I VOTED: And I Made The Sticker. But Would Anyone on the Right Wear It?


I VOTED (for Obama, because Pro-Life isn't just Pro-Birth)

No matter where you stand politically, this fact is not subject to debate: when people have access to health care and medical services, they live longer, better and more productive lives. When it isn’t available or the cost is prohibitive, mortality rates are higher; people don’t live as long; and the quality of those lives, particularly for young children, is far from ideal.

This is not a theory: it is a reality for about one in six of your fellow American citizens right now, here in the richest and most powerful nation this planet has ever known.

This is not like the epic droughts that decimated Ethiopia’s population in the 1980s: the withholding, rationing and politicizing of access to medicine in the United States is a 100% man-made catastrophe. And every ‘Obamacare’ protester who pretends they are champions against the rise of Socialism?

If those protesters are successful and America continues to be the only Industrialized nation in the modern world without a national health system protecting the lives of its citizens, their ‘victory’ will rob them of both moral standing and the ability to proclaim certain affiliations tied to what are supposed to be deeply-held beliefs.

It’s as simple as this:

  1. If you want to outlaw all abortions on the grounds that life is a gift from God, you should be more than willing to pay higher taxes to ensure that the Lord’s generous offerings are fed, educated, safe and given whatever care required to ensure the longest, healthiest life possible.If that’s out of the question, guess what? You are not ‘Pro-Life’: You’re ‘Pro-Birth’.
  2. If you believe without exception in the sanctity of life (and it being a gift from our Creator, no less) but insist that ‘Obamacare’ is a Socialist program that costs more than we can afford: I’ll leave it to others to debate whether God considers low taxation and personal accumulation of material wealth a greater virtue than extending to all His children the riches of health, longevity, brotherhood among all and so forth.But I will tell you this: being against healthcare for all means you are not ‘Pro-Life’, and being passionate about the sanctity of your net worth means little here or in the Hereafter, for that matter.
  3. Socialism. If you think the Affordable Care Act has brought the scourge of socialism upon America, and as we speak is irreparably shredding the fabric of our capitalist system: let’s just table this one until you have a chance to do a little research on the following topics:
    • The difference between a Socialist philosophy of governance and a government social policy
    • How our nation’s military has served us despite operating, top to bottom, according to mostly socialist principles of communal society and without any democratic system of representation for the majority who comprise our armed services
    • Finally: this may take some consultation with your priest or pastor. Heaven has been described for over 2,000 years in many ways by many people: an eternity without suffering; the joy of reuniting with deceased family; gleaming mansions for all have been cited as well.What I have never found is any reference to ‘earning one’s keep’ or the virtue (once in heaven) of ‘pulling oneself up by the bootstraps’, as we are extolled to do here on Earth; never a mention about the existence of a free and vibrant afterlife press, whose right-leaning editorial pages would certainly have taken Jesus to task for his socialist miracle healings. (And while we’re on the topic of Jesus and socialism, why not a whimper in Heaven or on Earth about Christ’s bailout of a wedding where the hosts failed to plan ahead when ordering wine for the festivities and ran out mid-shindig? Was Jesus wrong in determining the party was ‘too big to fail’, requiring an immediate emergency wine-from-water stimulus? Who thinks his infusion of those free goods from a limitless supply put the region’s wine merchants in peril? Were there any complaints against Christ’s act of generosity by those ‘job creator’ vintners, who couldn’t possibly compete with His zero overhead?)

      But back to Heaven: no jobs. No money. No system of elected government. One all-powerful ruler calling all the shots. All in heaven have every need attended to without consideration of rank, station in life or effort.

      If you actually do the research into socialism (and are expecting to receive your eternal reward on the right side of those pearly gates), you might want to reconsider what Socialism entails or prepare yourself for a very, very long and miserable Commie afterlife.

SOPA / PIPA News: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sends robo-reply to my NO ON SOPA/PIPA letter



This morning, I received what looks like a robo-response email from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in response to a letter I sent two days ago urging her to vote NO on SOPA and NO on PIPA.

I appreciate the prompt reply from her staff (and the robot responder in her office), but unfortunately it appears from her email that BOTH senators from my state, Minnesota, are still using language that supports the interests behind both bills.

We made ourselves known to the world and Congress…
I guess we need to turn the volume up even higher.

Here’s the text of the letter
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR sent me this morning:

January 20, 2012

Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for contacting me about the Protect IP Act. I appreciate hearing from you and especially appreciate hearing the concerns you have raised.

