Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I’m getting tired of the crowd that doesn’t appear to be able to distinguish between a plate of scrambled eggs and one of fried chicken.  o going to start out with a few interesting reads to get us started and leave the troglodyte christian cousins of the Taliban that are running as republicans this year alone for awhile.  Well, at least until the end of this thread.

First up is a really cool fossil find in Canada.  It’s a dinosaur with feathers and it’s never been found in the Americas.

Scientists in Canada have unearthed the first fossils of a feathered dinosaur ever found in the Americas, the journal Science reported on Thursday.

The 75 million year old fossil specimens, uncovered in the badlands of Alberta, Canada, include remains of a juvenile and two adult ostrich-like creatures known as ornithomimids.

Until now feathered dinosaurs have been found mostly in China and in Germany.

“This is a really exciting discovery, as it represents the first feathered dinosaur specimens found in the Western Hemisphere,” said Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and lead author of the study.

“These specimens are also the first to reveal that ornithomimids were covered in feathers, like several other groups of theropod dinosaurs,” Zelenitsky said.

She said the find “suggests that all ornithomimid dinosaurs would have had feathers.”

Evidently early Romans loved to draw Orchids.  Orchids have been shown to be  a favorite subject until oppressive religious views took over in the Dark Ages. I guess it’s not only Georgia O’Keefe that recognized the orchid as both beautiful and highly erotic. (And yes, that’s an O’Keefe painting over there.)

Turns out the early Romans were wild about orchids. A careful study of ancient artifacts in Italy has pushed back the earliest documented appearance of the showy and highly symbolic flowers in Western art from Renaissance to Roman times. In fact, the researchers say, the orchid’s popularity in public art appeared to wilt with the arrival of Christianity, perhaps because of its associations with sexuality.

The fanciful shapes and bright colors of orchids have long made them popular with flower fanciers, and today they support a multibillion-dollar global trade. The flowers also have a symbolic value that spans many cultures due to their resemblance to both male and female sexual organs; the flower’s scientific name—Orchis—derives from a Greek word for testicles. But while the biology and ecology of orchids has gotten plenty of attention from researchers, there are few studies of its “phytoiconography,” or how the flower has been used symbolically in art.

A few years ago, botanist Giulia Caneva of the University of Rome (Roma Tre) set out to change that. Working with several graduate students, she began assembling a database of Italian artifacts, including paintings, textiles, and stone carvings of subjects including vegetation. Then, the team began the painstaking process of trying to identify the real plants the artists had copied.

One surprise was that depictions of Italian orchids—there are about 100 species in all—showed up much earlier than expected. Although scholars had spotted the flowers in paintings from the 1400s, Caneva’s team discovered that stone carvers were reproducing orchids as early as 46 B.C.E., when Julius Caesar erected the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome. And at least three orchids appear among dozens of other plants on the Ara Pacis, a massive stone altar erected by the emperor Augustus in 9 B.C.E., Caneva and colleagues reported last week in the Journal of Cultural Heritage. Artists probably chose the flowers to help emphasize the altar’s theme of civic rebirth, fertility, and prosperity following a long period of conflict, Caneva says.

But orchids and other plants begin to fade from public art as Christianity began to gain influence in the 3rd and 4th centuries, she notes. “My idea is that they are eliminating pagan symbols, and [those] that are related to sexuality,” she says. With the arrival of the Renaissance, however, orchids blossom anew in art, “but this time mostly as a symbol of beauty and elegance.”

Ethan Kaplan of the University of Maryland (via an email sent to Mark Thoma) shows through an empirical study that taxing the wealthy does not slow down economic growth.

