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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for August 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry: An Opposition Campaign Primer

Ah! Fresh meat!

That’s what’s on the mind of political pundits this week as they come down off the high of the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames. With nothing to report until–well–something unpredictable happens, or until the Iowa caucuses in January, the media and blogosphere will gush with pedantics about this outsider to the GOP fratricide-fest that has been the 2012 presidential nominating process thus far.

Unless something extraordinary happens, Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the GOP and Tea Party presidential nominee in 2012. He’s the darling of the extreme right and can be stomached by party moderates who know Mitt Romney has no chance of winning the top spot on the ticket without flip-flopping on nearly all of his social positions. So, no big deal, we’re looking at Rick Perry.

Here is some friendly advice that an opposing campaign should follow–Republican, Democrat or Independent:

Warren Buffet: "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich" Open Thread

Warren Buffet knows a thing or two about how rich people behave. Some could accuse him of being a Democrat (for shame!) but nobody can deny that he knows as much about being a billionaire than anyone else alive.

Today, Mr. Buffet has this to say about Taxes and the US Economic Condition. Let’s hear what he has on his mind.



OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill – the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf – was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income – and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine – most likely by a lot.

Brit's/Peter's domain, but he's busy, so a bit of news re:FOTHOM

I can’t give more factual information than that provided by the Guardian. So consider this an FYI diary. And, warning, while breaking news, the information is not of another nail in the voldemordoch coffin quality.

It does, IMHO, provide an end of the week reason to raise a glass, for its shows that the regular police were disciplining their own on their own for NoTW misbehavior, while up at the Met/Scotland Yard, their senior officers were on the make and take with the same paper. Worth a second upraising INHO is that now that push has come to shove, the Surrey local police has not shoved their own local discipline under the carpet although it was, I am guessing a case closed. And a tear for the poor Dowlers, as well. Their sorrow will never end, but they hardly need to have the refresh button being pushed so frequently.


Guardian reports, in a word or three, that the police watchdog agency is investigating a Milly Dowler leak which came from an officer working on the abduction and the information came to them from the force itself.

NoTW and police, leaks not hacks

Open Horserace Thread: Ames Update

Well…  It’s on.  Ames straw poll on Saturday, the first genuine debate today.  The Republican primary is off and away.  Eight or nine competitors starting late need to shake up the field in short order and pick a few leaders, the money is waiting to see who comes out of the starting blocks in front.  Who’s it going to be?:

The contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, until now a sleepy, shapeless and uninspired affair punctuated by comedic interludes, turns serious this month. A debate, a straw poll in Iowa and the possible entry into the race of Texas Gov. Rick Perry are likely to make the coming weeks the most consequential yet in the campaign.

By the end of August, more will be known about almost every aspect of the race, including the identity of the politician best positioned to challenge the front-runner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the staying power of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and the likely final makeup of the field.

Dan Balz – August will shake the 2012 Republican presidential field Washington Post 7 Aug 11

Is our pool still open?  Time to pick a winner folks.  Update: Ames straw poll results just in:

@FixAaron: Results: Bachmann 4823, Paul 4671, Pawlenty 2293, Santorum 1657, Cain 1456, Romney 567, Gingrich 385, Huntsman 69, McCotter 35 #iastrawpoll

If nothing else surely the end of any reasonable speculation of Palin’s candidacy.  Bachmann beat Pawlenty 2:1, that’s got to be a problem for his campaign.

The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

By: Inoljt,

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

More below.

Bachmann and Presidential Rapture

There is one question, or set of questions, that I want Michele Bachmann to answer in a presidential debate, but no one will ask them:

Congresswoman Bachmann, do you subscribe to the doctrine of the Rapture, which suggests that the elect will be translated miraculously into heaven while the rest remain to suffer tribulation?  

If so, assuming that you hope to be among the elect and that you live your life in accordance with how those who espouse this doctrine envision the elect, what provisions will you make for the rest of us who will not be so blessed and will remain to suffer a period of unsurpassed upheavals?  

Will you select a running mate who is unlikely in your eyes to be raptured?  

If so, can you tell us that you are selecting the best possible person to stand in for you if you are no longer able to fulfill your office?

