Fox News Wet-Dream – Three Federal Scandals; All Obama’s Fault

"Something something dark side"
“Something something dark side”

Conservative pundits, particularly those on Fox News are having the time of their lives. There are three huge scandals rocking Washington right now, and all of them are the President’s fault! Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe. Let’s break down each one.

1. The IRS targeting Tea Party groups – This of course is the least likely to have White House involvement, although Fox News of course insinuates otherwise. While I agree, the IRS should not be targeting specific political groups for breaking tax laws, it seems obvious that this group would be targeted. For one, the Tea Party’s biggest political argument is that people pay too many taxes! But what makes them an even easier target, is the fact that these are small groups, with little money to begin with, and therefore don’t have the finances to hire big tax lawyers to help defend themselves against the IRS.  Remember, the IRS has been crippled over the last 30 years so they can only really go after those who can’t afford to defend themselves. What I find most sickening about this whole thing is the federal response; the President is “angry” and justice will be sought, and John Boehner want to know “who is going to jail” for this. Where was this level of response when large investment banks were corrupting the world financial markets with broken investments of bundled sub-prime mortgages? How many bank executives went to jail for that? Doesn’t matter, Obama hates the Tea Party and this is all his fault.

2. Benghazi – This is the scandal that just won’t die. Republicans are arguing that the White House covered up the fact that it was a premeditated terrorist attack and that it was a demonstration over a anti-Muslim You Tube video that turned bad. If only they can prove that the White House tried to cover it up because they were just a month away from election day. Two thoughts here. 1) How does that attack being a demonstration-gone-bad help the White House politically any more than it being a premeditated attack? 2) There has been no evidence of a cover-up, and the more documents that get released and more “whistle-blowers” that come forward only help prove there was no cover-up. Even the Wall Street Journal, my Op-Ed archenemy, fully acknowledges this is nothing more than poltical propaganda to tarnish the reputation of presidential potential Hillary Clinton. More and more this is looking like a CIA/defense strategy to not reveal the terrorist group to the public at first, because they couldn’t confirm it and they didn’t want the enemy to know that the US knew who did it. Regardless though, it is Obama’s fault and he should be impeached.

3. Department of Justice Going After the AP – This is in reference to the Department of Justice taking 2 months of records from the Associated Press because of intelligence leaks related to national security. Obama claims to not have knowledge of the record-grab, and even Attorney General Eric Holder says the operation was beneath him. Regardless, this is the President’s fault and even democrats are asking for Eric Holder to resign. On one hand, this is pretty wild for the federal government to infringe on the press’s ability to report the news. On the other hand, someone in the government is breaking rank and releasing sensitive information and needs to be flushed out. Someone needs to watch the Departed to learn how to smoke out a mole I think, at least that should have been the first step in finding the leak. Either way though, it is Obama’s fault.

Illegal Immigrants Paying for Your Retirement

It cracks me up that the mother is holding the kids hand but dad is running ahead all by himself.
It cracks me up that the mother is holding the kid’s hand but dad is running ahead all by himself.

Those who believe that illegal immigrants come to this country to steal your job and sleep with your wives when they are supposed to be cleaning the pool will be shocked to learn they have a positive effect on your retirement security. A recent study conducted by the Social Security Administration found that illegal immigrants contribute a net gain in the Social Security Trust Fund through their contributions to the Payroll Tax.

Senator, and water gulper, Mark Rubio requested the study as part of his new approach to Immigration Reform now ping-ponging around congress. The analysis described that illegal immigrants who pay Payroll Taxes contribute to the Trust Fund that doles out money to insured citizens who are currently retired and disabled.  These same illegal immigrants are unlikely to become insured themselves for lack of a matching or legitimate Social Security Number, thus they will be unable to collect benefits from the system. The study found that of the $13 billion illegal immigrants contributed in 2010 only about $1 billion was paid out to insured citizens that were once illegal residents.

Further, illegal immigrant increases the population of natural born citizens when immigrants give birth inside the US. This increases the eventual tax base benefiting those that will retire in the future. This might be a stereotype but let’s face it these border jumpers breed like rabbits on ecstasy. I’m going to start looking at condos in Florida.

Yahoo News

Collect Disability and Live Like a Bum

Have some money, it dosen't cost anything.
Have some money, it dosen’t cost anything.

“We who work through colds, bad backs and low moods — however liberal we might be — have permission to resent those who could hold a job but don’t, preferring to collect disability checks unto the decades. You see them at the coffee shop, refilling their cups in leisure, or even pumping iron at the gym.

