Andrew Sullivan – Meet reality. UPDATE.

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On his Daily Dish blog, he writes:

Americans are fine with raising some taxes along with cutting spending in a bid to cut the deficit and the debt. In poll after poll after poll after poll … No wonder those socialists in Britain – aka the Tory party – has done it too.

The Tory party to which he refers, is of course, the British Tory party. Well, as we are seeing just today…  It simply is not enough!  They want even higher taxes to support their pension addiction!  Taxes are raised, so there is now no need to fix the pension system, even though it will still lead you to ruin.


UPDATE:  From my blog-pal and kindred spirit The Last Bass Player, who just happens to reside in jolly ol’ England:


The evil British coalition Tory-Liberal government wants higher taxes to support their addiction to claiming expenses for food and second homes.  The average British citizen has to buy such things out of their own wages.  Not so politicians, who were claiming for everything from moats to housekeepers (unwillingly and unwittingly paid for, of course, by British tax payers).  There was a massive scandal about it, but I don’t think anything was changed.  Except moats, which now have nice shiny new drawbridges.
The strikes are because people have been paying into pension schemes for years – all their working lives in many cases – and now the evil British coalition government is threatening to lower the final pension payments, pensions which have already been paid into by the workers themselves.  The money saved by such a move will of course be recycled into paying for politicians’ moats, and bankers’ bonuses.

The Sad State Of California – The Enigma That Is Jerry Brown.

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Ah, Jerry Brown.

Where to start?

I have written some biting commentary during his time as California Attorney General. I did not vote for him for Governor in 2010 (left it blank). But I was not as critical against him when he won reelection to the office after so many years and decide to hold off on criticism until he’s actually done something. I took a “wait and see” approach.

Well, he’s done things.

Every time he does something that goes against the partisan grain, I want to stand up and applaud. See the veto of the union / Democrat sponsored card check bill, a corrupt gimme to the union lackeys, and the veto of the sham budget… OK, the first one anyway. I begin to think that, yeah, I think he kind of gets it now. I start getting comfortable with the idea that, yeah, maybe he’s no longer the “Governor Moonbeam” we all were so comfortable criticizing. Maybe he has changed and is going to be more respectable, more like his Dad.

But then he goes and passes / does something completely stupid –  like this – or this – or now, the so-called Amazon tax.

Jeez! I’m starting to get whip-lash!

Granted, California can’t tax Amazon directly because they don’t have an outlet, a solid brick and mortar store here in the state. So instead,  California has decided to go after companies that are affiliated with Amazon, or other businesses that operate in a similar fashion.. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to an internet tax, and think that one is inevitable. There is just too much untapped money for politicians to resist. But it has to be done smartly, and probably on the national level. This is not what I consider being smart. In fact, it’s down right stupid. In a recession, you simply shouldn’t do things that pressure businesses to close up shop and or finally provide the justification for the business moving out of your state to a neighboring one that is more business friendly.

From the article:

Amazon affiliate Keith Posehn, owner of in San Diego, said he had affiliate advertising agreements with more than 70 companies and these programs were 35% of his company revenue before the California legislature passed a similar bill last year. Then-Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed that bill.

“We got 70 termination letters in one night before he vetoed it,” Posehn said. After that, he started changing his business away from affiliate advertising and has started a new mobile application company.

“I have pitched investors and several question the wisdom of staying in California,” Posehn said. “Some venture capitalists are very keen on placing startups outside California because start-up costs are less.”

So you already have, due to previous efforts to pass similar legislation, examples of the business exodus that would occur if a law like this is passed… And you sign it anyway???? Why do our politicians in this state have such a nasty learning impediment. They say that this tax will bring in between $ 200 to $317 million in new taxes. But if Amazon choses to simply shut down it’s affiliate program, which they had already telegraphed they would do, how do you expect to get that money…. Never mind this will be tied up in courts for the next couple of years, which means, for that period of time, no money from the Amazon tax anyway.