What is the impact of taxation on growth? In theory, a country without taxation will have difficulty providing basic public goods such as roads and research that are fundamental for economic growth. However, many politicians and some economists argue that once basic public goods are provided for, increases in taxation have a negative impact on growth. According to this argument, this is especially true for taxes on the very wealthy, who are likely to save their income and channel that savings into entrepreneurship or other investment. Much of the argument over tax policy in the United States is focused on whether the rich should be taxed at a higher or lower rate than they are today. The argument in favor of higher rates is that income inequality is at extremely high levels and the government should focus more on redistribution and also that the rising national debt is also potentially harmful to growth. The argument against higher rates is that raising taxes on wealthy would disincentivize the people most likely to create economic growth and thus jobs. In a climate where jobs are scarce, the argument goes, this is a particularly bad economic idea.

This debate, however, is largely based on ideology rather than evidence. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to figure out the impact of taxation on growth. Changes to the tax codes usually pass Congress when other things are happening to the economy. For example, the 1982 tax cuts, which dropped the top marginal tax rate from 69% to 50%, were passed towards the end of a large recession. Moreover, the impact of taxes on growth can change over time as the economy changes.

Nevertheless, looking at the raw correlation between top marginal tax rates and growth can be helpful for getting a rough sense of the likely impacts of higher taxation on growth.

The study has an interesting conclusion that completely denies the Laffer Curve, Supply Side Economics, Trickle down economics, or whatever form of snake oil that your usual Republican Flim Flam Politicians tries to sell.

While we cannot say that there is a robust significant positive relationship between tax rates and growth, it is still interesting that regardless of when we start the sample, higher top marginal tax rates are associated with higher not lower growth.

Yes.  That says that high growth is associated with high taxes on the wealthiest.   (Think the US after ww2, the second term of the Reagan years which was associated with increased taxes, and the Clinton years).  The weakest growth was associated with all that tax cutting of Dubya Bush.  This is a study based on regression analysis so this is an associative relationship and not necessarily causal.  It does show however, that the existence of high marginal tax rates for the wealthy is not associated with suppressed growth and employment.  It’s JUST THE OPPOSITE.

More and more studies are showing and studies from the past have shown that what really slows down economic growth is income inequality.

A recent story in The New York Times, back in its business section, had important news about inequality: “Income Inequality May Take Toll on Growth.” A couple of economists at the IMF reported research (here) showing that, across many countries, periods of greater income inequality tend to be followed by slow-downs in economic growth.

Dr. Fisher has this to say about the intuition behind these results.

The controversy appears in our current political debates. Governor Romney complains that raising or even keeping our current tax rates on the wealthy will strip the “job creators” of the funds they need to invest in new businesses and new hires. In other comments, he shows himself sympathetic to the idea that current or higher tax rates undermine Americans’ desire to work hard. This is totally in tune with the theory that sizable income and wealth gaps are needed for economic growth.

When President Obama defends the tax-the-rich policy, he does so largely on the grounds of fairness and of addressing the deficit. When, however, he argues that “we grow the economy from middle out,” he is, knowingly or not, alluding to an alternative theory about the sources of economic growth: that income for and spending by the working and middle classes drive growth. The 99% much better “incentivize” businesses and investors than tax cuts can, because well-off consumers buy the products businesses would sell, thereby creating a virtuous circle. (Even Henry Ford knew that.) Wealthy individuals with no prospective customers do not build business; they buy chalets and gold coins.

To the extent that facts matter in such a politicized debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that equality rather than inequality is a better policy for economic growth.

Shawn Lawrence Otto–writing for Scientific American-shows how anti-science beliefs are jeopardizing our democracy.

Yet despite its history and today’s unprecedented riches from science, the U.S. has begun to slip off of its science foundation. Indeed, in this election cycle, some 236 years after Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, several major party contenders for political office took positions that can only be described as “antiscience”: against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more. A former Republican governor even warned that his own political party was in danger of becoming “the antiscience party.”

Such positions could typically be dismissed as nothing more than election-year posturing except that they reflect an anti-intellectual conformity that is gaining strength in the U.S. at precisely the moment that most of the important opportunities for economic growth, and serious threats to the well-being of the nation, require a better grasp of scientific issues. By turning public opinion away from the antiauthoritarian principles of the nation’s founders, the new science denialism is creating an existential crisis like few the country has faced before.

If you’d like to say how the presidential candidates stack up on answering important questions concerning science, check out this link.

Okay, I avoided politics for a bit but I just couldn’t ignore this one.  Racist little anger troll John Sununu told the press that the only reason Colin Powell endorsed the President was because he is black.  I can’t wait until we no longer have to hear this jerk.  Piers Morgan–another jerk–got him to spill his racist bile on CNN which seems to have become a coddle cult these days for hateful and ignorant people.

SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for President Obama.

MORGAN: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States — I applaud Colin for standing with him.

And, then, just a few hours later … WALK IT BACK little anger troll, walk it back!

Sununu statement — “I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies”

Uh, right. To which,  we ALL want to know:  Which Romney son had to dangle John Sununu out of an open window for Sununu to reverse his statements on Colin Powell?  (That was twitted by @DemocraticMachine.)  So, now we know that women vote with their hormones and African Americans vote with their melanin.  Wow, what will republican scientists discover next?

Well, if you were in Texas last night, you could have joined Josh Romney, Glenn Beck, and Dick Cheney for a night full of hate and fund raising for chicken mittens.  There’s three good reasons for not voting for mittens if we didn’t have enough already.

In last week’s debate, a voter told Mitt Romney she’s afraid of going back to Bush-era policies and asked for some reassurances. The Republican insisted, “President Bush had a very different path for a very different time,” before noting several issues where his agenda is indistinguishable from George W. Bush.

The next day, the Romney campaign started featuring Condoleezza Rice on the trail. Today, it’s Dick Cheney’s turn.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is headlining a fundraiser for Mitt Romney today at Dallas Love Field.

The GOP presidential candidate’s son will also appear at tonight’s private event, to be held at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field.

Also scheduled to appear are national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and political pundit Glenn Beck.

Romney’s son Josh will be on hand for the event, and Paul Ryan will appear via video.

Maddow and others have reported how the Romney/Ryan campaign has virtually closeted Paul Ryan and has him fundraising in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.  Do you really want the keys to your uterus and your daughters’ uteri to be placed in the hands of these people?

On Thursday morning, a top spokeswoman for the Mitt Romney campaign tweeted out news that they had raised almost $112 million in the first half of October, again showcasing the GOP ability to bring in big money to this year’s race for the White House.

But if Romney has a lot of money coming in, why is GOP running mate Paul Ryan spending so much time this week still raising money?

It might sound trite, but it is true, every minute you don’t spend shaking hands or talking to key voters is a minute you can never get back, especially in the final days of an election campaign like this one.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at part of Ryan’s schedule.

On Wednesday evening, Ryan raised money in an event in Atlanta, Georgia that closed down major roads during rush hour and produced some aggravated tones from commuters on social media.

On Thursday morning, Ryan raised money ($25,000/couple) in an event in Midland, Texas.

On Friday morning, Ryan is scheduled for two fund raising events in Greenville, South Carolina, one for $5,000 per couple, the second at $25,000 per couple.

On Friday afternoon, Ryan will hold a fund raising lunch in Huntsville, Alabama.

Last time I checked, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama aren’t exactly swing states.

In between these fund raising events, Ryan has been doing regular campaign stops, but you sure can’t do as many of those when you are going to places that aren’t key states, and don’t really border swing states.

I really don’t even know what to say about the continued story that Romney some how has momentum and that he is some how Moderate Mitt.  Dick Cheney?  Really?  Glenn Beck?  Really?  How can Mittens walk away from these folks and Mourdock’s hateful comments about forcing women to give birth to babies of their rapists? Yup, the anger is still here and its palpable.  I’ve spent the week listening to rape survivors who have been re-traumatized by the number of nasty old republicans who would actually force their own narrow religious views on the rest of the country and especially on women.

