Gay Tea Partiers

Frankly, it would take too long to debunk why a regressive flat structure is not in society's best interest but that is one of the points these two gay Tea Partiers are missing. It's rather disconcerting that so many Americans continue to buy into the creed of libertarian style individualism over the collective good as these two young men do. They do, on the other hand, argue quite eloquently why the government should not be in the business of regulating marriage. Still the suggestion that we should abolish the income tax is hard to phantom. That would lead to a most inegalitarian society that would threaten the very existence of American democracy. 

It is also amazing to me that conservatives think the world around them comes cheap. They love to complain about taxes but they don't seem to realize to that taxes also pay for things like electric lighting and roads.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

The moves have angered some residents because of the choking dust and windshield-cracking stones that gravel roads can kick up, not to mention the jarring "washboard" effect of driving on rutted gravel.

But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular. In June, Stutsman County residents rejected a measure that would have generated more money for roads by increasing property and sales taxes.

"I'd rather my kids drive on a gravel road than stick them with a big tax bill," said Bob Baumann, as he sipped a bottle of Coors Light at the Sportsman's Bar Café and Gas in Spiritwood.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

"A lot of these roads have just deteriorated to the point that they have no other choice than to turn them back to gravel," says Larry Galehouse, director of the National Center for Pavement Preservation at Michigan State University. Still, "we're leaving an awful legacy for future generations."

It was a progressive income tax - the highest tax bracket during the Eisenhower Administration was 91 percent - that built the Interstate Highway System, the largest and most extensive infrastructure ever built, but it is a Reaganite ideology that is undoing the progress we have built so much so that we are forced to turn our asphalt roads back to gravel.

Quick Hits

Some of the other stories and other interesting reads making the rounds today.

Lt. General (ret). James Clapper won Senate approval to become the Director of National Intelligence after Senator John McCain removed his hold on the nomination. Senator McCain placed a hold on the Clapper nomination in order to force the Obama Administration to release a report assessing a controversial spy satellite program. McCain released his hold Tuesday once he got the information he was seeking. The retired three-star Air Force general, whose intelligence career spans two score and six years, will be the fourth Director of National Intelligence in five years. More from the Wall Street Journal.

The Senate sent the nomination of Peter Diamond, one of President Barack Obama's three nominees for the Federal Reserve Board, back to the White House because of objections from at least one lawmaker. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee, said last week that Diamond, while a “skilled economist,” may not be qualified to make decisions on monetary policy.

The Senate took no action yesterday on the other two nominees, including San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen for Vice Chairman and Sarah Bloom Raskin for a Governor slot, leaving them to await confirmation after senators return September 13. That means that if Governor Donald Kohn, whose separate term as Vice Chairman ended in June, departs as planned on September 1, the Fed will work with only four of seven Governors for the indefinite future. More from Bloomberg News.

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic looks at the tightening margins for confirming Supreme Court Justices and wonders if Elena Kagan might be President Obama's last nominee to the Court.

The New York Times profiles US District Court Judge of Vaughan Walker who wrote the landmark decision that overturned Proposition 8 in California. The title Conservative Jurist, With Independent Streak pretty much says it all.

In a related story, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed briefs asking Chief U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker to lift his stay and allow gays and lesbians to marry while the Perry v Schwarzenegger winds its way through the appeal process. More from CNN.

Michael Cooper in the New York Times writes on the extremes to which state and local governments are going in order to balance budgets. Clayton County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders. Colorado Springs switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters while Hawaii closed its schools on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

The FDIC seized the assets of Ravenswood Bank, a bank in Illinois. Ravenswood Bank is the 109th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the thirteenth in Illinois. The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $68.1 million. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008 while 140 banks failed in 2009.

David Weigel, now working for Slate, writes in the Washington Post on the five myths of the Tea Party.

Mark Hurd, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was forced to resign today in the wake of a disclosure that he had allegedly falsified documents to conceal a relationship with a former contractor. The HP Board of Directors said in a statement that its standards of business conduct were violated. Hurd's "systematic pattern" of submitting falsified financial reports to hide the relationship convinced the board that "it would be impossible for him to be an effective leader moving forward and that he had to step down," HP general counsel Michael Holston said on a conference call Friday with analysts. Hurd will receive a $12.2 million severance payment.

Editorial of the Day
The editorial board of the New York Times castigates the GOP for their xenophobia and fear-mongering for American votes.

Leading Republicans have gotten chilly toward the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the United States. Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl have been suggesting that the country should take a look at it, re-examine it, think it over, hold hearings. They seem worried that maybe we got something wrong nearly 150 years ago, after fighting the Civil War, freeing enslaved Africans and declaring that they and their descendants were not property or partial persons, but free and full Americans.

As statements of core values go, the 14th Amendment is a keeper. It decreed, belatedly, that citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs, wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an American. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it says, “are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

 

The Insolvent US Banking System

Another day, another post on the health, if one can call it that, of the nation's banking system. The Geithner Plan, which seems to divest the President of ownership of the plan to save the nation's bank system should it fail, is a day late and several trillion dollars short. Just how insolvent the US Banking system is anybody's guess but Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor who has been right so far in his assessment of the crisis finds that "writedowns by US banks have already passed the $1 trillion mark." Put another way that already surpasses the amount of funds first made available in the TARP. Both Goldman Sachs and the IMF are now predicting bank sector lossess of over $2 trillion prompting Mr. Roubini to run his numbers again. He now thinks losses will approach $3.6 trillion. He writes that we are seeing:
rising losses on subprime, near prime and prime mortgages; commercial real estate; credit cards, auto loans, student loans; industrial and commercial loans; corporate bonds; sovereign bonds and state and local government bonds; and massive losses on all of the assets (CDOs, CLOs, ABS, and the entire alphabet of credit derivatives) that had securitized such loans.

It is time to recognize that many banks are insolvent and that the longer we delay cleaning them up the steeper the price tag. Mr. Roubini contends that nationalization is the best alternative.
"Paradoxically nationalization may be a more market-friendly solution of a banking crisis: it creates the biggest hit for common and preferred shareholders of clearly insolvent institutions and -- most certainly -- even the unsecured creditors in case the bank insolvency hole is too large; it provides a fair upside to the taxpayer."

There's more...

Obama and the Augean Stables

It is regrettable that back in the Fall during the heat of the Presidential campaign, no one but no one paid much attention to Joe Biden because of the four main contenders running for national office, he was, by far, the most candid. Sometimes that got him in trouble leading to accusations of having "rhetorical flourishes" but honesty in politics is something we should all appreciate especially when it is done with style, wit and intelligence. So it was back on October 20th at a Seattle fundraiser that ol' smokin' Joe told it as it truly is:

"Gird your loins. We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It's like cleaning the Augean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than - think about it, literally, think about it - this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets. This is a systemic problem we have with this economy."

Cleaning the Augean stables, the fifth of Hercules' labours. The Obama Administration tonight stands on the precipice of completing one of its Herculean tasks, passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and we can debate whether it is sufficient from here to eternity but the truth is that we have a "systemic" crisis that requires our full attention.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads