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Who: Kimball Corson. Text and Photos not disclaimed or that are obviously not mine are copyright (c) Kimball Corson 2004-2013
Port: Lake Pleasant, AZ
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The Democrats Are Doing Well, But . . .
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Democratic Grassroots Fund Raising Campaign Is Doing Well

BUT Boehner, the Kochs, and all the Republicans continue to outspend the Democrats nearly 3-to-1. The Koch Brothers have committed almost $300 million so far, and that doesn't count what their friends are doing.

The Dems do not feel a need to match Republican spending to win, but they do think they need to stay in the ball park, and they also feel they are slipping in that regard.

It is a post Citizens United world where money talks and high public office is for sale. Damn our Supreme Court. Dark money is running wild. The Citizen United Court mistakenly assumed full disclosure but such laws have been effectively blocked.

Conservatives Are Wrong Again
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Why Conservatives Are Wrong About Social Security and Medicare

They want to privatize both in one fashion or another, but the smarter among us know the Wall Street wolves will steal the money by hook or by crook and leave not enough for a mouse to fasten a tooth on.

Now,, we have an example to prove it. Gov. Chris Christy -- trying to curry favor with Wall Street for his larger ambitions -- shifted New Jersey pension assets in the form of cash to Wall Street and quickly lost New Jersey retirees $3.8 billion dollars.

Additionally, we see how the profit motive has gutted health insurance and care in America. We get much less effective health care and less of it but pay double for it relative to the other OECD nations. For the same reasons police and fire protection are public trusts and not for private profit, retirement pensions and health care should be too.

It is a matter of optimum social organization in an era of relative lawlessness and greed.

On Qatar, the Enemy
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

On its face this deceptively liberal, rich and progressive country is a major source of terrorism and trouble in the Middle East. It is time for the world to wake up and know Qatar for what it is. Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a rich and liberal society, but it is a fraud because at its core the micro monarchy is aggressively financing radical Islamist movements, including elements in the Islamic State including the Muslim Bortherhood and al Qaeda.

It also heavily funds Hamas whose leader Khaled Meshal, fears the Mossad will get him and lives a life of protected luxury in Qatar. He does nothing without Qatari consent. Qatar wants to be a player, but has chosen the wrong side.

We should know our enemy when we seem him.

Invert-A-Burger
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Burger King is in talks to buy doughnut chain Tim Hortons and create a new holding company headquartered in Canada, a move that could shave its tax bill. Such an overseas shift, called a tax inversion, has become increasingly popular among U.S. companies and a hot political issue... In a tax inversion, a U.S. company reorganizes in a country with a lower tax rate by acquiring or merging with a company there. Inversions also allow companies to transfer money earned overseas to the parent company without paying additional U.S. taxes.

How a about a 100 percent tariff on companies' imports and exports after they have inverted. Take their US markets away. Any thoughts here?

Inversion and Our Corporate Tax Rate
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The claim is companies like Berger King leave or play the inversion game because our corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one of the highest if not the highest in the world.

This is nonsense. We need to look instead at the effective rate, the rate actually paid, not the published rate.

Our effective corporate tax rate is way below the published rate of 35%. Large, profitable U.S. corporations with good lawyers paid an average effective federal tax rate of 12.6% in 2010, one of the lowest rates in the civilized world, thanks to things like tax credits, exemptions and offshore tax havens.

In a report commissioned by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.), the GAO looked at taxes paid by profitable U.S. corporations with at least $10 million in assets. Even when foreign, state and local taxes were taken into account as well, the companies paid only 16.9% of their worldwide income in taxes in 2010.

Our Tax Code is a joke. Everyone knows it. And Congress does nothing about it.

Business Is in the Doghouse
Kimball Corson
08/27/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

American and European intellectuals and the art intelligentsia of those continents, being smarter and more sensitive than most, have never trusted the business community, from at least the gilded age and certainly now. These communities have always thought business men were suspect, shady and opportunistic is not down right dishonest. Busy chasing money, the business community could care less.

But now, the views on business men of intellectuals and the intelligentsia have become much more widespread in the American population. Fraud, shady practices and laws are not well enforced seem to have become the norm for many American businesses more concerned with their bottom line than people. It is reflecting badly on capitalism and free enterprise. Americans are slowly waking up on this issue.

That Republicans -- the political anathema that they are -- fight to protect such frauds and misdeeds and assure such lawlessness only redoubles the hostile sentiment among the american population. How many young children say they want to grow up and become businessmen? Policemen still, firemen and others who help people, yes, but not businessmen. The group has developed a bad name and has no public relations sense of the matter. They are too focused on getting and counting money, as much as possible.

It doesn't have to be the way it is in America. Businessmen in Scandinavia fare much better with their publics and on the scale of honesty and public concern. So do many European businessmen. But not American businessmen and the few honest and worthy men in that community are getting badly tarred with the brush for their brethren, yet they do nothing about it..

The issue needs broader attention, focus and discussion.

The Oligarchs Might Win Congress
Kimball Corson
08/25/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Oligarchs Are on the Cusp of Victory

Liberalism, Democrats and Progressives Are in Trouble

Nate Silver, political predictor extraordinaire, just released his new projections, and they are scary:

He reports that six Senate races are deadlocked today. If Republicans can win just three of them, they will take control of the Senate and we will have both a Republican controlled House and Senate.

Silver reports, "all [six] of these races are too close to call." Rove, the Koch brothers and the other oligarchs are pouring massive amounts of money into all of these races and are outspending the Democrats, even though the Democrats are raising much money at the grass roots level.

We are in trouble. Please help by contributing. Obama is no gate guard. He is Republican Lite and a weak reed. He has gone along with too much of the Republican/Oligarch agenda.

Americans Are Just Being Warmed Up and Set Up
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

All of these unwarranted police shootings of individuals lately are just getting us warmed up and psychologically prepared for the future mass shootings of American demonstrators and protesters by American's newly militarized police, protesters who will take to the streets over government oppression, inaction and failing economic conditions. Police used military techniques and training to break up a group protest over one such shooting just recently in Ferguson, although no one else was killed.

The new laws since the Patriot Act, the newly constructed FEMA/civilian detention camps, the "re-education" programs established in those camps, the Israeli IDF- style training being given to American police, the military equipment being given to police departments nationwide, and the NSA/CIA/FBI network of domestic spies all take us strongly in that future direction.

So does the creeping sentiment in government and under the new laws that anyone who opposes government action in these or other important regards and speaks out about it too vocally is to be viewed as being movable by classification from being a dissident to being a possible or actual terrorist and then classified as such under the new laws -- resulting in loss of many of their constitutional rights and privileges. War is being readied for -- to be directed, first, against America's demonstrating and protesting element and then later against the rest of the outraged American people because militarized police always go too far and matters then quickly escalate.

No government like ours trains, equips itself and seriously prepares for such a domestic eventuality without intending, directly or indirectly, to create or cause the problem by one means or another. Otherwise, why bother? A nation does not seriously prepare for such a war without coming to wage such a war.

We are being set up. The day might well come when we learn first hand how the Palestinians feel. I have no faith in our courts to restrain our government in such an eventuality, and I have no faith in our government to restrain itself. It will be open season on us.

What Is a Progressive?
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

A progressive is an individual of voting age who wants to see good progress on the problems which confront us. If the private sector causes, can't address or won't adequately address a social problem, then the government must do so, boldly, capably and effectively. All that is necessary to make that happen is part and parcel of Progressivism. All that blocks it, is opposed.

Democrats are more progressive than Republicans who tend to stick their heads in the sand or actually be regressive on the problems we face, but Democrats have become too much like Republicans Lite by themselves being too regressive, doing too little, having their hands out to special interests like the Republicans and by ignoring too much. Democrats are almost as much a part of the problem as Republicans. They are anything but bold, capable and effective. Neither Democrats, nor Republicans are progressives.

