I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Candidate Romney

I am getting a bit depressed about Romney and his campaign.  With the Ryan pick I thought Romney might make it a real contest of ideas.  I was looking forward to that.

I was anticipating being in the delightful position of having two candidates that would be acceptable to me.

He is not holding up and is barely in my range of possibility now.  He might still turn it around, but it is a hard go from here.

Friday, September 28, 2012


If you have heard people (Rs in this case) talking about the pollsters skewing the sample in favor of Obama, here is at least part of what they mean.  (For a general description of polls and error see this piece in the NYT.)  Some of the polls will show you the behind the scenes stuff if you click on it. This one came from the Wash Post poll in OH.

The main result of the poll reported on RCP was that among likely voters (LV) Obama was ahead by 4.

If you look at the breakdown of Ds, Rs, and Is you get the following:

Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as:
              Democrat   Republican   Independent   Other   No opinion 

9/23/12 OH       35          26            35          3        2    
9/23/12 OH RV    35          27            34          3        1  
9/23/12 OH LV    37          30            30          2        1     

The debate is over whether that is a reasonable split for Ds and Rs.

At first thought it might seem like it is not.  But you would have to know the breakdown of Ds and Rs in Ohio to say that with confidence.  

But, the pollsters and Ds say, the real question is how many of each will actually come out to vote in this election.  No one knows the future.  The pollsters look to the turnout in the 2008 election as being the best guide for what will happen in 2012.

But, say the Rs, there are two things wrong with this.  
   1.  The electorate is not nearly as excited about Obama this time as they were in 2008 and
   2.  You should use the most recent election which was 2010 which certainly did not have 37-30 Ds to Rs turnout advantage for the Ds.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This from Bloomberg:

Politico’s Paul Ryan Satire: The Joke’s on Them

A report this morning by Politico chief political correspondent Roger Simon includes this bombshell about Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan:
Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”
The "stench" reference comes from a quote that Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party gave to the New York Times over the weekend: “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.”
Needless to say, the political press and blogosphere have jumped on the story:
Times columnist Paul Krugman:
Can I say that even though I’m not exactly a fan of Mitt Romney’s, this is just bad behavior? You’re supposed to wait until it’s actually over before you do this kind of thing. Anyway, I like how Ryan is declaring independence: by using PowerPoint!

End of Bloomberg article excerpt

It is of course farce, but the list of believers is an indication of how the press will believe anything bad about Republicans.

The next time you read that Nobel Loreate Krugman has again said that we can spend our way out of debt, you might want to keep in mind how careful he is these days about what he believes.

Flying Robots

I have always been fascinated by science and science fiction.  Particularly the leading edge of science (which is what any good science fiction will include).  Many years ago, in a galaxy far far away, when I was in college I took an elective 3 week course between semesters (I know there is a word for the between semesters courses but it's been so long it escapes me now) entilted "Science Fiction and the History of Science".  I enjoyed it thouroughly even though the reading requirements, as one would guess, were quite heavy.  We had a history of science text book and 10 science fiction novels.  It was the most fun I ever had at school that didn't end with a hangover or worse.  But one of the several things that stuck with me from that course is that what we generally think of as science would be more correctly called research and development.  And so I believe the instructor of that course would probably consider the TED video below to be about a research and development project.  But it's still science to me, whatever you want to call it (much like Billy Joel once said "it's still rock and roll to me").  

This video both fascinated me and made me feel a bit queasy.  With all of the warnings that we humans, and in particular science fiction writers, have given, it is apparent that we are STILL going there...I suppose because we can.  I would keep an eye out for those nasty Cylons. 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Capital gains taxation

I tend to agree with Dr. Burman's testimony.  For those interested in the current discussions regarding cap gains rates here is a link to an article that sets out some of the schools of thought.  For any who do not want to read a long article about tax law I have copied Dr. Burman's testimony here...because I like it.  His take on earned (as opposed to realized) capital gains as taxable income has a solid accounting foundation.  Most, if not all, higher wealth individuals include the increase in the value of their liquid assets in income for their personal finacial statements.  At the same time doing away with corporate income taxes, and allocating the income to the owners for income tax purposes, makes a lot of sense and would finally do away with the "double taxation" argument that is older than I am.  The last sentence below re: 1031 exchanges...well...never mind.

"Leonard Burman of Syracuse University testified that capital gains ought to be treated much like ordinary income. “How should capital gains be taxed?” he said in his prepared testimony. “Under an income tax, the answer is that capital gains should be taxed in full as they are earned, not when realized. Capital gains are income, not really different in substance from interest, rents, and royalties: other kinds of capital income that are taxed as ordinary income. Under the pure comprehensive income tax, corporate income would be allocated to shareholders and taxed as ordinary income, in the same way that S-corporations and partnerships are taxed.
"Obviously we don't tax capital gains or corporations that way," Burman added. "Capital gains are taxed only when realized, and gains on assets held for at least a year are generally taxed at a lower rate than other income. Capital gains on assets held until death or donated to charity, however, are never subject to income tax. And corporations are subject to a separate tax that is not integrated with the individual income tax. The consequence is that some corporate income may be subject to two layers of tax: the corporate income tax plus the individual income tax on capital gains and dividends.” Burman recommended that Congress should look into the legislation on 1031 exchanges to stop them from being misused."


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama's speech at the UN

In   Obama's speech at the UN   the president of the US describes to the rest of the world the reality of tolerance as we see it.  An excerpt is below:

Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day -- (laughter) -- and I will always defend their right to do so.

And yet the turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy does not end with the casting of a ballot. Nelson Mandela once said: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

True democracy demands that citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe, and that businesses can be opened without paying a bribe. It depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear, and on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.

In other words, true democracy -- real freedom -- is hard work. Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents. In hard economic times, countries must be tempted -- may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.

Moreover, there will always be those that reject human progress -- dictators who cling to power, corrupt interests that depend on the status quo, and extremists who fan the flames of hate and division. From Northern Ireland to South Asia, from Africa to the Americas, from the Balkans to the Pacific Rim, we’ve witnessed convulsions that can accompany transitions to a new political order.

At time, the conflicts arise along the fault lines of race or tribe. And often they arise from the difficulties of reconciling tradition and faith with the diversity and interdependence of the modern world. In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.

That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.

It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well -- for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.

Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.

We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how do we respond?

And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There’s no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.

More broadly, the events of the last two weeks also speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab world that is moving towards democracy.

Now, let me be clear: Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad. We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue, nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans. However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders in all countries to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Audacity of Obama

In a recent quote President Obama said: "The most important lesson I've learned is, you can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside."

Barack Obama he's our man.  If he can't do it, no one can.

Perhaps the President could get some hints from Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan, just to pick a century at random.

Who are these terrible 47% of Americans?

(This post refers to the linked AP article below)  I agree with Wayne's post (Peter and Paul) for the most part.  I would add, though not as an argument for or against the opinions in Wayne's post, but merely as additional food for thought, that Romney was talking about 3 separate and distinct groups: likely Obama voters, people who get federal benefits and people who pay no INCOME taxes.

The linked article breaks the 3 groups down, and while it is often true that liars figure and figures lie, these stats appear to tell the story that supports what I see in my world. Others may see it differently in theirs.  The dishonesty that I saw in Romney's comments is not that he brought up the problem of too many people depending on government assistance. I think most agree that there are too many now requiring assistance due to economic hardships that exist in many areas of the country, and that hard decisions will need to be made to overhaul our entitlement programs into something that we as a country can realistically afford.  But what he said was that 47% of Americans are ALL dependent on govt assistance of some kind, prefer it that way and want to stay on govt. assistance and therefore will vote for Obama in the belief that a Democrat is most likely to continue the programs upon which they are dependent.  While this is a favored argument and belief among conservative comments posted on the inter-web (none on Yellowarmadillos I hasten to add), they are mistaken.  Nonetheless, that belief is a rallying cry for many. The result is a hardened attitude toward ALL beneficiaries of government assistance and a strong suspicion  that all are lazy, shiftless, parasites with no desire to work or put out any effort whatsoever other than a walk to the mailbox to get their guvmnt checks.  The statistics simply do not bear out this belief.  By far most Americans that depend on the government (and I'm not including people that work for the government...that is a different discussion) are either receiving social security and medicare/medicaid, or some type of temporary assistance until they can get back on their feet.  The insult that Romney, by his words, has spat in their faces is hard to gloss over, though many smart people are working at doing just that as I write. 

