Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, November 30, 2012

Give pot a chance

Indeed.  President Obama needs to "lead" by basically doing nothing about Colorado and Washington making recreational use of marijuana legal.  Hands off!

Give Pot a Chance

SEATTLE - In two weeks, adults in this state will no longer be arrested or incarcerated for something that nearly 30 million Americans did last year. For the first time since prohibition began 75 years ago, recreational marijuana use will be legal; the misery-inducing crusade to lock up thousands of ordinary people has at last been seen, by a majority of voters in this state and in Colorado, for what it is: a monumental failure.

That is, unless the Obama administration steps in with an injunction, as it has threatened to in the past, against common sense. For what stands between ending this absurd front in the dead-ender war on drugs and the status quo is the federal government. It could intervene, citing the supremacy of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.
But it shouldn't. Social revolutions in a democracy, especially ones that begin with voters, should not be lightly dismissed. Forget all the lame jokes about Cheetos and Cheech and Chong. In the two-and-a-half weeks since a pair of progressive Western states sent a message that arresting 853,000 people a year for marijuana offenses is an insult to a country built on individual freedom, a whiff of positive, even monumental change is in the air.
But there remains the big question of how President Obama will handle the cannabis spring. So far, he and Attorney General Eric Holder have been silent. I take that as a good sign, and certainly a departure from the hard-line position they took when California voters were considering legalization a few years ago. But if they need additional nudging, here are three reasons to let reason stand:
Hypocrisy. Popular culture and the sports-industrial complex would collapse without all the legal drugs that promise to extend erections, reduce inhibitions and keep people awake all night. I'm talking to you, Viagra, alcohol and high-potency energy drinks. 
Tax and regulate. Already, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow medical use of marijuana. This chaotic and unregulated system has resulted in price-gouging, phony prescriptions and outright scams. No wonder the pot dispensaries have opposed legalization - it could put them out of business.
Lead. That's what transformative presidents do. From his years as a community organizer - and a young man whose own recreational drug use could have made him just another number in lockup - Obama knows well that racial minorities are disproportionately jailed for these crimes. 
To read the article without the snips, go here.

James Carville

I love James Carville, but I still cannot understand how he stays married to Mary Matalin.  Ugh!  James is no looker, but Mary is ugly AND a Republican.  Strike two.

James was interviewed for the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine.   Rolling Stone has done some really great political reporting over the last couple of years.

How President Obama Won a Second Term
by Tim Dickinson

Two weeks after Barack Obama won a second term, political analysts are just beginning to assess the surprising scope of his victory. By routing Mitt Romney by 332 to 206 in the Electoral College, Obama joins FDR, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as the only presidents of the past century to twice win more than 50 percent of the popular vote.
To unpack the significance of Obama's big win, Rolling Stone turned to one of the shrewdest observers of American politics: James Carville, the architect of Bill Clinton's election in 1992. Over the course of an hourlong interview, Carville traced the roots of Romney's collapse to the reactionary posturing required by the GOP primaries, and underscored the strategic blunders that sealed Romney's fate – including the Clint Eastwood debacle. "You can't control what happens in a debate," Carville says. "But you do get to control your convention – and they didn't control that."
Carville marvels that Romney, a businessman whose core sales pitch was competent management, entrusted his campaign to second-rate crony consultants who were so divorced from reality that they had him convinced to the bitter end that victory was all but assured. And looking to the future, Carville predicts that America could face a surprising role reversal in 2016: Democratic voters are likely to behave like the GOP base and fall into line behind a pre-anointed candidate, while Republicans will be forced to embrace a centrist agent of change – a Republican version of Carville's former boss.
Read the rest, including the actual interview, here.

Thank the liberals

Just finished reading Alan Colmes latest book, "Thank the Liberals* - *For Saving America (And Why You Should)."  My impression of Alan Colmes, when he was on FOX NEWS opposite Shawn Hannity, was as a wishy-washy, weak liberal.  But after reading this book, he is certainly rehabilitated in my eyes.  

