Thursday, August 11, 2011

Last Call

Behold the sound of Mitt Romney losing.

“What are you going to do to strengthen Social Security and Medicare without cutting federal spending?” one fairgoer asked.

“I’m not going to raise taxes,” Romney insisted. “That’s my answer.”

“Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for about half of federal spending,” the candidate later said.

“That’s a lie!” a person in the audience shouted.

“We have to make sure the promises we make in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are promises we can keep. And there are various ways of doing that. One is we can raise taxes on people,” Romney explained.

“Corporations!” someone yelled.

Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney replied. “Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”

And by "people" he means "folks in the same multi-millionaire tax bracket as Mitt Romney who own and run the corporations, the rest of you jagoffs are wage slaves."    Mittens says we can't tax corporations because corporations immediately cut wages when taxes are raised in response.  But it just so happens that the reason Mittens doesn't want to tax corporations is because people have actually looked at who has to bear corporate taxes.

Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt has noted that economic models are getting increasingly more sophisticated — trying to account for factors like how easy it is for different sectors to substitute labor for capital. He points to a 2010 review of these newer models by the Congressional Budget Office, which concluded that about 60 percent of the corporate tax ultimately falls on the owners of capital. (This is still the working assumption of both CBO and Treasury when they analyze the distributive impact of different tax systems.)

Now let's keep in mind the number of corporations who don't pay corporate income taxes at all.  Gee, it's like Mittens is trying to talk people into buying his crap about corporations and they know he means to cut Social Security and Medicare in order to keep corporations from having to pay their share.

Funny how that works.  Play this over and over again, let's see how Romney fares with voters.

News Flash: Meghan McCain Is A Republican

So why is anyone surprised she's dumping on President Obama?

Three years later, we’ve traded hope and unity for not only for politics as usual in Washington, but for something far worse. We’ve entered a new chapter in government selfishness, new levels of disillusionment and public distrust of elected officials, something that the Twitter world has dubbed the “Obamaclypse” or “Barackalypse.” The month of August has been dogged with an onslaught of news regarding the economy starting with the debt ceiling fiasco. Standard & Poor’s downgraded our government’s credit rating. And the DOW tumbled more than 600 points, making it the worst drop in the stock market since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. My anxiety, along with so many others in my generation, continues to grow because we will bear the burden from all of this that may or may not be something that is solvable in my lifetime.
Remember, we were the ones who witnessed Columbine and Sept. 11, but even in the darkest times, there always seemed to be hope lingering in the horizon. For the first time in my lifetime, the future just looks grim. The baby boomers have dropped the ball on their burden of responsibility. It’s not simply that our economy seems to continue to spiral into recession. Washington is a complete mess. It’s become a venue for partisan bickering, where the needs of the working class just don’t matter. I am worried we are reaching some kind of breaking point when it comes to not only Americans but young Americans.

Tea Party using government to club hope and Meghan McCain's generation (and mine) into the ground?  Yeah, all Obama's fault. Number of times she mentions Republicans, GOP, or Tea Party in her little tantrum wondering America sucks right now?  Zero.

I'd say she was auditioning for Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake, but she's at the Daily Beast already and at least they have a snappier website.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Eric Allie's anti-Obama stuff is usually just obnoxious but every now and then he does something like this:

Yes, god forbid anyone in government spend money on a jobs program or unemployment benefits right now. They'd be terrorists.

You know, like Ed Stein points out.

Just sayin.

The Best Thing I've Heard All Year: It's About Damned Time Edition

It's been a while since I had a decent candidate.  This one has made up for the wait.

NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists are reporting the first clear success with a new approach for treating leukemia — turning the patients' own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their cancer cells.
They've only done it in three patients so far, but the results were striking: Two appear cancer-free up to a year after treatment, and the third patient is improved but still has some cancer. Scientists are already preparing to try the same gene therapy technique for other kinds of cancer.
"It worked great. We were surprised it worked as well as it did," said Dr. Carl June, a gene therapy expert at the University of Pennsylvania. "We're just a year out now. We need to find out how long these remissions last."

While maintaining an appropriate sense of caution, this may be the beginning of a whole new level of medicine.  Manipulating the immune system into recognizing its blind spots has a potential that is limitless.  The fact that the T-cells are tricked into behaving differently makes me wonder if this breakthrough will eventually affect AIDS therapy and lupus treatments.  I will definitely update as more is published.

Somewhere Between "Holy Crap" And "It Could Be Worse"

Mobile apps are still not secure when it comes to storing certain personal information, according to a new study from security firm ViaForensics.
Dissecting a variety of apps for Apple's iOS and Google's Android, ViaForensics found that 76 percent of them store user names in cleartext without encryption, while 10 percent store passwords in the same way, making such data more vulnerable. Running a series of tests from November 2010 through June 2011, the security firm checked out apps from several categories, including financial, social networking, productivity, and retail.
I was happy to see they scored based on actual and potential.  It separated the apps that were a clear threat from the ones that were not encrypted but contained low risk data.  It paints a more accurate picture of the threat users face from not understanding how their phones work.  It would be great to see the heads of these companies make a good faith effort to establish a privacy standard.  We must draw clear lines of liability between user and creator.  Impartial and clearly defined standards of what data is stored, the level of security used to protect it, and how valuable that data is would go a long way.  There is a big difference between your SSN or current location and your Angry Birds high score.

