• stewartm commented on the blog post Military Action Breaks Out In Eastern Ukraine

    2014-04-15 14:07:21View | Delete

    Yes, by starting WW3.

    Awfully high price to pay just to let the Masters of the Universe loot another country, in’it?

    (What am I saying?? No price is too high if it’s borne by the 99 %!!)

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post TurboTax Behind Campaign Against Free Tax Filing

    2014-04-15 08:21:28View | Delete

    The IRS should be providing its own, open-source, e-file system. Period. But instead, when I click on one IRS link for “freefile” I get this:

    Please note that by clicking on this link, you will leave the IRS web site and enter a privately owned web site created, operated and maintained by a private business.

    The information that this private business collects and maintains as a result of your visit to its web site may differ from the information that the IRS collects and maintains. (please see the IRS web site privacy and security notice for privacy protections IRS provides to web site visitors).

    By linking to this private business, the IRS is not endorsing its products, services, or privacy or security policies. We recommend you review the business’s information collection policy or terms and conditions to fully understand what information is collected by this private business.

    Americans are already getting too-much of their dwindling incomes sucked up by needless middlemen who contribute *nothing* to the overall economy. In fact, the only growth sector in the US economy other than killing people is feeding these parasites.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Come Saturday Morning: A Dangerous “Reform”

    2014-04-12 15:14:21View | Delete

    I worry that the NSA programmed and released this bug for their own purposes.

    Bloomberg is reporting the NSA *knew* and didn’t sound the alarm in order to snoop. Of course, the NSA denies this (right, Mr. Clapper?)

    If true, the NSA as an organization and its leadership should be held criminally liable for any damage done. (Like that’ll ever happen).

    -steawrtm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Come Saturday Morning: A Dangerous “Reform”

    2014-04-12 15:11:49View | Delete

    You know, I’m honestly not sure which would be worse. That the NSA knew about this massive bug that threatened havoc for millions of Americans and did nothing about it for two years. Or that the NSA’s vaunted—and lavishly funded—cybersecurity team was completely in the dark about a gaping and highly-exploitable hole in the operational security of the internet for two years

    Well, to be honest, I don’t think that Heartbleed was “terribly exploitable”–more like “highly technical and obscure” would be more like it, as I’ve yet to hear any examples of hackers actually *utilizing* the exploit (like me or no one I know has just had money from their bank just up and disappear). That seems to be the usual rule in many forms of open-source crypto, the good guys find them before any bad guys do; there have been similar cases (say with PGP).

    But your (and Drum’s) point about the NSA either *not knowing* or *not saying* is well-put. I think the chances of either is 50/50. If the latter’s the case, I would think that the NSA should be criminally charged as an accomplice for any crimes that were committed b/c they held their tongue and didn’t raise the alarm.

    One last thing–in the case of XP computers/old devices which were not updated regularly, they actually might be safe from this. The exploit didn’t exist on OpenSSL before 2012.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Come Saturday Morning: A Dangerous “Reform”

    2014-04-12 14:56:59View | Delete

    persons needing disability benefits will have to go to a law office and using that office’s secured (one hopes) internet “tubes” to make their filings or appeals electronically, and get charged a few hundred bucks an hour for that privilege.

    Gah, do we have to give lawyer middlemen even MORE beneficiary bucks than they already get? What typically happens with every SS disability benefit that I’m aware of is that they always *DENY* you at first, and then you have to hire a lawyer and sue for it (this is even when you’re diagnosed with cancer or a serious ailment…as a friend said, “I know of people who *DIED* waiting for their disability benefits to be approved”). If you’re patient and can wait w/o any obvious income for a year or two or three, the guv’mint will allow you to win and give you back pay as a lump sum back to the time of your claim–but then your lawyer then typically takes *a third* of your payout.

    Why not just a better-staffed SS office and allow claims to be investigated and processed/denied thoroughly and efficiently without the lawyer middleman taking a huge chunk? And in response to the claim (and there’s some truth of this, from what I see) about people “cheating” (signing up for disability when it’s possible they could work still) why not a (ahem) commitment to a *full employment economy*? That fixes everything.

