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February 28, 2017

Thank you, Dean Baker

I read this New York Times article last night and nearly had an aneurysm suppressing my rage. In part for seeing them include Social Security in the general budget and in part just for the general tone of obvious disappointment that Trump's budget didn't include cuts to Social Security and Medicare (e.g. "dogged", "hoped that reality.. would have led to new conclusions"). And that's just what i saw without trying to verify anything. But i calmed myself by saying don't worry, Dean Baker will get this in the morning. And, indeed.

(To be clear, i'm 100% against Trump's insane proposals for increased military spending and cuts to other domestic programs. But an article that subtly attacks Trump for not cutting out most important universal programs is just wrong.)

By fnord12 | February 28, 2017, 10:32 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 27, 2017

C'mon! Don't Making Things Confusing for the Olds

This is some crap. Right now, full retirement age is 66. Starting in 2021, it will go up 2 months every year until it hits 67. Ofc, with our cabal of useless and douchebag politicians (and fucking Tom Brokaw), it might get pushed up to infinity by the time we're in our 60s.

Anyway, for now, you can start collecting social security as early as 62 or delay it up to 70. If you start collecting before "full retirement age", you get a reduced percentage and you will always get that reduced percentage (30% less if you start collecting at 62). If you hold off until 70, your social security check will be 32% greater than if you start collecting at 66 - 8% for every year you hold off. This is called "delayed retirement credits".

Now, if you started collecting social security but then read about the delayed retirement credits and are in good health and don't expect to shed this mortal coil before 70, you can tell SS to suspend your benefits until you're 70, thus earning the delayed credits and getting a bigger check later on. However, if you have also signed up for Medicare Parts B, C, and/or D, the premiums for these are coming out of your ss check. If you suspend ss but don't send Medicare on time payments yourself, they will continue to deduct it from your ss, which effectively negates your suspension of ss benefits.

But SS won't tell you that. They will continue to not send you checks until 70 because ofc that part they understood correctly, but you won't accumulate those extra delayed retirement credits so your check won't be any bigger and you'll have basically lost out on collecting ss checks for those 4 years when you thought your benefits were suspended.

Was that confusing? I thought it was confusing. Why is it that in order to know basic things necessary to our lives we have to figuratively go down the broken stairs to the cellar, with a flashlight, past the "Beware of the Leopard" sign, and find the locked cabinet in the disused lavatory? I barely have enough functioning neurons to remember from the time i leave the bathroom to the time i get to my phone that i wanted to add "toilet paper" to the shopping list. I'm only 40! What do you think i'm going to be like at 67? I don't need help making things difficult!

And like fnord12 said - seems to me if someone can write a book saying that, someone in the SSA ought to have been notified and fix it. i mean, that's a "bug".

Right? RIGHT???

By min | February 27, 2017, 8:30 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Public pensions are fine

You simply can't dissolve, say, Arkansas...

Seems similar to the "Social Security is going bankrupt" meme.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2017, 7:30 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 26, 2017

Pesky voters, how dare they

A quote from an article from before the vote:

Mr. Groen said he is a fan of both Mr. Ellison and Mr. Perez, the Obama administration's former labor secretary -- but the pro-Ellison effort convinced him to go public with his support for Mr. Perez.

"Let's say you were completely uncommitted," he said. "You don't want 300 people calling you and telling you what to do."

Definitely don't elect the guy with the engaged grassroots base. Smart.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2017, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

All in favor of being unanimous?

From NBC's DNC Chief Tom Perez Faces Divided Party article:

In the front of the ballroom where voting occurred Saturday, DNC members from both factions moved quickly to show unity. They cheered Perez and adopted a motion to record for posterity their vote as unanimous.

min: Do they have any clue how ridiculous they are? Pathetic.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2017, 1:11 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life & Ummm... Other?| Link

Dems shit the bed again

A write-up from Matt Bruenig on the DNC election.

Congrats to Keith Ellison for getting the Mickey Mouse fake "deputy" position though.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2017, 11:55 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 23, 2017

Flaming Hot Garbage

Ryan Cooper looks at proposed changes to a Washington DC plan to provide paid family leave (just in the city; don't get excited). It's not specifically relevant to you unless you work in DC, but it works well as an example of why means-testing and other half measures are actually worse and more expensive than universal programs. Apply to healthcare, college tuition, etc.. Click through to Matt Bruenig's more detailed analysis, too.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2017, 6:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 21, 2017


But as a dweeb, i still *can* read comics, right?

I know that the gag of this comic isn't supposed to be Tom DeFalco thinking to himself, "But there goes our whole business model!", but it's all i can see.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2017, 6:13 PM | Comics| Link

The World We Live In

Back in 2002 when i attempted to make cheesey biscuits but the vegan cheese at the time was so awful that they came out more like fishy biscuits, i could never have imagined a world where bloody Breyers would put out a vegan ice cream!

Our friend Original Bob tipped us off to the miraculous news that Ben & Jerry's and Breyers were both selling vegan ice cream in regular supermarkets. So, clearly, we looked for it on our very next shopping trip. And also clearly, we had to get both brands.

Both were surprisingly good. Our current favorite is Coconut Bliss and still is even after tasting these two. The Breyers tasted a little "thin", not very creamy, but pretty good and much better than the So Delicious attempts (both soy and coconut). The Ben & Jerry's was very good, but I'm withholding final judgement until i taste a vanilla-based flavor. Coffee can hide flaws. Fnord12 wouldn't let me get all of the B&J pints so it'll be some time before I try another flavor. I dunno why he's always trying to keep me down.

Now, you know what's a truly horrible vegan ice cream?

This one:

OMG it's so bad. I can't even describe how bad it is. It's icy and worst than tasteless. There's a horrible aftertaste that hits you after you swallow. Don't get this. We should have known something was wrong because the container listed a whole bunch of stuff it was "free of" and that just means someone's trying to make shit healthy. You can't make healthy ice cream! IT'S ICE CREAM JUST EAT IT AND SHUT UP! So, yeah, don't get this. It's the ice cream equivalent of fish biscuits.

fnord12: Someone needs to lotion more.

By min | February 21, 2017, 11:33 AM | Vegan Vittles| Link

Torrent effects on comic book sales

This is just one study so all the usual caveats apply, and it focused on Manga specifically, but the conclusion seems to be that the availability of comics torrents negatively affects regular single issue sales but actually increases trade/collection sales (at least, in this case, for series that have been discontinued; again, the fact that the study focused on Manga introduces variables not necessarily applicable to US superhero comics). This does make sense to me and is actually pretty obvious. The torrents allow people to sample books and decide what they want to own.

(Personally i still need to hold physical copies when sitting down to read, and for my project i prefer single issues to trades, but it's nice to have digital scans available for quick reference and screenshots. But my peculiar needs make me an outlier.)

By fnord12 | February 21, 2017, 10:22 AM | Comics| Link

February 17, 2017

Continuing the "now you own it" beat

Ryan Cooper:

Now without any opponent in power to blame for everything, many GOP congressmen are getting a tiny, disturbing inkling of the fact that what people actually want with health care is something even more extensive and expensive than ObamaCare -- but what few plans they have sketched out are the polar opposite of that.

By fnord12 | February 17, 2017, 12:16 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 14, 2017

What Happened to You, Man?

The director of Glengarry Glen Ross is the 50 Shades director??? Holy hell!

By min | February 14, 2017, 7:11 PM | Movies| Link

On this Valentine's Day, please respect this

By fnord12 | February 14, 2017, 7:26 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

February 13, 2017

Make Amazon a public utility

I haven't fully read this paper by Lina Khan yet, let alone fully digested it. But there's something in there that i think i'm going to like, so i'm blogging it here so i don't forget about it (and to share, ofc). Whenever i read people worrying about Amazon becoming a monopoly. Because, i looooove Amazon. I can't conceive of a more simple way to buy... everything, and i'd really hate it if Amazon were broken up and i had to go to multiple websites to shop.

But of course i also recognize that concentrated power is bad in general. For Amazon, that means that once it's driven all of its competitors out of business it might finally raise prices (to the point where it might actually become profitable).

My solution to this has always been to simply nationalize it, but of course i am a socialist loon. So it's nice to see a Yale academic, among other points, making a similar, but less extreme argument (as one of two possible solutions, the other being anti-trust action). The idea is to regulate Amazon as a public utility:

Although largely out of fashion today, public utility regulations were widely adopted in the early 1900s, as a way of regulating the technologies of the industrial age...

