Saturday, February 28, 2009

Note from my lawyer... new format.

The days of long copy are gone from this blog.
My comment.
Short (no more than three paragraphs) quote.
URL link.
One photo... maybe.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hot off the Fox News Network... my sister's favorite news source.

A man from President Obama's hometown of Chicago has been arrested for allegedly sending Obama and his staff envelopes containing HIV-infected blood, in the hopes of killing or harming them.
It's only the second time ever that HIV-infected blood has been sent with malicious intent through the U.S. mail system, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said.
In the weeks leading up to Obama's inauguration, Saad Hussein, an Ethiopian refugee in his late 20s, sent an envelope addressed to "Barack Obama" to offices of the Illinois government in Springfield, Ill., according to court documents.
The envelope contained a series of curious items, including a letter with reddish stains and an admission ticket for Obama's election-night celebration in Chicago's Grant Park. Court documents said Hussein, who takes drugs to treat a mental illness, later told FBI agents he is "very sick with HIV" and cut his fingers with a razor so he could bleed on the letter.

The President risks the success of his own presidency... that is the Poker Player we elected!

Ambitious Blueprint a Big Risk
The President Is Willing to Take

By Dan BalzWashington Post Staff Writer Friday, February 27, 2009; Page A01

President Obama's first budget -- with its eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit, a health-care fund of more than $600 billion, a $150 billion energy package and proposals to tax wealthy Americans even beyond what he talked about during his campaign -- underscores the breadth of his aspiration to reverse three decades of conservative governance and use his presidency to rapidly transform the country.

But in adopting a program of such size, cost and complexity, Obama has far exceeded what other politicians might have done. As a result, he is now gambling with his own future and the success of his presidency.

William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution cited three parallels to Obama's far-reaching program: Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1932 New Deal blueprint, Lyndon B. Johnson's 1965 Great Society agenda, and Ronald Reagan's 1981 call to dramatically limit the size and power of government, which set the framework for public policy debate ever since.

FD: there is more to the commentary at the above link. It is a good read.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mystery solved? Update on the sky falling...

Chunk that hit Dallas home was from wood chipper

Without question, according to Star-Telegram readers knowledgeable about wood chippers.
They're convinced that a metal chunk that punched a hole through a roof Tuesday in southeast Dallas was a broken-off bit or "hammer tip" from a grinder or chipper.
"There must be a mulching operation very nearby," wrote Roger in an e-mail.
But Michael, also by e-mail, stated that there "happens to be a place that mulches trees right behind the neighborhood that your chunk of metal landed in. Guess it isn't space debris after all."
The tipsters were among several people who saw pictures of the metallic loaf in the media and immediately recognized it.
Dallas police could not be reached for comment Thursday morning, but other media have reported that officers visited the tree-grinding operation and confirmed the story.
DNA evidence is in, newly discovered species of fish dubbed H. psychedelica

"Psychedelica" seems the perfect name for a species of fish that is a wild swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes and behaves in ways contrary to its brethren. So says University of Washington's Ted Pietsch, who is the first to describe the new species in the scientific literature and thus the one to select the name.
Psychedelica is perhaps even more apt given the cockamamie way the fish swim, some with so little control they look intoxicated and should be cited for DUI.
Members of Histiophryne psychedelica, or H. psychedelica, don't so much swim as hop. Each time they strike the seafloor they use their fins to push off and they expel water from tiny gill openings on their sides to jettison themselves forward. With tails curled tightly to one side –which surely limits their ability to steer – they look like inflated rubber balls bouncing hither and thither.

See a QuickTime video of a juvenile hopping along – it's also being buffeted by currents – at

While other frogfish and similar species are known to jettison themselves up off the bottom before they begin swimming, none have been observed hopping. It's just one of the behaviors of H. psychedelica never observed in any other fish, says Pietsch, UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and curator of fishes at the UW Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. He's the lead author of a paper about the new species that's now online at Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. His work is funded by the National Science Foundation.

It was little more than a year ago that the fish with rare, forward-facing eyes like humans and a secretive nature was the subject of worldwide news coverage after having been observed in the busy harbor of Ambon Island, Indonesia. An adult fish was observed in January 2008 by Toby Fadirsyair, a guide, and Buck and Fitrie Randolph, two of the co-owners of Maluku Divers, which is based in Ambon. They and co-owners Andy and Kerry Shorten eventually found Pietsch to help them identify the fish. Since the first sighting divers have observed a number of adults and juveniles, now that they know what to look for.

Adults of H. psychedelica are fist-sized with gelatinous bodies covered with thick folds of skin that protect them from sharp-edged corals as they haunt tiny nooks and crannies of the harbor reef. Fins on either side of their bodies have, as with other frogfish, evolved to be leg-like, and members of H. psychedelica actually prefer crawling to swimming. See a QuickTime video of them crawling at

The species has a flattened face with eyes directed forward. It's something Pietsch, with 40 years of experience studying and classifying fishes, has never seen before in frogfish. It causes him to speculate that the species may have binocular vision, that is, vision that overlaps in front, like it does in humans. Most fish, with eyes on either side of their head, don't have vision that overlaps; instead they see different things with each eye.

DNA work revealed that H. psychedelica joins two other species in the genus Histiophryne, though the other two are very drably colored in comparison. The genus is but one of about a dozen in the family Antennariidae, known as frogfish in most places in the world. The frogfish are, in turn, part of the larger order of Lophiiformes, or anglerfish. Pietsch is the world's foremost anglerfish authority and, when sent a photo last year of the newfound fish, he said he'd stake his reputation that it was an anglerfish.
He was right. But what an unusual member it turned out to be.
Compared to other anglerfish, members of H. psychedelica have no lures. Most anglerfish have lures growing out of their foreheads. The other anglerfish sit right out in the open on the seafloor or coral reefs, often adapting their coloring so their bodies are camouflaged, but the lures are meant to be noticed so the fish wave, wiggle and sometimes blink the lures on and off in order to attract pray, Pietsch says.
Instead of all that showiness, members of H. psychedelica are shy and secretive, probably one of the reasons they weren't previously spotted. When a member of H. psychedelica is uncovered by divers it usually seeks a new place to hide within 10 or 15 minutes.
And while other anglerfish change their coloring depending on the environment, the new species appears to maintain its wild striping no matter the surroundings.
The coloring led co-author David Hall, a wildlife photographer and owner of, to speculate that the fish is mimicking corals. Indeed, Hall produced photos for the new scientific paper showing corals the animals may be mimicking.
The other co-author, Rachel Arnold, who is a UW master's student in aquatic and fishery sciences, did the DNA work on the new species. Arnold, who dove in Ambon Harbor last year, said the striping of each fish is distinctive, "like a fingerprint of patterning on their body so from whatever angle you look, you can tell individuals apart."
The scientists found, however, that the vivid colors faded in a matter of days once a specimen was preserved in ethanol. The flesh of the preserved specimen looks white, but with a microscope one can still see the striping, Pietsch discovered.
This got him thinking about two specimens sent to him in 1992 that he'd kept as part of the UW's fish collection. The Dallas Aquarium had sent him two frogfish, found in a shipment of live fishes from Bali that they said had unusual pigment patterns. The staff had nicknamed them "paisley frogfish." But the photograph Pietsch was sent was of poor quality and the preserved specimens Pietsch received were white, so he didn't give them much thought.
Pietsch retrieved the old specimens from the collection, put them under a microscope and found the striping distinctive to H. psychedelica. He'd had two specimen of a new species of fish for 17 years, but didn't know it.
Watch more QuickTime segments at

Frog Fish seem to have a flair for dressing up....

