Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things That Go Bump

pointreyesgray6876


Some bones for your Halloween - this is a gray whale skull from Point Reyes.

Nuggets for the day. A couple from Chait to start off...

$5000, for the appearance of concern: Romney's "relief" rally goods, bought and paid for by the campaign. Don't miss the larger point here. Chait: "But the story does seem to be a perfect synecdoche for the Republican approach to social policy. The frantic obsession with appearing to help people counterposed against a total lack of concern with the substantive effect is exactly how the party has approached issues like health care, poverty, and education"

Why Democrats Are Right to Politicize Sandy: "What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies."

MILBANK: Romney’s getting less truthful. “The fast-and-loose with Jeep points to a troubling Romney instinct: When the stakes are high, as they are for him in must-win Ohio, the truth is often the first casualty. It's difficult to quantify a candidate's relationship with the facts, but The Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler, has calculated that, for much of the campaign, Romney and Obama were roughly even in their prevarications -- until the past few months, when Romney has sharply ramped up his output of falsehoods. Back in May, Romney's average "Pinocchio" rating from Kessler was 1.97 on a scale of 0 to 4. Obama was at 1.91. Now, Obama is at 2.11 and Romney is at 2.40 -- putting him at the level of hogwash perpetrated during the primaries by Rick Perry (2.41) and Newt Gingrich (2.44).”

At the Polls, Choose Your Capitalism: Our form of capitalism has led us to where we are today. The United States may be good at generating wealth. It is arguably one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial economies in the world, producing technologies that have been essential to powering global growth. But the American way has not been effective at transforming affluence into broad-based well-being. It may look as if our social and economic woes are a product of rampant globalization. To a large degree, however, they are a consequence of how we have chosen to address the opportunities and challenges of our high-tech, globalized world. Our cutthroat approach to capitalism has exacted high social costs.

Rewarding Republican Obstructionism: While it’s true that President Romney could expect more cooperation from congressional Republicans, in the long term, a vote against Obama on these grounds is a vote for more of this kind of gridlock. Politicians do what wins them elections. If this strategy wins Republicans the election, they’ll employ it next time they face a Democratic president, too, and congressional Democrats will use it against the next Republicans. Rewarding the minority for doing everything in their power to make the majority fail sets up disastrous incentives for the political system.

Nearly 70% of special interest money goes to the Republicans: Super PACs and nonprofits unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision have spent more than $840 million on the 2012 election, with the overwhelming majority favoring Republicans, particularly GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. An estimated $577 million, or roughly 69 percent, was spent by conservative groups, compared with $237 million spent by liberal groups, or about 28 percent, with the remainder expended by other organizations.

U.S. Voter Turnout Will Likely Fall Short of 2004, 2008 "Key Gallup indicators of voter turnout, collected prior to superstorm Sandy, suggest voter turnout will fall short of what it was in 2004 and 2008. U.S. registered voters report giving less thought to the election, and are less likely to rate their chance of voting as a "10" on a 10-point scale, than in 2004 and 2008, two higher-turnout elections. However, the 2012 figures are higher than in 1996 and 2000, two lower-turnout elections.

Frequent voters use less juice: Americans who vote more frequently tend to use 7 percent to 10 percent less electricity than infrequent voters, according to an analysis by Opower, an energy efficiency software firm. The company cross-referenced electricity use data with publically available voting records. The difference isn't due to differences in the house's physical characteristics, the company writes. Instead, Opower hypothesizes that older Americans have a higher voter turnout but lower energy consumption, and that "there is something special about politically engaged Americans that also leads them to consume less energy."

10 House Races That Will Reveal Who’s Winning On Election Night The outcome of the presidential election won’t be known until late Tuesday night — at the very earliest. But the results of House races will begin to trickle in early, and a few key bellwethers will signal which party’s having a good night well before the next president accepts a concession call from his opponent. Here are 10 swing races on the East Coast and in the Midwest to use as an election night barometer, selected by TPM based on input from Republican and Democratic aides who closely monitoring them.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Day After Tomorrow Is Here

marcus3373

The ceiling at Neiman-Marcus in SF's Union Square.

Stop the campaign? Ha. Romney is campaigning in Ohio, so I'm campaigning here. Someone has to save FEMA.

Prayers for those on the East Coast.

Hurricane Sandy: Losses Estimated at $45 Billion "With about one-fifth of the U.S. affected directly by Hurricane Sandy, tragic human loss reached 69 in the Caribbean, and U.S. economic losses could range around $35 billion to $45 billion. However, those losses in consumer and business spending as much of the East Coast shuts down for safety reasons, will not likely be permanent economic losses, said Peter Morici, former chief economist with the U.S. International Trade Commission. In fact, there could be a net gain in U.S. GDP two years from now due to a boost in employment and activity for rebuilding efforts."