There are people in this country that shouldn’t even be given the keys to a car, let alone the keys to our country. Yes, you can follow this link and find more soothing Georgia O’Keefe images as you wipe the thought of any Republican in office.  Or, you can get mad at them with Tina Fey in a humorous way.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


27 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I lucked out and got a motel with MSNBC. For once I’m really enjoying listening to the Morning Joe gang desperately trying to figure out some way that Romney could win. They just can’t understand why those white working men in Ohio are so stupid. Oh– and they’re telling us how unimportant the “wedge issue” of abortion is compared to “economic” issues, as if abortion weren’t an economic issue to 51% of the population. I swear these guys don’t think women should vote.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Right BB. Joe is really trying to find an avenue for Romney to win the electoral vote. He’s so certain that Romney will win the popular vote, but I’m not convinced of that. I still think that due to the huge number of early voters (which at this point are going heavily for Obama) and the large number of people who are cellphone only users (which are predominantly 18-30) who are not being polled, that may be the key because there looks to be 2 demos that aren’t being polled or properly polled. I’m not saying the polls are rigged, I’m suggesting there is more of a possiblity this year, than 4 years ago, that the polls are skewed because of a large swath of people flying under the radar.

      I was polled last week via landline, I could see on my caller ID that it was an “unknown caller ” I figured it was some sort of telemarketing or robocall and I almost didn’t answer it. When I answered, it was a robo-poll and it immediately identified itself as a polling organization. I decided to responded to the questions as if I hadn’t voted. I imagine most people, particularly those who have voted, would not have respond to that poll, and many folks may not have even answered the phone.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s funny. I had an “unknown caller” a couple of days ago. Maybe I should have picked it up. But I only have a cell phone, no land line.

    • dakinikat says:

      They don’t seem to understand that involuntary servitude or slavery in the name of some one else’s nasty religion IS the ultimate economic issue as well as a human rights and liberty issue.

      • Fannie says:

        That’s it, they can’t understand women and the smart power they bring to the table. They will be paying a price, real soon I hope.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    According to some polls and pundits, Romney is either leading or running neck to neck. Needless to say I am stunned considering what this race is all about.

    Setting aside the two candidates, the agendas set out by either side is in sharp contrast to one another.

    The economy is showing signs of recovery. Slowly, yes but let’s be clear on what was awaiting the WH in 2009 following 8 years of reckless policies and unnecessary wars it appears that public is rushing to embrace the same people who approved and orchestrated the worst admiinistration in recent history.

    The GoP is running one of the worst two faced, unprincipled candidate to ever capture the nomination along with a running mater who openly denies women’s rights to control their own bodies yet the polls are indicating a “surge” in some states showing women supporting this ticket.

    Nothing Romney says stands for more than one news cycle. He changes positions so frequently the fact checkers are working 24/7 but it seems to have no real effect on the voters.

    Promises to gut most social safety nets are on the table including those that have been put in place to prevent seniors from dire poverty and this does not seem to bother electorate all that much.

    I’m not sure where this nation is heading if the idea of a Romney/Ryan win becomes a reality.

    How is what is happening possible and what are people thinking? Do they actually know what it is they are voting for or is the hatred toward Barack Obama so strong that they are willing to trade in their common sense and futures on a ticket that has telegraphed their intent to strip most of us of our rights and the gains we have made as a nation?

    It is becoming more difficult each day to adequately describe the discouragement I am feeling in the face of what is happening out there day to day.

    Is this racism or just plain stupidity?

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Ditto Pat!!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Pat I was giving you ditto on your accurate description of what Romney/Ryan plan our country, but I’m not discouraged. no matter what the polls say, I believe that it will be close, but I’m confident Obama will win both the electoral college and the popular vote.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Mouse, I wish I could share your optimism but I am finding it difficult to understand anyone wiliing to support a ticket that proposes the dire consequences their policies would entail.

        It shouldn’t be this close. Romney is a piss poor candidate overall and stands for a ticket that will harm women, children, seniors, vets, the handicapped not to mention gutting government agencies who promote safety within industries.