Hairy Frogfish
Alistair Watters
Photographer: Alistair Watters
IMAGE: With its flattened face, the fish's eyes appear to be directed forward and may provide it with binocular vision, a special attribute well developed in humans that provides the ability...Click here for more information.

Frog Fish ...the link shows the "swimming" behavior of this new species...

Psychedelic fish discovered in Indonesia
A funky, psychedelic fish that bounces on the ocean floor like a rubber ball has been classified as a new species, a scientific journal reported.The frogfish — which has a swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes that extend from its aqua eyes to its tail — was initially discovered by scuba diving instructors working for a tour operator a year ago in shallow waters off Ambon island in eastern Indonesia.The operator contacted Ted Pietsch, lead author of a paper published in this month's edition of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, who submitted DNA work identifying it as a new species.The fish — which the University of Washington professor has named "psychedelica" — is a member of the antennariid genus, Histiophryne, and like other frogfish, has fins on both sides of its body that have evolved to be leg-like.But it has several behavioral traits not previously known to the others, Pietsch wrote.Each time the fish strike the seabed, for instance, they push off with their fins and expel water from tiny gill openings to jet themselves forward. That, and an off-centered tail, causes them to bounce around in a bizarre, chaotic manner.Mark Erdman, a senior adviser to the Conservation International's marine program, said Thursday it was an exciting discovery."I think people thought frogfishes were relatively well known and to get a new one like this is really quiet spectacular. ... It's a stunning animal," he said, adding that the fish's stripes were probably intended to mimic coral."It also speaks to the tremendous diversity in this region and to fact that there are still a lot of unknowns here — in Indonesia and in the Coral Triangle in general."The fish, which has a gelatinous fist-sized body covered with thick folds of skin that protect it from sharp-edged corals, also has a flat face with eyes directed forward, like humans, and a huge, yawning mouth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sky in Texas continues to fall on Us.

DALLAS — A six-pound chunk of charred metal blasted through the roof of a house in Southeast Oak Cliff Tuesday evening.
The object crashed through the second floor of the home in the 7800 block of Buford Drive before coming to rest in the kitchen on the ground floor.
No one was home at the time of the incident and there were no injuries.
The Dallas Fire-Rescue biohazard unit checked the unidentified flying object for radiation and found none. Police say they have no idea what the metal is or where it came from. State and regional officials have been notified.

Investigators say they are not aware of any other reports of similar activity in the area.
Two large man-made satellites collided in orbit over Siberia on February 10, and military officials have been on alert since then for possible falling debris.
The 6-pound chunk of metal crashed through a roof sometime Tuesday in southeast Dallas, and a day later, officials were perplexed about its origin.
The incident happened in the 7800 block of Buford Drive, which is northeast of the intersection of Interstate 35E and Interstate 20.
No one was home when it hit, and police were summoned at 5:19 p.m., said Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, Dallas police spokesman.
The debris was described as a 6-pound piece of metal with two drill holes in it, Janse said.
He said the chunk hit "with enough velocity to break through the [homeowner's] roof and second floor."
Officers were unable to determine the source of the fallen debris, but a biohazard unit from Dallas Fire-Rescue determined that it tested negative for "radiological activity," Janse said.
Several state agencies have been notified, Janse said, including the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"No other reports of similar activity have been reported at this time in the DFW Metroplex," Janse said.

On Feb. 15, a fiery object the size of a pickup truck was observed streaking across the sky from the Texas Hill County all the way to North Texas. Astronomers and federal aviation officials agreed a few days later that it was a meteor that probably disintegrated before it hit the surface.

Earlier, however, aviation officials had speculated that the flaming object might be "space junk" flung from the collision of two satellites over Siberia. That collision sent thousands of pieces of debris into the Earth's orbit, pieces that experts said could remain for thousands of years. Astronomers said that trajectories of that debris field did not lead to North Texas.

Woops! Someone is reading this blog... a reader sent me a note about WHAT to CUT in the BUDGET as it relates to "illegal aliens" in the USA

Think the war in Iraq is costing us too much? Read this, Freddallas.

Boy, was I confused. I have been hammered with the propaganda that it is the Iraq war and the war on terror that is bankrupting us. I now find that to be RIDICULOUS.
Hope you-all find the following 14 reasons forwarded over and over again until they are read so many times that the reader gets sick of reading them. I also have included the URL's for verification of all the following facts.
1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year by state governments.
Verify at:
2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
Verify at:
3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
Verify at:
4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English!
Verify at:
5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.
Verify at
6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.
Verify at:
7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
Verify at:
8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spen t on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.
Verify at:
9. $200 Billion dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.
Verify at:
10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US
Verify at:
11. During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, crossed into the U. S from the Southern border.
Verify at: Homeland Security Report: <>
12. The National policy Institute, estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.'
Verify at:
13. In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances to their countries of origin.
Verify at:>
14. 'The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One million sex crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants In The United States .'
Verify at: http: //

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Followup on Cord Banking for my readers... Here in Texas we use the blood collected for genetic screening of newborns for ....

