Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Constitution?

Obama claims that it would be "unprecedented" if the Court overturns a law passed by Congress. Well that is wrong.

The man is a well qualified Dope but is rapidly earning major idiot status. When he was running 4 years ago, the media liked to call him a constitutional law professor. He was actually a senior lecturer who apparently was unqualified for any position related to constitutional law. As President, he has consistently opined about active cases and interfered with due process (asking the racist law professor from Harvard and the cop over for a beer; Treyvon Martin; this one; lecturing the Court from the State of the Union Podium) which no President should do.

A supposed "constitutional law Professor" who is not familiar with Marbury v. Madison is a bigger Dope/Idiot that anyone ever realized - not even considering that everything else he said in this article is absolutely incorrect. Not knowing what is in the Constitution might be an impeachable offense for a President sworn to uphold it. Exactly what does he think is in the document that he is sworn to uphold?

The real mystery is how anyone can support this guy.

PS: Really great job by the mainstream press in keeping the idiot's stupid statements out of the discussion. Romney should be shouting this from the mountain top. Santorum should go away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dodd/Frank won't go away

Newsday reports that Dodd/Frank has made accounts with less than $100,000 unprofitable. They are outraged that the banks are raising prices and discouraging people with less than $100,000. The writer says it is a pracitial problem for consumers.
It is also a practical problem for the banks. What is a rational business supposed to do? Maybe the writer thinks they should lose money on the majority of its customers and make it up in volume. Of course they look to alternative sources of income through higher fees. Exactly who does Dodd/Frank help? The protections needed had nothing to do with credit card fees and other consumer account fees. Dodd/Frank just limited the fees on people who overdraw their accounts. So the banks raised fees on everyone. Another great job by two guys who ran away from the results of their social experiments. Laughable.

Monday, March 12, 2012


President Obama announced yesterday that employers premiums would be reduced 3,000% under his health care plan. Immediately after that he said that this would enable employers to give everyone a raise. The immediate corrective action by the WH was that he actually meant that employer premiums would go down $3,000 and he simply misspoke. There was no mention in the correction about the raise comment.
The hand picked crowd of KoolAid drinkers was delirious with joy. Whatever Obama meant, he said 3,000% and the crowd applauded wildly. People with a third grade education are aware that when a price decreases 100% it becomes free (at least they were at one time). But this group of geniuses bought it blindly. To be charitable, they had no time for the in depth analysis that 3rd grade arithmetic requires. Suppose they really knew somehow that he meant that premiums would decrease $3000 per employee and had time for reasoned analysis. They would then know that since the employer costs are about $10,000 each, the President projects that this bill would result in a 30% reduction in premiums. This fantasy is not projections made by anyone. Even the WH correction does not make what he said accurate.

So we have the President making wild promises; a group of people buying whatever bilge the President says because he says it; the White House making corrections that don’t correct anything; and the ever obedient media not bothering to report anything. This is not mispronouncing a word which was once covered extensively. This – by any interpretation – is a self-serving lie.

Old letters

Some old letters to Newsday that never made the blog foll. Dates are uncertain

Monday, March 5, 2012

Quitting smoking

NY State is sponsoring a gross commercial to get people to stop smoking. It was certainly stomach turning but turning my stomach at dinner time will do nothing to make me stop smoking since I never started. So the state

I had this exchange with the state agency that produced the effort.

First, I do not smoke and never have. I write in strong opposition to your TV commercial. I refer to the one that shows I guy with an oxygen mask wheezing and gasping for air. It is gross and disgusting. That is presumably your aim and you have succeeded. However, most of the people subjected to this atrocity do not smoke. Imagine the effect that "successful" commercial had upon me while I was eating dinner and watching the Met game. In case your imagination is weak, it made me sick. There is no opportunity to change the station, the commercial breaks into full gross out immediately. This is in poor taste. What is the next media crusade? Pictures of manged bodies aimed at drunk drivers? Aborted embryos? We agree that people should not smoke. We should also be able to agree that there are limits to how offensive commercials should be. Sincerely, Bill Lau

Dear Bill:

We regret the advertisement was personally upsetting to you. The approval process for our ads includes testing with NYS smokers and extensive review at the Health Department. Potential ads are pre-tested with smokers and ads that test well in terms of motivating smokers to quit are recommended for approval by the Health Department. While the majority of citizens in New York State are non-smokers, smoking has a tremendous impact on everyone in our society. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in New York State and smoking-related illnesses cost the state over 8 billion in medical costs alone each year. To put this in perspective, every pack of cigarettes sold in NYS costs taxpayers $10 in smoking-related medical costs. The ads we run are tested to ensure that they have a strong impact on public health by encouraging current smokers to quit and discouraging young people from ever starting. Evocative ads, such as the ones currently airing, have contributed to reductions in adult and youth smoking which are both at their lowest levels on record in our state.

Thank you for sharing your feelings. I will be happy to log your complaint stating you feel this commercial is too graphic and offensive. While you agree for the need for people to quit smoking, you object to how our message was presented.

The New York State Smokers’ QuitLine

You tested this on smokers and the true believers in the Health Department. So you put out a campaign to the general population that is was tested against the small percentage of people that you are trying to reach but not against the majority of people - people who do not smoke and never will – even if this commercial is never shown. It makes no sense.

It is a given that other people smoking costs billions in health bills and that costs all of us money. But your solution costs all of us more money for these ads to get other people to stop. How about directing your campaign at the people who are smoking and leave the rest of us to be able to have a peaceful dinner?

Even better, if you are going to hit the entire population, do it to enlist everyone in your cause. Get people do not smoke (the majority) to realize what smokers are costing them; then you will have the majority on the bandwagon. Start a campaign to move the health care costs to the smokers: If someone gets cancer or another disease from smoking, why should their insurance cover them (and rates go up because of it)?

Your information about testing its effectiveness is unconvincing. Does anyone ever follow with all those motivated smokers in the test base to see if they stopped? Did they just say what they thought you wanted to hear? Were they motivated to quit before seeing this ad? Or were they motivated to stop was it expensive and stupid?

In the meantime, please pull this nauseating commercial.

The good news is that they no longer run the commercial. Must have run out of money.

The wrong Debate

The current debate on contraceptive coverage has been deliberately misrepresented. Both sides are appealing to their supporters for transparent political reasons. This should not be framed either in religious or woman's rights terms. The basic issue is whether the Federal government can dictate - to any employer - the extent of the medical benefits that the company offers. If the Feds can mandate contraceptive coverage, they also have the right to mandate coverage for breast and penile enlargements, tattoos, veterinary services and or any thing else that the bureaucracy thinks people should have. Our medical insurance system is messed up enough. The debate should be about making it better not worse.

Retire Rush

Tell me again what a wonderful job Rush & Co do helping to convince people that the Democrats are wrong. His latest round of name calling just chased more people away and he gave Obama a few more points in the polls. Good job, Rush.

Mr. Independent voter is looking around to determine who to support; reads some headlines; and even watches some news shows. He learns that Rush supports Republicans/Conservatives and that Rush thinks Democrats are stupid. Mr. Independent also quickly determines that Rush is an idiot. The obvious reaction is that the independent guy will not want to be on the same side as Rush since Rush must be wrong. Think about it; it is a perfectly natural reaction: Don't you automatically not believe anything Pelosi says?

This is my latest letter to Newsday:
First, let's stipulate that Limbaugh is a jerk. Second, here is another analogy. I want to play golf. I can't play golf without golf balls. I want someone else to pay for them. Show of hands - who wants to pay for my golf balls? Same situation.
There is no question that Limbaugh's name calling was moronic. Like all the Republican blabber about values, it moves the discussion from where it should be to issues that are not properly things that the Federal government, political parties and voters should have at the top of their lists.

The sad thing is that he was right but now the story is how he said what he said - not what he was trying to say. Way past time for him to retire and go back (?) to taking drugs. He has zero ability to express himself as other than a complete moron and now has even less chance to help elect to convince anyone that Obama should not be re-elected. I congratulate the advertisers who dropped him and only hope more will do so. My next campaign will be getting people who listen to him to stop so his ratings plummet. Only good things will ensue.

VAlues redux

Hannity ignored a similar screed and, not surprisingly, Newsday didn't print it either, although some of the individual columnists do respond. I've sent things to the candidates and when there is a response - not often - it is a thanks-for-the-interest form letter.
The point is that talking to people who agree will not do any good. It is important to rationally engage and respond to people who disagree. The election will be determined by the 15-20% of the people who don't pay much attention. They are the target. The Hannitys of the world certainly are not aiming at the right place and neither are most of the primary candidates.
Santorum's main ability is to increase Obama's chances;
Paul may be right about lots of things but most of his troops are proud of saying they will stay home in November unless Paul is nominated so we might as well have Dole again.
Unfortunately, Newt is damaged goods.
So, why is there a doubt about who it should be? Social issues. Wonderful.

