Fiscal Sustainability and the American Future

The purpose of the President’s recently constituted National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform as stated in Section 4 of the President’s Executive Order establishing the Commission is:

Sec. 4. Mission. The Commission is charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. The magnitude and timing of the policy measures necessary to achieve this goal are subject to considerable uncertainty and will depend on the evolution of the economy. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.

Key words/phrases in this statement are: “fiscal situation,” “fiscal sustainability,” “balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015,” “stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers,” policy measures subject to uncertainty depending on the evolution of the economy,” and changes “that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook,” and “the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.” How are these related to each other?

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Tina Fey Returns as Sarah Palin!!!

Some may say that Saturday Night Live has gotten a bit dry lately and has not been very humorous. Tina Fey takes SNL off life support and brings it back to the equivalent of Lance Armstrong. Sarah Palin is such an easy target, which some may see as unsportsmanlike to go after her on SNL. To those people I say, shove it! Tina Fey should be invited to MENSA because she is a comedic genius.

Fey became a household name with her first impression of Sarah Palin on SNL, which had many people confused as to whether or not it was actually Palin or Fey. The real Sarah Palin, of course, took this as a compliment. As we all know, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery… or is it?

The newest installment is certainly not lacking the comedy, or the bizarre truth of Sarah Palin’s actual brainworks. Yes indeed, Palin’s brainworks burn at a mean rate……

Fey is a genius. Fey is a god

Late Late Night FDL: The Froze Nose Knows

The Ant and The Aardvark The Froze Nose Knows.  This Mirisch Films, Inc. cartoon was released on November 18, 1970.

Produced by David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng.  Directed by Gerry Chiniquy.  Story by Dale Hale.  Animation by Robert Bentley, Manny Gould, Kenneth Muse, Manuel Perez, and Robert Taylor.  Color Design by Richard H. Thomas.  Film Editing by Lee Gunther.  Graphic Design by Dick Ung.  Production Management by Jim Foss.  Camera Operation and Electrical Department by John Burton Jr.  Production Coordination by Harry Love.  Voices by John Byner (Ant, Aardvark).  Original Music by Doug Goodwin.

What’s on your mind?

The Solid South

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It is a popular today to say that the South has switched from voting Democratic to Republican. Many people are fond of looking at previous electoral maps. Hey, isn’t that funny – the states have completely switched parties. It’s like the Republicans have recreated the Solid South.

That statement is unequivocally false. Most people have no idea how unbelievably Democratic the Solid South was. For half a century, Democrats in the Deep South did about as well as the Communist Party did in Soviet Union elections.

Let’s take a look at a model Republican southern state: Alabama. John McCain won 60.32% of the vote here, his second best showing in the South. Below are the counties in which Mr. McCain won over 70% of the vote (all my statistics below are from http://www.uselectionatlas.org/ – an amazing website).

Alabama Counties 70%+ Vote

That’s a lot of counties. The Republicans are doing quite well – about as well as the Democrats used to do in Alabama, many would say.

Here is another map, filled with blue counties. It is the 1940 presidential election. I invite you to guess – what do these blue counties represent? Counties in which Roosevelt won over 70% of the vote? 80%? 90%? Remember, Roosevelt was quite a popular guy. He must have done pretty well in Alabama, part of the Solid South.

Alabama Counties 95%+ Vote 1940

In fact, the blue counties are those in which Roosevelt won over 95% of the vote in 1940. In all, he won 85.22% of the good folk of Alabama.

Those are incredible numbers. If today that result occurred, we would all cry fraud.

Of course, fraud – of a sort – was occurring in Alabama at that time. As everybody knows, blacks were not allowed to vote at that time. Notice how all but one of the blue counties surround Alabama’s Black Belt. What is less well known, however, is that many poor whites (more likely to vote Republican) were also unable to vote. The poll tax didn’t hurt just African-Americans, after all.

Different southern states enacted different voting restrictions with an intent to continue Democratic dominance. Some were more strict; some were less so. Republicans in North Carolina, for example, generally held Democrats to below 60% of the vote; they even won the state in 1928. On the other hand, South Carolina probably disenfranchised the most voters.

Here is the result:

South Carolina 10%+ 1912-44

The blue indicates a county that gave the Republican candidate less than 10% of the vote – for nine straight elections, from 1912 to 1944. From 1900 to 1944, South Carolina’s average vote (per election) went 94.89% Democratic, 3.98% Republican.

How did South Carolina achieve this amazing result?

A revealing clue is provided by looking at the voting count numbers. For example, in the year 1912 a total of 50,405 people voted in South Carolina (48,357 of whom supported the Democrat). At that time the census had just reapportioned electoral votes; South Carolina had a total of nine.

By comparing South Carolina to states with similar populations, one can get an idea of how many potential voters were disenfranchised. Kansas, for example, had ten electoral votes; 365,560 people in the state voted that year. West Virginia had eight electoral votes; 268,828 people voted in that state (remember, this was before women’s suffrage). In South Carolina, therefore, several times more citizens “should” have voted than actually did.

In conclusion, to state that the Solid South always voted Democratic is a misnomer. Even to say that it voted extremely Democratic might still be inaccurate. It would be like saying I’m interested in politics. Technically its true, but the picture the words imply far and away understates the reality.

Late Night: A Case of Spring-Nut Fever

Lawyer and National Review writer Shannen W. Coffin is Fed Up with oppressive governmental intrusions upon his Liberty, such as his inability to buy toxic pajamas for his children and the fact that he has to pick up after his dog after it takes a crap. He’s pretty upset, saying “you don’t have to be Ted Kaczynski to feel just a little overwhelmed.” Yikes!

Clearly, Coffin needs some perspective, stat, before the cop who tickets him for leaving dogshit all over the sidewalk gets a pipe bomb in his mailbox. To this end we shall borrow the humorous premise of the classic and not at all disturbing 1940 short A Case of Spring Fever, in which a man named Gilbert Willoughby learns that if you long for a world without springs, much to your sorrow, your wish will be granted by a demented animated spring-sprite named “Coily.” (No, really.) By the Power of the Internet, we hereby grant Coffin his wish: NO REGULATIONS! (Must be imagined in voice of Coily for Full Comedic Effect and Maximum Laffs.)

SCENE. The Coffin Household.

Bleary-eyed, I crawl out of bed, shuffle into the bathroom, and flip on the lights, but the bulb is out. I remind myself to get to Home Depot and stockpile a few cases of good, old-fashioned incandescent bulbs while I still can.

He has to flip the switch a few times to see if the problem is just that there’s no electricity, because maybe the Enron guys felt like sleeping in again. But then the light comes on — and the bulb explodes, burning off Coffin’s eyebrows. Houses don’t have to be wired to code, you know! NO REGULATIONS!

After my morning business, I flush an extra time, since 1.6 gallons just doesn’t seem to do the trick. But at least we’re saving water, huh? Hop in the shower, where the water trickles out at an EPA-limited 2.5 gallons per minute. I think I’ll stay in here for an extra ten minutes or so.

But of course the morning business bubbles up from the shower drain, because there’s no such thing as plumbing codes either! And it’s cheaper to have plumbing done by inexperienced immigrants who work for slave wages anyhow! Coffin leaps out of the tub, his bare feet caked with his own morning filth! NO REGULATIONS! (more…)

Saturday Art: So Cool and a Preview

More photos of the art work on La Figa

Last week Bergamot Station in Santa Monica had a series of openings. I was especially excited to see two very different SoCal artists.

Mike Watt, punk pioneer, Minutemen, Secondmen, super session bass-man, plays with Iggy, jams econo, lives in Pedro (San Pedro, our local South Bay port town–which as Watt once showed me on a tour that include the WPA mural at the post office–has north, south, east and west facing beaches!) now exhibiting his photographs of the hometown at Track 16; and

Craig Kaufman–a Los Angeles artist now based in the Philippines, part of the Cool School movement here in the 60s and 70s, who forms luminescent acrylic sculptures–at Frank Lloyd. Both men revel in nature, using different mediums and expressions to show their reverence.