Texans unknowingly donate children's blood to research
Medical privacy advocates, ethicists say parents should be asked for consent before newborns' screening samples are kept.
By Mary Ann RoserAMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Sunday, February 22, 2009
For almost seven years, the state has been indefinitely storing blood from nearly all newborns in Texas without their parents' consent for possible use in medical research.
The blood is collected as part of a 44-year-old state-mandated newborn screening program in which hospitals, birthing centers and midwives draw blood from a baby's heel — parental consent isn't required for that, either — so the state can test for a host of birth defects. The state either discarded the blood after six months or, more recently, stored it for three years before destroying it.
But starting in 2002, the state health department began collecting and keeping blood indefinitely for current or future medical research, a practice that has been the subject of a legal challenge in Minnesota.
Five dots of blood are collected on paper for the screening and then stored.
Under the health department's policy, the samples can be used by the medical community for things like cancer research, birth defects studies and calibration of lab equipment, said Doug McBride, spokesman for the Department of State Health Services.
The law doesn't require that parents be told how the blood might be used. But if parents are aware of the blood draws, Texas law lets them opt out only for religious reasons.
Parental consent isn't obtained, McBride said, because "requiring permission might be more costly and could require more time of hospital staff. But our real concern would be for the babies with detectable disorders that weren't detected because their parents declined the screening — babies who had no say in that decision."
The blood spots are stored at Texas A&M University's School of Rural Public Health, and each card bears a code number instead of a name, McBride said. The names matching those codes are kept at the state health department and are not released to researchers without parental consent, McBride said. The state considers the stored samples to be "de-identified."
Since 1965, Texas law has required the screening of newborns for birth defects, and the state now checks for 27 different health conditions — ranging from a gene that can cause severe mental disability to sickle cell anemia.
In 2002, the state health department's Birth Defects Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch asked that the blood be stored for research rather than discarded; the department's leadership agreed.
It contracted with Texas A&M in 2006 to store the samples because the agency did not have room to keep them indefinitely, according to a Nov. 15, 2006, health department memo.
The agency says in the memo that it did not need to change state law to store the blood samples because "the agency's position has been that health-related research that uses these bloodspots is consistent with this agency's overall mission."
The same memo says the department considers the blood samples to be "state records," which state law allows agencies to store indefinitely.
Quinn Godfrey, a 32-year-old father of two from San Antonio, said he had no idea when his daughter was born three years ago that newborn blood was being collected or stored indefinitely.
"My concern is they might not be able to do much with it right now, but 10 years from now? They could do a lot with it the way technology is going," Godfrey said.
When his second child was born Feb. 9, Godfrey said, he objected and asked to have an outside lab do it. But when he was told that wasn't possible, he gave in, he said.
Researchers in Texas said they hope to allay any parental concerns by pointing to the good being done with the blood and the future benefits to society.
"I'm using it to extract genetic variations and causes of certain birth defects: cleft lip and cleft palate and club foot," said Jacqueline Hecht, a professor of pediatrics and vice chairwoman for research at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Hecht gets selected blood samples of children known to have those defects from the state's birth defects registry, but the names are excluded, McBride said.
By knowing the genetic fingerprints of disorders, researchers can suggest ways to prevent birth defects, Hecht and others said.
Without access to the blood samples, Hecht said, "we might miss the opportunity to make huge breakthroughs to help humanity. I'm using them to try and make life better."
Hecht said she considers privacy concerns to be overblown because she and her colleagues have no idea to whom the blood belongs.
"There are a lot of hoops you have to jump through" to use samples, she said, such as getting approval from an institutional review board, which looks out for patients' rights. "I don't see what the issue is."
But if the stored blood is so scientifically beneficial, "why isn't it more publicized?" asked Godfrey, the San Antonio father. "It just seems like they're being awfully sneaky about it."
James Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said that although his three grown children were all born in Texas, he had no idea of the practice and was "stunned by the whole thing."
Harrington said that he has no problems with screening newborns for birth defects but said he opposes storing samples without consent.
"I believe it's a violation ... of unlawful search and seizure," he said. "We're dealing with the most confidential information we have, and (for the government) to say, 'Trust us,' ... I find it impossible to believe."
McBride said, "There is nothing illicit, untoward or threatening going on. The purpose is to save lives, not to steal them." He's heard no complaints from anyone in Texas, he said.
"I would bet most parents aren't aware in Texas," said Twila Brase, a nurse who is president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care in St. Paul, Minn. The nonprofit has advocated patient and physician relationship rights since 1998.
Her group is fighting the practice in Minnesota after learning about it six years ago, she said.
"Our greatest concern is that this blood is being stored unbeknownst to the parents, and genetic research is being conducted without the consent or knowledge of the parents," Brase said. "And it's available for whatever legislators would decide to do with it in the future. When parents here discovered that, they got absolutely steamed."
What surprised Brase and others even more than not requiring parental consent was what they call the "warehousing" of the blood samples. Minnesota has stored more than 815,000 samples in the past 11 years, and as in Texas, no law authorizes that, Brase said.
Texas has stored 4.2 million samples since July 2002 — two per child, McBride said.
In Minnesota, Brase's organization won a ruling from an administrative law judge ordering that the state get informed consent from parents to store the blood, and the group aims to start a national outcry against the policy. Already, Brase said, blood from 52,000 Minnesota children has been used for genetic research without their parents knowing.
What if someday someone's genetic information got out to insurers and employers and was used to discriminate against certain people, Brase asked. "This is my DNA; it's not yours," she said. "Ask me if you want to use me for some project."
McBride said the state is bound by state and federal laws to protect the privacy rights of patients so it would not release the names to researchers or anyone else without parental consent.
Andrew Olshan, chairman of the epidemiology department at the University of North Carolina, said there is strong interest among researchers in creating a national database drawing on research from the samples to help solve the riddles of what causes autism, cancer and various birth defects. He said the potential benefits outweigh privacy concerns.
Art Caplan, a nationally known ethicist who directs the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said he isn't troubled by the lack of consent or the indefinite storage. He said he sees a "ton of benefits" to having the blood available for research but said Texans should be educated about it and a public commission should control the samples.
But a Texas medical ethicist said parental consent should be obtained at the time the blood is drawn.
"Even if something is a social good, there can be a social harm," said Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the UT Medical Branch at Galveston. "It's important to have trust in the scientific community ... and the more things that are done without consent, the more trust goes down."
The argument that scientists have a right to the blood because what they are doing with it is good "runs roughshod" over the rights of others, Brody said.
At minimum, the issue deserves more public discussion and transparency, he said.
"This is exactly the kind of issue," Brody said, "that is going to come back and bite us as a scientific community."; 445-3619

This would make a great plot for a SF/Drama... but one has already been written.


Interesting idea in Wire today about the BRIC countries and Netbooks ...

The great terror in the PC industry is that it's created a $300 device so good, most people will simply no longer feel a need to shell out $1,000 for a portable computer. They pray that netbooks remain a "secondary buy"—the little mobile thingy you get after you already own a normal-size laptop. But it's also possible that the next time you're replacing an aging laptop, you'll walk into the store and wonder, "Why exactly am I paying so much for a machine that I use for nothing but email and the Web?" And Microsoft and Intel and Dell and HP and Lenovo will die a little bit inside that day.
The decision is probably out of American hands. Indeed, living in the US—where netbooks are only just taking off—it can be hard to grasp just how popular the devices have become in Europe and Asia and the degree to which they're already altering the landscape. As Shih told me, "I was talking to the chair of one of the major Taiwanese notebook manufacturers, and he said, 'This is where my next billion customers comes from.' And he was not referring to the US." He meant the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China—where billions of very price-conscious customers have yet to buy their first computer. And the decisions they make—Windows or Linux? Microsoft wares or free cloud apps?—will have enormous influence on how computing evolves in the next few years.

FD: Read the whole article on WIRE here...

Bush Reset of the Dow Jones Index for USa

NBC's Chuck Todd has a new email bulletin for Politics Junkies like me.... LIKE YOU?

