I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
Well Newshoggers has closed it's doors so Middle Earth Journal is active once again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

More Bits and Pieces

►  Today, January 25, marks two years since the historic uprising in Egypt.
This Chirpstory is a collection of snapshots and messages from Egypt via Twitter, mostly from Cairo but some appear to be from Alexandria where someone is reported to have been shot and killed.
Many links and key words to follow for any who are interested.

►   Syria consensus coalesces in Davos  By Gideon Rachman in Davos
Eacuse me, but if this is "consensus" I don't want to see turning a cold shoulder.
[...Well, I was about to put up a two-paragraph snip from the article but this is what came up.
Go read for yourself and while you're there give Financial Times a big wet kiss for their opportunistic use of the Web. This is the internet equivalent of eating free samples without doing business with the establishment.]
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►   Paul Ryan Breaks Down Under Wonkterrogation [Updated]
Johathan Chait and Ezra Klein are ganging up on poor Paul Ryan.
Reminds me of that G.B.Shaw line about fighting a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

Klein then transcribes the resulting exchange:
“But you could have the same or lower rate there,” I said. After all, if you’re closing loopholes, the top marginal tax rate doesn’t change.
“I don’t know about that,” said Ryan. “Remember, we have to write these things statically. We don’t use macroeconomic feedback on the Joint Tax Committee.”
“But if you capped deductions at $15,000,” I pressed, “that wouldn’t change rates.”
Ryan didn’t budge. “You have to decide where you want to cap deduction or which deductions stay or go, what will pass, and what the resulting rates will be.
Here Ryan is descending into word salad, which impresses observers because he is using terms that pertain to tax policy — “statically,” “Joint Tax Committee” — but he is not using them in a way that makes any sense. The fact is that you could increase tax revenue by capping deductions, without increasing rates, or even with lowering rates. Ryan would know — he ran for vice-president promising to do exactly that! Here’s Paul Ryan explaining how the thing he now derides as impossible would work:
Etc... go to the link for a video.
[Update: I have a transcript now, and Ryan was asked this very thing. ("If you have a bill that has real spending cuts in it and you add $700 billion of revenues, does that mean that the spending cuts aren’t real anymore?") Ryan's reply: "Well, look, I’m not going to get into that." Yes, why get into the inherent logical fallacy that undergirds your entire argument?] 
Ryan then circled back to his “we already increased revenue” point, and then got to his real position: “And by the way, I think that revenue level is way too high, I don’t see how you get there.” After that, he changed the subject to corporate tax reform, where both sides want a revenue-neutral overhaul, which is therefore irrelevant. But the final confession is the tell. Ryan opposes more revenue because he thinks revenue is too high. He would like to cut spending, but keeping taxes low is the maximal priority.

Ryan understands that he can get much further by pitching himself as an opponent of debt rather than an opponent of taxes. So he will go pretty far to avoid explicating his actual legislative stance. But that is Paul Ryan’s position. If you like Republican anti-tax orthodoxy, you’ll like Paul Ryan. (Ryan mentor and current Kansas governor Brownback is currently implementing a plan, also set out in the first and most explicit version of Ryan's budget, to raise taxes on the poor while cutting them on the rich.) If you think Ryan’s the guy to change that orthodoxy, you’re kidding yourself.

►  Here's one for the "Can't make this stuff up" file.
This must be an attempt to formulate a "legitimate" rape that failed to self-abort...
New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As 'Tampering With Evidence'
A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial.
House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for "tampering with evidence."
“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime," the bill says.
Third-degree felonies in New Mexico carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.