Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to synthesize information about current events and provide insights not readily available from the  news media.

Advertisements

Magic of “journalism”

How does a bill signed into law by President Obama become a “Bush era tax cut”? That’s the magic of journalism. Journalists seem to believe that wishing to be perceived as profressionally objective makes it so. Unfortunately, magic does not exist so the blatant advocacy is out there for all to see. “Bush era tax cuts”, “War in Iraq”, “Green jobs”, “Green anything”

The law President Bush signed reducing taxes expired in 2010. The war in Iraq ended after the defeat of the Iraqi forces in May, 2003. After the war ended, the country was under occupation. Green jobs are a marketing concept and not a category similar to service, or retail, manufacturing.

Explaining the use of the terms as idioms does not justify their misleading use in ostensibly objective reporting.

Line 40

Line 40 on the 1040 Form is where one decides whether to take the standard deduction or the itemized deduction. Despite repeatedly claiming that high income people like himself get “unfair” tax breaks, President Obama passes on the standard deduction.

President Obama leads by example.

SOTU Failure

In all truth, I was expecting the President’s SOTU speech to be much worse. The most irritating aspects were where the President portrayed failures such as job creation that doesn’t keep pace with population growth and reductions in energy demand due to economic decline as successes. The majority of his proposals were only mildly offensive such as his many proposals to create new special agencies to duplicate existing functions.

Of course, the most offensive aspect of the SOTU, is the media’s uninformed coverage.

Obama’s Ring

As the 2012 campaign gets underway, the news media is spending time examining the personal lives of the Republican candidates. The average voter probably can not describe any of Newt Gingrich’s positions, but almost certainly, that voter knows that Newt has been married three times.

What about President Obama? His campaign has represented that he has only been married once, but there are photos of the President from 1980 wearing a ring on the ring finger of left hand where he now wears his wedding band. I’m not aware of any official published explanation of that ring.

Perhaps, like his father, he has a “traditional” wife in Kenya. Who knows, the news media won’t ask.

Hannity Gets Social Security Wrong

Sean Hannity does a lot of good work getting important information into the public conversation.  He’s not perfect, and he’s never claimed to be.

 On November 11, he spent at least several minutes re enforcing the common misperception of Social Security.

 Let’s get this straight; all money paid into Social Security is simply tax revenue for the Federal government. It doesn’t go into a special Social Security fund, and it certainly does not go into an account with your name on it. What you pay in today goes into buying new Stimulus Plan road work signs tomorrow. When it comes time for you to collect Social Security, you’ll be taking right it out of the pockets of your kids and grandkids like everyone else.

Yes, there is a Social Security Trust Fund and yes it doesn’t have any “money” in it. It would be criminally irresponsible of the Trustee if it did. What the Trust Fund contains is the safest investment in the world US bonds.  The Trust Fund was established in 1937 or so to handle the excess receipts. It’s not a trust fund of your receipts to be paid out when you retire. That’s Al Gore’s “Lockbox”.

So on the 11th, Hannity was yammering away about the Trust Fund being empty, and getting back “your money” that you paid into Social Security. He really couldn’t have sounded less informed. He needs to talk to Rick Perry.

Dana Milbank speaks to Experts

A few weeks ago Dana Milbank wrote a column for the  Post where he had some suggestions on how to combat global warming.

I’m glad he has used the access to experts afforded to Post staffers to learn:

 “To remove carbon from the atmosphere, we could bury wood and agricultural waste…”.

 This is called land filling, it’s where most trash goes.

I’m not an expert, but perhaps he could use the vast resources at the Post to learn if paper is made from wood. (And paper products, too?) Next, find another expert to learn if most paper is made from 1000 year old redwoods or 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation trees grown on tree farms. (Yes, I am aware that the Post does buy its paper from unsustainably managed virgin tropical and boreal forests, but most paper is more locally produced). Then, find another expert to explain about the energy inputs (all of the inputs) required to recycle paper. Another expert will be needed to explain land fill capacity. (Hint: landfills aren’t forever, Hint 2: What’s with all that space in “flyover country”? ) Finally, find yet one more expert to put it all together.

Here are some potential outcomes from the final expert’s analysis.

  1. Recommends that landfills be re-named “carbon capture facilities”.
  2. Tells you that if you’re the sort of person who believes a trace gas like carbon dioxide is in any way a significant climate driver, you should stop recycling paper and wood based products.
  3. Mr. Milbank may learn that a large portion of the trash in the DC area is burned, so stopping paper recycling would have fewer benefits there.

Mr. Milbank will need to be careful to ask only experts. If one does this oneself, one may stumble on to sites like epa.gov, where information can be misleading and contrary evidence is omitted. Make sure to ask the right experts though. Don’t ask the ones who made predictions about the swine flu. Or hurricane activity. Or Arctic ice extent. Or the ARRA keeping employment under 8%. Or President Obama’s health care reform reducing premiums 

Oval Office Address

The President’s first Oval Office Address was criticized from all sides. Most critics agreed that his performance (if not his substance) improved towards the end where he spoke about his plans to transition to clean energy. Unfortunately, he used the “if we can send a man to the Moon…” trope. Now I can’t stop thinking about President Obama sending a man to the Moon to find Green Energy. Except of course, he killed the return to the Moon project at NASA.  Maybe Nobel Award Winning Physicist Secretary Chu has worked out a plan?