First Read:
The day in politics by NBC News for NBC News
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
FIRST THOUGHTS.*** Tonight's Address: In what will be the latest in big speeches he has delivered, President Obama tonight will address a joint session of Congress at 9:01 pm ET. Technically, it's not a State of the Union address. But with the televised entry into the chamber, the handshakes, the standing ovations, the primetime slot, and the opposition's official response, there won't be much of a difference. (Bush and Clinton also gave addresses to Congress shortly after their inaugurations.) Aides say the president's speech is expected to outline the rest of his domestic agenda, including health care, education, and energy, as well as his policies towards Iraq and Afghanistan. These aides also note that the speech will echo familiar themes. Will the president feel the need to calm the markets tonight? Sure, most of the address is going to be about domestic priorities that touch the economy, but those topics aren't just about the economic bailout. That said, when Obama talks about health care, education, and energy, he'll do so under the economic umbrella. By the way, national service is also something that will be mentioned in the speech tonight and could be fast-tracked to get Ted Kennedy's maximum involvement.*** Report Card Time: Just in time for tonight's address, there are two new report cards -- via Washington Post/ABC and New York Times/CBS polls -- that show Obama has earned high marks in his first month as president. In both surveys, more than six in 10 approve of his job, strong majorities think he's bringing about real change, and majorities approve of the just-passed economic stimulus. As for Republicans, it appears that their unified opposition to the president isn't paying dividends just yet. According to both polls, about three-quarters believe Obama has been trying to work with Republicans, while just 3 in 10 Americans think the GOP is doing the same with the president. Moreover, the WashPo/ABC poll shows that while 50% approve of congressional Democrats, only 38% approve of their Republican counterparts, although that GOP score is up 13 points since the middle of last year. Perhaps the most worrisome number for the GOP in that poll: "Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront 'the big issues' over the next few years." But remember one thing: Republicans need to worry about keeping their remaining customer base happy. And while that isn't playing well right now, do they have another choice? That's the conundrum for the GOP right now. and*** The Power Of The Bully Pulpit: One example why Obama is winning the charm war -- and why Republicans are not -- was yesterday's televised Q&A with congressional Democrats, Republicans, and policy experts at the conclusion of his "Fiscal Responsibility Summit." Obama taking questions from these folks resembled a formal White House press conference, or better yet the British prime minister's question hour with Parliament. Writing about yesterday's Q&A, the Washington Post's Stephen Stromberg made this point: the "more Obama makes it seem like he is reaching out, the higher the price the Republicans will have to pay in order to oppose him." The Q&A was a great example of the power of the bully pulpit, and why Obama is winning the bipartisanship argument without necessarily being bipartisan (outside of soliciting GOP opinions without really acting on them).*** Jindal's Rebuttal: Giving tonight's GOP response to Obama's primetime address is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who's already been in the spotlight the past few days -- opposing part of Obama's stimulus and appearing on Meet the Press. Perhaps it's our 24-7 focus on politics, but with all the attention Jindal has received, it's still a bit jarring to us that Jindal has served only about a year as governor and is just 37 years old. As we've noted before, giving the response isn't always a stepping-stone to future success. One past responder who's back in the news: former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who is "likely" to be Obama's Commerce pick.*** Three Times A Charm? Speaking of Locke, it appears Obama has settled on the former governor to be his third pick to lead Commerce (following the failed Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg appointments). Locke, a Chinese-American, has done a slew of trade missions to China, particularly when he was governor of Washington, which happens to be a big free-trade state. This is actually a big deal to business since he's a free-trade guy.*** Another Summit? President Obama let slip yesterday that he'll be convening yet another summit at the White House next week -- this one on health care. It was pretty clear yesterday, and will be clearer tonight, that the administration is going to make a strong push to get major health-care legislation passed in the next few months. But don't expect a drawn-out battle. That was one of the lessons that everyone learned from the 1990s. If major health-care legislation isn't passed by the Fourth of July, can it get passed before the Nov. 2010 elections?*** On Capitol Hill Today: Per NBC's Ken Strickland, Senate Democratic leaders say they're optimistic they'll have the 60 votes needed today to advance a bill that would give DC voting rights with a seat in the House of Representatives. (It would also give Utah an additional House seat.) While a successful vote would be a giant step forward for DC voting rights advocates, Strick says, several additional steps remain on both sides of the Capitol and likely before the courts. The vote is procedural, designed to break a filibuster on the bill. Once that hurdle is cleared, the bill then must push its way through the amendment process, which could include contentious measures on things like DC gun rights. What's more, the House has yet to pass its version of the bill, which is slightly different from the Senate version. And even if/when both chambers pass the same bill, it's all but guaranteed to face immediate court challenges on the constitutionality of giving the DC a voting seat in the House. That part to the process could take years to resolve.*** Remember That Solis Confirmation? Strickland also notes that while it seems apparent to Senate Democrats that Hilda Solis will eventually be confirmed as Obama's Labor secretary, Republicans are making Majority Leader Harry Reid jump through hoops to get her there. This morning, Solis' nomination will face a procedural vote on the Senate floor that neither Eric Holder nor Timothy Geithner faced in their somewhat bumpy rides to confirmation. This vote will happen immediately following the one on DC voting rights. Strick adds that Republicans are forcing Reid to muster 60 votes to advance the nomination because of her ties to a pro-labor lobbying group, as well as her support for the contentious Employee Free Choice Act. Reid's office is optimistic that the majority leader will be able to reach an agreement with Republicans for Solis to have her final confirmation vote before week's end, possibly as early as this afternoon.
Countdown to NJ GOP primary: 98 daysCountdown to VA Dem primary: 105 daysCountdown to Election Day 2009: 252 daysCountdown to Election Day 2010: 616 days

