Four Years Ago

Pic of the day: Vase with 12 sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

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Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

Consider your origin;
you were not born to live like brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge.

Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy; Inferno, Canto XXVI, lines 118-120

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It’s September 27th. There are political races heating up all over the place. But the big one, Obama – Romney feels… meh. Obama, according to most polls seems to have this in hand, but one has to remember a few things. Polls are not always correct. The Republican base is a large one, and it will not ever vote for a Democrat no matter how good for the country that Democrat has been, just like a good Republican President would not get votes from the Democratic base.

Think about it like this. Four years ago much of the nation was swept up in a fervor to sweep Dubya out of office for destroying the economy. With all the fervor that was out there, the man who won the Presidency won with 52.9% of the popular vote.

Not exactly a landslide. The electoral vote (the important one) was a landslide, but the popular vote was not the sweep that many thought would happen. Nearly 60 million voters voted for a Republican despite all the damage the Republicans did to the economy.

So anyone thinking this is going to be easy, for anyone, is being extremely overconfident in a place where that can be very, very dangerous.

I say that to say this.

Four years ago today, President Obama was ahead of John McCain by 7.6%. Today, President Obama is ahead by 4%. That is a thought to chew on for everyone involved.

Four years ago today John McCain in the polls had 43.6 percent of potential voters in his pocket. Today Mitt Romney has 44.9 percent of potential voters in his pocket, a 1.3 percent increase from four years ago.

Four years ago today Senator Obama was favored by 47.9 percent of the people in polling. Today President Obama is favored by48.9% of those polled, a one percent increase from four years ago.

So we are not so far removed from those days.

And four years ago then Senator Obama had the economy beating the hell out of the Republicans, and was a decided advantage in his favor. Now there are people who blame him for the self same economic problems that still plague our great nation, ones that stem from and were born in those tumultuous days four short years ago.

So while things my not be far removed from those days, things have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse.

No one should think this race is over by any stretch. No matter how many gaffes Mitt Romney makes, his base is large and will vote for him no matter what. If John McCain can get almost 46 percent of the vote for President in a year when much of the nation hated what the Republicans were, how much more can Mitt Romney get with the Republican brand in better health now than it was a scant few years back?

Fight hard for it. Fight like it matters.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

Bill Of Rights? We Don’t Need No Stinking Bill Of Rights!

Actually we do, but listening to certain people talk around Washington, I wonder whether there are people around on the right who actually believe that.

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Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being “pushed to an extreme”; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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In normal times, the following would be a fairly innocuous statement:  I am for the 14th amendment.  It is after all part of the bill of rights. But these times are anything but normal.  So divisive are the politics of this day and age, that basic freedoms and simple concepts placed within the the bill of rights, are somehow deemed Un-American, or at the very least improper,  because of the power of the media to sway minds by making cases that would seem absurd in normal circumstances.  As if simply by making a case for questioning the Bill of Rights, it somehow validates the questioning, makes it plausible.

When Sens. John McCain and Jeff Sessions join a chorus of idiots in calling for hearings into whether we should get rid of even a portion, even a single sentence of the 14th amendment of OUR bill of rights, he sent a sign to all the freedom haters of America.  A sign that says, if we don’t like our freedoms, lets just have a hearing and see if it’s OK to get rid of the ones we don’t like. 

It’s really only one sentence they say, one little sentence.  We’ll change it so people who aren’t born here who have children here won’t be allowed citizenship, they say.  Do you want to know what a great many Americans say?

LEAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS ALONE.

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I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

Abraham Lincoln

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Viddy of the day:  Thom Hartmann talking about Immigration.

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Tuesday’s links:

United States Vs. Wong Kim Ark

Republicans want review of birthright citizenship

Whither the 14th amendment?

Forer effect 

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If you change one sentence of it, you can change another sentence, to deal with a pesky problem in the prevailing political winds in the future. And of such actions is oppression born.  Do we want those who come after us to think we, any of us, thought it fair, or good or right, to tear out freedoms from one of our most important documents, and the one that actually guarantees our freedoms, no less? Let’s look at the actual problem here.

Children being born on our shores, by mothers who are not citizens.  Illegal immigration is an issue, but you want to fight about this particular bit? Seriously?  Those infants are…what? A threat to our way of life? In what way? What are the grounds upon which you are actually going to alter the Bill of Rights? How deeply will you affect Illegal immigration by denying a child citizenship? I see no realistic effect on Illegal immigration.  Or do you think a few words will stop people from coming across the border when fear of death itself does little to stop them now?

Please.  George Bush’s tax cuts are more of an existential threat to the populace than Juan and Esmerelda’s baby(to pull two Spanish sounding names out at random) is.   Sens. Kyl, McCain, Graham and Sessions attack on the worthiness of the first sentence of the 14th amendment is seriously a much greater threat to our freedom than any Honduran trying to have a baby in Texas.  Or Arizona.  Or… wait… I see a pattern, and maybe just a little bit of funny.

These children are being born in red states to parents who would, when they become citizens in all likelihood vote democratic, remembering how they were treated by those self serving right wingers, and those children would in time do the same, just like generations of Latino immigrants have before.  These Republicans are trying to keep them out to keep their strongholds for future generations of Republicans, so they can stay Republican strongholds, by any means necessary. 

Ya know, they might vote for you more often if you were just nicer to them,  worked with them, and stopped calling them wetbacks and other epithets.  Srsly.

These right wingers really don’t have to go changing the Bill of Rights just to save their political hides, or score political points.  They could just try to pass proper immigration reform legislation, hell they might like to try proposing it.  T’would be nice.   But then again, they like kinda stupid crap. Proof?

Think about this, they created (out of thin air, flag burning never being a serious threat to America, ever)  the waste of space that was the flag burning amendment, trying to make it look like they’re patriotic while doing the bidding of their corporate masters(that is, perhaps, why most of them bear a passing resemblance to Quasimodo) and hold power through fear, and steal freedom in the name of profits.   Or the defense of marriage act, partly because they… well… because they’re scared of gay people.  Probably afraid they’ll catch it (that’s just how they think, the bozos) and become gay themselves, I guess.  Bunch of stinking Anti-American right wing homophobes.

Oh, and one other thing back on point.  Amending the constitution takes a super-majority in both houses and then ratification by 3/4 of the states. Do you seriously think, with the nation as bitterly divided on this subject as on any other, that any attempt to alter the 14th amendment will succeed with those requirements needing to be met? 

Not gonna happen.  Buenas noches, America.

Anagram: The Whole Nine Yards?/ Why Not Sheer Denial?

       A Happy Video, showing the birth of, at least a portion of, modern Republican economic philosophy.

        The congressional budget office in 2005 did a study, headed up by former head of John McCain’s presidential economic team Douglas

Federal deficits and surpluses since 1900

Federal deficits and surpluses in millions of dollars from 1900 - 2006.

Holtz-Eakin.  That study pointed out the inefficiency of an across the board tax cut of 10% of all income ranges. It did have some positive effects, but those effects were more than countered by the debt it created.  The tax cuts would be on all income, AMT, capital gains, dividend income, the whole nine yards.  the study…ummm.. studied the “supply side effects of the tax cut”.  The Laffer curve is a core component to supply side economics and republican economic philosophy, and as such is a centerpiece of this study. 

       The positive effect of tax cuts would be in increased work done, and increased efficiency in labor.  People work harder when they are paid more(or think they are paid more), and are therefore more willing to work more hours.  The opposite effect does also exist, when people are too onerously taxed, they are getting less for the amount of work they do, and as a consequence they work less. 

    However, The 10% across the board tax cut ends up costing, after 10 years with debt service added to it, a total of:  One Trillion five hundred and fifty seven billion dollars.  Over a trillion and a half dollars in lost revenue.  There were a few variations in the model though.  The negativity of the number there goes down somewhat… if the people know that there will be an inevitable and permanent tax increase, and work harder and save money (called maximum foresight in the paper), the number drops to: One trillion two hundred and twelve billion dollars.

        To sum up.  Supply side economic policy and across the board tax cuts actually costs over a trillion dollars long term at least in this circumstance.  The Bush tax cuts were based on this economic principle, and helped to put us in the hole we are in today.  When those tax cuts were put out, they were criticized by some as being a “reverse distribution of wealth”  taking from the poor and middle class and giving to the rich. 

    The Laffer curve is a nice classroom tool, but isn’t something you should necessarily base a national economic policy on. 

       I do understand that there is a point of diminishing returns in taxation, where too much taxation from the government actually gets them 1114bless money percentage wise, and is therefore self defeating, just like the laffer curve lesson shows.  But the question is exactly where that line of diminishing return resides and that is an area of debate that is, from what i gather, a hot topic of debate amongst economists.  I’ve heard numbers as small as 15 percent(very nice, but services are cut to nothing and millions of jobs are lost), and as large as  65+%(ARE YOU INSANE!!??!! TOO MUCH,  WAY TOO MUCH!!!!AAAAAAAA!!!!).   But this study does fairly well prove that too low a taxation rate hinders the nations ability to pay for itself.  The author of the study did in fact defend the Bush tax cuts when he was #1 economic adviser for John McCain’s failed presidential bid.

          The study does say that shrinking government would have a positive effect on the amount we would owe out.  And for obvious reasons, less people working for the government, less infrastructure to pay for, less services rendered, the less it costs to actually do business.   But that would have a very negative effect on the economy.  That of greatly increased unemployment.   Think about this.   If you cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, and hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure, you will also have to cut hundreds of billions of dollars worth of local, state and federal jobs to accommodate this paradigm shift.  Even in the best of times, tossing at the very least a few million people out of work will have an amazingly negative effect (DUH!) Which is why supply side economics, and large scale tax cuts at this point in time make no sense whatsoever. 

      And since government has never shrunk, not in my life, and I guarantee it hasn’t shrunk in yours either, talk of cutting government programs to cut costs is ridiculous.  In these times, thanks in no small part to the effect of the Bush tax cuts, we unfortunately need MORE government services, not less.  The republicans, with their insistence that wholesale tax cuts is the way to go looks from here like sheer denial.  Reality says it doesn’t work, but they just don’t seem to care about that. 

      Ya know what? I have something for you to read, an article from the brookings institute on the Bush tax cuts that speaks to the errors in endless tax cuts, and speaks with much more in the way of Clarity than I can.  This article is from may 2003. BTW, this article is from then Brookings Institute senior fellow and current director of the office of management and Budget, Peter Orszag.   Watch Pete here, in an interview with Rachel Maddow.

     That’s it for me.  Later!

adam_smithToday’s Nuggets, by Adam Smith, Via wikiquote:  When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of the public revenue, if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by a bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by a pretended payment. The raising of the denomination of the coin has been the most usual expedient by which a real public bankruptcy has been disguised under the appearance of a pretended payment.  

What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can be flourishing and happy if the greater part of the members are poor and miserable.

Anagram: Year Of The Rhino/Any Thief Or Hero

     Happy New Year

 

 

 

 

 2008 has been eventful.  But it’s over now, or as close to over as to make no difference whatsoever.  Just gonna toss out a few Videos showing some of the best and worst of the year.

      Silliest moment of 2008? There are plenty.  Obama visiting all 57 states.  Joe Scarborough dropping the F-bomb live on the air.  McCain calling people at a rally of his  “My Fellow Prisoners”.  The best though?  Hillary under sniper fire.  This was just silly.  Watch our Secretary of State in action.

      Worst Moment of 2008?  There are plenty of them here as well, and they all merit attention.  The South Ossetian War.  The Mumbai Attacks.  The Earthquake in China.  Darfur.  The situation in Zimbabwe. But the Worst moment has to be the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.  Don’t remember that?  Myanmar? The Irrawaddy delta? Over 130,000 dead? Ring any bells?  Watch the Video and thank the lord you don’t live in that shit-hole of a country.

      Honorable mention for worst Moment, and the only reason this didn’t win is that the economic forces at work behind it are still at work, and may well turn into the worst moment of 2009.   The economic meltdown.

       Best Moment of 2008?  There are plenty.  But here it’s only best if you were on the winning side.  So here goes a short list.  The GiGiantsants beating the Patriots to keep the dream of 18-0 from coming true in New England.   Michael Phelps wins 8 Gold Medals in Beijing.  The Ron Paul Revolution.  But hands down, at least for this Democrat, was the victory of Barack Obama in the General Election over his Republican rival John McCain.  I voted for Gore, and my guy lost.  I voted for Kerry and My guy lost.  Feels good to be on the winning side.  He’s got one helluva road to travel, wish him luck, he’s gonna need it, with things the way they are in America economically right now.

