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28 February 2009

"Why?" Indeed

by: Dark Wraith

In her post of earlier this evening, contributing writer Anna Van Z asks, "They stole billions - Why aren't they in jail?"

Why are police who beat and kill civilians not imprisoned? (And, no, I'm not talking about the rare show-off prosecution like the one underway against BART cop Johannes Mehserle.)

Why are politicians and their lackeys who craft a war on outright lies not put away for life? (And, no, I'm not talking about show-off prosecutions of pawns who beat Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. I'm talking about sending the men and women who started the whole, multi-dimensional chain of awful events to the slammer for the remainders of their miserable, if natural, lives.)

Why is a man like the new Attorney General, Eric Holder, handed the honor of such a high office after his disgraceful previous performance wherein he ignored a federal court order and sent paramilitary law enforcement monsters with automatic weapons to seize a little boy shrieking in terror as those weapons were pointed right at him? (During his confirmation hearing last month before a Senate committee, Holder came perilously close to committing perjury on the matter, by the way, pretending the 11th Circuit Court had not ruled prior to the SWAT-style raid on unarmed, non-threatening immigrants.)

And while we're on disgraceful excuses for Democrats, why is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) still in office when she not only knew about the torture of detainees as early as 2002, but sat in on briefings about it and had not one word of criticism? The same goes for Jane Harman (D-CA) and Bob Graham (D-FL). What those three (and other Dems) did constitutes criminal conspiracy. Is that why Obama keeps skirting the possibility of prosecuting Bush and his gang? Would that necessarily entail, for once in the past twenty years, dragging appeasement freak Democrats before the bar of justice? Obama seemed pretty comfortable with the last generation of appeasers, given that Lee Hamilton and David Boren served as his campaign advisers, those two gentlemen spear-pointing the burial of the evidence and whistleblowers against the Reagan-Bush I era.

On the matter of drugs, if we're going to incarcerate sad little people who want to suck their brains dry on weeds, why aren't we laying the hammer of long, long prison sentences on the executives, scientists, and marketers of the pharmaceuticals industry who craft one psychotropic drug after another to feed to people who want their lives and minds to be better than the reality of their situations indicates? And why do we allow these mind-altering, consciousness-depleting drugs to be forced down the throats of millions of children whose parents prefer one or the other fashionable name for marketing-invented mental disabilities that all come down to parental failure driven by the slow-motion, intergenerational collapse of society?

And taking this opportunity for one more point about "addiction," where are all our righteous, do-gooder, "your-life-affects-moi" health advocates while the electronic noise industries of television, radio, and stereo music pump endless streams of crap into our faces day in and day out, 24/7, with no condemnation for the utter, irreversible mental dependence they have wrought upon generation after generation for more than half a century, now? Any drug cartel that pulled a global stunt of those proportions would have been bombed, shot, and otherwise laid into the dust by the combined efforts of every advanced nation on Earth. But the "entertainment" industry — yeah, sure... right after we buy our latest flat-screen TVs, MP3 players, and cable subscriptions.

And one of my favorites: Why are the men and women of the Federal Reserve Board — whose stunning, multi-year malfeasance caused the financial crisis that has paralyzed global credit markets — not thrown in prison to rot? How can it be that errors of the small are treated with state-approved, court-imposed, over-the-top violence while the errors, omissions, and schemes of the large are treated as if they did not even happen?

My article, "The Ancient Future," is not merely historical anecdote: perhaps this time, the peasants will not be bluffed into submission.

The Dark Wraith would dearly love to see, at the very least, the Federal Reserve governors (including the new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner) and their economists face the wrath of the peasants they have harmed so greatly.

· · · · ·

Authoritarianism Interrupted

by: Dark Wraith

The Ninth Circuit Court has rejected the Obama Administration's request for an emergency stay to block a lawsuit against the government's warrantless wiretapping program. Attorney General Eric "Paramilitary Law" Holder has been trying to use the so-called "state secrets privilege" in several cases, even though the Administration claims it is engaged in a comprehensive review of this legal fiat.

So here we have yet another example of how odd the political theatre is becoming as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st Century: the federal judiciary — which had been rubber-stamping anything and everything an openly authoritarian, previous President wanted to do to degrade constitutional rights — is now getting a serious case of intestinal fortitude, while the Executive Branch — which is now under the control of a supposedly "liberal" President — is digging a trench to cabin itself in the very same legalistic wrecking ball of "state secrets privilege" that the miserably Right-wing, incompetent Bush Administration used

For all those who were worried that the American experience might head from bad to worse, the future is heartening. Although our country might or might not be going from bad to worse, at the very least we shall long before have made it from bad to weird.

The Dark Wraith, for his own part, prefers "Change" without the side of weird.

· · · ·

They stole billions - Why aren't they in jail?

by: Anna Van Z

If you've long suspected that the legal system works quite differently for the well-to-do, here's more confirmation. U.S. regulators have accused financial racketeer Allen Stanford and four of his associates of running a massive Ponzi scheme, and helping themselves to 1.6 billion dollars of their investors' money. The investigation is ongoing, but there has been only one arrest. According to Reuters, "A Houston judge ruled on Friday that Laura Pendergest-Holt, the only person arrested in the $8 billion (5.6 billion pounds) Allen Stanford fraud investigation, could walk free after she posted a $300,000 bond."

So while many non-wealthy citizens across the country languish in jails for minor victimless offenses - like failure to pay traffic tickets or marijuana possession, the rich and connected sail out of booking after posting bail. Even after defrauding countless people of over a billion and a half dollars and likely more. Shades of Bernie Maddoff. You remember poor Bernie, right? The admitted thief of over 50 billion dollars, who is enduring confinement in his luxury penthouse while "under arrest"?

In the above situations, none of the defendants or suspects have had any of their properties or assets seized. Stanford owns at least several substantial properties worldwide, and Maddoff was busy shipping art, jewelry, and valuables to family members just as fast as he could. Federal and state authorities have not gone after any of these assets.

But in rural Tennessee, an epidemiologist, farmer and small-scale medical marijuana grower is having his 187 acre family farm seized by the government because of the cannabis plants. In spite of the fact that he didn't sell any marijuana to anyone. I'm sure the fact that the farm happens to be prime real estate bordering the Natchez Parkway is just a coincidence. And in Louisiana, a homeless man has received a 10-year prison sentence for stealing $100.00, then returning it out of guilt before contacting the police.

