Month: August 2011

Catch Phrases II

This is Not Star Trek. In Startrek, the Evil Spock has a goatee. In our world the evil James O’Keefe is clean shaven, and the good James O’Keefe is chief cat-herder for the Massachusetts Pirate Party, whilst sporting a goatee.

This is why I call Barack Obama the worst constitutional law professor ever.

As Eric Falkenstein observes:

People who meticulously avoid email should not be trusted, because it is simply too calculating, as if they know they are regularly committing crimes. A phone conversation can always be disavowed, you just say you were talking about last weekend’s bar mitzvah.

How Quaint, Anti-Trust Law Enforcement

The Department of Justice has filed papers to prevent the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile:

The US government is attempting to block the $39bn (£24bn) takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T on antitrust grounds.
The department of justice (DoJ) filed court papers in Washington on Wednesday in an attempt to halt the merger, claiming that it would “lessen competition substantially” in the telecoms market and harm consumers. AT&T said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the intervention.
“AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market,” the DOJ said in its filing, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

The multibillion-dollar merger, announced in March, would create the largest mobile provider in the US with 130 million customers, and reduce the number of players in the market to three.

This is not surprising, except perhaps to AT&T, who greased a lot of palms lobbied extensively for support of this deal.

After all, not only is T-Mobile aggressively competing on price, but between it and AT&T, the two cmpanies control something like 90% of the GSM cell network in the US, which, unlike Sprint and Verizon’s competing CDMA, works everywhere in the world,* which means that if you wanted to use your phone internationally, then you would have only one choice.

We don’t care, we don’t have to…we’re the phone company.

The Death Star is saying that they will “Vigorously Contest” the filing, but considering the fact that on their own paperwork it was shown to be 10 times as expensive to buy T-Mobile as it would be to upgrade their network to 4G:

So just to recap what you’re reading here, if AT&T doesn’t buy T-Mobile and spends $3.8 billion instead of $39 billion then they will be able to cover 97% of Americans in 4 years less time. What’s the deal? AT&T continues to downplay this memo, hopefully it’s enough for some of the Attorney Generals on the fence to start asking the important questions.

Fundamentally the business plan for the incumbents is the same as it ever was, finding ways to leverage their natural monopolies to extract maximum rent from the general public.

Finally, as much as it pains me to say this, props to Obama and Holder for engaging in some real antitrust actions.

*God bless the international standards averse USA, where we use the English system of measurements, and CDMA, for no good reason at all.

The Schadenfreude Shortage is Officially Over

After Bill O’Reilly and his wife separated, she started dating a cop, and he used the promise of donations to a police charity to get the police commissioner to order an investigating his wife’s boyfriend:

Last summer, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly came to believe that his wife was romantically involved with another man. Not just any man, but a police detective in the Long Island community they call home. So O’Reilly did what any concerned husband would do: He pulled strings to get the police department’s internal affairs unit to investigate one of their own for messing with the wrong man’s lady.

We reported in June that Bill O’Reilly and his wife of 15 years Maureen McPhilmy O’Reilly seem to be on the outs. Last summer she purchased a separate home under her own name, and transferred her voter registration to the new address, while O’Reilly kept his registration current at their old address. As per usual, Fox News did not comment on the situation at the time. Since then we’ve learned what happened, and it’s like Bridges of Madison County meets Copland. When confronted with a potentially disloyal spouse, O’Reilly reacted by—not unlike his boss Roger Ailes—treating his local police department like a private security force and trying to damage one cop’s career for the sin of crossing Bill O’Reilly.


Richard Harasym is a 23-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department who, as of last summer, had been a detective in the elite internal affairs unit for 12 years. His job was to catch crooked cops, root out corruption, and police the police. But at some point during the summer of 2010, his commanding officer, Inspector Neil Delargy, called him into his office with a highly unorthodox assignment: Harasym was to launch an investigation into a fellow officer based not on what he had done, but on who he was dating.

Delargy ordered Harasym to meet with two private detectives working on behalf of Bill O’Reilly. They had information about an NCPD officer they believed to be carrying on with O’Reilly’s wife. Delargy told Harasym to launch an investigation into the man and to tell him to end the relationship.


According to our source, Delargy offered Harasym no justification for investigating the detective—who is unmarried—aside from the alleged infidelity. “The order was to investigate this detective not for any misdeeds,” the source said, “but to see if they could get anything on him. Delargy also told him to tell the detective to back off.”