As Governor, Mitt Romney Was Slow To Respond To Disasters In His State, Local Critics Say Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney argues that federal disaster response should be handled at the state level, but when disaster struck Massachusetts, he was missing in action, according to some of the state’s local politicians.... On the first day, Forgey says she did not hear from Romney. Nor the second day. Nor the third. Romney wasn’t in Massachusetts when the flood hit, and the emergency did not alter his plans. The Associated Press reported at the time that the governor had been scheduled to speak to an economic club in North Carolina.

Mitt Romney’s voodoo spending cuts "More worrying is what we might call Romney’s voodoo spending cuts: His promise that his promised spending cuts, despite being deeper than any in modern history, won’t hurt anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. In fact – shades of supply-side economics here — they’ll probably make government services even better."

Romney’s Jeep-to-China lie earns brutal headlines in Ohio As David Plouffe wrote in his memoir of Campaign 2008, the Obama team has long thought that a good way to reach independents and undecided voters is via local media in key battleground states. So it’s worth taking a look at how the battle over Mitt Romney’s latest falsehood — that the auto bailout will result in American Jeep jobs getting shipped to China — is playing in the Ohio media, since this claim represents Romney’s last chance to turn things around in the state. (answer: not good)

Columbus Dispatch Fact Check on Romney's Jeep ad.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Flailing in Ohio, Romney rolls out Jeep ploy" "It won't work. Ohio voters know who stepped up when the auto industry was at the abyss -- and it wasn't Romney."

4 Pinocchios for Mitt Romney’s misleading ad on Chrysler and China When a campaign does not announce a television ad, it’s a good sign that it knows it is playing fast and loose with the truth. Indeed, this is an excellent example of an ad that has a series of statements that individually might be factually defensible, but the overall impression is misleading.

G.O.P. Turns Fire on Obama Pillar, the Auto Bailout It is a high-risk strategy: Jeep’s corporate parent, Chrysler, had already released a scathing statement calling suggestions that Jeep was moving American jobs to China “fantasies” and “extravagant”; news media outlets here and nationally have called the Romney campaign’s statements — initially based on a poorly worded quotation from Chrysler in a news article that was misinterpreted by blogs — misleading....Bruce Baumhower, the president of the United Auto Workers local that oversees the major Jeep plant here, said Mr. Romney’s initial comments on moving production to China drew a rash of calls from members concerned about their jobs. When he informed them Chrysler was, in fact, is expanding its Jeep operation here, he said in an interview, “The response has been, ‘That’s pretty pitiful.’ ”

Norm Coleman to Ohio voters: Mitt Won’t Repeal Roe v. Wade "His point about Roe v. Wade — made in response to a question “regarding what he would say to voters who are worried about the influence of religious conservatives on the Republican Party,” according to Bowman — may come as news to Romney’s supporters in the anti-abortion community, who see him as their opportunity to finally overturn the decision they see as a travesty."

WHY MITT’S TALK OF BIPARTISANSHIP IS DUBIOUS: “First and foremost: Romney’s ‘readiness’ team has been meeting with national Republicans in Washington about the GOP nominee’s No. 1 campaign promise: how he’ll repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law…that will hardly foster the bipartisan atmosphere that Romney has recently lauded,” Jake Sherman and James write....“Romney’s team would like Congress to pass a package of targeted reductions of already approved spending soon after the Republican is installed in the White House…

BAIN IS BACK IN THREE NEW ANTI-ROMNEY ADS: “The late emphasis on Bain, Democratic strategists say, reflects both the potency of Bain as an attack against Romney in general, and the pivotal significance of Midwestern states such as Ohio where the Bain message is especially resonant,” Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman report.

VIRGINIA SENATE-ALLEN ASKS FOR EMERGENCY DONATIONS: "Just as the outer ring of Sandy began to pelt Virginia Monday morning, George Allen sent a curiously timed e-mail to supporters seeking 'emergency' donations," per Dave Catanese "Please make an emergency donation ... I need your help NOW... I MUST raise $112,000 immediately to pay for more television ads," Allen wrote. Pleading for funds late in the game is nothing new, but invoking the word "emergency" in the middle of a real state of emergency is questionable judgment at best. Allen's opponent Tim Kaine has suspended all fundraising appeals to Virginians for now. The Kaine campaign last blasted an appeal on midday Saturday."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm's A Comin'

pointreyesfence6960

The Pacific, where things are a little calmer today....