I have family that depends on SS and Medi-care, same for my wife's family, same for many in my friends' families, people that live in my neighborhood, people that go to our Church and other places where we intersect with our fellow Americans, and most of  them by far will vote for Romney.  Of course this is Texas where people are about as likely to vote for a Democrat today as they were likely to vote for a Republican 50 years ago.  So my view may be skewed.  But, while these Americans are in the 47% who receive government assistance, they are not in the 47% who will vote for Obama. 

The 47% that will vote for Obama DOES include me and many others who neither need nor take any assistance from the government, and while I may need government assistance some day, in the form of SS and medicare it is my intention to continue working and living on my own assets until I die, even though I admit the liklihood of me being able to keep good enough health to continue working for a living AND live as long as I want to are not that good, but better than they used to be.  My purpose in bringing this up is to simply point out that many who are in Obama's corner are not there because of a desire for government assistance.  So while I am in the Obama 47% I am not in the government assistance 47%.  Also, I assure you I am not in the 47% who pay no income tax.  Those checks are hard to write but I understand the necessity. So I am only in one of the 47% groups.

Apparently Romney believes that the 47% who pay no income tax have actually planned to not make enough income to be subject to an income tax bracket higher than 0%.  That is simply not good tax planning, even though in Romney's world minimizing tax liability any legal way you can is obviously acceptable.  Apparently that attitude does  not reach all the way to not making enough income to be subject to income tax.  That plan apparently lets one off the hook in some way that is not palatable.  And by far most in that situation would agree that living on that little income is most assuredly not palatable.  Anyone of us who has been there, done that will agree, and are happy to NOT be there, doing that, if one has been fortunate enough to work out of it. 

I leave any interested reader to go over the statistics in the article without further comment on my part.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the Romney revelation

You would think that with his upbringing Romney would know to be careful what you say in front of the servants.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Peter and Paul

There is a tape showing that four months ago Romney, in talking to intimates, made two mistakes.  The first was an error of fact or a slip of the tongue when he said "47% of the people do not pay taxes."  What he was referring to was the people who do not pay income taxes.  [When you include Social Security and state and local taxes (sales and property) almost everybody pays taxes.]

Do you remember how the media rushed to assure us that Obama did not mean "You didn't build that."  instead what he meant was, "You didn't build those roads."  I am sure that all of those media folks will just as quickly insert the missing word for Romney.  Aren't you?

The second mistake was by telling the following truth:   There are a lot of people who are dependent on the government and they are more likely to  vote democratic. Their number is growing.  (He then added some opinion: The democratic party wants a government centered society and the republican party does not.)
The short version of that truth is the old proverb:  "He who robs Peter to pay Paul can always expect to have the support of Paul."

Does Obama really believe in redistribution?
There is a tape showing that fourteen years ago Obama said to intimates: "And my suggestion I guess would be that the trick - and this is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues - I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution - because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

I agree with both of  them on this issue.

What to do about Radical Islam?

"Once I was ready to burn The Satanic Verses. Now I know that (Rushdie's) right to publish it was a more sacred thing than any religion."

That is the last sentence in a piece by Ayaan Hirsi Ali called "Muslim Rage & The Last Gasp of Islamic Hate" in which she describes the cowardly abandonment of Freedom of Speech by the West in the face of the demand by some Muslims that their cultural imperative overrides ours.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Democracy is not easy.

I listened to all 5 of the "bobble head" shows from GPS to Foxnews Sunday and afterwards the distillation of what I think about the week's events is the title statement which was made by Henri Levy, the French political observer.

I was disappointed that Obama did not know that Egypt, to whom we send much money, is an ally.  (I took it as a conflation of the country and the new government.)  I do not see the current wildfire in the middle east as either a confirmation or denial of the success of Obama's foreign policy.  I should say that I am biased in favor of what I think is his policy, see Campaign 2012 Obama Foreign Policy .  (Which I understand to be:  We should move away from being the big dog and toward being the first among equals.)

Tom Friedman, on Face the Nation, noted that twenty thousand people, made in the image of God, have been killed in the last year in Syria.  He asked, "Has even one Syrian embassy been attacked or ransacked around the middle east."

How to deal with the wildfire.

This clash of cultures is a very difficult problem.  We cannot abandon freedom of speech (our cultural imperative) to meet their insistence that an insult to Islam and the Prophet be a capital offence (their cultural imperative).  Our leaders cannot endorse their cultural imperative.  However our leaders can, should, and in this case did try to explain that it was an individual and not an act of the US government. Their leaders cannot endorse freedom of speech, but perhaps they could argue to the people that they cannot enforce their cultural imperative in a foreign country and encourage their people to limit their response to peaceful demonstrations.

Some speakers wanted to cut off aid to Libya because an al Queda type organization killed our people.  Imagine the satisfaction that would bring to the terrorists in these fledgling democracies.  "All we have to do to split the US and our democratic government is kill a couple of Americans."  How would that would serve America's interest?  See some very touching signs that show what one hopes is the response of the great majority of Libyans.

In another venue one of the speakers noted that the real clash of cultures was within Islam: between the terrorists types and what I will call Greater Islam.  I believe that terrorist strain is the result of more than a century of Arab suppression since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  But those of us with even a cursory knowledge of world history, (and mine is very cursory) know that there was a time when our European ancestors were living in mud huts and Greater Islam was the proud possessor of the highest and most tolerant culture in the world.

We should carefully gauge our responses to this wildfire and try to be on the side of that Greater Islam.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Being a class A player

Joel Sappenfield, a photographer in Denton, Texas in the sixties and seventies was also chess player and was once asked by a beginner, "How good are you."  He replied that he was a class A player.  The questioner then wondered what it meant that he was a class A player (Category 1 in the new terminology).  I would have answered with something like:  "There are about 50,000 serious chess players in the US and being a class A player would have put him in the top 10% of those players."

Joel, not being a mathematician, replied somewhat differently:  "It means that if you play chess and you have beaten your mother, your sister, your brother, your father and all of you cousins, but you have never studied chess, then I can beat you.  (long pause) Every time."

About this time (while I was gone) there was a horrific accident in Denton in which a woman's head got cut off.  Consequently the press learned the word decapitated.  Joel was very amused by their reaction to it because, as he recalled it for me later, they used their new word at every opportunity - people got fingers decapitated and a foot was decapitated.  Joel worried that a thunder storm might decapitate the electricity.

Three thoughts on the current Islamic unrest

I expect the Islamic demonstrations to settle down after a few days.  I expect that Obama very much hopes that they do.  If they continue too long it would reinforce the Republican idea that this represents the collapse of the Obama foreign policy.  I would not see it that way even if it went on for several weeks.

Incidentally, the fact that we have free speech does not mean either of the following:
a)  that we should expect a people recently freed from dictatorship to understand-adopt free speech or
b)  that it is our job to convince them that they should go for free speech too or 
c)  that their passion against it should limit our free speech.

I watched several newshows on Wednesday about  Romney’s remarks and the situation in the Islamic world.   It reminded me that if Romney thought that he was going to get fair treatment by the media, then he is definitely not smart enough to be president.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Critiquing the president's foreign policy.


I was troubled by Romney’s criticism of Obama in connection with recent events in North Africa –flag burnings and attacks on an embassy and murder – in connection with the anniversary of 9-11.  It was not that there is anything wrong with criticizing the POTUS and, given Romney's position, this was a point of difference between the two.  I know that what I think of as his subtle foreign policy is viewed by many of Obama’s opponents as “leading from behind”.  In this particular case I thought that Romney’s arguments were not unreasonable.  However, it still felt unseemly to me and I could not tell why.

I have been distressed lately that Charles Krauthammer’s rhetoric seems to be becoming ever more strident.
So I was surprised when he was able to resolve the discomfort mentioned above.  As he sees it Romney should attack Obama’s foreign policy in broad strokes – assuming that he disagrees with it.  That would involve generic policy principles.  These kinds of items should be left to his subordinates or as specific examples for the debates. 

I thought he was quite right.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Campaign 2012 Obama Domestically

A continuing description of the candidates in several aspects of the job.  I am putting this up, not for your benefit, but for mine. I am soliciting your comments in the hopes of improving my own perspective.
See also Campaign 2012 Obama Foreign Policy for thoughts on that.

In domestic policy the thing that I wanted from Obama was NHI (= national health insurance.)  I would have preferred that it be a single payer thing and that the financing be honest.  See YA NHI1 and YA NHI2 

Of course we did not get NHI, but we got ACA which I consider to be a giant step in that direction.  We also did not get a fiscally sound system.  The second shortcoming of ACA is part of the more general fiscal problem.
With respect to the giant step.  I believe that we have not had NHI because of our system of employer provided health insurance.  People are afraid of what they do not know and so they cling to what they have.  The ACA offers employers a very good deal if they decide to not offer health insurance to their employees: a $2,000 “fine” instead of a $5,000 to $15,000 health care plan.  Hmmm - I wonder which they will choose.  Within a few years there will be far less employer provided health insurance.  Shortly after that we will have national health insurance.

I give a lot of credibility to the argument that we were in a very deep hole when Obama came in.  We are coming back.  They tell me that when the recession comes from a failure in the financial industry, then the comeback is slower. 

I understand that Obama could not get any more stimulus than he did, but it should have been spent on infrastructure rather than tax cuts (Republicans) and bailing out state governments (Democrats).  [Just on that thought, I too am a national debt worrier.  Perhaps even a "Krugman denier".  But there are limits.  Scheduled, short term debt is different.  More and more people are pointing out the lunacy of our not taking advantage of the following:  we have high unemployment, major infrastructure needs, and money that the Fed. Govt. can borrow for 10 years at less than 2%.  When the gods make you an offer that you can’t refuse, don’t refuse it!  We could borrow and spend a trillion dollars, earmark Obama’s tax on the rich (or something else) to pay it back over ten years. You can do that for a total interest cost of 11% of the loan.]

I blame the Republicans for the profligacy of continuing the “Bush tax cuts”, the Democrats for the subprime mortgage fiasco which the government financed and which has not yet been unwound, and both of them for constructing a financial system which includes entities which were too big to fail.   They have not fixed any of these things.  (Capitalism without failure is an oxymoron.  If a company is too big to fail it is too big to exist.  Break it up.)

The GM-Chrysler thing is something that I cannot judge – whether Romney’s direct bankruptcy and then refinancing was essentially the same as Obama’s except that the unions got a special deal from Obama which was funded by the government. (We still own a lot of GM.)

Obama’s attitude toward business worries me.  Like so many liberals he gives the impression that, if he had his druthers, he would really like to have his capitalism without so damn many capitalists in it.  The context from which his little “you didn’t build it” line came is more troubling to me than the line itself. “You say you worked hard.  There are a lot of hard workers out there.”  Seriously, what exactly is the conclusion that we are going for here?  (If you are going to answer this, go a little deeper than – “there is luck involved”.  Who among us does not know that there is luck in life?)  Seriously, if you were going to talk to people about what goes into starting a business, wouldn’t you at least mention risk?  And it is not just business.  A lot of successful people had to take risks to be where they are.  For example, if you are a doctor then you have all of the costs of the ten years of schooling beyond HS and the cost to live during those ten years.  But, perhaps the biggest thing is that you go for those 10 years without earnings, without building up any savings, without building up any equity in a home.  And nobody guarantees that you will actually become a doctor.

The main negative for Obama in this area is the fiscal problem.  I believe this is a very serious problem.  Not just the “fiscal cliff” that you hear about on TV from those who don’t know the difference between the debt and the deficit.  I mean the long term short fall.   I am not convinced that he takes it seriously. 

We the people have been borrowing and spending all of this money, not just in the recession, we have been doing this for years.  Who is doing it:  the “great middle class.”  That is the POWER in this country.  Who will speak truth to POWER? The politicians have been pandering to that POWER.  Listen to how often all of them talk about how they are going to protect the great middle class.  It is a constant pandering which is hard for us to hear because they are pandering to US. 
The left wants a larger government.  An honest liberal will tell me (or at least give me a signal) that to achieve his vision (with fiscal responsibility) we will need serious tax increases on the middle class (as well as the rich).  I have not heard that from Obama.  In fact what I have been hearing from Obama is a litany of promises to maintain all of the goodies that the various groups get from the government.
The right wants a smaller government. An honest conservative will tell me (or at least give me a signal) that to achieve his vision (with fiscal responsibility) we will need to cut some programs that are dear to my middle class heart and pocketbook.  I have heard that from Romney’s first choice: Paul Ryan.

grade B (revised from a C 10-9-12)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jimmy Fallon does the conventions

If you like Obama (and maybe if you don't) you will like Jimmy Fallon's parody of James Taylor and the conventions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Raising Taxes vs Contributing More Revenue

I just watched an interview with Paul Ryan.  He came across to me as intelligent, knowledgeable, handsome, great hair (I am jealous), with a talent for changing the meaning of the interviewers question with his answer.  This last characteristic seems to be a must with all successful politicians.
I have one question though that is bugging me.  He and Romney are very critical of the President’s proposal to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans because it raises rates on many “small businesses” (to be clear I am not in favor of it right now either, or any other plan that takes more money out of the economy).  Ryan described his and Romney’s plan as being much better because it lowers rates on everyone.  When pressed for exactly how this helps decrease the deficit he said that they planned to do away with some “loopholes” (also known as deductions) that benefit the wealthiest, by in large, and therefore they would be “contributing more revenue” than they are now.

Huh?  How is making the wealthy pay more by lowering rates but doing away with deductions that will result in the wealthy paying more tax superior to simply raising rates on those same wealthy resulting in them paying more tax.  Since they have refused to tell us, or even give us a hint, what deductions they are planning to do away with, it’s impossible to say if Ryan’s description is accurate or not.

But forgive me if I am suspicious.  Why would the wealthy be so enthusiastic about the Romney/Ryan plan, which will result in them paying more taxes through doing away with deductions, and at the same time be so adamantly against a plan that would result in them paying more taxes through a rise in the highest tax bracket rate?  That was the comparison that Ryan presented in the interview, as I understood it; lower rates with less deductions vs. higher rates, both resulting in increased taxes for the highest earners.  Until we know specifically what deductions are going to be done away with there is no way to compare bottom line results, a person’s tax bill under one plan vs. a person’s tax bill under the other plan.  I feel the old bait and switch coming on if they win the election.  The phrase “pig in a poke” comes to mind.
Please feel free to correct my understanding if my interpretation of the Romney/Ryan plan with regard to income taxes is incorrect.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Corporate Profits

Good?  Bad? Evil?

This video http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/peterschiff/2012/09/08/dems_in_charlotte_favor_ban_on_corporate_profit is a little tongue in cheek, it is certainly not a scientific survey, and it has almost certainly been selectively edited, but condemnation of corporate profits is something I seem to be hearing more often.

My background puts corporate profit not in the good category but in the essential category.  How do other readers of Yellowarmadillos feel?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Democrats

Day 1
Michele was splendid.
The party presented all of its wishes tonight.
Hopefully the discussion of the funding will follow later.

Day 2
The second night was even better.

Day 3
Still pretty good.

I was hoping that there would be enough focus on the fact that we are spending beyond our income to give me a fig leaf to believe that he would be serious about bringing the debt under control.

There was a bit, but not much?  Is he serious about that?  I guess that is the 64 trillion dollar question.


There are no red states and blue states.  There are only swing states.

In the opinion of the Chair

Whether “Jerusalem” is in the Democrat Party platform or not is, in my opinion, a trivial issue.  However the Rs made it a major media  issue and it would seem that the negative press caused the Ds to put it back in so everyone could simply move on to more important issues.

When LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to the floor to take a voice vote reinstating “Jerusalem” in the Party platform the crowd present in the convention center at the time did not cooperate.  The “yeas” and “nays” seems pretty equal (the video to YouTube) and well short of the 2/3 vote required.

After Mayor Villaraigosa called for a vote for the 3rd time he finally ended the awkward episode by stating that “In the Opinion of the Chair” the 2/3 majority vote had been received.

I really don’t think he wanted to utter the words.  It was one of those situations in which no matter what you do next it will be wrong.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Are you better off ...

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?  (I count now as election day.)

On the weekend talk shows the Obama people seemed reluctant to take this question on.  They are more agreeable to answering it on TV today.

There are at least two ways to interpret this "you": personally or nationally.


Four years ago:  One of the two earners in our family was retired and the other was contemplating retirement.   Our retirement accounts had just plummeted in value by about 25%.

Now:  Our retirement accounts are significantly up from what they were BEFORE the drop four years ago.  We felt like we were OK enough that the second earner was able to retire.  Consequently, our income is a bit down in retirement as we always expected it would be.


Four years ago:  All of the smart guys said that we were staring into the abyss of another great depression.
The causes included our irresponsible financial behavior which the politicians seemed to think they could fix with smoke and mirrors.

Now:    The joint actions of Bush and Obama converted the (real or imagined) depression into the great recession from which we are slowly recovering.  A lot of individuals are still hurting.  However, even some politicians are starting to acknowledge that our irresponsible financial behavior cannot be fixed with smoke and mirrors.  So overall it looks better.

Therefore with either interpretation of the question my answer is:  yes.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thank you Bush 41

Dear President George H. W. Bush,

For over twenty years I have wanted to express to you my appreciation for something that you did while you were president of the US.  I am sorry that I have taken so long.  I love history, but, as will become clear below, I am not a historian

Your handling of the Gulf War was excellent and the wisdom of your restraint in that conflict has been since confirmed.
I very much appreciated your willingness to place our country ahead of your party and even your own reelection by supporting an increase in taxes which laid the groundwork for the surpluses of the nineties which strengthened our country.
However, laudable as those achievements were, they pale in comparison to what I think was your best work.  What I appreciated the most about your presidency was the way you handled the final chapter of the 40 year Cold War – the collapse of the Soviet empire and finally the Soviet Union itself.  It was an extremely delicate situation that could have exploded in many different directions and with incalculable damage to the world.  It is hard to remember the attitude of the American public, and many in our leadership, toward the Soviet Union at end of the Cold War.  After all that time there was in many quarters a visceral hatred of the Soviet Union and while that huge edifice was crumbling you were under intense public pressure to seek a greater American advantage, to inject the US into that collapse in order to “guarantee” this or that outcome. You decided not to interfere in that decline.  I have always assumed that it was because you thought that to do so might have driven the Soviets to desperate measures and/or would have actually made it harder for those nations in that empire to be restored to independence.  

I think your stand against that pressure to intervene went beyond commendable and into heroic and I think that the wisdom of your decision has been supported by the recent history of Europe. 

Thank you.

Wayne Bell

PS Perhaps that is why the comedian’s description of your rejection of some proposal on the grounds that it “wouldn’t be prudent” resonates so well.

PPS I confess that I never voted for you.