Delargy told Harasym that the investigation was highly sensitive for two reasons, the source said: 1) It was ordered directly by then-police commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, and 2) O’Reilly was at the time considering making a major donation to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a private not-for-profit foundation Mulvey helped found in 2009 to raise money for construction of a planned $48 million police training facility at Nassau Community College.

“These internal affairs cops were on the case at the behest of Mulvey in order to get O’Reilly’s funds,” the source said.

I don’t know from the story if Billo broke any laws here.  In order for him to have broken the law, he would have had make statements implying that there would be no donation forthcoming unless they targeted his wife’s boyfriend, but with allegations that Mulvey routinely offered favors to people who made donations to his charity, it does seem that there is some serious ethical lapses.

The fact that this mirrors Newscorp’s payoffs to in matters related to the phone hacking scandal in the UK makes it even more amusing.

I think that I will have a surfeit of schadenfreude to last me through September.

Best Healthcare System in the World, My Ass!

The USA is now 40th in the world in infant mortality:

Babies in the United States have a higher risk of dying during their first month of life than do babies born in 40 other countries, according to a new report.

Some of the countries that outrank the United States in terms of newborn death risk are South Korea, Cuba, Malaysia, Lithuania, Poland and Israel, according to the study.

Researchers at the World Health Organization estimated the number of newborn deaths and newborn mortality rates of more than 200 countries over the last 20 years.


Malaysia has a better infant mortality record?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

FWIW, this problem is largely driven by preterm births, which are in tern driven by lack of access to adequate prenatal care.

Yes, that Acquisition of Countrywide was So Good for BoA

I probably haven’t been writing about this as much as I should, but it’s beginning to look like Bank of America’s ill-advised takeover of Countrywide Financial, and it’s portfolio of fraudulent mortgages, is beginning to cause some real problems.

Basically, the sweetheart deal that they negotiated with the trustee, Bank of New York Mellon, would have them paying out pennies on the dollar for misrepresented and mis-documented mortgages.

First, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opposed the settlement saying that it was unfair to investors.

Of course, the unfairness was a feature, not a bug, since BNY Mellon is desperate to reduce its exposure from their deliberate lack of due diligence.

Then, the FDIC opposed the deal, saying that they did not have enough information to evaluate the deal on its merits.

And if we know anything about the world of securitized mortgages and trusts, we know that more information means more bad news, as we have seen every time another rock gets overturned.

Well, now we have individual homeowners filing to block the settlement, because, as a sop to investors, the deal would have established a “rocket docket” for foreclosures:

Lawyers for the National Consumer Law Center said in a report prepared as part of the case that the proposed settlement “will speed up foreclosures, perpetuate existing servicing abuses in the system, and undermine federal programs designed to stabilize the housing market.”

Bank of America had hoped the $8.5 billion settlement would finally put much of this potential liability behind it, but the challenges have raised investor fears that the ultimate cost of the settlement could rise sharply. Anxiety about the extent of Bank of America’s legal woes has also weighed on the bank’s stock, with some estimates suggesting the ultimate cost could be in the tens of billions.

First, I think that the penalties, including tax penalties for improperly conveying the mortgages to the trust, are almost certainly in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and second, when an $8.5 billion payout is a sweetheart deal, it means that the banks are too big.

Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot: The FHFA filed a similar objection to the FDIC’s and U.S. Bancorp is suing to get BOA to buyback the mortgages in yet another trust.

BoA would be, in a fair and just world, toast, and its executives would be facing criminal investigations.

In this world, however, it means that Obama and Geithner and Bernanke will be setting up someway to bail them out in order to insure executive bonuses “protect the banking system” with our money.

H/t Naked capitalism.

On edit:

It looks like the Nevada is claimed that BoA reneged on its loan modification agreement with the state, and so they are filing to abrogate the agreement so that they can sue:

The attorney general of Nevada is accusing Bank of America of repeatedly violating a broad loan modification agreement it struck with state officials in October 2008 and is seeking to rip up the deal so that the state can proceed with a suit against the bank over allegations of deceptive lending, marketing and loan servicing practices.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Reno, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, asked a judge for permission to end Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement. This would allow her to sue the bank over what the complaint says were dubious practices uncovered by her office in an investigation that began in 2009.
In her filing, Ms. Masto contends that Bank of America raised interest rates on troubled borrowers when modifying their loans even though the bank had promised in the settlement to lower them. The bank also failed to provide loan modifications to qualified homeowners as required under the deal, improperly proceeded with foreclosures even as borrowers’ modification requests were pending and failed to meet the settlement’s 60-day requirement on granting new loan terms, instead allowing months and in some cases more than a year to go by with no resolution, the filing says.
The complaint says such practices violated an agreement Bank of America reached in the fall of 2008 with several states and later, in 2009, with Nevada, to settle lawsuits that accused its Countrywide unit of predatory lending. As the credit crisis grew, the settlement was heralded as a victory by state offices eager to help keep troubled borrowers in their homes and reduce their costs. Bank of America set aside $8.4 billion in the deal and agreed to help 400,000 troubled borrowers with loan modifications and other financial relief, such as lowering interest rates on mortgages.

I wish that I knew of a way to go short on the bad news piling up, and long on the eventual bailout.

Well Our Power is Back On…

So after navigating innumerable road closings New Jersey, including parts of the Garden State Parkway, without benefit of a single sign showing where the f%$# we are supposed to go, we make it home, and our power is out.

While I could post with my laptop battery and cell phone, it’s after midnight, we’re exhausted, and there was no power, and BGE was saying that it would be turned back on on on Friday.

Well, electricity just came back on, and I’m exhausted, so I’m getting some damn sleep.

Jury Pushes Back Against the Police State

A stripper attempted to file a sexual harassment complaint against a Chicago police officer, and when she approached Internal Affairs, instead of making an effort to investigate the allegations, they attempted to get her to withdraw their complaint.

In response, she taped their malfeasance, and the response of the District Attorney was to charge her with a felony.

Thankfully, the jury realized that this was yet another attempt to exempt police from any sort of public scrutiny, and acquitted her:

A former stripper, who secretly recorded two Chicago Police Internal Affairs investigators while filing a sexual harassment complaint against another officer was acquitted on eavesdropping charges Wednesday.But why the f%$# did the reporter feel it germane to the story.

She alleged that she was fondled by a cop on a domestic abuse call.Why the hell is this in the story/

It doesn’t matter if she was a freaking nun, or a lobbyist, it was a damn domestic abuse call, and there were allegations of sexual harrassment.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” a smiling Tiawanda Moore said after a Cook County jury returned the verdict in a little over an hour.
The 20-year-old Indiana woman admitted she taped the officers on her Blackberry in August of last year. But she said she only did it because the investigators were coaxing her to not go forward with her complaint.
“I wanted him to be fired,” Moore testified of the cop she alleges fondled her and gave her his phone number during a domestic battery call at the South Side residence she sometimes shares with her boyfriend.
Moore said she didn’t know about the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which prohibits the recording of private or public conversations without the consent of all parties. Even so, Moore’s attorney, Robert Johnson, said his client was protected under an exemption to the statute that allows such recordings if someone believes a crime is being committed or is about to be committed.
The Internal Affairs officers were “stalling, intimidating and bullying her,” Johnson said. The recording, which was played in court during the one-day trial, proved it, Johnson said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh told jurors, “The content of the tape is not the issue. The issue is that the words were taped.”

No, the IA officers were conspiring to conceal an alleged crime, and as such they were engaging in conspiracy, abuse of office, and probably a few dozen other crimes that someone better versed in the law would be aware of.

But Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the verdict “reflects a repudiation of the eavesdropping law in Illinois. Clearly, the public believes that individuals should be able to record police engaged in their public duties, in a public space in an audible voice.”

Your mouth go God’s ear, Mr. Yohnka.

There is a word for societies where law abiding citizens are prosecuted for uncovering and revealing police corruption, and that work is police state

It’s On Girl!

AFL-CIO president Richart Trumpka just said that Obama has aligned himself with the teabaggers:

The most powerful union official in the country offered reporters his harshest critique of President Obama to date Thursday, questioning Obama’s policy and strategic decisions, and claiming he aligned himself with the Tea Party in the debt limit fight.

“This is a moment that working people and quite frankly history will judge President Obama on his presidency; will he commit all his energy and focus on bold solutions on the job crisis or will he continue to work with the Tea Party to offer cuts to middle class programs like Social Security all the while pretending the deficit is where our economic problems really lie,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Trumka dismissed Obama’s recent job creation proposals — an extended payroll tax cut, patent reform, free trade deals — as “nibbly things that aren’t going to make a difference,” and said the AFL-CIO might sit out the Democratic convention if he and the party don’t get serious.
“If they don’t have a jobs program I think we’d better use our money doing other things,” Trumka said.

