The CNN headline crowed: "GOP will face more pressure to back Obama's plan," even as what remains of the GOP congressional delegation held together like the shattered pieces of a once-impenetrable phalanx of warriors of the Roman Legion. It was, in its futility, an almost inspiring testament to the legendary GOP discipline now making its stand in the face of certain defeat that once made the Republican Party the unrelenting, successful, formidable god of legislative war that sent the weak, whiny, appeasement-freak Democrats, even when they had taken nominal control of both Houses of Congress, scattering in one rout after another.
Such a time as it was, way back then, when Republicans were wrong but strong and Democrats were right but slight.
Speaking as what might once have been called a "radical economist" for having accurately predicted this current, continuous-detonation, multi-faceted economic crisis long before it became obvious to the mainstream media and politicians, I can make the following, seemingly self-contradictory statement: although you Republicans are correct in opposing a massive stimulus package of the kind the Democrats are pushing, you are the very same Republicans who are entirely wrong in doing so.
Your victories from the flaming rise of the 1994 "Republican Revolution" to the impeachment of a sitting President to eight years of unstoppable legislation, policies, and outcomes have become the Pyhrric beacon to a future of your own irrelevance. Over the past eight years, the GOP burned any bridges to the land of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Your irresponsible, decade-long tax cuts of 2001 had nothing whatsoever to do with a claimed "recession" of that time. In fact, by technical measures, there was no recession in that year. In my article, "The Gospel of Impending Doom," I provide a table of all the recessions since 1920 and even go so far as to include the eight-month pause that happened in 2001 just to show that it was not, in fact, a recession. The claim otherwise was nothing but an excuse.
Ah, but the Republicans sold that economic situation at the beginning of the new century as a crisis that demanded immediate, drastic, massive tax cuts, this despite the transparently obvious gambit, which was to have yet one more chance to cut taxes to the fantasized end not of "making government smaller," but instead of making big government serve the GOP's base in bloated business interests, wealthy voters, and reliable contributors.
In the process, you caused federal tax revenues to plunge beneath expenditures, never again to return to the territory of federal budget surpluses that served as the hallmark of the last years of the Clinton Administration. I provide a lovely graphical presentation of this wildly malfeasant, destructive nose-dive into federal budget red ink in Part 4 of my series, "The Economics of Wreckage," which stands to this day and ever after as but one piece of my record of correctly predicting what was to come of the GOP's incomprehensibly bad economic policies.
Far more important, though, than being on record over and over again declaring, in sometimes excruciating detail, that it was coming, I also showed exactly why. I used the very same principles I teach in my introductory college course sequence in economics. In fact, a student cannot pass my second course, principles of macroeconomics, in the sequence without understanding this material with facility.
To the eternal benefit of all you Republican politicians who got your fancy law degrees and thereby avoided being flunked by me, the unyielding logic of economics was irrelevant: a minor pause in economic growth in 2001 was all the long-ago radicalized Republicans needed to bawl "Tax cuts!" and "Tax relief!" and other such pandering nonsense that gives evidence far less of a desire to allow citizens to keep more of what they earn and far more of a political philosophy bent on damaging the ability of the government to be anything other than a fist of laws and their enforcement against the populace and a hammer of power and its projection across the globe.
Consequences be damned: strip the government's revenue-generating ability down to the point where all but the iron core of state authority over its citizens must be defunded. This was what President Ronald Reagan's people tried to do, and their protestations to the contrary were swept away when the Gipper's own budget director, David Stockman, glibly told the truth in a press interview about the real motive behind the deep tax cuts of the early 1980s.
What manner of public servant militates against the poor, the needy, and the oppressed as "welfare queens" in the terms of Reagan-era hate-mongers on the one hand, yet transforms into the very epitome of "welfare queens" our military, our domestic law enforcement community, and the opportunistic feeders at the trough of those twins of state-imposed violence?
Your late-20th Century battle cry to "end welfare as we know it" (a call echoed in accommodative policy of the Clinton Administration), now rings hollow as you have made searing swaths of dependency upon an unceasing engine of public treasure. Concomitantly, towns and cities across America for years, now, have fought tooth and nail to be the sites of one prison-building spree after another as we uncontrollably ramp up the incarceration of our own citizens beyond rates found anywhere else in the world; and as if that in itself were not venal enough, you callously used the horror of September 11, 2001, to dole out more welfare to the nation's law enforcement community and industries of domestic spying, surveillance, and intimidation by the ever-watchful eye of those with nothing better to do than anticipate every citizen a criminal waiting to break a law.
We now suffer the paramilitarization of law enforcement not just at the federal level; even the most unlikely of regulatory agencies at the state level have found ways to feed at the hog trough of terror money for the welfare queens of the new America: cases in point can be found in several state-level Departments of Agriculture, which now commit everyday outrages against what they openly call "eco-terrorists," which include organic foods cooperatives and even the Amish. Terrorists are everywhere, and as long as more classes of terrorists can be invented, more money can be siphoned from the depleted vault of public funds. It is as if you learned at the knee of the pharmaceutical industry that creating one new disease or condition after another guarantees the unquestioning need of the consumerism-addled public for one more therapeutic regimen of drugs and doctor visits after another. It is marketing gone to the extreme of the destruction of the individual as free and unfearful.
My God, Republicans, look at what you have loosed upon this nation with your fear mongering. Do you truly think you still the madness in the hearts of real terrorists with what you have done to this nation? Do you think what you have done has anything whatsoever to do with respect for the rights and dignity of the individual, with respect for the law, with the fundamental principle of the sanctity of property rights that is, or at least should be, the unwavering, parsimonious core of conservatism?
You do not like Barack Hussein Obama?
Well, here's some news: You created him.
You meticulously, unerringly, methodically created the ascendant man whose color scares you, whose background troubles you, whose success infuriates you, and whose sometimes-liberal rhetoric whips you into bouts of racist jingles alternating with the petulant obstructionism of spoiled brats.
You have no moral foundation upon which to condemn this sad, neo-socialist era to which you, yourselves, have flogged us.
Tax cuts; then more tax cuts.
Threats of terrorism; then more threats of terrorism.
War; then more war.
Laws; then more laws.
Budget deficits; then more budget deficits.
This is the same harangue that has been coming from the Republican Party for decades. It is the harangue that the last great Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, slapped down and openly decried in his final State of the Union speech.
We now have a real recession. It is nothing like the faint economic pause that heralded the beginning of the 21st Century; and the catastrophe of crisis happening here and now makes even the events of September 11, 2001, pale by comparison in terms of asset value lost, lives ruined, and prospects for the future forever altered.
The GOP has humiliated itself with its battle cry of "less government" at the sunset of a 14-year "Republican Revolution" that ended in this degraded place in history from which we must now rise. Fourteen years is no 'revolution'; it is not even a blip on the radar screen of history, yet its consequences in wholesale conflagration are without parallel in the American experience. The very financial infrastructure of the world is imperiled, and once-proud companies from one industry to the next now grovel for salvation from a government they should rightly resist in the necessary ebb-and-flow of the excesses of free markets and those of public regulation.
Any revolution that ends in the very kind of government so opposed by the rabble-rousers is most certainly, unquestionably a revolution that has utterly failed, and this is exactly what has come of modern Republicanism and its win-at-all-costs, blindly-follow-the-leader mentality of pandering to ignorance, mean-spiritedness, racism, ethno-centricism, anti-intellectualism, and cruelty.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell laid it out in no uncertain terms: the GOP runs the risk of becoming a "regional," "minority" political party. This same Senate Republican leader went so far as to describe former President George W. Bush as a "political burden that we carried..."
Well, carry it, you must: you wanted it; you own it.
No, we do not need to spend more money we simply do not have, and we certainly do not need to borrow that money from the likes of foreign central banks like that of China, a nation that in no small way deeply damaged our economy with its decade-and-a-half scheme of undervaluing its currency to accumulate the very greenbacks we now beg it to lend to us.
No, we do not need to spend a trillion more dollars: that obsession with spending now at the grave detriment of the future is precisely what has already brought us to a bad future for which we were ill-prepared, thanks in large part to the Republican Party, which now feigns moral superiority upon the pedestal of its disgraceful end.
I can speak to all that is wrong with the Democratic agenda, replete as it is with air-headed liberals and their vapid "solutions"; but now I have something far worse than the occasional, venom-spitting Leftist shrieking at me about how "economics is dead," about how I am some kind of racist for speaking against Obama, or about how I am this or that undesirable cretin of latent Right-wing sentiments.
My worst problem now is you Republicans: you swirling gaggle of disgraced, naked clowns still dancing on the stage while adults try to speak; you crowing blast of hot air gusts still trying to fan the flames of hate you once used to scorch the land of tolerance; you craven, culled pack of eviscerated hyenae nipping at heels of people far larger than you can ever again be.
Just look at those who speak for you.
Rush Limbaugh: a convicted drug user whose years of vicious rhetoric have now distilled to openly declaring hope that "Obama fails." What American of any breeding, of any use for his nation, of any decency whatsoever actually talks of hoping for the continuation of catastrophically ruinous times?
Michelle Malkin: a woman who can become so engulfed in her own rages of hate against anyone less of an extremist than she that she attacks decorated combat veterans like John Kerry and Jack Murtha, and then she repeats lies about them (as in her claim that Kerry's fellow military crew said he shot himself), just like an incorrigible adolescent who becomes even more enraged in her insistence that her lies are true as the evidence mounts in her face that she has once again been caught lying. What kind of person is it who would be that way, and what kind of people do not repudiate her and her family for declining to get help for her? Or is it that Republicans were so jealous of Vietnam-era hippies that they had to invent their own version of Jane Fonda to give cowards the mojo to spit on veterans?
Ann Coulter: a hate-filled actress whose much-alleged transgenderism she uses to sexually arouse the disgusting, almost latent perversions of young and old men, alike, exactly the way the twin motifs of "travesty" and "burlesque" have been used from the Old Comedy of Ancient Greece on through to the boys dressing as girls to titillate repressed men in the audience at plays in the time of Shakespeare. I have watched the boy-men at College Republican gatherings where Coulter was speaking: their smirks and repressed sexual near-violence as they drool over her is utterly nauseating; and yet you Republicans let her prance and toss her hair as she spews her hate about everything from widows of 9/11 victims to the homosexuality of Democratic candidates.
And finally, just to drive the point home, Newt Gingrich, the man who now sits as the elder greybeard of "conservatism": a man whose history of personal and professional viciousness is so wretched that conservative author John Dean, in his book Conservatives without Conscience, gives page after page to the details of the appalling waste the man laid to people, including a cancer-stricken former wife, on his way up.
How dare you pretend you have some better connection to all that is godly and wholesome when you associate with traitors, the deranged, harping sex queens, and vile trash?
I swear, with what you Republicans have done to conservatism, if it weren't for Leftist half-wits like Naomi Klein, pompous phonies like David Sirota, and Nobel Prize-winning disgraces like that opportunist Al Gore and that free-trade charlatan Paul Krugman, I would almost be unable shake my head in disgust when I hear the name "John Kenneth Galbraith" being stirred from its much-deserved grave these days.
Barack Hussein Obama is, however, the President. For better or worse in the short run, it is his grave responsibility to fix what you Republicans have so thoroughly and magnificently broken. His solutions which might have worked quite well had tax cuts, accommodative monetary policy, and massive government spending during the Bush years not been wasted in times when they were not needed will cause further long-term harm; but at the very least, the man is putting his country and its people, not his political party and its gruesomely flawed apologists, first.
America will rise from this disaster caused by the shameful failure of the Republican Revolution and its howlingly incompetent leader, George W. Bush. We shall rise not by this or that grand program of liberal dreams of socialism gone wild, but rather by the power of our people to stand up, step up, and stride forward from adversity to opportunity. This they have done time and time again throughout our history, and I have no doubt they will do it this time, too, with or without the tedium of Democrats trying to do something of substance instead of that nothing of relevance to which you Republicans have now been relegated by the judgment of history, which just like the laws of economics cannot forever be held at bay.
"Hope" for the future has nothing to do with it: tomorrow will arrive. For the Republican Party, that tomorrow and many tomorrows thereafter will be another day with a scrawny Black man from Chicago owning the agenda.
As the axe continues to fall on Californians, the suggestions for stopping the line to the chopping block become more ridiculous and dangerous at the same time. While crossing guards earn minimum wage, what they contribute is vitally important. Both mom (wish I could find the picture of her on the front of the Lompoc Record shepherding kids across the street in a really bad rainstorm) and I have held the job and we can both tell you stories of how dangerous it is. If cities can put in cameras to catch red light runners in downtown areas, what makes them think that people don't run stop signs around schools? Most people treat crosswalks like they're yellow lights.
I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.
As the economy continues its death spiral it's nice to know that today's "upper class" are more determined to protect themselves than they are in helping the economy to survive. I'm sure that tax cuts will solve anything, they've done so well so far haven't they? Yes, I know the AMT is not a fair tax at the moment, but one of the comments was priceless.
"We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the private sector in this country as we know it "
Thank God for that. I can't take anymore Exxon Mobile record profits and 18 billion dollar bonus payouts while paying several dollars for apples.
What I find interesting in this whole mess is is that while most of the homes in the 9th Ward had been paid off for generations, Katrina ensured that those families became renters or homeless by way of a mismanaged disaster of a major city, homelessness has generously been extended to the middle class everywhere by way of foreclosures and job losses. After you've been laid off I guess it doesn't really matter if your company closed or shipped the jobs offshore. Either way, a large part of the tax base disappears. It's so much fun watching everyone rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, isn't it? Most of those companies that thought they were making money by closing factories in the United States ended up closing themselves. Duh! Chinese Medicine refers to that as running on evil qi.
Umm, I hated Bush but I am in no way euphoric about Obama. All things considered, there is no way that Obama can do a worse job than Bush did. He doesn't have a surplus to lose, he can't start any more wars until the military is replenished and he's not a babbling about nonexistent WMDs like the village idiot. Other than that the only skills I see from Obama so far have been a good deal of luck and having the right people help him out. Which actually gives him the same start Bush had, except for the difference in IQ and that will probably keep Obama from doing as much harm as his predecessor.
The dictatorial, faceless credit corp autocrats that unilaterally determine what "number" we receive - and therefore what opportunities we have in life - have come up with a new way to fuck you over. Apparently it's not bad enough that almost anyone can submit unsubstantiated financial information about you that instantly becomes part of your report, or the fact that the vast majority of credit reports contain significant errors. And several years back, it was reported that some cities and towns were even submitting negative information on drivers who had overdue parking meter fines. Can overdue library book fines or missed appointment charges be far behind?
But the new stick that the credit corps can beat you with has nothing to do with any financial behavior on your part. Now they can lower your credit score based on where you shop. It's affecting people of every credit rating, including those who've had nothing but sterling credit in the past.
While the basic concept of a credit reporting system was a reasonable one, the reality is that what we have is an inaccurate, punitive, capricious "report card" that treats consumers like naughty children with about the same level of recourse as children. So pull down those britches and bend over, honey. Or start paying cash for everything. Read for yourself.
This will be short and maybe not too sweet, but just WTF would the RNC elect a minority type to head their disaster? Not that I have a problem with Michael Steele, I don't, but I feel absolutely sure that the party of multiple chin white church screeching, country club types who would never allow this man into their membership without a bailout of several million from the peons who bear the brunt of dimwitted un-washed or watched bailouts of Wall Street and have a fairly good history of just that, check the record.
What next? A trans-sexual lesbo/gay/cross-dresser as chair of the Committee to re-elect Ronald Raygun???
Notice to those not too clear on this, he's dead.
But why, why would anyone with a functioning mind take on a task that would make Greek mythology pale by comparison? I wish the best for Mr. Steele, but I can't imagine in my wildest dreams that the radical white buck strange suit types will really take him in a serious manner.
Wish they would, then change really would be happening. But for the republikans to make this attempt smacks of mccain's ploy to get some Alaska governor on the ticket, a female fer gawd's sake and just look where that led. Attempting to run the cards.
For the life of me I simply can't see where those who have been almost eternally locked out of positions of authority would even think of considering the repuke party, a place I avoid like the plague, and I'm a white guy. I wish they would change, but for the present it seems obvious that they will not, period. They just got their asses handed to them on a spit and now they are screaming bloody murder constantly.
I do have to give these asshats some credit though, even without any support from 65% of the population they will not shut TF up. Sort of like my neighbor who has 7 dogs in his backyard, if you are a meter reader you are going to create a real row. But without substance.
When republikans actually accept non-white, quadruple chin, human beings into their platform I will listen, but I won't be easily swayed by a group of liars, which is just what they are.
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Friday to reverse labor policies from his Republican predecessor George W. Bush that unions have long contended favored employers over workers.
Obama, who won significant backing from trade unions in his Democratic presidential campaign, said there could not be a strong middle class, the focus of his economic recovery plan, without a strong labor movement.
He signed three executive orders to bolster unions in the workplace and strengthen workers' rights.
"I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House.
"Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labor unions and business groups. [...]
He announced the creation of a task force under Vice President Joe Biden to look at ways of raising middle-class living standards, a signature campaign promise.
Biden said his group would travel around the United States to canvass the views of ordinary Americans, holding meetings in different towns and cities each month.
GIVING LABOR MUSCLE
Obama's first executive order will prevent taxpayer funds being used to reimburse federal contractors who spend money "trying to influence the formation of unions."
A second will require federal contractors to inform employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. A third will ensure that qualified workers keep their jobs even when a federal contract changes hands.
The Teamsters, one of the most influential U.S. unions, called Obama's action a "new day for workers."
"We finally have a White House that is dedicated to working with us to rebuild our middle class. Hope for the American Dream is being restored," said Teamster President Jim Hoffa.
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, welcomed "the dedication of this administration to reverse the anti-labor and anti-worker policies that have been in place the last eight years."
Obama launches task force on middle class
The new group headed Vice President Joe Biden will include several Cabinet members. The president also signs orders aimed at bolstering labor unions.
On a day when the nation's gross domestic product suffered its worst slide in three decades, President Obama ordered the creation of a task force on the middle class and signed executive orders aimed at strengthening labor unions.
"This isn't just an economic concept," Obama said of the 3.8% decline in the GDP in the last quarter of 2008. "This is a continuing disaster for America's families."
"The recession is deepening, and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing," Obama said in an address in the East Room of the White House, part of a series of addresses on the economy this week. "Every day it seems there is another round of layoffs, and another round of families' lives turned upside down."
In signing orders aimed at protecting access to federal contracts for companies with labor unions and informing workers of their rights to organize, the president said, "I also believe that we have to reverse some of the policies" toward organized labor.
"I don't see organized labor as part of the problem," Obama said. "To me, it's part of the solution." [...]
The president, in creating a "White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families" with several Cabinet members included, has assigned Vice President Joe Biden to lead it. [...]
One of the executive orders prevents federal contract dollars from going to companies that try to prevent the formation of unions. Another requires workers to be advised of their rights to organize. [...]
In a White House that promotes its every step on the Internet, the administration has started a new website -- www.AStrongMiddleClass.gov -- that will keep track of the task force's work.
The administration has assigned it these goals: "Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities, improving work and family balance, restoring labor standards, including workplace safety, helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes, protecting retirement security."
Members will include the secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council and the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.
A day after handing labor unions a major victory by signing an equal-pay law, President Obama today issued a series of executive orders that he said should "level the playing field" for labor against management.
The orders, which union officials say will undo Bush administration policies that favored employers, will:
* Require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
* Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notices that workers can limit financial support of unions.
* Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union. [...]
"Today's actions show that the Obama White House is the working families' White House," AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said in a statement.
"It couldn't come at a better time. It's flabbergasting, in the midst of a painful recession, to see Exxon Mobil's $45.2 billion record profit, million dollar Wall Street bonuses, and more corporate jets for the bailout recipients as they rail against workers' rights," Sweeney added.
Biden sends a message to labor leaders: I'm no Cheney
Jimmy Hoffa Jr. was there. So was the AFL-CIO's John Sweeney, and Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers.
"Welcome back to the White House," said Vice President Joe Biden to a crowd of labor leaders and officials of nonprofit organizations.
The crowd laughed, a measure of sweet vindication after eight years in the wilderness during George W. Bush's tenure.
The rhetoric must have sounded sweet too. [...]
Oh yeah, and he had a parting shot for former Vice President Dick Cheney. Without mentioning the energy task force that Cheney famously convened in private, Biden promised he would meet "openly ... with transparency" in gathering ideas from the middle class task force, whose first meeting is Feb. 27 in Philadelphia.
So far my student loan for my Master's in Chinese Medicine is $99,515 and I can't afford to either practice, set up an office or get any small business loans to help me out. After four years of school that was located nowhere near where I was living before I realized that acupuncture worked and that I didn't have to go all the way to China to learn it, it's nice to know that the military thinks acupuncture is beneficial.
Ultimately, Niemtzow would like troops to learn acupuncture so they can treat each other while out on missions. For now, the Air Force program is limited to training physicians.
He says it's "remarkable" for the military, a "conservative institution," to incorporate acupuncture.
"The history of military medicine is rich in development," he said, "and a lot of people say that if the military is using it, then it must be good for the civilian world."
Nope, I can't practice my profession without a license but some doctor who thinks he's found a new technique in a medicine that is thousands of years old and is going to teach his version to troops who can do more damage with a little training of one minor form of acupuncture than the benefit is going to be worth. Or as the saying goes, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Why not get them battle armor that does the job correctly (Newsflash: money doesn't help dead people) instead and leave the administering of acupuncture to people who have had more training in both theory and practice?
"On 27 Jan 2008, the Huffington Post ran a story by
Sam Stein titled 'Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To
Defeat Key Labor Bill.' The story inclded around five
minutes of an hour long recording between federal
bailout funds recipients. The call shows the firms to
be involved in lobbying, effectively, with public
money. The file released here is the full hour long
. . .
"Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal
bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a
conference call with conservative activists and
business officials to organize opposition to the U.S.
labor community's top legislative priority.
"Participants on the October 17 call -- including at
least one representative from another bailout
recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients
to send "large contributions" to groups working
against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well
as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help
block passage of the bill."
"Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home
Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an
aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for
Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two
framed the legislation as an existential threat to
American capitalism, or worse.
"'This is the demise of a civilization,' said Marcus.
'This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting
here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this
happen and I don't believe it.'"
Center for Union Facts - SourceWatch
The Center for Union Facts is a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities. It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman's ...www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Center_for_Union_Facts - 39k - Cached - Similar pages -
For some. Mostly republikans. Who seem to not get it at all. Tax cuts! That's what we need! fund the entrepreneurial types who pay no taxes at all, and allow the curve of laffer to trickle down in a golden shower on the masses of plebes who will see this as manna from heaven and look up as a group of turkeys in a thunderstorm, and all drown and die.
Which obviously is not true for turkeys, but may be true for hominids who are not quite as sharp as some birdbrains. How would you like to die from the golden shower delivered by the high and mighty? I wasted most of last night tossing and turning (no pun for those who no my name) thinking about the absolute vacuum of understanding when it comes to the idea of INFRASTRUCTURE.
Now WTF is that? Parks on the mall? Streets? Highways? Water, sewer? Utilities in general? Transportation? Communications? Gee, duh, what else?? How many national/state/county/municipal and other operations provide these things???
After seeing the debacle over how one of the latest issues over the meth package for the US economy dithers over "tax cuts!" vs infrastructure (sorry, that big one) has come out, I had to go out this morning and roll in the remaining ice and snow over the grass while biting most of the fur off my tail. I was literally going nuts, like this just happened and surprised everyone.
As if this is new?? Shitfire and save the matches, now that my tail is on fire and I am really pissed has anyone ever wondered just the fuck why when you turn on the fucking tap the water flows, when you flush, it really does go away (to where remains a mystery), when you flick the switch the whatever comes on, and there is better than a buggy path in front of your fucking house???
Without all this we might as well revert to the middle ages and all that that entails, which we seem to be heading toward, at least here in the usa.
I will attempt now to provide links to some professional journals that I have had acess to for many years, not that all of their articles ar so damned good, but most of them are, and can hold your hand to the idea that that big word, INFRASTRUCTURE provides jobs for millions, and bu virture of what they do, provides for the rest of us the opportunity to do commerce, although as with most things, it provides for others the opportunity to commit acts of crime. So be it.
The Constitution of the United States provides me with the right to be a crinimal, but it is up to me not to be caught by that damned INFRASTRUCTURE that may then take me to court and incarcerate me, hopefuly for something worse than two joints and a roach. A reference to an old "Dragnet" from long ago.
If we could have had 50% into the nations INFRASTRUCTURE over the last 8 years that we blew down the rathole that we created in Iraq I bet the current grade would be at least C, and millions of jobs would be created and maintained over the long haul, for the betterment of all.
Now goddammit, don't bug me.
For the last time I'll try to explain how things work for the ones who obviously need the illumination, but my patience is wearing mighty thin.
Taxes: fees paid so that they can be pocketed by those that already have more than they need? or fees paid for ESSENTIAL services that we all need, even those DICKHEADS that would pocket them?
Services: tasks provided by those paid through taxes for ESSENTIAL things such the ability for society to do commerce or tasks provided to the likes of some molting fat bastards to abuse prescription drugs, abuse young boys in the Bahamas or whereever and spout their shit around the world, and indeed, into the cosmos (to our eternal regret) to foment hate and fear for personal gain??
And I'm still not finished, I'm going out to the backyard to pull fur off my ears now, will return with more rant, this absolute lack of understanding by elected idiots and the audacity and mendacity to repukelikan assholes has me in a state, there may be foam coming out of the corners of my mouth. What would it take to force them to shut the fuck up, just for a few days?
Anyone ever bother to wonder just why power lines fall in ice storms?? Maybe because mostly of falling tree limbs because the utility did not take care of it's easement???
Wait until this fiasco is over and see how the power utilities will scream bloody murder for excess charges to recover their costs for their own lack of preventative maintenance.
Since the early 80's reading "Public Works" on the thrown where some of my best thinking arises the consensus has always been that our INFRASTRUCTURE sucks, never better in segments than a C. Go figure, and tell me about it. I challenge anyone.
Ready for a fight, just let me boil this pasta, it may be my last meal for gawds sake.
I go to roll and maybe for the 400th time watch "rear window" and take a nap. I know how the story goes.
I sure as shit do, and will watch aforementioned flick for the 401th time with eyes slightly closed just to avoid a measure of reality. That dark matter shit, you know.
Good night. Tomorrow will be a hopefully different day. Not likely.
After all the outreach to House Republicans, all the concessions, all of the reports about the economic crisis, all of the evidence showing the stimulative effects of the plan, not a single GOP lawmaker in the chamber voted for the economic rescue package. [snip]
If the House Republican caucus, en masse, isn't willing to support a stimulus package in the midst of a global economic crisis, it's hard to imagine when, exactly, GOP lawmakers are going to work with the majority party in a constructive way.
After lengthy debate, Republicans weren't swayed by the evidence, or the polls, or the president. They came into this in united opposition, and with Democrats unwilling to give them more of Bush economic policies, that's the way they stayed.
A quiet little reminder for our esteemed Republican colleagues in the House and Senate...
YOU LIT THIS FIRE.
And here is a hint, REAL PEOPLE are suffering ... because of you.
Throwing more tax cut fuel on it won't put it out. Cutting funds for contraception won't put it out. And stamping your widdle feets and obstructing every move that the people who DIDN'T light the fire are making to put YOUR fire out ... won't put it out. [snip]
NO ONE, but you, has forgotten how we got to this point ... in two wars, our standing in the world damaged nearly beyond repair and standing in the flaming soon to be ruins of what used to be our economy. No one has forgotten that it was you who brought us to this point. Or that you have gotten us to this point while laughing at, mocking, denigrating and calling people traitors ... the same people who now have to clean up the steaming pile of elephant poop that YOU deposited in the middle of the living room ... of our burning house.
The time when you could blame all of your mistakes on the Dems and have the public and the pundits buy it is over. No one is buying it. Ok, I'm wrong, the stupidest factions of the Village and the punditocracy are still buying it ... because they helped you light the fire.
But know this ... Obama IS just giving you enough rope to hang yourself. And, thank you, you are gleefully jumping up on the horse and fitting the noose over your own head. You make demand after demand, and each demand is grudgingly granted, as a nice, kind liberal guiltified parent gives into a child's tantrum, over and over again ... until that parent finally realizes that that just doesn't work. And is FORCED to try something else, something less ... nice.
Soon it will be apparent to all sane people that being nice to you just doesn't work, that every time we give in to you, your unquenchable three year old egos just take that as a signal of weakness and demand more. With every petulant demand, with every hold you put on a nominee, with every little nit you pick, with every foot stomp, with every BLATANT obstructionist tactic you use to keep us from cleaning up YOUR mess and putting out YOUR fire ... you reveal yourself as the petulant, vengeful, idiotic spoiled little children you are. [snip]
You failed. Your ideology failed. Your economic theories failed, your foreign policy failed, your theocratic social policies failed and your theories of governing failed. Everyone knows this ... except ... apparently ... you.
Tuesday Jan. 27: Embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich grants Rachel Maddow exclusive access for an exlusive interview.
Blagojevich, 'the anti-Nixon'
Embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich explains to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that in spite of his political stunts and media tour he's not confident of the outcome of his trial in the Illinois Senate - though unlike Richard Nixon, he wants all of his tapes to be made public.
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich presents his side of the story on the accusation that he tried to have members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board fired.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow confronts embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on his appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate, leaving the people of Illinois with a politically disadvantaged representative.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow highlights the news made in her interview with Governor Rod Blagojevich and is joined by former federal prosecutor Scott Mendeloff to assesses whether Blagojevich said anything incriminating in the interview.
Reading is a hobby of mine. It has gotten me through some of the worst moments of my life and it was a savior during my childhood. The library was where I went to escape the world and discover it at the same time. When I walked into the room at my ten year high school reunion, everyone said "look, it's the girl with the book!" I'd read so much that I didn't recognize hardly anybody.
I read mostly fiction and what few biographies there were on women, but preferred science fiction from a very early age. Somehow, I had this stupid belief that the future was going to be better, that we would be living in space and be getting ready to humanly explore outside the solar system and that we would have met or seen evidence of another space faring race by this point in my life. I had originally planned to spend my fortieth birthday on the moon we had landed on 26 years before.
I totally get why aliens haven't contacted us, I wouldn't get into a cage with a lion either. I've often wondered why we think we can successfully attack a vehicle that came from an obviously superior system, but I guess kneejerk reactions will prevail. Personally, I'd rather take a chance and find out what they wanted before I tried to dissect them. But I digress.
Reading is fundamental. It really is. If you have the ability to read you can learn just about anything., including how to make things. You may not be able to do everything you read, but it stimulates the mind and enables you to imagine something similar or allows you to explore the world of another person. The ability to read has taken me to countries I've never physically visited and met people I would never meet on the street.
In fourth grade it was a requirement to learn how to use the school library. The Dewey Decimal system was explained and it was suggested that successful book reports and essays could be done with what was available if one was willing to use the service. I preferred the base library because it was bigger and had more fiction available. It as where I hid out after being kicked out of Sunday School for asking what they determined to be a heretical question (I didn't think that if you lived off of Patagonia (it was the sixties)and had never seen a white man or heard of the Bible that God would send you to hell because you hadn't heard of Jesus Christ) and while I waited for church to start so I could be honest and tell my dad I went to church every Sunday.
As I grew older (twenties) I started buying books. By the time I had moved away from the San Fernando Valley, Crown Books had expanded its scifi section in three different stores. For really interesting books I went to Change of Hobbit in Santa Monica (not there any more) and that unfortunate trend is continuing in both schools and state budgets.
Having access to city libraries as schools cut back on everything that makes learning interesting is crucial for inner city and rural children to expand their imagination, to teach them that Wikipedia isn't everything and being able to feel a book in your hands and have your eyes track the words and paragraphs helps to reinforce that more than one person has information on any given subject. It shows them a future that is possible and that they can be a part of it. It can help make up for the deficiencies in the school system.
As much as I love the internet, and I do, I also belong to the local library and check out books for when I don't want to watch a movie, I want to have quiet time, don't want to type and still be entertained. If Abraham Lincoln thought reading was so important that he was willing to do it by firelight, we should be expanding access for our kids to more authors, more information and let's face it, more organization. Numbers or letters, they both work at the library.
Goodbye Mr. Updike, I wasn't one of your faithful readers but you gave so much to others that the literary world will definitely miss you. Thank you for your contributions and the pleasure your brought to so many.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street showed some relief Tuesday that big companies like American Express Co. and Texas Instruments Inc. managed to post profits in a difficult recession.
and then in the very next paragraph:
American Express reported profits fell 79 percent in the final three months of 2008. The numbers weren't as weak as some investors had feared.
Likewise, Texas Instruments said its earnings fell 86 percent and that it would slash 3,400 jobs as the maker of chips for cell phones and other products tries to cut costs.
....in medieval trade merchants regularly tried to cheat one another in the market place.  In so doing they used other merchants’ ignorance of arithmetic to swindle them. Arithmetic—which at the time consisted mostly of knowledge of the Arab numerals, four basic mathematical operations and the “golden rule,” or the “rule of three,” where a missing fourth number in two equal ratios is found—had just reached Europe by way of Arab merchants. Between the 13th and 16th centuries a group of merchants in Europe, particularly in Italy, wrote manuscripts to teach merchants’ children, who attended special training schools, the newly received arithmetic. But what is perhaps most interesting about these manuscripts is that almost all of them teach how to use arithmetic, particularly in the act of barter, to cheat their trading opponents and increase what they called the “overprice.” As such, these medieval manuscripts taught that the rule of exchange was to come out ahead in transaction and that barter was “nothing but giving a good for another in order to get more.”
To make a long story short, in the medieval markets arithmetic became a tool, a “financial innovation” to use the language of the modern market, to make more money. The rule of the game was to take advantage of arithmetical ignorance of others to gain as much profit as possible. This was how capitalism was born. It was born not of honesty, equality, justice or fairness in exchange, but of deceit, swindle, inequality, injustice and unfairness. It was also in this same period that one can find the emergence of many other financial innovations, such as forward contracts and bills of exchange, innovations that tried to increase profit by reducing uncertainty and risk.
How did the economic thinkers of the medieval era, the Catholic clergy or the so called Scholastics, react to these market practices? Instead of trying to reflect on the reality of the new and rising social system and attempting to understand its true nature, they wrote pamphlets and gave sermons preaching how to be a good Christian. They prohibited certain market practices and blamed market participants for these practices. They warned people of avarice and excessive accumulation of wealth. They advocated quid pro quo and called for equality in exchange, an Aristotelian concept that by then had acquired a Biblical flavour. As opposed to merchants’ concept of “overprice,” the monks advocated a “just price,” an ambiguous concept that has been interpreted in a variety of ways, including a price that covers cost of production plus a “reasonable” profit. The monks warned people of practicing such sinful activities as usury and reminded them of such lines in the Bible: “Lend freely, hoping nothing thereby.” In sum, the medieval economic thinkers tried to regulate the market by prohibiting certain practices. Of course, as anyone familiar with the writings of the Scholastics knows, this prohibition was quite selective and often did not include the high and the mighty, the “beloved sons of the church,” who were the church’s benefactors.
It seems that seven hundred years later not much has changed
Boy-howdy, do those Republicans love them some torture! They love it so much that they'll put the administration of justice in this country on hold just to prove how much they love it and the torture-doers. Those "law and order" Republicans are actually willing to have the position of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States remain empty while they play their little political games.
- - -
And Arlen "I'm up for reelection this cycle so I'd better do some wingnut posturing" Specter, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is playing along with the seriously whacked Cornyn. Party before principle Arlen, every time.
What this is all about, of course, is trying to extract a promise from Holder that he won't pursue investigations against Bush administration officials for their role in authorizing torture. Because, you know, there are laws that aren't really laws depending on who broke them. So they're looking for amnesty, yet again. IOKIYAR writ large, and rather horrifically, in this instance.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is having none of it, however. He is calling them out on their tactics:
"Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have asked Eric Holder to make a commitment, before he is even confirmed, that he will not prosecute any Bush Administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture during the last administration.
"Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system - especially those with experience as prosecutors or judges - should know that a prosecutor should make no determination about who to prosecute before he or she has all the facts, and particularly not in response to legislative pressure."
Just how spacey will the GOP get before it reenters the breathable atmosphere?
No one really knows -- especially no one in the GOP -- but another fair measure of its orbiting silliness and creeping derangement came this week in its downright goofy postponement of a confirmation vote on Mr. Eric H. Holder, the inexorably next attorney general of the United States.
What in the hell were they thinking? and please excuse the casual abuse of that verb.
Sure, some Republican senators are up for a tough reelection fight in 2010 and therefore need to bare their chastened fangs for the benefit of the reactionary homefolk; and yes, undoubtedly the loyal opposition must routinely oppose. But it might be wiser -- or at minimum, saner -- to wait until the new administration is actually in place before they start opposing it.
In lieu of sanity or wisdom, however, they really shouldn't flaunt sheer amateurism, which was precisely the case when they held up Holder's appointment by demanding to know in advance just who the next attorney general would prosecute -- you know, for little things, like human torture and Fourth Amendment violations -- and who he wouldn't.
- - -
Is this the way it's going to be? Is this how the GOP intends to uphold its minority duties? -- by obstructing for the mere sake of obstruction?
Of greater significance, however: Is it really true that Republicans have learned nothing from their epic humiliation at the polls?
Thanks to Republican economic policies, the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong.
Republican tax cuts are creating jobs and continuing to strengthen the economy, yet there is still more to do so that every American who wants a job can find one. Congressional Republicans understand that many Americans are working hard to make ends meet. That is why the GOP continues to push for pro-growth policies that create jobs and oppose tax increases that would add a burden to working families and set back our economy. Republicans believe we should:
• Allow families to plan for the future by making tax relief permanent.
• Encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending and reducing regulation.
• Make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy through a comprehensive national energy policy.
• Expand trade and levels the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe.
• Protect small business owners and workers from excessive frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America.
• Lower the cost of health care for small businesses and working families through Association Health Plans, tax-free Health Savings Accounts, tax credits for employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts, Medical Liability Reform, and health information technology.
Additionally, to keep our economy growing, we must reform the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more pro-growth. Embarking on a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the tax code is one of the goals of the Republicans in Congress.
That's right, folks. According to the Republicans, "...the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong."
Yes, the Republicans have finally lost it. They're insane.
'Round the bend.
Send them to the zoo and watch the monkeys run.
Call 'em "Ed" so everybody will yell, "Hey, Special Ed!" when they walk by.
(That last one was insensitive.)
Anyway, there you have it: the official Party of the Opposition is now in full regalia, letting the American people know that it's ready, willing, and able to retake command of this nation whenever the citizens are once again burning with desire to commit collective, national suicide by means of the time-honored, much-heralded method known around the world and across history as Death by Stupid.
The Dark Wraith will now accept inquiries on just how stupid stupid can get.
The media fast reduced all talk of the on-going invasion to diversion, asking "What would you do if you were Israel?" and the fatuous "What would California do if Mexico lobbed rockets at it from over its borders?" Now we're all left to actually deal with real actions and facts, the long history that hinges on one truth:
We were told that education would help stave off poverty, but now with student loans and no jobs to repay them, some of us are now poorer than we would have been is we hadn't tried to improve on what was already working. Lately not a day goes by that it doesn't cross my mind that learning to drive a forklift in the Army woulld be of immensely more use to me now than being able to repair guidance control systems from thirty years ago. My brother, a former Naval officer, uses his skills too. Not.
Worst of all, now that we finally have experience, we have too much of it. Throw in the Masters and we intimidate the crap out of people. Now we are overqualified and have the papers to prove it. Just like millions of others who believed the American Dream. (current as of 11/08, before the numbers got really bad).
On January 22, in a 61-36 vote, the Senate passed its version of the legislation, S. 181 (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009):
Measure Title: A bill to amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and to modify the operation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, and for other purposes.
The legislation defines when the injury of pay discriminination occurs, changing that definition from what the Supreme Court had held it was a couple of years ago. The change puts the law back to what the lower courts had held it was before the Supreme Court ruled.
The House had passed a slightly different version of this bill two weeks ago. In addition to the timing of the injury, the House version would amend the Equal Pay Act to strengthen its enforcement and the remedies available under it.
Because the two measures are slightly different, the Senate version does not contain the amendments to the Equal Pay Act that the Paycheck Fairness Act piece had, the matter will have to go back to the House. According to the Washington Post, the House will likely approve the Senate version to move the Ledbetter piece forward. The final bill will probably be on the President's desk very shortly.
All this is relevant today because the furtive forces and pressures that haunted, and ultimately dominated, these past presidents have not abated.
Indeed, what the presidency of George W. Bush truly represented was the unfettered, most reckless manifestation of the objectives this group has pursued for many decades. In Bush 43's trademark pattern of showing the old man how it's done, the son was bringing virtually into the open the kinds of things his father preferred pursued sub-rosa. But behind the different facade it was the same game all over again.
The dirty tricks of Karl Rove, who got his first job under Bush 41 at the Republican Party during Watergate; the use of the Supreme Court to force an election their way; an early move to suppress the records of prior presidencies; the maniacal secrecy of Vice President Cheney; the false rationale used to justify the seizure of Iraqi oil reserves through invasion; the clampdown on dissent and the unauthorized domestic eavesdropping, the efforts to smear independent voices like Joseph Wilson (the husband of CIA officer Valerie Plame) and newsman Dan Rather; and last and perhaps most significant, the unleashing from government oversight of their friends and allies in finance and industry -- these and more emerged from the old dreams and methods of this anti-democratic culture.
