Archive Page 2

13
Oct
11

Have the Debates Doomed Perry?

Well, it’s official.  Rick Perry’s a pretty awful debater.  Maybe.  I think he’s trying the “Texas Nice” approach and it’s coming off like he’s a buffoon.  Either that or he’s just not great at thinking on his feet.  But Perry should take comfort in the conclusion that he’s the only high-firepower candidate with a proven track record, and that says a lot.  His big advantage is that his competition is an eclectic mix of personalities, none of whom smack Tea Party Hero.

I think one reason people are giving up on Perry is that he hasn’t been the guy to land blows on Mitt.  Between the debate moderation and Mitt’s ability to talk for long periods without saying anything, and Perry using “Texas nice” to hit Romney with questions, really hasn’t had the desired impact from the audience.  His ads, however, are really cutting into Romney’s health care support, which is smart.  It’s Romney’s biggest weakness, and debate viewers want that red meat.

Mitt is the easiest to dismantle.  He’s been having his cake and eating it too with the Massachusetts Health Care plan.  Mitt says he’s quite proud of his plan, and he’d do it again if he was governor again.  But it looks as though the people in charge of the Massachusetts health care law had helped the Obama team and the Democrats with Obamacare.  Given the outrage Obamacare ignited in 2010, it’s no surprise Mitt’s coy on the issue.  But several debates have come and gone and none of the moderators have really challenged him on the centerpiece of his governorship.  Additionally, his 59-point Economic Plan is complicated, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.  In fact, he hit Perry on scaring senior citizens but he has plans to reform Social Security in his own plan.  Knowing Romney, that’s not unexpected.

Cain is the biggest enigma, but his weakness is his greatest strength.  His 9/9/9 plan has a huge flaw in its 9% National Sales Tax.  Cain’s also made several errors, such as stating Greenspan would be the best head of the Fed in the debate last night.  However, none of the errors have been monumental.  Cain has a real shot, and he’s certainly behaved like a seasoned candidate.

Ron Paul has actually made a pretty good game of it this election, but his isolationist foreign policy stances are enough to alienate most people.

Newt Gingrich is preforming well, but he brings with him a large amount of baggage, such as divorces, infidelity, and posing with Nancy Pelosi in an infamous pro-AGW spot.  It’s unfortunate because Newt’s forgotten more about American Government than all the knowledge the other candidates have of it.

Rick Santorum has never made much of splash.  He keeps talking about his experience, but unfortunately, he’s not had much experience beyond the Senate.  His policies have never gained much traction with people, and he doesn’t have much TEA party cred.  Why hasn’t Santorum taken Pawlenty’s lead and dropped out?

Huntsman.  The Orange RINO.  There’s still some people who believe that Obama will drop Biden and select Huntsman to generate a Bipartisan ticket.  That should tell you just how much Republicans believe in Huntsman.  But for someone with 1% of the vote, he gets a lot of Media attention.  Which is strange, because the other ex-governor, Gary Johnson, polls the same but doesn’t even get invited to debates.

Bachmann.  Michelle Bachmann certainly has a lot of TEA Party credibility, forming the TEA Party caucus in the House.  But she doesn’t have much in the way of accomplishments.  Also, her attacks on Perry on Gardisil turned into an anti-vaccine pogrom.  Perry’s entrance also sucked off a lot of her support, and she’s unlikely to get it back.

When you take all of these candidates in hand, Perry still looks good.  Right now, he needs to not collapse completely at the next debate and press the video campaign.  Most importantly, he needs a message.  He needs a plan that’s more than “Texas”.  His ad campaign has already launched some effective broadsides against Romney, but he needs to get Romney rattled in a debate that’s actually viewed by people (sorry, Bloomberg!).  And he really needs to ride the anti-Obamacare issue.

In essence, Perry has a good shot at winning this thing, and as Bachmann fades and more people get turned off by Romney, he’ll have the opportunity to do well.  But he needs to successfully confront and battle Cain to get some of his support back.  And an endorsement from Palin would go a long ways in the Primary.

UPDATE:  Ed Morrissey finds similar issues with the sales tax.

11
Oct
11

Plumbing the Votes for Obama

The Obama campaign wants someone to spend some of their precious time to design a campaign graphic they are going to use and raise millions of dollars with.  Oh, and that lucky person will not be paid for their hard work.  But of course, there’s ample opportunity for parody here.  So here we go, the Autopsy’s entry.  I call it “Plumbing the Votes”:

In case you can’t read the bottom, it says “Don’t let the Republicans Stop Us in Mid-Flush”.  Feel free to share with friends.  Just be sure to credit the Autopsy when you do.

30
Sep
11

Herman Cain’s 9/9/9 Plan and Why It’s a Bad Idea

Much has been made lately of Herman Cain’s 9/9/9 tax plan. I like the simplicity of the plan (9% national sales tax,  a 9% personal income tax, and a 9% capital gains tax). However, there are some serious problems with the plan as is, and there are better tax models out there that are just as simple, but do not involve a National Sales Tax (NST).

Cain’s plan, if I read his campaign website correctly, is to eventually do away with all the little taxes and regulations and shift everything over to a NST. In order to keep the government afloat, he would need a NST that runs to about 22-27%. Unfortunately, this kind of NST has a hidden consequence which could seriously affect all sectors of the economy.

Generally, when you purchase an final, refined good, you are paying for the raw materials that went into processing it. So lets use a hypothetical example and compare current tax law with Cain’s 9 / 9 / 9 plan.

Under current law: As a manufacturer, you go to purchase raw materials. Suppose your Widget needs a stack of lumber that costs $1000. Because of state sales tax, that lumber costs, on average, $1070. That cost is built into the end price of the Widget.

Now, you manufacture these widgets. To make up for the expense of the Widget, and to ensure you’re making money to pay for labor, transportation, inspection, regulation, etc. and profit, your final product costs $2000, and one of your customers will pay $2140 it. Your customer has to get the Widgets to market, and charges $3000, or $3210 with final state tax.

Under the Cain 9% plan: Now the stack of lumber comes with a 16% tax on it (state’s 7% plus 9% for Federal), which makes the lumber cost $1160 for raw materials, $2320 for the manufacturer, and $3480. Notice a few things here–

A) The profit margin for the manufacturer has decreased. In order to make up for this, his end product needs to be more expensive. So let’s call his end price to market is $2410 to make up, just in revenue lost from paying the extra tax on raw materials. Notice this now a 20.5% increase in price with built in taxation– not 16% as figured from the state + the Cain 9%).

B) The end distributor for customers now also has to make up for that increase in price, so let’s put that new term at $3750 for recouping what was lost in tax before, so the end price is now 25% higher. If this distributor is pushing items out to stores for end-sales, we’re looking at a 30% increase in prices from a 9% increase due to a NST.

It gets worse. If Cain intends to apply a NST for all Federal revenue, we’re looking at a NST which hits around 20% at the absolute bottom of the scale, which could double market prices for standard consumer goods!

Of course, if this replaces things like payroll tax, you’re looking at a reduction in costs to businesses there, but it’s not going to matter because the VAT is multiplied through the system with each additional step you take.

If you’re buying corn at $1 / 5 ears directly from Farmer Joe, then a 20% increase is only going to make it $1.20, not something huge. However, imagine sugar from Hawaii. Building in costs for transportation, fuel, manufacturing, etc., you’re looking at sugar price exploding. That would make cookies way too expensive.

Also, the NST has a disproportionate impact on the poor. If your milk costs $3.00 a gallon, and you now have to pay $4.00 a gallon, that’s a significant increase. And you’re going to see that for all of your staples. Unless incomes increase dramatically under Cain’s plan (and there’s no reason to think they will), the dollar in the hands of the poor will become less powerful for basic goods.

So what’s better? A Flat Tax is a better alternative. It has the advantages Cain wants (simplifying the tax code, reducing the IRS footprint, and reducing tax-collection burdens on the Government and tax-payer), but it doesn’t have a multiplier effect towards consumer goods. The Flat Tax is higher (you’d need a 17-21% Flat Tax rate currently to get to about $3 trillion Federal revenue from GDP) and therefore “scarier” (although Cain’s 9/9/9 plan comes out to 27%). Bear in mind this works with number gathered during a recession, and this kind of tax reduction would certainly spur the economy.

