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Weekend Update 07-30-2011

Posted: July 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

Yes, I will really blog again. If you really miss my little posts, I’m sure you haven’t read all my past ones. Browse my categories. You might find something that interests you. In the meantime, here’s the weekend update.

The Guild season 5 has begun! The first person to flatulate sleeps in the hall!

Speaking as someone with celiac and with two kids with celiac, I wish the FDA would hurry up and issue these labeling rules!

Broadband caps necessary? Cringely does a great job deconstructing the lies and utter BS your internet provider is trying to sell you. (Fortunately neither Sprint nor Suddenlink are trying to do this yet and hopefully never will. So I’m pretty lucky. Most of the US isn’t.)

Medicare, for all its flaws, works better than private insurance. A lot of people seem to forget or ignore that key point.

Lesson from the Malaise is a good column reviewing the past eleven years for economic lessons we ought to learn. It also mentions a point that I’ve seen in a bunch of places but which for some reason doesn’t seem to be widely known or understood. “The bottom 50 percent of households, based on pretax income, make less combined than the top 1 percent. Only three decades ago, the bottom half made more than twice as much. The middle class has also received a much smaller tax cut in recent decades than the affluent. ” And I’ll note that none of the tax cuts of the last decade were actually funded. They got away with that by making them “temporary”. But honestly? If you aren’t in the top 10% (and probably closer to the top 1%) you stand to lose a lot more money (and security, societal stability, and all those other intangibles) from the sorts of cuts the GOP wants to make than you would by giving up your meager share of the Bush tax cuts. (That’s assuming, of course, that you actually get anything at all from the Bush tax cuts.) If you still don’t understand that basic fact, can I also assume you play the lottery because you believe you have a real chance to win and not merely the occasional ticket for entertainment purposes? Yes, those elementary and high school math courses actually do matter in the “real” world. If we let the Bush tax cuts expire and end our foreign wars (also paid for on the nation’s credit card), we’ll wipe out the bulk of the deficit without doing anything else. Then we do need to tweak social security (which was “fixed” in the 80s) by raising the FICA withholding cap to bring it back in sync with the 90% of income level. That’s all that’s needed for social security. In order to “fix” Medicare and Medicaid, we have to reform the whole health care system within which they operate. That’s what the long-standing Republican health care reform plan, which the Democrats finally passed as The Affordable Care Act, attempts to do. Cutting Medicare or Medicaid directly by reducing eligibility or benefits is not only unconscionably cruel and a violation of the social compact we have made with generations of working Americans, it also will not ultimately save money. None of the ideas that have been floated do anything more than achieve some very short term savings. The overall system is broken. Fix the system and we fix Medicare and Medicaid. Fail to fix the system and they will bankrupt us. It really is as simple and as difficult as that. None of the above is complicated, hard to discover, or difficult to understand. So why do so many of my fellow Americans seem incapable of grasping reality? I don’t get it.

One explanation of the above may be revealed in recent studies. It seems that it only takes 10% of a population to be totally committed to an idea or opinion for that opinion to overtake the whole society. The opinion doesn’t need to be factual. It doesn’t need to be correct. It doesn’t apparently need to have much connection to reality. You just need that firmly committed core. If true, that’s pretty sad really. It’s not really a positive statement. And it means that all of us really are dumber than any of us.

Here’s a nice little graph outlining the cost of new programs under Bush and Obama, respectively. Does that correspond with what you thought you knew? If not, you might want to ease up on that koolaid.

We’re in a jobs and growth crisis, not a budget crisis. I appreciate Robert Reich’s efforts to expose the lies in the propaganda blanketing America these days.

Tim Duy has a view of the debt ceiling mess from the outside. Hopefully the damage won’t hit the most severe end and this ends the Tea Party’s run as a meaningful political force.

The Centrist Cop-Out is a good column. I tend to think that it’s a good idea not to negotiate with blackmailers, kidnappers, and extortionists. Even when the cost of refusing to negotiate is painful, the cost of agreement tends to be so much worse. And that’s really what the GOP has become. They are no longer rational or reasonable. Rather, they are trying to extort all they can for their own personal gain (go check out how many of those new House Republicans are millionaires) and don’t really give a shit how much damage they cause our country. They’ve been effective because the Democrats actually do care about our country. But it’s reached the point where conceding to the demands of the extortionists is as bad, if not worse, as refusing to meet their demands. I’m not really sure I understand why enough Americans believe rich, greedy bastards will actually represent their interests to elect them.

