Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Moderates Overlooked Yet Impactful

Post election analysis often reveals itself as partisan spin. However, a WSJ/NBC poll shows the shift in voting from 2008 to 2010 came from moderate Democrats and Independents...

From the WSJ Democrats Try to Crack Mystery of the Missing Voters

A popular theory of this year's midterm election holds that Democrats took a shellacking in part because big chunks of the party's core liberal base, discouraged at the path of the Obama administration, stayed home rather than show up to vote as they did in 2008.

It's an interesting narrative. It also doesn't appear to be entirely accurate.

While it's correct that some key parts of the Democratic coalition—young voters and African-Americans among them—didn't perform as they did in 2008, evidence emerging as the dust settles from this month's election suggests the bigger hole in the side of the Democratic ship came from moderates in the political center who didn't show up. (Those absences were in addition to the wave of independent swing voters also from the center who, exit polls showed, turned out but switched their votes to the Republicans.)

The case of the missing voters is important because how it is resolved will go a long way toward determining how Democrats respond to their midterm woes. If they conclude, as some argue, that the problem was an undermotivated liberal base, then the logical reaction would be a turn to the left and a staunch resistance to compromises with the Republicans who now control the House and hold expanded power in the Senate.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

McCain's Victory Speech

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goverment Beaurocracy Deflates Weatherization Site

Excerpt from The Government’s Weatherization Site – Should We Laugh or Cry?

I’ve frequently griped about the way government spends money, and about some of the wasteful policies and programs it has established. However, there is one program (at least) that I believe in. Government funded home weatherization for people/families with low incomes. It makes sense on several levels. The home improvements are costly for someone living paycheck to paycheck, yet the energy savings from winterizing a home can be substantial. No one with a heart wants to see people in cold climates without heat. Also, the reduction in energy for that home is good for the individual, for the community, and even for the earth. Simply put it’s a practical useful government expenditure.

So what’s the complaint? The Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program website. First off, the name itself alludes to the problem with the site. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a person use the word ‘intergovernmental’ in a sentence before, and it is the unintelligible nature of the website that is the problem. This is the opening paragraph of the website…
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program provides grants, technical assistance, and information tools to states, local governments, community action agencies, utilities, Indian tribes, and overseas U.S. territories for their energy programs. These programs coordinate with national goals to reduce petroleum consumption and increase the energy efficiency of the U.S. economy. They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Well, I’m glad to hear that, “They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.” Seriously, they can’t say something like – we’d like more people of modest means to be able to weatherize their home?

Finish reading - The Government’s Weatherization Site – Should We Laugh or Cry?

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Debt Commission Releases Report

Pete V. Domenici and Alice M. Rivlin the head of the 'Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force' take a serious look a debt defiit reduction. As they note, they are likely to receice criticism for parts of their plan from bith sides, just as President Obama's fiscal commission recently did. However, it is good to see ideas come forward, and the natioanal finances taken seriously. Below is an excerpt of their summary published in the Washington Post. The entire article is certainly worth a read - Payroll tax holiday and other measures to reduce the debt

To ensure a more robust recovery, we propose a one-year "payroll tax holiday" for 2011, suspending Social Security payroll taxes for employers and employees. We also would phase in the steps to reduce deficits and debt gradually beginning in 2012, so the economy will be strong enough to absorb them.

We would stabilize the debt held by the public at less than 60 percent of gross domestic product, an internationally recognized standard; reduce annual deficits to manageable levels; and balance the "primary" budget (everything other than interest payments) by 2014.

We would dramatically simplify the tax system, establishing individual tax rates of 15 and 27 percent (from the current high of 35), cutting the corporate tax rate to 27 percent (from 35 today), ending most deductions and credits while simplifying the rest, and ensuring that nearly 90 million households no longer have to file returns. To reduce the debt, we would supplement our spending cuts with a 6.5 percent "debt-reduction sales tax."

We would strengthen Social Security so it can pay benefits for the next 75 years by gradually raising the amount of wages subject to payroll taxes; slightly reducing the growth in benefits for the top 25 percent of beneficiaries; raising the minimum benefit for long-term, low-wage workers; indexing benefits to life expectancy; and changing the calculation of cost-of-living adjustments to better reflect inflation. We would not raise the age at which senior citizens can begin receiving benefits.

We would control health-care costs - the biggest driver of long-term deficits - by reforming Medicare and Medicaid while, starting in 2018, capping and then phasing out the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care. We would reform medical malpractice laws and help address the health costs tied to rising obesity by imposing a tax on high-calorie sodas.