Now, as a new president enters the White House promising reform, how much will he be able to achieve if his reforms step on the same big toes? We must begin to take seriously, and speak openly about, the true nature of the forces behind the Bush family enterprise. If we do not, we will find ourselves, several years from now, shaking our heads at new disaster, still unable to comprehend what has happened -- and why.
Mr. President, what are you going to do about this?
Forgive and forget?
Talk about "reform"?
Talk about "the future, not the past" "tomorrow, not yesterday"?
Or, perhaps, keep it running while claiming otherwise?
Again, Mr. President, what are you going to do about this?
Ah, yes: according to your Attorney General, Eric Holder, your Administration will defend congressional legislation granting immunity from civil prosecution to the telecoms that helped the government spy on us. In Mr. Holder's ominous and loaded words, "I don't think we would reverse course."
I suspect my question, 'What are you going to do about this?' has been answered, Mr. President.
Washington, DC (LOL) -- In order to give the press something more to do, Barack Obama has announced that he will take the oath of office every day, before staff meeting and before the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB), but after the Presidential Morning Breakfast (PMB).
He says he wants to provide the American public with a chance to see the oath whenever possible, consistent with his desire for more openness in his administration.
"The people have spoken; they enjoy seeing me take the oath of office, and since I'm president of the people, then I will listen to their wishes," said Obama in a press release.
Obama notes that he and Chief Justice John Roberts will change the words, or the timing, or the inflection of the oath each day. He also said they offer the oath in different languages occasionally, just to keep it interesting.
The oath ceremony will use a Bible only on Sundays, with a Torah on Saturdays, and a book randomly chosen from the Library of Congress weekdays. Certain days will have special books associated with them. For example, "Team Of Rivals" is scheduled for February 12th, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
While most times Obama will be in a suit, he will institute "Casual Fridays", where he will take the oath in a polo shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, and Justice Roberts in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops. He insists he will not be seen in his pajamas and robe.
A new photograph will be available for download after 10:00 AM ET each morning for use as a wallpaper or screen saver.
If the downloads are popular, there may be plans to add "hidden messages" in the daily oath, with special "Obama Decoder Rings" available through Ovaltine.
I'm wheezing, my chest is tight and I've taken all the medicine I'm allowed. As soon as the weather changed this morning I knew I was going to be in trouble. I called the clinic and I still can't get in to see the doctor before March 18th and the wheezing has gotten worse throughout the day.
Having been through this more than once, I know that I will steadily decrease in breathing regularly, so I broke down and called the doctor's office again. I tried to explain to the person that answered the phone that the doctor could either write me a prescription for Prednisone (hate the stuff but it works for me and it let's me see the hallucinations I never see on any other drug) and I could pick it up at the pharmacy or sometime after two am I shall have to make my way to the emergency room. I could go now but I would just have to sit out with people who are coughing and have goodness knows what or I can wait until the lack of oxygen gets me immediate attention.
I thought about not putting on my pajamas and stay in my regular clothes but this way I can take a book, wear a decent robe and boots, have the iPod fully charged and some extra blankets while I wait for them to go through the usual routine of two or three breathing treatments, a massive dose of Prednisone with a prescription for the rest of the week and lots of interns to listen to the funny sounds my lungs are making. Then after wasting at least eight hours I get to go home with the prescription for Prednisone and sleep for most of the day since you get very little sleep in an emergency ward. My bags are packed and I'm ready to go.
So, what do you guys have planned for this evening?
Our 44th President takes the oath of office. There was a trivial, momentary slip when Chief Justice John Roberts asked Obama to recite the first line of the oath in the incorrect order. Roberts said “execute the office of President of the United States faithfully,” rather than “faithfully execute.” The oath reads: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Obama paused and allowed Roberts to correct himself. Watch it:
I, Chief Justice John Roberts do solemnly swear,
That I royally fracked up trying to administer the presidential Oath of Office from memory.
That I embarrassed myself and the nation by getting something so simple ---something memorized by every boy and girl in, like, second grade--- so excruciatingly wrong.
And, in so doing, came within a butt hair of accidentally making Sasha Obama President of the United States.
Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing,
But you have to admit juggling first grade and the presidency might be a bit much for a seven year old.
But I digress.
Most important, I do solemnly swear that four years from now,
When I'm swearing in Barack Obama for a second term,
In fact, any time I'm swearing anybody in for anything, whether it's President of the United States or notary public,
I will execute the...no, wait!...I will faithfully execute the Herculean task of doing what Justice John Paul Stevens had the good sense to do, given the gravity of the moment, by bringing an index card ---which I can get a whole pack of for a buck over at The Dollar Store--- on which I will have scribbled, legibly, the words to the Oath of Office, so that I don't frack up again, unnecessarily reminding the world once more that I am an appointee of former President Bush
I am not disputing that there is a a God or higher authority. I hope and pray there is, because if we are the top of the food chain we are in a world of trouble. What gets my knickers in a knot are people that think that the brains we were given (or developed) are to immediately switch off whenever there is a crisis and that God will handle it for us. Jeepers creepers. How arrogant do you have to be to believe that a being could create the universe and then spend their time listening for your piddling little problems. Those problems might seem world changing to you, but not to the big guy, he's off building other universes. Hopefully filled with beings that use all of the attributes given us to make our lives better. God didn't mention guns or cars in the Bible but somehow people still manage to justify using them. Medicine is the same way. We were given brains to think our way out of problems, not pray that someone really busy would solve them. Sort of like taste buds, more than for just oatmeal.
No shit! This is a pet peeve of mine and one of the reasons I don't practice anymore. Acupuncture is sort of like real estate. Location, location, location. But most important of all is an accurate diagnosis. If migraines are caused by blood deficiency (pale lips, skin, conjunctiva, dull hair and nails, scanty or irregular periods) they are best treated by a combination of nutrition, herbs and acupuncture. If they are caused by too much yang (always angry or frustrated, road rage, very heavy periods with clotting), you can stick the needle anywhere and there is going to be some type of relief because you have essentially let some of the steam out of the system. If the migraines are aggravated before the period begins then it really helps if you regulate the menstrual cycle and work on the person's unhappiness factors. If they hate their lives and won't admit it, then you can expect a recurrence at the first missed treatment. It also helps if you know whether the migraine is liver, gallbladder or heart related but that is too technical and time consuming to sort people correctly for the studies. Therefore, for most migraines and headaches acupuncture will work no matter where you stick the needle. If you want to improve the quality of the person's life, you have to do a little more work. Acupuncture is the least (Nutrition, herbs, exercise, environment, moxa, cupping, etc) of what is known as Chinese Medicine. Very few western experiments are ever going to prove its efficacy so quit treating it like it is the be all and end all of Chinese Medicine because the studies aren't designed correctly which makes the whole system suspect. Like arthroscopic surgery for arthritis of the knee.
Hanging by a thread, and a frozen one at that.
I would like to think that it wasn't going to let go in my lifetime, but something tells me it's history as of the summer.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.
Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- when yellow will be mellow -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- and when white will embrace what is right.
Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
In the fullness of time, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama all die, quite coincidentally, at about the same time.
Because of the all the woe they had wrought upon the nation and its people, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney both come back as big mangy dogs, whereas Mr. Obama, because of the good works he had done, is reincarnated as a person.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were sitting by their dog house, and Mr. Bush was laughing hysterically.
"What the HELL are you laughing about, you idiot?" Mr. Cheney growled. "We both came back as DOGS, for Christ's sake, and that little jerk from Chicago came back as a human being!"
Through his uncontrolled laughter, Mr. Bush said, "I know, I know. And I'll bet you haven't figured out that he's actually our OWNER, now!"
"WHAT? WHAT?!" Mr. Cheney barked insanely.
"That's right! And do you know what that means, Dick?"
"No, tell me what that means, you giggling moron."
"That means the sorry sap will STILL be cleaning up all the shit we leave behind!"
And with that, Mr. Cheney started laughing hysterically, too.
Yes, Arne Duncan Barack Obama's pick-up basketball buddy is a real piece of work. He has been terrorizing teachers, turning the Chicago Public Schools into military recruitment camps, bullying kids, and cheerleading No Child Left Behind, that disgraceful, useless mess that has done nothing but turn education into a race to stuff one worthless, standardized test after another down children's throats.
And he is Mr. Obama's choice for Education Secretary, yet another in a litany of wretched appointments that now clearly, unambiguously define what will be the administrative and substantive machinery that will rule this land for the next four years.
Now, let me directly address you, Barack Obama, on the eve of your inauguration.
Mr. Obama, you can take your "hope 'n change" lie and peddle it in someone else's face. You are constructing a center-right government with a whole lot of right and not much of a center, just like I predicted you would.
Congratulations. You suckered the Left, you suckered the progressives, you even suckered some conservatives. You suckered a damaged, hurting, wanting nation with your rhetoric. I would use harsh language to describe those who voted for you, but I just cannot bring myself to do that; not now, anyway. The American people were so desperate to escape the spiral of decay into which this country had been falling because of the Bush Administration that they simply could not see the awful maw of an imprudent choice standing before them in the fineries of salvation and rectitude you so masterfully wore.
You think I was hard on George W. Bush? He was an imbecile a mean, incurious, cruel, incompetent man of his nature and character; he could not help himself, notwithstanding your professed belief that he is a "good guy."
You are not an imbecile; you ought to know better. Take a hard look at your cabal about whom I have already written and warned: Zionist thug Rahm Emanuel; paramilitary law enforcement enabler Eric Holder; AIPAC and Project for the New American Century maven Dennis Ross; Chicago slumlord Valerie Jarrett; Israeli military violence apologist Joseph "I Am a Zionist!" Biden; agri-business shill Tom Vilsack; war management flop Robert Gates; and Federal Reserve Open Market Committee bagman Timothy Geithner, to name just a few. And let us not forget your comfort level with a couple of the worst of the Bush people serving as holdovers: that wrecking ball of privacy rights, Robert Mueller, from whom you could demand resignation (oh, yes you could), and monetary policy failure Ben Bernanke, whose tenure you could repudiate for his staggering mismanagement and malfeasance (thereby eviscerating him and the other Fed Governors of any backing to proceed with yet another round of catastrophically bad, "accommodative" monetary policy). You even plan to corporatize and militarize NASA.
How many ways through these choices can you flout the principles and dismiss the hopes of your wide base of support before people see you for what you really are?
That rhetorical question need not be answered: for years, George W. Bush did it to honest, decent, genuine conservatives. You will have perhaps not as many, but quite a few, to do the same to honest, decent, genuine liberals and other progressive sorts.
No, Mr. Obama, unlike George W. Bush, you are most decidedly not an imbecile; but just like George W. Bush, you know exactly what you are doing. If the Right-wingers who hate you so much would pull their heads out of the sand, they'd be licking their chops at the presidency you are creating. As I have previously written, you are President 2.0: All the authoritarianism with none of the incompetence.
Readers of my work thought I was harsh with George W. Bush? Stay tuned. You, Mr. Obama, are now going to be the President. That makes you, from Day One of your presidency, the focus of my editorial discretion.
You, sir, are a Right-wing authoritarian; as such, sir, you and your acolytes will have to look to others for praise because from me, sir, you will get nothing of the kind when you act to that awful tendency that seems quite clearly to be your nature.
May you stay safe, Mr. President; and may this nation survive yet another leader far different from the one it needs.
The coronation I mean inauguration, feels like it's taking as long as the election did. Isn't there anything else going on in the world besides what's happening in the US? Real science instead of infotainment. Cool.
Must have only asked the rich ones because the majority are in no way, shape or form living the dream or have any possibility of achieving it on an individual level. Especially in a country where you can be handcuffed, lying face down and still get shot in the back. Breathing while black is still dangerous and will remain so for many more years.
Shades of the Iran hostage release. Of course they do. There is no guarantee that Obama might find the use of phosphorus bombs and blowing up schools and UN buildings to be the proper way to force one's enemies back to the stone age they've never had a chance to leave..
And if you don't want to join the military because it's the only "job" in town, if you wait just a little while there should be an explosion in prison guard jobs. This country will not go peacefully into its economic ice age.
Meetings are a waste of time. Gee, anyone (except the bosses) having suffered through more than one could have told them that. I wonder what the next news to anybody with a functioning brain blurb will be.
There's a plot on Lost and it makes sense? Wow. The Smoke Monster wasn't just a stray plot device? I quit watching halfway through the second season, the Tailies drove me nuts. Specifically that Rodriguez woman. Her character didn't die soon enough to make me continue watching.
I can go along with that. Unfortunately what's been lost over the years has been giving people the skills to do for the country. If schools aren't getting through to kids by teaching them to read, write, color, lay music, do simple math and learn to think for themselves, then the likelihood of being able to do good for your country drops proportionally (hopefully not geometrically) and since you can't contribute, you are reduced to taking. Whether it be soup lines, welfare or the recent latest craze, stealing from your investors, the same lack of civil charity is not on their radar.
I'm still fighting to stay on the bottom rung of the greased ladder because if I get knocked off the down becomes an abyss. Trying to work my way back up means that I leave mom alone for too long and all kinds of weird things happen, such as things important to me go missing and are sometimes never found. This friend of mine with a psych background finds mom's behaviors and answers to be quite humorous but admits it isn't humorous to be living through it. Maybe in a few years.
Go on. Admit it. You never thought this would end, did you? You never thought they'd actually leave, huh? With only days remaining, you still have nagging doubts, don't you?
Finally. Mercifully. Astonishingly. Incredibly. The insane adventure in national suicide known as the Bush administration is at last coming to an end.
This was a ride that beggars belief. Even after McCarthy and Nixon and Reagan and Gingrich, nothing prepared us for the last eight years, and I for one have difficulty finding the words that could begin to do justice to describing this historical folly of epic proportions.
