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The Morning Grumpy – 10/18/12

18 Oct

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. The first television ads from the candidates for Erie County Comptroller debuted yesterday. Both candidates have limited financial resources, so they each took the high road and introduced themselves with biography ads. Dave Shenk informing the general populace that contrary to popular belief, he is in fact a real person. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve seen him. Until today, someone could have told me he was a centaur and I would have no evidence to counter the claim.

He walks, talks, and “comptrols”…he’s Dave Shenk! A straight forward ad from someone who seems to be a well-intentioned and intelligent guy.

Next up, Stefan Mychajliw’s ad. Stefan is a friend, I like him and think he’s a really nice guy. However, I find the argument that his skills as a TV reporter somehow qualify him to manage a billion dollar organization to be specious, at best.

The comptroller job is a complex one and in my humble opinion, should not be filled by an elected official. It should be filled by an accomplished financial or legal professional with experience in finance, economics, or tax law. Someone with experience in the bond markets, public finance, or labor law who is hired and vetted by the legislature and executive and given a professional position.

Running stories on Joel Giambra’s limo driver are good for the ratings and for news entertainment, but I fail to see how it qualifies Stefan to manage the payroll for the county (amongst dozens of other finance related responsibilities). Also, positing that the unhappiness of other elected officials is proof that you’re doing your job well is a bit silly. Lynn Marinelli might not be happy with Stefan, but it might be because he’s unqualified for the position and is performing poorly.

Let’s cut to the chase, Stefan doesn’t really want to be Erie County Comptroller. He’s not shooting to be a modern-day Alfreda Slominski, comptrollin’ shit for the next three decades. The office will serve as his public perch from which he’ll launch a campaign against Mark Poloncarz for Erie County Executive or pursue other higher office. This race is easy pickings, so this is the one he chose. Dave Shenk was appointed to the job, has virtually zero name recognition, no tangible political base, no cash to spend on the race, and doesn’t appear to be highly skilled or interested in retail politics. Stefan’s name recognition is off the charts, he’s Polish, plays up his backstory, drives a crappy car, and people really like him. Shenk’s hope must be that high Democrat turnout to vote for Obama will help him carry the election. I think Stefan’s name recognition, likability, and ethnic background help him win this.

Stef is salt of the earth, man. Just a humble guy being humble while being humbled by your support. If you didn’t know that, wait 30 seconds and he’ll tell you. I suspect Stefan wins this in a romp and sets up the battle of the well-coiffed blue collar-rooted Polish Eastern European fellas in 2015. As an aside, I wonder if his ad was inspired by 70’s era family photos like this one.

2. If you’re a Christian fundamentalist who thinks the Earth is 6000 years old, you can skip ahead, this doesn’t concern you. Where did the moon come from? Scientists think they have it figured out.

A team at Washington University in St. Louis has uncovered evidence, to be published in the journal Nature, that our little moon is indeed the result of a long-ago galactic cataclysm. Their findings solve mysteries that scientists have been puzzling over for more than 30 years. The key to those findings? Zinc. Or, more specifically, a heavier variant of zinc found in moon rocks. And key to that finding were samples taken from the moon — basalts collected during the Apollo lunar landing missions — as well as a lunar meteorite.

Science! Bill O’Reilly still can’t explain it.

3. Which Fortune 500 companies are sheltering income in overseas tax havens?

A new CTJ analysis of the financial reports of the Fortune 500 companies shows that 285 of these corporations had accumulated more than $1.5 trillion in overseas profits by the end of 2011, and there is evidence that a significant portion of these profits are located in tax havens.


In particular, our analysis shows that ten corporations, representing over a sixth of the $1.5trillion in unrepatriated profits, have paid little or no tax on these profits to any government. That implies that these profits have been artificially shifted out of the United States and other countries where the companies actually do business, and into foreign tax havens.

President Obama has proposed minimum tax on overseas profits. The proposed tax tax would limit corporations’ ability to stash profits overseas, and combined with other corporate tax reforms he has proposed, it would raise between $200 billion and $300 billion.

4. Keep talking politics on your social networks, it might do some good. Well, except for you libertarians, ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • 25% of social network site users say they have become more active in a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.
  • 16% of social network site users say they have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.

It’s a small number, but it’s progress.

5. Great longform piece on the political future of the Clintons.

No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that “the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.”

What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and ­middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate.

The potential payoff for Clinton is more ineffable but no less substantial. Last time around, recall, Obama’s candidacy was based in part on the consignment of Clintonism to the dustbin of history. But now, with Obama running unabashedly as the inheritor of that creed, Clinton is reveling in seeing his legacy restored to what he regards as its rightful status: a restoration that will mightily benefit his wife if she hurls herself at the White House again in 2016.

A damn good read.


Fact Of The Day: Jose M. Hernandez went from migrant worker to astronaut. He’s currently running for congress in California at the urging of the president.

Quote Of The Day:  “40% of people in the United States are stupid enough to believe the world is only 6000 years old. They’ll vote for a man stupid enough to be fooled by Joseph Smith” – Richard Dawkins

Video Of The Day: “Americans” – Sean Penn & Kid Rock.

Song Of The Day: “Some Girls” – The Rolling Stones

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