    -stewartm

  • O’Rourke once began an article on the 1990 Nicaraguan elections with a multi-paragraph critique of the sort of clothes worn by those visiting American liberals who supported the Sandinistas. He included similar critiques of liberal dressing habits in an article on the 1994 Mexican elections. He spent a good portion of an essay on the general increase in world travel decrying the fashions of tourists in general and the French in particular, and elsewhere took issue with the appearances of those among the Great Unwashed who now fly on commercial airliners. He made fun of those who appeared before the Supreme Court in opposition to a flag-burning ban for their general ugliness. He spent much of the ’90s mocking youngish leftists for wearing nose rings and black outfits—in fact, he did this so much as to actually ruin it for everyone else through overuse—and did so on at least one occasion in the pages of The Weekly Standard itself. He’s written an entire article in which he and his girlfriend roam around an Evangelical-oriented theme park and make fun of everyone present for their general tackiness. And he once asserted that Hillary Clinton should stop messing with her own hair and instead “do something about Chelsea’s.”

    And this is where Barrett Brown is wrong. Yeah, Krauthammer is a hack, and always has been, saying that is like telling us that water is wet. But O’Rourke was never “the finest humorist in America”, not for a decade, not by a long shot.

    As the saying goes, great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people. O’Rourke’s in the latter category; his castigation of people for what they wear and if they’re “ugly” or not tells me that deep down he’s nothing but a *snob*, which is probably the very reason why he ended up on the right.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post #Mozillagate: National Review Attacks Free Association

    2014-04-04 21:32:06View | Delete

    Ha! I’ve never used Mozilla Firefox, so have a leg up here.

    I can’t claim credit, though, since I’ve unknowingly passed up a chance to rant about yet another anti-social CEO hawking a product for profit.

    More’s the pity. Firefox is the only major free browser, you should support it. And the CEO *was* forced to resign after this bruhahah.

    As for the Mozilla Corporation:

    Unlike the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, and the Mozilla open source project, founded by the now defunct Netscape Corporation, the Mozilla Corporation is a taxable entity. The Mozilla Corporation reinvests all of its profits back into the Mozilla projects.[3] The Mozilla Corporation’s stated aim is to work towards the Mozilla Foundation’s public benefit to “promote choice and innovation on the Internet.”[4]

    I’d much sooner support and trust Mozilla and its open-source projects than anything cranked out by Microsoft, Apple, or Google.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post #Mozillagate: National Review Attacks Free Association

    2014-04-04 11:24:46View | Delete

    Conservatism used to be associated with the veneration of tradition

    Heh. Veneration of “tradition”? Maybe, if said “tradition” goes back to the Middle Ages (i.e., a society of nobles and serfs, with a weak central government unable to lift a finger to help the serfs if it was ever so inclined).

    It has *always* been a lie that conservationism has been anything else *but* this. There are no overarching principles of “liberty”, “small government”, “personal freedoms”, “due process”, “low taxes”, etc., that conservatives haven’t eagerly been willing to violate whenever it helps the nobles.

    -stewartm

  • Coates seems to be echoing Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, in which he argues that the freedom of poor whites was made possible by the enslavement of Africans.

    Though Morgan doesn’t expressly say this, I would put this co-evolution down to the Englishmen’s traditional contempt for the poor. The only way for poor whites to become more free was to substitute others for the grunt-work, because the traditional pillars of English social belief had to remain beyond question.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post One Tweet Which Shows Why Obamacare Has Been a Hard Sell

    2014-03-31 17:55:41View | Delete

    If the Democrats had done a good job in providing access to care and done so in a way that makes good public use of taxpayer and premium payer dollars, it’s possible that whatever talking points conservatives have would not have resonated with people, but we’ll never know that for sure

    I’m pretty damn sure that if Dems had passed HR 676, that the reality of “If you need healthcare, JUST GO and get it, and don’t worry about the cost, because it’s paid for” that people would have actually experienced would have trumped any Koch brother-funded propaganda.

    Reality has a way of winning out in the end, you know.

    AND from historical analogy (the 1974 mid-terms) if Obama had exposed the crimes of Cheney, Inc., and prosecuted a la Watergate everything from bankster fraud to torture, then the Dems would killed the Republicans in 2010. Good policy is also good politics.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post One Tweet Which Shows Why Obamacare Has Been a Hard Sell

    2014-03-31 17:30:19View | Delete

    It often appears to be comfortably middle class or further up the ladder people who are defending the ACA, claiming Medicaid should be good enough for poor people without acknowledging its problems (narrow networks, privatization, estate seizure), and refusing to fight for something better.

    So ingrained is the contempt for the poor and for minorities from American history that it’s always been an effective tool to paint any social insurance program that benefits everyone a “give-away” to these instead of what it really is–a benefit to the 99 %.