        A normal thinking person would be eager to reject this ticket just on these issues alone but listening to what the polls indicate there is a majority out there willing to give them the opportunity.

        Here’s a guy who just the other night showed his ignorance when it comes to the mideast and its geography, surrounded by neocons who should scare the bejesus out of any critical thinking voter, and who is either neck to neck or ahead in some states while enjoying a certain amount of increases in key states.

        It is shocking to me to watch this happen when rejection of this ticket, party, and issues should be the dominate theme.

        Can’t help feeling discouraged at this stage of the game and do close to the end when we have watched this from the beginning and know full well what is at stake come November.

        It should not be this close.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “It shouldn’t be this close. Romney is a piss poor candidate overall and stands for a ticket that will harm women, children, seniors, vets, the handicapped not to mention gutting government agencies who promote safety within industries.”

      I hear ya Pat and I totally agree!! It shouldn’t be this close and the only thing that explains it is what you suggested in your prior comment, ODS, much of it coming from racism and the trumped up birther, muslim, foreigner propaganda. It’s sickening.

      • well, I just voted…didn’t think about anything but my daughter.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Good for you JJ. If not for ourselves, for our daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters. If not us, who? if not now, when?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Also Pat, I really believe there is a large segment this isn’t being polled at all. I could be wrong, but we’ll know in about 12 days. Let’s hope it doesn’t play out like 2000, I don’t think many of us are up to the drama.

      • Fannie says:

        Exactly, it’s about my granddaughters, and long after I am gone, my great granddaughters.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Let me just offer one reason for my pessimism.

    They just interviewed several local people outside a mall who are still “undecided”. One was a woman who when presented with the question of possibly losing women’s rights and healthcare access would pose a concern for her.

    Her answer was amazing: She does not believe in abortion and it should be outlawed under all circumstances unless it pertains to the mother’s health.

    When asked about how this would effect the economy for women she answered that “well Romney is a business man and he has promised to create 12 million jobs so the economy will be back on track and no one should be concerned”.

    She did say that she supported Obamacare as her 22yr old daughter is still covered but she did not believe it should be a government program.

    A man was interviewed and though he claimed to be “undecided” he did admit to be moving over to Romney based on his plans to “trim the government”. When asked if some of those program eliminations may effect him he said “I have a job so I am not worried”. See what I mean?

    Two idiots voting on emotions rather than commonsense and I am in MA where we are considered liberal and better educated when compared to some other states.

    The issues seems to be that there are many more out there just like them which is the concern.

    • NW Luna says:

      “I have a job so I am not worried”

      That “It can’t happpen to me” mentality is truly amazing.

  4. janicen says:

    Just wanted to say,

    Happy Birthday Madame Secretary!

    Here’s a fun article with ten quotes from Hillary Clinton. One of my favorites…

    “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.”

  5. ANonOMouse says:

    These are cellphone only statistics from Smart Planet as of December 2011

    “Younger people: Nearly 6 in 10 adults aged 25–29 (58%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. The percentage of adults living in households with only wireless telephones decreased as age increased beyond 35 years: 34% for adults aged 35–44; 22% for adults aged 45–64; and 8% for adults aged 65 and over.

    • Roomate situations: Nearly three in four adults living only with unrelated adult roommates (71%) were in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is nearly twice as high as the rate for adults living alone (38%) and three times as high as the rate for adults living only with spouses or other adult family members (23%).

    • Renters: More than half of adults renting their homes (52%) had only wireless telephones. This rate is more than twice as large as the rate for adults owning their home (21%).

    • Men: Men (31%) were more likely than women (29%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.

    • Lower-income groups: Adults living in poverty (47%) and adults living near poverty (38%) were more likely than higher-income adults (28%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.”

    Note in those number Young Adults, Roommate situations, Renters and Low income
    I recently read that landlines usage has dropped by 1/3 in the U.S. there is an entire group of people that Rasmussen/Gallup and most other traditional polls are not reaching.

