Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Putting Solyndra In Perspective

Many on the right and the middle are whining and pointing fingers in every which way demanding scalps for the mess that is Solyndra. However, I would just like to put this manufacturer of thin-film solar cells in a bit of big federal government perspective with nothing but numbers.

1. $560.1 million – this represents the total handouts to Solyndra, with $535 from the Department of Energy and a $25.1 million tax break from the state of California…0.015% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget.

2. $700 billion – this represents the Bush-Paulson carried out and Obama-Geithner stewarded Troubled Asset Relief Program…18.97% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

3. $1 trillion – unilaterally issued Federal Reserve program called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) designed to infuse money into the pockets of already under water consumers with the aim of goosing consumption…27.00% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

4. $144billion to $323 billion – the first number represents what the disastrous F35 was supposed to cost and the second what it will cost when it is completed…8.75% of Obam’s 2011 Federal Budget

5. $22 billion 30 people – the cost in dollars and deaths of the V-22 (aka Osprey) one of the Pentagon  and the Military Industrial Complex’s favorite cash cows along with the aforementioned F35. As NPR’s Graham Smith reported:

“In a nutshell, the story of the Osprey is it cost more in time, money and lives than anything else the Marine Corps ever bought”


Three major accidents gave the Osprey its bad reputation and earned it the nickname “The Widowmaker.”


The worst, in Arizona in 2000, killed 19 Marines.”

SO when considering who to pick on and who to hold accountable by any means necessary it is important to acknowledge that the folks at Solyndra are deserving of the criticism they are receiving for extorting money from the federal government, but it is way more important to address the Big Fish as it were feeding at the tit of the Pentagon. I can’t defend Solyndra’s actions but I hope that this brief post put them in perspective relative to a far more important and costly addiction to tools of war and the propping up of Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street movement has brought attention to the crimes of Wall & Broad. An even greater level of extortion has been occurring in the parallel and opaque universe that revolves around the Pentagon.

At least Solyndra was an attempt to wean us off our addiction to hydrocarbons, while the Pentagon could be excused for being under the impression that it’s charter is solely to perpetuate and lubricate that addiction.

Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder

Consider the real or fictitious call for austerity among DC, Wall Street, and Brookins/Cato/AEI elites one of my favorite radio personalities Tom Ashbrook presented one of the best shows on the subject of structural unemployment and the notion that – just like engaging in war – the rest of us are being asked to sacrifice for the whims and arrogance of  old white men.

I have pasted my response to the show below because while it deserves the attention it gets PTSD has a new cousin in The Great Recession Fallout which I simply describe as Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder. I should know I have it and have it bad on some days better on others………..even though I now have a job!

I would add that I recently ended a 9 month drought after having completed a Ph.D. here at the University of Vermont. It was brutal and the uncertainty (true uncertainty not the BS kind referred to on Wall Street or by big business) has delayed my marriage to my favorite human being and delayed us having children. I still suffer what I call post-unemployment stress disorder (PUSD) which manifests itself in me looking for better/more secure jobs even though I have one. I was right in doing so because I found out yesterday – thanks to my insistence as I have another great job offer – that my current employer who had already changed my contract from 2yrs to an 8mo probationary period that they were not going to guarantee me a contract extension. This was not the rough and tumble world of business but rather academia. I was told that if I hadn’t come to them with this other job offer and an ultimatum they might not have let me know of my status until the days prior to the contract’s expiration in October. This is no way to treat people even if you do have leverage! Employers are in the catbird seat and that is generally a good thing as it yields the best corporations or in this case academic institutions. However, there is a certain degree of decency that is missing from Main St, Wall St., and DC for how you treat your fellow man/woman especially in a jobs environment like the one we find ourselves in. That means giving people proper warning so they can prepare or improve their lot. That means understanding that when you do let someone go they are going to be fending for themselves for – chances are – quite some time and maybe even 2.5 years as one of the guests on Mr. Ashbrook’s show described. The UK prime minister David Cameron made a great point in the aftermath of the London Riots recently that decency is no where to be found in The City, Parliament, and at the country’s numerous Murdoch owned rags. So why when the “common man” sees this should they operate by a different set of rules? Leaders need to lead and not divide, condescend, or obfuscate. Like his opposite number in DC Mr. Cameron talks a big game but I would be willing to bet that the have nots of Tottenham like the have nots of Watts, Gary, Indiana, Detroit, etc. will suffer a more oppressive case of austerity than any of the latter offenders.
I am amazed at how callus people are in the face of having someone’s career in their hands. Such a flippant disregard for basic short- and medium-term needs is really not what this country is about….At least that is what I thought!
I will be fine and my fiance and I will have a wonderful marriage and an even more wonderful child but what I will never forget about this Great Depression is the rapidity with which people backed away from words like loyalty, respect, fairness, and transparency. I for one will always have the scars of the uncertainty and unknowns that soaked into my every fiber during this recession. They say that Depression children saved every nickle etc. Well I think my generation and those that were unemployed for a prolonged time will always have in the back of our minds when the next shoe is going to fall. Especially those of us not looking to get filthy rich but rather just teach or give back to the planet or our fellow man nothing gaudy or selfish but simply good work that doesn’t involve off-shoring or newfangled “financial products”. PUSD is real and I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. I don’t know when this fear and anxiousness will go away but I hope soon because it really sucks! It is not made any better when we see the haves with such contempt for basic decency and empathy. The ovarian lottery has been cruel to some and unnecessarily generous to others, while others have fought out of the former to reach the latter economic prosperity, but that doesn’t mean we should paint such broad strokes on those that have not fought out of the cruelties of the lower quartile. Most likely it ain’t their fault and piling on while forcing them to eat spinach as the oligopoly eats cake is not what I think the phrase “American Exceptionalism” means! Warren Buffett seems to be coming around to this notion!