Our Shocking Realization
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Again, as I have been saying before these events . . .

Our governments -- by new laws, armaments, training and detention facilities -- all pulled together largely and quietly by stealth over the last decade, presumably to fight terrorism, is now prepared for major war against and control over its civilian population,

The shock is we are now discovering that reality first hand and on the ground.

The Democrats and Our Presidents Militarized Our Local Police
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

In 1990, Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act with a clause allowing the "transfer of excess personal property" from the Defense Department to local law enforcement--otherwise known as Section 1208. The clause was included in response to the surge of violent crime and the War on Drugs in the late 1980s. It's worth noting that at the time, both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats.

Section 1208 basically allowed transfer of anything the Department of Defense wanted. Homeland Security (under Secretary Janet Napolitano, my former partner) made requests for equipment and training. Virtually all were honored even as local police departments started to put their hands out and make requests.

The transfer program does not foist armored vehicles upon local precincts--as The NY Times explains, "the pace of transfers depends on how much unneeded equipment the military has, and how much the police request." And for local police departments with tight budgets, the free gear can be a welcome windfall. But it can also mean a disproportionately armored police force in a town of, say, 21,000.

The Pentagon's transfer program may have been a direct outgrowth of the War on Drugs, but as Alec MacGillis wrote in The New Republic on Thursday, it's not the only cause of heightened police militarization. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 led to a heightened state of security in the U.S., and that has trickled down to local law enforcement.

On a national level, the current Congress might reverse Section 1208. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul wrote a column in NY Time chastising the use of excessive force in Ferguson. "There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response," he wrote. "The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action."

Paul's colleagues across the aisle share that concern. "This is America, not a war zone," Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted on Thursday. "The people of Ferguson just want answers. We all want answers."

But I submit we already have the answers. Section 1208, Homeland Security, police departments and Israeli training well explain what happened. Put an RPG in the hands of police and it is incredibly naive to expect them not to use it at some point. We should hope Congress acts, but I think it is naive to expect the military weapons to be taken away from the police and the military training is like a bell that cannot be unrung.

The Scandinavian Countries: Does Size Matter?
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

In the main, it seems conceded that the Scandinavian countries and societies do better than we do. The issue is why. Many contend it is because they are smaller than we are and are more homogeneous. I disagree, but do concede they are smarter than we are in the main because 1) they have no huge block of religious nuts, 2) they have no huge block of ideological nuts, and 3) they have no huge block of paranoid gun nuts. But is smarts or population homogeneity really an issue?

As with size, I argue homogeneity is not an issue, as long as are enough smart and honest people to make the laws and run the government and people obey the laws instead of successfully fighting against them. Size is not the issue, as many think, for similar reasons. The real difference instead and in the main is the Scandinavians have good laws and excellent social agendas reflected in those laws, including in their tax laws. Their laws are well obeyed and enforced. Their mixes of capitalism and what Americans think is socialism are bold, inventive, well financed and successful. The Scandinavian oligarchs do not control government in the Scandinavian countries, the voting public does. The oligarchs are not allowed to act contrary to the public interest and typically don't try to. These are huge differences that have nothing to do with homogeneity or size.

We have more smart people, more poor people and more rich people than the Scandinavian countries, but so what? Matters are adequately scaled and workable adjustments can be made and problems solved. The central point is the Scandinavian countries are progressive and thoughtful about it and can made the adjustments they needed to. We are not because we elect not to be. These matters afford other major differences overlooked in the size and homogeneity debate.

In the US, we have deficient laws that are too often not enforced at all and ignored because of the political shenanigans of those being pressed by them, and our laws are too often blown to smithereens by special interest loop holes handed out for cash from our oligarchs by our bogus representatives. In short, we are are too corrupt, personally greedy and lawless as a nation, and so as a nation, we are rudderless and badly adrift, unable to address our problems. The Scandinavian countries are not so afflicted. Size and homogeneity have no bearing on these issues, which are central in my view.

Regulation and social agendas work much better in Scandinavia where laws are well considered and obeyed. I did two papers on that topic for Milton Friedman once who argued regulators become captive of those they regulate so all regulation fails. Both papers concluded that was not true in the Scandinavian countries. They believe in law and comply with it very well, instead of having lobbyists and lawyers fighting it every which way to Sunday. Their oligarchs also behave. Some even appreciate being able to contribute more because they like living in happy, well managed societies with good infrastructures.

Our central problem is we are simply too lawless, greedy and corrupt to succeed at much as a nation. Size and homogeneity are not the real issues here.

Fergustan, America
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Ferguson, Missouri has become "Fergustan" in thousands of tweets, social comments and worldwide news articles. It is named after Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

We will never be the same again. The military cat is out of the police bag. I have written about it for a couple of years now, but the problem has now arrived full-blown. It is here to stay. The military equipment will be too hard to take away from police departments, although more new equipment will be scant. The crowd and dissident "control" laws will not be repealed. And the Israeli and other military training is like a bell that cannot be unrung among police departments.

Fergustan is a milestone in American history for the worse.

Elizabeth Warren's Wealth
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

So How Wealthy Is Elizabeth Warren?

I have mixed feeling on Warren's net worth. She is very capable and well paid for it, especially by Harvard. So is her husband. And her heart is in the right place, but all that money is bothersome for a public representative. This from Wikipedia:

In 2008, the earliest year for which Warren has released income tax returns, Warren and her husband Bruce Mann had a combined income of $831,208,[1] which increased in 2009 to $981,670. Warren was paid an average of $350,000 per year by Harvard Law School during 2009-2010.

Warren's net worth as of the end of 2011 was as high as $14.5 million.

In 2010-2011, Warren earned approximately $140,000 from Aspen Publishers for her books about bankruptcy. Warren also has published a variety of commercial books over the years, for which no income data is available, such as the 2004 publication of The Two Income Trap which incorporated her bankruptcy research and many of her non-commercial articles.

Warren also worked as a private consultant for which she earned $90,000 on bank antitrust litigation, although it's not known if she incorporated her bankruptcy docket work because she will not release her report.

During 2008-2010, Warren was paid $212,000 for legal work on behalf of Travelers Insurance Co. in connection with asbestos liability litigation.

She is capable and rich. I do not see her as morally corrupted by it, as yet.

Another Great Woman in a Man's World
Kimball Corson
08/24/2014, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has become the first woman to ever win the Fields Medal -- known as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics" -- since the award was established in 1936. The Stanford mathematics professor was awarded the prestigious honor for her contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems.

In Quanta Magazine, Mirzakhani describes how she decided from a young age that she wanted to do something great with her life. As a young child, she loved reading and would tell herself stories about the adventures of a remarkable girl who would travel the world, become mayor, and perform incredible feats. She was inspired by female role models such as Marie Curie and Helen Keller and had hopes of one day becoming a writer.

Her ambitions changed in middle school when she first discovered her aptitude for math with the help of a supportive teacher. By the time she reached high school, Mirzakhani made Iran's International Mathematical Olympiad team -- a first for a girl. She won gold medals two years in a row and became the first Iranian student to achieve a perfect score her second year. She says the challenge of the competitions helped deepen her love of mathematics. "You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math," she explained.

After attending college in Iran, she went on to graduate school at Harvard University where she became fascinated by hyperbolic geometry. This interest inspired much of her early work which, according to Stanford News, involved "solving the decades-old problem of calculating the volumes of moduli spaces of curves on objects known as Riemann surfaces."

Now a professor of mathematics at Stanford, Mirzakhani is honored to be the first female recipient of the Fields Medal. She told Stanford News, "This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians." And, she believes that there will be many more women honored in the future because "there are really many great female mathematicians doing great things." (Photo to follow)

 

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