We would freeze domestic discretionary spending for four years and defense spending for five, both at 2011 levels, and then limit their future growth to the rate of growth in the economy.

Finally, we would cap domestic and defense discretionary spending (with tight exceptions for true emergencies) and trigger across-the-board cuts if the caps are breached; enact a strict pay-as-you-go statutory rule for tax cuts or expansions of entitlements; and enact long-term budgets for major entitlements while creating a Fiscal Accountability Commission that would recommend policy changes every five years if entitlements are exceeding their budgets.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stocks Lose in Early Trading

Stocks open lower today...

From Yahoo/AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks retreated Tuesday following new worries about rising inflation in Asia and the possibility Ireland might need a bailout.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 73 points in morning trading. The losses piled up even as shares of two components of the index, Home Depot Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose more than 2 percent following improved earnings.

Asian markets fell overnight after South Korea's central bank raised interest rates to curb growing inflation. There has been speculation in recent days that China will have to take similar steps soon.

A report in the U.S. showed inflation at the wholesale level was smaller than predicted. The producer price index rose 0.4 percent last month, half of what economists' expected. The rise was due to a sharp increase in food and energy costs. Stripping out those volatile costs, prices fell 0.6 percent. The report backs up the Federal Reserve's view that inflation remains low because of sluggish growth.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was freed this weekend after years of house arrest in Myanmar/Burma. This staunch advocate for democracy in Burma was asked by CNN about a way forward...

from Suu Kyi calls for dialogue with Myanmar government

"We have to work together," she said. "That is the main message. Those inside the country have to work together and also those supporters outside."

Suu Kyi had much the same message for her supporters Sunday, telling them in a speech, "I'm not going to be able to do it alone. You've got to do it with me. One person alone can't do anything as important as bringing change and democracy to a country."

"We would like to form a network of people working for democracy," she told CNN Monday, and said she would like to open a dialogue with "those who are in a position to do something, to change the situation in Burma for the better."

She said she has had no contact with Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar's top military leader and head of state. Asked what she would say to him, she said, "I think what we are looking for is dialogue, so I'm not just thinking about what I have to say to him. I think what we have to think about is what we have to say to each other."

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Online Charities

Below are a handful of quality charities worth looking into. These provide either a practical application for charitable work, or provide a different look on how charities can be viewed.Hire a Veteran
Online Charity
International Charity
US Education

Other Links: Voter Info State Sites Blue Collar

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Schools Built in Central Asia

The Central Asia Intitute is a remarkable organization providing education, and specifically focusing on girls education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. On their website they list the following as just a part of what they have accomplished so far...

Education Projects
145 schools fully or partially supported
1200+ fully or partially supported teachers
School library projects
824 graduates from Porter Training Program
Teacher Training Workshops
64,000 students educated, including 52,000 girls

The books written by Greg Mortenson - 'Three Cups of Tea' and 'From Stones to Schools' follow the establishment and activities of the CAI. They wonderful books that will make you feel good about the generous spirit of so many people in Asia and America alike.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

McCain Challenger's Instantly Controversial

McCain primary opponent JD Hayworth got his campaign off to an odd an controversial start as he made statements questioning why President Obama hadn't produced his birth certificate. As those statements drew fire, he tried to clarify by stating that the need for President Obama to provide a birth certificate was due to the possiblity of identity theft. The conservative Red Sate blog went as far as saying that Hayworth is an Idiot if he sticks to this. ABC news also reported that J.D. Hayworth comments illicited the response, "Identity theft? I mean, come on," from a CNN reporter. Others are also noting that this challenge to McCain not only looks like a long shot, but is quickly looking very foolish.

McCain Opponent a Birther with a Twist
J.D. Hayworth is an opportunist, not a conservative

McCain Opponent Off to a Rocky Start

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Betty White Wanted for SNL

Betty White to Host SNL (please?)! is a fast growing grass roots campaign to get Saturday Night Live to ask Betty White to host. Betty White has stated that she would host if asked. What the people are finding out through this campaign that everyone loves Betty White. Odds are excellent that you like Betty White, that your dog likes Betty White, and fast approaching 400,000 people on Facebook also adore Betty White.

If you too are a Betty White fan and on Facebook here's where to go to join the Betty White to Host SNL (please?)! movement.

Mashable also addressed this phenomenon in the article 340,000 Facebook Fans Want Betty White to Host SNL
Facebook Movement for Betty White to Host SNL