Putting in a Capital Gains Tax about 75% that of of the Flat tax (so 15% capital gains at 20% Flat tax) would spark investment as well.

Setting standard deductions at $15000 for a single person, add $10000 for a spouse, and $5000 per child until you get to a maximum deduction of $50000. Also, end EIC. The government should not be paying you to not earn enough. It’s enough of a boon to pay 0% in taxes. Maintain deduction for mortgage interest, and include a deduction for health insurance premiums, elementary and secondary tuition, and child care. No other deductions.

Combine this with the Ryan plan to reform Medicare and combine it with a similar plan to rescue Social Security from insolvency as well as plans to curb the growth of government and run with a balanced budget, and you will start running surpluses to pay towards paying the national debt off. And once that debt is gone, shift the flat tax downwards.

Also, to prevent government tax increases, pass an amendment to set the national tax rate, as well as an amendment which requires any increases in that rate to have 2/3 majorities in Congress, WH approval, and finally approval by a majority of states. To reduce the tax level, only a simple majority in Congress is needed– no ratification by states.

I look forward to any feedback in the comments section.

(And my math may be a bit off– I’m writing this under duress!  🙂  )

UPDATE: I did some corrections.  Cain is not proposing a VAT, he’s proposing a National Sales Tax.  A VAT would have a much smaller impact as the tax is not compounded as it moves on, and only the tax itself is passed onto the consumer.

13
Sep
11

What We’re Missing in the Debates

Dear Republican Candidate–

Way to knock ’em dead in the debate on Monday.  You really showed that other guy/girl!  Your witty remarks on Gardisil / Social Security / Jobs / Obama really made me laugh!

Unless you’re John Huntsman.  Because, let’s face it, Alice in Chains did “No Excuses”, not Nirvana.  N00b.

Now, on to the next debate.  Here’s something none of you have talked about.

Obamacare.  Specifically, killing the beast.  And burning its corpse.  Then shooting the ashes into space.

Because Executive Orders aren’t going to cut it.  It’s till a law.  It’s still on the books unless A) Congress Repeals it or B) The Supreme Court nullifies it.  And I don’t want to put that much trust in Anthony Kennedy.

So that means it’s got to be all of Congress.  So, if things stay they way they are in the House, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t, I expect the House to be held by the GOP in 2012.  But as for the Senate, flipping it to a GOP majority is going to be necessary to bring a vote on Obamacare.  And you want a solid majority–none of this 51 vote stuff.  We want as many new GOP senators as we can get in the US Senate.  We know Obama sucks, and the country is right there with you.  But if you don’t bring up the Senate in the next debate, well, you’re just setting yourselves up for 2 years of Senate obstructionism.

Now that the spotlight is firmly upon the Republican contender field, it’s time to stop splitting hairs about what GOP Candidate 1-8 is saying.  Now is the time to open up on the Democratic Senate and lay out the reasons they should be replaced in 2012 and help usher in a new GOP Congress that can balance the budget, eliminate the debt, reform the tax code, kill Obamacare, and restore the US Economy.  And here, I’ll even help you out with this.

  • The Democratic Senate failed to produce a budget– even in 2010 when they had control of the Senate, House and White House.
  • The Democratic Senate could have passed a debt ceiling increase in 2010 with the House and White House, but instead waited for the Republican House to send budgets.  And then the Senate could look like they did something by rejecting Republican budgets.
  • The Democratic Senate refused to act to fix Medicare.  Rather than offering counters to Rep. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” to fix the upcoming Medicare Bankruptcy, the Senate rejected the plan and refused to consider any changes.  Instead, the Senate Democrats simply cross their fingers and hope the money fairy (read: China) bails us out when the time comes.  But it’s not important, since the rich Democratic Senators can simply move to the Cayman Islands and leave the rest of us to deal the Medicare problem.
  • The Democratic Senate refuses to act on Social Security.  Again, they’d rather bankrupt the system rather than fix it.
  • The Democratic Senators will stave off the bankruptcy of Medicare/Social Security by raising taxes.
  • The Democratic Senate rejected Obama’s 2010 budget unanimously.  But again, the Democrats did not offer a counter-proposal.
  • The Democratic Senators unanimously supported the Stimulus and Stimulus II bills, contributing to debt but failing to do anything to help pay for it, other than borrow money.
  • While America was hemorrhaging jobs and teetering on Double Dip Recession territory, the Democrats in the Senate responded by offering nothing and passing nothing to help.