On January 20th, 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced an indefinite postponement of the scheduled Senate vote on the Protect IP Act.  As Congress continues to consider this issue, please know that I will work to make sure your concerns are addressed.

The internet has dramatically altered the manner in which we communicate, conduct business, seek entertainment and find information.  It is vital to ensure that online innovation and openness are preserved so the American people can continue to freely to express themselves and pursue personal and economic endeavors over the internet.

It is also important that foreign criminals not be allowed to steal the property of others without consequence.  The pirating of intellectual property is not a victimless crime.  Rather, it threatens the jobs and livelihoods of millions of middle class American workers and businesses.  However, we must seek ways to protect people from online piracy, particularly foreign piracy, without limiting web-based innovation or a free exchange of ideas.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  One of the most important parts of my job is listening to what the people of Minnesota have to say to me.  I am here in our nation’s capital to do the public’s business and to serve the people of our state.  I hope you will contact me again about matters of concern to you.


Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator




Poor People Not Paying Enough Taxes: A GOP Obsession


“Republicans complaining about the households not paying enough who also want to cut taxes overall are asking the poor to subsidize a tax cut for the rich…”

Here’s a fresh quote from the latest non-Romney front-runner in the GOP presidential race: “This dividing of America [between] 99-1,” Rick Santorum said this morning in New Hampshire, “It’s anybody that makes money and pays taxes and everybody who doesn’t. That’s the 99-1.”

Santorum (like Michele Bachmann before him) is picking a fight with the millions of Americans who make money and don’t pay federal income taxes. For the last few years, this group represents about half of the country.

Indeed the statistic inspired a website,  “We Are the 53 Percent,” which called out the 47% (or more) of households who owed no federal income tax in 2010 and again in 2011, because their credits and deductions wiped out their liability.

Since 2000, the poorest 40% of households have averaged a federal income tax rate below zero. The graph below shows federal income taxes since 1979, from the lowest quintile (on the bottom) to the top 1% (at the top). The big picture is that we have a progressive tax system where federal income tax rates have fallen slightly for every class of taxpayers:


Federal Individual Income Tax Rates (United States, 2010)

But federal income tax isn’t the only tax out there. In fact, FIT accounts for only 40 percent of total government revenue. Another 40ish percent comes from payroll taxes, which all working families pay up to about $107,000. The rest comes from corporate income taxes and excise taxes on things like gas.

When you add all of those taxes together, you get the overall tax burden that economists call the “effective tax rate.” Here is the graph of effective federal taxes for the same groups as above (it’s a similar story of gradually falling rates for every group, with some jumpiness at the top):


Total Effective Individual Income Tax Rates (United States, 2010)

Three big points, here. First, the fact that all the lines in the second graph are above zero suggest that the vast majority of households that don’t pay federal income taxes do pay federal taxes. (The few that don’t might still owe local and state taxes.)

Second, the reason most poor families don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans and Democrats keep cutting their taxes.

Third, just about everybody has shared in the tax cut parade of the last 30 years. We haven’t shared equally, but we’ve all gotten a break.

According to Santorum’s quote, the most important class division in America is between income tax payers and non-income tax payers. This is a weird fight to pick for the Republican party, and particularly for Santorum, whose tax scheme would probably increase the number of households who owe no federal income tax.

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic Online…

Chart: One Year of Prison Costs More Than One Year at Princeton


One year at Princeton University: $37,000. One year at a New Jersey state prison: $44,000.

Prison and college “are the two most divergent paths one can take in life,” Joseph Staten, an info-graphic researcher with Public Administration, says. Whereas one is a positive experience that increases lifetime earning potential, the other is a near dead end, which is why Staten found it striking that the lion’s share of government funding goes toward incarceration.
The comparison between higher education spending and correction spending highlighted in the following chart is not perfect. Universities have means to fund themselves; prisons rely on the government. So it makes some sense that a disproportional amount of money flows to the correction centers. Also, take note, comparing African Americans in college and African Americans in dorms is not completely fair. For one, college implies an 18-22 age range, and incarcerated adults can be of any age. Also, it doesn’t take into account African Americans who commute to school.
Despite these shortcomings, this chart helps illustrate a large discrepancy in this country: America has the highest incarceration rate by population, but is only 6th in the world when it comes to college degrees. Our government’s spending reflects that fact accordingly.
One Year of Prison cost more than one year at Princeton University
Read the full article at The Atlantic Online…

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Poverty and America: The Four Lost Decades (from The New Yorker Magazine)

From an article by the New Yorker’s 

The latest poverty and income figures came out this week, and boy are they disturbing. It’s not so much the headline figures, which have been well covered in the Times and elsewhere:

46 million Americans living under the poverty line in 2010, the highest number since the Commerce Department started collecting the figures back in 1959. That’s a horrible statistic. (Amy Davidson responded on Tuesday.)

But it’s not too surprising since we’ve been through the deepest recession since the nineteen-thirties, and getting thrown out of work is a primary cause of poverty. (Plus, the population grows every year. If the proportion of people in poverty stays the same, you’d expect the absolute numbers to grow over time.)

It’s not even the fact that median household income—the income of the American household in the middle of the income distribution—is now back to the level it was at in 1996: about $49,500 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

To be sure, that is a very alarming fact. But I think most people have already cottoned on to the idea that we have been through a “lost decade.” To get the picture, you just have to look at the stock market or your last paycheck.

Also, the figures for household income need to be treated with a bit of caution, since they aren’t adjusted for changing family sizes. As time goes on, more people are getting married later or not getting married at all. This means there are more single-income households, which obviously earn less than two-income households. This biases the figures somewhat.

(The story of where the poverty line came from and how it’s derived is actually pretty interesting. If you want to read more about it, I wrote an entire magazine piece about the subject back in 2006.) Still, even making the necessary adjustments, it’s pretty clear that the typical American family has made little or no progress since the late nineteen-nineties.

Read the full story at the New Yorker Magazine Online (September 15, 2011).


Really Lame: CIA Fake Vaccination and Bin Laden

JAMES FALLOWS James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s.

A few days ago I mentioned the CIA’s effective but (in my view) long-range foolish tactic of setting up a fake-vaccination program as part of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. According to reports in the Guardian, the CIA worked with a Pakistani doctor to lure families in for hepatitis B vaccinations. In addition to giving the shots, the medical team would collect DNA from the people who showed up, presumably via small amounts of blood. As the Guardian report said:

>> The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier… to what turned out to be Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound last summer.

The agency  … wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country. DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.<<

When I first mentioned the story, I included several “if this turns out to be true…” caveats. No offense to the Guardian, but maybe it was yet another conspiracy fantasy about the ever-scheming, all-powerful United States. And now according to the Washington Post, the CIA not only is failing to refute the story but is actively bragging about its trick prowess. The Post quotes an unnamed “senior US official” thus:

>>”People need to put this into some perspective,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else.  If the United States hadn’t shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn’t used all tools at its disposal to find bin Laden.”<<

OK, let’s put it in perspective. A decent nation has many reasons not to use “all tools at its disposal” even when looking for bin Laden. We didn’t drop an atomic bomb on Abbottabad to get bin Laden — or on Tora Bora when he was there, even though that option was “at our disposal.”

We didn’t use poison gas or anthrax. We didn’t take members of bin Laden’s family hostage and torture or kill them until he gave up. SEAL Team Six wasn’t instructed to wantonly gun down everyone they saw on the ground in Abbottabad. We didn’t do those things not because we “couldn’t” do them but because the damaging side effects would have been worse and longer-lasting than the benefits.

Read the full story in the Atlantic Monthly…

Michele Bachmann: Obama spent ‘$200 million/day’ during visit to India



Really? $200 million per day for President Obama to make a short diplomatic trip overseas to India?

Assuming that the White House staff hasn’t increased by 50,000 or so employees recently (or that the 12 to 45 members of the White House advance team now each receive a per diem of $65,000 while on the road), one could reasonably surmise that Mrs. Bachmann’s calculations leading to her alleged $200 million daily expense were…

  1. Disingenuous?
  2. Patently untrue?
  3. Ill-informed?
  4. Indicative of severe deficiencies in reasoning ability, stunted emotional maturity and high-probability of adult-onset chronic bed-wetting?

Did she know that $200 million is more than the United States spends each day to conduct the entire war operation in Afghanistan? Does Bachmann understand anything outside of
the goofy false retail encampments of Woodbury, MN?

Now let’s watch Michele Bachmann make a complete fool out of herself in front of various cameras before national audiences:

[youtube http://youtu.be/OATKPpEOMxo]
[youtube http://youtu.be/mlPSRFyhzec]

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