Topics: economic, fun and films

The governor’s office leaked that they are considering an idea on how to tax businesses. This tax would be a tax on the raw revenue that a business takes in, rather than on the profit that a businees makes.

The idea would be to close some of the loopholes (e. g., businesses classifying luxury boxes as “business expense”). Nedless to say, the various chambers of commerce are crying “foul”:

If you are a partner in an accounting firm, comfortable in your corner office and with your free-spending clients, Gov. Blagojevich has his eye on you.

It’s the same if you’re a real estate developer, computer consultant or anybody whose business operates as a partnership. Blagojevich suspects you haven’t been paying your fair share to the state, and he might try to drop the hammer.

It’s called the gross receipts tax, an old idea back on the minds of government revenue collectors. It’s a levy, slight in amount but potentially huge in impact, on all business transactions, regardless of the profit involved.

Lobbyists and experts in state finance said Blagojevich might propose the tax as part of a tradeoff for eliminating the corporate income tax, currently at 4.8 percent. But this is no revenue-neutral proposition.

The governor needs billions of new dollars to pay for the state’s pension obligations and his promise of universal health care. Estimates vary depending on exactly how the new tax would be applied, but some say it could produce a net gain of at least $6 billion a year.

State lawmakers could be drawn to that cash horde for their own pet projects, such as school construction or mass transit subsidies. One insider offered another possibility, saying the gross receipts tax could be part of a “swap” that guarantees some relief in local property taxes.

But at its heart, it’s a tax increase and business lobbyists are preparing a primal scream in unison about it. It touches every well-funded interest in Springfield, so some wonder if the idea is just a trial balloon.

“I think it stands as good a chance as anything,” said Douglas Kane, an economist and a former Illinois lawmaker who has consulted with Blagojevich’s budget office about the virtues of taxing gross receipts. Budget spokeswoman Becky Carroll declined to comment on what the governor will say when he delivers his budget address to the Legislature on March 7.

Kane said the tax is an efficient and broad-based way to get revenue from businesses. A Democratic lawmaker representing the Springfield area from 1974 to 1982, Kane also said the tax is better suited for a “new economy” based more on services than on production of goods.

Frankly, I don’t know enough about the world of business and or econmoics to have an opinion that would be worth listening to. But it is a current events topic which interestes me.

Our university has a club called “Reel to Reel” which shows foreign films about once a month. I’ve enjoyed these, and the latest one “Wages of Fear” (1953 French version) was very interesting:

The Wages of Fear is a certified classic with one of the most famous plots in film history. Four men undertake a suicide mission to earn $2,000 apiece by driving two trucks loaded with dangerously unstable nitroglycerine 300 miles across the rugged terrain of South America to the site of a ferocious oil-well fire. The nitroglycerine has the necessary explosive force to extinguish the petroleum-fueled flames. The oil company – and each of the truck drivers – knows it will be a miracle if even one of the vehicles reaches its destination without blowing up en route.
At least half of The Wages of Fear is a grim and twisted “on the road” film. But its larger theme is the end of the road, the dead-end nowheresville that’s depicted in the movie’s first hour, before the perilous nitro trek even begins. The film unfolds like Apocalypse Now in reverse – rather than a journey into the heart of darkness, it’s a story that begins in hell and shows us the kind of doomed characters for whom playing a game of Russian roulette with a gas-pedal feels like a dose of existential freedom.

I should note that I enjoyed one other sidelight of the film:

Especially nasty is Mario’s mistreatment of Linda, the barkeeper’s sexy assistant, played with manic verve by Vera Clouzot (the director’s Brazilian-born wife). Mario’s attraction to Linda is born purely of boredom and lust.

I loved the scene in which she was on her hands and knees, scrubbing the floor, all the while shaking her butt in some sort of dual motion to her scrubbing motion. Dang, I guessed that guys liked such things even back then. 😉

Still, the film was very interesting and was suspenseful as you never really knew what was going to happen next.

Science Fun In a recent post, I expressed contempt at William F. Buckley’s argument that “there must be a deity of some sort”. And today, as a treat, I watched another Richard Dawkins lecture. Here is the last 8 minutes of it (the second lecture):

Awesome! How anyone can hang on to their comic-book beliefs after being exposed to stuff like this just boggles my mind. Be sure to watch all 6 parts of the second lecture.

Richard Dawkins website can be found here.