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FIRST 100 DAYS: The grades are inAccording to the new Washington Post/ABC poll, "68 percent of poll respondents approve of Obama's job performance. Sixty-four percent said they approve of how Obama is handling appointments to the Cabinet and other top positions in the administration, despite tax problems and stumbles that have led to three of his top nominees withdrawing from consideration."More: "Although Obama has encountered near-unanimous GOP opposition to his stimulus plan in Congress and widespread criticism for a housing bailout plan that some say rewards people who have been fiscally irresponsible, 64 percent of those polled back the economic recovery package, and the same percentage support the mortgage proposal. The broad support for the recovery package comes as just 10 percent said the bill was too heavy on spending and too light on tax cuts, the primary contention of the Republican leadership in Congress. Overall, 60 percent of poll respondents approve of how Obama is dealing with the economy." New York Times on its latest NYT/CBS poll: "The aura of good will surrounding Mr. Obama at this stage of his presidency is similar to the one that benefited Ronald Reagan as he led the nation out of economic gloom. With a job approval rating of 63 percent, Mr. Obama is in a strong position to sell his economic policies. Yet the poll also captured skepticism about how effective his plans will prove to be in addressing the deep recession, as well as a strain of populism that could test his ability to retain public support for efforts to prop up key sectors of the economy."
This is also good news down the road for Obama: "Americans are under no illusions that the country's problems will be resolved quickly, but the poll suggested that they will be patient when it comes to the economy, with most saying it would be years before significant improvement." New York Daily News previews Obama's State-of-the-Union-like address to Congress tonight. "'He will talk about how tough things are for some Americans, but he will also say that we can, and will, pull ourselves out of this,' said one official. To put a human face on the impact of the economic meltdown, Obama will be able to point to several hard-hit folks invited to sit in First Lady Michelle Obama's section. The "Hero of the Hudson," US Airways pilot Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger, is also expected to attend."'s Martin: "When President Barack Obama appears in the Capitol on Tuesday night to address a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans watching at home, he'll face a challenge familiar to his predecessors: how to balance inspiration and exhortation with detail and specifics - a challenge made more difficult by the moment at which he arrives in the House chamber." pollster David Winston writes in Roll Call, "For President Obama, tonight's address has become more than an economic report card to Congress or even another attempt to sell his economic recovery plan. This address to Congress has become a structural positioning speech. He must decide whether he is going to continue to pursue a single-party approach to governing based on the 'we won' doctrine or embrace a true consensus approach to solving the nation's serious problems. What much of Washington's chattering class has forgotten in all the hype about partisanship over the past month is the fact that the majority party defines the level of bipartisanship, not the other way round." Chicago Tribune: "White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's Washington lodging arrangements, a rent-free basement room in a Capitol Hill home owned by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and her pollster husband, have inspired debate among tax experts and in Republican-leaning portions of the blogosphere. One issue is whether Emanuel, who served in the House with DeLauro until early January, should have listed the room either as a gift or as income on his Congressional financial disclosure forms. Emanuel's disclosure filings contain no mention of his use of the room.",0,6696332.storyFIRST 100 DAYS: Covering the fiscal summit"A White House summit that opened discussions on how to make sweeping changes in entitlement programs concluded yesterday with a pledge to immediately pursue an effort to provide health insurance to most Americans, which could increase spending in the short term but would be designed to save money later." Today: "President Obama pledged Monday to target Medicare, farm subsidies, tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and no-bid contracts in Iraq in the proposed 2010 budget he will unveil later this week. Turning his attention from short-term economic stimulus to long-term fiscal discipline, Obama said he will urge Congress to require that any spending increases or tax cuts be paid for, rather than add to a $1.3 trillion deficit. That requirement was dropped as the Bush administration waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." New York Times says that "Mr. Obama called on Mr. McCain to offer any thoughts" during the Q&A session at the end of the president's Fiscal Responsibility Summit. "Mr. McCain praised Mr. Obama for holding the event, then suggested one priority should be dealing with out-of-control military contracts. Exhibit A was the program to replace the current Marine One helicopters, with costs mushrooming to $11.2 billion from $6.1 billion. The Defense Science Board issued a new study blaming 'poor communication' about aircraft requirements between the government and contractors. Lockheed Martin declared Monday that it was 'committed to the program's success' and would meet any conditions imposed by an Obama administration review.""'Your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One,' Mr. McCain told Mr. Obama. 'I don't think there is any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money.' Mr. Obama agreed. 'The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me,' he said to laughter. 'Of course, I've never had a helicopter before, you know? Maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it. But I think it is in example of the procurement process gone amok. And we're going to have to fix it.'" Call's Dennis draws a parallel between Obama's deficit-cut call and George W. Bush's. "In 2004, while running for re-election, Bush proposed cutting the budget deficit 'in half' by 2009. But that was only after a large surplus morphed into a large deficit during his first term. Bush technically succeeded in reaching his goal - and even projected a return to budget surpluses -- before the bottom dropped out of the economy on his way out the door. Which is why one might want to take any of these budget projections with, say, a trillion-dollar grain of salt, or two." New York Times writes that President Obama has settled on former Washington Gov. Gary Locke to be his third pick for Commerce secretary. "Mr. Locke, a two-term governor, former state legislator and onetime county executive, would bring a technocratic, pro-business record to the post. As the first Chinese-American to serve as a governor in the United States, Mr. Locke would also be the third person of Asian descent in Mr. Obama's cabinet, after Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki."
If the AIG bailout -- the biggest single corporate bailout to date -- is not working, then what do we do? "A.I.G. declined to provide details of its new financial problems, citing the 'quiet period' just before it issues fourth-quarter results. But some people familiar with A.I.G.'s negotiations said it was on the brink of reporting one of the biggest year-end losses in American history. Such losses lead to a bigger problem. A further credit rating downgrade would force the company to raise more capital, according to a person involved in the negotiations. The losses appeared to be across the board, unlike the insurer's losses of last September, which were confined mostly to derivative contracts called credit-default swaps.""A.I.G. has not been writing new credit-default swap contracts, and had tried to put the swaps disaster behind it. In November the company worked out a relief package with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in which the most toxic of its swap contracts were put into a kind of quarantine, so they could no longer hurt its balance sheet. But A.I.G. had written several other classes of credit-default swaps, which it kept on its books. " Trouble at home?The Boston Globe looks at the risk for some Republicans in voting "no" on the stimulus. "When Obama addresses a joint session of Congress in a televised speech tonight to outline his budget priorities and policy agenda, he will face 176 House Republicans who voted unanimously against his stimulus bill. Fewer than one dozen share [Washington State Republican Dave] Reichert's predicament: He represents a district carried by Obama in November, in this case by 15 percentage points. He is the type of endangered Republican most sought by Obama's gestures of bipartisan outreach, but also the type whom the new president's successes would be most likely to dislodge from office."
Shape up or ship out? "At this morning's House Republican Conference meeting, party leaders will unveil a new campaign fundraising and infrastructure program designed to strengthen vulnerable incumbents and hold Members more accountable if they expect any help from the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2010," Roll Call writes. It's called the "Patriot" program and is part of the design to "overhaul" the NRCC "after back-to-back election cycles in which the GOP suffered major losses." And check out this bit: "As one Republican source put it Monday, the effort is also designed to 'end the welfare state that the NRCC has become over the past six to eight years' by setting strict benchmarks for Members and adding one big stick to the process. Namely, those candidates who aren't working to help themselves will be cut off from NRCC financial assistance." Democratic leadership is going to yank Roland Burris soon? Think again. "There is already a process in place that includes investigations by Illinois state officials and the Senate Ethics Committee," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said, per Roll Call. "Let's let the appropriate process play out and let all the facts come to light. But, in the meantime, he is still a Member of the Senate."
More PMA news: "Several clients of The PMA Group, which was raided by the FBI in November, are slated to receive earmarks worth at least $8 million in the omnibus spending bill funding the federal government through the rest of fiscal 2009, according to a list of projects put together by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)."
2009/2010: The ReplacementsCALIFORNIA: The race to replace Hilda Solis in Congress is underway: "At first glance, given the demographics of the district - about half of Democratic voters are Hispanic -- state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D) should be favored to replace Solis in a race that, for now, also includes State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Judy Chu (D) and former investment banker Emanuel Pleitez (D). But conventional wisdom in this race could be turned on its head in several ways."
ILLINOIS: The Hill checks in with the Democratic race to succeed Rahm Emanuel. Three Democrats have emerged.
KENTUCKY: "Bunning's office originally misspelled Ginsburg's name in the statement but later corrected it. Meanwhile, Republican Kentucky state Senate President David Williams would not rule out a possible run in the primary. Williams has met with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP campaign arm in Washington, according to a person familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because the meeting was private."
MISSOURI: Roy Blunt's decision to run for the Senate has set off a flurry for the Republican nomination to replace him.
NEW YORK: And Bill Clinton will headline a Kirsten Gillibrand fundraiser March 11 in New York City.
First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.
For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at !

