Monday, August 10, 2015

Carly Fiorina Takes A Page From The Herman Cain Playbook on Taxes

Earlier today, Carly Fiorina, former failed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and perceived champion of the second tier train wreck that was the first Republican primary debate, sat down for an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace.

During the interview, the Fox News host played a clip of DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticizing Fiorina for her disastrous tenure at HP.  Fiorina defended herself by prattling on the same inane and mundane talking points that she's been saying for months every time this subject came up:

Yes. And you know, I'm flattered that the head of DNC would come after me. I guess that means we're gaining traction here.

But here's the facts: I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time, the dotcom bust post-9/11, the worst technology recession in 25 years. I would remind Debbie Wasserman Schultz that it has taken the NASDAQ 15 years to recover.

Sometimes in tough times, tough calls are necessary. However, we also took a company from $44 billion to almost $90 million. We quadrupled its growth rate, quadrupled its cash flow, tripled its innovation to 11 patents a day, and went from lagging behind to leading in every product category in every market segment.
Okay, I'm tired of hearing Fiorina spew the same misleading figures over and over again, so let's set the record straight.

Did HP nearly double its revenue while Fiorina was in charge? Yes, but it's missing some very important context. As Andy Serwer and Tae Kim point out at Yahoo! Finance:

Yes, Fiorina did double HP’s revenues by buying Compaq, but at what cost? Let’s take a look at the numbers. In 1999 when she arrived at the company, HP had $42 billion in sales and $3.1 billion in net earnings. When she left in 2005, HP had $87 billion in sales but only $2.4 billion in earnings. 
So although revenues doubled (mainly due to adding Compaq's revenues), net earnings (i.e. profits) went down. Why did that happen?

In subsequent years HP would become more profitable—to a large degree due to cost cutting by her successor as CEO, Mark Hurd—but the company would never become the moneymaking juggernaut Fiorina promised. Why is that? To a large degree it’s because HP basically traded a slice of its high-margin printer business for a larger share of the lower-margin PC business. For example, in 2004, after the merger and before Fiorina left the company, HP’s printer business produced $24 billion in sales and $3.8 billion in profits, while PCs produced $25 billion in sales, but only $210 million in profits.

Boy that sure is some savvy business acumen! And if that's not amusing enough, as Matt Krantz from USA Today points out, Fiorina financed the acquisition of Compaq by piling on massive amounts of debt:

That’s right. She created a larger company — with more debt. Wonder how that would work in government?

For the rest of Fiorina's dubious statistics, you can check out Glenn Kessler's and's posts on the subject here and here.

But there was one line Fiorina said during the interview that I really wanted to highlight. Wallace asked her about her tax policy and if she would cut rates for the wealthy. This was her response:

Yes. So, we have a 75,000-page tax code today. And that complexity favors the wealthy and the big and the well-connected because they can hire the accountants and the lawyers and the lobbyists to figure out how to make all that complexly work for them. We've got to get it down to three.
Some of you may find this proposal sounding familiar. That's because this ingenious idea was first advocated by a previous Republican frontrunner (and this blog's favorite Republican candidate from the last election), Herman Cain:

Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill — and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live — send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table.
I don't know about you guys, but I for one am quite impressed that the tax policy from a former CEO of a major tech company has an equal level of sophistication as one that came from the brilliant mind of the Cain Train.

The primaries are off to a fantastic start.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thoughts On The First Republican Debate/Train Wreck

So here are my (very belated) thoughts and opinions on the first of hopefully many Republican primary debates.

 Donald Trump:

The Donald was definitely the winner of the night. He did what was about expected, came on stage, acted like a douchebag, provided the base with a lot of red meat, etc. I've read some people say that he might have some trouble getting Republicans to trust him due to his previous support for Democratic positions, but I don't think that really matters much. Republicans don't give a shit whether someone might have been a Democrat at one point as long as they demonstrate themselves to be 1) totally and utterly repentant for their past crimes and 2) promise to do anything and everything in their power to fuck up Democrat supported initiatives.

Trump can say that he was young and naive (5 years ago) and that he's grown up/seen the light, and the teatards will eat it all up. Evangelicals in particular, love the idea of people seeking forgiveness for past transgressions (with the caveat that you vow to join the right team, of course). And as Trump himself pointed out, the greatest Republican of all time, St. Ronnie himself used to be a Democrat, so why would it be such a stretch to think someone like Trump couldn't make a similar conversion?

But there is one thing that Trump said that makes me think he may have pissed off a few loyal Republicans that night. And no, it's not his misogynistic attacks on Megyn Kelly.

