
Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes and several of Wisconsin’s best right-of-center bloggers have launched a new fact-checking feature called PolitiCrap after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed typical liberal bias in the first several runs of its PolitiFact Wisconsin feature (done in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Times, which is consistently liberal in its “fact-checks”). In keeping with the theme from the (Almost-Somewhat-Not-Quite-Deep-Enough) Deep Tunnel Awards Charlie does every Friday just after the bottom of the 11 o’clock hour (or just past the middle of Part 3 of the podcast for those of you who can’t listen live), there are 4 classifications possible:

All graphics courtesy David Lunde of Lundesigns

Things are starting off with a bang, with a look at Tom Barrett’s pension comparo commercial suggested by Patrick from Badger Blogger. The cold-hard facts (emphasis in the original):

In the spring of 2009, Milwaukee County issued $400 million in Pension Obligation Bonds (POB’s). Before the bonds were issued, Milwaukee County had been paying off its pension liability over a 30-year period of time with an 8% interest rate.

In contrast the new pension bonds will be paid over a 25-year period of time with a 6.2% interest rate. This switch saved taxpayers $237 million. (Which may be why the plan was embraced not only by Walker, but also by many of Barrett’s own buddies on the County Board.)

Don’t just take our word (or Walker’s) for it: Moody’s, the bond ratings agency said that without the issuance of the pension bonds, the county’s unfunded liability could approach $1 billion, in just four years.

This will be a daily feature because there is so much material out there, not just from the campaigns, but from the media (some of whom act as though they’re part of certain campaigns).

Interview with Republican State Treasurer nominee Kurt Schuller

by @ 10:23. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Yesterday, I was able to interview the Republican candidate for state treasurer, Kurt Schuller. We discussed what the treasurer’s office does, why he is running, how he was able to win a three-way race against someone who worked in the treasurer’s office when Jack Voight was treasurer and someone who worked the immediate Milwaukee area rather hard with very few resources, and what, beyond working toward a state constitutional amendment to eliminate the position, he would do if he were elected. Even before I got to the question raised by the Waukesha Freeman regarding Schuller’s future plans in its pre-primary story on the primary, he addressed them (of course, he knew I had reservations based on the Freeman’s characterization).

Click for the interview.

One thing we discussed while the recorder was off was how different the attitudes of the vast majority of Wisconsin’s Republicans and conservatives are than the attitudes of some other states’ Republicans and conservatives.

I thank Schuller for making time to be interviewed, and he has my full support against Dawn Marie Sass in the general election for state treasurer.

September 21, 2010

Twitter/JavaScript exploit

by @ 8:27. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Revisions/extensions (8:44 am 9/21/2010) – Had to change the second recommendation because Internet Explorer automatically disallows cookies on sites put in the “Restricted Zone”. Fortunately, the mobile version of Twitter is unaffected, and can be accessed by actual computers.

TechCrunch reports that there is an exploit going on with the Twitter web interface involving how it renders tweets that contain JavaScript code. Specifically in this case, on those tweets that contain the “onMouseOver” code, mousing over that tweet will cause, among other things, the exploit to be tweeted out.

It is not affecting third-party clients at this point, but if one opens a profile with the hacked “tweet” visible on a browser, that can (and probably will) affect that person as well.

At this point, I recommend the following:

  • If you are able to install a third-party Twitter client (like TweetDeck or Seesmic), do it and use it exclusively until Twitter gives the all-clear.
  • If you cannot install a third-party Twitter client, use the mobile site – At this point, it does not appear to be compromised, at least on my computer.

If you ended up as a victim, once you either installed that third-party client or switched to the mobile interface, use that to go back over your Twitter timeline and delete anything that includes “onMouseOver”.

R&E part 2 (8:54 am 9/21/2010) – Twitter is patching this now. If you were a victim, do run a full anti-virus/anti-spyware scan.

September 19, 2010

Recommended Reading (09/18/10)

by @ 23:00. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Here are, in my view, interesting, noteworthy columns and articles from the past week that I highly recommend:

9/11, a 2061 memorial

“On the 60th anniversary of 9/11 memorial service, president of the United States of America, Hussein Ali, delivered an uplifting speech at the Cordoba House mosque at ground zero in lower Manhattan. New York City mayor Mohammed Ahmed Abdullah as well as many other dignitaries and a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands filling the surrounding streets with their prayer rugs, also joined to commemorate the 60 year old tragedy.

Below is the text of President Ali speech:”

How Obama Thinks

“Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government’s control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama’s approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.”

Like, is Sarah Palin totally conceited?

“’Sometimes when she went out in public, people were unkind. Once, while shopping at Target, a man saw Palin and hollered, ‘Oh my God! It’s Tina Fey! I love Tina Fey!’ When other shoppers started laughing, the governor parked her cart, walked out of the store, and drove away.’ (That jackass was lucky Sarah didn’t have her moose rifle with her.)

A random encounter with a rude, abusive jerk in public is supposed to make her look bad? Liberals have really lost their minds about Palin. They’d laugh if someone hit her with a baseball bat.”

The evolution of the Tea Party movement

The Tea Party movement is broad-based with wide support. Over half of the electorate now say they favor the Tea Party movement, around 35 percent say they support the movement, 20 to 25 percent self-identify as members of the movement, and 2 to 7 percent say they are activists.