If not, how can you pledge to serve the interests of all Americans faithfully?

The rapture differs from all other messianisms.  It proposes that the elect will not face apocalyptic upheaval along with the majority of humanity.  Those left behind–to employ commercially successful terminology–will include some who will eventually be saved and many who will not.  But all will suffer.  

Pre-millenial dispensationalism proposes that Christ will return and reign on earth before a final battle with anti-Christ.  Post-millenial dispensationalism envisions a period of earthly glory at the end of which Christ will appear and defeat anti-Christ.  In both situations, which posit a historical period between history’s consummation and the final, triumphant remaking of the world, humanity remains together.  Other Christian historiographical schema posit no such period.  Whoever lives at the time of the apocalypse will face its upheavals together.  Jewish messianisms operate in this fashion.  In all these situations, humanity remains together in the final stage of history.  Only adherents of the rapture posit a prior division between the elect and everyone else.  

It doesn’t matter that I don’t ascribe to any of these.  It matters what Michele Bachmann believes.  It bears upon what kind of commitment she is prepared to make to the American people.  If she believes she will be raptured, I want to know whom she proposes will govern in her stead.  And it doesn’t really seem like she can solve the conundrum of choosing the best possible person while being confident that person will not merit being raptured.

What Happens in a Bad Economy?

Politicians like to talk in abstractions.

Come to think of it, they like to argue and obfuscate in abstractions, as well. They campaign in abstractions and make abstract pledges until those abstractions turn into something tangible, like a subprime lending crisis or a downgrade from a particular private rating agency.

We spend so much time wading through abstractions that we cannot get to the meat of the issues that face us today. Enough of that.

What really happens in a bad economy? And what is the public’s role during these tough times?

Death of the American Dream is marked by the weakest social safety net & largest prison population

(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

How is it possible that America which claims that it only has enough money to fund the weakest social safety net of any major industrialized country in the world, but can find money to fund the biggest prison system in the world. As an American expat living in the European Union I am often reminded of the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Dicken’s tale when confronted with the request for social spending, he replies have we no work houses? Have we no prisons? Indeed American prison labor institutions have become the hallmark of modern day prison workhouses.

Indeed modern American prison workhouses may be the only place in any major industrialized country in the world where workers’ wages can compete with the 22 cents an hour wages paid for workers in Bangladesh and other developing nations around the globe. This shocking reality clearly is the hallmark of a pariah system and an international badge of shame! This gives new meaning to the phrase “only in America”.

This is What Austerity Looks Like: Riots in London: UPDATED

It’s been 26 years since I last remember police cars speeding up my road to the riots at the Broadwater Farm estate in North London. Then – just like last night – a policing incident had been the spark that ignited latent social and political tensions that had been building for years. The previous Tottenham riot wasn’t an isolated incident: prior to that there had been riots in Brixton in South London, Toxteth in Liverpool, and Handsworth in Birmingham. And last night the same scenes returned to my beloved city.

Such looting and violence is never justifiable. When it happens in the poorer neighbourhoods, it’s exactly those who can least afford to cope with it who have to deal with the carnage and aftermath – the closed shops, heavy police presence, the sense of fear and the smell of charred buildings. Fortunately no one seems to have been seriously injured last night; but looting is not a legitimate form of wealth redistribution.

But apart from the moral or legal condemnations, what are the connections between the riots last night and the 1980s when these were almost a regular occurence? Surely, beyond individual morality or neighbour policing there is a clear cut connection…

We’ve returned to the 1980s agenda of Thatcherism: public service, benefit cuts and unemployment, with all the social consequences that follow

"…Shall Not Perish From This Earth."

It has been a tough news weekend for the United States.

I’ve been blocking out news coverage today and cringing every time I hear a partisan or pundit prognosticate about the decline of America, or our supposed shuffle closer to doomsday.

My heart breaks hard every time I think about the selfless men and women we lost in Afghanistan this weekend. Brothers and sisters alike, it seems almost trivial to sit here tonight and type–a freedom they have won for me–while so many are facing grim realities and long, tense moments of combat half a world away.

It’s easy to lose focus of who you are and what you stand for in times like these.