The list of self-inflicted wounds is endless: running from the fiscal irresponsibility, the lies about war, the incompetent execution of every policy, the extreme recklessness of environmental catastrophe, the economic meltdown, and turning one of the most admired countries in the world into one of the most reviled.
It is a breathtaking record. It really is. Indeed, one might argue in complete seriousness that it would be far easier to list the one or two exceptions to a blanket rule of disaster than to catalogue the endless list of travesties. It would certainly take a lot less time to specify any successes than to climb the mountain of wholesale failures. In short, it literally involves almost no exaggeration to describe this adventure in catastrophic governance by means of a simple covering adage: If there was a way the Bush administration could have diminished America, it did.
. . . . .
But I'm convinced what most Americans fail to perceive, even to this day, is the true depth of the evil here. What they don't understand is that the incompetence and the partisanship, and even the garden-variety corruption, are the least of what just happened. What they don't get is that the major reason the Bush catastrophe was so catastrophic, is that these people never came to Washington to do good in the first place. They came instead to do well, and boy did they.
. . . . .
Most people have completely failed to perceive the magnitude of the Bush crime, because they see it as limited to "merely" dumb policies, poorly implemented, by incompetent stewards of government. Would that that were so. We'd be so much better off as a country and as a world had it been only that.
. . . . .
This president -- and indeed the entire movement of regressive politics these last three decades (which I refer to as Reaganism-Bushism) -- can only be properly understood as class warfare. Its purpose was never to make America a better place. Indeed, if we define America as a country belonging to its 300 million inhabitants, then the purpose was actually precisely the opposite. The mission of this ideology was in fact to diminish, if not impoverish, the vast bulk of these citizens so that the already massively wealthy among them could become obscenely wealthy.
. . . . .
In short, if you merely hate the Bush administration for driving the country into penury, making us hated around the world, bringing on a global economic crisis, ignoring when not exacerbating a looming environmental catastrophe of planetary proportions, killing a million Iraqis on the basis of a host of lies, letting New Orleans drown, trying to wreck Social Security, sleeping through (at best) the worst terrorist attack on our shores, allowing -- when not assisting -- the Middle East in going up in flames, or dividing our country internally -- if that's "all" you've got against these guys, then you have no idea how bad it really is.
President-elect Barack Obama "absolutely" continues to back his Treasury Secretary choice, Timothy Geithner, despite the media feeding frenzy around the Federal Reserve Bank of New York President's little problem with back taxes.
All of this hullabaloo is, of course, minor compared to the way Geithner served as a principal player on the Federal Open Market Committee during the years when the central bank was pumping the M3 money supply up at a staggering growth rate while strangling the M1 money supply at a nearly zero percent growth rate. (M3, again, is the kind of money only huge financial institutions can use one way being through credit derivative instruments while M1 is the kind of money everyday people and business use.) The current "credit crisis" and the larger economic meltdown we're having can be traced right smack to these unbelievably irresponsible policies the Fed was pursuing (as I explained quite a few times, most recently in "Feast of Famine"), but all that is way too complicated for the media pundits and so-called "journalists" to understand, so the best they can do is whine about Geithner's little tax problem.
Apparently, Geithner's tax problem isn't a problem for Obama.
Just as apparently, Mr. Geithner's personal culpability in the economic catastrophe that is bringing the U.S. and the rest of the world to its knees isn't a problem for the incoming President, either.
A Justice Department lawyer told a federal judge yesterday that the Bush administration will meet its legal requirement to transfer e-mails to the National Archives after spending more than $10 million to locate 14 million e-mails reported missing four years ago from White House computer files.
Civil division trial lawyer Helen H. Hong made the disclosure at a court hearing provoked by a 2007 lawsuit filed by outside groups to ensure that politically significant records created by the White House are not destroyed or removed before President Bush leaves office at noon on Tuesday. She said the department plans to argue in a court filing this week that the administration's successful recent search renders the lawsuit moot.
Hong's statement came hours after U.S. District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ordered employees of the president's executive office -- with just days to go before their departure -- to undertake a comprehensive search of computer workstations, preserve portable hard drives and examine any e-mail archives created or retained from 2003 to 2005, the period in which e-mails appeared to be missing.
Hong said private contractors had helped find the e-mails by searching through an estimated 60,000 tapes that contain daily recordings of the entire contents of the White House computers as a precaution against an electronic disaster.
Her remarks prompted Anne Weisman, the counsel for one of two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), to say, "I'll believe it when I see it."
. . . . .
Meredith Fuchs, counsel for the other plaintiff, a historical group known as the National Security Archive, said the Justice Department's statement was "striking" because the admission that 14 million e-mails had to be recovered showed "the level of mismanagement at the White House" of its historically significant records. She said, "For the past year and a half, they said, 'Don't worry, don't worry, leave us alone.' Now they say, at the last minute, they have solved it. I want to see the evidence."
The Bush administration is aggressively pushing back against a federal court order instructing the most important offices in the White House to preserve all of their e-mail.
In court papers late Friday, the administration argued that a federal court has no authority to impose such a requirement on the offices of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council.
There Are Still Many Unanswered Questions About GOP IT Guru's Tragic Plane Crash
New information surrounding the December plane crash which killed GOP internet consultant Michael Connell casts doubt on some of the rumors and speculation surrounding his death but doesn't close the books on the circumstances surrounding the Republican technology star's tragic end.
. . . . .
Connell’s case has drawn particular attention because he had recently testified in a case alleging that Ohio’s votes were tampered with during the 2004 presidential election. However, Connell – who was compelled to testify – denied the allegations in his Nov. 3, 2008 deposition.
Connell is also alleged to have been involved with the scrubbing of emails from White House staff which had been sent through an alternate system hosted on Republican National Committee servers.
. . . . .
Connell’s lawyers fought the subpoena and refused to furnish the plaintiffs with IT network schematics relating to the 2004 and 2006 elections.
. . . . .
In calling for the judge to compel Connell to testify, plaintiffs cited recent security breaches in the computer system at the office of Ohio's Secretary of State, which were preceded by a barrage of threatening phone and email messages and death threats and which led to the state website temporarily being taken down Oct. 20. The plaintiffs used these events to suggest the possibility of Trojan horses or back doors in the system, which Connell had designed.
I am not an anti-Semite. Some of my best friends are Jewish, (I've always wanted to use some line just like that), but what I am is anti war. I don't care how you dress it up, when you invade another country and the kill rate is 40% women and children as collateral damage, that's not antisemitism and it certainly isn't pikuach nefesh, that's an attempt at genocide. White phosphorus bombs? After the napalm photo from Vietnam there is no excuse for using such weapons. Against any one, including the UN. But the part in the Bible about turning the other cheek must be in the New Testament and only apply to people who really believe in Jesus' teachings. Wars don't demonstrate who's right or wrong, but who's left standing. In other words, history is written by the winners.
Palestine had democratic elections as the world demanded and they mistakenly elected a party the powers that rule the world didn't approve of, therefore that party isn't legitimate and it's okay to indiscriminately kill people until they change their evil ways. Too bad the world didn't use that same logic against, Bush, Mugabe or Chavez. Chavez at the moment is relatively insulated against being invaded by the US in its pursuit for oil so the rich don't have to change their lifestyle. And to Elizabeth Wurtzel, all I have to say is waah, waah, waah. You can't dress up killing civilians on a regular basis and not be compared to a regime that did the same. Behave like an advanced human instead of an angry monkey and maybe "normal" people might think you have a valid point.
But to communicate with anyone I think of as right-minded (and left-leaning) in any other part of the world is to experience the purest antisemitism since the Nazi era. In fact, in Europe right now, it is de rigueur to liken the current regime in Israel with the Nazi party, and to view the experience of the Palestinians as a form of ethnic cleansing. Hamas and Hezbollah are thought by the French and British to be social welfare organizations, and Israel is viewed as a terrorist state. Here, we honor the linguistic discoveries of Noam Chomsky and otherwise experience him as a quaintly brilliant crank, but in the bookstores in London there are entire sections devoted to his political thought – and he is read as if the distinctions between Leninist and Trotskyite philosophy had genuine consequence in today's world.
Physician and former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill "Kittie Killer" Frist writes, "A legacy of President George W. Bush will be that he saved 10 million lives around the world... The bottom line is: George Bush is a healer."
Dear God, Bill, you killed cats for illegal "medical" experiments, and George W. Bush oversaw the slaughter of untold numbers of people for insane experiments in worthless neo-conservatism. You and your brand name are now ashes of history. You are failed leaders of failed ideology borne of failed men.
Please, Bill, just go away. Find an island where you and your hero can spend the rest of your days reliving your glory years as ghouls who mattered. You don't anymore; so, please, just go away.
Big Brass Blog contributing writer Jersey Cynic has enlivened our online magazine today with a delightful post entitled, "(un)Official Friday Sex Post™."
To keep the adrenalin flowing and, in the process, to promote greater understanding and knowledge of economics and finance I herewith offer my response to her delicious rant in that article about the young lady, Natalie Dylan, who is offering her virginity to the highest bidder.
◊ ◊ ◊
Good morning, Jersey Cynic, and thank you for a stimulating post.
One minor correction is in order. In your article, you write the following:
"If this really is a legit auction (as it's being called) how is it that offering money for sex is o.k. over the internet, but illegal everywhere else (except in Vegas of course maybe that's the loop hole!)"
In point of fact, although prostitution has limited legal protection in Nevada, it is not legal is Las Vegas.
Somewhat simplified, the statutory standard for licensure of brothels and other venues of sex for money has to do with the size of the county; but state law allows any county or other incorporated entity to outlaw the trade as it chooses. The county in which Las Vegas is incorporated prohibits prostitution. If I'm not mistaken, so do Reno and several other tourist spots in the state.
That does not mean, of course, that prostitution does not exist in Vegas, Reno, and other places where free markets thwart the will of even the most ardent of morality regulators; it just means that the commercial trade in sex is not sanctioned by municipal law. This simply imposes an additional cost (part of which is borne through the bearing of risk) on the market participants.
Free markets will find a way to express themselves, whether they be functioning under the fist of the Right or the Left.
The moral of the story is clear: if you want butt, go to Nevada; if you want butt with a side of risk, go to Vegas.
Now, with respect to the story of the young damsel selling her virtue at auction, this again is merely the operation of a free market, and yet another principle of economics is brought to light by her efforts and the men who have bid for first access to her fanny: no principle of economics prohibits the fool from being taken by the lesser fool.
In fact, I emphasize in finance classes a corollary of this principle, which is sometimes referred to as "the greater fool theory": whenever an investor purchases a stock, it must rationally be to the purpose of eventually finding a greater fool than himself who will buy it.
Think about it. If you have bought a share of, say, Apple, you might or might not have been particularly foolish. Ultimately, in order to realize any capital gain, you must sell it; and if you sell it, someone must exist on the other side of the transaction as the purchaser.
But, if you are selling it, you must have concluded that no further gain commensurate with the risk can be extracted by holding the security. That means, at least in your judgment, whoever buys it must be a greater fool than you were when you bought it!
Now, you might be thinking that someone might be compelled to sell a stock for reasons other than the assessment that its capital gains potential has run its course, but that cannot be the case: if you really just need money, you can surely pledge the security to acquire money you need; either that, or you could form a position in options to gather some money for a short time while retaining the underlying security.
No, stock markets work efficiently by the consistent, persistent existence of the greater fool theory.
With respect to the young tramp selling her virginity, a fool will buy it, and then she will be handed off to a greater fool. Given her proclivity for commercial endeavors, in the fullness of time she will reveal to the world a veritable legion of greater and greater fools.
Provided, of course, that she does not work in Vegas.
Unofficial, as in not having official authority, as in FULL OF SHIT
Here are two stories that, in my humble opinion, are a load of crap...
Have you read about the scientists (?) who have identified The Marilyn Monroe "Whoremone" that is linked to an hour-glass body shape in women, and also an increased desire to trade-up to new men?
(I really think these scientists would serve the public far better if they spent their time finding a cure for cancer.)
Women who have high levels of oestradoil also show elevated confidence and a greater inclination to have sex outside of their current relationship, according to the US-based research.
The ovarian steroid hormone is also associated with having a symmetrical face, large breasts and a low waist-to-hip ratio.
My advice to the men who fall for these women...
and now, for the biggest crock of shit I've ever herd (as in cutting one loose from):
That pig Howard Stern is the one who started this back in September.
In my opinion, it's just one big hoax. She apparently signed a book deal the other day, and will most likely not even go through with it.
Dylan (not even her real name) says - "We live in a capitalist society. Why shouldn't I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity?"
I say to "Natalie" -- then why not film it and sell the video.
If this really is a legit auction (as it's being called) how is it that offering money for sex is o.k. over the internet, but illegal everywhere else (except in Vegas of course -- maybe that's the loop hole!)
I don't know folks.
A fine example of what we've become... selling one's self out to the highest bidder I guess.
Why isn't prostitution legal anyway? Selling is legal. Sex is legal. So why isn't selling sex legal?
I guess only the government can legally screw us out of our money.
Jan. 15: President Bush bid his official goodbye today in a farewell address to the nation. How was his final speech? Rachel Maddow critiques the address with Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington.
Via BlondeSense blogger Peter of Lone Tree comes the photo below, posted on a darned fine conspiracy theory site out of the UK. To allow readers here at Big Brass Blog to draw their own conclusions, I used Adobe Photoshop to remove a title on the photo and what appears to have been a hand-drawn red arrow pointing to the feature of great interest. This is supposed to be a shot of Hamas fighters; however, depending upon how you interpret that curious feature, this picture might be telling a story even more chilling than one about what was supposedly a band of masked Hamas militiamen chasing Gaza residents of Beit Lahia from their homes.
Was the feature Photoshopped in? From what I can tell analyzing the photo at various degrees of magnification to look for artifacts of image superimposition, probably not. It appears to me (and I emphasize, 'appears to me') to be part of the original subject.