The data is particularly clear, and some polls have shown that the Tea Party movement is the most popular force in American politics … and is increasingly been recognized as such by a media that was, at the very least, late to the party”

Throwing the bums out is harder than it looks

“Before everyone succumbs to election season delirium, it’s worth taking a moment to remember that no matter how peeved the American population fancies itself, no matter how dramatic a change of partisan control in one or both houses might seem, one thing is certain: The vast majority of the current Congress can count on returning to Washington and business as usual.”

Lessons of the Koran’s non-burning

“While it’s fashionable in some precincts to smear America as a nation of Islamophobes whose bigotry plays into the hands of extremists, the reverse is closer to the truth.”

Money is not what schools need

“U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently claimed: ‘Districts around the country have literally been cutting for five, six, seven years in a row. And, many of them, you know, are through, you know, fat, through flesh and into bone … .’

Really? They cut spending five to seven consecutive years?

Give me a break!

Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, writes that out of 14,000 school districts in the United States, just seven have cut their budgets seven years in a row. How about five years in a row? Just 87. That’s a fraction of 1 percent in each case.”

American priorities out of sync

“Because our so-called news media is focused on telling us what they think we want to hear instead of what we need to hear, we are deluged with celebrity sludge stories. Americans know Lindsay Lohan spent time in jail, that Paris Hilton was recently busted for possessing cocaine, and that Mel Gibson left some angry messages on his former girlfriend’s phone. If these stories were food they would be junk food.”

State’s vehicle testing program emits no common sense

“Making people drive cars of any age to a special emissions testing center is a colossal waste of time and money.”

Post-primary poll-a-copia, gubernatorial edition

by @ 10:02. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

As surely as rain follows an early-morning rainbow here in Wisconsin, Rasmussen Reports has released its post-primary gubernatorial poll shortly after it released its Senate one, and Scott Walker now leads Tom Barrett 51%-43% with leaners included (for the first time in the cycle) and 50%-43% without leaners. That was a significant improvement over the 47%-44% lead Walker had at the end of August.

Normally, that would be attributed to a post-primary bounce for Walker, who actually had a semi-competitive primary against Mark Neumann (with Scott Paterick doing essentially nothing) while Barrett had only token opposition from Tim John. However, given the ease with which Walker won the primary and the history of 7-to-9-point leads Walker enjoyed throughout the year, Rasmussen Reports decided to restore the “Leans Republican” status the race had prior to the end of August. They did not do a similar move in the Wisconsin Senate race despite the first significant lead for Ron Johnson.

On the favorability front, both Walker and Barrett improved from late-August. Walker’s favorables are now 58% favorable (up 2 points)/36% unfavorable (unchanged)/Favorability Index (strong favorable less strong unfavorable) +12 (up 4 points). Barrett’s favorables are now 52% favorable (up 7 points)/43% unfavorable (down 4 points)/Favorability Index +2 (up 7 points, and the first positive since mid-July).

There is a statistic those warring over the results of the Delaware Senate primary should take note of – he holds 96% of Republicans in this poll back Walker, compared to a “high 80s” in late August. In fact, that is the major source of Walker’s gain; he holds a 24-point lead among independents (roughly equal to late-August and maybe a bit higher), and Barrett holds 86% of the Democrats (again, roughly equal to late-August and maybe a bit lower).

September 17, 2010

Post-primary poll-a-copia, Senate edition

Rasmussen Reports is the first out of the gate with a post-primary poll of the Senate race between Republican nominee Ron Johnson and Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold taken on Wednesday, and it is shocking. For the first time, Johnson cracked the 50% mark, pulling ahead of Feingold 51%-44% with the leaners included (for the first time in Rasmussen polls), and 50%-43% without leaners. The last several Rasmussen polls had given Johnson a 1-to-2-point lead over Feingold, with Feingold stuck at a consistent 46%.

Where did the sudden Johnson surge come from? Back in the end of August, Johnson had 89% of Republicans and a 10-point lead among independents, while Feingold had 86% of Democrats. Now, Johnson has 94% of Republicans and a 2-to-1 lead among independents, with Feingold continuing to hold onto 86% of Democrats.

On the favorability front, Johnson improved from 53% favorable/36% unfavorable/+6 Favorability Index (strong favorable less strong unfavorable) to 61% favorable/33% unfavorable/+10 Favorability Index. Feingold’s favorables dipped slightly from 55% favorable/44% unfavorable to 51% favorable/46% unfavorable, though his Favorability Index improved from -1 to +4.

Rasmussen suggests that this is a temporary post-primary bump for Johnson. Given the ease with which Johnson won the primary, and his unerring focus on Feingold in pre-primary advertising, I think it is more a result of a significant part of pre-primary Dave Westlake-or-bust supporters dropping the “or bust”.

Mary thinks Feingold will redouble his negative attacks on Johnson. While I don’t doubt that he will, that would be a mistake. In the just-concluded gubernatorial primary, Mark Neumann saw his lowest poll numbers while he was in full-negative mode against eventual winner Scott Walker, and saw his best poll numbers when he switched away from the attacks.

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