Tag Archives: Politics

Nate Silver to Republicans: Raise Taxes

Esquire: Nate Silver to Republicans: Raise Taxes

For Republicans, raising a few taxes may be good policy and good politics. We are now on the verge of the longest period since the creation of the income tax without an increase in what the wealthiest taxpayers pay — fifteen years, matching the no-new-taxes interval from 1952 to 1966. Meanwhile, even the White House’s own figures project several trillion dollars in deficit spending over the next decade, which would greatly exacerbate the roughly $10.6 trillion in debt that Barack Obama inherited from the Bush administration. Deficits are once again hot news. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in June found that 24 percent of Americans regard the federal budget deficit as the top economic priority — the highest fraction since mid-1994, when Clinton raised taxes. And even in these dire economic times, Americans seem willing to make some sacrifices to pay the debt down: 58 percent said they care more about paring the deficit than stimulating the economy, according to the same poll.

[…] In April, 51 percent of wealthy voters told Gallup their income-tax bill was about right or even too low — “one of the most positive assessments [about taxes] measured since 1956,” Gallup reported.

[…] Although raising taxes — or at least not trying to cut them — has been anathema to Republicans since the Reagan era, it hasn’t always been so. Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower both largely resisted calls to cut taxes (Eisenhower slashed the top tax bracket all the way from 92 percent to 91), choosing to focus on deficit reduction instead. Both were elected to second terms.

I’d actually consider voting for a Republican that would do this.

It’s more or less clear at this point that inflating the deficit isn’t a party thing. I actually hope Obama reneges on his promise not to raise taxes; it seems like the financially responsible thing at this point.

Debunking Health Care Lies (by Reading the Bill)

Debunking Health Care Lies (by Reading the Bill) – Blog – OpenCongress

At OpenCongress, we’ve had the official text of the House health care bill available online for a month for people to read and get the facts: H.R. 3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Anyone can easily permalink and comment on any individual section of the full bill text. And in this debate, the facts matter — it’s imperative that as a nation we read the actual text of the bill and actively work to counter any misinformation about it. To be sure, it’s a long bill, and not easy to understand at first read. Some of the misinformation is intentional, and some is inadvertent. But whether you support or oppose this bill, we hope you agree that the misinformation surrounding it is harmful to the public debate and the formal legislative process on health care. In other words, news coverage and blog buzz and viral emails on the health care bill should refer to specific, citable sections of what the bill actually says — they must be reality-based.

Worth the read. Illuminated some of the misinformation I’d heard.

Now can we begin to have an engaging discussion about the actual bill?

Mexico’s drug war

Mexico’s drug war – The Big Picture – Boston.com

In December of 2006, Mexico’s new President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels, reversing earlier government passiveness. Since then, the government has made some gains, but at a heavy price – gun battles, assassinations, kidnappings, fights between rival cartels, and reprisals have resulted in over 9,500 deaths since December 2006 – over 5,300 killed last year alone. President Barack Obama recently announced extra agents were being deployed to the border and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Mexico today to pursue a broad diplomatic agenda – overshadowed now by spiraling drug violence and fears of greater cross-border spillover. Officials on both sides of the border are committed to stopping the violence, and stemming the flow of drugs heading north and guns and cash heading south.

2 Baja California state police stand guard at a captured marijuana greenhouse in the basement of a ranch in Tecate, Mexico on March 12, 2009. (REUTERS/Jorge Duenes)
2 Baja California state police stand guard at a captured marijuana greenhouse in the basement of a ranch in Tecate, Mexico. (REUTERS/Jorge Duenes)

I know it may sound naïve, but I have to wonder if a lot of the residual violence would be quelled if marijuana were made legal.1 I know drugs aren’t the only reason for border control, but I also wonder if the border situation would be different too. I believe enough in the power of the free market that it could regulate the—shall we say—more colorful characters in the industry.

Or maybe  I’ve just been watching too much Weeds. Seriously, that show is funny, but I’m left after watching season 4 with a vague uneasiness. I think it got to me, that there are actually people out there whose lives become wholly consumed by the drug profession.

  1. I’m certainly not eager to try it out, for the record.

The long road ahead

America’s Best Places For Alternative Energy – Forbes.com

The “cubic mile of oil”–a metric roughly equivalent to the amount of oil consumed worldwide each year–is frequently used to explain the challenge facing solar, wind, geothermal and biomass power.

So what would it take to replace the amount of energy in a cubic mile of oil? Roughly 4.2 billion solar rooftops, 300 million wind turbines, 2,500 nuclear power plants or 200 Three Gorges Dams, according to Menlo Park, Calif., nonprofit research institute SRI International.