Humor Some comics which touched my funny bone:

Get Fuzzy, which has a political subtext

This could be the locker room of the riverplex. Note the out of shape fat guys. That is mostly who swims in the Riverplex pool, though from time to time, a real swimmer will show up and blow us all out of the water. Note also the signs on the wall (if you can’t read them, click here for a larger image),

Oh boy; this cartoon is about teenagers, but there is a hint of truth even for me. My wife sometimes gets her feelings hurt when I don’t notice her new hair tint-cut-whatever, but I do notice when she wears a new pair of jeans or wears a new straight skirt.

For example, some guy caught his wife (or girlfriend) working in the house:

Something tells me he didn’t really care about her hairdo.

Nor did I care about my wife’s hairdo when she wanted me to get a “before” shot (this was during the McGovern Racewalking clinic, and I talked my rubenesque wife into wearing spandex)

So I’ll close with this video that I found at videovat: (note: this video opens with the moonimite figure that caused such a stir in Boston).


February 25, 2007 Posted by | big butts, Peoria/local, politics/social | 3 Comments

The supernatural, and are we going to attack Iran?

Workout notes: 5300 yards of swimming, including 10 x 100 on 2 (fist), 1000 in 16:37, 100 back, 10 x 100 on 2 (1:35-1:38; mostly 1:37), 100 back, (25-25-50-50-75-75-100-100-100-100-75-75-50-50-25-25) 17:45, 100 back, 750 pull, 250 swim (17:53). Athletically, I was a bit more challenged by the fact that I did more “sort of quick” (for me) swimming than last Sunday, but the 100 back rests and the pull set made it a bit easier.

The supernatural Dr. Montaque on has collected many Richard Dawkins lectures; this one is the 6’th of 7 parts of the Christmas lecture in 1991. The whole lecture is good, but if you watch no other installment, watch the 9 minutes of this one.

I haven’t decided on whether I’ll go to church or to watch another one of these.


Are we goint to attack Iran? Reports are:

  • There is a contingency plan of attack in place:

    Despite the Bush administration’s insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.

    The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.

    The panel initially focused on destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air Force adviser and a Pentagon consultant, who were not identified.

    The consultant and a former senior intelligence official both said that U.S. military and special-operations teams had crossed the border from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives, according to the article.

    Of course it is true that:

    Pentagon officials say they maintain contingency plans for literally dozens of potential conflicts around the world and that all plans are subject to regular and ongoing review.

  • And this from the London Times:

  • It is reported that some top generals have said that they will resign if we attack Iran:

    SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

    Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

    “There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

    A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

    “There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

    A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.

    The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair that it would not “be right to take military action against Iran”.

I really don’t know what to make of this, though my thinking is along the line of Ted Rall’s:

George W. Bush claims that Iran has been shipping weapons, including bombs used against U.S. military convoys, to Shiite militias in Iraq. I believe him. Iranian leaders would be idiots to -sit out a war whose outcome will affect them for decades to come.

Bush denies that he’s about to go to war against Iran. Again, I believe him. After all, we don’t have enough money or troops to invade, much less occupy, a nation three times bigger than Iraq.

Apparently I’m the only person in America who thinks Bush can tell the truth–er, a truth. Or two.

Granted, Administration’s j’accuse! press conference were reminiscent of the phony aluminum tubes and mocked-up anthrax bottles presented during the pre-Iraq War propaganda blitz. The only things missing from this set of metal tubes were “Compliments of the Ayatollah” and “Made in Iran” stickers. As a result of Bush’s ham-fisted replay of 2002, the objectively obvious observation that Iran is arming its proxy militias in Iraq has been greeted by what The New York Times called “a healthy dose of skepticism.”

“Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers,” reported the paper on February 13, “said that while that while they do not doubt that the [Iranian] weapons are being used to attack American troops, and that some of those weapons are being shipped into Iraq from Iran, they are still uncertain whether the weapons were being shipped into Iraq on the orders of Iran’s leaders.”

Even General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refused to take Bush at his word, saying he “would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.” To describe Bush’s credibility as merely damaged would understate the case. Fool us 10,000 times, shame on you; fool me 10,001 times…

If Bush says the sky is blue, people feel compelled to look up and check it out for themselves.

Democratic Senator Chris Dodd sums up Bush’s lost credibility: “This Administration has attempted in the past to cook the books to serve their policy goals…I’m getting uneasy that they are trying to set a premise for some future broader military action in Iran.”