Alan makes a consistently strong argument that we have the liberals to thank for the progress that America has made.  He even goes so far to call all Americans liberal, seeing as how they were born into this liberal democracy which is still the envy of much of the world.  That's a bit of a stretch, especially when you see how current-day conservatives wish to chip away at women's rights, voting rights, immigrants rights, and the Constitution in particular.

Alan presents clear language on particular court cases that have advanced the cause of progress in the country.  I learned a good bit from it.  While the book is quite current and discusses the 2012 presidential campaign, including Mitt Romney, it stops short of Obama's victory in November.   Still, it's a pleasure to read.

If you are a liberal, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It's not overly long (195 pp) and is an easy read.  If you are conservative, you should also read this book.  I'm guessing that it will not overly upset you, and might just help to open your eyes a bit to the rest of the world around you.  Conservatives are far too insulated by entities such as FOX NEWS, Rush Limbaugh, et al.   

If the Republican Party is to survive the shrinking of the white vote, they need to shed the blinders that they have self-imposed.  In the interest of the country, I sort of hope they don't.  Their numbers will continue to shrink, and their efforts at voter suppression will fail, and they could be confined to the dustbin of history.  And that's the thing about history and the future.  Nothing is predetermined.  Just because something is the way it is, is no reason that it cannot change.  Progress is not guaranteed, yet if we rely upon our Founders considerably wisdom and contemplate what is best for the people, America will survive and continue to flourish.

Oh, by the way, Alan has a website called "Liberaland" which I just discovered while reading the book.  Check it out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

GOP House


Twinkie Manifesto

Another good one by Paul Krugman.  I'd love to see him get a position on Obama's economic advisor council.  In this one, Paul reminds us that tax rates are at historic low levels.  The country has flourished with tax rates far higher, and labor far stronger, than either is now.

(BTW, if Obama appoints Jamie Dimon to Treasury, there will be a serious revolt.  That would be a total bonehead move.  We just kept Mitt Romney out of the government.  We don't need an even worse representative of the 1%).

The Twinkie Manifesto
by Paul Krugman

The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders.

Squeezed between high taxes and empowered workers, executives were relatively impoverished by the standards of either earlier or later generations. In 1955 Fortune magazine published an essay, “How top executives live,” which emphasized how modest their lifestyles had become compared with days of yore. The vast mansions, armies of servants, and huge yachts of the 1920s were no more; by 1955 the typical executive, Fortune claimed, lived in a smallish suburban house, relied on part-time help and skippered his own relatively small boat.

The data confirm Fortune’s impressions. Between the 1920s and the 1950s real incomes for the richest Americans fell sharply, not just compared with the middle class but in absolute terms. According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters.

Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats’ style is met with cries of “socialism.” Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama’s threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right?

Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in “Atlas Shrugged,” published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America.

Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn’t go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever. And the high-tax, strong-union decades after World War II were in fact marked by spectacular, widely shared economic growth: nothing before or since has matched the doubling of median family income between 1947 and 1973.

Which brings us back to the nostalgia thing.

There are, let’s face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, “Are you now or have you ever been?” The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

Along the way, however, we’ve forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

peacock spider

Now, what would you suppose would be God's purpose in designing this being, Maratus volans, the peacock spider?  Presuming you believed in God, of course.

Cool video about this spider here

Still gloating?

Still gloating?!?!  Not gloating so much....quite relieved, that's for sure.....awfully glad that there are still some things that money cannot buy.   All that money and all those lies from FOX just were not enough.  Every now and then my faith in America is restored.  This is one of those times.

So without further ado.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Plant it forward

It is so great to see the proliferation of gardens and farmer's markets in Houston.  We seem to be right there in the middle of it.  A big hand goes out to Urban Harvest, a local Houston group that foments local food in a variety of ways.  

Here's another good example:

Plant It Forward Farms aims for a farm in every Houston neighborhood and is realizing that vision by providing refugees with the tools, training and business skills needed to become successful urban farmers. As a new Houston non-profit, they partner with churches, schools and other community centers to transform vacant land into vibrant, nurturing urban farms. Plant It Forward Farms is celebrating their first season's harvest, which was grown by refugees who fled violence in the Congo.   

Led by the guidance of previous Urban Harvest vendor Ray Sher of Garden of Eden, they will be bringing arugula, turnips, lettuce mix, mescaline mix, kale, radishes and boy choy to the market this weekend.  To see their write up in the Houston Press, click here.

Synthesis 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it!  And I feel fine!!

I don't think we will make this event, but it would be pretty cool to go.   Don't eat the brown acid!!

What if?

It's great to be on vacation, but it's good to be home.  

The humor below is from the Happy Place folks at Somecards.  You should click each pic if you can't read it very well. 

Rejected opening lines from the concession speeches of Romney and Obama.

Go here, especially if you had a hard time seeing these.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Be safe

If you're driving this holiday week in the U.S., BE CAREFUL!!  And watch out for all of the IDIOTS out there!!  

This holiday season, I am thankful that there are many many more sane, normal drivers (and people) out there than there are IDIOTS.  

click the pic

Monday, November 19, 2012

Call it treason?

It is disturbing that the current Republican Party seems quite OK with trashing the U.S. economy (and perhaps the world economy) just to be sure that the super-rich get another tax break that they do not need.  Can we charge an entire political party with treason?

Party of Entitled Rich Threatens Economy
by Leo W. Gerard

Republicans, the party of the nation's entitled rich, are holding a knife to the throat of America's frail recovery.
The GOP sore losers have America up against a wall. Republicans don't care that the majority of the country voted for a candidate who promised to raise taxes on the rich. Republicans don't care that an even larger majority -60 percent - told election day pollsters they wanted those taxes raised. Republicans don't care about majority-rule democracy at all. They're demanding ransom - extension of tax cuts for the rich. If Americans don't submit, Republicans will slash the nation's economy.
"Back away from your Social Security, your Medicare, your Medicaid," the Republicans are ordering. The GOP insists those crucial social insurance programs be sacrificed to prevent the entitled rich from once again paying the income tax rates that they did during the boom years of Bill Clinton. The party that lost the Presidency, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the Senate is willing to take down the economy, to eviscerate programs like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration rather than require the entitled rich pull their weight as citizens of the country that enabled them to live lives of unprecedented luxury.
The candidate Republicans chose as their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, stated the party's position loud and clear last spring and reiterated it during a phone call last week with his millionaire financiers. Romney told funders in May that he had no intention of "worrying about" 47 percent of Americans who he described as moochers, citizens he slandered with the allegation that they refuse to "take personal responsibility."
In the phone call last week, Romney claimed that the Americans he referred to as government moochers all voted for President Obama because the Democrat gave them "gifts." Romney, a quarter-billionaire, described the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest as a "gift" to students. The Republican candidate born into wealth and pampered in private schools characterized as a "gift" the requirement in Obamacare that health insurance companies provide prescription contraceptives without co-payments.
The rich boy said President Obama bought women's votes for $10 co-pay forgiveness. But for Republicans, it's never the other way around. Romney and the GOP don't think they were buying the votes of the rich with their promise to add another 20 percent break on top of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest.
That's because they believe they're entitled. They derisively refer to the social safety net programs that prevent the nation's poor and elderly from being reduced to eating cat food as "entitlements." But it's the entitled rich - Romney, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and their ilk - who demand that America give them "stuff" like tax breaks for sending jobs overseas, like tax loopholes for hoarding their assets in the Caymans, like government-paid roads and sewers and rail lines to their businesses.
The entitled rich and their political party don't seem to get the fact that they lost the election. Eighty CEOs have ponied up $37 million to make sure the so-called fiscal cliff problem is resolved their way. They're saying, basically, they're willing to give up one of the "couple of Cadillacs" they drive if the middle class just accepts cat food as its meat course. The CEOs, calling themselves the "Fix the Debt" coalition, claim they'll pay a secret amount more in taxes if the 99 percent suffers cuts to its social safety net and endures slashed government programs.
Republicans in Congress won't even go that far. Their legislation would give more to the rich and less to everyone else. They've proposed, for example, extending the estate tax cuts that benefit the richest 0.3 percent of American families when their millionaire relatives die, an estimated 7,000 people in 2013. At the same time, Republicans are demanding an end to child tax credit and earned income tax credit enhancements that help 13 million families get by, families that include 26 million children. Those 7,000 entitled rich people and their Republican representatives believe 26 million kids can always join the grandmas dining on cat food. Tastes like chicken, right?
Congress and the President are confronted with a deadline in these hostage negotiations. On Jan. 1, half a trillion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. It's called the fiscal cliff because many economists believe the combined effect during a weak recovery would shove the economy back down into recession.
Democrats don't want to risk damaging the economy. They've proposed extending the tax cuts for the 98 percent right now. The richest two percent would benefit from these breaks as well, receiving them on the first $250,000 of their earnings. Everybody gets something. This proposal passed the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Republican-controlled House refuses to even vote on it.
Republicans aren't talking about extending tax breaks for the 98 percent. Instead, they're threatening the economic life of the country if they don't get what they want - tax breaks for people who don't need them.
Law enforcement experts discourage paying off blackmailers and kidnappers.
President Obama is right to take that advice and refuse to pay the ransom Republicans are demanding to appease the entitled rich.
Go here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


ATV's are cool.  No, not an all-terrain vehicle.  An Automated Transport Vehicle.  Developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), they are ESA's contribution to the ISS, the International Space Station.

The 3rd of 5 ATV's completed its mission an burnt up over the Pacific Ocean last month. 

Mission accomplished for ATV Edoardo Amaldi
3 October 2012

ATV-3 leaving the Space StationPR 32 2012 - ESA's third Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Edoardo Amaldi, completed the final part of its highly successful six-month servicing mission to the International Space Station by reentering the atmosphere today and burning up as planned over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific ocean.

Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) are the most complex space vehicles ever developed in Europe and are the largest and most capable resupply ships to dock with the Space Station. 
Kuipers unloading priority cargo from ATV-3

They are also the heaviest spacecraft in the world, weighing more than 20 tonnes at launch.

Their cargo load and propellant transfer capacity is unmatched and they can be used as space tugs to manoeuvre the entire 400-tonne ISS either to higher altitudes or to move it out of the way of space debris.

ATV-3 and ISS thrusters firing in unisonDuring its mission, Edoardo Amaldi delivered nearly seven tonnes of propellant, oxygen, air and water, as well as scientific equipment, spare parts, supplies, clothes and food to the astronauts circling Earth.

The dry cargo consisted of more than a hundred of bags packed into eight racks – two more racks than on previous ATV missions.  ATV-3 was lofted to orbit on 23 March by an Ariane 5 launcher and docked with the Space Station five days later.

ATVs perform all manoeuvres, including docking autonomously, under close surveillance by their control centre in Toulouse, France run jointly by ESA and CNES.

So far, ATVs and Russian vehicles Progress and Soyuz are the only vehicles able to dock with the Station fully autonomously, with built-in redundancy.

ATV-3 and Space Station orbit
ATV-3 and Station
While docked, the ATV-3 performed nine reboosts to keep the Space Station in orbit, counteracting the effects of atmospheric drag.

Without reboosts by ATV and Russia’s Progress vehicles, the Station would eventually fall back to Earth.

On 22 August, ATV-3’s eighth boost lasted for 40 minutes (nearly half an orbit) and raised the Station to new heights – a record-breaking 405 x 427 km above Earth.

During the six months that ATV-3 spent at the Station, it provided 48 cubic metres of extra space for the astronauts. Before its departure, the crew loaded its pressurised module with waste material.

ATV-4 arrives in Kourou
The European ferry undocked on 28 September and after a short free flight, it manoeuvred into a safe reentry trajectory. Edoardo Amaldi and its waste burnt up harmlessly in the upper atmosphere at 01:30 GMT (03:30 CEST).

Its successor, ATV Albert Einstein, is already set to deliver the next round of supplies to the Station. It arrived by boat at Europe’s Spaceport, in Kourou, French Guiana on 19 September and is scheduled for launch in April 2013.

ATV Georges LemaĆ®tre is being assembled and is scheduled to be launched in April 2014.

Oh, and they have a bit of fun too.

Back at the ISS

Go here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

To the moon!

Or, more accurately, to the Lagrangian Point!!

On Thursday, reported that Nasa could soon unveil ambitious plans for a return to the Moon. The mission would not be to the surface but to a gravitational sweet spot behind the Moon that offers free parking for spacecraft.
Known as a Lagrangian point, such balance points occur naturally because of the interplay of Earth's gravitational field with the Moon's. To send a mission there would allow Nasa to test its Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle in deep space before committing it to longer missions, such as Obama's plan to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025.

While Thursday's news story focused exclusively on this being a Nasa effort, in reality the cash-strapped space agency will want to collaborate with partners from around the world. In a memo from February, againreported by, Nasa talked about incorporating significant international participation.
Most likely this will be with their partners in the International Space Station, and that places the European Space Agency near the top of the list.
There are a number of ways Esa could be involved. The path ahead should become clearer soon, through decisions that will be taken at a ministerial meeting in Italy, on 20-21 November. This involves representatives from all of Esa's member countries (or states as they like to refer to them) and will define the agency's goals for the coming years.
A key discussion will be about the development of Europe's space freighter, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
To participate in the International Space Station, Esa is providing five expendable ATVs. Three have been launched so far and another two are currently being readied for flight. But, what next for all the expertise and hardware that has been developed?
Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Google experiment

If you're running on Chrome browser, check out Google's latest Experiment project that visualizes the precise location of at least 100,000 stars in our Milky Way galaxy, using various imagery and data pulled from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).  For your frame of reference, there are approximately 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Click here.  You could spend a lot of time there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Asian Squat

The wife and I are embarking on Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint."  So far, so good, but I am having some difficulty with the Asian Squat.  This is not an integral part of the Primal Blueprint, fortunately.

Can you do this?

Click this: Mark's Daily Apple to take a look.

GOP despair

Yes, I am still gloating over the election.  It is especially sweet since so many Republicans were absolutely convinced that Romney would win in a landslide, and they thought they would take control of the Senate. 

Why were they so deluded?  One reason is that they all watch FOX News, probably exclusively.  There has never been a more mendaciously-oriented network on the air that persisted in disseminating so many lies, distortions and half-truths for the benefit of a political party.  In that sense, FOX is a pioneer, in a very, very bad way.

It is especially ironic to see the idiot that created the "Unskewed Polls" website.  He figured that the regular polls were oversampling Democrats (since Dems kept coming out on top), and so he just "unskewed" the polls and voila!  Romney was way ahead!!  If that is not the perfect illustration of GOP delusion, I'd like to hear a better example.

There is still one thing about the election that rather surprises me (I never wavered in my prediction that Obama would win.  I was just afraid that they GOP would steal it by manipulating the electronic voting machines). 

I am rather surprised that I have not heard shrill charges that the DEMOCRATS stole the election by manipulating the voting machines.  After all, the GOP was SOOOOOOOO convinced that Romney would win in a landslide.  How could Obama have possibly won, unless the Dems stole it?!?! 

The Dems didn't steal it.  They just turned out in massive numbers to vote, spurred on in part by the GOP's persistent efforts to disenfranchise them by all the "Voter ID" bullshit.  (Ever heard of a "boomerang"?)

To illustrate how the GOP still doesn't "get it", I heard a GOP strategist recently claim that the GOP doesn't need to change its principles in light of the recent drubbing.  They just need to change the WORDS THEY USE to describe their policies.  I guess they need to express a kinder, gentler form of hatred for women, minorities and Democrats.  Keep it up, GOP, and you will guarantee your irrelevance.

David Frum has some words of wisdom, one of the few GOPers that hasn't gone off the deep end into the Tea Party morass.  Naturally, he was drummed out of the GOP good graces because of it.

Conservatives, don't despair
 By David Frum, CNN Contributor

Washington (CNN) -- The mood among American conservatives is now one of apocalyptic despair.

Having convinced themselves that this election arrayed freedom against tyranny, they now must wonder: Did their country just democratically vote in favor of tyranny?

On Fox News election night, BIll O'Reilly explained the meaning of the election: The "white establishment" was now outnumbered by minorities. "The demographics are changing. It's not a traditional America anymore." And these untraditional Americans "want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it."

O'Reilly's analysis is echoed across the conservative blogosphere. The (non-white) takers now outnumber the (white) makers. They will use their majority to pillage the makers and redistribute to the takers. In the process, they will destroy the sources of the country's wealth and end the American experiment forever.

You'll hear O'Reilly's view echoed wherever conservatives express themselves.

Happily, the view is wrong, and in every respect.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

No fiscal cliff?

Few things have been hyped as breathlessly lately as the "fiscal cliff."  If there is one thing that the media loves (and citizens too, for that matter), it's a crisis.  Even if, as in this case, it's an illsuory, manufactured crisis.  The volume of ink spilled over this so-called "crisis" is outdone only by the Presidential election.  The hot air expended would float a billion balloons.

The President has the upper hand in this one.

What Obama cannot do, and what we must lobby loudly for Obama to NOT do, is chip away at Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.  There are so many other ways to save these programs that are far better than cutting them.

Social Security, for instance, could be "fixed" by raising the cap on income subject to withholding tax from the current $110,000 up to about $250,000.  That would secure Social Security for another 75 years.  I would prefer that, instead of raising that cap to $250,000, we put a special 1% tax (or even 0.1%) on all income above $1,000,000.  That would get the money from those who can most easily afford it without pain.  But I get ahead of myself.

America's Not Falling Off A Fiscal Cliff
Don't let the headlines drive you crazy. The U.S. economy isn't headed for a double-dip recession

They don’t call it the “cliff” for nothing. It’s the fiscal spot where a nation’s representatives can gather and cry doom. It’s the place — if Washington is to be believed — where, with a single leap into the Abyss of Sequestration, those representatives can end it all for the rest of us.

In the wake of President Obama’s electoral victory, that cliff (if you’ll excuse a mixed metaphor or two) is about to step front and center. The only problem: the odds are no one will leap, and remarkably little of note will actually happen. But since the headlines are about to scream “crisis,” what you need to understand American politics in the coming weeks of the lame-duck Congress is a little guide to reality, some Cliff Notes for Washington.

As a start, relax. Don’t let the headlines get to you. There’s little reason for anyone to lose sleep over the much-hyped fiscal cliff. In fact, if you were choosing an image based on the coming fiscal dust-up, it probably wouldn’t be a cliff but an obstacle course – a series of federal spending cuts and tax increases all scheduled to take effect as 2013 begins. And it’s true that, if all those budget cuts and tax increases were to go into effect at the same time, an already weak recovery would probably sink into a double-dip recession.

But ignore the sound and fury. While prophecy is usually a perilous occupation, in this case it’s pretty easy to predict how lawmakers will deal with nearly every challenge on the president’s and Congress’s end-of-year obstacle course. The upshot? The U.S. economy isn’t headed over a cliff any time soon.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 9, 2012