Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Independents and Moderates A Deciding Factor In 2010

Post election analysis often reveals itself as partisan spin. However, a WSJ/NBC poll shows the shift in voting from 2008 to 2010 came from moderate Democrats and Independents...

From the WSJ Democrats Try to Crack Mystery of the Missing Voters

A popular theory of this year's midterm election holds that Democrats took a shellacking in part because big chunks of the party's core liberal base, discouraged at the path of the Obama administration, stayed home rather than show up to vote as they did in 2008.

It's an interesting narrative. It also doesn't appear to be entirely accurate.

While it's correct that some key parts of the Democratic coalition—young voters and African-Americans among them—didn't perform as they did in 2008, evidence emerging as the dust settles from this month's election suggests the bigger hole in the side of the Democratic ship came from moderates in the political center who didn't show up. (Those absences were in addition to the wave of independent swing voters also from the center who, exit polls showed, turned out but switched their votes to the Republicans.)

The case of the missing voters is important because how it is resolved will go a long way toward determining how Democrats respond to their midterm woes. If they conclude, as some argue, that the problem was an undermotivated liberal base, then the logical reaction would be a turn to the left and a staunch resistance to compromises with the Republicans who now control the House and hold expanded power in the Senate.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reduce Debt and Simplify Tax System

Pete V. Domenici and Alice M. Rivlin the head of the 'Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force' take a serious look a debt defiit reduction. As they note, they are likely to receice criticism for parts of their plan from bith sides, just as President Obama's fiscal commission recently did. However, it is good to see ideas come forward, and the natioanal finances taken seriously. Below is an excerpt of their summary published in the Washington Post. The entire article is certainly worth a read - Payroll tax holiday and other measures to reduce the debt

To ensure a more robust recovery, we propose a one-year "payroll tax holiday" for 2011, suspending Social Security payroll taxes for employers and employees. We also would phase in the steps to reduce deficits and debt gradually beginning in 2012, so the economy will be strong enough to absorb them.

We would stabilize the debt held by the public at less than 60 percent of gross domestic product, an internationally recognized standard; reduce annual deficits to manageable levels; and balance the "primary" budget (everything other than interest payments) by 2014.

We would dramatically simplify the tax system, establishing individual tax rates of 15 and 27 percent (from the current high of 35), cutting the corporate tax rate to 27 percent (from 35 today), ending most deductions and credits while simplifying the rest, and ensuring that nearly 90 million households no longer have to file returns. To reduce the debt, we would supplement our spending cuts with a 6.5 percent "debt-reduction sales tax."

We would strengthen Social Security so it can pay benefits for the next 75 years by gradually raising the amount of wages subject to payroll taxes; slightly reducing the growth in benefits for the top 25 percent of beneficiaries; raising the minimum benefit for long-term, low-wage workers; indexing benefits to life expectancy; and changing the calculation of cost-of-living adjustments to better reflect inflation. We would not raise the age at which senior citizens can begin receiving benefits.

We would control health-care costs - the biggest driver of long-term deficits - by reforming Medicare and Medicaid while, starting in 2018, capping and then phasing out the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care. We would reform medical malpractice laws and help address the health costs tied to rising obesity by imposing a tax on high-calorie sodas.

We would freeze domestic discretionary spending for four years and defense spending for five, both at 2011 levels, and then limit their future growth to the rate of growth in the economy.

Finally, we would cap domestic and defense discretionary spending (with tight exceptions for true emergencies) and trigger across-the-board cuts if the caps are breached; enact a strict pay-as-you-go statutory rule for tax cuts or expansions of entitlements; and enact long-term budgets for major entitlements while creating a Fiscal Accountability Commission that would recommend policy changes every five years if entitlements are exceeding their budgets.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oil Prices Decline

Oil prices dropped today as concerns about the economy, and the strength of the recovery grow.

From Yahoo/AP Oil prices slide

Oil prices fell again as investors took profits amid renewed concerns about the global economy. A three-day decline has erased most of the gains for the month of November.

Benchmark oil for December delivery fell $2.52, or 3 percent, to $82.34 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders considered Ireland's ongoing debt problems and worries about higher inflation in Asia.

Meanwhile, pump prices inched higher overnight to a national average of $2.893 a gallon for unleaded regular gasoline, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. The price is about 6 cents higher than it was a month ago and 26 cents more than a year ago.

Oil prices have fallen 6.1 percent since Thursday, when speculation arose that China would take steps to control its economic growth. On Tuesday, South Korea's central bank raised interest rates to curb growing inflation. Add in some concern about Ireland's impact on Europe's economic recovery and investors found good reason to secure some recent profits.

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Stocks Slip Early

Stocks open lower today...

From Yahoo/AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks retreated Tuesday following new worries about rising inflation in Asia and the possibility Ireland might need a bailout.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 73 points in morning trading. The losses piled up even as shares of two components of the index, Home Depot Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose more than 2 percent following improved earnings.

Asian markets fell overnight after South Korea's central bank raised interest rates to curb growing inflation. There has been speculation in recent days that China will have to take similar steps soon.

A report in the U.S. showed inflation at the wholesale level was smaller than predicted. The producer price index rose 0.4 percent last month, half of what economists' expected. The rise was due to a sharp increase in food and energy costs. Stripping out those volatile costs, prices fell 0.6 percent. The report backs up the Federal Reserve's view that inflation remains low because of sluggish growth.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Suu Kyi calls for Democracy

Aung San Suu Kyi was freed this weekend after years of house arrest in Myanmar/Burma. This staunch advocate for democracy in Burma was asked by CNN about a way forward...

from Suu Kyi calls for dialogue with Myanmar government

"We have to work together," she said. "That is the main message. Those inside the country have to work together and also those supporters outside."

Suu Kyi had much the same message for her supporters Sunday, telling them in a speech, "I'm not going to be able to do it alone. You've got to do it with me. One person alone can't do anything as important as bringing change and democracy to a country."

"We would like to form a network of people working for democracy," she told CNN Monday, and said she would like to open a dialogue with "those who are in a position to do something, to change the situation in Burma for the better."

She said she has had no contact with Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar's top military leader and head of state. Asked what she would say to him, she said, "I think what we are looking for is dialogue, so I'm not just thinking about what I have to say to him. I think what we have to think about is what we have to say to each other."

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Charitable Links

Below are a handful of quality charities worth looking into. These provide either a practical application for charitable work, or provide a different look on how charities can be viewed.Hire a Veteran
Online Charity
International Charity
US Education

Other Links: Voter Info State Sites Blue Collar

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Education in Afghanistan

The Central Asia Intitute is a remarkable organization providing education, and specifically focusing on girls education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. On their website they list the following as just a part of what they have accomplished so far...

Education Projects
145 schools fully or partially supported
1200+ fully or partially supported teachers
School library projects
824 graduates from Porter Training Program
Teacher Training Workshops
64,000 students educated, including 52,000 girls

The books written by Greg Mortenson - 'Three Cups of Tea' and 'From Stones to Schools' follow the establishment and activities of the CAI. They wonderful books that will make you feel good about the generous spirit of so many people in Asia and America alike.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will Congress Address Energy?

Excerpt from Purple People Vote for Moderate and Independent Voters

The elections are over, the House is controlled by Republicans and the Democrats no longer have a super-majority in the Senate. So the question now is, ‘Can they work together?’ Only time will tell.

However, there is one issue (at least) that lends itself to bipartisan compromise – Energy. There are all sorts of good reasons to want a substantive energy policy. In fact there are so many reasons for addressing energy policy that Republicans and Democrats don’t have to be motivated by the same rationale…

The socio-political rationale: We purchase much of our oil from dangerous and volatile regions of the world that often don’t like the U.S. very much.

Environmental rationale: Energy derived from fossil fuels is not good for the environment.

Supply rationale: Some day we will run out of oil and coal.

Economic rationale: High energy costs and fluctuating energy costs negatively impact the economy in numerous ways...

Continue reading Will Congress Have the Backbone to Address Energy?

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Graham and Hatch Call Out Obama on Mid Term Vote

Re-posted Graham: People Don't Love Republicans - It was Obama Overreach

Greta Van Sustren did a couple post election interviews that provided forthright, honest, at times very blunt assessments of the election results. One with Senator Lindsey Graham, the other with Senator Orrin Hatch. Both these Senators have worked across the aisle in the past, and have received heat from there own party for doing so.
GretaVan Sustren: What did you think about the Presidents press conference yesterday? Were you convinced that he was properly chasten because there was a message from the American people; or not? You shake your head no.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Well, I just don’t think he understands that it was his policies that got him into this mess. You know President Obama came in with a wave of hope. The American people picked this young man, they were hopeful he could change things, and the policies, health care and the process passing health care was everything different than he said it would be. The stimulus package, the financial regulation bill, the amount of debt, the growth of government – people rejected his policies. He lost his own Senate seat. Illinois voted for a Republican, a moderate Republican, how much clearer message can you get/give to the President. People of Illinois, like him personally, saying you’re going the wrong way. We want to check and balance you, and I don’t think he understands that. It was policies not personality that got him in this mess. People don’t love Republicans. It wasn’t like people in Illinois woke one day and said ‘Boy, I’ve been a Republican all these years and didn’t know it. It’s the Obama overreach."

Senator Orrin Hatch has been very critical of the health care legislation. He provides a unique perspective because he has often worked with Democrats specifically on health care legislation like s-chip. His entire interview is worth viewing, but he provide an amusingly blunt assessment of the health care bill when he said...
"I was going to say it was a piece of crap, but that would not be fair to some people who were very sincere in trying to do what is right."

Recommend checking out these two interview at the 'On the Record' home page.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Quality Sites

A couple quality sites that have dramatically different product offerings are Dr. Dog Pet Health Care and BioScriptives Skin Care. Dr. Dog provides pet care information and pet products with a focus on pet skin care. BioScriptives Skin Care focuses on the most advanced technology to deliver top of the line skin care products that include treatments for acne, rosacea, and more. Completely different sites, both are worth viewing. Here are a few of their top pages and products...

Therapeutic Skin Care