Monday, February 23, 2009

TAX CUT Myth #2 Reagan Cut Taxes without Debt

When Senator John McCain was asked here this afternoon how he plans to balance the budget, he said that he hoped to do so by stimulating economic growth - and approvingly cited the example of President Ronald Reagan," the New York Times reports.

"There was one thing he did not mention during his response: the deficit nearly tripled during the Reagan presidency, partly due to tax cuts and increases in military spending."

The exchange occurred at a town-hall-style meeting held in a tent outside Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm. A member of the audience stood up and asked Mr. McCain, who has called for balanced budgets, how he plans to do it.

"Basically, which is it?" the man asked Mr. McCain. "Straight talk: Do you want to raise taxes, cut entitlement spending, cut defense spending, or have a deficit?"

Mr. McCain did not explain how he plans to balance the budget, but spoke generally about hoping to stimulate the economy - and cited President Reagan.

Read more here.

Defending the Reagan Deficits
by Brian M. Riedl
Critics of President Reagan’s budget deficits should answer one simple question: Would you trade the collapse of communism, your smaller tax burden, some of your income -- and possibly your job -- in exchange for eliminating that $2.1 trillion in added debt?

FD: Yes. President Reagan cut taxes and massively increased military spending for "Star Wars."
Thus creating the FIRST $2.1 Trillion deficit.

Coverage of President Reagan’s legacy has been generally fair, with one exception. Many say, “Reagan masterfully won the cold war … but those budget deficits.” Or “America needed Reagan’s infectious optimism … but those budget deficits.”Not all debt is bad. Mortgage debt and student loan debt are worthy investments. No one criticizes President Franklin Roosevelt for the massive debt that financed World War II. Yet the commentators criticizing President Reagan for the $2.1 trillion in added debt (all numbers are in today’s dollars) ignore how that debt won the Cold War, lowered the tax burden, and ignited the largest economic boom in American history.

FD: OK. CCCP or the old USSR went bankrupt trying to match our spending on a missile defense system that never worked, and he did cut the taxes on thousands of wealthy American... but the boom was the microcomputer business cycle. As President Reagan used to say " Sonny, I was there."

Those who denounce the Reagan deficits should answer the following questions:Would you bring back the Soviet empire? President Reagan spent $3 trillion on defense, well above the $2.2 trillion baseline. What did that extra $800 billion buy? The end of the Cold War -- saving, perhaps, a billion lives from nuclear extinction.No less than former Soviet Union Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh has been quoted crediting President Reagan’s defense buildup for the accelerated collapse of the Soviet Union. The fragile communist economy, already stretched thin by substantial defense spending, could not keep up with America’s defense buildup. The possibility of American missile defense, and President Reagan’s powerful rhetoric, further persuaded the Soviets they could not win the Cold War, and induced the reforms that culminated in the collapse of the Soviet empire -- without America firing a single shot.

It was the best $800 billion investment America ever made.Would you raise the top income-tax rate back to 70 percent? Commentators also blame the 1980s deficits on President Reagan’s insistence on reducing taxes in 1981. Yet President Reagan inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. Excessively high tax rates were discouraging work and investment and therefore damaging the economy while raising little revenue. President Reagan removed barriers to entrepreneurship by reducing tax rates, cutting red tape, and stabilizing the economy, thereby encouraging risk takers.

FD: Yes. He fired the Flight Controllers and put unions on the run in America... he pulled the flangs of the Regulators of labor practices, reduced food and drug enforcement, and burned RED TAPE that protected USa.

BUT... the oil embargo and the lack of fuel and high prices that generated was done by OPEC. Sound familiar, Folks?

G.W. BUSH followed the Reagan model into the place we are today? "Are you better off today, than you were four years ago?" is what President Reagan would say.

The centerpiece of this policy was a radical series of across-the-board tax cuts that lowered the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent, and eventually to 28 percent. (It stands at 35 percent today.)This tax relief unleashed a 20-year surge of entrepreneurship, as the U.S. economy tripled in size. The lasting impact of these policies can be seen in successive presidents, who ratified Reaganomics by refusing to even consider raising taxes back to their 1970s levels.

Clinton was on top that Boom with a budget surplus.

Thus, America continues to benefit from lower tax rates.Would you trade 2.8 million jobs?

FD: Gone. Most of the good ones were out sourced...

Before the Reagan tax relief, the unemployment rate averaged 7.7 percent.

FD: We are back to that number today.

Since the tax cuts, it has averaged 5.8 percent -- a difference that translates into 2.8 million jobs per year.Would you trade $15,000 of your annual income? In the two decades before the Reagan tax relief, the average household’s annual disposable income increased $13,000.
In the 20 years following Reagan’s tax cuts, these incomes surged $28,000.Would you trade the stock market boom? In the two decades before the Reagan tax relief, the S&P 500 increased 120 percent. In the 20 years following Reagan’s tax cuts, the market jumped 575 percent.And don’t forget the 12 percent inflation rate and 21 percent interest rates that Reaganomics slew.The Reagan tax cuts replaced the deepest recession since the Great Depression with the largest 20-year boom in American history.

FD: So, we have come back to the Secret... the Business Cycle, Folks. What are we going to do in USa to climb back out of this hole we are in?

Healthcare - Innovation with our own brand of national healthcare and export it.

Alternative Energy - Invest and Manufacture the Power of Tomorrow for the World Today.

Agriculture - In a world of climate change we need to be on top of the food chain with investment of innovation.

Tax revenues actually grew faster in the low-tax 1980s than in the high-tax 1970s, and rising incomes meant the share of taxes paid by the wealthy actually increased throughout the 1980s. Millions of people who had entered the 1980s in the lowest income quintile surged to the highest income quintile by 1990.All a coincidence? As Reagan would say, “there you go again.”Sure, President Reagan would have preferred to minimize the deficits by eliminating wasteful spending. However, the only way to persuade a Democratic Congress to accept a defense buildup and pro-growth tax cuts was to agree to their domestic spending demands.Ironically, the 1980s budget deficits made the 1990s surpluses possible.

The budget was balanced by surging tax revenues from a booming, low-tax economy and defense savings brought on by the end of the Cold War.

FD: OK. This time around let's keep the jobs here for the NEW Middle Class!

To paraphrase a classic President Reagan line: Are you better off today than you were in 1980?Brian Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jack - a Dog Hero

When the Pieters family adopted Jack, a dog once left to die in a dumpster, they hoped he would act as a constant companion to their daughter, Maya.They never considered that the Terrier mix would also save the little girl's life, on more than one occasion.Jack's loyalty -- and keen senses -- have proved that one person's trash can truly become another's treasure. Just ask 8-year-old Maya, who inspired her family's trip to the Humane League of Lancaster County in 2004. When the Pieters saw how seamlessly Maya bonded with Jack, he had nowhere to go but out of the kennel, and into their home."Maya was down on her knees and her face as close to the gate as can be and he's licking her and I heard Maya talk more then to him then she had in a whole week," recalled Maya's mother, Michelle Pieters, of their first encounter with the dog.The connection was exceptional for the young girl, whose condition forces her to struggle with normal oral and social functions.When Maya was 3-years-old she was diagnosed with congenital bilateral perisylvian syndrome, an extremely rare condition that only 100 to 200 people in the world are reported to have.The disease affects Maya's oral motor functions -- such as speech and swallowing -- and could cause seizures. But it also took a toll on Maya's self esteem. Always left out by other children, Maya became very withdrawn at a young age.Maya's speech therapist, Donna Buss, suggested the Pieters family get a dog in 2003. She thought it might benefit Maya's socialization skills. Buss says Maya's shyness made their sessions difficult -- at the time, very little progress was being made. So the Pieters launched a search to adopt the perfect dog. It took one year to find one that Maya felt comfortable with -- but the wait, in the end, was all the more worthwhile.Though flea infested and dirty, Jack was the miracle for which the Pieters were searching.Maya bonded with Jack instantly and the connection would prove more significant than Maya or her parents could have ever predicted.Jack was sleeping in his crate one morning last year, when suddenly, without apparent provocation, he leaped from his bed and darted up the steps to Maya's room. The door was closed, but Jack sensed that Maya was inside -- and that she, for whatever reason, needed help.The dog began to relentlessly claw and bark at the door, until Maya's family took notice of the dog's frantic state.Jack, the Pieters realized, knew exactly what he was doing. Maya was found in her room, having her first seizure in her sleep. Jack's urgent response to Maya's seizure probably saved her life, as the seizure was a new, unprecedented symptom of her condition.The Pieters took to calling the little shelter dog "Maya's guardian angel."Since that first episode, Maya has suffered other seizures. Each time, Jack has been able to preemptively sense when Maya is about to have a seizure. He has broken her fall, sat on top of her to help settle her convulsing body, and when she finally wakes up, licks her tears dry.Jack has helped Maya in other ways as well. Upon adopting the dog, Maya's oral motor functions have improved drastically. Before Jack, Maya did not speak very often and was very sensitive to her face being touched. Jack has helped Maya overcome these problems with routine face lickings, playtime and simply standing in as Maya's constant companion.All of these accomplishments led to Jack's nomination for the Humane Society of the United State's "Valor Dog of the Year," an award to honor and celebrate dogs that have performed extraordinary acts of courage.Jack competed against heroic dogs across the country, and although he didn't win the main prize, he was granted the "People's Choice" award.Jack may have no idea he is nationally known for his good deeds. All he knows is someone once gave up on him, threw him away like a piece of trash.
And now, he is loved by a family, cherished by a little girl. In return, as much as Maya Pieters gave him a new chance at life, Jack has given her the same gift, as well.

Local Politics in the Local Paper about the Local School

Lord Mayor Tom Leppert, often seen as the city's education mayor, recently has explored taking over problem-plagued Dallas ISD.
Leppert has talked to at least one state senator and a prominent business leader about assuming such a role. A change of this magnitude has in other places stripped school boards of their power, disbanding some, and given mayors control over hiring the school district superintendent – one of a school board's major functions.
The idea comes during a Dallas ISD financial crisis that resulted in the layoffs of more than 500 employees, most of them teachers. Trustees also have come under fire for canceling the May school board elections and extending their terms for another year during a time of turmoil.
School board and City Council members, along with the city's top manager, said Saturday the possibility was news to them. Some blasted the idea as unrealistic and bizarre, while others wanted to hear more.
The mayor's chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, would not comment Friday but did not confirm or deny that the mayor had pursued the idea.
"Our children's education is too important to leave any ideas off of the table," Heinbaugh said in a written statement. "And we will continue exploring all the possibilities to make sure the children of Dallas are a success."


The Average person in USa has not benefited from the Bush Tax Cuts.
And there was no REAL growth in Gross Domestic Production for the last 8 years.
And the budget deficit SWELLED to over $10 Trillion in DEBT.
Tax Cuts did not work and will not work against this business cycle.

All morning long, I have listened to Red State Governors argue that TAX CUTS are some sort of tried and proven method for stimulus during recessions... Kennedy, Reagan, Bush are always the examples.
Using the discussion on the website above, let's review the reality of these tax cuts.

Since 2001, the Administration and Congress have enacted a wide array of tax cuts, including reductions in individual income tax rates, repeal of the estate tax, and reductions in capital gains and dividend taxes. Nearly all of these tax cuts are scheduled to expire by the end of 2010.

Making them permanent would cost about $4.4 trillion over the next decade (when the cost of additional interest on the federal debt is included). (

Because important decisions about these tax policies must be made in the next few years, it is essential to understand their effects on deficits, the economy, and the distribution of income.

Supporters of the tax cuts have sometimes sought to bolster their case by understating the tax cuts’ costs, overstating their economic effects, or minimizing their regressivity.

Here, we address some of the myths heard most frequently in recent tax-cut debates.
(For a discussion of myths specific to the estate tax debate, see

For a discussion of issues surrounding the Alternative Minimum Tax, see

Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years. Legislation enacted since 2001 added about $3.0 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2007, with nearly half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts (about a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending). Yet the President and some Congressional leaders decline to acknowledge the tax cuts’ role in the nation’s budget problems, falling back instead on the discredited nostrum that tax cuts “pay for themselves.”

G.W. Bush visiting the local hardware store...

Making light of an advertisement that offered him a job as a store greeter, former President George W. Bush stopped by a Dallas hardware store Saturday morning and jokingly inquired about the position.
The visit to Elliott's Hardware on Maple Avenue, which store officials insisted was a surprise, drew the attention of about 100 customers, many of whom were attending seminars on organic gardening.
Bush, who moved into his Preston Hollow home a day earlier, walked in around 11 a.m. with an entourage of Secret Service agents. Wearing a light jacket emblazoned with the presidential seal, Bush signed autographs and posed for photos with customers and store personnel.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

GM Food Crop genes can move into other varieties in the field area... SHOCKED? Not really...

NOW it's official: genes from genetically modified corn have escaped into wild varieties in rural Mexico.

A new study resolves a long-running controversy over the spread of GM genes and suggests that detecting such escapes may be tougher than previously thought.