And there are more of them all the time. More than 5 percent of eligible American adults are now receiving disability payments from Social Security. Twenty years ago, it was 3 percent.”

 

I got the above quote from a Froma Harrop, a Seattle Times opinion writer and complete waste of oxygen. This nut job is just stoking the fire of conservatives who believe that our nation’s Social Security Disability benefits program is a backdoor welfare system with no proof, and zero statistical justification. (Zero Point Zero)

First she points out that the percent of Americans claiming their disability benefits, which they have earned through payroll allotments, has risen from 3% to 5% in the last 20 years. The only logical conclusion that she can muster to account for this whopping 2 percent increase in the last two decades is that people are faking it. Stealing tax payer money, drinking coffee at leisure and pumping iron at the gym. At no time does she take into account the fact that the baby boom population has been ageing for the last 20 years thereby increasing the average age of Americans. This would make too much sense because the older  a person is the more likely they are to be disabled or become disabled due to injury. No, according to her we are all just pigs fighting to suckle at the government fat titty.

Second, living on Social Security benefits pays less than a part time minimum wage job, so no one is going to be sitting at Starbucks and shelling out their scarce greenbacks to an overpriced gym membership. For those few who do scam their way into the system and the fewer that are able to obtain benefits, due to the adminstrations backlogs andrigorous inquiries , it is not a lavish life style they lead. Often it is a decision made out of financial desperation and not one of laziness.

Third, the author exhibits several cases where disability claimants alleged phantom disabilities to obtain benefits. Every cases she cites is from a private insurer and not Social Security. She goes on to proclaim that other countries have tried to wean people off their disability benefits with vocational rehabilitation programs. These programs do exist in the US as well; they are administrated by the State and local governments.

Here is the link to the full Seattle Times article but instead of wasteing your time reading this waste of valueble internet space, go to the gym, get some coffee and take a survey of who many disability recipients sorround you.

Sell Your Gold, Buy Wampum

 

http://mariopiperni.com

It’s time to sell your gold. At the height of the Great Recession investors and doomsday preppers alike flocked to dump all their assets in gold, the safest of all investments. It was perceived that gold was the soundest investment in the turbulent market since it has a consistently increase in value over the last decade. In fact it had gained 650% since 1999. This was once true of the real estate market as well. The thing is, gold has no real utility outside of its use in manufacturing certain electronics and its use in jewelry. So the price of gold is mostly fixed to what someone is willing to pay to own it. However, gold is on the decline losing 17% value since 2011. Big investors are pulling out of the market and ordinary citizens are seeing their once foolproof investment dwindle before their eyes.

Last call, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

It’s sometimes hard for some to accept that this was just a bubble that inflated beyond its true value and not a real consistently sound investment. There will be those who will say this is only a hiccup and gold is worth more than the market appreciates. However, I find in situations like this it’s best to look for the next big foolproof investment bubble. It’s Wampum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If you’re from India why are you white?

Wampum, cut sea shells woven together in strings or belts, was once a currency and jewelry of the East Coast Native American tribes. Today Wampum is still around mostly in Native American tourist traps and online retailers. But the real allure to an investment in Wampum is that it is a completely arbitrary item, just like gold. I personally predict that if you get in on the ground floor you stand to make a 1000% return on your original investment in as short as 7 years. At which time I predict the bottom will fall out in the Wampum market and the next new big investment will be these giant stones with holes in the center that early humans decorated their lawns with, doomsday preppers will love these.

Check out the latest addition to my investment portfolio.

 

New York Times

NYC Soda Ban – Ineffectively Effective

Hold the carbonation please, I'll just eat the cubes
Hold the carbonation please, I’ll just eat the cubes

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made national news in 2012 when he announced a plan to limit the size of sugary drinks throughout all of New York City, as a way to help curb the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. It was unprecedented and debated for weeks, if not months, on political talk shows, local and national news papers, late night shows, and at water coolers around corporate America. The debate is brilliant really; should government take away such a simple freedom in order to make its citizens healthier? Could such a simple regulation even make the nation’s largest city healthier?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. I was torn by the thought at first; on one hand I really did not care, because I don’t drink large sugary drinks (and I’m still fat, mind you). On the other hand, this type of government overreach is quite extensive, almost offensively so. It certainly seemed as if the law had more opponents than proponents, and a week before it was set to take effect, a New York State supreme judge ruled the law invalid. Of course, the judge did not strike down the ban because of its overreaching nature, but because the mayor never brought the measure before the city council, only the board of health (which is appointed by the mayor).