Some stories you might like:

Mitt Romney In GOP Debate: Shut Down FEMA, Send Responsibility To The States A Romney official reaffirmed the former governor's position Sunday evening in an email. "Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters," the Romney official said. (with video from debate)

Sargent: "There’s another nugget here worth highlighting, though. In that appearance, Romney also suggested it would be 'even better' to send any and all responsibilities of the federal government 'to the private sector,' disaster response included. So: Romney essentially favored privatizing disaster response."

Romney Budget Cuts FEMA at least 34%: More prosaically, though the Romney campaign was understandably circumspect over the weekend about his spending plans the fact is that his overall budget requires sharp cuts in everything. The central issue is that Romney wants to cap government spending at 20 percent of GDP while boosting military spending to 4 percent of GDP and leaving Social Security harmless. That means a 34 percent across-the-board cut in other programs according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Unless, that is, Medicare is also exempted from the cuts in which case you'd need a 53 percent cut.

Paul Ryan Opposed New Obama-Backed Disaster Aid Regime "Ryan earlier this year tried to gut it and eliminate $10 billion a year in disaster costs when putting together the House GOP budget. But in doing so Ryan sideswiped a still-powerful Appropriations Committee that was still stinging from $19 billion in Budget Committee-induced cuts to last year's deal. Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., protested to GOP leaders and won a gentleman's agreement that the new system would stay in place, at least for this year. However, Ryan's point of view might still prevail if Mitt Romney defeats Obama in November. (from August)

Krugman: The War on Objectivity: For those new to this, Nate is a sports statistician turned political statistician, who has been maintaining a model that takes lots and lots of polling data... Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat.... This is, of course, reminiscent of the attack on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science and much more. On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive... It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn’t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.

Romney still pushing Jeep-to-China lie: This is a pattern of behavior consistent with pathological dishonesty that goes far beyond the normal spin and fact-butchering of politics-as-usual. It's the kind of carefully crafted deception that has become the hallmark of Mitt Romney and his campaign. It's a serious character flaw, and if you're troubled by it when Romney is merely the Republican nominee, imagine how much worse it would be with him in the White House.

Um, maybe we don't want to do this: "Absent new action, next year the US government’s budget footprint will contract more rapidly than those of Greece, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy, all countries where post-crisis austerity measures sent protesters into the streets and growth plunging." A prediction of a 5.1% contraction of the GDP would be one of the most severe austerity programs in the world - and it would take the rest of the world down with it.

FALTERING SATELLITE PLANS COULD HURT FORECASTS: The New York Times reports: "The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy."

The ‘Frankenstorm’ in climate context: “It’s easy to say, as some climatologists have, that ‘climate change is present in every single meteorological event.’ As you’ll hear below, some climate scientists are telling me this event is precisely what you’d expect following a summer in which much of the Arctic Ocean was open water…There are several areas in which greenhouse-driven warming is thought to be a potential influence. The first is in the buildup of heat in southern surface waters.”

Romney flip-flops on the wind energy tax credit: "Romney now wants a wind-subsidy ‘phaseout.’ “The wind industry, fighting to hold onto a generous tax credit set to expire in December, has been arguing that it does not need the support forever — just a little while longer, until it can compete with fossil fuels on its own…[W]hile campaigning on Friday in Iowa, a state with a lot of wind business, Mr. Romney seemed to be opening the door to a different position -- or at least allowing himself some wiggle room should a compromise be found. ‘We will support nuclear and renewables but phase out subsidies once an industry is on its feet,’ he said, without offering more specifics. Opponents of the tax credit say the wind industry is looking for a never-ending hand-out, but some Republicans support extending the credit as long as it includes an explicit phaseout over a set number of years.”

LCV RELAUNCHES ROMNEY WIND ENERGY AD: The group is putting a fresh $850,000 into its ad from earlier this month, which features laid-off Colorado wind turbine worker Chris Maese. “I got laid off because Mitt Romney and his friends in Congress want to eliminate tax credits for the wind industry,” Maese says. “I think Mitt Romney is not in touch with the little guy. He's always been a supporter of Big Oil. He has friends that are in the Big Oil industry.”

Romney Avoids Taxes via Loophole Cutting Mormon Donations In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity -- the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing -- to defer taxes for more than 15 years. At the same time he is benefitting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires, according to tax returns obtained by Bloomberg this month through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Efforts to cut funding for Planned Parenthood at state level fall short: “Social conservatives launched a new and sweeping effort last year to use state laws to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood. It’s not working…The approach initially seemed to pose a legitimate threat to Planned Parenthood because Medicaid is a joint state-federal program. But courts have said the states cannot deny women access to providers who meet the federal requirements to qualify for Medicaid — and Planned Parenthood does.” 

Personal Spending, Income Up In September: "Americans increased their spending in September at twice the rate their income rose, a sign of confidence in the economy. The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in September. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February. Personal income rose 0.4 percent, an improvement from a slight 0.1 percent gain in August and the best gain since March."


End of a Season

breaksyourheart6571

Thanks to all for a very fun year. Soon it will be spring again...


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Somewhere Near Bodega Bay

bodegabay9523sm

"They say it has no memory." 

 1000 px here.

Sensata Tells All


“Governor, you’re the last person to get tough on China,” President Obama remarked in the last debate.

He’s so right.

But don’t take his word for it. Just listen to some of people who are paying the ultimate price for Mitt Romney’s “business experience”.  

"In the next three months I will not have a job, I'm pretty sure, " said Cheryl Randecker of Bain Capital-owned Sensata Technologies, based in Freeport, Illinois,."For sure by the end of the year we will be completely done, and it will be moved to China."

At last report, the day that Cheryl's job will end is Nov. 5th, the day before the election.

"They're moving equipment out, and they're letting us know everyday that they're leaving, no matter what, that they're still sending the operation over to China. To me they're letting us know that we mean nothing to them. We're just nobody. We're nothing."

That was Dot Turner, a Sensata employee who was asked to train her Chinese replacement. She's worked for Sensata for 43 years.

43 years.  Half a lifetime, for one company.

That loyalty is so rare these days.

Meanwhile, over 500 miles to the east, Mitt Romney is telling a crowd in Ohio that on "day one!" he's going to get tough with China. He's going to label them a currency manipulator, even though our past two Presidents thought better of the idea. Oh, he's going to do all sorts of things to punish those "cheaters", you know. The implication is that this will instantly bring back all those manufacturing jobs to America.
Day one!, and he will wave the magic wand, and at his word, it will all come true.

Don't believe him for a second.

Mitt Romney will do no such thing.

Romney could stop outsourcing those Sensata jobs with one phone call. He has that kind of power, right now, as the former CEO of the company who currently has controlling interest.

He could save those jobs, today.

He won’t even meet with the employees, or respond to their pleas and petitions to save those jobs. They are being ignored.

Mitt Romney may not head Bain Capital anymore, but he sure benefits for their outsourcing practices - especially when it comes to Sensata Technologies. According to the New York Times, Romney "has millions invested in a series of Bain funds that have a controlling stake in Sensata" and that the investment has quadrupled in value since 2006.

Now, Romney may claim that those funds are in a blind trust, but upon investigation it's revealed that this "blind trust" is controlled by Romney's personal lawyer Brad Malt, and does not meet the qualifications of a true blind trust under federal standards.

And there’s more. Romney has benefited by transferring over $700,000 in Sensata stock to a non-profit foundation that he controls. Not only does he get to deduct that full amount on his taxes, he gets to avoid capital gains taxes as the stock price increases! Nice, huh?

Does anyone honestly think that he is going to do anything to upset that deal? Of course not. After all, one of the guys on Sensata’s board has donated $665,000 to the Romney campaign.

He won’t do it on “day one!”, he won’t do it on any day, anytime soon.

If Romney was serious about “getting tough on China”, or stopping the offshoring of American jobs, he could have called for his fellow Republicans in Congress to pass the Bring Jobs Home Act. The bill would have ended tax breaks for companies moving overseas and would have given tax credits to those who brought jobs back home. It wasn't a cure-all, but it was a start.

Senate Republicans shot it down.

If Romney were serious about his charges of currency manipulation, he would have called for Congress to pass the Currency Reform Fair Trade Act, which currently has 234 House co-sponsors and addresses all major currencies. Republican leadership refuses to bring it to the floor. Why? Because if it actually passed, Romney wouldn't have anything to say on the campaign trail, would he?

Business leaders are starting to get nervous about Romney's bluster though. Government officials in China are not happy with the rhetoric either, and some are fearing a trade war could blow up if Romney carries through with his threats. Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told CNN, "China has a well-established practice of retaliating when the U.S. does something it thinks is out of bounds."

The businesses Hufbauer speaks are pretty sure that Romney is bluffing.  If not, they face increased costs for goods and services they purchase now, and the potential of decreased exports of American products to China - which have boomed from $16.2 billion in 2010 to $103.9 billion in 2011, making the country the third largest purchaser of American goods behind Mexico and Canada.

"'I think at this point they're assuming it's tough talk, but the tougher it gets, the more they get nervous,' said Hufbauer."

They shouldn't worry. It’s all talk, designed to fool the voters.