In other words, no single category of renewable energy is growing anywhere near the speed it needs to bear the full brunt of displacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels anytime soon.

[…]

While there is no doubt that wind, solar and geothermal [power] have ample energy to power the planet–the sunlight that hits Earth in a single hour contains enough energy to fuel the human population for a year–they will need years to mature before they reach anything approaching their potential. Oil has had more than a century to mature, and its shortcomings remain painfully obvious even now.

Hopefully this isn’t a surprise to most, but it looks like we’ll need a lot of hard work—certainly not just a bunch of people and companies “going green” in name—to really effect environmental change. That’s a glass of cold water.

Fundamentals

I’m gathering, from my reading here and there, that most people don’t know that Herbert Hoover famously declared that the “fundamental business of the country” was sound. (Can it be “famously” if most people don’t know it? Never mind.)

That partly explains why Republicans seem eerily compelled to echo Hoover; they don’t know what it makes them sound like.

Fundamentals – Paul Krugman – Op-Ed Columnist – New York Times Blog

From the linked article:

For Hoover as for McCain, the insistence on “sound fundamentals” means that if necessary, the government will throw a life preserver to business leaders; the rest of us are on our own.

I’m no economist (and I’d appreciate any insight from others) but McCain’s comments really do scare me. (They wouldn’t if about half of America didn’t think he should be our next President.)

Keeping up with politics?

So I’m actually trying to keep up with politics; call it the spirit of the times. I’m having a hard time finding what to read without it completely consuming my time. Wondering what everyone else reads.

Here, I’ll start: Ken shared Donklephant with me about a year ago, a (generally) balanced source of political news. Not too many stories a day, not too much punditry.

If you keep up, how do you do it?
(Read my update for some of my answers.)

In which I actually address a political rumor

A few days late, but I spent the first days of this week reading about some discrepancies in Sarah Palin’s recent pregnancy. Summary: some people think the child is actually her daughter’s (and that her daughter’s current pregnancy is a cover-up).

iReport had an article, but Karion’s article was more interesting (i.e. more sources), and it’s his I want to address here. After asking my labor-and-delivery-nurse mom about some of the details, she had a few corrections:

Karion:

Three days [after birth], [she] announces (at work) that the baby has Down’s syndrome, that she has known that since early in the pregnancy. Why would a staunchly pro-life woman, who opposes legal abortions for rape and incest victims, screen for birth defects when there is ABSOLUTELY no chance that she would have an abortion?

Because it’s not about “finding out if the baby is retarded so we can abort”. My mom:

“From a medical standpoint ANY woman 35 and older has the option to be tested for any chromosomal abnormalities because of the increased risk for problems.  A woman can be pro-life and still test, just because she wants to know!”

I know that care for the mother and fetus can change significantly if there are any problems, so it’s more of a matter of ensuring the well-being of both.

Karion:

Before giving a speech in Texas on April 17, 2008, while she was eight months’ pregnant, she starts having contractions and leaking amniotic fluid.

[The next morning], someone allegedly induces labor. If the leaking amniotic fluid wasn’t a concern enough to address for 18+ hours, let alone preclude approval for flight travel (the air pressure aggravates the dangers of infection and further irritation of the leak), and she wasn’t actually in labor when she arrived, why induce a premature birth of a baby with Down’s?

Because it has nothing to do with the air pressure. My mom:

The other clinical ignorance he has is that at “8mos.” that could mean 36 wks or 32 wks depending on how a lay person is looking at the calendar.  Generally, in the ob world if a pregnancy has ruptured membranes at 34 wks + for over 12 hrs without labor, you induce so that infection does not set in.  The baby has pretty good chance of survival at that point, the risk of infection would be greater.  They also often give an injection to the mom which can help mature the baby’s lungs.

So the mere fact that she was leaking for over 12 hours would make them likely to induce. The whole timeline makes me think that the amniotic fluid would have been a concern, except that she (for some reason) ran away from care for that long.

I respect that this is just a big rumor, but it does have some interesting details, and I’m curious to see how everything will play out.

Obama Mobilizing His Followers via Twitter

On the Web, Obama’s Twitter site now has more than 60,000 followers, who receive updates from Obama’s town hall meetings and links to his Web site.

The article also mentions that “Republican John McCain’s campaign, meanwhile, has not highlighted text messages,” Instead McCain is going old-school with viral YouTube videos, [sic] “McCain’s recent ‘Celeb’ ad, which compared Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, has received about 2 million hits on YouTube.”

via Twitter Blog: Mobilizing His Followers

My favorite part: the AP calling YouTube “old-school”.