Even in defeat though, Bloomberg and soda ban proponents can declare victory I feel. While I still don’t feel that the soda ban is truly right for society, nor does it actually address the root problem of obesity, the initial ban and controversy brought so much light to the unhealthiness of soda and sugary drinks, that surely it has made some people think twice about their soda consumption. The proposed ban alone made soda manufacturers ramp up 8-ounce can production, which is gaining popularity throughout New York City delis and lunch spots. Some who want to fight obesity might think consumption is the root problem, but realistically it is the lack of education around healthy eating. Regardless if the ban ever does take effect, a lot more people are thinking about their sugary drink consumption, and that it truly a huge victory for us all.

The Imbalance of Cyber Justice and Real Life Crimes

I've mapped my "justice" key to auto-headshot terrorists in CS Source
I’ve mapped my “justice” key to auto-headshot terrorists in CS Source – now *that* is justice

People have a natural want of doing really well in their jobs to help themselves get promoted in their chosen career. This is usually a good thing, as it creates a meritocratic system of the best-of-the-best rising to the top in a given field. One of the big exceptions to this system is in the case of public prosecutors. For example, earlier this year a co-founder of the popular news aggregating website Reddit, Aaron Swartz, killed himself, after the state of Massachusetts charged him for enough crimes to put him away for decades. His crime, was gathering electronic articles from MIT without authorization and sharing it to the world. MIT was not willing to file charges against the young man, however the state wanted to lock him up as if he were a serial killer. I’m not condoning the action of Swartz, but clearly the potential punishment did not match the crime. The state prosecutors were not seeking comparative justice; they were looking to see their names in the paper for a record of sentencing for a cyber crime.

Today, another great example of this treatment on a man out of Arkansas. Andrew Auernheimer, was sentenced to 41 months in jail for “hacking” AT&T. Auernheimer was able to get access to 114,000 iPad user accounts from AT&T’s online verification system. The thing about this case is how the prosecution defined hacking though. You see, Auernheimer did not do anything crazy technical to get this information, as he simply used something called a “GET” request on AT&T’s servers for the data, and the AT&T’s servers were stupid enough to reply with the requested information. It’s the equivalent of walking into your local bank and asking the teller for all the bank customers account information – and the teller saying “OK, here you go!” Now, Auernheimer used this information to make a name for himself and gave it to Gawker media, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But again, he didn’t “steal” data from AT&T, he simply used software to ask for the information and AT&T handed it right over.

Again, I’m not condoning the actions of these people, but certainly their “crimes” do not warrant excessive punishment. This is the same justice system that just sentenced two rapists of a 16 year old girl in Ohio to 1 & 2 years (one got 2 years because he took naked photographs of the girl). It’s also the same justice system that failed to prosecute a single individual for all the mortgage dealings that lead to the Great Recession. In the 21st century, being part of a civilized society requires a system of comparative justice where the punishment matches the crime; not a system where people are trying to make a name for themselves.

Paul Ryan is Being a Douche

As if it were not obvious from this picture
As if it were not obvious from these pictures

Paul Ryan unveiled his much anticipated budget proposal today, and much to my surprise (I don’t know why) – it’s the same shit he’s been trying to pass for the past two years. This includes lowering corporate taxes, turning Medicare into a voucher program, and abolishing Obamacare. Ryan even publishes a letter in the Wall Street Journal promoting his plan to balance the deficit in 10 years. Ryan is correct that his plan will likely balance the budget in 10 years – but at the cost of unraveling some of the strongest social programs created over the last 50 years.

The biggest problem I have with Ryan’s latest budget proposal is the fact that it tries to remove Obamacare. This was a smart move for Ryan and the GOP last year when it was trying to win the White House, but as we all know, they lost. As a result of them losing, Obamacare will go into full effect without any chance of it being removed under our current president. Get over it Ryan, Obamacare is not going anywhere. Time to do some real work coming up with *new* ideas for a budget. Otherwise you’re only hurting your brand by bringing up old shit. Stop being a douche.

Of Racism and Assholes

I hit a diagonal-lined man with my car once and just kept driving..
I once hit a diagonal-lined man with my car and just kept driving.

Good news folks, I’ve renewed my Wall Street Journal subscription for the next three months, and you know what that means..