The most compelling argument, by the way, against the legitimacy of this photo is not technical but, instead, logical: Would the gentleman in the picture have been too stupid not to notice this, himself (or too brazen to care)?
It's going to get real damn cold down here in a few days, some may laugh, but 14* is getting there for anyone. With no ice on the lakes just yet, this is not to be an extended event, the cold that is.
An old friend called the other day and suggested that since we both had our thumbs stuck up our asses at the moment that we ought to just get the hell out and go fishing. Down at Peppers. I'm starting to lean his way.
Many years ago I knew some brothers from Memphis who would pick some of the coldest, most nasty weather to go out on their little flatbottom to fish for crappie. They sometimes had a "blizzard bucket" in the center of the 12' boat, a 55 gallon drum split lengthwise full of charcoal and providing some measure of warmth. They used a trolling motor, but I would keep a respectable distance sculling and following and watching while throwing a spinnerbait, catching a few here or there.
But they would catch a shitpot of crappie using maribou jigs (white and yellow) on flyrods, just dipping them around cypress trees, knees and limbs. No live bait to mess with, I hate using live bait, and they had fairly constant action. So I tried it the next week.
Nice stiff wind out of the north, about freezing, sculling with the left hand and dipping the jig on the flyrod with the right. I caught crappie, brim (bream), bass, catfish, pickerel, grinnel and a gar. I was a bit cold but I was having a blast.
I didn't keep any of those fish that day, and this was after my conversion to barbless hooks which do considerably less damage for the "catch and release" types. I never will use a treble hook ever again.
But my friend wants to run yo-yos, a mechanical device that you bait with a minnow with a spring loaded reel and tie to a tree limb. They work well, and this time of year you don't have to worry much about turtles, I never approved of catching turtles. That isn't my cup 'o tea. Or drop of brew. Or whatever.
So I will speak with my old friend soon and suggest we forget the yo-yos, with those you need a motor, live bait and all the mess associated with that. Dipping jigs from flyrods you need a paddle. Much smaller carbon footprint.
The big trick is to dress warm, especially your feet and head, the rest should do OK and to not fall out of the boat. It's been a damn long time since I did that on a winter night. That may be the ticket, fish during the day, take a nap and get back out at night for a bit.
Then get yourselves upstairs to clean some fish, some to save and some to prepare with taters, puppies and assorted condiments for a great and wonderful meal. A few brews would go well at this time, along with some longbottom leaf.
Then a long discussion with an old friend about the things that were. While we concentrate on blowing smoke rings.
Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent. Mr Buffett told his audience, which included John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, and Alan Patricof, the founder of the US branch of Apax Partners, that US government policy had accentuated a disparity of wealth that hurt the economy by stifling opportunity and motivation.
Do keep in mind that we are talking about higher taxes on the richest members of society, the very richest. So, unless you're among that elite group, don't panic for personal reasons.
Keep in mind, also, that we are speaking only of income taxes.
You have certainly heard, several thousand times, that tax cuts lead to economic growth.
That's not true.
. . .
Large tax cuts are followed by a boom in the financial sector, a bubble, and a crash. Then a recession or depression with massive bank failures. This has happened three times, in the 1920s, under Reagan, and under George W. Bush.
During a depression or recession, the point where taxes are increased marks the point when the economy begins its recovery: 1932 under Hoover, Roosevelt's second round of tax hikes in 1940, the first president Bush's tax hike, followed by the Clinton tax hike. (There's one exception. Roosevelt's tax hike of 1936, which was accompanied by cuts in government spending.)
US economic growth has been strongest when our taxes have been high. During World War II, then under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, our upper marginal tax rates were between 88-92%. Read those numbers again. They are astonishingly high. Those were our strongest growth years.
The next time we experienced strong growth -- not just in the fiscal sector, across the entire economy -- was after the Clinton tax hikes.
Why do tax hikes lead to strong economic growth?
Tax hikes usually correspond to higher government spending.
Government spends money on things that the private sector does not spend money on: physical infrastructure, social infrastructure, market infrastructure, and defense. These are the things that create a world in which doing business is possible. The worse those things are, the worse business is. The better they are, the better business is.
Rich people can't be trusted with too much money. If they have too much easy cash around, they get conned into Ponzi schemes, they go for quick money deals, they get suckered into bubbles, and then the whole economy crashes.
Can we have increased government spending without tax hikes?
. . .
Debts at some point must be paid. Even if new debts are being taken on. The fact that government goes on and on, and there are constant new debts, disguises that. It makes us think of the debt as a condition, something special to government, that is actually different from regular economics. But it's not.
So the set-up has to be like that of a real business. We take on debt to get things done. We need a revenue stream that will pay for that debt. In this case, it's called taxes. If the set-up is such that the revenue stream will never pay for that debt, we must go bankrupt. Or mortgage and then sell off our assets, and then go bankrupt. Which is what we tried under George Bush.
There is a theory that tax cuts -- even without spending cuts -- will pay for themselves out of increased revenues. This has the laughable name, The Laffer Curve. It apparently works very well in Republican minds but has never worked in reality. It produces huge deficits that eventually require tax hikes to pay down the debt.
We are now taking on two huge new sets of debts.
The first is to pay for the Laffer Curve idiocy of the Bush years.
The second is to rebuild the economy from the devastation of those policies and the ones like them in preceding administrations.
Somehow, those debts will have to paid for.
The question is how?
We know that even if the economy is relatively active, as it was during the fiscal bubble of the Bush years, that it cannot pay the cost of government with the tax rates that we currently have. There was lots of taxable money being generated, yet it never came close to catching up with spending. That's not even counting those costs -- like the wars -- that were kept off the books.
Even if we were not going to invest in rebuilding the economy, we would have to raise taxes just to get even. Then raise them again to pay down the debt.
But unless we rebuild the economy it will not generate enough money to create the revenue stream (taxes) to pay the debts. So that has to be done too.
Why are we so resistant to raising taxes?
It's our nature. Nobody likes to give up their personal money for the common good.
People with a lot of money have, over the past fifty years, spent a fortune on exploiting that instinct and pandering to that feeling. Eventually, with nobody willing to say publicly that taxes are good, they took over the dialogue. It is now routine to hear tax cuts refereed to as "pro-growth" policies, even though, in fact, that's not true. It is routine to hear tax hikes called "anti-growth" policies, when that's not true.
The rich, the Republicans, and the Right, have lost this last election, but they still own the mythology.
High taxes make for a sound economy. High taxes make us all better off. High taxes will make you richer. Even after taxes.
Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.
Yep, parables. Stories that teach. Wanted to share a thread cresting at black and white 3, posted on moon's favors:
Now this is beauty. Thank you, more than I can say.
Ah yes. The old Progressive in me keeps thinking I can beat and inflict reason. "Take off the tie-dye," is the ready response, every doorway covered with Rovian talking points. Which wounds. Failure. Which kick-starts doubt, that great feather pillow. So reasonable, so good I! Why hurt I??? And the old protecting I, wondering what is wrong with I, becomes the important. No reasoning with that.
I'm finding the dog whisperer a great teacher. Really. I think all types of people, the wounded, the reasoning, the vengeful, learn from him because he's like sci-fi: a place where you can step back and walk the ground without personal attachment. My country, my way, my clan, my genotype, my god -- all the reasons to defend fall away.
Someone interviewed the dog whisperer at home with his "pack." He sits back, smiles, and there behind him, sitting peacefully, the stone Buddha.
Bush is still a dickhead. Espousing stupidity at every opportunity. Torture is okay in his book, although I admit I haven't read My Pet Goat. With just a few more weeks left for him to do damage, he still babbles on about the benefits of waterboarding. Too bad it isn't with him as the number one candidate followed by Cheney and then Rumsfeld. Of course, that's assuming there is justice in the world and that Americans don't do what they always do. Forget about it unless it's a Democratic sex scandal or somebody who used to work for a Democratic administration now is running for office. It's too bad that what I really think would get me investigated more than I already am if I said it out loud or put it in print. As far as I know, thoughts could be illegal at this point.
Liar, liar, his pants are almost on fire. Please don't tell me that Obama thinks Gitmo is a spa facility. Or that the innocent (women, children, families in the way) Gaza dead are going to come back to life. If you can't do the difficult things, then why the hell did you want to be President? We've already had eight years of do nothing but harm, the nation can't take much more of this incompetence. New king, just like the old king. Or as they used to say in countries with royalty "the King is dead, long live the King!" It's obvious that Obama has an addiction. It's called the Crackberry (I didn't know the President could be bought with fancy swag and cutesy toys) and it isn't even made in the states.
Once, twice, twelve times in the back. Yes, the police have established quite a nice record of civil rights for black men since Obama has been elected. Aren't you glad the race wars are over? Happy frickin' New Year.
Gee, who didn't see that coming? The states with the highest unemployment rates also have the highest home foreclosure rates. By the time we get to hell there won't even be a hand basket will be so burnt we'll have to crawl the rest of the way.
If I can't do it, then neither can you. But do what you want with Gaza, people with complain but nobody will do anything to stop the destruction. Besides, it isn't like they are real people like the rest of the world.
"To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that, within five years, all of America's medical records are computerized," Obama said in a speech from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests."
As a former victim of identity theft, (with a huge "chip"on my shoulder) you can imagine what my position on this might be. At the time of this identity theft, I was fortunate to be living in one of the wealthier areas of NJ and luckily I was able to resolve this within a few months before it really got out of hand. The police department handled everything for me. I've read horror stories though about people's lives being ruined forever when their identity is stolen.
Then, when we moved back to CT, we dealt with another "breech" and were notified that our personal information (from our tax return) was on a state employee's computer that had been stolen. We were given 2 years of "free" Debix Identity Theft Protection. (and don't EVEN get me started on Debix)
THEN, the entire family got notification last year that we were all entitled to another 2 years of Debix protection because a computer containing ALL of our information (this time the kids SS numbers were involved) was stolen from the office of a former employer. I'm guessing it was someone's computer from the HR department that handled our health benefits.
So, you can see how I might object to my personal information being available "on-line" via my medical records.
It's not about the medical info being available (I've worked as a medical secretary for many years, and I can assure you that your medical records ARE NOT PRIVATE). I just have grave concerns about the SS# being available.
Identity theft aside, do we really want the government controlling our medical records with carte blanche access to our personal information?
Big Pharma and the insurance companies will have a field day with all of this info!
How do you think employers might use this to their advantage when hiring someone? (i.e. pre-existing conditions)
or when they might want to get the "dirt" on someone...
"The systematic misuse of government databases and the governor's woeful under-reaction to state government workers engaging in this outrageous behavior make House Bill 648 necessary," she told the committee.
Tina Fey did a great job. Yet, Sarah Palin still insists on continuing the satire and making a parody of herself. Shut up, already. Enough!
Palin Unplugged: No one has ever accused Governor Sarah Palin of being deep... But her personality sure is wide... And her ability to reveal huge and troubled yet eternally entertaining parts of it, seemingly limitless. In our number one story on the Countdown: you've already heard her complaint that she believes Caroline Kennedy is getting a free ride from the media because of the quote "class" to which she belongs. That was just the start of the Governor's latest self-immolation, supporting the contention of right-wing propaganda-producer John Ziegler that elite media bias kept the Governor, and Senator McCain, out of the White House. It began with the blogosphere and ended with me... But there was one continuous thread. Whatever happened, not in a million years, was any of it... her own fault.
Palin takes pot shots
Jan. 8: Keith Olbermann examines a recent Sarah Palin interview in which she trashed Tina Fey, dissed Katie Couric and when shown a picture of the Countdown host, shrieked and said, “THAT guy is EVIL!”
For the liberals and Leftists who think more regulation is always preferable comes this story passed along from BlondeSense, where the not-so-faint-of-heart can read a righteous, backside-ripping rant about the mind-numbingly stupid new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which is going into effect next month. This abomination of safety-at-all-costs legislation threatens to destroy millions of artisans and cottage businesses because its expressed intent is to force every manufacturer of items kids under 12 could touch to have their products undergo expensive testing for lead content.
No, this isn't the conservatives pulling another hare-brained stunt; this is the swirling squad of so-called "safety" advocates who always pretend their latest jackboot attack be it a law, a regulation, a law-enforcement push they want is "for the children," as if no one but they could possibly be enlightened about what is best for all those too young to tell these control freaks to shut their pie holes and find something else to do with their boots.
Here's another disastrous consequence of this abomination of a law hated by God. Do the geniuses who pumped out this bucket of legislative drivel realize how many girls make bracelets, rings, hair pretty things, and other hand-made items for their friends? It is a bonding and communication mechanism among some cliques, and these hand-made items might now constitute "hazardous" materials contraband.
And do those legislation-writing, regulation-waggling bores realize how many elementary school children are, to this very day, taught arts and crafts, which they make for themselves, for their friends, as gifts, or as items to sell?
And do these somewhat upright-walking fists of political correctness have the slightest clue as to how many camps, after-school programs, children’s church groups, and other facilities of the kind do arts and crafts for distribution to friends or even for fund-raising? The dried flower arrangement garlands and tiaras I saw being sold last Summer by a church youth group at a town festival would very likely fall under this legislation because they were made from a variety of materials, including real and fake flowers and leaves, string, painted metals, and beads. O the horror of these young purveyors of toxic toys of mass destruction! Veritable Osama bin Ladens, the lot of those little lead-spreaders: they and the adults who make hand-crafted toys might as well don their turbans and grow their beards out; the jig is up for domestic toy terrorists!
Ah, yes, before the acidic sarcasm goes too far, and returning to the issue in its potential consequences, let me just mention the problem of what is going to happen to untold millions of toys, recent and antique, that pass through estates. Would they, by some stretch of a regulator's mind searching for something to take away the loneliness of the sparse neurons, be banned as "hazardous"?
No used stuff for you, young man; just be happy with that brain-rotting PlayStation Portable so you can learn your target acquisition and neutralization skills. No used stuff for you, young lady; just watch your music videos of females cooing and gyrating like sex is the only thing females are worth.