I got this from ConversionDiary. They are in the west side of LA, but for those of us who live in the birthplace of Whole Foods (and I remember the original store), it’s even a better fit.

Senator McCain lambasting those Republicans trying to tie everything on their wish list (in this instance a Balanced Budget Amendment) to a bill raising the debt ceiling.

Weekend Update 07-23-2011

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

Another example of our “free enterprise” system at work. For shame.

The burgeoning inequality between the wealthiest 10% and everyone else in our country carries within it the seeds of our own destruction. Ironically, in their short-sighted greed, those who might appear to “benefit” from those policies are actually destroying the foundation of their own wealth. A few of them recognize that fact, but many don’t. I’m also appalled that so many Americans appear clueless about their consumption of government services.

Half of all food stamp recipients are children. 1 in 7 Americans are struggling to simply eat. As a desperately poor teen parent, I remember those days. They were no fun at all. From a historical perspective, I’ll also note that few things fuel revolution as quickly as when families see their children going hungry. I think Republicans should be forced to feed their families off food stamps for a month if they want to advocate further cuts in the program. It’s not the same as really being poor, but would at least give them a taste of it.

It seems like the only question left on the table at this point is whether we will relive 1931 or 1937. Truly, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

If Jesus is indeed the Truth, various Christian groups need to learn to try not to twist it.

The modern day GOP attitude toward Reagan reminds me a lot of a common Christian attitude regarding Jesus. They admire him a lot as long as they don’t actually have to do the things he said and did.

Mikko Hypponen’s TED talk below is well worth taking the time to watch. It’s about the growth of online crime and the implications that has for the Internet and even for our physical infrastructure.

Weekend Update 07-16-2011

Posted: July 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 1 Comment »

This is premiere weekend for the last Harry Potter movie, of course. Today my younger son and I will see the movie. I remember standing in line with him (when I was head and shoulders taller than him rather than the reverse) for the premiere of the first movie too many years ago.

Listening to what supposedly serious people say about the economy, you’d think the problem was “no, we can’t.” But the reality is “no, we won’t.” Indeed. Nor does it even require some sort of economic expertise to see. All you have to do is look at the sorts of things we did in the Great Depression and the complete absence of anything even vaguely similar is glaring.

Has the GOP gone insane? Why, yes, it has.

ABC Nightline had a segment on Roller Derby, which was reborn here in Austin and has spread everywhere. My youngest daughter and I love roller derby. Her favorite home team is the Hot Rod Honeys (Faster! Faster! Kill! Kill! Kill!) and the Texecutioners (traveling team) are always fun to watch.

Saturday Evening Blog Post – June Edition

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Misc | Comments Off on Saturday Evening Blog Post – June Edition

In this month’s edition of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther, I posted a link to my post-mortem on health care, American-style.

Weekend Update 07-02-2011

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 07-02-2011

Wrong, wrong, wrong. All of the strong recoveries over the past thirty years were the direct result of tax hikes (including the Reagan tax hikes in 1982). Tax cuts have inevitably led to weak recoveries or crashes. What do you say to people who adamantly believe something that is completely unsupported by any facts and is, instead, directly contradicted by the facts? Beats me.

When it comes to food, Austin often gets the cool toys first. in.gredients is a zero packaging grocery store coming soon!

This is just sad. Fox can’t even grasp the difference between comedy with a political perspective and ideology and journalism.

When the right complains about those who “pay no taxes” somehow it never seems to be these people about whom they’re complaining. Just sayin’.

A takedown of the fantasy warrior woman armor cliche.

Love this line. As Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute puts it, the G.O.P. has, in effect, come around with baseball bats and declared, “Nice economy you have here. A real shame if something happened to it.”

“The hippies read the textbooks; the Very Serious People apparently rely on close analysis of entrails, or something.”

Explosions in the Sky have done their first “official” music video, Last Known Surroundings. Take a moment to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Jennifer Knapp. It gets better.