So this asshole Daniel Henninger writes a post titled “Is the South Still Racist?“, themed from the comments of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts earlier this week while the Supreme Court debated the necessity of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Poor little Henninger is “insulted” that he lives in a state that is deemed racist (or more technically, requires preclearance of any changes to voting laws), because he thinks times have changed enough since 1965 which warrant the bill unnecessary. Specifically, he speaks of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

First off, the fact that Mississippi just ratified the 13th Amendment might actually be enough to deem it racist. I know, “they tried before, but it wasn’t official because of a technicality”. To that I say, “yeah, they actually tried to ratify for the first time in 1995 – still 130 years too late you racist fuck”.

Second, I don’t doubt the fact that you, yourself, are not racist. I don’t know you and I won’t blindly judge you. But you don’t speak for your whole state. Even more so, you can’t possibly speak for the minorities in your state, and you cannot possibly pretend to understand what it’s like for minorities to live in those states. Considering the blatant racism that exists in some northern states, I would go as far as to say this whole country should fall under the jurisdiction of the Voting Rights Act.

And Finally, the reason you are an asshole, is for this nonsensical gem from your article:

At its center lies Justice Roberts’s blunt question: Is the American South irredeemably racist?

The answer should matter for a country that chose to call itself the United States of America and sacrificed much to preserve the idea. The common goal, one may assume, is to be united.

Please remember, this country chose to call itself the United States of America *before* there was a 13th Amendment. Yes, we *chose* “unity” while enslaving an entire race of people.  What the fuck kind of statement is this? I bet you thought this was brilliant, probably gave you goosebumps when you wrote it. Asshole.

Dow Record High: Significant or Arbitrary?

Notice how the non-Dow news is far more important?
Notice how the single piece of non-Dow news is far more important?

So the Dow is at a record high, after five and a half years of a staggering recovery. What does this mean though? It means that corporate juggernauts are back to full growth potential at the price of high unemployment. The last time the Dow was this high, unemployment rates were between four and five percent, whereas today we are close to 8 (probably significantly higher too, as this doesn’t count long term unemployed. In fact, with the sequester going into full affect and a large number of people losing their federal assistance, watch and see how the unemployment numbers start to drop even more over the next couple of months – it’ll be magic!) So really what this means is that big company’s are making more, with less, and isn’t that just great?

Maybe. Large profits with no one to give it to makes big company’s fidgety, specifically the shareholders. It could prompt a new wave of investment and innovation, which would ultimately lower the real unemployment rate which is ultimately what is best for the economy.  At the same time though, nothing has really changed from a year ago – almost all the company’s on the Dow haven’t shifted strategies, and their profit potentials are exactly the same (which is what the Dow is a measurement of). While this record high may be the confidence needed to increase investment in this economy, it’s not a good measurement of anything really. We’re still a country with a debt crisis, we’re still looking at greater-than-inflation health care costs, a looming higher education bubble, and finally levels of income inequality at levels not last seen since before the Great Depression. The Dow’s arbitrary high is nothing but false hope in an unsustainable economy if you ask me.

Tell us what you think at stepasideshow@gmail.com

Best Wall Street Journal Op-Ed (Seriously, it’s good)

I bet the still argue over who is buying lunch
I bet they still argue over who is buying lunch

It’s been a while since we’ve had a fresh post, and it’s not been due to a lack of news. However, rather than comment on any real news stories, I would like to continue my dive into the shitty readership over at the Wall Street Journal – a paper I just cannot get away from. Today’s issue featured a joint post by billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg and even bigger billionaire Bill Gates, on the subject of eradicating the polio virus from planet earth. Apparently, eradicating a virus from the face of the planet is not a simple or inexpensive task, yet it is still a task that the Gates foundation decided to take on (it should be noted here that Gates did not initiate the eradication, he joined onto the existing effort of Rotary International). Bill Gates is spending the majority of his fortune to cure the world of things like polio, and Michael Bloomberg just signed up with a donation of $100 million. Not exactly a small chunk of change.

So, if you’re a sane human being with a human heart, you probably find this effort a noble cause, regardless of the political viewpoints of the ones making the donations. On the contrary, if you’re a regular reader at the Wall Street Journal, then this is “narcissism” and “egomania” and so on. Very little credit is given to these men for there efforts in the comments section. Yes, Bloomberg can afford to and still live a comfortable life without his $100 million – but he didn’t have to give it away. He could have easily passed down his wealth like so many others do so none of the world can get the benefit. Had this been Rupert Murdoch, these comments would have been filled with praise but because its the smoking/soda-banning-mayor-of-liberal-city, it’s just another gesture of pure evil. Grow the fuck up people.