Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll begin with a head-scratcher:

If you want to talk about "poorly managed", I'd say allowing an out-of-state company who disguises massive interest rates by selling people appliances at nearly twice their retail value would be a good place to start. As to a pension plan that has performed well above average, quoting a dubious study with laughable observations like this:

If the pension fund wants to reduce risk, then there are low fee ways to do this, but investing in alternative investments will not achieve that goal. The pension fund's poor performance in 2008 is anecdotal evidence of this fact.

is a good place to lose whatever credibility you still retained.

Jumping back to 2008 to criticize investments is usually a safe tactic, since so many pension plans (and other holdings) suffered crushing losses:

The top 100 U.S. corporate pension plans saw their funded status drop by nearly 30 percentage points in 2008, giving up all gains of the previous five years, according to a review of annual reports conducted by Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

The plans had an aggregate funding deficit of $198.9 billion in 2008, based on projected benefit obligations, a sharp reversal from surpluses of $111.1 billion in 2007 and $37.3 billion in 2006.

Only three plans saw positive actual returns, two of which—General Mills Corp. of Minneapolis and FedEx Corp. of Memphis, Tennessee—have fiscal years that ended last May, well before the market’s collapse. The third, Prudential Financial of Newark, New Jersey, had an actual return on plan assets of $334 million, or 3.4 percent of plan assets.

But university professors should know better than relying on safe tactics to back up their positions. North Carolina's pension plan weathered the storm admirably:

Year/Value of assets/Accrued liability/Unfunded liability/Funded ratio

2006 $68,808,403,000 $65,862,247,000 $(2,946,156,000) 104.47%
2007 $72,952,274,000 $70,573,970,000 $(2,378,304,000) 103.37%
2008 $73,124,299,000 $73,627,879,000 $503,580,000 99.32%
2009 $74,447,112,000 $76,976,542,000 $2,845,127,000 96.71%
2010 $76,599,104,000 $79,558,260,000 $2,959,156,000 96.28%

A 2012 report from the Pew Center on the States noted that North Carolina's pension system was funded at 96 percent at the close of fiscal year 2010, well above the 80 percent funding level experts recommend. Consequently, Pew designated the state's pension system as a "solid performer."[6]

SEANC's attack on Janet Cowell may not be "political", in the classic sense of the attack being based on her party affiliation. Frankly, it's hard to tell. But the attack is rooted in something other than poor performance, which is a patently fabricated issue. My guess is, somebody or some corporate gathering of somebodies wants a piece of that multi-billion-dollar action, so they're working behind the scenes with Dana Cope and his not-friends in the Republican Party to undermine the current management so they can slip in and get their grubby fingers on all that money. And state employees are (once again) pawns in a game they don't know they're playing.

Speaking of manufactured crises:

And here's their "damning" evidence, handily inflated by (you guessed it) Fox News:

The emails were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. In one communication, Lena Moffit of the Sierra Club wrote to three senior policy staffers at the EPA, including Michael Goo, who was then the associate administrator for policy.

“Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us on Keystone XL yesterday,”she wrote. ”Let me know if I can be helpful in any way — particularly in further identifying those opportunities for EPA to engage that don’t involve ‘throwing your body across the tracks,’ as Michael put it.”

EELI senior legal fellow Chris Horner told Fox News that as a government agency, EPA couldn’t be seen as overtly trying to kill Keystone, but was reaching out to environmental groups for other ideas on how to do it.

Yeah, since when does someone thanking a government official for meeting with them equate to that government official "reaching out" to that someone? And that's from a "senior legal fellow." ;)

The Institute who submitted the FOIA, however, is knee-deep in colluding with government officials. Formerly known as the American Tradition Institute, also know as the American Tradition Partnership, has bungled its way into several controversies, some of them plainly illegal:

American Tradition Partnership -- formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership -- has an unusual history of political antics. In January, in the latest development in a years-long legal battle, a Montana judge found that the group used "subterfuge" to avoid disclosing its donors by setting up a front group to attack state candidates in 2008. The group also stands accused -- with support from a cache of documents found in a Colorado meth house and featured in a Frontline documentary last year -- of illegally coordinating with legislative candidates in the 2010 elections.

Which explains the recent name change. ;)

Yeah, that's...nice, it looks like...fun. I'll have to...get back to you on this...

While North Carolina's "share" of those jobs is only around 2,000 right now, that's because much of the manufacturing is (still) centered in California. And considering our (mostly untapped) manufacturing capability, that is a shame. But the growth of installation in our state has wildly increased, and will likely keep doing so as long as our political leaders refrain from doing something stupid. Which is...well, it's unlikely, considering much of their other behavior. But they would have to be exceptionally stupid to screw around with this successful sector.

I don't necessarily disagree with your position, Thomas. I find Cooper's situation wherein he's juggling the responsibilities of his office and his aspirations to become our next Governor somewhat unsettling. It makes his stated positions and his behavior confusing, even for policy wonks. How will that look to the average voter who doesn't grasp the complexities?

All that said, this (imo) is not the best argument:

If the attorney general is going to pick and choose which laws to defend, what’s the point in electing an attorney general? Why not have each governor and each legislature just hire a lawyer who agrees with them? That way we can make it just one more high paying patronage job and further politicize state government.

One could easily argue the exact opposite: if the Attorney General has no lee-way to exercise discretion, and is expected to perform on-demand for the Legislature, regardless of how he perceives the Constitutionality of a given policy, then what's the point of voters electing him? He's not representing the people as a whole, and not even those who elected him. He's representing a different subset: a majority of elected Legislators, who themselves were elected by only a majority part of their own districts.

We have apparently already "hired a lawyer who agrees with them." That said, your argument is much more in line with the (NC) Constitution. A Constitution that (in this case, anyway) is flawed and needs amending.

A meeting in which Rabon claimed to be in the top five most powerful Senators, and that the puppy mill bill was "dead on arrival" in the NC Senate. Nice try at shifting the responsibility Berger, but that meme was dead on arrival.

Has it been six months already since the last time that happened? Time does fly...

In true Google form, an ad for Americans For Prosperity ran ahead of this video. ;)

Okay, now it's time for some real comedy, via the Onion:

That's...funny, but it was only worth a snort, as opposed to a guffaw. Here's another:



Employment propaganda

That's the "smoothed seasonally adjusted" number, which is a formulaic construct. In reality, there were 32,140 fewer people employed, while the labor force shrank by 49,701. In just one month, between November and December 2013.


"Please, teachers. Please, please, please comeback to North Carolina," whined Pat McCrory at his news conference yesterday.

Geographically challenged:

Um, yeah, the Taliban would have to cross Iran if they want to overrun Iraq...