Such irony! When Bush told twisted, impossible tales that defied logic, history and common sense, everyone believed him. Saddam Hussein, the secular socialist targeted for death by Islamic fundamentalists, was bin Laden’s best friend. The CIA, which repeatedly warned that Iraq probably didn’t have WMDs, was responsible for a “failure in prewar intelligence” that led to the debacle. People who torture aren’t torturers. All obvious B.S., all accepted at face value.

Now that Bush is finally telling the truth, we assume he’s lying as usual. “For the umpteenth time, we are not looking for an excuse to go to war with Iran,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates begged us to believe. “We are not planning to go to war with Iran.”

Trouble is, the Bushists made identical statements during the run-up to the Iraq War. (“You said we’re headed to war in Iraq,” Bush told a Washington Post reporter on December 31, 2002, over a year after he’d decided upon war. “I don’t know why you say that. I hope we’re not headed to war in Iraq. I’m the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully.”) The Iran lie, however, happens to be true.

This would be funny, if it weren’t so serious.

On a non-serious note: what would you think of a column that generated discussions on topics ranging from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the state of American Education, as well as Texas-Mexican history? The article I am talking about is this one: America the Stupid by Margaret Kimberley at the Smirking Chimp.

The article itself isn’t that good; it even contains some glaring factual errors (which were pointed out in the comments). But the comments were very entertaining. What I love is that I made a physics joke, and the error in my joke was pointed out to me! 🙂 I love it!

Clinton vs. Obama: good for the Democrats.
At least one columnist, Richard Reeves, feels the way that I do about the Obama-Clinton dust up. Of course, Mr. Reeves also said that President Bush would lose his bid for “reelection” and lose badly; in my opinion he gave the American People way too much credit.

But still, I like this article of his:

Democrats are fun. And it is fun to make fun of them. Having said that, they are the party that will elect a president in 2008. Their stars are lined up in the right order above the White House. This is why I think that:

The race for the Democratic nomination right now is certainly between the senator from New York, Hillary, and the senator from Illinois, Barack, with John Edwards, out from under John Kerry, waiting back in third place, hoping the front-runners trip each other up. Perhaps that will happen, but I doubt it. Obama and Clinton actually help each other. If Obama can defeat Clinton, he will be established as a national figure of unquestioned presidential stature. If Clinton beats Obama, the more likely result, she will have shed her “Can’t Win!” albatross.

Obama will soon have to face the “Where’s the beef?” questions that did in Gary Hart, a once-upon-a-time media meteor drawing big and enthusiastic crowds and delivering a rather vague message that translated into: “New and improved.” Obama has passed his screen test; now he has to show he’s ready for his close-up. But if he beats what Geffen calls “the Clinton Machine” — a machine Geffen used to fuel before he was drawn to the new face — Obama will simply be in a different class than he is now.

If the formidable machine-driven Mrs. Clinton can roll over this shining new face, they won’t be passing out leaflets, as someone did in Carson City, saying that she is unelectable.

It is not a bad hand the Democrats have to play if they go on to Las Vegas.

More than that, if you listen to Republicans this day, most of whom pretend they have forgotten the name of that fool in the White House, they sound like all they’re holding is a pair of deuces — or jokers.

At the moment, the race for the Republican nomination is focused pretty tightly on Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, two candidates of charisma, with Mitt Romney in the Edwards position. But the whispering campaign on that side of the aisle is unusual in my memory, because supporters of both the front-runners say the same thing into the delicate ears of reporters and columnists.

Ask Giuliani folks about McCain, and they whisper, “Yeah, people like him now, but he’s nuts!”

Ask McCain folks about Giuliani, and they whisper, “Yeah, people like him now, but he’s nuts!”

They all — Republicans, that is — seem convinced the other guy is going to blow it by blowing up in public.

So, whatever Democrats are saying about each other now, it looks like it’s their year. Clinton vs. Obama is win-win!

No comment needed: hat tip to the Dependable Renegade: Prince Harry insists on going into combat.

Prince Harry, the third-in-line to the British throne, will be deployed to Iraq, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday.

His regiment, the Blues and Royals, is expected to deploy to Iraq this spring. Harry could become the first royal to see combat since his uncle, Prince Andrew, served in the Falklands war against Argentina in 1982.

Harry, a second lieutenant, has expressed his desire to serve alongside his comrades in Iraq, saying that there was “no way” he was going to undergo rigorous training and then stay away from the battlefield. He graduated last year from Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

Our aristocracy takes a bit different approach:

February 25, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment