Archive for statistics

Good News Deflects The GOP's 'Chicken Little' Theory On Obamacare

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Good news

One thing about government statistics, they generally lag well behind actual events so while something is happening, good or bad, we don't get to say "Hey, wow, that's fantastic," or "Jeez, how'd we ever let this happen?"

Fortunately there's some of the good news to talk about with the latest government statistics for January, 2014. It's something pretty fantastic that will probably be music to your ears if you care about the economy and your personal wallet, but a screechy, cacophony of irritating sounds to conservatives and Obamacare doomsayers. From HuffPo:

President Obama's 2010 health law was responsible for about three-quarters of a surprising January rise in U.S. consumer spending and American income growth, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal.

Is this enough to send us into the streets dancing? Hardly. But it's a strong rebuttal to:

Glenn Beck once said Obamacare would mean "the end of prosperity in America forever." But so far, it turns out President Obama's 2010 health law is actually putting money in Americans' wallets.

Money in our wallets. Ours, not Wall Street's, big oil or big banks. And here's the most amazing part of it --

The growth came in spite of the expiration of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and all that horrible winter weather.

Now I'm sure the GOP operatives and mouthpieces won't be heralding this positive news at all, let along anytime soon. And with the horrible situation in the Ukraine raging on, it's understandable that it might get overlooked. The Republicans are too busy blaming those "Russian/Ukraine tensions" of the invasion on Obama. And some, like Lindsey Graham, are being more specific as to Obama's responsibility in this international showdown. He's mentioned Benghazi, the IRS scandal and certainly he and his other nutcases have made their allusions that this was instigated somehow with the birth of Obamacare. If you look deep enough, there's even Tea Party rumors that trace the Ukraine/Russia showdown to Obama being foreign born -- and to some extent, his being half black. As Bill Maher would say, "Go ahead and moan. You know it's true."

While we all wish for peace in Europe and a return to sanity for Vladimir Putin, it's nice to have a little bit of good news. And hopefully the Democrats will seize this statistic and run on it during the 2014 elections. Obama might be right when he says that Democrats need to embrace the ACA, not run away from it. This economic news is just the ammo to load into their guns.

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FBI Admits Complicity In Record Levels Of Criminal Activity

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FBI ID

This sounds like a startling statistic to me. According to HUFFPO:

In a Jan. 14, 2013, letter to Justice Department officials, obtained by The Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, FBI officials disclosed that its 56 field offices authorized informants to break the law at least 5,939 times during the 2012 calendar year. USA Today reported earlier this year that the bureau allowed its informants to break the law 5,658 times in 2011.

Think about it.  Nearly 6,000 crimes. That's a lot of criminal activity for the FBI to turn it's back on. And keep in mind, that's the number of crimes the bureau is admitting to. How many more were there they complicit in that somehow didn't get reported?

What's also a bit startling is that the number of "ordained" or "forgiven" infractions of the law increased 5% from the year before. Did this substantial bump result in greater safety for us? The FBI doesn't seem to keep stats on that -- we really don't know what the ratio of crimes allowed to major busts is statistically -- if it can even be quantified.

But if I'm a victim of one of these FBI approved crimes, I'd sure hate to think the G-men were covering it up. Or worse, condoning that crime ahead of time, knowing I or someone else would be a victim.

To get a glimpse of the oversight to these crimes the FBI allows, the following might be an eye-opener:

The breakdown of how many crimes were authorized by each individual FBI field office were redacted from the 2012 report, which is known as the Otherwise Illegal Activity Report. The FBI's fellow federal law enforcement agencies -- the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- do not track how often their sources commit crimes.

There must be a set of guidelines on this Otherwise Illegal Activity Report. And I'm sure there are some sacrifices that we, the public are called upon to make (even involuntarily) for the public good, but it sure would be nice to know where the line is drawn and what kind of oversight is mandated. Is it just non-violent crimes? Is it physical assaults?

Actually, it goes much farther than small infractions. It even includes murder.

Whitey Bulger

...the Boston field office allowed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to continue to operate his crime ring because he was providing information to the bureau.

Whitey Bulger, just in case you missed it, was indicted and found guilty this year on 19 murder charges. Nineteen. And many of them were committed during his time as an informant. How far should we allow this program to go unbridled? Where do we draw the line? After someone commits one ordained murder? Three? Nineteen?

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," former top FBI official Shawn Henry told the newspaper. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."

So the FBI says this is not taken lightly? Bulger committed at least 19 murders? I beg to differ with FBI Official Henry. They absolutely did take it lightly. So lightly they didn't care at all. I guess he was just a bad guy killing other bad guys -- and women. And he didn't just kill them, he had them tortured, then dismembered and tossed away like garbage.

To top all of that off, Whitey, for all the FBI's oversight, slipped away and disappeared for 16 years. So much for things not being done in a vacuum. Maybe it they really had been, he wouldn't have been given so much rope to hang so many other people.

Just like with the NSA spying, it would be better to set the rules BEFORE innocent people become the victims, not afterward.

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Leading Cause Of Murder In American? Gays -- Dean and McMillan

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Sons of Liberty radio

EDITED TO CORRECT:

I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry hearing Sons of Liberty Radio, hosts Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan from last week. Among their jaundiced claims are that gay people are responsible for half of all murders committed in large US cities, among other crimes.

Don’t take my word for it. Save your souls. Listen to this yourself so I’m not accused of misquoting:

Snarkatude, cynicism, sarcasm—they’re all part of my arsenal in handling things that seem so outrageous. I’m faced with great alarm when radio outlaws promote violence and retribution. I’m pretty calloused when it comes to right-wing stories and opinions. Anger is something that takes a little more motivation.

Well, I’ve got anger right now.

There’s way too much discrimination and distrust going on within all communities. To propagate such hatred with lies and fabrications is nothing new – for haters. But how is it we can give a forum to such zealots? The answer sadly is they have an audience. People who eat this crap up for lunch and poop it out to their friends and neighbors post-dinner.

The best way to show your displeasure with these hate-mongers is to find out who sponsors their shows – then avoid those products. Advertising money is how these programs succeed. So I visited the Right Wing Watch to see who sponsors them. And here’s the interesting part. There are no sponsors. None listed, that is. So they are deep-pocketed by alternative means.

That most likely is the 501-c at work -- maybe Mr. Issa should look into this.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to @Pattibbs for the correction on this post. DG

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Life of the Party

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Life of the party

Have you ever been to a party where inevitably someone speaks with self-ordained authority on a subject and you are so amazed that you’re spellbound?  Maybe even inhibited that you don’t know as much as this person?

Have you ever gone to a party and had nothing to say to break the ice beyond, “Some weather we’re having,” or “Hey, how about those Yankees?”  It makes you want to just sit in a corner and people watch.

Well, I’m going to help you.  From time to time, I’m going to supply you with some surefire eyebrow raisers.  Facts certain to break the ice.  Today, I have three topics to choose from.  Enjoy these tidbits courtesy of our friends at Tripod.com.

PEOPLE:

Over 2,500 left-handed people die a year from products made for right-handed people. (Proof positive that sometimes the left hand really doesn't know what the right hand is doing)

It’s estimated that at any time, 7% of the world’s population is drunk.  (I think I need a drink)

Along those lines, 1.5 million Americans are charged with DUI’s each year.  (I guess a lot of you are getting that drink)

SPORTS:

It takes about 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s worth of footballs. (And here I thought it was the pig skin ball they used)

Average life span of a major league baseball is 7 pitches.  (Only one if you were a pitcher for the 1973 Red Sox – or as their announcer use to say, “Hey Mr. Umpire, get yourself a new ball because that one is gone!”)

Golfers use an estimated $800 million dollars of golf balls a year.  (That’s a lot of “Fore’s”)

ANIMALS:

An adult lion can mate up to 50 times a day.  (Imagine, and that’s without Viagra?)

Ten thousand birds a year die by smashing into windows.  (Twice as many humans starve to death trying to live on the current SNAP food stamps budget)

A woodpecker can peck up to 20 times per second.  (That’s some pecker)

So now you’re armed and ready to become the life of the party.  Go out there and knock ‘em dead.  Oh, and speaking of dead, only one person in two billion will live to be 116.  So look around you.  If you’re in an intimate setting of two billion or more, it’s possible it’s you.

 

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Your Number's Up

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Guest post by David Garber

numbersdg

I have fun with numbers... sometimes they're shocking, other times they're very amusing. I'm not good with them, I just enjoy them. So, with that in mind, here's a few you might want to use at your next social gathering.

0. The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California but no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922. Maybe it's time for a new state animal -- The elusive Darryl Issa cretin is my suggestion.

48. That's the percentage of all Americans who are currently considered to be "low income" or are living in poverty. Remove Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers from the calculations and the number is substantially higher.

600. That's average number of cans of soda each American consumes in a year. Only 22% of those aluminum cans are recycled. What's the matter with you people? Cans don't grow on trees!

2.4. That's how many times more the average person in the US spends on health care than in the UK. It's evident that the difference must be in dental preventative hygiene.

3.
Montana has three times as many cows as it does people. That might explain why politics in that state is "udderly" ridiculous.

66. No, not Route 66 -- Today, 66% of all Americans are considered to be overweight. Remove Chris Christie and Rush Limbaugh from the equation and it's down to 47%. Still to high.

25. That's the percent of all U.S. employees with Internet access who visit pornography websites while they are at work. So next time you go to the office, look around and see who's smiling -- and who's perspiring.

52. That's the percentage of children living in Cleveland that are below the poverty level. I guess we should ask Betty White why her show's called Hot in Cleveland. Doesn't sound like things are so hot to me.

167,000. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that's the number of Americans who have more than $200,000 of student loan debt. But don't worry. The Republicans are trying to pass a bill to double interest rates on student loans. If they're successful, the average student will be paid off just in time for social security.

16.5
-- There are 19 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States every single year. With our US population of 320 million, we'll all have one of those diseases in 16.5 years.

Okay, hope you had fun with numbers like I did.

For the past 25 years, David Garber has been serving as the show runner and or writer on some of television’s biggest hits… Saved By The Bell, Power Rangers, 227, Bill Cosby Show and many other network series. His writing and producing have also netted David two very prestigious awards:the PRISM AWARD and the TV CRITICS AWARD – TV SPECIAL OF THE YEAR. Currently he’s authoring a short story series called “A Few Minutes With…”

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University Grad Student Debunks Major Austerity Theory by Exposing Flawed Stats

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I've always believed (and seen demonstrated in reality) that 'you have to spend money to make money', the right-wing theory that to prosper you have to spend less made no sense.  Education and infrastructure, two core components of successful societies, cost money and if they're to be for the good of all, instead of a few rich investors, the money has to come from tax revenue.

paulkrugman

The theory made no sense to others either, including Thomas Herndon, University of Massachusetts economics grad student who discovered major flaws in the 'research', really basic statistical flaws added to incompetence in coding an Excel spreadsheet.

From Mark Karlin (of BuzzFlash writing at Truthout) quoting Paul Krugman:

But just look at the predictions the two sides in this debate have made. People like me predicted right from the start that large budget deficits would have little effect on interest rates, that large-scale “money printing” by the Fed (not a good description of actual Fed policy, but never mind) wouldn’t be inflationary, that austerity policies would lead to terrible economic downturns. The other side jeered, insisting that interest rates would skyrocket and that austerity would actually lead to economic expansion. Ask bond traders, or the suffering populations of Spain, Portugal and so on, how it actually turned out.

Read more at Truthout

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Violence against women down 64 percent in decade

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vawa

As they say in the business, that's a good start!

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department says the rate of sexual violence against women and girls age 12 or older fell 64 percent in a decade and has remained stable for five years.

In 2010, women and girls nationwide experienced about 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults, compared with 556,000 in 1995, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey released Thursday.

Rates declined from a peak of 5 per 1,000 women in 1995 to 1.8 per 1,000 women in 2005. The figure remained unchanged from 2005 to 2010.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, has been working for decades to curb violence against women, and she said in an interview that the new study is proof that the newly reauthorized Violence Against Women Act and awareness of the problem by police is having a positive impact.

Smeal said that now, more than ever, "everybody knows that rape and sexual assault are crimes and will be treated as such."

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