The last couple of days have revealed the feckless shell-game nature of society today. On the one hand along the left-hand coast of the Atlantic you have Barack (Hussein!) Obama having to acquiesce to the birthers and their patron saint Donald Trump in making a big show of his public presentation of a long-form birth certificate. And everywhere else you have the drooling nature of people’s incomprehensibly embarrassing infatuation with Kate and William’s wedding.

There are moments when you realize that for the most part we get what we pay for with respect to politics, fiscal/monetary policy, energy, agriculture, etc.

President Obama actually having to acknowledge the birthers and the silly nature of our obsession over the marriage of two excessively privileged and subsidized young people is one of those moments.

It is true that we need comedic distractions from all the bad news and for that I thank the Republicans for their many comical presidential candidates. But this short-term obsession with the unimportant is preventing us from debating and solving the long-term structural issues that will face our kids and our kid’s kids.

The US Fed’s chairman Ben Bernanke presided over the first press conference in Fed history answering some very probative questions. These are the types of questions our politicians should be asking of Dr. Bernanke. But they don’t because they know we are consumed with birth certificates and celebrity weddings.

As I noted in a post on The Times website:

“When the most “left” of senators Bernie Sanders and “right” of congressmen agree you know the only solution is to “End The Fed”. It is an opaque cabal that will not receive more sunlight by simply holding regular press conferences. Politicians do the same all the time and they are as crooked as the day is long. These 2 men are the most honest members of congress and take as little money as is possible from Wall Street and this country’s socially irresponsible corporations. They don’t trust The Fed and with men like Alan Greenspan running the show I don’t either. Ben Bernanke is a decent man and an extremely smart man but he took on the wrong job for such a man. End The Fed!”

2.8% and 170,000

These are the two numbers Wisconsin man-child Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is touting for his “A Roadmap for America’s Future: Version 2.0”. The first has to do with what he and the Heritage Foundation project will be the rate of US unemployment and the latter is what his manifesto says will be average US economic growth per capita by 2083 or put more magically a nearly four-fold increase over current US GDP per capita (See Page 30).

These are nonsense numbers and the kinds of voodoo economics that convinces “middle America” that Republicans like Ryan are on their side when as point of fact he and his fellow Wisconsin governor Scott Walker have no problem putting out this kind of BS with one hand while simultaneously taking in the largess of the Koch Brothers with their other hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Note From a Friend

Someone I know pretty well and admire quite a bit sent me the following string of emails regarding Obama’s “John Wayne” moment in Libya. I don’t agree with everything he wrote me but thought much of it was spot on and it came from someone I would call of the Libertarian persuasion. ENJOY!



Hate to say it dude… but I’m done with Obama after this Libyan Adventure. What a cluster_ _ _ _ of a situation… and Constitutionally dubious to boot.

I freely admit that most Republicans are nuts too. Most of the “leading” 2012 candidate-types would have had us in there (boots on the ground) 3 weeks ago. Utter insanity. Of course- they’re now leading the chorus of criticism- which is beyond nauseating. Anyway- whether democractic or repulican- this country appears to be irretrievably at the mercy of a…”pro-intervention” council of foreign relations type cabal that is hell-bent on bankrupting us in a vain quest to remold the Middle East (recently substituting “international norms” and “human rights” for “WMD’s”). Meanwhile Congress is nothing more than the pathetic dude who walks in on his wife getting banged by Joe the Plumber. The Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Book it.