Given that Amazon increasingly serves as essential infrastructure across the internet economy, applying elements of public utility regulations to its business is worth considering. The most common public utility policies are (1) requiring nondiscrimination in price and service, (2) setting limits on rate-setting, and (3) imposing capitalization and investment requirements. Of these three traditional policies, nondiscrimination would make the most sense, while rate-setting and investment requirements would be trickier to implement and, perhaps, would less obviously address an outstanding deficiency.

...A nondiscrimination policy that prohibited Amazon from privileging its own goods and from discriminating among producers and consumers would be significant. Given that many of the most notable anticompetitive concerns around Amazon's business structure arise from its vertical integration and the resulting conflicts of interest, applying a nondiscrimination scheme would curb the anticompetitive risk.

Matt Stoller has a tl;dr tweetstorm if the paper is too much.

By fnord12 | February 13, 2017, 5:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Some good news

Rules have been established saying that:

...nobody can be jailed for nonpayment of fines without a hearing establishing that they had the money and deliberately refused to pay, or that nonpayment was not the defendant's fault and alternatives to incarceration were inadequate.

By fnord12 | February 13, 2017, 5:15 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Nailed it

Don't worry, guys. All my fussing about the Democrats needing to change has paid off. The House Dems have emerged from their post election autopsy with the following conclusion:

"I think the next presidential nominee should be someone who's gutted a deer or in some other way demonstrates to small-town America and rural America and hunters that they're culturally attuned," [California Rep. Brad] Sherman said. "And gutting a deer is one way to go."

min: i can't believe these motherfucking morons managed to successfully rig a primary against us.

By fnord12 | February 13, 2017, 7:52 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 10, 2017

Was that likely?

Also not to be confused with Rawr, the sound that means 'I love you' in Dinosaur.

By fnord12 | February 10, 2017, 2:35 PM | Music| Link

At least it's an ethos

I know i've post-mortemed to death already, but Glenn Greenwald just wrote an article showing that the Dems are resisting any attempt to learn anything.

In fact, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has denied that there are any divisions at all and also weirdly claims that the Dems don't have a party orthodoxy.

The reporter pressed on, asking if Pelosi was denying real divisions within her party.

"Yeah, that's what I'm saying," Pelosi insisted.

"A political party has to accommodate differences, or else we'd all be teeny-tiny political parties, and we could meet in this room for the rest of our time," she said, indicating the small hotel meeting room where she was meeting with reporters. She claimed that unlike Republicans, Democrats "don't have a party orthodoxy."

(Of course Pelosi also recently said "we're capitalists, and that's just the way it is", which sounds like orthodoxy to me.)

The Yahoo news article i linked to doesn't have the full quote from Pelosi. I had to go to the right-wing Daily Caller for that. The full quote is actually pretty incoherent (it's amazing to me how a leader of a national party can be so bad at speaking), but it's interesting how she acknowledges that the Republicans actually having a fucking message works out for them during elections, but nonetheless thinks that the Dems not having one is a good thing.

She also proudly notes that there's no one out there funding primary challenges on the left. She attributes that to the weird "only Republicans have ideology" thing, but of course the truth is that the funding for Democrats is available only for those that do follow the party orthodoxy. For what it's worth, the Justice Democrats are trying to change that.

By fnord12 | February 10, 2017, 7:53 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Ideological drag at the Fed

Matt Stoller has a long write-up on the Fed, noting that a good portion of it is still controlled by people hired by Alan Greenspan. There's a lot to process. My first impression is that looking at how arcane and powerful it is while at the same time being so resistant to change/influence from officials that people actually elect, i understand where the "abolish the Fed" sentiment comes from. Not saying i agree with that, and i understand that the Fed's independence was designed as a feature, not a bug. But when you look at the way Obama appointee Janet Yellen has/had to contend with an embedded bureaucracy created not by the person she replaced but by the guy before him, it seems messed up.

Update: Looks like the main subject of the article, Scott Alvarez, is stepping down, and Yellen will pick the replacement. That's good news but doesn't take away from Stoller's "ideological drag" point.

By fnord12 | February 10, 2017, 7:30 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Horseshoe theory out of control

In an editorial about Steve Bannon, Fareed Zakaria couldn't resist the impulse to punch left as well.