Read his quote to CNN: “I will pursue a comprehensive strategy to confront China's unfair trade practices and ensure a level playing field where our businesses can compete and win." This came on the heels of President Obama taking action at the World Trade Organization concerning auto parts exports - the same type of jobs that Sensata is in the process of moving to China.

“Comprehensive strategy” is code for “continuing to implement my tax policies that reward offshoring.”  One economist estimated Romney’s territorial tax policy would cost us 800,000 jobs, as companies that would be free of taxation on foreign profits are encouraged to move more jobs overseas.

Where do those profits go? Offshore tax havens, hidden on tax returns that businessmen like Romney will not disclose to the public. Don’t look for that policy to change on “day one!” either.

A vote for Romney is a vote to continue this practice of profits over people. But you know that already, don't you?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bay Bridge Night

baybridgenightfog3549


Yes, still alive out here. 

Check out the big version, it's pretty cool.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Game 7

attwide6967 


Long ago I promised a better shot of AT&T Park, so in honor of Game 7 here it is. Big version

 Soon to be Tigers roaming here?


Blue Over The Bay

blue angels 1890

Blue Angels fly over the Bay Bridge. 

1000 px.


USS Makin Island

uss makin island san francisco
Big picture.

You're looking at $2.5 billion in defense spending, plus ongoing operating costs of course. It's a green ship, which saves money on fuel, so there's that. 1 of 8 we operate in the Wasp class, it's one of the largest amphibious warfare vessels in the world.

In the overall scheme of things though, what's a couple billion here and there? Not much to those who plan to spend a whole lot more. A little perspective from the New York Times:
Instead of proposing sensible and necessary reductions, (Romney and Ryan) would throw more money at a Pentagon that has had a blank check for more than a decade. The base budget for 2013 — not including war-related costs — is projected at $525 billion, up roughly 34 percent from 2001. By 2022, Mr. Romney’s plan would increase annual spending to $986 billion, according to an analysis by Travis Sharp of the Center for a New American Security.
The centerpiece of Mr. Romney’s proposal is a promise to spend at least 4 percent of gross domestic product on military personnel, procurement, operations and maintenance, and research and development. That would add as much as $2.3 trillion to the defense budget over 10 years from projected 2013 spending levels, according to Mr. Sharp’s analysis.
It's a pretty ship.

Question is: How many more do we really need?

Something to think about when you cast that ballot.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WTG D!

scherzer4382


Verlander gets most of the press, but don't overlook Max Scherzer, who has been the workhorse of the staff this year.

 Congratulations Detroit, see you in the Series!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunrise

sunrise2280

Another sunrise shot from the Embarcadero. 

Blogging. Yes, will blog again, I promise you, I promise myself. Schedule has undergone some huge shifts that has thrown me off my rhythm for the time being. This will pass.
 
Until then, if you read one article this week, read this one. A taste:
The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish. 
That was the future predicted by Karl Marx, who wrote that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. And it is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further — ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.
Vote early, vote often, and vote accordingly.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Bernie Lean

bernielean2225

Rally at City Hall tonight, about 100 or so of the die-hards came down to listen to the mayor and some folks from the Coliseum rally the faithful. It's right where I get off the BART so I stuck around to watch. Was rewarded with a rally towel and a sticker and a sign for the window - and a bunch of smiles for these people that love their city and their baseball team. 

 For all those who don't know, this is the "Bernie Lean", based on the movie "Weekend at Bernie's." You do the math. It's just a fun thing that started and took off over the year. 

 Got a ticket today, will be there tomorrow to see either the start of the comeback or the last game of the year...



Saturday, October 06, 2012

Federal Reserve

feds1264

Right before they turn out the lights in the morning. 1000 px.



Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Game 162

balfour0903

Grant Balfour. Lights out. 

 Every game counts, and tomorrow it counts for the championship of the AL West...

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

OctoBernie A's are in the Playoffs!

coco0755_filteredsharp

Here's Coco going up for a ball last Saturday - not the clearest of shots as I was some distance away, but it sure shows what this team will do to make every play and stay in every game. 

The A's clinch a playoff spot, and if they can beat Texas two more they will win the division. How sweet it is. 

Thanks guys, it's been a blast... and it ain't over yet. 

 Congratulations Oakland!


Monday, October 01, 2012

Central Division Champs!

verlanderfielder5549

In honor of the Tigers Central Division Championship, here's Justin and Prince from May. 

 Congrats Detroit! 

  Big version.


Rowing the Inner Harbor

rowing1222

Hot today. Took the ferry home, SF to Alameda to Oakland, nice ride. Will have to do it again some time...

1000 px.