Tag: ek Politics


Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Even in Connecticut $400,000 a year is wealthy.

Deficit May Snap 12-Year Tax Winning Streak for Top-Earning Americans

By Margaret Collins, Bloomberg News

May 25, 2011 1:57 PM ET

For a married couple with two children in Connecticut, which has the third-highest state and local tax burden in the U.S., the increase in rates Obama has proposed, along with levies from health-care reform, mean their tax bill may jump to $142,160 in 2013 from $126,410 this year, or 12.5 percent, according to an analysis Fleming ran for Bloomberg News.

That’s based on $485,000 in earnings, $2,000 in interest on investments, $3,000 in dividend income and $10,000 in long-term capital gains, and the following deductions: $20,000 in mortgage interest and charitable donations of $10,000, said Fleming, who works for PwC’s private company services tax group in Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

Under the tax-cut compromise passed in December, individuals generally may gift up to $5 million during their lifetime without paying tax. That threshold will revert to $1 million in 2013 unless Congress acts.

“Move that $5 million now to your children or grandchildren to lock that in if you’re afraid that will go away,” Beerman said. That way the appreciation on those assets is out of an estate, Beerman said.

The biggest federal tax breaks for individuals include those for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, incentives for retirement savings and the exclusion for employer-provided health care, said Clint Stretch, managing principal of tax policy at Deloitte Tax LLP in Washington. Each of them would be “politically pretty toxic” to eliminate or reduce, Stretch said.

Phasing out the mortgage interest deduction would increase federal revenue by $214.6 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation in a March report by the CBO. Curtailing deductions for charitable giving would raise an estimated $219 billion over the next decade, the CBO study said.

Did I mention their $400,000 McMansion?

A victory?

Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Law Curbing Unions


Published: May 26, 2011

Ruling that Republicans in the State Senate had violated the state’s open meetings law, a judge in Wisconsin dealt a blow to them and to Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday by granting a permanent injunction striking down a new law curbing collective bargaining rights for many state and local employees.

Republican senators asserted that they had enacted the collective bargaining law under emergency conditions, obviating the need to comply with the open meetings law. But Judge Sumi said she found no official evidence of emergency conditions or notice.

She (Judge Sumi) said the evidence demonstrated a failure to obey even the two-hour notice allowed for good cause if a 24-hour notice was impossible or impractical.

Perhaps temporarily-

“There’s still a much larger separation-of-powers issue: whether one Madison judge can stand in the way of the other two democratically elected branches of government,” he (Republican Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader) said in a statement. “The Supreme Court is going to have the ultimate ruling.”

Liar’s Poker

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I have 6 Aces.

The world’s most reckless central bankers

By Colin Barr, Fortune Magazine

May 25, 2011: 6:32 AM ET

Euro area President Jean-Claude Juncker said last month he is willing to mislead the public if the price in terms of market stability is right.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Juncker said. Either that, or you have to get serious. No prizes for guessing which course Europe will choose.

As Ireland’s post-bailout death spiral makes clear, austerity alone simply is not going to do the trick. Balancing a budget that is as out of whack as Greece’s “has been known to cause riots if done in a single year,” warns Paolo Manasse, an economics professor at the University of Bologna.

Yet officials at the ECB insist the alternative — inflicting losses on bondholders who until recently were all too happy to foot the bills for the big, fat Greek consumption party — is still too damaging to even contemplate. Taking a book out of the Tim Geithner playbook, ECB board member Juergen Stark last week called a possible restructuring a “catastrophe” because it would do bad things to the banks.

Meanwhile the real catastrophe plays out before our eyes. Every day that goes by without a restructuring that forces investors to share European taxpayers’ pain, the ultimate cleanup tab rises. You only have to survey the mess that is the U.S. housing market — or the wreck that once was the Irish economy — to see how that movie ends.

“You cannot really afford to keep buying time, because it is so expensive,” says Daniel Gros, who runs the Center for European Policy Studies think tank in Brussels. “Paying out 100% to existing bondholders is just too big a burden to bear in this situation.”

Krugman Decoded

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I often find it’s better to read him bottom to top, like stack language or a blog.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=buy-prednisone-no-prescription The ‘elite’ economists are arrogant morons-

If Greek banks collapse, that might well force Greece out of the euro area – and it’s all too easy to see how it could start financial dominoes falling across much of Europe. So what is the E.C.B. thinking?