    There is a way to reach nearly every demo and that way is the internet. Rand is polling via the internet and it has consistenly had Obama ahead.

    Here are today’s numbers from Rand of 3500 Likely Voters

    10/25/2012 –

    US President ’12 from RAND *

    Obama 50.56 %

    Romney 44.64 %

    RCP isn’t including the Rand or the IDB/TIPP numbers in it’s daily rolling average, TPM is.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Looks like bb “got out of town” in time to avoid Sandy.

    The latest models show the storm heading right toward Western New England once again, only one year from the last one that lost power for me over an 8 day period.

    They are predicting heavy rains and strong winds to reach landfull around Tuesday with WM again in the crosshairs.

    Brilliant! I’ve already “reserved” my room in Brimfield where I remained for a week because they have a generator out there that provided heat and lights.

    Oh boy,

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Everyone in the path of this storm be safe and vote early before Sandy takes out the power. See how single minded I am? 🙂

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Pat, are y’all suppose to get TS winds and snow to your area?

      • Pat Johnson says:

        No snow predicted this time but by Tuesday who knows.

        I’ve got batteries, a portable radio, three LED lanterns, and a gas range. As long as the temp stays around 50 we should be fine if the power does go out.

        The power companies are “assuring” us that it won’t take as long to restore as it did last year. But many of the trees have yet to shed their leaves and the temps for the next few days are to be in the 60s.

        So if you don’t see me you know why. I’m back to being a “pioneer”.

        • Pat, I just saw this from Susie Madrak: Weather Channel: We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This Before | Crooks and Liars

          I guess the warnings have gotten worse since this morning.

          “It really is a worst-case scenario,” one of the Weather Channel anchors said late last night. The forecast scared me enough to go out and buy a few items I normally wouldn’t have: A windup radio/battery/charger, an electric lantern and a single-burner unit for a propane tank. I wish I had the money to buy a propane heater, because the storm is going to bring cold weather in its wake, and I’m not happy about the possibility of sitting in the cold and the dark.

          This morning’s update includes the European model forecast, which still sees a direct hit on the Delaware Bay. Since I live about a half-mile from the Delaware River, I’m worried about the potential for storm surge and flooding. There’s no good way to predict what will happen, because no one’s ever seen a storm like this before.

          In the meantime, a friend of a friend who works in emergency services said in a call with the feds yesterday, they were told to prepare for two-week power outages along the East Coast — which means no phone, no computer, and no heat. And that’s the best case scenario. (As I’ve written before, power companies are chronically understaffed to keep stock prices up, and hire inexperienced temp workers to clean up after disasters.)

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    I don’t know whether this has been posted here yet, but I think this is news worth paying attention to.

    “British lawmaker Tom Watson MP sent shock waves through the country’s political establishment Wednesday, when he asserted in parliament that a former UK prime minister was linked to a “powerful pedophile ring.”

  8. RalphB says:

    Douche nozzle at work.

    DKos: New Romney lie: Scare Ohioans by falsely claiming Chrysler may move all Jeep production to China

    “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state Jeep — now owned by the Italians — is thinking of moving all production to China,” Romney said at a rally in Defiance, Ohio, home to a General Motors powertrain plant. “I will fight for every good job in America. I’m going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it’s fair America will win.”

    Romney was apparently responding to reports Thursday on right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story earlier this week that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building Jeeps in China for sale in the Chinese market.

    Only Mitt Romney could take a story about how Chrysler is expanding into the Chinese market … and turn it into a story about how if he doesn’t get elected, Chrysler might send all of its Jeep production there. Apparently, Romney saw some headlines on some right-wing blogs and went with it, but as Greg Sargent points out all the facts to debunk Romney’s assertion are in the original article that he claimed as his source.

    But Romney didn’t simply get his facts wrong. As Jonathan Cohn points out, Chrysler is actually expanding Jeep production right here in the United States.