    -stewartm

  • stewartm commented on the blog post One Tweet Which Shows Why Obamacare Has Been a Hard Sell

    2014-03-31 17:26:35View | Delete

    The ACA has one primary, overriding goal: To increase profits for those companies that wrote the law. That is all. When looked at from this motivation, the supposed inadequacies of the ACA make perfect sense. High deductibles–perhaps so high that many citizens won’t even seek some treatments–plus forced payments under penalty of law? Perfect!

    I would say the main goal was to protect profits by reducing the risks of for-profit insurers and for-profit health care. Insurers get their premium money (in many cases guaranteed by the government) while for-profit health care is guaranteed to recoup all but the out-of-pocket expense for treatment (and given the price-gouging that goes on, that a hospital stay costs in the US cost *7 times as much in the Netherlands*, there’s plenty of cushion there).

    So the only loser is you, who goes broke due to unsustainable out-of-pocket expenses, while the big guys are protected.

    -stewartm

  • So according to your F) and G) observations what is left behind at your institution are a bunch of whites in managerial positions telling the ethnic workers what to do. America the beautiful.

    Slight correction: as products of the “elite” schools which often hail from rich families, it’s a case of a bunch of privileged whites getting fast-tracked to management (on the basis of…what exactly??) telling ethnic workers what to do.

    -stewartm

  • However this doesn’t not mean there isn’t a gap in STEM fields or overall academic achievement between U.S. born minorities/women and the white male majority, it has been proven scientifically many times. Whether you want to believe this or not but race and social economic status are the key factors for these gaps.

    What I’m seeing on the ground is:

    a) Most of our hires are white US citizens.

    b) We have a smattering of other ethnic groups, both US citizens and immigrants on H-1Bs.

    c) H-1Bs often live in terror of layoffs which could leave them in fear of immediate deportation. There are many obstacles to overcome to get and maintain one’s resident status as a H-B1.

    (Hey Fred! One of my friends who was in this predicament is a Chinese guy with a wife and baby, the latter two having resident status (because of her involvement with a university) that he lacked. If my friend got laid off he’d have two weeks to hoof it ack to China which would split up their family. Is that what you really want to do? Break up families?)

    d) Newer employees get lower pay and poorer benefit packages than what previous employees got, thus creating an incentive to downsize the older employees.

    e) Immigrants and other ethnic groups often are underrepresented when it comes to promotion and management.

    f) Candidates from “elite” schools tend to think that they’re entitled to rapid promotion and advancement and indeed many of these don’t intend to actually pursue a career in a STEM discipline, but want to transition into a management track (if I interview another such grad who thinks he/she should be a vice president within a decade after hiring, I think I’m going to barf). BUT…from a $$$ point of view this makes sense, because becoming a manager is where the bucks are, not in doing mere (snicker) *science*.

    g) And the latter fact is precisely the region many children of employees here who go to college (regardless of origin) don’t go into a STEM career, but seek careers in medicine or finance. Finance and medicine pay big bucks and if you owe $200k in debt (I know people in that strait, too!) it makes little financial sense to take a STEM job that might start at $65k and then top out at around $100-120k.

    Another way to correct this situation, of course, is to make college free, which could be done for 1 % of GDP and which means that people who’d rather not go into finance or medicine don’t have to. But despite our CEOs clamoring for STEM candidates they’re not eager to go that route either.

    -stewartm

  • you spread any more of your colossally-naive, empty-headed bullshit about how our society owes a job to the entire fucking population of the world.

    So it’s always a case of “No dogs or Chinamen allowed” in your world, eh Fred? Because there is an ugly side to the history labor movement where that kind of shit happened. Instead of blaming the big bosses and corporate power for their plight, workers were encouraged to blame the Chinese, Latinos, blacks, or any other form of “the other” for their predicament. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not repeat that bit of history and false “them or us” choice.

    What I don’t understand, you say you agree with me that we can have jobs for everyone who cares to work here, that it is indeed possible, but you persist in saying we focus on crushing non-white people underfoot as our priority instead. Even though providing full employment for everyone is in no way less politically infeasible than to trying to cut off immigration (haven’t we been trying to do that for the past umpty-ump years with little success?) In fact, given the changing makeup of the electorate demographics, I’d say my policy of jobs-for-everyone has more chance of success than yours.