The wrong values

I can't take any more.
I am starting a campaign - possibly too late but it needs doing. It is a campaign to get the Republican primary back to the real world. The real world being one where the goal is to have a Republican candidate that:

has a chance to win;
will campaign on issues that impact the majority of the electorate;
has the background to be credible on these issues;
has a personal life that is beyond distortion, although it will be distorted anyway;
understands that while values are important, values are inherently divisive and will not win this election; and does win the Presidential election

So, it is campaign to re-direct the primary effort. Right now, the Republican primary will be determined by people who are focused on the wrong things. As a result, while gas prices reach $4; the Administration admits it doesn't know what to do about gas; the Administration is sending guns to Mexico while Mexico keeps sending us Mexicans; every week another green company that was loaned millions goes bankrupt; I'll stop but there is obviously more, while all this is happening, the Republican candidates who are really pretty close on stuff that matters are falling all over themselves. Why? About whether Fred can marry George, whether George should be in the Army, abortion, contraception, whose theology is the correct one and other stuff that will not get anyone a job, lower their taxes, decrease spending, or stop us from becoming Greece.

Meanwhile, the guy who could win has to defend himself because these primary voters think (and I use "think" in its broadest sense):

that members of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) are not CHRISTians,
that Mormons are cultists but their religion is not,
that policies he had 20+ years ago makes a difference now. (Note: 26 years before Reagan's speech for Goldwater, he was campaigning for Truman. It's that inability to think again.)

Like it or not, the "values" ship has sailed. The election will be won by the guy that the the majority thinks can get the economy going in the right direction. So, spending time and money on stuff that is irrelevant and not related to the economy is exactly where Obama wants it to be. We know Democrats are stupid but the Republican primary focus is also exactly where Obama wants it to be. What does that make Republicans? Every time there is another values quote (mostly Santorum but the others are forced to also make similar statements), Santorum polls higher in the primary and Obama polls higher in a head to head race with him. How is that good? It is time for reality - Santorum, Newt and Paul have no chance in the general election so let's stop acting like dopey Democrats and get the campaign back to the economy and the only guy who will campaign on it.

So, my campaign is answer every email I get of an anti-Obama cartoon, joke, or anecdote, (almost none of which are related to the economy and most are about "values") with a reminder that "It is the economy, stupid" is the most accurate political advice available. The rest will take care of itself, I hope.

Have everyone spread the word. "It is the economy, stupid"

It isn't free

There were two mistakes made in the latest health care mandate. The first was to display the President’s complete lack of business sense. Somehow, he has determined that moving the requirement to pay for this coverage or any other coverage from the employer to the insurance company is “cost neutral” or free. It is not free; the additional coverage is an additional expense to the insurance company who will make up the money in additional charges somewhere. The “offsets” discovered as cover for his backtracking on this issue are a joke.
His second mistake was in thinking he can issue an edict to people who do not want to buy something and force them to buy it. Forgetting any religious issue, his mindset is that if he thinks you should buy something, you have to buy it. This is the issue with his health care proposal. It does, however, provide a way to make the 25% government owned General Motors more profitable. He can mandate that everyone has to buy a Chevy or he apparently thinks he can.

And back again


We can agree:
There certainly were many culprits; I am all for giving relief to those who were defrauded; and I too wish that being sleazy was a crime.

We can disagree:
People who are underwater because they didn't make a down payment are not entitled to government relief any more than I am because I lost equity in my home.
And the vast majority of these loans were underwritten by F/F. The banks were willing participants but were following F/F policy. The only reason these loans were approved was that F/F was buying them and the banks had no liability. The grownups involved clearly knew enough not to add these dopey loans to their portfolios - unlike those who started this sub-prime mess.

The mystery is that intelligent people are supporting a deal that encourages people on the edge stop paying; rewards people who already have stopped; has no effect on F/F loans at all; and has me wondering why I don't get $1,800 and a principal reduction.

And thank you for answering.