Nay, rather it dealt with one of the most talked about exchanges of the night, when Chris Wallace asked everyone on stage whether they would run as a third party candidate if they didn't get the nomination. Trump was the only one to raise his hand, after which, he was immediately booed by the audience. The teabaggers might not be smart enough to realize that medicare is a government program, but they're just smart enough to realize that a third party run would split Republican votes and gift wrap the presidency for Hillary. For as much as the tea folk despise the idea of RINOs and "squishes", they despise any democrat (especially a Clinton) infinitely more. Trump should tread carefully.

Jeb Bush:

Jeb was pretty boring overall, but there was one moment where I feel he seemed to screw himself up pretty badly, I thought. When he was asked about his past comments about treating undocumented immigrants as actual humans, he had the gall to defend himself! He didn't back down and said he still stands by those remarks. Jeb was already in hot water on this issue before the debate, and considering the Republican base won't tolerate anything short of shooting the illegals out of a canon back into Mexico, Jeb really didn't do himself any favors that night. I figure he'll pull a Mitt Romney and go hard right on immigration at some point in the next few debates. Should be fun to watch.

Marco Rubio:

Aside from the hilarious jab at Hillary with his "resume" remarks, Rubio was doing decent, if a bit boring for the most part. At least until he made certain that he would never win the general with his insane stance on abortion. Yes, the water boy made it clear that he would oppose abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. And he even doubled down on that position since! Furthermore, because Rubio said this, it means that the other candidates would have to veer just as far on this issue. Only the first debate so far and it already feels like Christmas.

I have to make an abrupt stop here for reasons. I'll finish up this post soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Allen West Politely Suggests Government May Have to Be Overthrown If Obama Attempts More Gun Control

About a week ago, President Obama gave an interview with the BBC, and was asked what the biggest regret of his presidency was:

“The issue of guns, that is an area where if you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws.”

As you would probably expect, like with everything else Obama says, conservatives were none too pleased. Among those who voiced their displeasure at the President's comments, was former congressman, and current war criminal, Allen West. 

In a not-at-all-ominous-sounding article titled "Obama needs to remember what happens when you push law-abiding people TOO FAR", West offers Obama a friendly warning if he attempts to somehow pursue any further gun control policies:

President Obama and the liberal progressive left must never forget the reason why Americans stood at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge. A tyrant wanted gun control – the answer was the “shot heard ‘round the world.”

I'm pretty sure that the folks who "stood at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge" had other motivations to do so, but whatever.

But it's nice that West wrote an article whining about how gun control isn't necessary, because the people committing most of the gun violence aren't patriotic conservatives like West, which is why if Obama pursues more gun control, said patriotic people like West will have no choice but to commit lots of gun violence themselves. Nothing unreasonable about that at all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Huckabee Reveals His Alternative To The Iran Deal

Mike Huckabee was on Fox News' Outnumbered yesterday and laid out his own plan to deal with Iran that's way better than the one we currently got from Adolf Chamberlain Obama:

The third option is to develop U.S. energy so that we become the exporter of energy to Europe, Africa and Asia. We take the Russians and the Saudis out of the energy export business. We bankrupt the Iranians. If they don't have any money it's hard for them to build a bomb.
 I have to say, this is definitely a new one. The typical Republican alternative to Obama's Iran deal so far has been to increase the number of instances of stink eye when dealing with Iranian officials. But Huckster seems to have a pretty interesting take.

And by "interesting" I mean "completely nonsensical". What on Earth does he mean "take the Russians and the Saudis out of the energy export business"? Those are the the top oil exporting countries in the world, with the U.S. being pretty far down the list. How exactly are we going to do that?

I think Huckabee should probably stick to needlessly invoking Godwin's Law.

Well, That Was Fun

Well, I got my surgery done last week and thankfully it appeared to go without a hitch. I'm in quite a bit of discomfort sadly, as I've barely eaten anything since last Friday because it's really difficult to do so. Still, I'm glad this is done and over with and hopefully this takes care of my decades long gum issue once and for all. Fingers crossed.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rush Limbaugh Says The Daily Show Stole Idea From Terrible Fox News Program

You might be familiar with Rush Limbaugh as an obnoxious, ignorant, right-wing gasbag radio host. But did you know he's also a time traveler?

