Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Economic & Political Analyses -OR- Not the Best of All Possible Worlds ...

Sunset over the CSX/VRE/Amtrak train line in Southwest Washington, D.C., at the start of my walk home from work (where I stayed late) on Tuesday, 6:45PM, Sept. 20, 2011.  

This train line runs on a complicated underground path from Union Station and around the U.S. Capitol Building and above ground through L'Enfant Plaza in and over the rail bridge that parallels the various spans of the 14th Street Bridge. 

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I actually wrote most of this entry on Wednesday night but did not post it until tonight (Thursday).

Tropical plants growing in the Enid Haupt Garden of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 6:52PM, Sept. 20, 2011.

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This entry features some political commentary and related images, both satirical and informational, though I am also posting a few pictures that I took in the past several days.

The Smithsonian Castle at sunset as seen from the Enid Haupt Garden, Washington, D.C., 6:54PM, Sept. 20, 2011.

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In particular, I would like to post some images and content from the great Paul Krugman's New York Times blog. Again, his blog is one he updates regularly (sometimes several times a day) and is distinct from his regular twice weekly print edition op-eds, which are also available online. The most recent one is here.

The Washington Monument silhouetted on a gentle dusky-evening sky as seen from the National Mall with a series of tents for some upcoming festival or other, 6:56PM, Sept. 20, 2011.

My walk home from work when I do it takes me from Southwest to Northwest D.C. across the National Mall.

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This image describing the effects of ongoing Federal austerity and how Obama's proposal would affect the U.S. economic situation. Paul Krugman blogged about it here.

In short, this graph -- made by no less than the Goldman Sachs multi-trillion crooks -- shows the different impacts of the Obama proposal from nothing to full effect. In short, it is small but not negligible.

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Ha ha

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Now here is an image showing the distributional effects of taxes -- BOTH income and payroll -- on different income groups arranged by percentiles. Once again, it puts to the lie all the usual GOP / Beltway pundit bullshit.


The table comes from a new Tax Policy Center report that Paul Krugman described in a blog entry:

"Here's how to read this: 40 percent of taxpayers with incomes between 30K and 40K pay more than 12.9 percent of their income in income and payroll taxes; meanwhile, 25 percent of people with incomes over $1M pay less than 12.6 percent of their income in these taxes. This suggests that there are a lot of very-high-income guys paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries."


"And that doesn't even take into account state and local taxes, which are quite regressive.

"Taken as a whole, the US tax system is probably somewhat progressive — but not as much as you might think, especially at the upper end, and very erratically. There are a lot of rich people basically free-riding on the system."

This political image has additional personal meaning to me: It's a metaphor as well for Mr. Sirius & his Evil Gay Mafia versus me.

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Click on image for larger version.

I've come to the conclusion that Ron Paul -- though lauded for his ideological consistency and integrity, as well as his commitment to civil liberties -- is nonetheless a silly loon whose bullshit Ayn Rand libertarian claptrap philosophy basically makes him a dangerous tool for Koch Brothers type corporate oligarchical intrigue that would quickly lead to fascism and death for the working class.

It also dawned on me today -- while reading this piece about his subsequent "let them eat cake shit" attitude towards a deceased former senior aid of his died with $400,000 in medical bills owing to a "pre-existing condition" that "rationed" him out of America's health care system atrocity -- that this little troll is a modern day Dr. Pangloss from Voltaire's CandideHe sees this and views it as morally good.

Paul is the little Dr. Pangloss who runs around apologizing and excusing every bit brutality committed by our system, and in America -- with its ignorant Know Nothing and adolescent libertarian traditions -- this philosophy makes sense.

And, of course, his spawn -- Rand Paul -- is the natural next step in this kooks' philosophy.

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Here is an excerpt of a funny column by Salon's David Sirota on the impending 2012 presidential campaign season:

"Given that we're a little more than a year away from another election circus, it's no surprise that the now-traditional festivities of the modern electoral grotesquerie have begun in earnest. It always unfolds this way: Toward the middle of an odd-numbered year, you start feeling that rumble of the distant train creaking into town.

"Soon after, the familiar bustle returns: the professional polling prognosticators doing their best fortune teller impressions; the carnies in the political operative class busily setting up their tent-pole campaign headquarters; the drooling campaign reporters" -- ha ha -- "hollering at the boisterous pack of freakshow-caliber candidates; and the wing-tipped emcees in the White House beckoning passersby" -- ha ha --  "with bold-but-patently-absurd promises of great things yet to come (all for the price of a campaign contribution, of course)."

Full column here.

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The very orange-yellow hued interior of the Au Bon Pain at 1100 13th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 7:30PM, Sept. 20, 2011. 

Actually, my (cheap) cellphone camera sort of exaggerated the colors a bit. I stopped in here on my walk home from work in order to get a bit to eat before stopping at Club Nine for a double drink (it's a 2-for-1 happy hour).

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I shall conclude this entry by posting an extended excerpt of Michael Lind's most recent Salon column about President Obama showing hints of true progressiveness interspersed with some pictures I took last week on Sept. 12th while walking along the Mt. Vernon bike trail and through National Airport (minus some descriptions -- click on images for those) as part of my walk back from Old Town Alexandria.

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Trees along the Mount Vernon bike trail near where the main path intersects a spur, Alexandria, Va., 4:20PM, Sept. 12, 2011.

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Excerpts:

"During the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Austria's Prince von Metternich, when told that the Russian ambassador had died, is said to have replied, 'What can have been his motive?' American progressives are responding with similar suspicion to President Obama’s newly announced long-term deficit plan, following quickly on his proposed $447 billion jobs program.


"Their suspicion is understandable... The skeptics may be right that the big plans that Obama has unrolled in recent weeks are election year propaganda. Certainly they have no chance of passing a Congress divided among Democrats, many of them more conservative than the president, and a House controlled by Republicans determined to paralyze the federal government until they can control it again.


"Let it be stipulated that Obama’s plans are tactical exercises intended to define him against his Republican adversary in the 2012 election. Whatever its motives, that redefinition should be welcomed by Americans in the New Deal liberal tradition..."

"...The president has provided a clear alternative to the conservative program for the U.S. economy with his proposals for a short-term Keynesian stimulus plan and long-term tax increases on the rich, together with his rejection, at least for the time being, of cuts to Social Security.


"If Obama sticks to this script, then American voters next year will have a choice between two distinct visions of political economy -- one in the line of descent from Franklin Roosevelt and John Maynard Keynes, and another in the tradition that seeks the rolling repeal of the New Deal while cutting taxes even further on the wealthy. If Obama stays on message, then nobody will be able to say, in the words of George Wallace, 'there ain't a dime's worth of difference' between the two national parties..."

Full Michael Lind column here.

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Yours Truly in the Enid Haupt Garden of the Smithsonian at the start of one of my once-every-few-weeks walks home from work (and stop at Club Nine bar for a drink), Washington, D.C., 6:53PM, Sept. 20, 2011.

I'm a funny looking person.

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As noted, it is Thursday night. I will post this interminable entry soon. I've been busy at work dealing with compliance cases. I get to talk and send emails to contractors, company sales reps, engineers, and even school and town officials up to mayors (!) (of small towns in the Great Plains). It's quite interesting (and nice to have my calls / e-mails taken seriously).

The 2000 block of 15th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., at cloudy humid dusk, 7:04PM, Sept. 21, 2011.

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That's about all for now. Oh, yes, the autumnal equinox officially occurs tomorrow at 0904UTC or 504AM EDT. But the weather has been insufferably humid and warmish all week with air temps reaching 77F to 80F for highs with dew points stuck around 69F / 70F.

We are actually under a flash flood watch across the D.C./Baltimore area and a rainy weather spell is in the forecast.

Here is the NWS Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) map website showing current weather advisories effective 8:24PM EDT Sept. 22, 2011.

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The NWS forecast panel for NW Washington, D.C., valid Sept. 22 - 26, 2011. The 18Z 22 Sept 2011 GFS's 72-hour cumulative precipitation fis 2.5 to 4 inches of precipitation area-wide.

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OK, that really is all for now. My next planned update will be on Sunday or Monday. I'm planning to have a quiet weekend. I don't really have any plans except to see K. and my usual gang (Kristof, Gary, and Jamie). I'll like go to Nellie's and LL. I doubt I'll sneak over to 17th Street, again, although I quite enjoyed giving that metaphorical (if not actual) middle finger to that evil gay mafia.

--Regulus

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