I do not think that Barack Obama has the slightest clue just how disappointed his “base” is with him, and if he did, I think that he would be dismissive of the fact.

Get ready for President Bachmann. (honest to God, how did the ‘Phants find someone scarier than Sarah Palin?)

Light Posting for a While

Battening down the hatches, and we are actually at my Mother-In-Law’s, so we are both battening down her hatches for Hurricane Irene, and helping her pack, since she is moving from Monsey, NY to the Baltimore area.

Busy, busy, busy.

My prediction is that it will be a whole bunch of nothing, but I’m frequently wrong.

ActBlue — Elizabeth Warren Draft Fund

Well, it looks likes Elizabeth Warren has a fundraising issue in her naisant bid for Senator from Massachusetts, specifically that Scott “Wall Street’s Bitch” Brown is raising money hand over fist from the Banksters, because the idea of someone who would prevent them from cheating the average consumer scares the sh%$ out of them:

Elizabeth Warren’s combative history with Wall Street could create a fundraising dilemma for her burgeoning Senate campaign.

Her ardent grassroots following on the left — forged during stints as TARP watchdog and as mastermind of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — would likely make her a formidable Senate candidate in Massachusetts.

But her reputation as sheriff to Wall Street could also be a liability against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a popular Republican who has been stockpiling campaign cash in anticipation of a tight 2012 race.

If Warren runs, she will have to decide whether to court high-rolling donors in the financial services community — an awkward choice both personally and politically, given her carefully crafted image as antagonist to big finance.

“I think it’s pretty clear she’s going to run the classic, grassroots campaign here in Massachusetts,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a longtime Democratic operative in the state. “That means she’s going to rely on folks here to give low-dollar donations here a number of times.”

But without the support of heavy-hitting donors in Massachusetts, many of whom work at hedge funds and other financial firms, Warren might find it difficult to keep up with Brown’s fundraising juggernaut.

I tend to think that her bigger problem is that she has to fairly explicitly criticize Obama, but the (IIRC) she needs a modicum of support from the party establishment to net enough votes in the party caucus to even get on the primary ballot.

I tend to think that Warren will do more good outside of the Senate than inside the Senate, if just because being a woman with no seniority in what is a pretty misogynist institution is not a high impact position.

In any case, you can donate here, or via Matthew Saroff’s Act Blue Page

H/t Sarah Burris at Crooks and Liars

Michelle Rhee Gets Called Out By NY Times

It seems that the Gray Lady has noticed Michelle Rhee is frantically avoiding any discussion of the cheating that occurred under her watch as Chancellor for the DC Schools:

Eager for Spotlight, but Not if It Is on a Testing Scandal

WASHINGTON — Why won’t Michelle Rhee talk to USA Today?

Ms. Rhee, the chancellor of the Washington public schools from 2007 to 2010, is the national symbol of the data-driven, take-no-prisoners education reform movement.

It’s hard to find a media outlet, big or small, that she hasn’t talked to. She’s been interviewed by Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw and Oprah Winfrey. She’s been featured on a Time magazine cover holding a broom (to sweep away bad teachers). She was one of the stars of the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”

These days, as director of an advocacy group she founded, StudentsFirst, she crisscrosses the country pushing her education politics: she’s for vouchers and charter schools, against tenure, for teachers, but against their unions.

Always, she preens for the cameras. Early in her chancellorship, she was trailed for a story by the education correspondent of “PBS NewsHour,” John Merrow.

At one point, Ms. Rhee asked if his crew wanted to watch her fire a principal. “We were totally stunned,” Mr. Merrow said.

She let them set up the camera behind the principal and videotape the entire firing. “The principal seemed dazed,” said Mr. Merrow. “I’ve been reporting 35 years and never seen anything like it.”

And yet, as voracious as she is for the media spotlight, Ms. Rhee will not talk to USA Today.

So the press is beginning to notice that the publicity hound is avoiding them.

Perhaps they should look more closely at her stories, because even a cursory examination of her record reveals that she consciously juiced those numbers through her official actions:

This conclusion is premature. A review of the record shows that Michelle Rhee’s test score “legacy” is an open question.

There are three main points to consider:

  • First, (by Rhee’s own admission) two simple policy changes enacted in 2007 were made, in part, to generate artificial test score gains during her first year (when roughly 75 percent of the DC-CAS increases occurred).
  • Second, the district’s DC-CAS test was introduced in 2006, and a year or two after any new test is introduced – as students, teachers, and administrators become more familiar with it – it’s common to see an artificial inflation in scores. The beginning of Rhee’s tenure coincided with this period. 
  • Third, the students enrolled in DC public schools in 2010 were a significantly different group compared with the students of 2007, and this demographic shift may have driven some of the improvement in DC-CAS performance. A deeper look at the best evidence we have – from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) – suggests that the increases in D.C.’s average NAEP scores between 2007 and 2009 (widely touted by Rhee and her supporters as confirmation of her effectiveness) could, in part, be a result of this demographic change. Math increases may be somewhat overstated, while reading scores may have been flat.

This is not particularly surprising.  The educational reform establishment (an bit of an Orwellian concept) is all about finding a way to turning the education system into a for-profit Education-Industrial Complex, and no one would stand for it if they heard the truth.

Let’s hope that the worm turns for Michelle Rhee and their corrupt ilk like it has for Alan “Bubbles” Greenspan.

McCain Lobbied to Arm Qaddafi

So says the gift that keeps on giving, the Wikileaks cables.

Julian Assange should be up for a Nobel:

For all the braying by the Senate’s top three hawks about how the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to oust Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi from power, one might be surprised to learn that exactly two years ago, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were in Tripoli meeting with the erratic leader and giving him assurances that relations between the nations were on the mend.

According to a leaked August 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks recounting the Senators’ junket, the neoconservative Connecticut Senator captured the dynamic of aligning with a brutal dictator:

Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.

Qaddafi’s history as a top enemy of the U.S. stretched back decades, but his change of heart came quickly after the U.S. invaded Iraq under the pretense of Saddam Hussein’s development of weapons of mass destruction. Hawks seized on Libya’s détente with the West as a sign that Bush’s tough actions in Iraq were having a ripple effect, though patently not, as Iraq War boosters had predicted, with regard to democratic reforms. “We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qaddafi,” said Lieberman, according to the leaked cable.

The three Senate hawks discussed in detail the Qaddafi regime’s security needs with Libyas National Security Adviser, Qaddafi’s son Muatassim. According to the cable:

5.(C) Senator McCain assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its [a Libyan security program]. He stated that he understood Libya’s requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C130s [a transport plane] and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome.

And these are the wankers that are considered to be serious about foreign policy and national security by the very serious people in Washington, DC.

And no one will ever challenge them on this.

We are so doomed.

Remember when Obama ran these f%$#ers over the coals? Remember when BP execs were clapped in irons and given life sentences for crimes against humanity?

Me neither.*

In case you are wondering, why yes, the Deepwater Horizon is spilling oil again:

Oil is once again fouling the Gulf of Mexico around the Deepwater Horizon well, which was capped a little over a year ago.

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of small, circular patches of oily sheen dotted the surface within a mile of the wellhead. With just a bare sheen present over about a quarter-mile, the scene was a far cry from the massive slick that covered the Gulf last summer.

Floating in a boat near the well site, Press-Register reporters watched blobs of oil rise to the surface and bloom into iridescent yellow patches. Those patches quickly expanded into rainbow sheens 4 to 5 feet across.

Each expanding bloom released a pronounced and pungent petroleum smell. Most of the oil was located in a patch about 50 yards wide and a quarter of a mile long.

Because playing nice with the least safety conscious energy company in the western world is such a winning strategy.

Not feeling that “Audacity of Hope”.

There is a difference between dealing with people who merely disagree with you, and dealing with evil ratf%$#s who will destroy everything for a few pennies.

BP’s upper management is clearly the latter, and dealing with them as the former just makes things worse.

*H/T JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS for the title and the first line.

Interesting Point

Harold Feld (Full disclosure, he’s a friend, we were at his son’s Bar Mitzvah reception) explains why BART shutting down its cellular service in its stations to prevent a flash protest is more than a 1st amendment issue, but that it is a flagrant violation of the law:

I suppose I am really a telecom lawyer at heart. My reaction to the news that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police shut down cellphone networks in a number of stations on August 11 had nothing to do with democracy, the First Amendment, Tahrir Square, etc. With all deference to the importance of these concerns, my reaction was WHAT DO YOU MEAN THESE IDIOTS MESSED WITH THE PHONE SYSTEM? From my perspective, and the perspective of traditional telecom law, BART could just as well have turned off the local central office and all this chatter about whether or not BART is a public forum is just a distraction.

