Archive - 2010
After coming home from the boys' football games today, while doing some work I watched the documentary The Rivals (2010):
The story of “The Rivals” centers on two very different communities in Maine. The Mountain Valley Falcons are a long time football powerhouse led by coaching legend Jim Aylward. Their community is located in the western mountains of Maine, supported only by a paper mill that is continuously cutting jobs. The fiery Aaron Filieo, who is five years into his first head-coaching job of a program that is only 6 years old, commands the Cape Elizabeth Capers. Their community is along the scenic coast is one of the wealthiest in the state, home to doctors, lawyers, and type A personalities.
I enjoyed it (perhaps because I'm such a big football fan). The head coaches are real characters and tend to steal the show. I give it 4 out of 5.
Presented without comment (OK, one comment: Delaware, this is your Senate candidate...talking about scientists making mice with fully-functioning human brains):
Regarding the controversy about whether to extend the "Bush-era tax cuts" to nobody, people making less than $250,000, or everyone...
“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes — but that was a long time ago...Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent...
It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes. And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.
But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” Sacrifice is for the little people.
Of course, a similar argument could be aimed at the Obama admin's policies that, after the economic collapse, have made whole and protected the wealth of Wall St. while doing relatively little to relieve the suffering on main street.
Did you know this (link)?
Obama's "tax cuts for the middle class" aren't actually tax cuts for the middle class. They're tax cuts on all family income up to $250,000. So if you make $300,000 a year, you're getting a tax cut on $250,000. That's a serious tax cut! That's why the graphs showing how different taxpayers make out under the Obama and Bush tax plans all show a tax cut for the rich under Obama's plan:
Those who would pay higher taxes under Obama's plan typically aren't excited about that prospect, and one law professor famously complained that he didn't welcome paying higher taxes in order to finance "...the vast expansion of government [Obama] is planning." Ezra Klein pointed out the reality (link):
Henderson's taxes aren't financing the government Obama would like to build. They're financing the government America already has. George W. Bush passed his tax cuts without offering any offsetting spending cuts. It was apparent then, and is even more apparent now, that he'd brought federal revenue beneath the level of federal spending -- and then he increased spending, too. Nothing Obama has signed into law will add as much to the deficit as Medicare Part D, for instance. Or the two wars George W. Bush began. Or, for that matter, the tax cuts Bush passed...The basic story here is that Henderson got a tax cut that the government could never actually afford, and it still can't. That situation predated Obama and has nothing to do with his agenda.
According to President Obama and the Democrats, 97 percent of small businesses will see their tax rates remain the same. Republican counter that the remaining three percent of small businesses -- about 750,000 of them -- constitute half of all small-business income. There's only one way both of those statements can be true: Many of those 750,000 small businesses aren't small at all. Some, like Bechtel Corporation, are positively enormous.
The Democratic and Republican figures come from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. But numerous think tanks and government organizations have examined the data and come to similar conclusions: First, that letting the Bush tax cuts on the top two brackets of "small-business" income would impact a tiny percentage of those businesses; and second, that many of the "small businesses" that would be impacted are actually giant companies -- which explains why such a tiny fraction of them can account for half of small business income.
According to the Washington Post, which obtained its information from House Democrats, some of the "small businesses" that could see a small increase in their marginal taxes are household names like accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers and Tribune Corp. -- privately-owned behemoths whose owners and managers dodge corporate taxes by reporting profits on their income tax returns.
And did you know this? If all of the tax cuts were allowed to expire, we'd be tantalizingly close to balancing the budget by 2015:
Today, the economy is sluggish and the national debt is soaring to worrisome levels. As lawmakers bicker over whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, not just for the middle class but also for the wealthy, many economists and budget analysts say there's a simple way to curb borrowing: Let the tax cuts expire for everyone.
Official and independent budget estimates show that letting tax rates spring back to pre-Bush levels for all taxpayers would bring the country within striking distance of meeting President Obama's goal of balancing the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015...
But for all the election-year hand-wringing about deficits, no one in Washington is talking about letting the tax cuts lapse on schedule in January. Instead, Senate Republicans have offered a measure that would extend all the cuts, adding nearly $4 trillion to the debt over the next decade. This week, Senate Democrats say they plan to unveil a bill that would preserve most of the cuts for most Americans. That would add nearly $2 trillion to deficits by 2020.
I get the point that the current struggling economy may be a bad time to raise taxes, but I don't get how conservatives can keep a straight face while lamenting the growing debt out of one side of their mouth and out of the other accepting no responsibility to propose serious spending cuts sufficient to pay for their proposed tax cuts.
@mike_the_eyeguy I'm in NC this weekend too. Winston-Salem for 20-year high school reunion.
RT @ThePlumLineGS: Deep thought on O'Donnell's victory: Once you let the crazy out of the bottle, it's awful hard to put it back in again...
RT @texasinafrica: I read Newt Gingrich's dissertation on Belgian colonialism. The man loved colonialism. None of this should be a surprise.
During a speech last week (link), President Obama ad-libbed a bit (departed from the prepared text of the speech) to quote the Declaration of Independence and (presumably inadvertently) omitted the words "endowed by their Creator". Obama spoke:
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Never mind that Obama ended the speech by saying...
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
...many conservatives (e.g. The Weekly Standard) have pounced and questioned whether or not Obama believes that our rights come from our Creator (Nature’s God” and “the Supreme Judge of the World”, as the Declaration says).
Sadly the epidemic of Obama Derangement Syndrome is now so rampant that the White House had to release this pitiful statement today (link):
“The President is in full agreement with the Declaration of Independence. Any suggestion to the contrary is just silly.”(Josh Earnest, Deputy White House Press Secretary)
Imagine if, during the presidency of George W. Bush, I had a habit of highlighting every time President Bush didn't get a quote or statement exactly right in one of his speeches or press conferences. How petty would that have been? You'd have considered such nitpicking, coming from me at least, to be low and unseemly. You'd have been right.
This reminds me of P.Z. Myers recent criticism of "conspiracy theories" regarding Obama's religion and politics (link):
Please, fellow godless folk, stop trying to claim Obama as one of us. He isn't. He goes to church sometimes, he has a religious history, he's happy to use Christian metaphors, he hasn't claimed to be so much as an agnostic. He's a liberal Christian who is not obsessed with religion. Take his words at face value; I find it annoying when people look for signs that he's a hidden member of our little clan. It is so conspiracy-theory...
Obama is not a socialist or a communist or a Luo tribesman. He is a centrist politician from Chicago who believes in improving peoples lives incrementally by working step by step through political compromise. He pisses off the liberal, progressive wing of the Democratic party because we want him to be bold and aggressive, and he's not, and because he's also comfortable with the military-industrial status quo. He really annoys the wingnut right because he wants to move the country away from their dreams of a Reaganesque/Randian capitalist paradise, and he is…slowly and tentatively.
That's really all you need to know to comprehend what Obama is doing and how he works. It's sufficient to explain everything. We don't have to postulate that he's a reincarnated Mau Mau chieftain or that he's a secret communist plant. He's just a traditional middle-of-the-road politician from the Midwest.
(I knew that many of Obama's conservative critics want to believe that he is an atheist but hadn't realized that many atheists want to believe the same thing).
This also reminds me of a cartoon: link.