Anyway, unless Ron or Rand Paul somehow miraculously secures the GOP nomination… I guess I’m voting Libertarian here on out.



Whatever the case- should be some interesting times on your blog. I didn’t put in my last my e-mail but to me Obama’s speech could best be described as “The Fog of War”. I don’t care if we run Gadaffi out of there in 2 days and Arabs are waiving the American flag (an unlikely result of course). The Middle East is the type of place where things are measured in 50 and 100 year increments. I’m sure we felt cool as hell when we shot up Iran and put the Shah in or ran the Soviets out of Afghanistan or handed victory to the “Northern Alliance” or took down Saddam… or…. How did any of those work out for us? Meanwhile- I certainly wish Gadaffi treated his people better- but the UN should raise its own army of folks (God bless them) who individually feel willing to lay their lives down for “international norms” and “stability” and NOT usurp war-making authority from the US Congress- or any other proposed “combatant’s” governmental body in charge of declaring war. That’s always been my problem with the Security Council set-up- and why I frankly think it’s imperative for American liberty for the US to either withdraw from the UN completely- or alternatively- withdraw from the Security Council at least.


I know Rand’s a whipping boy for the Left… but all I can say to this is A-FREAKING-MEN!!!

Why is it so hard to have a President who actually gets and understands this stuff!!??! I certainly would have thought a Costitutional Law Professor from the University of Chicago with a law degree from Harvard would have been capable of it. Guess not!


Well I am confident they represent the empirical and pragmatic sentiment (if I may be so bold). I’m less confident that they represent the “Republican” sentiment though. Perhaps. As I’ve told you for awhile now- the party is in the midst of a Civil War of sorts pitting the true traditional, “Goldwater”, non-interventionist, Libertarian, conservative (correct usage) wing of the party (I’d estimate it at about 20%) against the ultra-nationalist, imperial, guns and butter, neo-conservative, manifest destiny, Theodore Roosevelt wing (give these guys 50%). I’m not at all certain how that will play out as our wing is clearly more in-step with the main street common sense views of the country (while there’s was thoroughly discredited under Bush II) on the one hand- but they have FAR MORE resources, influence and political savy to bring-to-bear on the other. I think what you’ll see is unapologetic neo-conservative  Republicans like Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich (and his shrill Dick Morris), etc. posing as re-formed “limited government Constituionalists” for a period of time in order to draw in those more pliable elements of the Tea Party and the social conservatives (these two make up the balance) to their banner- only to ultimately give us Bush III (if elected). If I had to wager- right now- I suspect they will succeed. Sadly.

Courageous Stance from My Home State’s Capital

The city of Hartford, CT once simply known as the insurance capital of the world has spoken loudly and pointedly in response to Obama’s urge to get his name in the ledger on the side of “War Engaged” rather than where his Nobel Peace Prize implies he should be siding. Hartford is a city that exemplifies the growing canyon between the haves and the have nots here in the US. It’s city council stood up and passed the following resolution and I for one am so proud of this city for being a pioneer in standing up to Democrat and Republican arrogance with respect to the fueling of the Military Industrial Complex.

From Christopher Hutchins of Hartford Bring Our War Dollars Home:

This is the Resolution that just passed through the city council of Hartford!


A resolution of the city council of Hartford, CT calling upon the US
government and President Obama to Bring Our War Dollars Home Now

Whereas, the economic collapse has exhausted the financial resources at the
local, county, state and federal levels of the US; and

Whereas, the US government since
2001 has spent well over 1 trillion dollars nationally on the wars and
occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Connecticut nearly 28 billion
dollars has gone to war spending and more than $453 million has been
taken from the city of Hartford to fund the wars and occupations, and

Whereas, more than 5,700 US troops have been killed, more than 40,000 wounded; and

Whereas, hundred’s of thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded and the
ongoing warfare poses great and unnecessary harm to the nation of Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Pakistan and elsewhere in the world; and

Whereas, billions of tax payer’s money is spent to prop up repressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world; and

educational services, medical care, housing, other essential public
services, infrastructure repair, and family financing throughout
Connecticut, especially in cities such as Hartford, have been diverted
from a constructive economy to these wars and occupations, and

budget deficits, largely due to war spending, have been used as a
pretext to force concessions from public sector unions from California
to Wisconsin to Connecticut; and

Whereas, 2010 census data shows that Hartford has the highest poverty rating in Connecticut at 31.9% (nationally, the poverty rating is 14.3%) and

communities of color in Hartford have been hardest hit. Our city has a
population that is 41% Latino and 38% African American/West Indian population. Unemployment for people of color is over 40%, and unemployment for people of color is nearly 20% and when employed, people of color make only 60 cents for every dollar made by white workers; and

Whereas, the above mentioned communities are heavily targeted for military recruitment,

Be it resolved that the city council of Hartford call upon the US
government and President Obama to end the wars and occupations in Iraq
and Afghanistan and bring our war dollars home now.

Now be it further resolved, that the city council of Hartford support
informational events regarding the cost of the wars and occupations to
our community; and

Be it further resolved that the city council of Hartford support the right
of public sector unions and all other unions to collectively bargain
and defend the interests of their members; and

Be it further resolved, that the city council of Hartford urge residents
to participate in the April 9, 2011 national march in New York City to
end the wars and occupations and bring our war dollars home.

Interesting Shareholder Vote

So I have a couple of shares of GE and now that I know about their unwillingness to pay taxes and actually receive corporate welfare to the tune of $3.2 billion I am worried about the justification for this investment. Conveniently or coincidentally GE turned around in the last couple of days and announced “on Tuesday that it planned to spend $3.2 billion for a 90 percent stake in Converteam, a company based in Massy, France, that specializes in high-efficiency electric power conversion components like motors, generators, drives and automation controls.”

This comes around the same time as President Obama named the CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Surely an ominous sign for both the word jobs and the word competitiveness when the man in charge of fueling a fire under both doesn’t believe in either when it comes to his own firm’s presence in the US.

Anyway in receiving my voting option I think I found another way that GE manages to skim that little bit of cream off the top of each investment/product margin. Below are questions C4 and C5 of GE’s most recent proxy ballot (Note: The Bold is what the board recommended and the standard is what I voted):


Federal Budget Fact From Fiction

So President Obama released his much anticipated budget today and I took a couple of minutes to analyze the numbers to find the winners and losers. The results will surprise those on the right and left alike (See Figure Below).

The big winners are:

1. the Natural Resource Conservation Service with respective 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 budget increases of 123% and 167%.

2. the Department of Energy with a 2010-2012 increase of 134%.

3. the Department of Transportation with 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 increases of 113% and 115%

4. a recipient near and dear to natural/environmental scientists hearts the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a 2010-2012 of 118%.

True many of these recipients could be considered liberal or dare I say the word “scientific” causes, but the fact is that there are many progressive recipients on The Big Losers list below.

The Big Losers:

1. Well we have to start with the undisputed biggest loser of them all and one you would think would be in the previous category given how often Obama, Democrats, and Republicans talk about the importance of small-business creation. The Small Business Administration is going to be 20% of what it was in 2010 in the following 2 years if Obama gets his way. This will be an interesting pivot point around which we will see whether conservatives who say Obama is anti-business fight him OR whether the small businesses of America call Obama’s bluff and the Republicans if they jump in bed with him on this one invoking his recent placating speech at Tom Donahue’s Chamber of Commerce. This country is clearly decoupling both at home and in the workplace with Too Big To Fail Military contractors, Banks, and Agribusiness clearly in the driver seat not just with Republicans but with Democrats as well. What a shame.

2. OH and then there is military family housing, which one would assume everyone would want to increase with the patriotic rheotirc booming out of MSNBC and Fox News equally. I thought we valued our warriors and their sacrifice? Guess not because military family housing is set to shrink by 25% 2010-2012.

3. Education and who – like military family housing – could argue with education? Apparently an Obama administration that has found it’s Reaganomics Religion all of a sudden. Education will be slashed by 11% and 24% between 2011-2012 and 2010-2012, respectively.

4. Finally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be slashed by 31% between 2010-2012.

SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS BLOG? The point is that Obama has shown he is hardly a socialist, fascist, liberal/progressive populist and that with respect to the SBA we will see whether all those jokers on Capitol Hill really do care about small businesses because if the Obama administration gets it’s way the SBA will be hacked to a fifth of it’s size today.

NOW if only we could get the Pentagon to incur more than the 2011-2012 4% decline only to rise like a Phoenix the following year giving it a 2010-2012 6% increase.

If we don’t address the retirement age, tort reform, the military industrial complex leviathan, and things like Bureau of Land Management gifts to the coal/natural gas industry via infinitesimal land rents we are not being serious. Hacking away as the Republicans and Democrats are at discretionary spending, which depending on the year ranges from 10-12% of the federal budget means that honesty is in short supply in DC and that faith is winning out over rationality. What a sham I mean shame!

We’re Not Your Problem Mr. President!

I have known for quite a while now that the vote I cast for you in November of 2008 – my first ever vote for a member of The Big Two – was one that I would not regret, because I am still a huge admirer of your intellect, but would come to view with a great degree of disappointment and anger. Read the rest of this entry »