RUSH: You all remember a comedy show that was produced by a friend of mine Joel Surnow that ran on the Fox News Channel. It was called The 1/2 Hour News Hour, and on the pilot episode of that show... It was a 30-minute satire news program that the liberals have copied and they've got their own version of it now on Comedy Central just like a lot of what is on Comedy Central is a rip-off of my television show. So has the left ripped off The 1/2 Hour News Hour, retitled it, and done it under the umbrella of liberalism.

Some context for those of you who might not be familiar with what Rush is referring to. Many years ago, Fox News began airing The 1/2 Hour News Hour a "satirical" "comedy" news program catered for right-wingers. The show got cancelled after one season due to poor ratings, no doubt due to all the liberal Fox News viewers refusing to give it a chance.

Rush claims that programs like The Daily Show stole the idea from The 1/2 Hour News Hour. But that would be a little difficult, given that the latter first aired in 2007, and the former has been on the air since 1996, eleven years prior. Furthermore it's difficult to think that TDS copied THHNH, given that the creator of THHNH himself, described the show as "'The Daily Show' for conservatives".

Rush is very horrible at many subjects, particularly history, so it's no surprise he would get the time line here completely, and utterly wrong.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Flashback: In 2011 Bill O'Reilly Threatened To Quit His Job If Obama Raised His Taxes

I was surfing the intertubes trying to search for some interesting political news when I serendipitously came across this amusing little blast from the past:

Back in 2011, the Bush tax cuts were scheduled to expire, but they were temporarily extended by President Obama and congress. But Bill O'Reilly didn't like that "temporary" part. He whined that he was already paying too much already, and if he had to pay any more, he may just take his ball and go home:

If you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in!
My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50%, which is very possible, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I like my job but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person’s income?

Well guess what happened? At the end of 2012, President Obama was able to let some of the Bush tax cuts expire. The top federal income tax rate rose from 35% to 39.6% (as it was under Clinton) and the capital gains rate rose from 15% to 20% (also, the rate, well, partly, under Clinton). That's a total increase of almost 10 percentage points!

And yet, more two years later, Bill O's still on the air, still whining about Obama destroying America.

Of course, it's not surprising that O'Reilly decided to stick around. The man makes a good chunk of change bloviating on T.V.:

From 2009 to 2013 his salary with Fox increased to $15 Million per year. In 2013 and 2014, following his latest contract negotiation, O'Reilly made $18 million per year.

Assuming O'Reilly actually gets taxed by 50% (and let's be clear, it's not actually 50% of his entire total salary because progressive taxes don't work that way, but just for the sake of argument we'll pretend it does), that would mean his take home pay would be in $9 million per year. Not sure about you guys, but I personally wouldn't mind making "only" $9 million a year.

And this is what I find to be absolutely hilarious with O'Reilly's pathetic "threat". He, along with other right-wing blowhards constantly warn the people who tune into their programming, that if you tax the innocent little "job creators", that if you "punish success", people like them will just pack up their bags and flee to Somalia. Of course, that never happens. Just like how our millionaire and billionaire class didn't simply close up shop and take the first flight to the Soviet Union during the 1940s and 1950s when tax rates were a sky high 90%!

Even supposedly getting taxed at a 50% rate (which again, is not actually anywhere near that high because that's not how progressive taxes work and that's  not accounting for tax loopholes that people like O'Reilly can take advantage of), he's still doing better than literally 99% of the country, and most people would kill to get anywhere near what O'Reilly does.

No sentient human being should think even for a nanosecond that anyone would be stupid enough to prefer to make $0 instead of several million, just because they don't get to keep the other several million. It was just as idiotic when Sean Hannity was whining about how he was hurting with the government supposedly taking 60% of his income, and when Phil Mickelson claimed that he would quit being a millionaire professional golfer because his taxes were too high. Both of them, unsurprisingly enough, are still working despite these crushing taxes. Imagine that.

Now, is there a point where taxes would be so high that it would in fact end up being counterproductive and wind up with people actually quitting? Of course, and no liberal has ever denied that. What we argue is that we're nowhere near such potentially destructive rates, and we won't be for a good while. And so we need to be made aware that these pathetic "threats" by the likes of O'Reilly and his right-wing ilk are just used to scare the working class into voting against their own interests to make rich people even richer. Hilariously enough, O'Reilly's "warning" only ended up highlighting what a joke trickle-down economics really is.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Hate The Dentist

Okay, I know this might not be the most popular opinion, but I do not enjoy going to the dentist. Aside from the obvious fears about any pain being involved , it's also generally a very costly venture, even for a particularly mundane procedure. Sadly, the procedure I need is not mundane. In fact, I had to go to a specialist, who is recommending surgery, which aside from sounding very unpleasant, is also quite expensive (the potential to be up to five figures). As you might guess, this news has left me in a rather depressed state, hence the lack of posting (more so than usual, admittedly) . But I think I've finally reached the acceptance phase, so I will resume blogging.

Reforming the dental industry should be the next big frontier that Democrats pursue.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rick Perry On Texas' High Uninsured Rate: "That's Not How We Keep Score"

Yesterday, former Presidential candidate and current Presidential candidate, Rick Perry, went on Fox News Sunday, where the host, Chris Wallace,  asked him a question on the subject of health care. Specifically about the absolutely horrid uninsured rate in his state. Let's see how that went:

WALLACE: One more question about Main Street or looking out for the little guy. When you were governor of Texas, your state had the highest uninsured rate in the country. One in five, more than one in five Texans didn't have health coverage, and yet you refused to set up a state exchange under Obamacare. You refused to expand Medicaid. Is that looking out for the little guy when 21 percent of Texans didn't have health insurance?

PERRY: If how you keep score is how many people you force to buy insurance, then I would say that that's how you keep score. That's not how we --

WALLACE: But the flip side of it, how many people don't have health insurance.

PERRY: Let me explain what we do in Texas. This is a state by state decision. We make access to healthcare the real issue. We passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation. We got 35,000 more positions licensed to practice medicine in 2013 than we did a decade before that. This is an issue for me, it's about access to healthcare. And it's not about whether you force somebody to buy insurance. It's whether Texans have access to good healthcare.
I have to admit, I'm not sure what Perry's trying to say. He doesn't care about people having insurance, but rather, he cares about them having "access"? I'd figure insurance would fall under that umbrella. Is he trying to say that it's okay that so many people don't have insurance because they can still see a doctor? Who pays for that visit? The Freedom fairy? Or do most of the doctors down there treat all poor people for free?

Also, Perry's claim about massive surge in doctors rushing into Texas after he helped pass tort reform is, unsurprisingly, bunk:

And the bulk of that influx has come in larger cities where health care was already abundant, leaving large rural swaths of Texas still without doctors…. [M]edical records in Texas show that of the state’s 254 counties, only 106 have an obstetrician/gynecologist — just six more than in 2003. In Presidio County, which has 8,000 residents and is growing, some of Parsons’ patients move 240 miles away to live with relatives in Odessa or Midland when they become pregnant. […]
Medical rolls increased by 24 percent since 2003, while Texas’ population was soaring by 20 percent during the decade. Texas also saw rapid growth of physicians per capita before tort reform, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Furthermore, over 10,000 of those doctors were ones "“who sought licenses in Texas but took jobs elsewhere”. Oops.

And that leads me to my next question: if Rick Perry did such a great job in turning Texas in a free market utopia, why did/does it still have the highest uninsured rate in the country?  Under Perry's stewardship, taxes were cut, spending was cut, regulations were cut, tort reform was passed, the  medicaid expansion was turned down, etc. Don't conservatives constantly say these policies would somehow allow more people to be insured? In fact, Texas seems like a great example of what the rest of the country would be like if the Republican alternative to Obamacare was actually in place.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wisconsin Dead Last In New Business Start Up Activity

It's such a shame that President Obama keeps ruining Scott Walker's economy:

Wisconsin ranks last of all the states for new business start-up activity, according to a major survey released June 5.

Milwaukee fared little better, coming in 39th among the nation’s 40 largest metropolitan areas.
The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship is the first and largest study tracking entrepreneurship across city, state and national levels for the United States. Produced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the index is one of the world’s most respected and cited entrepreneurship indicators in the nation.
When Walker became governor of Wisconsin in 2011, he presided over $2 billion in tax cuts, which, like all Republican politicians who endorse the magical effects of supply-side economics, he assured everyone, would lead to an explosion of economic growth. Sadly for Walker, things didn't pan out that way.

Back in 2010, Walker claimed that his freedom loving policies would create 250,000 jobs by the end of this first term. Turns out Walker fell short by 120,000.

Walker, like nearly all Republicans, believed tax cuts for the wealthy would result in increased revenues. Not only did said tax cuts not increase revenue, the state currently faces a $238 million shortfall.

And now, Walker's failed on yet another metric. Quite spectacularly, I might add. By being dead last in new start ups, that means that even high tax hellholes like California, Minnesota and New York (and really, every other Democratic state) are doing better, despite their job killing policies. How is such a thing even possible?

So Walker may have wrecked his state's economy, but on the plus side, he plans on making it harder for women to have abortions, so there's that, at least.