Obama vs. Romney on taxes

Ezra and Yglesias both had versions of this chart– I like Yglesias’ line graph better:


Short version: Romney = slightly higher tax rates for poor people and way lower rates for rich people.  And, way lower government revenues to fund the things the American people actually want (and, no actual specific cuts for how this would work).

Of course, at this point, who knows, maybe I should be paying attention to Santorum’s tax plan.


I heart Chipotle

 love Chipotle.  As I said on FB at the time, the Chipotle opening up across the street from my office was the best thing to happen to me this year.  For a while, all I had was the Barbacoa, which is wonderfully flavorful.  Then one day, I tried the Carnitas (shredded pork) and I’ve never gone back.  So good– just such a rich, smokey, meaty flavor.  Anyway, in a column in which he compares Chipotle burritos to the Iphone, Yglesias explains why it is so good:

Chipotle stands out for some unusual process innovations as well. Their “barbecued” meat products—carnitas and barbacoa—are vacuum-packed and cooked sous-vide in Chicago before being shipped out for on-site reheating.

The sous-vide cooking method is mostly associated with cutting edge haute cuisine. The way it works is that a piece of meat and its accompanying seasonings are placed in an airtight bag. The bag is then placed in an immersion circulator, a bath of water that’s held at a very precise temperature. Cooking this way is slow, but extremely precise. A piece of meat held in a 155 degree water bath for long enough will cook uniformly to exactly 155 degrees worth of doneness. Sous-vide meat can then later be seared, sliced, chopped, or prepared any which way you like. Fancy chefs are the best-known practitioners of the technique, but in many ways it’s ideally suited to more casual dining. What it does, in effect, is use capital (the fairly expensive vacuum sealer and immersion circulator) to make it trivially easy to cook precisely. Done this way, workers with little training can produce expert and completely uniform results. Exactly what a large chain needs.

Not sure I quite get this sous-vide thing, but damn does it result in tasty meat.  And all the more reason I can’t understand why many of my dining partners (e.g., the lovely Kim, in particular) prefer the much more pedestrian chicken.

I also love the fact that Chipotle believes in humanely-raised meat.   I recall reading an article some time ago that this actually raised the cost of a burrito about a buck.  More than worth it.  On that note, I also love Chipotle’s first ever commercial, which I think brilliantly captures the concept:


Photo of the day

I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day (I’m not a fan of “holidays” that exist to enrich Hallmark and/or flower companies), but nor will you find me symbolically burning giant Valentine’s day cards (set of Valentine’s photos from Alan Taylor):

Pakistani women belonging to religious party Jamiat-e-Ulama Pakistan shout slogans as they set fire to a Valentine’s card during a protest against Valentine’s day in Karachi, on February 14, 2012. Valentine’s Day is increasingly celebrated in Pakistan, a Muslim country where many conservatives disapprove of the occasion as a Western import. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

Polarization asymmetry

As mentioned in yesterday’s post about George Romney, the Republican party has simply moved way more than the Democratic party.  In his post about Obama being such a moderate Democratic president, Ezra nicely summed up the political science research on this asymmetry:

Over the past century, DW-Nominate has shown a steady increase in congressional polarization. Democrats have moved to the left while Republicans have moved to the right. But Republicans have moved a lot further than Democrats. “Republicans in both chambers are polarizing more quickly than Democrats,” said Sean Theriault, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “If the Democratic senators have taken one step toward their ideological home, House Democrats have taken two steps, Senate Republicans three steps and House Republicans four steps.”

Political scientists call this “asymmetric polarization,” and there’s evidence of it all around us. Forty years ago, for instance, zero Republicans in Congress had signed a pledge to oppose tax increases in any and all circumstances. Today, almost all of them have. There’s no corresponding pledge on the Democratic side.

There’s plenty of things “both sides do,” but rapidly moving to ideological extremes simply is not among them.  Right now there is simply a massive asymmetry in American politics and to ignore this fact and reflexively respond to everything with some variation of “both sides…” or “yeah, but Democrats also…” is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of contemporary America.

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