Look, because I run a business here in California, I deal with it’s sales tax collection entity, the Board of Equalization, every year, so I know how stingy they are on tax collection. Here is what one of the BoE boardmembers had to say about last night’s bill signing:

Board of Equalization Member George Runner blasted Brown for signing the law.

“Even as Governor Jerry Brown lifted his pen to sign this legislation, thousands of affiliates across California were losing their jobs. The so-called ‘Amazon tax’ is truly a lose-lose proposition for California. Not only won’t we see the promised revenues, we’ll actually lose income tax revenue as affiliates move to other states.”

When you’ve lost the agency that collects sales tax on this… You know there is a problem.

NOTE: In one article I linked to, it states The California Board of Equalization says “the tax will raise $200 million a year”, while at the same time, it quotes a CBoE board-member saying this will kill jobs and won’t raise much revenue. In an LA Times piece, it says the new tax is expected to raise $317 million in new revenue.

Why all the discrepancies????

In the first case, when legislature is crafting that concerns taxes, the CBoE is required to produce an assessment of the potential revenue that it would generate, including estimates that factor in different scenarios. The legislature (any legislature really) will typically pick the most rosy scenario and use that as the official estimate. In this case, they probably chose the ceteris paribus scenario, that the tax goes up and nothing else changes. The unhappy boardmember knows that is not the best estimate to use, and is saying so.

As far as the $200 to $317 million dollar discrepancy goes….. The legislature is free to include and base its decisions on outside estimates and run with those numbers if of course they are even rosier than the official BoE ones. Why do you think the California state budgets have been one repeated mess after another for the last five years?????


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Here’s one for my friend and uke player Pieter Mordyk. He’s going to shit when he sees this!!!!

I know of so many bass players who have also either taken up the mandolin, as I have, or the ukulele. What is it with bass players adopting tiny instruments anyway???

Stolen from yet another Bass blog.

Taylor Martin! For Real This Time!

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My band mate gave me a set of Martin strings for my guitar – Bronze 80 / 10’s. So, at this moment, I’m putting Martin string on my Taylor guitar… So, in fact, I am Taylor-Martin!!!!!

Oh, Taylor Martin will be playing at the Revue tomorrow night (Monday) for open mic night. Starts at 6.

Some Tax Cut Truths – They DON’T Pay For Themselves.

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Just so we get some facts straight – Tax cut do not, and did not, even under the Reagan administration, pay for themselves. Bruce Bartlett writes:

Republicans claim to be deeply concerned about the budget deficit and the national debt, yet repeatedly demand additional large tax cuts. For example, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution but also wants an $8 trillion tax cut. He rationalizes this contradiction by asserting that his tax cut will not actually lose any revenue. As Pawlenty told Slate reporter Dave Weigel on June 13:

“When Ronald Reagan cut taxes in a significant way, revenues actually increased by almost 100 percent during his eight years as president. So this idea that significant, big tax cuts necessarily result in lower revenues – history does not [bear] that out.”

In point of fact, this assertion is completely untrue. Federal revenues were $599.3 billion in fiscal year 1981 and were $991.1 billion in fiscal year 1989. That’s an increase of just 65 percent. But of course a lot of that represented inflation. If 1981 revenues had only risen by the rate of inflation, they would have been $798 billion by 1989. Thus the real revenue increase was just 24 percent. However, the population also grew. Looking at real revenues per capita, we see that they rose from $3,470 in 1981 to $4,006 in 1989, an increase of just 15 percent. Finally, it is important to remember that Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times, increasing revenues by $133 billion per year as of 1988 – about a third of the nominal revenue increase during Reagan’s presidency.