The study itself is a very friendly read.  The overview says that more than 2/3 of the apps scored a warn or fail.  The lapses ranged from minor to account numbers.  Though some of the lapses are surely innocent our privacy should be overseen by those who know how exploitable unexpected types of information can be.  Here's hoping the good guys win the race and set the bar high.

We should put Wired on the case.  They've been doing some astonishing work over there, let them take a crack at this.  

Dinosaur Steve's Action Playland Gets My Tax Dollars

Kentucky doesn't quite have as huge a budget hole to fill as some other states, but it's the Democrats giving away massive tax breaks in my state to, I don't know, Bible theme parks, that kind of has me a little upset.

The city of Williamstown in Grant County has agreed to give a biblically themed amusement park a property tax discount of 75 percent over the next 30 years.

Mayor Rick Skinner said the offer is laid out in a memorandum of agreement that will be followed by a formal tax-increment financing deal with Petersburg-based Ark Encounters LLC in coming months.

The tax deal is in addition to almost $200,000 given to the company by Grant County's economic development arm as an enticement to keep the project located there, along with 100 acres of reduced-price land.

And that's not counting the state's promise of $40 million worth of sales tax rebates and a possible $11 million in improvements to the interstate near the project that would be financed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Officials say the theme park, which will feature a full-size replica of Noah's Ark, is generally supported in Grant County, but the array of state and local incentives worry some people, who aren't sure they will pay off in the end.

City Council member and former mayor Glenn Caldwell said he's still evaluating the numbers.
"I'm trying to be cautious in representing our city," he said, "making sure people will not be burdened with additional costs because of this project."

The property tax agreement means the Ark Encounter would pay 25 percent of the taxes due on 800 acres of property that is eventually expected to be worth $150 million. Most local property taxes are used to finance Williamstown Independent Schools.

And when Williamstown schools come up short next time, I'm sure Republicans there will be screaming to cut teachers instead of maybe charging the Ark Park guys what their property really is worth.

Can't wait until that happens.

A Quantum Leap

Quantum computing and microwaves are two great tastes that taste great together.

Physicists in the United States on Wednesday notched up a lab success in the quest for quantum computers, whose stellar capacities have already earned them the nickname of "super-computers on steroids."

Atoms can be excited to a quantum condition using microwaves, an advance over larger and bulkier lasers, until now the only way to achieve this essential state, they said.

In theory, it means that quantum computers -- if they are commercially feasible -- could be as tiny as a small book, the team reported in Nature, the British science journal.

"It is conceivable a modest-sized quantum computer could eventually look like a smart phone combined with a laser pointer-like device," said Dietrich Leibfried of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"Sophisticated machines might have an overall footprint comparable to a regular desktop PC."

Quantum computers the size of current desktop PCs instead of huge, complex laser installations is pretty much the breakthrough needed to make quantum supercomputers commercially viable.   I'm looking forward to the point where these things become residentially available.  You know, if we're not all killed in the apocalypse in the next couple years, that is.

Makers Vs. Takers

The new Republican class warfare game is straight out of the Ayn Rand playbook.  RNC chair Reince Priebus lays out the new (old) strategy:

"Well, Contessa, I mean, I view it as a 100 percent, absolute victory for not only the people in Wisconsin, but for all Americans that want to make sure that their government is listening, and that they can start living within its means," said Priebus. "And so after $30 million of big-government union money coming in, and a manufactured outrage that they've tried to put together in Wisconsin, we remain red. We won the Prosser [state Supreme Court] race in Wisconsin, we won again yesterday, we may win one or two next week.

"I think for the country, it's the start of having a debate, and winning the debate, that we need to have a country of makers, and not a country of takers. And I think that's important in saving not only Wisconsin, but a lot of other states that are watching. And I think it's a good signal, and a good sign, and a good tell, for the rest of America as to where the electorate is moving, and they're moving to winning a battle of individual freedom for America."

If you believe you might qualify as a maker, you're not. The top Republican in the land right now, the head of the Republican Party, just swore fealty to the top 2% of America's wealthy at the expense of the other 300 million of us or so.  And if Priebus's "makers vs takers" crap sounds familiar, that's because it's classic Randian social engineering.

The plan here is simply to convince millions of us on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, mortgage deduction users, child tax credit filers, people who work at a business with a government contract of any kind or anyone else who actually benefits from taxpayer dollars are in fact the "makers" and to vote against the "takers", which is the equivalent of a congress of various small tasty rodents electing themselves the largest meanest rat terrier they can find in order to protect themselves from the feline menace.

And they Republicans are absolutely counting on it so they can finish looting and mooching off the country and I guess move on to greener banana republic pastures.


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