My guess is that it’s just not willing to face up to the failure of its fantasies.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=propecia-prescription-debate What are those fantasies?

European leaders offered emergency loans to nations in crisis, but only in exchange for promises to impose savage austerity programs, mainly consisting of huge spending cuts. Objections that these programs would be self-defeating – not only would they impose large direct pain, but they also would, by worsening the economic slump, reduce revenues – were waved away. Austerity would actually be expansionary, it was claimed, because it would improve confidence.

discount roche accutane What are the results?

(T)he confidence fairy hasn’t shown up. Europe’s troubled debtor nations are, as we should have expected, suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs, and confidence is plunging instead of rising. It’s now clear that Greece, Ireland and Portugal can’t and won’t repay their debts in full, although Spain might manage to tough it out.

Realistically, then, Europe needs to prepare for some kind of debt reduction, involving a combination of aid from stronger economies and “haircuts” imposed on private creditors, who will have to accept less than full repayment. Realism, however, appears to be in short supply.

watch Clinging to a thin reed of hope.

I often complain, with reason, about the state of economic discussion in the United States. And the irresponsibility of certain politicians – like those Republicans claiming that defaulting on U.S. debt would be no big deal – is scary.

But at least in America members of the pain caucus, those who claim that raising interest rates and slashing government spending in the face of mass unemployment will somehow make things better instead of worse, get some pushback from the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration.

“Realism, however, appears to be in short supply.”

State and local governments may cut 450,000 jobs in FY2012


Mon May 23, 4:23 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Around 450,000 people who work for U.S. states, counties, cities, towns and villages could get pink slips in fiscal 2012, sharply up from the 300,000 positions shed this year, a report said on Monday.


Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Tibet celebrates 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation



On May 23rd, 1951, representatives of both the central government and the former local government of Tibet signed a 17-Article Agreement in Beijing, marking the region’s peaceful liberation. It fundamentally expelled imperialist forces, safeguarded the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, cracked down on various secessionist forces and maintained national unification and ethnic unity.

China Focus: Tibet marks 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation



“It’s a historic date for all the Tibetans,” said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet’s regional legislature, while addressing the crowd. “Tibet’s peaceful liberation laid a solid foundation for the subsequent democratic reform, building of socialism and the modernization drive.”

The number of serfs and slaves accounted for 95 percent of the Tibetan population in 1951. The lords, including the Dalai Lama’s relatives, owned all the land, forests, rivers and slaves. The lords could torture and even kill the serfs and slaves freely, though all were devout Buddhists.

“Rumors had it that the PLA were cannibals — some of them wore face masks that kept them from eating humans alive,” said Tseten Dorje, 76. Those frightening cannibals, he said, turned out to be friendly and even offered candies and biscuits to the children.

Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme himself wrote in an article entitled “Return to the warm embrace of the Motherland” published in 1981: “We held earnest and friendly negotiations on the basis of equality and consultation…and correctly resolved all complicated issues according to the policy of the Chinese Communist Party on resolving issues related to domestic ethnic groups and in line with the special conditions in Tibet.”

Witnessing "arrival of dawn" — memories of Tibet’s peaceful liberation in 1951

by Xinhua writers Yuan Ye, Bai Xu, Li Keyong


In January 1950, merely three months after the establishment of the PRC, Mao Zedong and the Central Military Commission made the decision to liberate Tibet, a move resisted by Tibet’s aristocrats who intended to seek support from Britain and the United States.

From the very beginning the central government made clear that “every effort must be made to realize negotiations with the local Tibetan government” for a peaceful liberation, said Qie Jinwu, a former high-ranking officer at the 18th Corps.

But the envoys sent to Lhasa for peace talks were all turned away. One of them, highly respected living Buddha Gedar Tulku, was even poisoned to death in Qamdo.

“We’ve made every effort. Even the purpose of Qamdo Battle in October 1950 was to urge the Kasha to come to the negotiation table,” said Qie, now 91.

The battle in the eastern Tibet town, in which the PLA defeated the Tibetan regional government’s army, quickly shook the Tibetan rulers’ confidence to resist.

But after his exile to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama insisted the agreement had been signed under duress.

Phundre said he did not agree with the “duress” claim because both sides were allowed to debate, sometimes fiercely, for the final version of the agreement.

In September 1950, a small fight broke out between a detachment of the 18th Corps and a dozen Tibetan soldiers in Dorje Chosphel’s home village of Kamthok, Jomda County.

“Bullets flew over my head, yet I managed to pick up a cartridge case out of curiosity,” said the now 79-year-old man. The Tibetan soldiers were soon defeated and fled.

“The successful entry of the 18th Corps is the result of a complete and earnest implementation of the central government’s policies toward Tibet and accordingly, the sincere support from the people,” said Ngawang Tenzin.

In the course of entering Tibet’s plateau region, known as “the world’ s roof,” more than 3,000 PLA soldiers died of high altitude sickness, hunger, or accidents while building roads.

Now even the most remote village in Tibet could be connected with the outside world with satellite TV and mobile phones.

Dithering and Explosions and Venting- Oh My!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Fukushima Update- Part 1

First of all let’s survey the damage.  Reactors 1, 2, and 3 suffered core meltdowns that breached the steel containment vessels leaving leaks that have been releasing highly radioactive cooling water AND molten nuclear fuel into the concrete basement below the vessel.

This is kind of a containment vessel too and while there are no current indications that nuclear reactions are continuing in the escaped fuel slag that would burn through this floor and into the uncontained earth foundation of the plants, they’re not waterproof and there is no doubt at all that millions of gallons of highly radioactive water and perhaps some fine particulates are leaking into the environment uncontrolled.

This has led to a re-evaluation of cooling and clean-up strategies that continues because there are no really good answers.  Several radiation peaks indicating continued nuclear reactions in the melted and puddled fuel mean you can’t stop pumping water and the leaking makes it difficult to maintain a sufficient amount in the containment vessel to moderate the reaction (that’s why you get the peaks when the level dips too low).

There’s a continued risk of hydrogen explosions too and one of the reasons I mention that is because the one bit of good news is that it does not look as if the large spent fuel pond at the non working (at the time of the accident) Reactor 4 is having uncontrolled reactions.

At the moment.

A lot of the damage was caused by hydrogen explosions which in turn was caused by malfunctioning vents of the same type currently in use at many U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

Third Way Democrat Electoral Success!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Oh… wait.

Spain’s Governing Party Suffers Heavy Losses

By RAPHAEL MINDER, The New York Times

Published: May 22, 2011

MADRID – The governing Socialist Party suffered heavy losses on Sunday in regional and municipal elections, even as tens of thousands of Spaniards calling themselves the “indignant” said they would pursue their protests to force an overhaul of the country’s political system.

Conceding defeat on Sunday night, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said that his Socialist Party had been understandably punished by voters for overseeing an economic crisis that had left Spain with a 21 percent jobless rate, more than twice the European average.

Mr. Zapatero, who has been in office since 2004, announced in April that he would not seek a third term, and the extent of the Socialists’ loss suggests that, even with a new leader, the party will struggle to hold on to power in the general election, expected next March.

Never mind.

Supposedly Liberal

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I’m rooting for the guy you don’t see in the Tigers cap (not the one with the mustache in the Ferrari).

This will work for sure!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our idiot Washington political “elite”-

Democrats’ New Tactic: Praising 2012 Republicans

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, The New York Times

May 20, 2011, 7:27 am

Here’s how the strategy could work, according to several Democratic advisers involved in implementing it:

  1. Convincing conservative voters that Republican candidates like Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman hold similar views to Mr. Obama might make them unacceptable in a Republican primary dominated by Tea Party activists.
  2. If Republican candidates like Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman push back against the Democratic praise, they run the risk of looking like they are flip-flopping on positions they once proudly held.
  3. Finally, if one of the Republicans emerges as the party’s nominee despite the Democratic plaudits, it may be tougher for that candidate to draw distinctions with Mr. Obama on those issues where they have seemed to agree.

Will this work?  C’mon, we’re talking D.C. strategists here.  Even they don’t expect it to work-

“None of us think that the Democratic party can dictate the outcome of the Republican nomination fight,” said one strategist. “But we can have some fun.”

Or it could just be that Obama is actually a Republican, implementing Republican policies.

Remember this?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Are we through yet? Tue May 03, 2011 at 09:15:47 AM EDT

Evidently the answer is no, we’re not through yet.

35 killed in Taliban attack on road workers

By Ben Farmer, Kabul, The Telegraph

4:40PM BST 19 May 2011

Up to 100 attackers then opened fire with AK-47s, heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades from surrounding hills, prompting a battle with guards lasting more than two hours.

By dawn on Thursday, when the attackers left the camp after burning or stealing several vehicles, 25 staff were also missing and 12 were injured, according to a senior manager at the company.

Noorullah Bidar, director of the company, said: “They [the Taliban] destroyed a lot of our equipment including vehicles and equipment used for road construction … we don’t know why they attacked us … they are doing this to prevent reconstruction in Afghanistan.”

36 killed in attack on work crew in Afghanistan

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times

May 19, 2011, 8:48 a.m.

The Taliban and other insurgents sometimes target work crews on infrastructure projects, regarding the building companies as collaborators with the central government and foreign forces. But most such projects have substantial security contingents, and it is unusual for militants to be able to kill so many in a single strike.

The construction company’s owner, Noorullah Bidar, one of 20 people injured in the attack, said from his hospital bed that all those slain in the predawn attack in Paktia province were Afghan nationals.

Rohullah Samon, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the dead included laborers, technical personnel and security guards. Eight assailants died in the attack as well, he said.


At Least 35 Killed in Attack on Afghan Road Crew


Published: May 19, 2011

The crew attacked Thursday was working on a road not far from the Gardez-Khost Highway, a 64-mile project that has been one of the most troubled and costly transportation projects in Afghanistan.

Since work on the highway began in 2007, there have been at least 364 attacks on the highway, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, almost all of them local Afghan workers. The highway project, which has been financed by the United States Agency for International Development, has come to symbolize the pitfalls of corruption and danger of trying to push development in areas strongly lacking in security. It has cost about $121 million so far, with the final price tag expected to reach $176 million, or about $2.8 million a mile.

Construction contractors trying to build in many of these volatile areas have been accused of paying off local insurgent groups, including the Haqqani network, to allow work to continue, in turn helping to finance the insurgency. Some security outfits have also been accused of themselves facilitating attacks in order to extort more money for security.

The Mighty Atchafalaya

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I don’t know whether any of you have had the pleasure (and I mean it sincerely, I enjoyed it very much) of visiting Mud Island in Memphis which I suspect is very much covered in mud at the moment.  The chief attraction is a scale model of the Mississippi and while the ‘Gulf of Mexico’ may once have been a water park it was pretty green and uninviting when I was there (and I’ve swum in some scummy water, let me tell you).

I suspect that soon they’ll have to make some modifications.

You see, the thing about it is the Mississippi as Mark Twain knew it and we know it today is an obsolete river.  

It’s not the shortest and steepest route to the Gulf of Mexico anymore, the Atchafalaya is, and the Army Corps of Engineers knew this back in 1963 when they constructed the Old River Control Structure to begin with.  The point was to save the commercial centers of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, not flood control at all.

But as Twain would tell you the mighty Mississippi is a big river and not one that will be denied.  Opening the floodgates will only make the Atchafalaya deeper and steeper than it is now and soon enough, in even human not geologic time, the pressure of all that water will not be denied.

The Control of Nature


by John McPhee, The New Yorker

February 23, 1987

The Mississippi River, with its sand and silt, has created most of Louisiana, and it could not have done so by remaining in one channel. If it had, southern Louisiana would be a long narrow peninsula reaching into the Gulf of Mexico. Southern Louisiana exists in its present form because the Mississippi River has jumped here and there within an arc about two hundred miles wide, like a pianist playing with one hand-frequently and radically changing course, surging over the left or the right bank to go off in utterly new directions. Always it is the river’s purpose to get to the Gulf by the shortest and steepest gradient. As the mouth advances southward and the river lengthens, the gradient declines, the current slows, and sediment builds up the bed. Eventually, it builds up so much that the river spills to one side. Major shifts of that nature have tended to occur roughly once a millennium. The Mississippi’s main channel of three thousand years ago is now the quiet water of Bayou Teche, which mimics the shape of the Mississippi. Along Bayou Teche, on the high ground of ancient natural levees, are Jeanerette, Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Olivier-arcuate strings of Cajun towns. Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the channel was captured from the east. It shifted abruptly and flowed in that direction for about a thousand years. In the second century a.d., it was captured again, and taken south, by the now unprepossessing Bayou Lafourche, which, by the year 1000, was losing its hegemony to the river’s present course, through the region that would be known as Plaquemines. By the nineteen-fifties, the Mississippi River had advanced so far past New Orleans and out into the Gulf that it was about to shift again, and its offspring Atchafalaya was ready to receive it. By the route of the Atchafalaya, the distance across the delta plain was a hundred and forty-five miles-well under half the length of the route of the master stream.

What do you mean ‘We’ Kimosabe?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket(h/t vastleft @ Corrente)

The L-Word

Liberals have been failing to live up to their ideals for centuries, but we mustn’t give up on liberalism.

By Peter Clarke, Slate

Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011, at 7:54 AM ET

George Washington himself, that unillusioned soldier and great patriot, extolled “the benefits of a wise and liberal Government” and advocated “a liberal system of policy”. There was not only political principle but political expediency in proclaiming oneself motivated by liberal ideas in that era. The fact that the American Revolution was made in terms of this political prospectus helps explain its ultimate success. There were simply too many Britons who felt that the colonists actually had the better of the argument-they were the better liberals. For British Whigs, too, looked back reverently on canons of government that extolled liberty in thought, speech, religion, government and trade alike. It was part of the heritage of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Indeed, for some more incendiary spirits on both sides of the Atlantic, the Good Old Cause of republican virtue was at stake.

Coalition is, of course, a current problem for Liberals. It could be said that every successful political party is itself a coalition, the broader-based the better. This was what gave the Liberal party such traction in British politics in the Gladstonian era; and what sustained the New Liberals of the succeeding generation, with comparable electoral triumphs in the era of Herbert Henry Asquith and Lloyd George, was again the party’s ability to adapt itself to new social forces. The tacit electoral alliance with the early Labour party was not actually called a coalition, though in some ways it served as such. The point was that, in all but a few constituencies, Liberals and Labour did not oppose each other; and in the House of Commons a Liberal government was sustained by what contemporaries called a Progressive Alliance, including both Liberals and Labour. This is an instructive formula: almost the opposite of the current arrangements, which simultaneously implicate Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in a basically Tory government while permitting their partners in Westminster to undermine them in the country. The current failure of this strategy could not have been clearer when, in a referendum held less than a week before the two parties marked a year in coalition on May 11, British voters overwhelmingly rejected the more [proportional voting system that Lib-Dems had hoped would be one of their chief rewards.

What has Losurdo got against liberalism? He resolutely exposes the internal contradictions of a doctrine that ostensibly upheld freedom, autonomy and self-government, yet failed in practice to universalise its own ethic. The presence of Calhoun in his canon alerts us early on to one important dimension. For Calhoun, steeped in the political culture of the antebellum American south, simultaneously coupled his liberal defence of individual and states rights with an explicit defence of slavery, which excluded blacks from the exercise of these great principles. Was this just the same old one-eyed hypocrisy that we expect of politicians?

There is, in fact, more to the book than this. It shows how slavery was legitimised within the liberal canon all the way back to Locke. And it gets worse. Once slavery could no longer be defended, the same liberals who now made a big deal out of its abolition promptly turned to excluding and repressing former slaves in slightly more subtle ways, such as indentured labour. And not just across the colour line, but also countenancing the oppression of workers closer to home when they, too, got uppity. It was the liberal economists, from Smith onwards, so Losurdo assures us, who shackled the working class by demonising early trade unions and who then turned their hard faces on some of the consequences of their inviolable free market, whether in the form of pauperism in Britain or famine across the Irish sea.

Did these great liberal thinkers really have no answers to the social problems of their day? Well, Locke thought compulsory churchgoing for the poor might be one remedy. So the best defence of the liberals against the charge of racism might be their willingness to inflict on their own kith and kin most of the indignities normally visited on slaves. But “master-race democracy”, excluding blacks or Arabs alike, remains a significant indictment. Chapter by chapter, one liberal after another is knocked off his plinth. “Compared with the liberal tradition,” Losurdo writes, “Nietzsche proved more lucid and consistent.”

Conservatives will enjoy reading this book as a demolition job. They will turn to it in hopes of finding an intellectual arsenal with which to bombard their opponents. They will take advantage of a moment when the historic political affiliation of many liberals in the Anglosphere has become a love that dare not speak its name. But liberals, too, should read this book as part of the task of reconstruction. This task, of course, cannot be accomplished simply in intellectual terms but the message that liberalism needs to be inclusive in its claims and its constituency alike is one with a current significance that is truly international.

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