Friday, October 31, 2008

So, there's this joke going around

This joke is going around, about how this man sees a homeless person with an Obama sign, then sees a waiter with an Obama tie, and decides to stiff the waiter and give the $10 tip for the meal to the homeless guy instead. Hey, the waiter doesn't like the "share the wealth" concept after all! Hahahahaha!

Yep, that's humor in certain circles. But, see, it's funny because it's true.

Because a ten dollar tip for a waiter is exactly the same as the extra $10 tax paid on $250 earned after a person has already earned over a quarter million dollars that year.

And, of course, the waiter - most waiters are living paycheck to paycheck - gets just as much benefit from the ten bucks to the homeless guy as the guy earning a quarter million a year gets from an extra ten bucks given to the US government, which helps create a stable, safe environment in which to make a quarter million bucks a year.

And, of course, the waiter undoubtedly cares just as much for the homeless guy as we should care about the country we're living in, right?

Damn. That joke doesn't seem as funny any more. Maybe if someone explains it... nah, explaining things ruins a lot of jokes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I think Mr. Levin is correct...

I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality....

Hmm. Later in the article:

So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism.

Ah. So if there are stories and opinion pieces that say something, that proves that "the media" are in the tank for Obama.

Because if any member of the media writes a story or an opinion piece, it says something about "the media" as a whole, right? That's "rationality", isn't it?

It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets,

And it's rational to ignore how the biggest parts of the financial collapse didn't involve Fannie and Freddie... the credit default swaps remain one of the biggest pieces of the problem. (Also, Fannie and Freddie grabbed into the sub-prime loans very late in the game, in an attempt to shore up their market share.)

And, of course...

Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich."

It's "punishment" to see your tax rate go up from 35% to 39%, once you're making over a quarter million a year. Not "a higher tax bracket", because heavens no, that wouldn't give you reason to be angry. Nope, it's punishment, that's the only "rational" point of view, I suppose... to a person like Mark Levin.

It's too much to expect rational discussion sometimes, but please... when folks are going to complain that other people are making irrational complaints, can't they at least *try*?

(If you really want to depress me, you can tell me that he did try, and this was his best.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sorry, guys, it's too late to cry "socialism".

I've been seeing some really pathetic claims of "socialism" regarding Obama's tax plan. And, honestly, some people can make the honest claim that they believe his plan to be socialism... but the majority can't.

See, his plan is based upon the same idea as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a hugely popular tax credit for people who earn low wages and have children. The EITC is a refundable tax credit - meaning, even if you pay no income tax, you can get money back from the IRS if you can claim the EITC.

And Obama's plan is based upon similar principles. Yes, it includes refundable tax credits, just like the EITC, which means that some people who pay no income tax will get money back from the IRS.

Now, anyone who cried "socialism!" for the popular EITC has a right to cry "socialism!" now. Anyone else? Well, sorry, it's too late. You kept quiet when it was politically convenient to keep quiet, so you lost your chance to make a noise when noisemaking became convenient. Hey, don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If you have to say it...

There are certain things you have to be careful saying. If you have to keep reminding people that you're cool, or popular, or, say, "a maverick", it suggests that you aren't. 'Nuff said.

But today, I saw a McCain Palin banner ad, showing Palin and bearing the words "A proven maverick". And I think about her lies about the bridge to nowhere, and her lies about the Troopergate report, her lockstep with Republican talking points, and now, all I can think of is a quote from the Princess Bride.

"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's not so much that Barack Obama won...

Barack Obama won this debate; I think that was pretty clear.

But I was a bit surprised at how badly John McCain lost.

He seems to have bought into his own myth. "I can balance the budget; I can provide leadership; I can save the world, because I'm John McCain!"

I think he's stuck back in 2000. I think he thinks that nothing has changed. Repeat the talking points; "cut taxes to stimulate the economy, so it will create new jobs! Cut the deficit. Vouchers. Abortion sucks. So vote for me!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

I didn't think I'd have to say this...

But I'm glad to be wrong.

Thank you, Senator McCain.
(for one of many good quotes at the link:
McCain replies, "Well, I don't want him to be president, either. I wouldn't be running if I did. But," and he pauses for emphasis, "you don't have to be scared to have him be President of the United States."

I know everyone's saying "go more negative, land some real hits on Obama!" and I know that you know that the only way you're going to pull this out is for people to start hating Senator Obama (or for you to suddenly multiply loaves and fishes, or somesuch), and I know you're not the kind of man who is willing to take defeat easily, so I know that this couldn't have been easy. But you did it anyway.

You might lose, and there'll be people who point to this decision, and say that this is why you lost. And while that might hurt, at least you'll know you did the right thing.

And I appreciate it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'm glad that the McCain campaign never pulls stupid stunts

So this must be my imagination

I can't even understand what makes anyone think that this kind of thing is a good idea. Either the report comes out, and claims she's guilty "but, oh, no, our campaign says otherwise, and you can trust us more than the Alaska legislature!" or it says she's innocent, and this "report" says the exact same thing, meaning it was a bunch of dramatics over nothing.

Every time I think the McCain campaign can't get any more screwed up... sigh.

Thoughts after watching Tuesday's Presidential debate

Better late than never, but...

"Gee, whiz, Senator McCain, when you lower your voice, and put that tone into it, everything that I've rejected from you just makes perfect sense, now!"

People were warning Obama not to sound professorial, but geez, McCain spent about half the debate sounding like someone trying to talk to children. You know, that false eagerness, that false "oh boy!" quality?

I can see why he's going for Ayers, now, because he really doesn't have much left. Obama is looking more and more like a President, and he's looking more and more like the guy going through the motions, trying his best. He looks like Bob Dole, holding on hoping for some horrible event to upset the man who is clearly going to win.

There's one difference.

I kinda felt sorry for Dole. He struck me as a decent man, a man I had to oppose because he was beholden to the Republican special interests.

Bob Dole didn't call the Falwell-ish types "agents of intolerance" and then turn around and plant big sloppy kisses on them. Bob Dole didn't try to broker a deal on torture, and claim he got torture outlawed, but leave a huge opening where only the executive - the very branch doing the torture - gets to decide what's torture. Bob Dole didn't pull a cynical switcheroo on offshore drilling.

Dole soldiered on, knowing he was going to lose. But though his campaign was negative - aren't almost all of them negative? - I could only imagine his response if someone had called his opponent - Bill Clinton, no less! - a "terrorist" or if he saw some of the recent venom being seen at McCain and Palin rallies over the past few days. When the election was over, I'd have wanted to clasp his hand and say "you done good."

I'll have no such urge when McCain finally goes down to defeat.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

John McCain: American hero

America needs a hero like John McCain. Just ask him.

He's a maverick bucking his party on the war in Iraq, uh, torture, um, agents of intolerance, er, the economy well, lots of issues.

And he showed that he cares about this nation because he suspended his campaign, repeat, he suspended his campaign, and tried to put politics aside, to deal with the financial crisis. Indeed, we need a man who suspended his campaign, and, you know, put the country first, putting politics aside, and didn't do this for his Presidential campaign, in order to deal with the financial mess.

And if it hadn't been for those horrible, partisan Democrats (66% voting in favor), America would have had that bill passed last Monday by the heroic Republicans (66% voting opposed), who are led by a man who, though he hates to talk about it, used to be a POW, and suspended his campaign to try to deal with the issue.

It's not his fault that the main stream media is pretending his gracious and heroic suspension of his campaign was just a cheap and tawdry political stunt. It just shows that they're in the tank for that horrible Barack Obama who wants to raise taxes and kill jobs and hasn't ever been a POW and who wouldn't ever suspend his campaign to deal with a financial crisis.

Don't forget: John McCain, without any political consideration of the issue at all, suspended his campaign, to deal with the crisis because he cares more about this country, than he does about politics.

Oh, and before you even think about noticing how often he mentions his non-partisan, non-political campaign suspension, don't you dare insinuate that a former POW who was tortured brutally would ever do such a thing!

Final (?) entry on the VP debate

So, thinking about the VP debate overnight, here's what sticks.

Palin is a cheerleader. Now, there's nothing emphatically wrong with that; sometimes you need a perky booster to go out and spread your message. But, even as vice-president, she thinks she should get more than just a supporting (cheerleading) role. And, as President - let's face it, 72 year old cancer survivors aren't a good actuarial bet for long term survival - she'd be in over her head. Presidents are cheerleaders, to some extent, but they need to be more than that.

Biden is a partner, and ready to take over. But he doesn't feel entitled to take a leadership role. He's a supporter. And, if he is needed to step in, he can do it.

So, the one who is least able to lead wants the most power, and the one who is most able to lead is most willing to play a supporting role.

If I were undecided - if I could vote for McCain after he gave the green-light to the Bushies on torture - that would be the clincher for me. The Obama-Biden team is experienced, rock solid, and both have an understanding of their roles. Biden might play Obama's attack dog, saying things that Obama shouldn't say, but he won't play the Cheney game of doing things to deflect blame from the President.

We have to suspect that Palin will.

And, face it... she just isn't qualified.

She's not stupid; much though her answers are beauty queen answers, beauty queens aren't stupid. It takes a great deal of skill to answer questions on the fly. But there's a difference between being able to rattle off some really good sounding talking points really quickly, and having real depth of ideas and character.

Putin isn't going to care that McCain and Palin are "a couple of mavericks, you betcha!" Nor will the Iranian religious leaders (who, note, control foreign policy - Ahmadinejad's power is domestic). Hell, life isn't going to care that they have some good talking points and at least one pretty face to repeat them (no offense, Senator McCain; my own face is nothing to write home about either).

So, she's not qualified, but she isn't willing to be just a partner. And Biden is extremely qualified, and shows the temperament to be a hell of a good VP.

As far as I'm concerned that would have settled it, if McCain's flop on torture hadn't done it already.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tolerance and governance

So, Sarah Palin says that she's tolerant.

It's not enough.

Look, when you're a private citizen, with the power only of a private citizen, tolerance is a virtue.

When you're taking control over the executive, you are taking more power, and at that point, personal tolerance is not enough. You need to assure folks that the power of the state will protect the people, because it is the people from whom the power of the government comes.

Although it sucks that Biden and Obama don't support gay marriage, they have stated more than "we are tolerant". They have promised to use the power of government to secure people's civil rights. That is what we need.

Tolerance is what you yearn for in your friends, not in your leaders.

Just a note about economic theory

I'm watching the VP debate through now, and Governor Palin chirps that lowering taxes on small business will increase the number of jobs they create, you betcha.

The Republicans like to talk about how, if you lower taxes on small businesses, they'll create more jobs.

Is that an accurate assessment?

Well, here's a question. Looking at economics, if you increase the price of something, do you get more of it, or less of it?


Hey, don't blame me, I'm just the messenger.

If you decrease taxes on small businesses, you increase the cost of hiring a worker. Salaries are a deductible business expense. If the tax rate is 50%, a job that costs $40k a year only costs $20k; if the tax rate is lowered to 40%, it now costs $24k.

Now, I am not saying that higher taxes are better; make taxes too high, and no one feels like producing much past a certain point. If tax rates are 90% above a certain amount, no one is going to expend the effort to earn more than that amount... unless the effort is minimal[1].

But let's not pretend that lowering taxes means increasing jobs. Lower taxes means that every job an employer can eliminate means that much more money for the employer to take home.

Yes, it's true: if that employer takes home more money, s/he'll spend more money. But if it's taxed by the government, the government will spend more money, and also borrow less, leaving more money available for investment, which will also improve the economy.

Don't let anyone - not even a perky VP candidate - feed you a line that's so oversimplified it doesn't even make sense on its face.

[1] e.g. if the lower bracket rate is 30% and the higher is 90%, people will only expend one seventh the effort. In the 30% bracket, they take home 70 cents on each dollar earned; in the 90% bracket, they take home only 10 cents on each dollar. This, of course, assumes people follow economic principles, which they don't. But the principle holds.

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