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Let’s Necklace Romney With Ryan’s Economic Plan!

Updates below

First, according to Wikipedia here’s what necklacing is (you can probably get the drift by looking at the above photo too):

Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

The fun bunch in South Africa during the 80s and 90s used to spring this on fellow black folks (it was mostly black on black violence) when someone was “sentenced” as a collaborator with the government.

Sentence Romney By Wrapping The Flaming Ryan Budget Around His Neck

Mitt Romney thought enough of Paul Ryan (and his budget plan) to rope him into the 2012 presidential race. So, we shouldn’t let Romney wiggle away from that budget.

clown paul ryan

The clown, Paul Ryan. From WMxdesign

Despite what you might have heard from the popular media, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin, 1st District) is a clown. He doesn’t dress up like a clown (not that I know of), but he likes to clown around with budget numbers, and play games like “who’s really going to pay for all this?”.

This page is an archive of all the links to articles detailing exactly what the Ryan budget is proposing. There aren’t a lot of details, mostly just aspirational goals without realistic, specific numbers.

Have you got more evidence from the Ryan Clown College to light that necklace around Romney’s neck? Leave links and comments below.

Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan – David Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 (The Reagan years!) (NY Times, 8/13/12)

Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Pink Slime Economics – Paul Krugman (NY Times, 4/1/12)

As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

Understanding the Ryan plan – Matt Miller (Washington Post, 8/12/12)

Ryan is not a “fiscal conservative.” A fiscal conservative pays for the government he wants. Ryan never has. His early “Roadmap for America’s Future” didn’t balance the budget until the 2060s and added $60 trillion to the national debt. Ryan’s revised plan, passed by the House in 2011, wouldn’t reach balance until the 2030s while adding $14 trillion in debt. It adds $6 trillion in debt over the next decade alone — yet Republicans had the chutzpah to say they wouldn’t raise the debt limit! (I remain mystified why President Obama never hammered home this reckless contradiction by insisting that the GOP “raise the debt ceiling just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt in Paul Ryan’s budget.”)

Ryan’s Tax-Rate Drop Would Require Lawmakers to Consider Favored Breaks – Richard Rubin (Bloomberg News, Apr 6, 2011)

The fiscal plan outlined by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan calls for reducing the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would require lawmakers to consider eliminating tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction to meet his revenue targets.

Over the next decade, the Wisconsin Republican wants the government to collect $4.2 trillion less than it would if Congress did nothing, and $1.8 trillion less than under the budget proposed Feb. 14 by President Barack Obama. Ryan’s targets in the plan he released yesterday are similar to the amount of revenue that would be raised if Congress extends tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2012.

Lowering rates that much while reaching the revenue targets in Ryan’s budget would require lawmakers to consider eliminating so-called tax expenditures, including the mortgage interest break and the deduction for charitable contributions, said Mel Schwarz, partner at the Washington national tax office of Grant Thornton LLP. Both have long been viewed as politically difficult to challenge.

Making Twitter Follow Friday Useful

Following on the heals of Chris Brogan and moving his Twitter follow Friday meme to his blog, here’s my shout out to people whose blogs or Tweets I read mostly religiously. I like Chris’ logic in moving these little promotions to a blog post format: trying to put all this information into 140 characters strangles the language and creates a 140 character mess.

  • @HolyokeHome — Their blog originates in Holyoke, Massachusetts (The Paper City), about the renovation of a new/old row house.
  • @WritersVoice — A book radio show that I listen to. Great interviews, including this one I did with Chris Brogan!
  • @StoneGreg — Co-founder of craft beer brewer Stone Brewing Co. Always has great links to interesting articles.
  • @CenterOnBudget – The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a non-partisan institute that’s always publishing great information about how the government is spending our money. If you want to be informed and don’t mind being sort of a geek, check them out.
  • @dankennedy_nu — Dan Kennedy is a journalism professor at Northeastern University and writes the blog Media Nation. A good source of information about the media business in general, especially around Boston.

UPDATE: Rob McGuire on how to recommend people and make yourself look good.

    Do you have any suggestions but don’t have a blog to publish them at? Leave them in the comments below.

    Do You Know The Most Dangerous Roads To Bicycle In Western Mass?

    It’s Spring in New England which means people are digging bicycles out of storage and hitting the roads. Where I live, on Route 47 in Sunderland, MA, cyclists often jam pack the road — it’s a very scenic ride, if not always a safe one because of the narrow road at times. But Route 47 doesn’t make the list of most dangerous roads to ride in Western Mass because I’ve never had a problem (I did almost hit a horse while I was riding on Rt. 47).

    Least safe states 2008 (click to enlarge)

    First some bicycling safety statistics before we go through the list. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF report), there were 716 bicyclist deaths in 2008, accounting for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities. Most people that are killed while riding are older — and getting older. In 1998 the average age of a bicyclist killed was 32; in 2008 the average age was 41. In 2008, Alcohol was involved (either by cyclists or motor vehicle driver) in more than 1/3 of all accidents that resulted in the death of the cyclist. Most of the cyclists killed in 2008 were male (87%). (You can find a lot of great information at bicyclinginfo.org)

    Safest states 2008 (click to enlarge)

    How about a few Massachusetts bike safety stats? These come from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is a great database of all kinds of traffic statistics going back to 1994 and sortable by state. In 2008 there were 10 bicyclist fatalities in Massachusetts, which put the state below the national average (MA 1.54 per million population; national 2.35). An interesting thing to note, despite the small numbers: in Mass. there were more bicycle fatalities at intersections (6) than non-intersections. That isn’t true for the U.S. as a whole, where 65 percent of fatalities take place at non-intersections.

    Let’s move on!

    Most Dangerous Places To Bicycle In Western Mass

    The intersection of Routes 10, 9, and 66 in Northampton


    View Larger Map

    This is the general area where Meg Sanders was hit on Sept. 22, 2005, by an armored truck coming down Elm St. (Rt. 9) in front of Smith College. It’s a dangerous spot for a number of reasons: traffic picking up speed coming down the hills, tough left turns for cars, a lot of traffic, and on Elm St. where Meg was hit, there isn’t a lot of room for cyclist to squeeze through the parked cars and traffic. Keep your head on a swivel if you’re riding through there!

    Route 5, between Northampton and Easthampton


    View Larger Map

    Doesn’t seem that dangerous? Well remember, two thirds of all bicycle accidents happen at non-intersections. This area is fairly straight and mostly flat; just the kind of place motorists can lose concentration. Add on the fact that the two lane road is pretty narrow, and you’ve got a recipe for getting run off Route 5. Many factors here for disaster.

    University Drive, Amherst


    View Larger Map

    I wasn’t going to include this road in the list. It doesn’t make sense, there’s a bike path along the road! Well, tell that to Misty Bassi who was hit and killed on Memorial Day 2009. That’s right, the car jumped the curb, drove over a patch of grass, and hit Misty on the bike path. In general, when riding your bike around colleges and universities you should keep your head on a swivel. Most college aged drivers have had their license for anywhere between 2 and 4 years; that’s not a lot of experience behind the wheel. [correction: in the comments someone noted that Misty was not on the bike path. Funny, the media coverage of this story is very confusing.]

    Mind the gap!

    Haydenville Rd., Whately – Northampton

    I got this area from a tip, noting the mass of pot holes and wind. I was on this road a couple of times last season and can testify to the potholes. If you’re bicycling in New England, you have to expect the potholes. Last year I blew-out 2 tires and had to straightened my rear rim 3 times due to running over potholes. I guess I need to practice pothole swerving.

    Did I miss some dangerous places for cycling in Western Mass.? Leave a comment below and I’ll update the list.

    I would like to thank some people for their contribution to this list: Marie Lisewski, Allan Douglas, and David Kutcher.

    Photos by dbking and KTesh and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

    7 Things being a locavore can do for you

    Before explaining what being a locavore can do for you, let’s answer what might be the first obvious question: what the hell is a “locavore”?!

    A locavore is someone that tries to eat food grown, made, fished, or ranched locally. Okay, what does “locally” mean? That depends on you and what makes sense to you given where you live. For some people a 50 mile radius would work, while for others a 100 mile radius makes more sense.

    The bottom line for this locavore project: know where your food comes from and strive to decrease the radius from which you source your food.

    my garden

    my garden

    Why bother jumping through these hoops just to fill your refrigerator?

    Well, here are 7 things that striving to be a locavore can for for you (and your community … and the planet):

    1. First, you’re going to get much fresher food when you buy lettuce from the farmer down the road rather than from a grocery store, where the lettuce may have been shipped across the country, depending on the season and where you live. Fresh food is more nutritious than food trucked across the country because food nutrients breakdown with time.
    2. Eating locally means you’ll be eating healthier because you won’t be eating processed foods. Processed foods — any processed foods — are not as good for you as whole foods. On average it takes 5 calories of energy to process 1 calorie of consumable food, not including the calories to ship the food.
    3. When you purchase foods grown or raised locally it supports local businesses. And when you support these local businesses they can expand to provide even more of your food needs.
    4. Being a locavore, you’re probably going to start heading to the local farmer’s market (in season, I have about 4 different markets going within a 7 mile radius of my house). Going to the farmer’s market means you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the people that grow or make the food; take the time to ask any questions you want about the food they’re selling. When was the last time you could do that at the supermarket?
    5. On average, the food sold in grocery stores travel more than 1,500 miles (it’s a complicated calculation, read here). What that means is that you’re spending money on shipping and less on quality fresh food. Doesn’t make sense to me.
    6. Treat yourself by finding some great restaurants that are sourcing their food locally. More and more restaurants are making a point of highlighting local food they cook with. Support this effort by seeking out these restaurants.
    7. Depending on how you shop and what you’re looking for, it could save you money. It depends. If you join a local CSA (community shared (or supported) agriculture) you very likely could save money with an initial investment. This is subscription farming; you buy a subscription to a farm and their products.

    Did I missing any of the benefits of trying to go locavore? Improve the list by leaving a comment.

    Also, if you live in Western Massachusetts, check out the Google map of local farm stands. I’m looking to build this into a resource for finding local food from small stands.

    Top photo (CC) Asiatic League

    The worst top 10 lists

    I’m sick of it. From now on I’ll be boycotting any “top” list when the content is spread over multiple pages, just for the sake of increasing page views. Because, that’s what it’s all about folks: getting you to view more pages on a site.

    Creating lists on Web sites is a popular and proven trope; people love to read lists, no matter if they’re baseless or not. Lists are fun! Take a look at the search results for “top 10″ and “top 7″ (for some reason 7 is an effective number if you want more reader response).

    Never mind the fact that you’re probably not any likelier to click on the ad on page 5 of the list. It’s all about increasing the page views so that Web sites can impress advertisers.

    Let’s look at the numbers. If 100 people click on all 10 pages of a top 10 list, that’s 1,000 page views, opposed to just 100 if the list was on one page. Apparently the extra bandwidth charges still make this tactic profitable. Maybe bandwidth is too cheap?

    What are your favorite examples of the worst top 10 lists?

    Images Of The 8 Most Modern Libraries in the World

    The blog Best Colleges Online has a review of the 25 Most Modern Libraries in the World, which they break out into categories: architecture, technology and innovation, digital collections. But, amazingly, they don’t include any images of the libraries they highlight for architecture. Well, I’ll do it.

    A couple of notes: all of these images are from Flickr, which I use a lot for my podcast, Photo Share Podcast. I’ll give you one image for each library and a link to more images. Also, this is hard to believe, but I couldn’t find any images of the Library of Picture Books in Iwaki City of Fukushima Prefecture on Flickr. In fact, there are hardly any images on the Web at all. It’s actually pretty hard to find Creative Commons images to use for some of these libraries, that’s why I might give you a crappy photo, but there’s a link to better photos.

    Which one is your favorite? Have you been to any of these?

    Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

    photo from flickr
    more photos of Det Kongelige Bibliotek

    Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

    photo from flickr
    more photos of Bibliothèque nationale de France

    Seattle Public Library, United States

    photo from flickr
    more photos of the Seattle Public Library

    Malmo City Library, Sweden

    photo from flickr
    more photos of Malmo City Library

    Geisel Library, San Diego, CA, United States

    photo from flickr
    more photos of the Geisel Library

    Halmstad Library, Sweden

    photo from flickr
    more photos of Halmstad Library

    National Library of the Czech Republic, Prague

    photo from flickr
    more photos of the National Library of the Czech Republic