Aside from the blatant unconstitutionality of the property seizures allowed with nearly any drug charge, are the legal consequences commensurate with the crimes in ANY of these situations? Hell. No. And no sane person could possibly assert otherwise. Wingnut contrarians, kindly review amendments 4, 5, and 8 of the Bill of Rights. You remember that "goddamned piece of paper", right? I say make the rich endure the same skanky jails, and wear the same ugly striped pajamas that everyone else has to schlepp around in!

But I guess the upshot is that the more Gov-Corp takes away from citizens, the faster they'll wake up. Americans are numbed out, nervous, and overwhelmed, but as the losses pile up and the blinders come off, a revolution will begin - and wash over the citizenry like a tidal wave. I would have thought Americans would have taken to the streets en masse long before this, but apparently it'll take more to break through the social hypnosis, and the media-created bubble of "normalcy" we live in. Hey, it could happen!
27 February 2009

Conservative Fiscal Irresponsibility

by: Foiled Goil

10 Reasons Why Conservatives' Fiscal Ideas Are Dangerous

"It would almost be funny if their ideas about spending didn't lead us into the deepest financial catastrophe in nearly a century."

Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future:

Yes, it's true. The conservatives -- that's right, the very same folks who just dragged us along on an eight-year drunken binge during which they borrowed-and-spent us into the deepest financial catastrophe in nearly a century -- are now standing there, faces full of moral rectitude, fingers pointing and shaking in our faces, righteously lecturing the rest of us on the topic of "fiscal responsibility."

I didn't think it was possible. I mean, they were mean enough drunk -- but hung over, in the clear light of morning, it turns out they're even worse.

I know. The choice is hard. Laugh? Cry? Scream? All three at once? It would almost be funny, if it weren't such clear evidence of a complete break with objective reality -- and their ideas of what that "fiscal responsibility" means weren't so dangerous to the future of the country.

The next episode in this surreal moral drama is set to take place next Monday, when President Obama will convene a "fiscal responsibility summit" at the White House to discuss the right's bright new idea for getting us out of this hole: let's just dismantle Social Security and Medicare.

As usual, this proposal is encrusted with a thick layer of diversions, misconceptions, factual errors and out-and-out lies. Here are some of the most pungent ones, along with the facts you need to fire back.

• 1. Conservatives are "fiscally responsible." Progressives just want to spend, spend, spend.
The comeback to the first assertion is easy: Just point and laugh. [...]

What we're proposing now is not "spending." It's the next round of investment that will create the next great chapter in the American future. And the most fiscally irresponsible thing we can do right now is lose our nerve, and fail to prepare for what's ahead.

• 2. It's not gonna work. Everybody knows the Democrats spent us into this mess in the first place.
The only remaining "everybodys" who "know" this are the ones who are simply impervious to facts.

• 3. $10.6 trillion? But I got this e-mail that says we're looking at a national debt of $56 trillion.
Wow. That's a big, scary number, all right. It's also a perfect example of one of the classic ways people lie with statistics. [...]

This particular mathematical confection was whipped up by Wall Street billionaire and former Nixon Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson, whose Peterson Foundation is the driving force behind the effort to defund Social Security. [...]

Peterson and his posse are laying bets that Americans are too mathematically and logically challenged to notice the flaws in his reasoning -- even though the holes are big enough to drive an entire generation of retired Boomers through.

• 4. Whatever. It's still irresponsible to take on that much debt.
Even John McCain's economic adviser thinks this one's wrong. [...] Debt is never a good thing; but history is on our side here. We've carried a lot more debt than this in the past; and so have other fiscally responsible countries.

• 5. But Social Security is headed for disaster. It's out of control!
It's a testament to the short attention spans of the media that the cons try to launch this talking point every six months or so -- and every damned time, the punditocracy goes running flat-out after the bait, fur flying, like an eager but not particularly bright Irish Setter. And then people like us need to collar them, make them sit, scratch their ears, and calmly explain all over again (as if it were brand-new information) that Social Security is in perfectly fine shape, and the conservatives are making much ado about nothing -- again. [...]

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Social Security trust fund will continue to run a surplus until 2019.

• 6. Ending Social Security would be well worth it, because putting those deductions back in people's pockets would provide a big enough stimulus to get us out of this mess.
Anyone who spouts this is apparently not counting on the 70 million Boomers whose wallets would snap shut permanently if you withdrew their retirement benefits just a few years before they're going to need them. As Digby put it:
Boomers are still sitting on a vast pile of wealth that's badly needed to be put to work investing in this country. But it's shrinking dramatically and it's making people very nervous.
• 7. OK, forget I even mentioned Social Security. Besides, the real problem is Medicare.
Finally, we come down to the truth. There's no question that exponentially rising health care costs -- both Medicare and private insurance -- are unaffordable in the long term; and that getting ourselves back on track financially means getting serious about addressing that.

• 8. Next, you're going to tell me that some kind of government-sponsored health care is the answer.
Yes, we are. The Congressional Budget Office notes that health care costs were only 7 percent of the GDP in 1970 -- and are over double that, at 14.8 percent, now.

• 9. But this Peterson guy's a billionaire Wall Streeter. Obviously, he knows something about finance.
Let's punt this one to William Greider:
Peterson, who made his fortune on Wall Street, never raised a word about the dangers of hyper leveraged finance houses gambling other people's money. He never expressed qualms about the leveraged buyout artists who were using debt finance to rip apart companies. He didn't fund an all out effort to stop Bush from raiding the Social Security surplus to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

But now he wants folks headed into retirement who have already prepaid a surplus of $2.5 trillion to cover their Social Security retirements to take a cut and to work a few years longer to cover the money squandered on bailing out banks, wars of choice abroad, and tax cuts for the few.

Basically, we're only having this conversation in the first place because a conservative ideologue was willing to pony up $1 billion of his own money to fund a "foundation" devoted to killing Social Security.

• 10. OK -- if killing Social Security isn't the answer, just how do you propose to get us out of this?
Cutting health care costs by getting all Americans into a rationally-managed system that puts delivering excellent care above delivering shareholder profits has to be a central part of any long-term economic health strategy. We're also about 15 years overdue for a complete overhaul of our military budget, too much of which is still focused on fighting the Soviet Union instead of responding to the actual challenges we're currently facing. Finally, it's time to ask the wealthy -- who've profited more than anyone from the past 15 years, and yet haven't paid anywhere near their fair share -- to step in a pay up for the system that enabled them to build that pile in the first place.