Now is the time to hit the Obama administration.  But you must also hit the Democrats in the Senate for their absolute lack of passion and responsibility.  If not, nothing will be solved in 2012, and we’ll be able to solve very little thanks to Democratic Senate obstructionism.

13
Sep
11

The Gardisil Blow-Up

So, after last night’s debate and Governor Perry’s Gardasil Crime Against Humanity, I wanted to weigh in and explain why every single pundit out there has it wrong (primarily because they’re looking to score some kind of points by promoting ignorance).  So, let’s call up the bullet points.

  • Governor Perry Was Wrong:  He was wrong to force a mandate.  He admitted it.  Good for him.  But Rep. Bachmann wasn’t going to accept that apology, especially when she gained traction from it.
  • Representative Bachmann Was Wrong:  Stating that Gardisil causes mental retardation is just stupid.  She was doing well until she made this baseless claim, which now makes her seem as credible as Jenny McCarthy on the vaccine issue.  Way to go, Michelle.
  • Romney’s Stealth Minions Are Wrong:   There’s a meme out there that Perry is guilty of Crony Capitalism for buying Merck’s vaccine. It’s possible that Perry’s doling out favors to Merck, but the evidence points to some things people are conveniently ignoring.  1)  Merck had a patent on Gardisil.  So there’s no way the Texas government could find a competing drug because none existed.  As such, there’s no “crony capitalism” as there’s no “capitalism” at all.  If they wanted to prevent HPV, Gardisil was their only choice.  2) Merck is an equal-opportunity contributor.  In 2010, they spent $84K on Democrats and $120K on Republicans.  Seems they’re more interested in just keeping lines to power open than “buying politicians”.  3)  It’s already been shown Perry had peripheral involvement in the Gardisil matters.  If he was truly giving Merck a big payday, he should have been more involved.

In essence, Perry was wrong, but admitted his error.  Harping on the error does very little to increase political points.  Bachmann discovered that with her overreach and now sounds like an ignorant hack.  The Gardisil flap has damaged Perry, but this issue is not going to bring him down, nor is it going to propel Bachmann or Romney to the front.  The longer this is kept in the spotlight by Romney and Bachmann, the more it will seem that Romney and Bachmann are one-note critics.

13
Sep
11

Why I Stopped Blogging And What I’m Doing Now

So, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged anything.  I’ve messed around on twitter some (@DocattheAutopsy — FOLLOW ME NOW!) and I’m still talking to folks, but mostly on their blogs.  But what I came to realize a little while ago was that I was so busy that by the time I sat down to blog about something, several other people had already commented on it.

This was especially true with AGW.  I could not contribute anything to the discussion that Anthony Watts’ site (www.wattsupwiththat.com) hadn’t already covered in depth.  Politics is the same way, and most of what I would talk about was already discussed in depth.

But, as the 2012 election draws near, like a good addict, I can’t really stay away.  So, I’m going to post some topics that I think are relevant.  I don’t know if I’m going to keep this up daily– I’m awfully busy, and I have a business idea I’m pursuing.  So, this little habit has to take a back seat.  But I will post when there’s something important that needs to be said.

So don’t expect any daily news, or even breaking news.  But some insightful commentary.  Enjoy!

09
Sep
11

Donna Marie Giordano


When I signed up for the 2996 tribute, I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. It seemed at the time (and still does) to be a great tribute to those who died in 9/11. I remember getting Donna’s name, reading the tributes which already dot the web, and a sudden fear gripped me– how can I possibly give a tribute to someone I never knew– someone so anonymous to me?

Believe it or not, I got a little help from Ward Churchill.

You see, Ward Churchill, professor of ethnic studies at University of Colorado- Boulder, wrote in his essay “Some People Push Back” that the people in the Twin Towers on 9/11 were “Little Eichmanns”. My initial response to his essay was revulsion– how could someone possibly say that?

Then this tribute came along. By now my emotions had simmered from Churchill’s tired rants, and Donna is a perfect example of just how wrong he was.

From what I have read about Donna, I can tell what an influence she was on those around her. She sounded firm, but it was evident that she was also caring. According to this tribute site, Donna’s sister says:

Donna was not only my sister but my friend and co-worker. She was person who was caring, loving and full of life. There are no words to describe how much I miss her. Donna and I worked together at Aon Risk Services. I am a survivor of the world trade center walking down 92 flights of stairs. My life has been spared by two men who helped me but Donna is gone. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.

On another site, it is written:

Giordano served as president of the complex’s homeowners’ association, a go-to role well-suited for her practical, easygoing nature. “Someone would come up with a problem” every time she walked her dog, Charlie, a Shetland sheepdog upon whom she doted, Barrett said. Giordano handled each person with her trademark mix of firmness and finesse. “She was assertive, but also very kind,” her sister said.

(Growing up, we had a Shetland as well. They are truly caring dogs who watch out for others. Ours saved my life on one occasion. Seems like an ideal fit between Donna and her dog.)

According to this site, Donna cared about family, so much so that the kept them close and in a good job:

Ms. Giordano, 44 and divorced, liked having her family nearby. An insurance syndicator for the Aon Corporation in 2 World Trade Center, she had gotten jobs for her son and her sister, Elaine Barrett, at the company. Though they were in the building on Sept. 11, Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Giordano escaped.

In addition, I discovered a little bit about Donna that illustrated her caring heart:

One priority was raising money for charity. On Sept. 7, Ms. Giordano helped organize an event to benefit Urban Pathways, a program for the homeless, at a bar near her office. As usually happened when Ms. Giordano got involved, she had persuaded executives at Aon to show up. That night, they raised $2,500.

How can anyone compare someone as kind, loving, and concerned for others as Donna with someone like Eichmann? It’s a false argument, and something a college professor, a full professor even, should never have entertained.

Donna is no Little Eichmann. Instead, Donna is a Little Franklin. Her work ethic and personal drive could be compared to that of Benjamin Franklin.

Donna is a Little Washington. Her leadership skill at Aon allowed her company and brokerage to thrive.

Donna is a Little Jefferson. Just like our 3rd President, Donna cared deeply for those less fortunate. Her struggle to do them justice embodies the compassion of our Founding Fathers.

Donna is a Little Paterson. They represent the best New Jersey has had to offer.

Donna is just one of the 2996 Little Founding Parents of our country who were taken so abruptly on September 11th, 2006. All of those people shared something in common with people who dreamed of freedom and what personal potential could be. And even though they are taken from us, we can take comfort that their enduring message is that they died free, killed by people who would callously try to strip that liberty from us.

I never knew Donna Marie Giordano. I have glimpses of her strength through tributes on the web. I also know it from what people have said about her son Michael, as he has certainly inherited much of her character.

We have said “Never Forget” about September 11, 2006, and to never forget the harm done to us by cold and calculating evildoers. But we should also amend that statement.

“Never Forget, Always Remember!” Always remember with joy those who died that day, and keep them close to our hearts.

**************************

Donna was a Bon Jovi devotee. I did a little search on YouTube and found this Bon Jovi clip (the original post had a different video that was removed from YouTube by the RIAA): 

**************************

UPDATE:  As we approach 9/11/11, ten years after the attack, I still remember Donna and everyone else who died around the country on 9/11/01.  I find it disconcerting that it takes some even-numbered anniversary for the press to make some kind of big deal about the horrific acts of that day.

But one thing about the events commemorating that day of infamy– I’ve heard that Bon Jovi will be playing at the Sunday Night Football game on 9/11.  I hope you’ll be dancing in heaven, Donna!




About Me

My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).

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