Let us not enforce existing laws and apply them to the glaring, pulsating problems of our lives and times; let us not lock up failed regulators who have allowed massive fraud in our financial system and toxic poisons in our imported foods. Let us instead make new laws so we can hire legions of additional losers who cannot function in the real world to stand in god-like judgment over those who cannot afford battalions of lobbyists to advocate for them, skyscrapers full of lawyers to protect them, and "objective" experts to hawk their rot.
Yes, this is your very own Dark Wraith ranting, here, in all his usually subdued, paleo-conservative glory. The legislators, the regulators, and the advocates howling for one more rung after another of jackboot stomp masquerading as necessary and needed oversight can kiss my narrow backside.
And as for "the children," they need someone to teach them how to say, "BITE me."
The Dark Wraith is available for K through 12 seminars on the subject.
Israel is such a tiny country in a stupid location it was only a matter of time before other Arab states started lobbing missiles in either support of their brethren, just because they can or because the Israelis want to make it look like Hamas is everywhere that Israel wants to invade next.. If anybody besides Israel really did have "WMDs" their would be no more Israel. To go along with the no more sympathy for any excuse the Israelis use for "protecting" themselves. Genocide, you would think that Jewish people would think it was wrong and a crime against humanity. But that was sixty years ago and it was happening to them, not them perpetrating it on others.
It would be my pleasure to punch her in the yap. Or Adam's apple. Free speech means for everyone, not just Man Coulter and the idiots who agree with her. When is this witch going to be committed to a place where they can adjust her meds daily?
The Dear John Doe letters to the families of those who have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq shows in bitter detail how little the government cares about those they have caused to die for no other reason than to boost their own egos. 7000K letters. So much for NCLB when the adults teaching can't even proofread and they supposedly went to school when reading was mandatory. What's next, text messages where you have to guess what they mean? Wer srry ur fmly mmbrs r ded?
Almost as good is if your child plans on using the bathroom or reading books in class please send toilet paper and light bulbs for each of your children in the school because their budgets have been cut so much that they can't afford the basics. I don't know about you but I find it hard to concentrate on school work when I have to go poop. Especially in a public bathroom.
Poor...Nography: A five-billion dollar bailout... for the American porn industry. Hmmm. In our number one story on the Countdown: apparently there is no limit to what has been wrought by a stripped-down economy.
Porn industry losing its shirt?
Jan. 7: Village Voice columnist Michael Musto talks about whether Hustler’s Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis are serious about their inquiries regarding a bailout for the porn industry.
In what the United Nations fears could be the bloodiest single attack of the Israeli assault, as many as 60 members of the extended Samouni family were killed near their homes in the Gazan town of Zeitoun while nine more died in hospital.
Dozens of bodies are believed to remain under the rubble of a large house hit repeatedly by Israeli shelling in the incident. [snip]
They thought they had survived the night when at 6.35am on Monday the house was suddenly hit by a shell that brought the roof down. It was then hit again and again.
* * * * *
Besieged families flee homes for shelter under UN flag
Trapped residents seek the nearest thing to safety they can find as the territory's schools are turned into refugee camps
UN officials had reassured the father of five he and his family would be protected by the large blue and white flag flying above the UN-run school turned refugee shelter. But with the sound of large explosions on the edge of Jabaliya refugee camp, just north of Gaza City, and his children still terrified from the trauma of their escape, Khalil was taking no chances.
"They will kill us anywhere. If they can bomb the mosque, if they can kill small children, if they can blow up our parliament, why should they care if they bomb this school? They don't care what the United Nations thinks. They don't care what the whole world thinks," he said, when reached by telephone.
The 38-year-old mechanic arranged a cluster of desks in the corner of the classroom and laid blankets on the floor under them for his children - the youngest three years old, the eldest 14 - to lie on.
"God willing, that will protect them," he said. "They are terrified after what they have seen. Explosions near our house. Everybody running away. The Israelis dropped leaflets and said on the radio we must all get out or they will kill us because they are going to bomb our houses."
But where to flee? In other conflicts refugees move across borders or to quieter regions. But Gaza's 1.5 million residents are trapped behind the long Israeli fence, dotted with machine gun posts and watchtowers, that makes their home a prison. There is no way out.
So Khalil and his children, like thousands of other Gazans, settled for what they could find - schools run by the UN Palestinian refugee agency that have flung their doors open as shelters from the Israeli assault that is claiming more lives by the hour. By last night 17 schools had been turned into shelters with more than 5,000 people seeking protection inside. Nine of the schools are in Jabaliya refugee camp on the front line of the fighting. [snip]
Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, is trying to persuade the world that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. UN officials scoff at the claim, noting that 1 million people are living without electricity and 250,000 without running water. And then there are the bombs and rockets, terror and trauma.
Israeli mortar shells killed as many as 40 Palestinians, among them women and children, outside a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday where they were taking refuge from 11 days of fierce fighting. The Israeli military contended that Hamas fighters had fired mortars from the school compound, and United Nations officials called for an independent inquiry into the incident. [snip]
Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which offers assistance to registered Palestinian refugees and runs the school, said his organization was calling for an independent inquiry.
"Anyone on either side of the confrontation lines found to have violated international humanitarian law must be brought to justice," Gunness said.
The night before, the United Nations said, three Palestinian men were killed in another Israeli attack on another United Nations school for refugees in Gaza.
"These attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger UN facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated," the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, said in a statement. "Equally unacceptable are any actions by militants which endanger the Palestinian civilian population."
* * * * *
Red Cross urges Israel to ease Gaza medical crisis
The International Committee of the Red Cross urged Israel on Tuesday to allow speedier access for ambulances to evacuate the wounded in Gaza which it said was mired in a "full-blown" humanitarian crisis.
The neutral agency also said it had unconfirmed reports that a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance station had been hit overnight in Jabaliya, site of a refugee camp.
"We are dealing with a full-blown major crisis in humanitarian terms. The situation of the people in Gaza is extreme and traumatic...," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, ICRC director of operations, told a news briefing in Geneva.
"We call on the parties, in particular on Israel, to do more to allow the Palestinian Red Crescent and other medical workers to carry out their work and save lives," he said.
So what can we say about Gaza, except that it's a humanitarian heartbreak? First off, you can't have a neighbor continuously lobbing missiles into your back yard. It's bad enough to have a neighbor who denies your right to exist, but to have one actively pursuing your destruction by acts of terrorism is intolerable. There is an age-old right to self-defense. Even essentially pacifist and non-violent Buddhism does not deny this right. And did Jesus's injunction to "turn the other cheek" envision a situation of this kind?
That said, we get into the territory of the "disproportionate response." The killing of large numbers of civilians is equally intolerable, and the heart condemns especially the violent death of children, even unintended. The argument that the combatants, insurgents, call them what you will, choose to hide themselves and their weaponry in homes and schools, while likely true, rings hollow beside the images of suffering innocents. The Israeli war machine seems cruel indeed when measured by the destruction that it causes.
At this point, the who's right and who's wrong have ceased to matter. We have reached the point where they effectively cancel each other out. [snip]
As in most human discord, the assignment of blame matters less than the resolution, and the urgent question now is how to put an end to a cycle of violence that does no one any good.
The wisdom here suggests the practice of mutual forbearance, the suspension of all violence on both sides, and the creation of a breathing space in which both Israeli and Palestinian leaders can reappraise the true interests of the people they serve in the context of the teachings of their respective religions: the simple, shared injunction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you would surely provide common ground. But I fear that in the current situation, this simplicity is too much to hope for.
The trap of the Israel/Palestine conflict is that neither side has a good idea of what it hopes to achieve, beside some vague sense of intimidating the other side into concession.
Yeah, we tried that. It didn't work. Innocent people are paying the price and have paid the price on all sides for decades now, and for what? Whatever side you feel has been wronged most, the real problem here is not that one side is more evil than the other, it's that no side is wiser or more practical than the other.
This long stalemate of a quagmire has been a disaster for all sides.
The terrorist actions and military aggression of the Palestinians has justified, in the eyes of their oppressors, an increasingly hermetic seal on the destinies and the territories they live within, leaving people in the terrorism-shaken west in an uncomfortable situation trying to be sympathetic to their inhumane plight.
Israel doesn't do itself any favors. It's actions have justified an equally isolating kind of constriction around itself by the Arab nations which are its only neighbors. It's actions put it on shaky footing in international law, and make it difficult for those in the west to wholeheartedly support them. Their methods, though advertised as strong and scrappy, have become a self-inflicted wound to the country's security, allowing pressures to build, and peace with its neighbors and within its borders to become an increasingly more distant dream. What have their last two wars within the Palestinian Territories achieved?
The danger in justifying war by what the other side does is that such a reactionary approach makes inevitable decisions that have no purpose beyond that reaction. It clouds the mind, stifles the truly creative approaches towards acheiving strategic success. Each sides actions have served no purpose beyond escalation, and all the bloody consequences of that escalation have worn down both sides ability to think straight. It's a vicious cycle of progressively increased mindless violence. [snip]
If you fight to defeat an enemy or acheive an objective, you must have some understanding of what constitutes the defeat of that enemy, the success of that objective. You can redefine it post hoc, but that's typically what you do if you're trying to weasel your way out of a bad war in a way that saves face. So lets ask the question here: what will constitute the true defeat of Hamas, or the true success of Israel's strategic goals of security?
If we don't have a good pathway towards our answers to those questions, then it won't matter what each side intends; the only thing they will gain through the future years of this fight is greater depths of bad blood and mutual misery.
Sometimes, something you see will set off a distant memory and, almost like special effects in a movie scene, you find yourself propelled back in time. And smiling.
Oh, yes, I do remember the first boy I was "very much in love" with, too. He was the handsomest and the smartest boy on our block. And we just knew that when we grew up we'd get married. We just knew it.
So sweet is the perfection and innocence of young love:
It is a dream that has been shared by lovers across the centuries – the chance to elope to exotic lands. But few would have been as bold and spontaneous as six-year-old Mika and his five-year-old sweetheart Anna-Bell who, after mulling over their options in secret, packed their suitcases on New Year's Eve and set off from the German city of Hanover to tie the knot under the heat of the African sun.
The children left their homes at dawn while their unwitting parents were apparently sleeping, and took along Mika's seven-year-old sister, Anna-Lena, as a witness to the wedding.
Donning sunglasses, swimming armbands and dragging a pink blow-up lilo and suitcases on wheels packed with summer clothes, cuddly toys and a few provisions, they walked a kilometre up the road, boarded a tram to Hanover train station and got as far as the express train that would take them to the airport before a suspicious station guard alerted police.
"What struck us was that the little ones were completely on their own and that they had lots of swimming gear with them," said Holger Jureczko, a police spokesman. He described Mika and Anna-Bell as "sweethearts" who had "decided to get married in Africa where it is warm, taking with them as a witness Mika's sister".
Stories like this can take you back to one brief moment in time, when life and the whole world seemed to move in sweet and perfect harmony.
For more than 40 years, I've been watching my own Jewish people in wartime, repeating the same self-defeating pattern over and over. Most Jews say that they want Israel to be more secure, and they really mean it. Yet they support and vote for leaders who perpetuate the conflicts that make Israel less secure.
I've been digging for decades through the endless pieces of that paradox, trying to get to the bottom of it. Here's what I see now as the bottom layer (though there may be layers further down that I haven't reached yet): The root of the problem lies in the Jews' relationship to the non-Jewish world and, even more, in the way Jews understand that relationship.
For them, Israel is the symbol of a gulf that they imagine has always existed, and must always exist, between Jews and gentiles.
That's why many Israeli Jews, and Jews everywhere who sympathize with them, have a hard time recognizing what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us: Whoever we are, whomever we live with, all the members of a community are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
That's the greatest danger of the great disconnect: If you don't acknowledge your own role in creating a conflict, you are working with an unrealistic view of what's happening. So you can't craft realistic policies that will actually make your nation more secure. When you start out from an illusion, you are bound to end up in self-contradiction -- which is just what has happened to Israel. With its political culture rooted in memories of oppression (and the eras of cooperation largely forgotten), it continues to assume that the Jews are a beleaguered minority. Its policies all stem from that premise.
But it's an illusion. Any realistic assessment of the Middle East must begin with the obvious fact that Israel has a preponderance of power over everyone else -- and a massive preponderance over the Palestinians. Imagine the United States basing its policies toward Mexico on the belief that we are seriously threatened by Mexico's power. That's pretty much how Israel deals with the Palestinians.
Kenneth Weiss is the Evan Pugh Professor of Biological Anthropology and Genetics at Pennsylvania State University. His regular column "Crochets and Quiddities" is one of the main reasons I read the journal Evolutionary Anthropology.
In a Weiss column from last fall called "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugli", Weiss describes the extraordinary polarization that permeates our society, and, sad to say, has become prevalent in scientific research. Of particular importance, says Weiss, is the issue of race. How do we as scientists define race? And, what is our responsibility with respect to the societal impact of those definitions? Is social justice something we should be considering as we communicate our intepretations to the world? Should we let society restrain the things we study? How do we integrate our understandings of the differences among us without adding to the acrimony between us?
This article is too complex to boil down to a soundbyte, but here are a couple of quotes that might get the flavor to you.
"In politics, as soon as you voice a view to someone, that person will wonder what color your state is--or what color state you're in. Are you Red or Blue? In religion, you're a heretic or a believer. In biology, if you question any aspect of Darwinian theory, do you believe in evolution? If you're a committed Darwinian, then don't you even believe in God? Can you be trusted?"
"The reasons people gravitate to the solidarity of group affiliation are well known to anthropology. But is the heating-up of current divisions just a tempest in a teapot? Does the continued contentiousness reflect inadequacies of science or merely of scientists? Will there be visitations on society if either side prevails? In this Citrus Bowl, Orange and Grapefruit defend points of view by interpreting the data differently. Is one more right than the other? Or is just your view right? Or is it mine?"
Weiss says that human polarities, including this one, are not like apples and oranges, but rather like oranges and grapefruits, with the potential for hybrid vigor--an ugli, if you will--if we work at it.
How come they never share the good drugs with us, the common people? The economist's version of Mother's Little Helper must pack quite a punch in order to come to the conclusions they did. How in the hell is the economy going to get better since we don't make anything and most importantly of all, we don't make anything that anyone wants to buy? Including us.
If the dominoes fall the right way, the economy should bottom out and start growing again in small steps by July, according to the December survey of 50 professional forecasters by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Investors seemed to be in a similarly optimistic mood on Friday, bidding up stocks by about 3 percent.
If is an awfully big word to have only two letters. Or as my ex used to say, "if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle." Or as the rest of us put it, "if I only had a job I could pay my bills (on time even!), keep my house and be able to send my children to a good college." Oh well, they have those professional degrees and they've been right so far, haven't they? Plus, is there a domino competition we don't know about?
Why is this being allowed to continue? The Middle East will never settle down, certain parties in all countries are making sure of that. Why is it that the US invaded a sovereign state, deposed its ruler for crimes against humanity (since there weren't any WMDs) and yet continues to ignore tragedies such as Darfur (is it because we got our butts kicked in Somalia?) and the innocent people of Gaza. Could it be that the truth is unimportant in the grand scheme of things?
Bushisms over the years. If they weren't so stupid they would be even harder to read. No wonder Gerald Ford (and not his Chevy Chase impressionist) thought that Bush was on the wrong track. Actually Bush was in the caboose they left at some station no one has ever heard of. Unless you believe in unreality.
FROM: Dark Wraith
DATE: 3 January 2009
You will not win, you know. No amount of firepower will solve your problem with the Palestinians.
Destroy every Qassam rocket, wipe out every Grad missile, kill every member of Hamas, butcher hundreds of civilians who might or might not support it; and you will not win.
Buy our American politicians, cart to your shores billions of dollars in economic aid and war materiel from us, call us your ally as you persistently harm our interests to promote your own; and you will still not win.
Sink our ships that watch you, hire spies to steal our secrets, assassinate your enemies in far away lands; and you will still not win.
Justify your brutality with the horrors done throughout history to your own people, allow your policies to be driven by modern-day Zealots hated by most of your own citizens, hold your economy together on the reed of an unending state of war; and you will still not win.
Imagine your soldiers with their overwhelmingly superior firepower a warrior race, slaughter innocents to defeat evil, make your very religion a clarion cry to destiny instead of a magnificent story of heroism; and you will still not win.
Burn their land to the very ground.
Kill them; and then kill them some more.
Then, kill them some more.
Still, you will not win.
Sooner or later, Empire meets its match, wrongful or righteous as that opponent may be. You have met yours, and you are not even Empire.
But, then again, this tragedy is no longer about victory, is it? You would have to destroy what bombs, bullets, knives, and fire cannot; and you already know that. If you harbor any remaining doubt, just ask Empire.
You, just like Empire, will one day weary of your toil. Perhaps you will move on before you are spent of this defining enterprise of madness in its ugly sack cloth of violence. Probably not, though.
Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of a congressional oversight panel, has said she did not understand why it has taken so long for the Bush administration to explain its plan.
Say WHAT??? I'm no Harvard law professor -- how come I can figure this out????
Check out the last sentence of the article:
However, a recent review by The Associated Press found that after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks can't say exactly how they're spending the money. Some wouldn't even talk about it.
Has anyone's local newspaper printed the REAL DEAL from the AP? What information is your state proving you with on this bailout? I don't get it. Gun ownership in CT is one of the lowest (16%). What are they afraid of? More people buying guns if they knew what was really going on? Maybe. Still doesn't make sense to me.
Take Arizona for example -- they're in the mid-range and they get this piece written in the Phoenix Business Journal: Ariz. police say they are prepared as War College warns military must prep for unrest; IMF warns of economic riots.
What about Wyoming? 60% ownership. Maybe they don't read in Wyoming? Never mind. I know it has to do with population.
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter are not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
George W. Bush trotted into Washington in 2001 with a wagon-load of pledges, ranging from educational reform to the creation of a new bi-partisan spirit. As the sun sets on his second term —and history awaits the chance to get its claws on his legacy— the 43rd President unearths the list of promises that once made him, well, so promising.
In eight short years, America has gone from the world’s unchallenged superpower to a sapped, distracted combatant in two unending wars. How did it happen? Revisit the first draft of history with our huge archive of Bush-administration articles by world-class reporters, including Sebastian Junger, David Halberstam, and William Langewiesche.
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes —under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II— and one national delusion.
Farewell To All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House
The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong? A sweeping draft of history—distilled from scores of interviews—offers fresh insight into the roles of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other key players.
With a new year comes renewed hope for better: a better economy, better leadership, better opportunities.
Better this and better that.
Certainly, I deserve better, now don't I? Surely, what has happened to date is not my responsibility. It was not I who mismanaged the macroeconomy so magnificently that we are now plunging into what might very well be a second Great Depression! In fact, just to show how not responsible I am for this fiasco, I can wave years of literature I have written warning about the inevitability of this very mess. I can show years of lecture notes and podcasts from the economics classes I've taught wherein I veritably roared that the economic policies of the Bush Administration were going to lead to disaster.
No, this whole economic mess is not my fault at all.
Neither is the catastrophe in Iraq. It's not like I invaded that country on a pack of wholesale lies. In fact, I was right there condemning the outrage of it all. Yes, I was. I even used my Photoshop skills to create and publish really harsh visual critiques of George W. Bush and his pack of neo-conservative enablers. Not to be outdone by any other critics, I even coined the term "neoconnies" to degrade those nasty cowards who would never, themselves, go to war but who would send tens of thousands of American troops right into the teeth of crazed jihadists and assorted other malcontents, "freedom fighters," and religiously excitable folks.
No, that whole Iraq thing is most definitely not my fault.
And while I'm at it, don't blame me for Afghanistan, either. I've had my say about how we dealt with the Taliban until the Taliban didn't want to play on our terms with oil pipelines, which made the Taliban our sworn enemy that needed a good old American-style regime change on the pretext of an outrage that was committed against us.
Ah, and that brings me to the whole "Attacks of September 11, 2001, upon the United States" thing. It's not like I didn't do my part to point out all the wildly improbable coincidences surrounding that awful series of events, like how Vice President Dick Cheney was in charge of NORAD that morning, the very morning NORAD could not muster fighter jets from its huge inventory to knock out a handful of lumbering sky boats that had been hijacked. My goodness, but I stuck my neck out to be called a "conspiracy theorist," and that really hurt my academically high-and-mighty sense of myself!
Oh, I almost forgot: I'm not responsible for the torturing of people by the United States government. I think I even posted a picture of one of those Iraqis being horribly mistreated at Abu Ghraib, and I'm pretty sure I was glad when the trailer trash that did those things was thrown in prison to rot. How else was the United States going to make people feel okay about themselves, and how else was the Pentagon going to get seriously professional and secretive about enhanced interrogation? Boy, did I have some harsh things to say about all that stuff.
And let me not forget to mention that I'm on record in writing, no less! as being firmly opposed to all the snooping and spying our government is doing. I've even gone out on a limb and written about how awful it is that the Transportation Security Administration brutes use technology to look at naked people by the hundreds of thousands, day after day, at airports. I've condemned how our very own law enforcement community is a huge deployer of Websites and online content to attract everything from wannabe terrorists to losers trying to find unlawful pornography. I've surely stood my ground on those matters, and I've even been labeled some kind of "civil libertarian" in the process.
Furthermore, I've made it abundantly clear that I know U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald whitewashed the investigation of the outing of CIA NOC operative Valerie Plame, and I've been more than adequate in connecting that outrageously inadequate investigation to the collapse of the rule of law in this country. Talk about putting my butt on the line! I've damned judges, law enforcement personnel, and even a U.S. Attorney, and these are the kinds of thugs who could turn me into a convicted felon on false charges and media hype without even so much as breaking a sweat before lunch.
No, none of what has become of this country is my fault. I'm just a citizen of Empire, a hapless, not-responsible victim who's done more than his share to stop the madness; and no one can hold me to account.
It's not like there was anything more I could have done. I mean, come on: yeah, sure, I could have taken up arms in open rebellion; but, God! that's a bit over-the-top, now isn't it? Give my life for the cause of liberty? Die for what I believe in?! Do things that might get me thrown in prison where I'd get gang-raped to the gleeful cheers of all those people who think that's part of just punishment of criminals?! End up being reviled forever by just about everyone because all the newspapers and TV news shows would portray me as a real live terrorist?! Good God! I'm not a terrorist, and I surely don't want everyone calling me one for the rest of eternity, for goodness sake! Get real.
I've DONE my part.
That's why I deserve a really good year. First, I want one of those tax cuts our new President is promising. I deserve it: the rich got theirs during the Bush years, so now it's my turn, by God. I don't care if the Republicans' tax cuts drove our federal deficits into mind-numbing territory. I want mine, now, and so what if the federal budget deficits are going to explode into heretofore unimaginable ranges nearing a trillion dollars a year?
I get mine, and then we'll talk about that fiscal responsibility the Bush incompetents never exhibited.
And I want federal spending, too, and I want it to go to my priorities this time. The war-makers, war-mongers, and all their pork-barrel beneficiaries got theirs during the Bush years; now, it's time I got mine. After all, no one can argue that I don't deserve it.
As far as paying for all this stuff, we'll just print more money! Hell, the Federal Reserve was doing that for the rich by rocketing the growth rate of M3 out of control, so now the Fed can do the same for M1, the kind of money I use. Hyperinflation? Who cares? Besides, the "laws of economics" are all dead, anyway: that's how the Bush people saw it, and now liberals and Leftists are openly making the same claim!
Of course, what the Fed can't print we'll just borrow from the Chinese. They're the ones who pegged their currency for years at a ridiculously low value to the dollar, which made their crap ridiculously cheap here, thereby sucking trillions of American greenbacks and millions of American jobs into their pockets, so they have all that U.S. money to lend back to us so we can keep living way beyond our means. And all we have to do in return is let them be our lender, meaning they have claims on future cash flows from America's treasure for generations to come. And when those foreigners holding all those greenbacks have lent us all the money we need, they can go on a shopping spree, buying up our land, our companies, and our financial securities (which are really great bargains, right now, by the way, for those nice foreigners).
I'm on a roll, here, so let me announce the rest of the stuff I deserve. I want health care coverage, and I want the best money can buy. I want everyone to pay for moi. It's not like I'm to blame for my illnesses. Sure, I smoke, and I want everyone who doesn't to make me all better. Sure, I've let my body go to Hell, but it's not like everyone else should get off the hook for that. I want my meds: I want chemicals hawked by massive pharmaceutical companies that make me think my life should go on and on and on because hey! I deserve to live because I contribute so very, very much to this world.
Here's something else I expect: I want this government of ours to bail out all the huge companies that are going under; in fact, I want the government to take equity stakes in all those companies so it can both regulate and own American business. Big failed, so let's get as big as big can get by turning the federal government into a giant holding company. Now that's gotta be too big to fail, right?
Now for the moment of clarity.
I am a citizen of Empire, and this is an empire that always had its dark side, even as it truly did, at least sometimes, make the world better for its policies and actions, especially when they were expressions of the best in all of us as decent, humane people. Those policies and actions, however, turned thoroughly and pervasively ugly during the presidency of George W. Bush.
I knew early on that this was no ordinary turn of Empire. These men and women who had become our public expression of collective will were relentless in a way I had seen only in the awfullest of circumstances in my life. Reason, rhetoric, law, logic: none of these ephemeral and obtusely frail pieces of the high civilization would have any effect whatsoever. Like the policeman who will not be talked down from the firearm he is pointing at me, like the savage dog mauling me, this Administration was immune to words, to pictures, to outrage, to chants, to thought. I knew that, and I knew it early on.
Yet, what did I do?
I wrote. I reasoned. I petitioned, I expressed outrage. I protested.
I did the very things I knew very well would not work, but I did nothing else.
I am every bit, by blood and by soil, a citizen of Empire.
And somehow, despite that, I think I deserve better than to end my days in the long, bleak night of that Empire?
In which one of MSNBC's resident imbeciles, Right-wing Republican Joe Scarborough, formerly a congressional representative from the 1st District in Florida, tries to rewrite history in a leading question to Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as an adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush.
Posted at Talking Points Memo, the video below presents the discriminating connoisseur of intellectual bondage and discipline a veritable feast as Mr. Scarborough gets justlyindeed, righteouslypaddled for the grave but pervasive sin of TSHWS ("Talk Show Hosting While Stupid"). Note that Dr. Brzezinski needed only one sentence to dismiss Scarborough's nonsense, and note Scarborough's subsequent, blithering ramble as he declared his contorted, shallow claims about the Middle East peace process during the Clinton Administration in alignment with "...the rest of the foreign policy community," even going so far as to drop names of such publications as Foreign Affairs Magazine as the stuff of his regular reading regimen.
Regarding Mr. Scarborough's claim to be extraordinarily knowledgeable based upon his representation that he reads extensively from high-brow publications, discerning observers should keep in mind that, even if we are to believe a chimpanzee who insists that he has just finished reading Foreign Affairs Magazine, we can be quite certain that, when we ask him details of what he read, he will say, "Ooo-ooo-ooo, ah-ah-ah, eee-eee-eee!"
Perhaps surprisingly, he will actually be telling the truth: that is, indeed, what hebeing a chimpanzeeread. A reasonably intelligent human will have found the content in the publication considerably different, but that's because a reasonably intelligent human is not a chimpanzee. This will inevitably lead to a disagreement between the chimpanzee and the reasonably intelligent human, and that is entirely due to the irreconcilable difference between a reasonably intelligent human and a chimpanzee. Whereas the former may be informed and perhaps even worldly, the latter can be no more than a Right-wing imbecile who makes monkey sounds on MSNBC.
The Dark Wraith does not, however, encourage disrespect for those of our evolutionary cousins who make their living being Republican shills.