These are facts, presented from the economists who WORKED FOR REAGAN on his budget policies during his administration. Here is Bartlett’s resume. He continues:

This is not surprising given that no one in the Reagan administration ever claimed that his 1981 tax cut would pay for itself or that it did. Reagan economists Bill Niskanen and Martin Anderson have written extensively on this oft-repeated myth. Conservative economist Lawrence Lindsey made a thorough effort to calculate the feedback effect in his 1990 book, The Growth Experiment. He concluded that the behavioral and macroeconomic effects of the 1981 tax cut, resulting from both supply-side and demand-side effects, recouped about a third of the static revenue loss.

It was a good thing to lower the tax rate from 70 to 29 % (of course no one paid 70% anyway after deductions)… That was a 40% drop in the tax rate. Yes, something that large is going to have a positive net effect on business investment and job creation. But cutting the current tax rate a few measly percentage point??? Sorry guys, it’s just not enough to make any difference. Try something more radical like a flat tax, and maybe you’ll see some effect.

And consider this. Back in the early 80’s, we still built things here, and you had a lot of youngish baby boomers having families. The pump was primed for economic expansion. Today, there is an enormous glut of houses that are empty because the overheated housing market caused builder to overshoot the possible normal demand line for a normal economy. In other words, too many houses were built and, even if the economy improves tremendously from the point it’s at now, it will be a very long time before demand can catch up. More importantly, the amount of stock market investment opportunities are vastly greater now than they were in the early 80’s. It’s much easier to make your money grow by investing in the market, hedge funds and derivative, than it is to invest in business, where right now, there isn’t much short term or, for that matter, long term money making prospects. If more tax cuts are passed and a the well-to-do have a few more duckets on hand to spend, and it’s more profitable to invest your money into the stock market than it is to invest in business expansion, where do you think the business class will tend to put their money?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not blasting the rich. I’m just pointing out a reality.

PS. On long-term business investment? If I had spare cash to throw around, I would invest in anything that has to do with hearing impairments. Given that the young of today are either sporting ear-buds connected to iPods turned to 11, or riding in cars where the stereo system is so tricked out that the poor auto is literally vibrating apart from the bass generated by the 30″ sub woofers, I think investing in hearing aid manufacturers and the like is a pretty safe bet!!! 🙂

Sleepybomb, R.I.P.

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Shit! I just found out one of my long time blog-friends had passed away last year from a brain aneurysm!  He was known as Sleepybomb, his real name was Michael Assunto. He was one of my very first blog-pals. He would often write fun stuff about music. He lived in Metry, LA, and had to abandon his house for a while due to hurricane Katrina. His Dad was a very prominent jazz trombonist and he liked to write about some of the people he met and knew as a result. But sometimes he would go months without posting something, but his last post was on Aug 29, 2009, and I wondered if something was up.

Now I know. 🙁

My condolences go out to his family. And on my end?  Selfishly, his presence on the web  is missed.


Here are a couple of vids from Sleepbomb and his band The Metry Wrecks. He may be gone, but his music will survive.

This was the first video I saw from him. I actually found the video first, then tracked it to him and his blog. We found that we both shared a love for music. We instantly bonded!

PS. I didn’t know his full name until writing this post. I don’t think he knew mine either. It’s a funny thing about blogging. You put out an identity, and it just becomes you, and the friends you make while blogging are whatever identity they decide to use while blogging, real name or not. Michael Assunto was, and will always be, Sleepybomb to me!

His death is a reminder that I have to get busy and start finishing some of my songs I’ve been writing for all these years. Some go way back to my time as a thirteen year old. Now that I can play guitar somewhat, I really don’t have any more excuses.

A First Time For Everything!

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My San Diego guitarist has done it!

My older brother has done it!!

And now I’ve done it!!!!

What is it???

I walked off stage at a gig!!!!

WHAT???? Easy-going little ol’ me, lover of playing anywhere because playing music is soooo much fun? Walking out of a gig???????

Never in my life have I ever thought I would do such a thing… But never in my music career, such as it is, have I been so insulted…..

OK, there was the one time…. But that’s a different story.

