Monday, October 22, 2007

CubsTracks, E is for Europop Edition

In my DJ career of reasonable length, the most dichotomous music I have ever had the pleasure of playing is Europop, generally defined as any music that sounds like Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem on crystal.

People either like the stuff or they hate it. There is no in-between. Of course, I don't understand the latter people; after all, the heart palpitations don't hurt THAT much.

But that's also because I grew up with the classics of it -- such as:

Blue, Eiffel 65

Around the World (La Di Da), ATC

Castles in the Sky, Ian Van Dahl

Of course, there are the ones that are as subtle and well-spoken as a horny teenager.....

Everytime we Touch, Cascada

but those are nicely countered by the ones that successfully manage the taut and precise balance of energy, lyric, and make-you-want-to-move that good electronica and trance should.

With video for Jamie of I Must Be Dreaming......

Blinded, Hannah

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Important Point of the S-CHIP Debate

Relative to all the recent veto brouhaha, Democrats are demanding that families with incomes four times the poverty level, or over $80,000 annually, receive free health insurance coverage through the Federally-funded States Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) for their children at an estimated cost of $35 billion -- without ensuring that 95% of children under the original S-CHIP threshold (families who make between one and two times the Federal poverty level) be covered first, as the Bush administration is insisting.

The Democrats' means of funding said expansion is by a sales tax on cigarettes -- a 156% increase above existing taxes, to be precise.

However, in the past, Democrats like Pelosi and Reid have screamed and whined that sales taxes are bad and horrible because they are "regressive" and disproportionately affect poor people, especially cigarette taxes. As an example of why, the Iowa 2006 Adult Tobacco Use Survey demonstrated (Table ES-1, page 3) that those at or below 200% of the poverty level (the S-CHIP cutoff) were over one and a half times as likely to be smokers as those who were above the poverty level.

So, phrased differently, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat Party not only are planning to allow states to ignore covering poorer children whose parents can't afford health insurance in favor of covering wealthier children whose parents can, as well as adults without children -- they are raising taxes that primarily affect those poorer childrens' parents to pay for it.

UPDATE: Seems there's an even better twist -- since black people are disproportionately represented among both smokers and those below 200% of the poverty line, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and the Democrat Party are not only planning to allow states to ignore covering poorer black children whose parents can't afford health insurance in favor of covering wealthier white children whose parents can -- they are raising taxes that primarily affect those poorer black childrens' parents to pay for it.

I wonder what race-baiters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have to say about that?

Kevin and Michael, Check Your Back Gate....

your moonbats are running loose in my yard. Expect a large screaming COD package VERY soon.

(Wait, what do you MEAN we're out of tranquilizer darts?)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reality For the Iowa Voter

Meet Tod Bowman.

Tod is a resident of Iowa, a Democrat, and a staunch questioner of Hillary Clinton -- specifically, on Social Security, and more specifically, with her "considering" changes to the current cap on the amount of income that can be taxed for Social Security.

You see, he doesn't think it's fair.
Afterward Bowman approached Clinton so he could pose for a photo with her, introduce her to his children and discuss the issue further.

She told him she didn't want to put an additional tax burden on the middle class but would consider a "gap," with no Social Security taxes on income from $97,500 to around $200,000. Anything above that could be taxed.

An Associated Press reporter overheard the conversation and discussed it with Bowman. He said he didn't agree with Clinton and felt that as someone who makes under $97,500 he pays an unfair share.

"I understand that in her world $97,000 is the middle class, but here in Iowa $97,000 doesn't qualify as the middle class," Bowman said.

Well, Mr. Bowman, you're right; you probably are paying an "unfair share".

But not quite in the way you think.

You see, Social Security taxes are collected in a very simple fashion; for every dollar of income you make, you pay 6.2 cents to the government and your employer pays 6.2 cents to the government, all the way up to the income cap. As your income rises, you pay more.

But when it comes to calculating your benefit, the math is significantly different.

Basically put:
-- You get 90 cents of benefit for each dollar you make up to $680 per month ($8,160/year)

-- You get 32 cents of benefit for each dollar you make between $680 and $4,100 per month (up to $49,200/year)

-- You get a princely 15 cents of benefit for each dollar you make over $4,100 per month (over $49,200/year

Meanwhile, the government is still charging you and your employer a total of 12.4 cents for each dollar of your income, even as your benefit amount shrinks. In short, you are paying more and getting proportionately far, far less.

Keeping that formula in mind, let's analyze the benefit for an individual who makes at the taxable maximum of $97,500 per year ($8,125/month):
-- 90 cents for each dollar up to $680 = $680 x .90 = $612

-- 32 cents for each dollar between $680 and $4,100 = $3,420 x .32 = $1,094

-- 15 cents for each dollar between $4,100 and $8,125 = $4,025 x .15 = $604

-- Sum of the benefits = $612 + $1,094 + $604 = $2,310/month x 12 months = $27,720

-- Total Social Security taxes collected = $97,500 x 12.4 cents per dollar = $12,090

This person receives $2.30 in benefits for each $1 of tax they pay in ($27,720/$12,090), and they are provided a benefit equal to 28.5% of their pre-retirement income ($27,720/$97,500).