Next week I take off for Baja California to see what promises to be an incredible, color saturated art show, Virgins Warriors & Dreamers at La Casa de la Tunel in Tijuana, featuring Clark V Fox, Elizabeth Conroy Benati and Peggy Reavey.

In his current series, Fox–who founded The Museum of Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C. and continued its development for 14 years–explores the history of Native Americans and the vibrant culture buried by the white man’s assumptions and sensibility using pop culture iconography.

Clark is an amazing man, a real champion of contemporary art, and a wonderful painter. The two other artists are old and good friends of his, well-respected and fine painters.

Reavey’s mixed media artworks engage history, re-imagining familiar figures from Anne Frank to Meriwether Lewis and Sacagawea, altering outcomes while Benati’s works of social realism are inspired by her love of Venezuela, its people, and the intensity of the noonday Caribbean sun.

Plus I want to see who is showing up as subjects of paintings on velvet. For while Bart Simpson was everywhere, plus a some renderings of Jim Morrison, but very few portraits of Elvis…

Check out La Figa for more from these artists

Saturday Art: So Cool and a Preview

More photos of the art work on La Figa

Last week Bergamot Station in Santa Monica had a series of openings. I was especially excited to see two very different SoCal artists.

Mike Watt, punk pioneer, Minutemen, Secondmen, super session bass-man, plays with Iggy, jams econo, lives in Pedro (San Pedro, our local South Bay port town–which as Watt once showed me on a tour that include the WPA mural at the post office–has north, south, east and west facing beaches!) now exhibiting his photographs of the hometown at Track 16; and

Craig Kauffman–a Los Angeles artist now based in the Philippines, part of the Cool School movement here in the 60s and 70s, who forms luminescent acrylic sculptures–at Frank Lloyd. Both men revel in nature, using different mediums and expressions to show their reverence.

Next week I take off for Baja California to see what promises to be an incredible, color saturated art show, Virgins Warriors & Dreamers at La Casa de la Tunel in Tijuana, featuring Clark V Fox, Elizabeth Conroy Benati and Peggy Reavey.

In his current series, Fox–who founded The Museum of Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C. and continued its development for 14 years–explores the history of Native Americans and the vibrant culture buried by the white man’s assumptions and sensibility using pop culture iconography.

Clark is an amazing man, a real champion of contemporary art, and a wonderful painter. The two other artists are old and good friends of his, well-respected and fine painters.

Reavey’s mixed media artworks engage history, re-imagining familiar figures from Anne Frank to Meriwether Lewis and Sacagawea, altering outcomes while Benati’s works of social realism are inspired by her love of Venezuela, its people, and the intensity of the noonday Caribbean sun.

Plus I want to see who is showing up as subjects of paintings on velvet. For while Bart Simpson was everywhere, plus a some renderings of Jim Morrison, but very few portraits of Elvis…

Check out La Figa for more from these artists

Mom Hacks Facebook Account; Teen Sues

A teen has sued his mother for harassment after she logged into his Facebook account and changed content. He also claims she’s made “slanderous” comments about him in Facebook as well. It’s important to note that this 16-year-old lives with his grandmother and not his mother, and that he appears to be old enough to drive in his home state of Arkansas.

His mother says,

“You’re within your legal rights to monitor your child and to have a conversation with your child on Facebook whether it’s his account, or your account or whoever’s account.”

There are a lot of unanswered questions in spite of many reports about this story. What did the teen feel was “slanderous”? Does the mother have custodial rights? Where was the grandmother in all of this hubbub — is she out of touch with technology? What are the state’s laws regarding age of independence? And what exactly did the state’s prosecutors see which encouraged them to take up the case?

I talked this morning with my own 16-year-old about this situation; how would she feel if I’d “hacked” her Facebook page and changed content or wrote on her page? She was puzzled; she said she couldn’t imagine me changing anything on her page let alone logging into her site… (more…)