Me and Jim Rust a.k.a. Taylor Martin, were scheduled to play an open mic night at a pool hall here in Fresno called the Babylon. We’ve been angling for this for a month. The guy that runs the event, Jimmy O, is a cool guy. The sound guy? Not so much. When Jimmy finished his solo bit, it was our time to set up and play. We are a duo, with two guitars and both of us singing. As we are setting up, the juke box is blaring. When we get to sound check, the juke box is still blaring. I get up on stage and plug my guitar in to the direct box that is laid out, and Jim does the same. We position the mics and, as far as we go, we’re pretty much ready to play. It takes the sound guy several minutes to turn up Jim’s mic and his guitar. When his acoustic guitar comes on line… It;s way WAY too loud, causing massive feed-back! Then it goes back down, but it’s still too loud on stage, and all the while the way too loud juke box is blaring. Jim’s mic comes on line, and Jim is talking into the mic… But he can’t hear himself, because the juke box is way WAY too loud. So he asks the sound guy to have the juke turned down so we can hear the mix on stage.

At this point in a sound check, the juke box normally IS turned down low or off so the musicians and sound guy can communicate, get comfortable sound levels on stage, and get dialed in to get the show going. This sound guy apparently doesn’t operate that way. After several more minutes of a way too loud juke box and way too loud volume on Jim’s guitar and Jim asking a few more times to please bring the juke down, the sound guy yells at me to play my guitar, which I had been continuously strumming for the last five minutes. I had also been talking into the mic, to no avail.

Then, it happens.

Sound guy walks onto the stage and snidely tells us we have to get our shit together……


So then, as I realized Jim wasn’t going to do it… I did.

For the first time ever, in all my years of playing in all sorts of different bands in all sort of situations… I had had enough.

I walked off stage and pulled the plug on a gig.

It’s one thing to take fifteen minutes to fail to set up sound for a freaking duo – Hell, my six piece band Acoustic Highway can set up and play in ten, easy – But we are not the six piece Acoustic Highway. We are a duo. There are no drums to be mic’d… No bass… No keyboard… No electric guitar and Marshall stack… It’s just two mics and two acoustic guitars. It simply doesn’t take much to set up a duo. If you, the sound guy, are having problems getting dialed in, just let the musicians know that you’re having some technical issues and tell us to hang on, be patient, we’ll get things straightened out in a few. But, after waiting for fifteen minutes of useless unnecessary loudness, to have the sound guy come on stage and tell us to get our act together…

Nope. I waited for a couple of seconds for Jim to react. He may not have heard the comment as the juke box was too loud. When he finally turned in my direction, I simply shook my head, gave the hand across the neck sign, unplugged my guitar, and said I’m calling it, I’m not going to play this gig.

Then, not realizing it was me that pulled the plug and walked, the sound guy got in Jim’s face telling him he’s just an old musician and doesn’t know how this works…. HE’S unprofessional!!!!

I was ready to have to break up a fight, because Jim was boiling. Jim has been playing since the 70’s, and has three or four decades of experience on Mr. Sound-guy. I kind of know Mr. Sound-guy from my Chris Plays Guitar days, about seven years ago. Mr. Sound-guy was only getting into the business then, so I have almost a couple of decades of experience on the guy. Maybe this explains why Chris Plays Guitar did not press for relations with the production company run by Mr. Sound-guy. Even though they were supposed to be the hot thing in town to be associated with, we only played a couple of gigs for them. I think I now know why.

Jim was reasonably very pissed of. Me? Not in the slightest. Yo me, after being treated so shabbily, it doesn’t bother me at all. It was, after all, just an open mic. If it were a feature gig, I may not have walked. But you don’t get treated like shit when you are the featured act.

Fashion Misfortunes!

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This isn’t going in the direction you might think. It’s just a commentary on how fashion can change in a very short period of time. The best way to gauge fashion styles in the modern era is to look at movies and video made during a period and check out what they are wearing.

Example – Take the video from this 1976 song “More, More, More”.  OK, maybe featuring a clip from porn star turned one-hit-wonder isn’t fair…. But there it is!  And if you watch movies and TV from that period, you’ll find her get-up isn’t much different than the common choice of threads for the party set.

WOW!!! Look at those moves!!!! Does kind of have “Porn Star” written all over it!

Fast forward just a few years.

Here is a video from another one-hit-wonder – M. Yep! Pop Muzik”!

Things got tighter thanks to new space aged fabrics, but it’s more interesting than that. In some ways, the change in fashion mirrors the type of change that took place from the 1910’s to the 1920’s, where everything for women got less garish and hair got shorter. Here is womens fashion circa 1915:


Now here’s 1920 typical party-girl style:


Things also got shorter and tighter.

Must go work now. Have a nice day.

Justice Sotomayor – Closet Originalist?

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From a Surpeme Court decision against Microsoft v. i4i Limited. I’m not familliar with this case, but I do find this bit of of the majority opinion, written by the new Justice, interesting. She writes:

The parties and their amici have presented opposing views as to the wisdom of the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard that Congress adopted. Microsoft and its amici contend that the heightened standard of proof dampens innovation by unduly insulating “bad” patents from invalidity challenges. They point to the high invalidation rate as evidence that the PTO grants patent protection to too many undeserving “inventions.” They claim that inter partes reexamination proceedings before the PTO cannot fix the problem, as some grounds for invalidation (like the on-sale bar at issue here) cannot be raised in such proceedings. They question the deference that the PTO’s expert determinations warrant, in light of the agency’s resources and procedures, which they deem inadequate. And, they insist that the heightened standard of proof essentially causes juries to abdicate their role inreviewing invalidity claims raised in infringement actions.

For their part, i4i and its amici, including the United States, contend that the heightened standard of proof properly limits the circumstances in which a lay jury overturns the considered judgment of an expert agency. They claim that the heightened standard of proof is an essential component of the patent “bargain,” see Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U. S. 141, 150–151 (1989), and the incentives for inventors to disclose their innovations to the public in exchange for patent protection. They disagree with the notion that the patent issuance rate is above the optimal level. They explain that limits on the reexamination process reflect a judgment by Congress as to the appropriate degree of interference with patentees’ reliance interests. Finally, they maintain that juries that are properly instructed as to the application of the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard can, and often do, find an invalidity defense established. We find ourselves in no position to judge the comparative force of these policy arguments. For nearly 30 years, the Federal Circuit has interpreted §282 as we do today. During this period, Congress has often amended §282, see, e.g., Pub. L. 104–141, §2, 109 Stat. 352; Pub. L. 98–417, §203, 98 Stat. 1603; not once, so far as we (and Microsoft) are aware, has it even considered a proposal to lower the standard of proof, see Tr. Oral Arg. 10. Moreover, Congress has amended the patent laws to account for concerns about “bad” patents, including by expanding the reexamination process to provide for inter partes proceedings. See Optional Inter Partes Reexamination Procedure Act of 1999, 113 Stat. 1501A–567, codified at 35 U. S. C. §311 et seq.

Through it all, the evidentiary standard adopted in §282 has gone untouched. Indeed, Congress has left the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of §282 in place despite ongoing criticism, both from within the Federal Government and without.11 Congress specified the applicable standard of proof in 1952 when it codified the common-law presumption of patent validity. Since then, it has allowed the Federal Circuit’s correct interpretation of §282 to stand. Any recalibration of the standard of proof remains in its hands.

To make a long story short, Sotomayor says that it is up to the Congress to change the requirements of the burden of proof in patenet cases, NOT the Courts!  That should make some Conservatives at least a little bit happy…

No, Never mind.  It’s election season, and they would NEVER ADMIT that a liberal judge did something right, so this will just get ignored.

More info on the case at Groklaw.


PS. Even more interesting – This was an 8 – 0 decision, and Justice Roberts recused himself. Here is the SCOTUSblog page giving all the details of the case.

I’m This Pumped Up For The Week-End!!!!!

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