Meanwhile, let's assume Mr. Bowman makes $49,200 per year ($4,100 per month).
-- 90 cents for each dollar up to $680 = $680 x .90 = $612

-- 32 cents for each dollar between $680 and $4,100 = $3,420 x .32 = $1,094

-- Sum of the benefits = $612 + $1,094 = $1,706/month x 12 months = $20,472

-- Total Social Security taxes collected = $49,200 * 12.4 cents per dollar = $6,101

Mr. Bowman receives $3.36 in benefits for each $1 of tax he pays in, and is provided a benefit equal to 42% of his pre-retirement income.

So, as we can see, Tod Bowman pays less in and gets proportionately more back than a person with a higher income -- and the difference is exacerbated the higher the person's income goes. Furthermore, since Social Security benefits are capped (this year, at $2,116 per month, or $25,392 per year), the belief that eliminating the taxation limit on income would somehow be more "fair" belies the fact that it would force people and their employers to pay money into Social Security that they could ultimately never collect in benefits.

It's kind of surprising that a high school government teacher doesn't know that.

Madame Macchiavelli

Perhaps I am suspicious and cynical....but I can certainly see why House Democrats would be so hep on suddenly passing what appears to be a perfectly-innocent resolution.
Turkey, a NATO member, has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East and a conduit for sending supplies into Iraq.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday that good relations with Turkey are vital because 70 percent of the air cargo intended for U.S. forces in Iraq and 30 percent of the fuel consumed by those forces flies through Turkey.

U.S. commanders, Gates said, "believe clearly that access to airfields and roads and so on in Turkey would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will."

Bagis said since a French Parliament committee passed a similar resolution last year, no French planes have flown through Turkish airspace.

And who's raising this? Oh yes, Adam Schiff, D-CA, conveniently one of Nancy Pelosi's House, "proteges".

Ah well, it's typical; as long as they get what they want, they don't care who it hurts in the process. If they can't block funding or support for the troops that they allegedly care about openly, they'll manipulate others into doing it for them.

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

As much as I usually like Thomas Friedman, he's way off track on this one.
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn’t change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Virtual politics is just that — virtual.

And why should they be rallying?
But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good. When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.

The funny thing about it is that all of those were merrily progressing in their own way while Friedman and his ilk were tramping around on public property and leaving broken signs on DC streets, turf prints on the Mall, and half-smoked joints in the Reflecting Pool in protest against them. Furthermore, ironically, the generation that will have the most impact on all of those is Friedman's -- since they're the ones, given their numbers, who will be the deciding factor in whether or not we can reduce Social Security benefits, cut Medicare, and rein in costs created by the numerous other promises they made themselves while in power.

Perhaps what Friedman is forgetting is that every generation learns from the mistakes of the one before it -- and in Generation Q's case, what they've learned is that volume is no substitute for action. You work up the same sweat screaming and marching as you do building a house or teaching underprivileged kids, but the end result -- sore legs, throats, and lungs versus a family's home or smarter children -- is far better for the latter than it is the former.

Too often I see this reflected in the gay community -- people complaining that "the young folks" don't know what they had to go through, how we should be camping on sidewalks, picketing offices, getting thrown out of hearing rooms, peeing in holy water fonts, and how the fact that we don't indicates that we're apathetic and don't care.

I would posit that we're just too busy helping people elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inscrutable Oracles and What They Mean

The flag of Mexico pays homage to an ancient Aztec prophecy concerning the founding of Tenochtitlan. The people were told to travel until they saw an eagle eating a snake while perched upon a cactus; on that very spot, they were to build a great city, which would assure their power and wealth for centuries.

Today I saw two pigeons making whoopee while perched upon a traffic signal.

Maybe it makes more sense with the ethylene.

But It's MEDICINAL, I Tell You!

Just look and see.

In related news, HSN announced today that their premiere line of alcohol-based health and wellness products, including Stoli Exfoli(ant), Martini Facial Rubs ("Make Yourself More Lickable"), and the Red Wine Infusion Pump ("A trickle all day of fine Cabernet") will be featured in their new flagship daytime series, "Sex in The (Kansas) City" and "Rob, The Booty Hunter", and will be touted as part of a new story-arc freshening on "Pink Acres".

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Penny-Wise, Pound-Hypocritical

Three things with this.

One, the government should seriously tighten its travel approval process.

Two, once it does, it should embrace reality. Limiting the use of business class only to flights that are fourteen hours or more is considered cruel and unusual punishment in the private sector. A more logical and workable number would be eight hours or more, which would nicely eliminate virtually all domestic flights (except to Alaska or Hawaii) and to Paris, London, or Frankfurt, while keeping it open for treks where you actually need it.

And three, if Congress wants to find the most blatant wastes of taxpayer dollars on travel, a mirror would suffice.