Henican responds

Thanks, Bill. As you correctly point out, there is no one cause of the housing collapse. There is no one group culpable. There is no one easy solution. Certainly government policy, bading lend proceedures and irresponsible borrowers all played a part. So what do we do? Up til now, we've done almost nothing, other than bail out the banks. Isn't it about time we begin to get needy homeowners some relief and make some of the sleaziest lenders pay? We've already begun to change government policiy, thankfully. Crafting a way of doing the first two isn't easy, for some of the reasons you cite. But there are several good reasons to do so. 1. The lenders should have known better. They're the growns-up in the lending process. 2. The housing collapse remain a huge burden on the entire economy. A foreclosed home hurts everyone in the block, everyone in the town -- and on and on. 3. Not one of these loans was written by Freddie or Fannie or any other government agency. They were approved by bankers and mortgage hypsters and other supposed professionals whose recklessness, greed or evil -- you pick it -- just about sunk our ecnomy. And so far, hardly any of them have paid at all. To me, that's the biggest piece of unfinished business here. This deal is a start but only a start.

Of course, I welcome your disagreement. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Letter to Ellis Henican

It is clear that anyone who committed fraud should be prosecuted. What is not so clear is that the majority of these mortgages were to those who were "pressured, tricked, defrauded, deceived, or otherwise victimized". This is what your article and the Attorney General would have us believe but is completely unsupported. There was fraud but it is a fiction to suppose that the majority of Americans - while making the largest economic decision they will ever make - did not know what they were doing.

What is clear is that the decision to vastly increase the Government's (Fannie/Freddie/FHA) portfolio of sub-prime mortgages and the subsequent modifications to their lending guidelines (which the banks all followed) channeled money to people who never would have qualified under any sensible lending criteria. That decision was not fraud, just ill-conceived and politically motivated. But it is where it all started. (Hint: Google Andrew Cuomo HUD and Sub-prime) Greenspan didn't help but Andy, Barney, Maxine and Chris had more to do with it.

Is it cynical to question whether an Attorney General in the Administration of one of the perpetrators is chasing easy targets to direct us away from those who actually were involved?

It is also unclear why everyone who is "underwater" needs to be saved.
A fable: Two guys with the same income buy homes for exactly the same amount of money. Mr. A has saved up 25% of the purchase price and makes that as a down payment. Mr. B has no savings and takes out a mortgage for the entire purchase price. The value of both homes goes down 20% Mr A is not underwater; he just lost most of his equity and savings. Mr. B is underwater and has lost exactly nothing. But the Attorney General's, your article's and the Administration's plans all help Mr. B. The moral appears to be that saving and prudent purchase are not rewarded while overspending is.

So, investigate to find the cause. Knowing what happened will go a long way to avoiding a repeat performance, punishing fraud, identifying corrective measures, and making for better policy in the future (maybe). The easy target is just not always the right one to aim at.

January unemployment numbers

Some perspective needs to be applied to the December numbers. Even if these numbers reflect a trend rather than the seasonal addition of people to wrap gifts - and we all hope that it is a positive trend - the reporting and exuberance needs to be tempered, especially on LI.
Several things need to included in the reporting after the obvious fact that more employment nationally is a good thing. Like,

Where are these increased jobs and what are the local policies in the places that create job growth? For example, Sheldon Silver wants to raise the minimum wage to Connecticut/Massachusetts levels. Are Connecticut and Massachusetts adding jobs or are they as stagnant as LI?
About 10,000 a day are becoming eligible to collect Social Security What is this doing to the number of people looking for jobs and the resulting unemployment rate?
The few times it is reported, the number of people that are actually working appears going down as the unemployment rate also goes down. That is certainly counter intuitive and looks like people are leaving the job market regardless of age. To what extent does that impact the rate?
What kind of jobs are being added? Jobs that require wearing a hairnet and a name tag need to be distinguished from actual head of household positions to accurately gauge what is happening
Unfortunately, the reported number of jobs - even if they are head of household jobs - is still below what is needed.
We should celebrate that the rate is going down; not that the reported rate is 8.2%.

It is good that the rate goes down. It makes people more confident, especially people who have jobs. Unfortunately, with all the other factors considered, a lower rate is a public relations issue, does not create any jobs, and it does not help anyone who is looking for a job to find one.
So, let us celebrate the good news and look forward to those who have a public voice do a better job of explaining what it means.