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Starry night

I thought this was lovely. Vincent Van Gogh, via Roger Ebert:

Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map.

Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means.

To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.

Banking on degenerate gamblers

What’s the difference between traders at investment banks who gamble on “securities” and degenerate blackjack players with a lot of money to lose?

Buyer’s remorse

I had an extended conversation with a former Obama supporter today when I finally got him to admit that his reasons for supporting Obama weren’t logical, and that Hillary Clinton was the real Democrat.

And now Cannonfire has this.

Sucks to be right. If only the inexperienced Obama had spent eight years as VP under Clinton, he would have been ready — and maybe not so damned gullible about (and admiring of) the corporatists.

Teabagger logic

Blaming the unemployed for their unemployment.



Especially if you have an elderly relative who is constantly calling for computer advice!

Sometimes raising hell works

UPDATE: Nope, I’m hearing the Medicare eligibility age is STILL IN PLAY. Time to call your congress critters and say no way!

Looks like all you emoprogs and firebaggers have convinced Obama to back off his original plan to cut Medicare and Social Security:

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew on Monday outlined plans to pay for President Obama’s new jobs bill largely by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans and closing tax loopholes for businesses.

Most of the new funds, Lew said, would be attained by limiting itemized deductions for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000, a plan President Obama has tried to push since his campaign days. Taking these steps would raise roughly $400 billion over 10 years, Lew said.

“We have choices to make. In order to invest in jobs and growth, we’re going to have to pay for it,” Lew said. “We think the American people will think this is the right package.”

The administration also include a long-time policy goal of taxing the income investment fund managers make, known as carried interest, as regular income instead of as capital gains, which has a lower 15 percent tax rate. So far, Wall Street has strongly resisted any attempt to increase the rate on so-called carried interest. That change alone, would provide an infusion of $18 billion in revenue, according to administration officials.

The elimination of a tax break for the oil and gas industry would raise another $40 billion, and another $3 billion would come from changing the way corporate jets depreciate. Combined with a few other smaller revenue raises, Lew said the total measures proposed by the administration would bring in $467 billion, with some “wiggle room” — $20 billion more than the cost of Obama’s jobs bill, to ensure there’s room to account for Congress’ bean counters score the total a bit differently.

Friday I’m in love

The Cure:

Free to die


Think, in particular, of the children.

The day after the debate, the Census Bureau released its latest estimates on income, poverty and health insurance. The overall picture was terrible: the weak economy continues to wreak havoc on American lives. One relatively bright spot, however, was health care for children: the percentage of children without health coverage was lower in 2010 than before the recession, largely thanks to the 2009 expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-chip.

And the reason S-chip was expanded in 2009 but not earlier was, of course, that former President George W. Bush blocked earlier attempts to cover more children — to the cheers of many on the right. Did I mention that one in six children in Texas lacks health insurance, the second-highest rate in the nation?

So the freedom to die extends, in practice, to children and the unlucky as well as the improvident. And the right’s embrace of that notion signals an important shift in the nature of American politics.

In the past, conservatives accepted the need for a government-provided safety net on humanitarian grounds. Don’t take it from me, take it from Friedrich Hayek, the conservative intellectual hero, who specifically declared in “The Road to Serfdom” his support for “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect citizens against “the common hazards of life,” and singled out health in particular.

Given the agreed-upon desirability of protecting citizens against the worst, the question then became one of costs and benefits — and health care was one of those areas where even conservatives used to be willing to accept government intervention in the name of compassion, given the clear evidence that covering the uninsured would not, in fact, cost very much money. As many observers have pointed out, the Obama health care plan was largely based on past Republican plans, and is virtually identical to Mitt Romney’s health reform in Massachusetts.

Now, however, compassion is out of fashion — indeed, lack of compassion has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.

And what this means is that modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

A loathsome man

Rick Perry. Truly loathsome.

Blaming the government

Ezra has some sensible things to say here, but you have to separate them from his “on the other hand”-ism and inside-the-Beltway conventional thinking, and I can’t be bothered.

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