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Archive for January 25th, 2008

Conservative economist predicts eight of the last ten recessions

Posted by Charles II on January 25, 2008

Bruce Bartlett (an ex-Reaganite who has disinherited Bush the Lesser) did a piece in the New York Times that went a long way to showing how shallow and feeble conservative thought is. First, in listing the recessions, he managed to miss the one that brought him to power, the January 1980 recession, as well as the 1953 recession. So much for fact-checking at the NYT.

But more to the point, he points to the fact that Federal stimulus is, of course, administered only after recessions start to assert that

“the enactment of stimulus plans is a fairly accurate indicator that we have hit the bottom of the business cycle, meaning the economy will improve even if the government does nothing. “

Maybe this is intended to be witty phrasing, but it looks a lot more like sloppy thinking. While it’s certainly true that government is slow to respond to downturns, the end of recession does not mean the return of full employment. And the economy, absent stimulus, could just as easily turn over into a double dip recession– could that be the lesson of the mild 1980 recession that turned into the nightmare recession of 1981? 

So, one may be able to argue that fiscal stimulus does not cause the economy to expand more quickly than it would otherwise do, but not on such tenuous grounds.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

What? The MPAA Used Bogus Stats? Surely You Jest!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 25, 2008

Check this out:

After commissioning a 2005 study from LEK Consulting that showed collegiate file-swappers were responsible for 44 percent of movie studio “losses” to piracy, the MPAA then used the report it bought to bludgeon Congress into considering legislation to address this massive problem. Now the MPAA admits that the report’s conclusions weren’t even close to being right; collegiate piracy accounts for only 15 percent of “losses.” Oops. And that’s assuming you believe the rest of the data.

The Associated Press broke the news today; apparently, the MPAA is busy notifying government and education officials about the blunder, which may explain why it’s too busy to post a mea culpa to its web site. The group blames “human error” for the calculation problem.

Of course, human error can and does happen to the best of us, and at least the MPAA finally owned up to a mistake that no one else would have noticed—even if it took over two years. Of course, the reason no one else would have noticed it is because the group kept the 2005 report and its methodology under wraps. But even the summaries that it published were enough for us to express some potent skepticism of the numbers back in 2006 and to argue that “the contours and effects of piracy are quite open to debate, and as a result, the best ways to address the problem are up for debate, too.”

And of course the anti-piracy legislation from 2005 onward was based on this flawed secret report. Charming.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 7 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on January 25, 2008

You know it’s a cold day when Lightfoot gets up close with her annoying little brother Alexander.


Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging, Lady Lightfoot | 5 Comments »

And The Difference Between Russia And America Is What?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 25, 2008

It’s certainly not freedom — not even for native-born Americans:

Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he’s never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack’s claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

During a deportation hearing Thursday morning, pleas by Warziniack’s family and lawyer to release him, as well as a copy of his birth certificate proving his citizenship, did little to deter the government.

The immigration agents told me they never make mistakes,” Warziniack said in a phone interview from jail. “All I know is that somebody dropped the ball.”

So, ICE has admitted they screwed up and now Warzinack gets to stay home? Uh, no and maybe not:

After he was arrested in Colorado on a minor drug charge, Warziniack told probation officials there wild stories about being shot seven times, stabbed twice and bombed four times as a Russian army colonel in Afghanistan, according to court records. He also insisted that he swam ashore to America from a Soviet submarine.

Court officials were skeptical. Not only did his story seem preposterous, but the longtime heroin addict also had a Southern accent and didn’t speak Russian.

Colorado court officials quickly determined his true identity in a national crime database: He was a Minnesota-born man who grew up in Georgia. Before Warziniack was sentenced to prison on the drug charge, his probation officer surmised in a report that he could be mentally ill.

Although it took only minutes for McClatchy to confirm with Minnesota officials that a birth certificate under Warziniack’s name and birth date was on file, Colorado prison officials notified federal authorities that Warziniack was a foreign-born prisoner.

McClatchy also was able to track down Warziniack’s three half-sisters. Even though they hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years, his sisters were willing to vouch for him.

One of them, Missy Dolle, called the detention center repeatedly, until officials there stopped returning her calls. Her brother’s attorney told her that a detainee in Warziniack’s situation often has to wait weeks for results, even if he or she gets a copy of a U.S. birth certificate.

Warziniack, meanwhile, waited impatiently for an opportunity to prove his case. After he contacted the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a group that provides legal advice to immigrants, a local attorney recently agreed to represent him for free.

Dolle and her husband, Keith, a retired sheriff’s deputy in Mecklenburg County, N.C., flew to Arizona from their Charlotte home to attend her brother’s hearing before an immigration judge.

Before she left, she e-mailed Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. After someone from his office contacted ICE, immigration officials promised to release Warziniack if they got a birth certificate.

After scrambling to get a power of attorney to obtain their brother’s birth certificate, the sisters succeeded in getting a copy the day before the hearing.

On Thursday, however, government lawyers told an immigration judge that they needed a week to verify the authenticity of Warziniack’s birth record. The judge delayed his ruling.

“I still can’t believe this is happening in America,” Dolle said.

Warziniack began to weep when he saw his sister. “They still don’t believe me,” he said.

Warziniack, 40, told McClatchy that he has no memory of telling anyone he was Russian. Instead, he recalled the shock of withdrawing from his heroin addiction after 18 years of drug abuse.

And as the story notes, he’s far from the only actual American citizen ICE has tried to deport. As shown by the case of Pedro Guzman last year, they often succeed. (h/t Atrios)

Posted in civil rights, eedjits, evil, freedom, government malfeasance, immigration | 4 Comments »

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