Obviously, however, no one at BART thinks of cell phones as the phone system. In BART’s open letter explaining what they did and why it was cool, BART focuses on the First Amendment /public forum issue and completely skips the fact that they shut off a phone system. Mind you, I suppose I can’t blame them – much. A number of folks are asking if there is a right to cell phone service as if this were a novel question rather than something settled by decades of telecom law.


In California, where this took place, the governing case is People v. Brophy, 120 P.2d 946 (Cal. App. 1942). In Brophy, the California Court of Appeals held that yes, residents of California have a right to phone service. The federally protected right to access the phone network derives from the duty of common carriage imposed by Sections 201 and 202 of the Act. The California Court of Appeals further found that Earl Warren, then the California Attorney General, could not order the phone company to discontinue service to a person the Attorney General suspected of running a gambling operation by use of the telephone. The court explicitly found that only the California Railroad Commission (predecessor to the California Public Utilities Commission) can give an order in California to suspend phone service.


Like the Attorney General in Brophy, the BART is an instrumentality of the State of California. As in Brophy, the mere allegation that someone (or some group of someones) may use their phone for illegal purposes most emphatically does not confer authority to unilaterally shut off access to the phone network – even if that phone network is physically located within the BART. Why? Because the BART is an instrumentality of the state of California and is geographically in California. There is no BARTistahn, and the Directors do not get to decide this on their own.


We will savor the irony that the most eloquent annunciation of the right of individuals to access phone service without interference from law enforcement (absent due process) takes us from Earl Warren to Eugene “Bull” Connor.

(emphasis original)

And yes, part of the case law here does involve “Bull” Connor, and BART is taking his side in this.

It’s a good read, and clear and informative to the layman.

Wanker of the Jay

New York Times Columnist Joe Nocera, who writes that by enforcing the law against illegal retaliation against unions, the Democrats are anti-job.

This is about the Boeing case, where Boeing executives publicly bragged about moving an assembly line to South Carolina specifically because of legal labor actions taken by the union.

Somehow or other, all the “Very Serious People” out there stem to feel that blatant law breaking by large corporations must be tolerated, because they count more than the rest of us.

Just Read This

It’s an article, from Forbes of all places, which explains how our zeal to become a “knowledge economy” is razing our economy to the ground.

They use Dell Computer as an example:

ASUSTeK started out making the simple circuit boards within a Dell computer. Then ASUSTeK came to Dell with an interesting value proposition: “We’ve been doing a good job making these little boards. Why don’t you let us make the motherboard for you? Circuit manufacturing isn’t your core competence anyway and we could do it for 20% less.”

Dell accepted the proposal because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly. On successive occasions, ASUSTeK came back and took over the motherboard, the assembly of the computer, the management of the supply chain and the design of the computer. In each case Dell accepted the proposal because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly. However, the next time ASUSTeK came back, it wasn’t to talk to Dell. It was to talk to Best Buy and other retailers to tell them that they could offer them their own brand or any brand PC for 20% lower cost.

It’s an evocative example, and one which is easily understand, but the problem is that it invites the criticism that it’s just another mindless “Yellow Peril” argument.

The meat of the argument, at least to me as an engineer, is further down:

So the decline of manufacturing in a region sets off a chain reaction. Once manufacturing is outsourced, process-engineering expertise can’t be maintained, since it depends on daily interactions with manufacturing. Without process-engineering capabilities, companies find it increasingly difficult to conduct advanced research on next-generation process technologies. Without the ability to develop such new processes, they find they can no longer develop new products. In the long term, then, an economy that lacks an infrastructure for advanced process engineering and manufacturing will lose its ability to innovate.

One of the arguments made by what used to be called “Atari Democrats” in the 1980s was that we could dump all the manufacturing, and then we could all sit behind desks and create the ideas for the lesser (i.e. non-white) people to manufacture.

It’s simply wrong.  When you no longer make stuff, you no longer know how to make stuff, and when you no longer know how to make stuff, you can no longer come up with viable ideas.

The question is whether we want to have the German economy, or the Mexican one, and increasingly, it appears that we are trying to achieve the latter, since by making everyone else poorer, it makes the people at the top of the pyramid comparatively richer, and they are the ones who make the big campaign donations.

Read all 4 parts.

H/t DC on Stellar Parthenon BBS.