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.


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:


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.


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”.