In a strange way, Bannon's dark, dystopian view of U.S. history is closest to that of Howard Zinn, a popular far-left scholar whose "A People's History of the United States" is a tale of the many ways in which 99 percent of Americans were crushed by the country's all-powerful elites. In the Zinn/Bannon worldview, everyday people are simply pawns manipulated by their evil overlords.

"In a strange way" indeed.

I'm sorry to do this, but this is what this classic Dril tweet is for:

By fnord12 | February 10, 2017, 7:19 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 8, 2017

I have a beard, and I VOTE

We're getting fleeced by these taxes.

Don't let Peter the Great (more like Peter the Great Big Jerk, apparently) give any ideas to the well known beard-hater in the White House about a beard tax.

By fnord12 | February 8, 2017, 1:05 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

February 7, 2017

That didn't last long

David Sirota backs out of alliance with David Brock (cf):

"As you know, I was thrilled to initially accept the proposal to work with True Blue Media because I believe in nonpartisan accountability journalism. However, the circumstances of the job subsequently changed," Sirota said in an emailed statement. "True Blue Media does not right now have in hand the resources for the kind of independent, nonpartisan journalism I want to continue to do and that is needed to execute on the ambitious editorial strategy that we agreed on. Therefore, I have decided to turn down the job. I wish David Brock all the best."

The failure by a key element of the Democratic establishment to recruit Sirota -- an anti-corporate outsider from the party's Sanders wing -- points to the challenge Democratic donors and elites face in channeling a movement that, at the end of the day, has little love for them.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2017, 10:37 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

It's not "the list", it's the platform

This Mother Jones article shows how Democrats are treating Bernie Sanders' supporters' emails like they are the next artifact that Indiana Jones should go searching for. Like as if they could just get access to "the list", they could raise all this money. Tom Perez, the guy the establishment is supporting so that Bernie's ally Keith Ellison doesn't win, is quoted saying that he wants "to learn from Senator Sanders about how he did it."

It's not a frickin mystery. The truth is the DNC probably already has "the list". But people ignore the appeals from the DNC because the DNC has a garbage message (as the article points out, their strange and persistent "we're doomed" line of messaging has been a huge joke among left wing Dems for several cycles now; it's become very clear that fear mongering about Republicans is not enough). And even if it mimicked Bernie's message, people aren't going to believe it coming from group that did everything they could to sink Bernie during the primary. If they want Bernie's record breaking small donors, they have to truly become Bernie's party.

The article quotes Bernie people saying this, and weirdly concedes that "there's some truth to it". That's all the truth. There isn't a secret cache of humans hidden out there that would donate to the DNC if only someone could find their email addresses. That's just not how it's works, and that should be self-evident. It's also weird how the article pitches Perez and Ellison as being in equal spots. We (the people on "the list") know that Bernie's pushing for Ellison. The situation will be very different if he wins vs. Perez. If you want "the list" to do its magic for you, the minimum that has to happen is that you make Ellison head of the DNC.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2017, 7:17 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 6, 2017


Am i missing something or do the briefs still look boring?

By fnord12 | February 6, 2017, 1:33 PM | Comics| Link

February 3, 2017

Since i'm thanking people

I just wanted to thank Frederick Douglass for time traveling to prevent the Bowling Green Massacre.

By fnord12 | February 3, 2017, 7:22 AM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other?| Link

February 1, 2017

Protestors... thanks!

I wanted to acknowledge the awesome protests that happened this past weekend. The people that mobilized on Saturday night to protest the Muslim ban (and yes, it is a "Muslim" "ban"; Trump defenders have contested both words) are really amazing. I think it's incredible how such protests were organized at difficult to reach places (airports) all over the country. I've seen it said that OWS, BLM, and the Bernie movement have created infrastructural bootstraps that make this sort of thing possible, and i think that's awesome too. And kudos to the ACLU and to the taxi union for their solidarity strike.

I don't normally just do gushing posts like this but i haven't had anything to blog since the Russia post. To people with a binary/partisan view, the Russia post might feel like a "defense" of Trump, and that's not the case at all. I just think it's way off base to attack Trump over paranoid conspiracy theories when there is plenty of tangible stuff to judge him by.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2017, 11:20 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

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