    Lastly, this is not “providing jobs for the whole world”, just to remove roadblocks (or at least not put any more in, in both directions) for people who want to immigrate or emigrate. Funny how free-market types who get so worked up when they talk about capital crossing boundaries don’t want labor to have the same privilege. Part of the problem we have, which the 1 % exploits, is that we have mobile capital and immobile labor. Mitt Romney and Jamie Dimon can plop their money wherever they want; but your ability to go where the jobs are doesn’t likewise exist, in fact, on both ends there are oodles of obstacles to overcome (reading the comments here, I think people vastly overstate how easy it is to get a work or even a study visa–or even a TOURIST visa, for many foreigners, for crying out loud). I know people who have been rejected even wanting to come here as tourists to sightsee, with no reason given!!

    And it may interest you that many of the H-1Bs who come here first to study, and then to work, often plan to return to their country of origin at some future date.

    -stewartm

  • Go look at the demographics of the people educated and working in STEM fields and then come here say there is no crisis or gap.

    Ok, mister. I work in a STEM field. I have sat on hiring committees where we get and have to sift through 100s of qualified applicants per job. I see at my job people with MS and BS STEM degrees taking jobs two or three positions lower than what they’re capable of, filling jobs that used to be adequately filled by people with high school degrees (and still could). New hires get poorer pay and benefit packages compared to what people previously got.

    The plain fact is that we have a jobs crises, not a skills crises. Unemployment is indeed lower in the STEM positions only because STEM graduates are being massively underemployed, not because there is some pent-up demand for them that can’t be satisfied.

    As for the demographics, read what I wrote again. Just from a dollars and cents proposition, it does not behoove a bright typical US student from a non-rich family to take on $200k of student debt to try to get into Stanford or MIT and graduate and start at $65k a year, when if he goes into the bailed-out and government-supported disciplines of finance and/or medicine he/she can make many multiples of that. If the CEOs really wanted to entice students into a STEM career, THEY SHOULD PAY THEM MORE..a LOT MORE.

    -stewartm

  • Yes, workers with a lot of formal education have lower unemployment than those with less, but that’s always true, in good times and bad. The crucial point is that unemployment remains much higher among workers at all education levels than it was before the financial crisis. The same is true across occupations: workers in every major category are doing worse than they were in 2007.

    And, while you have this image in mind, think of the stacked ranking system that many companies still employ, where supervisors are told to label, say 10 %, of their reports as “bad apples” to be either “improved” (when there’s often nothing wrong with their performance, objectively) or shown the door. We need an employee Bill of Rights, and fast.

    -stewartm

  • The most ignorant view is claiming that their is no educational crisis in the American educational system, when study after study demonstrates an achievement gap between minorities/women and white males, in particular STEM fields.

    Oh, criminy.

    There is an educational crises but not the one you speak of. The educational crises we have is all about “elite” schools and the elbowing to get into them, to get preferred access to the few jobs that are offered. The so-called “elite” schools produce graduates that are superficially “smart” because they’ve been trained to regurgitate the “right” answers on standardized tests (thank you, NCLB “reform”) without deep understanding.

    As for the STEM disciplines, many bright students, facing a lifetime of debt, are driven into investment banking and medicine because those are the few careers that can pay salaries which allow you to pay off $150k or $200k of student debt. But even these are only superficially educated, trained to regurgitate conventional wisdoms rather than understand and think.

    SOO…if the CEOS want more Americans to choose STEM careers, here’s your answer: PAY THEM MORE. Simple as that.

    -stewartm

  • There is no skills gap, we produce plenty of people with scientific degrees. I have sat on hiring committees, and the number of qualified applicants run over 100 per position. We have a jobs gap, not a skills gap.

    AND…to REPEAT, let’s not play into the hands of the racists and xenophobes and repeat all sorts of the uglier parts of US history and pretend that this is the immigrants’ fault. We were seeing declining wages and benefits well before there was all this crapola about foreigners coming over on H-B1 visas. America’s declining wages can be charted well back to Reagan, when some of these countries (notably China) weren’t even exporting H-1Bs.

    -stewartm

  • You need to look outside your own company (and possibly harder within it) to spot the downward pressure on wages and working conditions exerted by H-1B and similar programs.

    We hire H-1B visas, but not in large numbers. Most of our hires are native Americans, and (having known H-1B friends) it’s no easy task for these to get it, there are already multiple hurdles in place. The downward wage pressure we are seeing is the continuation of the domestic policies of Reagan which largely preceded hiring H-1Bs (as some of these countries like China weren’t exporting much in the way of workers then anyway).

    -stewartm

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