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links for 2010-07-19

  • Quote:"The two-part scheme was pretty straightforward. First, Democrats planned a number of steps to head off, or at least soften, the anti-Washington, anti-incumbent, anti-Obama sentiment that cost them the Massachusetts seat. Pass health care, and other measures to demonstrate that Democrats could get things done for the middle class; continue to foster those fabled green shoots on the economy, harvesting the positive impact of the massive economic stimulus bill passed early in the Administration; heighten the contrast between the two parties by delivering on Wall Street reform and a campaign-funding law to counteract January's controversial Supreme Court decision. Use all of those elements to contrast the Democrats' policies under Obama with the Republicans' policies under Bush, rather than allow the midterms to be a referendum on the incumbent party.

    // Article a load of Duh.

  • Quote:"Under the proposed law, all 12 of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

    Supporters are waging a state-by-state campaign to try to get such bills enacted. Once states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (or 270 of 538) have enacted the laws, the candidate winning the most votes nationally would be assured a majority of the Electoral College votes, no matter how the other states vote and how their electoral votes are distributed.

    Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have already adopted the legislation, according to the National Popular Vote campaign's website.

    // I don't know if this is really stupid, or just stupid. Either way, good for Mass.

  • // I see charting as voodoo science. However, if the stock market fell to 7,500, this would mean it would finally be priced around the historical PE ration of 15.
  • Quote:'Faced with a $118 million budget deficit, the city of San Jose, Calif., recently decided it could no longer afford its own janitors. So the city's budget called for dropping its custodial staff and hiring outside contractors to clean its city hall and airport, saving about $4 million.

    To keep all its swimming pools open and staffed, the city is replacing some city workers with contractors.

    // Awesome, this should be done all the time.

  • Quote:"OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – After weathering the fear of federal prosecution and competition from drug cartels, California's medical marijuana growers see a new threat to their tenuous existence: the "Wal-Marting" of weed.

    The Oakland City Council on Tuesday will look at licensing four production plants where pot would be grown, packaged and processed into items ranging from baked goods to body oil. Winning applicants would have to pay $211,000 in annual permit fees, carry $2 million worth of liability insurance and be prepared to devote up to 8 percent of gross sales to taxes.

    // Welcome to the world of legitimate business guys.

  • // More proof that the idea of "debt spending" to avoid recession is a cure worse than the disease.
  • Quote:"Rocah of the ACLU disagreed. "It's not that recording any conversation is illegal without consent. It's that recording a private conversation is illegal without consent," he said. "So then the question is, 'Are the words of a police officer spoken on duty, in uniform, in public a 'private conversation.' And every court that has ever considered that question has said that they are not."

    // I'm with the ACLU on this one.

  • Quote:"A law passed in 2008 under Gordon Brown’s Labour government allows the government to use money from dormant bank and building-society accounts “for social or environmental purposes.” An account is dormant if the holder has made no transactions over a period of 15 years.

    The British Bankers’ Association, a lobby group, estimates that about 400 million pounds ($610 million) is unclaimed in bank accounts. The government will set up a fund to be administered by Co-operative Financial Services that will hand over money to Cameron’s Big Society Bank by the end of this year, the Treasury said. The Co-op expects as much as 100 million pounds to be disbursed.

    // Want to put a hundred quid into a bank account for your grandchildren to collect when they turn 18? Can't do it in Britain.

  • Quote:"So as the din rises for the Vikings stadium, remember that any money devoted to that stadium or Target Field has to come from somewhere. In the case of the Red Sox, as Mark Yost writes, the team took no public money, spent about $200 million in renovations to Fenway Park, and franchise value increased $253 million over the last five years. In a world where the stock market generated negative returns, a 25% return on your investment looks like a pretty good deal. Much better, in fact, than the deal the taxpayer got.
  • // I'm beginning to wonder whether the hiring process in the free market is any better than random assignment. Some good information in the article though.
  • Quote:"The moon's frozen tunnels could provide a natural shelter from the extremes on the lunar surface. Assuming we decide to return to the moon someday — it’s not on NASA’s agenda for now — the lava tubes would allow for ant farm-like colonies of humans living underground.

    The tunnels would shield colonists from micrometeorites, lethal X-ray blasts from our petulant sun, and cosmic rays from the galaxy. Temperatures inside the tubes would remain a constant -35 degrees Fahrenheit. That's chilly, but much more stable for complex equipment. On the surface, machinery and structures would degrade under temperature extremes that swing from +250 degrees to -250 during the lunar day/night cycle

  • // BTW, when it comes to aspirin, take a pepcid tablet with it. This reduces incidence of GI bleeding by 80-90% (from a previous bookmarked study)
  • Quote:"* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

    * An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

    * In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

    // I'm sure this will work out fine…

  • Quote:" Everyone from lobbyists to lawyers and journalists is rushing to get permits to carry guns inside the Texas Capitol, where legislators already often tote pistols in boots and purses or stow them away inside their desks.

    A unique loophole in a new security procedure means a gun permit is like a special-access pass into the domed building, allowing people who are certified to carry a gun to bypass lines at the metal detectors that were set up after a shooting incident earlier this year.

    // Oh Texas…

  • Quote:"…the Top 5 percent in income earners — those households earning $210,000 or more — account for about one-third of consumer outlays, including spending on goods and services, interest payments on consumer debt and cash gifts, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Moody’s Analytics. That means the purchasing decisions of the rich have an outsize effect on economic data. According to Gallup, spending by upper-income consumers — defined as those earning $90,000 or more — surged to an average of $145 a day in May, up 33 percent from a year earlier.

    Then in June, that daily average slid to $119. “I think a lot of that feeling that the worst was over has sort of abated,” said Dennis J. Jacobe, Gallup’s chief economist.

    // Article written by another Keynesian kool-aid drinker, beleiving that somehow attitude or "the animal spirits" are somehow responsible for the slowdown of the recovery instead of something else.

  • Quote:"But there's more to happiness than riches. The Gallup study showed that while income undoubtedly influenced happiness, it did so for a particular kind of well-being — the kind one feels when reflecting on his or her own successes and prospects for the future. Day-to-day happiness is more likely to be associated with how well one's psychological and social needs are being met, and that's harder to achieve with a paycheck.

    Take Costa Rica. The sixth-happiest country in the world, and the happiest country in the Americas, it beat out richer countries like the United States. That's because social networks in Costa Rica are tight, allowing individuals to feel happy with their lot, regardless of financial success.

    // I like how they couldn't say "family" or "Community" as that is what they are talking about.

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2 Responses

  1. The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). 12 of the 13 smallest states were NOT included. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  2. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote), including current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

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