     The sound craps out at about the 5 minute mark, but it’s just cheering crowds.  it’s December 31st.  You want to hear cheering crowds, turn on your tv and watch the new years celebrations.

  

george-carlin     A moment of silence for all those who died this year.  The notable deaths this year were many.  Bo Diddley, Charlton Heston, Isaac Hayes, Tim Russert, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Arthur C. Clarke, Heath Ledger, Harold Pinter and many others besides. Each notable and noteworthy in their own way, but the one that struck me the most this year was a man whom I thought of as one of the funniest, wittiest, most intelligent humans to grace the face of the earth. The world is a better place for his having been here.  I am trying to think of glowing adjectives to describe this man, but rather than do that, lets just listen to the man himself.  Ladies and gentlemen, George Carlin is dead and that SUCKS.  May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008.

       And here’s my pick for the best Piece of Music of 2008, a live version of the song “All nightmare long” off of Metallica’s 2008 offering “Death Magnetic”.  Great fuckin Album:

      You can argue Shakira and Beyonce and all that other weak ass Dance bullshit, but they both suck.  Great ass don’t mean great music.  Neither one has a voice worth listening to.  Hip hop sucks.  Country? thanks but No thanks.  As far as new music goes, if it ain’t metal, it ain’t worth it. And Metallica is the best metal band, hands down.

       That’s it for me.  Happy New Year to one and All!  Later!

Today’s Nuggets:    That’s another complaint of mine – too much use of this prefix “pre”. It’s all over the language now – “pre”-this, “pre”-that, place the turkey in a “pre-heated” oven. It’s ridiculous! There are only two states an oven can possibly exist in: Heated or unheated! “Pre-heated” is a meaningless fucking term! It’s like “pre-recorded” – “This program was pre-recorded.” Well, of course it was pre-recorded! When else are you gonna record it, afterwards? That’s the whole purpose of recording; to do it beforehand! Otherwise it doesn’t really work, does it? “Pre-existing”, “pre-planning”, “pre-screening” – you know what I tell these people? Pre-suck my genital situation! And they seem to understand what I’m talking about…   George Carlin

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us — the dignity of man.   Harold Pinter

Anagram:Twitter Sucks/Ticks We Trust

       Before I talk about how I voted today, i want to apologize to those who i 800px-ceratotherium_simum_kwh_2told I would be on twitter.  I can’t do it.  It’s just overloaded, or my systems just can’t handle it, and I have a choice of a few computers to choose from, just can’t get it to work right.  When in IE, the damned thing freezes up every 5 seconds and then crashes. Firefox just teases me.  It seems to work fine, but for some reason won’t let me twitter.  I can’t enter anything.

    A complete waste of my time.  Screw twitter.

    As for Voting, I voted as follows.  Staten Island, New York.  61st district.

     President: Barack Obama/Joe Biden                                 obamadebate

     House of Rep: Michael McMahon

     Supreme Court Justice:  Judith McMahon

     State Senate:  Joe Pancilla

     State Assembly: Matthew Titone

    Yes On prop One.  I didn’t know about prop one, even though i follow this stuff closely.  It is a proposition about getting injured war vets expanded benefits in the form of additional credits on competitive civil service exams.

    To look at a sample ballot, click here

    Other cool stuff.  For the first time in my life, I was asked to do an exit poll.  Same for my wife.  simple stuff, just wanted to know who we voted for.  I was expecting a bit more, but it was still nice.   Looked at his sample. Everyone had voted so far for the McMahons and Pancilla and Titone, and only two votes for McCain.  He did not ask about Prop one. 

      Poll numbers are beginning to trickle in.  Watch MSNBC, or CNN or FOX or whatever network you normally watch to check it out.  Indiana looks close, Kentucky Not so much. Both states have 1% in, and Obama has a narrow lead in Indiana, and McCain is up in Kentucky.

   I’ll be here dropping bombs as i see fit, but I’ll be on http://election-coverage.com a fair bit more than i will here.

    Catch you later, and if you haven’t voted yet, GET CRACKIN! GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!

    A Video from http://Fora.tv.  A man who wants to see the end of the electoral college.  Enjoy.

     I’ll be back.  See Ya Later!