In 2001, when biologists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela reported finding transgenes from GM corn in traditional varieties in Oaxaca, Mexico, they faced a barrage of criticism over their techniques. Nature, which had published the research, eventually disowned their paper, while a second study by different researchers failed to back up their findings.

But now, Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the National Autonomous University in Mexico City and her team have backed Quist and Chapela's claim. They found transgenes in about 1 per cent of nearly 2000 samples they took from the region (Molecular Ecology, vol 18, p 750).

"They are out there, but it's hit-and-miss," says Paul Gepts of the University of California, Davis, a co-author of the new study. The escaped transgenes are common in a few fields and absent in others, he says, so gene-monitoring efforts must sample as broadly as possible.
What's more, not every detection method - or laboratory - identified every sample containing transgenes. Monitors should use many methods to avoid false negatives, says Gepts.

From issue 2696 of New Scientist magazine, page 7. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
Browse past issues of New Scientist magazine

Let's Spend a Trillion Dollars!

Plug in the value of $1 trillion .
You find out that that equals,
over the next four years,
to be $791.17 per-capita.
In the same period,
defense is equal to $1,776.18 per-capita.
Over, eight years that $1 trillion is $389.45 per-capita.
However, over ONE YEAR that $1 trillion is $3,202.42 per-capita.

It's the Health Care, Stupid!

The CEPR Health Care Cost-Adjusted IOUSA Deficit Calculator

It's the Health Care, Stupid!

The enormous budget deficits projected for future years have the starring role in the documentary IOUSA (see CEPR's analysis of the film).

However, the simple fact that the film conceals is that these scary deficits are driven almost entirely by projections of exploding private sector health care costs. The government pays for approximately half of the country's private sector health care through programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Therefore, if the projections of exploding private sector health care costs prove accurate, then the government will face a serious deficit problem. However, if health care costs can be contained, then the budget problems are easily manageable.

CEPR's Health Care Cost-Adjusted IOUSA Deficit Calculator (below) allows you to see what the projected U.S. budget deficit would be, as a percentage of GDP, if the United States had the same per person health care costs as any of the countries in the list below, all of which enjoy longer life expectancies than the United States.

All of the other budget assumptions are the ones used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which form the basis for the scary deficit numbers in IOUSA. Each country is listed with its life expectancy in parentheses.

The yellow line shows the baseline deficit projection from the non-partisan CBO. The default box checked for the United States shows CBO's "Low Health Care Cost" projection (blue line), which assumes that health care costs rise only due to the aging of the population, but otherwise stay even with per capita GDP growth.

Pick the countries you would like USa to be compared with... go a head play with the numbers!

OK. What is the Per Capita Cost of that Stuff?

This calculator allows users to place specific tax or spending numbers in the context of the total U.S. budget. It converts dollar amounts into either dollars per capita, that is per U.S. citizen, or into a percentage of total revenues, total discretionary spending, or the total budget (including nondiscretionary spending).

It also provides a visual comparison showing the size of the specific spending or revenue item relative to projected defense spending over the time period in question.

What has Big Bad John Cornyn been up to lately?

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
HOME users, too?
Joe, Say it ain't so!
I can’t wipe my cache for two years?
I have to keep records of which of my grandkids and friends use my network (WiFi and my wired PCs)? My Vista machine will come crashing down in about two weeks, which is how long I can keep from erasing my history before the FIOS connection slows down to the point it’s useless.

Sign of the Times... advertising still works!

Bush moves into the Dallas Neighborhood near me....

Bush wants gate installed on route to new Dallas home
Just like his father, President George W. Bush will return to Texas when he leaves office.
And just like his father, he wants a gate to be installed along a public street to limit access to his neighborhood.
Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm confirmed Monday that the younger Bush is seeking to have a gate placed somewhere along the entrance to streets leading to his future Preston Hollow address.
The plan, which requires approval by the Dallas City Council, isn't expected to encounter much opposition at City Hall, and the Bushes' neighbors seem to be on board.
So far, several options to limit access to the Bushes' new street have been discussed. But a final decision on exactly where to place the gate hasn't been recommended, Suhm said.
Federal money would pay for the gate, not the city, she said. It's unclear how residents would use the gate to get to their homes.
Wherever the gate goes, public access to Daria Place – the high-end street that includes the Bushes' 8,500-square-foot ranch home – will soon be a thing of the past.
The primary reason for the gate is security, of course. But neighbors are also concerned that the Bushes will attract crowds of innocent, if annoying, sightseers to the once quiet and exclusive cul-de-sac of Daria Place, as well as to the equally tony dead-end street that leads to it, Daria Drive.
Even now, weeks after news broke that the Bushes bought a home on the street, cars filled with onlookers are pulling up and snapping pictures, residents say.
"It's great the Bushes are moving here, and it's great that they're doing whatever they need to do," said Alan Bell, a Daria Drive resident who blames the press for drawing attention to the Bushes' new address.
An aide to first lady Laura Bush declined to comment on the gate, calling it a security matter.
The president and his neighbors can thank Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, for making it possible to place a gate across a taxpayer funded street in Texas.
In May 1993, shortly after Bush left the White House for Houston, the Legislature passed a little-noticed bill that allows cities to restrict access to streets "on which the dwelling of a former president of the United States is located." The Houston City Council later voted to allow gates at two streets leading to the Bushes' residence.
The current president and his wife are expected to move into their new Preston Hollow address shortly after his term ends in two weeks.
The City Council is expected to vote on permitting the gate's construction this month, possibly as soon as its Jan. 14 meeting, City Hall officials say.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan. Suhm said the city staff would support gating the public street.
"You've got the neighborhood and the president's security to think about," she said.
Officials with knowledge of the issue say most residents of Daria Street and Daria Place are in support of the gate. Also supporting it is Mr. Bush's friend and future neighbor Tom Hicks, who owns the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, a spokeswoman said.
Residents of Daria Drive have expressed concern that if the gate is placed at the entrance to the cul-de-sac at Daria Place, sightseers will simply pull onto Daria Drive to have a look.
The likely plan will be to place the gate at the entrance to Daria Drive, limiting access to both streets, officials say. Residents of the two affected streets are expected to meet this week to discuss options on where to put the gate.

Map of G.W. Bush, 10141 Daria Place, Dallas, TX 75229

Link: <,+Dallas,+TX&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=37.325633,65.214844&ie=UTF8&ll=32.885768,-96.811287&spn=0.009676,0.015922&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr>

Google Atlantis? Google Earth is revealing more and more ....

LA has a new Mammoth named Ted...

Discovery of a mammoth nearly intact along with a plethora of fossils including "tree trunks, turtles, snails, clams, millipedes, fish, gophers and even mats of oak leaves," the LA Times reports.

The discoveries come from the Natural History Museum's/Page Museum's informally named Project 23, named after the 23 crates of removed soil from the old May Company site where LACMA plans to build a two story parking garage.

It's an expedited process of sorts and they even have a blog.

More information will come out ...


Their Blog is interesting; you get to see the formation of the mammoth....