There's plenty we can be doing to actually reduce the national debt, and really stimulate the economy for both the short run and the long haul, without ending Social Security and sending hundreds of millions of Americans into sudden panic over their retirement. True "fiscal responsibility" can never be achieved by breaking promises.

· · ·

Big Fat Idiot And More

by: Foiled Goil

Hardball Sideshow: Featuring High Priest Idiot Rush; (Sam) Joe the (not) Plumber; Signed-Sealed-Delivered Legend, Stevie Wonder
"Joe the Plumber" now an author?

Feb. 26: Hardball Sideshow: While serving as a panelist for the CPAC conference "Joe the Plumber" took the opportunity to promote his new book, "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream."

[ 2:40 ]

· ·

New Budget Pro and Con

by: Foiled Goil

Hardball video: Obama unveils hefty budget
Feb. 26: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., talk about the pros and cons of President Barack Obama's budget plan which calls for $3.55 trillion in spending and $1.75 trillion in deficit.

[ 13:12 ]

26 February 2009

Spinning Propaganda Machine

by: Foiled Goil

The GOP's Anti-Obama Propaganda

Today's Republicans are thumbing through Newt Gingrich's worn playbook of 1993 looking for tips on how to blunt President Barack Obama's political momentum and flip it to their advantage. In doing so, they also appear to have dug in to what might be called the secret appendix.

Robert Parry, Consortium News:
Reprising the Smears

Now, 16 years since the start of Clinton's presidency, the Republicans and their right-wing allies are again on the outside of Washington power and are back studying the lessons of 1993-94. Only a month into Obama's presidency, there are some striking similarities in the two historical moments.

In both cases, the Democrats inherited recessions and huge budget deficits from Republican presidents named Bush. In both cases, congressional Republicans rallied against the economic package of the new President hoping to strangle the young Democratic administrations in their cradles.

And, as congressional Republicans worked on a more overt political level, their media allies and other operatives were getting busy at subterranean depths, reviving attack lines from the campaigns to sow doubts about the two Democratic presidents - and trying to whip up the right-wing base into a near revolutionary fervor.

So far at least, the Republicans are experiencing less success against Barack Obama than they did against Bill Clinton. According to opinion polls, Obama remains widely popular with an American public that favors his more activist agenda for reviving the American economy and confronting systemic problems like energy, health care and education.

Though Republicans scored points inside the Beltway with their opposition to Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill - and their complaints that Obama "failed" in his bipartisan outreach to them - the GOP tactics appear to have backfired with the American people.

Gauging public opinion one month into Obama's presidency, polls found that most Americans faulted the Republicans for rebuffing Obama's gestures of bipartisanship, and a New York Times/CBS News poll discovered that a majority said Obama "should pursue the priorities he campaigned on … rather than seek middle ground with Republicans." [NYT, Feb. 24, 2009]

But the Republicans seem incapable of coming up with any other strategy than to seek Obama's destruction, much as they torpedoed Clinton. The three moderate Republican senators who supported the stimulus package - Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter - were widely denounced by the right-wing media as "traitors."

Indeed, the Republican Party arguably has become captive to the angry right-wing media that the GOP conservatives did so much to help create in the late 1970s, after the Vietnam War defeat and Richard Nixon's Watergate debacle.

This Right-Wing Machine proved useful in protecting Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal; undermining Clinton in the 1990s; dirtying up Al Gore in 2000; and wrapping George W. Bush in the protective garb of a full-scale cult of personality after 9/11.

But the machine wore down in its defense of Bush's multitude of disasters and ultimately could not generate enough suspicions about Obama to elect John McCain. Still, it remains a potent force in the country and particularly among the Republican "base."

It is also a machine that can run only on the high-octane fuel of anger and hate. If it tried to down-shift to a more responsible approach to politics, it would stall out, losing its core audience of angry white men who feel deeply aggrieved by their loss of status.

In turn, Republican leaders can't disown the right-wing media infrastructure that has advanced their interests for so long. In the first month of Obama's presidency, the congressional Republicans fell in line behind Rush Limbaugh's openly declared desire for Obama to fail.

Now, the Republicans may see little choice but to bet on the ability of their Right-Wing Machine to continue spreading doubts and hysteria about Obama.

The Death Rattle of Reaganomics

mojave mike:
The long-held claim that the "market," unregulated and unfettered by Government interference, always knows best and always creates wealth, was a false supposition that has endured mounting evidence to the contrary. Most ludicrous was the notion that wealth created at the top would spontaneously beget wealth at the bottom. Of course, this was an unproven hypothesis given that those at the top, through exercise of political influence, only allowed the promise of prosperity to "trickle down" and not actual prosperity itself. To add insult to injury, there has been a decades-old conspiratorial effort to suppress wages and we have only Democrats to thank for any pushback that has occurred on that front.

Our current circumstance is the logical the aftermath of nearly thirty years of market-based, economic ideology. Unimaginable enrichment took place over this period, and at the same time, fewer and fewer Americans could claim to be simply "comfortable." Driven by insatiable greed, "free-marketeers" have extracted a steady stream of personal dividends while plowing an insufficient amount of their revenues back into industrial infrastructure and innovation that would ensure sustained and fruitful employment in the long term.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. Out of one side of their mouths, the free-market crowd derides taxpayer-provided stimulus measures as Socialist, and abhors the imminent tax increase and restoration of regulatory oversight, and out of the other side of their mouths, they petition for second-helpings of bailout money, while begrudging mortgage assistance to "loser" working people. This is the disgraceful legacy of Reaganomics.

Bye, Bye, Bipartisanship

Charlotte Lucas:
"Country first!" proclaimed Senator John McCain, over and over during his campaign. The words rang out nobly, an appeal to all patriots. He spoke often of bipartisanship, implying that there would be none if Democrat Obama won the election. In one of her coherent sentences, Governor Palin, who had already described community organizers as "freaks and losers", said "Obama doesn't see America the way you and I see it". (The man is undoubtedly a Socialist, maybe an Arab, and certainly a liberal nogoodnik.) She too called for bipartisanship which the Republicans only would provide.

Bipartisanship? Look at the Republicans now. To use an Irish expression, it's enough to make a cat laugh. With few exceptions, they are trying to block President Obama's every attempt to unify the country and get us back on track. The new RNC chairman even threatened to punish lawmakers who voted for President Obama's proposals. The country is in bad shape and needs major fixing. Almost everyone is hurting financially and many are desperate, Republicans and Democrats alike. The over-used boat metaphor is defensible because it's applicable. We are all in the same one and if we don't pull together, we make no progress and only run into more trouble in these perilous waters. Our new pilot, steering carefully, is willing to take advice. All he gets from the GOP are sneers, wisecracks and refusals to co-operate. That's their idea of being bipartisan.

The Cafferty File: GOP in position to talk fiscal responsibility?

Heather, VideoCafe:
Interesting, after the last 8 years, it would seem that Republicans are hardly in a position to lecture anyone about fiscal responsibility. When President Bush took office in 2000, the national debt was about $5.7 trillion dollars, which after two wars and lots of other spending, is now approaching $11 trillion. President Bush ran up more debt for this country than all previous presidents combined. [...]

Here’s my question to you: Are the Republicans in any position to lecture President Obama on fiscal responsibility?

· ·
25 February 2009

Irresponsible And Dangerous

by: Foiled Goil

The 10 Most Dangerous People Who Hate America

The 10 people listed below are dangerous because they hate America so much that they would rather see her fail while under the leadership of an African American than accept that Barack Obama is the duly elected president. They are dangerous because of their rhetoric and the fact that mainstream and cable media give them a platform to spew their rhetoric regardless of facts. They talk about the mainstream media having a slobbering love affair with the president. But it is they who enjoy a love affair with the mainstream media. They are allowed free rein to say what they want on the airwaves without challenge. They excused John McCain for leaving his first wife in her greatest hour of need. They excused McCain's association with G. Gordon Liddy. They excused Palin's association with a group that wanted to seek Alaska's independence from the United States.

I'm all for free speech. Irresponsible speech is a different issue. Their speech incites. Their speech is aimed to divide us. Their relevance ended on Nov. 4, 2008. And now their very livelihood is threatened. They are writing books, touring the media outlets and bookstores. They are on their last breath to remain relevant through rhetoric that feeds a dark corner of our society. Their battle cry now is that Barack Obama must be stopped. We all know what that means. This was the same call to action just before Martin Luther King was assassinated. Calling Dr. King a communist didn't stop him. Investigating him didn't stop him. Arresting him didn't stop him.

Calling Obama a socialist didn't stop him. Calling him a terrorist lover didn't stop him. Calling him a communist didn't stop him.

Their strategy is simple: lie, distort, obstruct and mock at all cost. There are no true patriots among them. They don't have the guts to say they don't like the fact that a black man is president. They say worse and get away with it. They think that blacks define racist as someone who calls a black person nigger. No. Everything about them is anti-black. No other president in the history of America has endured the wrath of the angry conservative. Even the crooks who have left office in shame are held in higher esteem.

They offer no solutions, just opposition. They beat the drums with irrational and circular arguments against any and everything. None of them can man up or woman up and just say that they don't want people to be helped and they are OK with people losing their jobs and businesses failing.

These are the 10 most dangerous people who hate America because they have media platforms from which to persuade the incurious that they have the answers and everyone else is wrong. They shame, attack and threaten others who dare to demonstrate independent thoughts from them. These are the people who would tell a drowning man that he should have bought a life jacket. [...]

They hate America because, after 43 presidents and more than 200 years, America set herself on the path on which everyone no matter the color of their skins could dream big. They hate America because she has found her voice. They hate America because she wants to be who she was intended to be. They hate American because she had the guts to put down the stain of bigotry and hatred.

Now that we are embarking on a new path, their demons, born in slavery and institutionalized in the 20th century, have stirred and we all should be afraid. If these people really loved America, they would offer ideas respectfully without the name calling and mockery. If these people really loved America, they would educate their listeners not tell them who they should fear. If these people loved America, they would know that they cannot stop America when she decides that enough is enough.

Until they exorcise their demons, these are the 10 Most Dangerous People Who Hate America:

* Rush Limbaugh, the prophet and puppet master

* Sean Hannity, the robot

* Ann Coulter, the man hater

* Bernard Goldberg, the faux journalist

* Michelle Malkin, the lost girl

* Laura Ingraham, the shriller

* Neal Boortz, the lost boy

* Newt Gingrich, the adulterer

* Karl Rove, the town crier

* Glen Beck, the grand wizard

· ·
24 February 2009

Obama: We Will Recover

by: Foiled Goil

Obama Speech Tonight: Video, Text

Available at HuffPo:
What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities - as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.

- - - - -

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely - to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that's what I'd like to talk to you about tonight.

It's an agenda that begins with jobs.

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President's Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government - I don't. Not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited - I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That's why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

- - - - -

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

- - - - -

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world's.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us - watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.

· · ·

6 Smart Ass Answsers

by: Debra


It was mealtime during a flight on Alaska Airlines. "Would you like dinner?" the flight attendant asked John, seated in front.

"What are my choices?" John asked.

"Yes or no," she replied.


A flight attendant was stationed at the departure gate to check tickets.

As a man approached, she extended her hand for the ticket and he opened his

trench coat and flashed her.

Without missing a beat, she said, "Sir, I need to see your ticket not your stub."


A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she

couldn't find one big enough for her family.

She asked a stock boy "Do these turkeys get any bigger?"

The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead."


The cop got out of his car and the kid who was stopped for speeding rolled down his window.

"I've been waiting for you all day," the cop said.

The kid replied, "Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could."

When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket.


A truck driver was driving along on the freeway when he sees a sign that reads, "Low Bridge Ahead." Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?"

The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."


A college teacher reminds her class of tomorrow's final exam. "Now class, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that's it, no other excuses whatsoever!"

A smart-ass guy in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, "What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?"

The entire class is reduced to laughter and snickering. When silence is restored, the teacher smiles knowingly at the student, shakes her head and sweetly says, "Well, I guess you'd have to write the exam with your other hand.



Revisiting The Myth

by: Debra

Social Security is not an "entitlement" program.  Over the course of their working lives people have had millions of dollars taken out of their paychecks and put into a program as insurance for when they got older or became infirm.  Using the word entitlement implies that nobody contributed anything and that they are sponging off the government, which isn't true.  Why is it that the people who have money are so determined to see the teachers, mechanics and bank tellers who served them over the years spend the end of their lives in poverty?  If I hadn't been willing to give up my own life, my mom would be on the street, lonely and forgotten through no fault of her own.  Which is where I will be if this stupidity continues.

I'm 52 and don't have time to make up hundreds of thousands of dollars so I can retire.  By the time mom is gone we will be so deep into this depression that I, along with a good majority of other innocent people, will not be able to survive in the economic conditions of the future.  So much for that Masters and owning my own business.

Social Security is NOT the problem. It isn't even out of money, no matter what the people who don't need to worry about their retirement babble.
We are staring at unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security in the tens of trillions of dollars. Where's that money going to come from? We have to either raise taxes or cut benefits. There are no other options.
Yes, there are. For too long the elite have used the bounty of this country for themselves and it is long past time to share the wealth. We are rapidly becoming a third world country, run by people who have no concept of what it is to struggle to survive. As the economic downturn continues and small businesses start to fall by the wayside along with corporations who gave obscene amounts of money to the people at the top while taking everything from the people on the bottom, the pain will be felt by everyone who isn't at the top.

Food, gas and medicine are out of the price range of a growing section of society. They can't cut back any more as there is nothing left to cut. The poor can't walk to the grocery store because grocery stores aren't located in the poor sections of town. The poor can't take public transportation because it is being slashed in a futile effort to balance budgets that will continue to run a deficit as more people become unemployed and can't contribute to the tax base. The poor can't afford the highly overpriced medicines or the preventative doctor visits to keep them healthy. The poor, as a group, can't do anything to change their situation because they have nothing to change it with. Their children will continue to swell the ranks of the poor because education in their areas has been virtually eliminated and besides they have to scrounge for food. The poor can't get abortions, birth control is nonexistent and the fundamentalists want to keep it that way. That way they can complain about the poor being irresponsible and having too many babies. And prison is not a replacement for a healthy and happy childhood.

The Republican party and the fools who support them are determined to return this country to the days of indentured servitude. They trot out trite statements such as pull yourself up by your bootstraps when not only do the people not have straps, they don't even have boots. If you are born poor or lower middle class the odds are that you will stay that way. The outer fringes of society will be your world and unless the elite who are really the ones enjoying the benefits of entitlement, get off their high horses and walk among the commoners we will end up having a caste system that is more entrenched than India's.

Or a revolution.


· · ·

Ask a simple question ...

by: Foiled Goil

... and get a stupid answer.

When Talking Points Go Bad

[ 0:40 ]

· ·
23 February 2009

Waah, Waah, Waah

by: Debra

She can believe whatever she wants but just like every other Republican taking the blame herself is not an option.  It's always someone else's fault with "those people".  Maybe if Palin hadn't said so many obviously stupid things, the media wouldn't have made such an issue of them.  She can't see Russia from her front door, she didn't have the vaguest idea of what the Vice President job was and she butchered the English language at every opportunity, just to name a few.  Tina Fey did her image more harm than Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric combined.  Like any good caricature the skits were based on the truth, the sad part was that they didn't have to change anything she said to get a laugh.  Glasses, hair and twang were all that were needed as they repeated verbatim her latest verbal faux pas.  If you can't stand the heat, get out of politics.  And yes, unbalanced media is a threat to democracy, the last eight years proved that.

Speaking of biased media, in their latest hatchet job CNN never mentions that it was the Republicans who refused to cooperate and that Obama did try to include them in the stimulus process.  They decided not to participate and then decried the lack of bipartisanship.  Through the eight years of the recent Bush presidency the Democrats, unfortunately, never voted lockstep against any of his proposals.  Seven Democrats in the House voted against the stimulus and I don't hear them crying about being left out in the cold.  Funny how the people who voted against the stimulus are all too willing to take the money.  Republicans, always willing to take not so willing to give.

I'm not particularly fond of quite a few of the recent Supreme Court Decisions but this proposal sounds messy and removes the judicial branch from its coequal status.  The not subtle dig at Justice Ginsburg sounds like it came straight from Senator Bunning's office.


· ·

Economic Downer Times

by: Foiled Goil

How Far Down the Economic Hole Are We Headed?

No one knows, of course, but a bigger question may be whether we really want to know.

Frank Rich, NYT:
“I don’t want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems,” the president said on Tuesday at the signing ceremony in Denver. He added, hopefully: “But today does mark the beginning of the end.”

Does it?

No one knows, of course, but a bigger question may be whether we really want to know. One of the most persistent cultural tics of the early 21st century is Americans’ reluctance to absorb, let alone prepare for, bad news. We are plugged into more information sources than anyone could have imagined even 15 years ago. The cruel ambush of 9/11 supposedly “changed everything,” slapping us back to reality. Yet we are constantly shocked, shocked by the foreseeable. Obama’s toughest political problem may not be coping with the increasingly marginalized G.O.P. but with an America-in-denial that must hear warning signs repeatedly, for months and sometimes years, before believing the wolf is actually at the door. [...]

This cultural pattern of denial is hardly limited to the economic crisis. Anyone with eyes could have seen that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire resembled Macy’s parade balloons in their 1998 home-run derby, but it took years for many fans (not to mention Major League Baseball) to accept the sorry truth. It wasn’t until the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame saga caught fire in summer 2003, months after “Mission Accomplished,” that we began to confront the reality that we had gone to war in Iraq over imaginary W.M.D. Weapons inspectors and even some journalists (especially at Knight-Ridder newspapers) had been telling us exactly that for almost a year.[...]

For all the gloomy headlines we’ve absorbed since the fall, we still can’t quite accept the full depth of our economic abyss either.

America's Municipal Meltdown: It's Tough Times for Troubled Towns

Small towns are feeling the pain far worse than the rest of us, and no one knows how to stop the bleeding.

Nick Turse,
Across the country, individuals, foreclosed or suddenly jobless, have been melting down like the economy and so bubbling up into the news in the form of extreme acts ranging from suicide and murder to arson and robbery. The same might now be said for news about whole troubled communities.

A few months ago, stories of economically-troubled towns were strictly local fare. Now, more and more of them are rising to regional or national attention.

Despite Rising Demand, We May Be at Risk of Losing Public Services Like Transit and Libraries

Privatization is steadily undermining the things we all depend upon -- libraries, transit, parks, water systems, schools and public safety.

Jay Walljasper,
There is an absurd Alice in Wonderland feel to the current economic crisis.

Public transportation use is at the highest level in decades. Buses and trains are overflowing, even after the steep fall of gasoline prices since last summer. Voters last November approved billions of dollars for new transit project across the country.

This is all wonderful news for anyone who cares about curbing the global climate crisis, cleaning up the environment and revitalizing our communities. But, unfortunately, transit systems all over the country are cutting back service and raising fares. [...]

How can this be happening at a time when public transportation is more popular than ever? When it is proving to be a practical solution to pressing economic, ecological and energy problems?

It's the same story with public libraries.

"Libraries are now bursting at the seams with money-pinched families seeking free entertainment, jobless adults looking for work, and cash-strapped consumers who've dropped home internet services and stopped buying books," reports the Minneapols Star Tribune. The newspaper reports that circulation figures at Minneapolis' public libraries jumped 37 percent from 2000 to 2008. But that did not prevent three of the city's libraries from being closed for several years due to budget woes.

And people aren't coming the libraries just for books. In Ramsey County, home to St. Paul, computer use was up 38 percent last year. Use of the libraries free wireless network climbed 61 percent and attendance at computer classes rose 24 percent.

Yet even though they are more popular than ever, libraries in Minnesota and around the country are facing dramatic budget cuts. [...]

Even though the privatization of public resources has lost favor with the American public -- as witnessed by the complete failure of George W. Bush's dream of privatizing social security and the rout of free market Republicans in the last two national elections -- the idea is still being carried out through the back door. (Hopes for "stealth privatization" explain why congressional Republicans opposed giving aid in the new stimulus package to states coping with budget shortfalls; however many Republican governors supported Obama on this one.)

The economic crisis caused by rampant deregulation in financial markets is being used as an excuse to further chip away at public services, institutions and assets. That inevitably means more privatization and further erosion of essential commons-based institutions. It's ridiculous that in a time when so many families and communities are struggling economically we would even think about trimming important services that are available for everyone one to use -- and which people are now using in unprecedented numbers.

As Alice would say, things are curioser and curioser.

10 Dirty Tricks Wall Street Con Artists Will Pull to Keep the Rip-offs Going

How traders, lobbyists, PR hot shots will try to limit reform and brainwash America.

Paul B. Farrell, WSJ:
Yes, Wall Street's running a handicap race on a bad playing field, a rotten economy. Yes, the pressure's enormous. But if Wall Street wants to get its hands back in the magic cookie jar soon, it has no choice. It must get super-clever super-fast and jump-start a roaring new bull for the rest of America's 95 million investors, quickly. Get it? Wall Street must deliver a new bull market, fast and soon.

How? By hook or by crook. Whatever pragmatic or Machiavellian power plays work. Why? Wall Street's got huge incentives at the end of this rainbow: Citing Watson Wyatt, the Economist says money management is a golden goose, with $64 trillion managed by professionals at the peak of the last bull. Assuming Wall Street controlled a third for an average 2% fee, there's roughly $400 billion at stake.

So Wall Street's army of lobbyists will have to pull off some fancy tricks, many at odds with today's demands for "change" by the president and political reformers. But now's the time to act, with the new TARP rules and an $800 billion stimulus bonanza on the way.

Look beyond the bad news. Remember, Washington's run by 40,000 lobbyists not 537 elected politicians. I'm betting lobbyists will use the following tactics to neutralize activists and limit reforms. That way, behind the scenes Wall Street keeps control with its business-as-usual tactics, schemes, scams, hustles and wheeling and dealing. Here are the 10 "dirty tricks" Wall Street lobbyists likely will use to help jump-start a new bull market:

• Gridlock helps the rich get richer ...
• No Glass-Steagall revival ...
• Keep rating agencies 'official' ...
• Limit new derivative regulations, keep 'shadow banking' alive ...
• Offload toxic debt into a government-owned 'bad bank' ...
• Support executive pay limits -- in public, anyway ...
• Create accounting standards loopholes ...
• No limitations on SEC hiring ...
• Invest heavily in lobbying ...
• Major PR brainwashing: Yes, yes, a new bull is coming! ...

22 February 2009

Saturday Morning Musings

by: Debra

What's the point of going then?  If you eliminate all the extras to save money on a cruise it will be pretty boring after a day or two and on my two cruises the classes were free and the gym wasn't.  The best part was that I lost weight even though I ate like a pig (one night all I had was 6 orders of escargot and a salad) and drank like a fish (by the third night the sommelier would be at my table as soon as I sat down) I never took the elevators and spent quite a few hours walking around the ship. The whole idea of a cruise is to relax and indulge yourself, not look longingly at what everyone else is enjoying.
If you're counting pennies, skip the casino, spa, specialty restaurants that charge extra, the gift shop, art auction, fitness classes, lattes in the cafe and cocktails at the bar.
It only makes sense that more strokes occur in areas of high fast food density.  Supermarkets with fresh fruit and vegetables are becoming harder to find in urban areas but fast food can be just a block away.  Thank you city planners.  When your only options are the joint on the corner or traveling several miles by bus to find a grocery store, most people will opt for closer to home.  An entree salad is not going to be the first choice for most young men since it costs as much as most value meals and will do little to assuage their hunger.  That being said, do people really eat fast food 17 times a month?  I don't do 17 times a year, the food is tasteless, packed with sodium, fat and sugar, and the french fries don't taste like they used to.
And Oklahoma City is of course not alone in its insatiable appetite for fatty burgers, salty fries and sugary soft drinks. Nationwide, on average, fast-food patrons have upped their monthly visits from 14 in 1999 to 17 last year.
And I am not giving one dime of my money to a corporation that denies worker compensation benefits to an employee by claiming that good Samaritan acts are not within the scope of employee responsibilities.  You would think that after having one of their outlets shot to pieces and 21 people killed they would be a little more compassionate towards an employee who was trying to prevent harm to a customer or a repeat of said incident. 

Littering is a $1000 fine if you get caught in the state of California.  Too bad space doesn't have the same rules.  We have littered on the moon but the belt around the globe is becoming more hazardous as more satellites become just so much junk.  It should be a rule that for every satellite you send up, two defunct satellites must be destroyed safely.
The new debris adds to the growing amount of junk accumulating in orbit. Thus far the annoying objects have not had a major impact on human or robotic missions into space, but there are grave concerns for the future. At some cluttered altitudes, collisions are producing debris faster than gravity can eliminate it. If the trend is not reversed, one can imagine a time when it could be too risky or too expensive to fly spacecraft through the debris fields.
Uncle Pat is off his rocker again.  It's amazing to me that one can indulge in a racist rant and not suffer consequences in this day and age.  Poor schooling, few role models, trigger happy policing and no opportunities ensure that certain groups will have a difficult time getting ahead and blaming them for society's ills is foolish and shortsighted.  As one commenter pointed out Pat fixates on individual crimes while missing the crimes that impact thousands of people.
Should have come back at him with white crime: bankers and CEOs who commit fraud, cause millions of job losses which leaves hundreds of thousands with no health insurance; then some of the laid-off have a cancer diagnosed a year later than it would have been and they die when they would have survived had it been found sooner. Those deaths are a direct result of fraud committed by wealthy white people. Or you lose your job and have to put off brake work your car needs, then you have an accident and someone dies. These deaths all result from crimes committed by wealthy white people. Or your 401k vanishes, and you can't eat as well as you need to and you just die at 80 instead of the 82 you could have lived to had you been able to afford the diet you needed. The problem is, Buchanan and his ilk have a mind-set that "sees" crime in a particular way, they "see" murder as cause by a particular set of actions and NOT by other actions. This allows them to be blind to their own racism; they can't understand that the mind-set they have adopted allows them to "see" the responsibility one group of people have for the results of their actions but not see the responsibility a different group has for the outcomes of their actions. This is what it means to be racist. And I speak as a white man.
So the Governator is willing to accept stimulus money that other states don't want.  Good, let him take Louisiana's portion, California can use it.  One of the unpublished stories is that Arnie cut the In Home Support Services salary to $9.50 an hour from $12.35, a loss to me of over $165 every month.  I now don't earn enough to pay the rent, much less feed us for a month and there isn't a cheaper place to live in San Jose.  Then you add the effect of the sales tax and life has become that much more expensive.  I doubt the increase in state income tax will affect me since I'm obviously below the poverty level.  Way to go Arnie!  I wonder how much rent is in Las Vegas since it is one of America's emptiest cities.  Hmm, I actually found places within the budget. Wow, just about any place outside of California is much, much cheaper than here. Now if I just had the money to move.


· ·
21 February 2009

Put Your Clothes On

by: Dark Wraith

The story at AlterNet, reported by astrea here at Big Brass Blog, claims researchers have found that men's brains respond to scantily clad women much the same way those men respond to objects. Although for the purposes of the present post I shall let the essential findings go unchallenged, I would be remiss not to make passing note that more than a few issues make this "research" suspect (and I use the word in scare quotes to clearly indicate that it is nothing more than fluff stuff for publish-or-perish desperadoes of academia to get journal publications in their vitae).

The quality of what qualifies anymore as empirical science aside, the issue du jour seems to center around female breasts — specifically, large female breasts — and how "men" (apparently, the implication is all men) go "bikini brained" when they see them.

I need to take exception and a bit of umbrage.

No, big-breasted females do not impress me. I had a mother. Now that I am all grown up, I don't need to live in post-fetal dependence upon the biological milk jugs of a surrogate, particularly if those cans would require a five-dollar return deposit if they were made of glass in a recycling-conscious municipality or state.

More broadly, I have reached a glad age and a happy state of general irritability wherein sexual games of taunt-and-tease annoy me to no end.

I have seen all I need to see, and there is nothing new under the sun... at least there's nothing new I want to see and keep my groceries in my stomach. (That's why the link to man-on-dwarf a friend sent me was the last straw in our e-mail communications.)

Years ago, I was a practicing nudist. That's right: a practicing nudist. In fact, for a while I was on the board of directors of a local group. Indeed, I was the member-at-large. Anymore, I have enough credentials that I need not list that distinction on my curriculum vita. However, in my time attending nudist parks and get-togethers, I saw just about everything from very big to very small, and quite a bit of sun-baked human-beef jerky. While large-breasted women were not uncommon, my attention was generally more focused on such matters as cold-nosed dogs, waist-high nettles, and the occasional agony of in-the-raw bacon-frying, challenging as it is when hot grease pops off the griddle and onto easily blistered man-parts.

Nudist clubs can be instructional. I learned not to care, and it wasn't all because of the over-exposure to over-exposed women. You see, my local club had as one of its members a fellow from the Islands. He was relatively tall, muscular, but lanky. He was also graced by the Lord with what qualified in my book as deformity. Even when he was approaching from behind, I could hear him 20 feet away: "SLIK-slik, SLIK-slik, SLIK-slik..." I wearied quickly of this sound. I also wearied quickly of the women who would look straight ahead while their eyes rotated 360 degrees in their sockets as that fool sauntered by. He knew damned well God liked him more.

With a passion, I do so hate competitive sports.

Nudist clubs were not, however, where I completed my journey into annoyance with nudity.

I'm a college teacher.

Even in this day and age, when kids come to college from high schools and earlier training where they got abstinence-only nonsense beaten into them year in and year out, their hormones are still in high gear. The boys are ready to have sex (and only a select group does on a regular basis), and the girls are ready to have no limits on how far they can experiment with their allure, although many are not nearly as much into sex as they are their ability to capture attention of males by appearing to be as interested as the boys are. In warmer weather, attention-getting rituals mean seeing all manner of attire that could easily kill an older man not prepared for the spectacle that seems to get a little more daring every year. Last Summer was the first in my memory when butt cheeks were showing with no attempt at covering the meat-leg junction.

Cleavage has been on display for several years now, and there's not much more on the top side that can be revealed without more design engineering advances in up-lifting bras.

The slightly warmer weather has revealed a new trend for this year: skin-tight pants that look like a cross between panty-hose and spray-on paint. I think there's a thong involved in some way, but Lord knows how it's positioned, considering the anatomical gallery these things put on display.

It will get worse, this year, I can tell you that. Spring Break follies in Florida aside, sun bathing on roofs and in front of off-campus apartments will be fashion shows of bikinis that are little more than two Bandaids and a cork.

And the young men will be right there, too, trying their best to show their own wares: six-pack abs are the goal, and quite a few more young men these days strive for them. The boys pretend not to care that the girls pretend not to look; but everybody is checking everybody out.

Except for me. I just get irritated with the whole meat aisle.

If I want to see boobs, I'll watch C-Span interviews with politicians. Ditto if I want to see ass. Just like the girls who flop their undulating mammary glands, and just like the guys who twitch their over-wrought ab and man-tit muscles, the people we elect want us to look, and given that my tax dollars are paying for those boobs and asses in Washington, I'll take the opportunity to get my money's worth. Unlike when I had to suffer the elephant trunk guy at my nudist club, who routinely made me feel like Mr. Pony on the Mr. Ed Show, there is no chance at all that the people in Washington will challenge my sense of self-worth and, indeed, my very reason for living.

To finish this post, though, yes, many men do go all bikini-brain when they see generously inflated female breasts and supple, tender buttocks; but my contention that the same is true of women when they look at men should not go unchallenged, so I herewith offer a bit of a test.

Several years ago, I did a fund-raiser for a fellow blogger. I called it The Dark Wraith He-Chest Challenge, and I asked select male bloggers to try to raise $50 each. Anyone who did pledged to post a waist-to-neck nude picture of himself with the understanding that the picture could then be taken down after a few days. Several reached the $50 mark and posted the obligatory picture. I did, too.

For the purpose of the present essay, I herewith offer that picture again, and I shall leave the link up for 24 hours. Click here to see if there is any female equivalent of "bikini brain."

Perhaps I am wrong.

The Dark Wraith has been wrong before when it comes to knowing what works and what doesn't.

· · ·

Cowards and Thugs

by: Dark Wraith

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in China, where she has just declared, "Human rights cannot interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises."

Yes, the Obama Administration knows its priorities. A billion people living in a Communist gulag simply must be put on the back burner, especially when the corrupt thugs who run that prison of a nation are the ones who have all the dollars that will be lent to the U.S. government to pay for trillion-plus dollar annual budget deficits as far as the eye can see.

For those who have not read any of the numerous articles about foreign trade and debt written and published by your host here at Big Brass Blog (see, for example, "Foreign Trade and Debt" as a primer), those Chinese mercantilist thugs got all those U.S. dollars by systematically, deliberately, and for years manipulating their currency exchange rate with the United States so their toxic toys, poisoned foods, and other detritus of American consumer tastes would be ridiculously under-priced here, while American goods would be symmetrically over-priced there.

But let us not have uncomfortable conversations just now, at least not with those nice Chinese who, along with all the other nations with which we run trade deficits, will be paying for $787 billion in pork, tax rebate bonus checks, and other treats for which generations after ours will pay, along with that massive debt piled up by those fiscally conservative Republicans during Bush's years. We desperately need that foreign money, even though it really was our money before we sent it overseas in exchange for goodies, oil, and feel-good globalist trade relations.

For the U.S. Secretary of State to call upon the Chinese to face their abysmal, Medieval human rights record would be so undiplomatic. Far better to have our own Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, in his first major speech as head of the U.S. Justice Department, tell the American people that we are "...essentially a nation of cowards" about race relations. This would be the same Eric Holder who, as assistant Attorney General back during the Clinton Administration, ignored an order issued by the Eleventh Circuit Court and went ahead with a paramilitary raid on unarmed Cuban refugees to seize a little boy, quite literally, at the point of automatic weapons. This would also be the same Eric Holder who now waxes mealy-mouthed about hauling personnel of the Bush Administration, from the torturers at GITMO all the way up to former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush, himself, before the bar of justice on indictments for war crimes. This would be the same Eric Holder whose Justice Department has just filed a two-sentence court brief affirming the Bush Administration's position that the Afghan detainees being held at Bagram Airfield have no recourse in U.S. courts.

Yes, lecture the American people about being cowards, but by God let us not offend the foreign and domestic brutes who have automatic weapons or checkbooks.

It seems at least a few of our new President's people have quite the fetish for violent bullies, at least when they have guns or money.

Of course, that's what America gets for electing a guy from Chicago.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · · ·

Ms. Mason

by: astraea

Work That Tiara, Boy!

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 20, 2009; Page B01

Spend time with George Mason University senior Ryan Allen and it's clear why he's a Big Man on Campus. He wears size 12 pumps.

Allen is now -- as of halftime at Saturday's sold-out basketball game against Northeastern at the Patriot Center -- the school's homecoming queen. He received more votes than the two women who vied for the crown.

Allen, who is gay and performs as a popular drag queen at local clubs, assumed the title of Ms. Mason. He was wearing a green-and-gold bow, sewn for him by the theater department costume's shop, that was visible even from the cheap seats, a sequined top, a black skirt and heels. Ricky Malebranche, a junior from Woodbridge, was named Mr. Mason.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

by: Debra

Animated, of course.  First up, Walt Handelsman's Baby Boomers.  Born to be mild, that's me.

Next, Guard Dog from Cartoon Carnage.  Now I understand.

How about a little Chains We Can Believe In by Mark Fiore?

Then there's the ever popular Frog In A Blender.  I couldn't stop myself, I pushed the buttons,

Remember, you never get a second chance to make a last impression, so make sure your last words are memorable. And yes, I do have a sick sense of humor.



by: Foiled Goil

Prince of Darkness Denies Own Existence

Dana Milbank:
Listening to neoconservative mastermind Richard Perle at the Nixon Center yesterday, there was a sense of falling down the rabbit hole.

In real life, Perle was the ideological architect of the Iraq war and of the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack. But at yesterday's forum of foreign policy intellectuals, he created a fantastic world in which:

1. Perle is not a neoconservative.

2. Neoconservatives do not exist.

3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn't be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.

"There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy," Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. "It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy."

So what about the 1996 report he co-authored that is widely seen as the cornerstone of neoconservative foreign policy? "My name was on it because I signed up for the study group," Perle explained. "I didn't approve it. I didn't read it."

Mm-hmm. [...]

The Prince of Darkness -- so dubbed during his days opposing arms control in the Reagan Pentagon -- was not about to let details get in the way of his argument that "50 million conspiracy theorists have it wrong," as the subtitle of his article for National Interest put it. "I see a number of people here who believe and have expressed themselves abundantly that there is a neoconservative foreign policy and it was the policy that dominated the Bush administration, and they ascribe to it responsibility for the deplorable state of the world," Perle told the foreign policy luminaries at yesterday's lunch. "None of that is true, of course."

Of course.

Perle Prince of Darkness

Cloudy Perle

Rachel Maddow:
Feb. 20: GOP in exile: Richard Perle, an ideological godfather of President Bush’s policy leading to the Iraq war, now says that neo-conservatism never existed. Really? Rachel Maddow is joined by author James Mann.
[ 5:46 ]

Neocon 101

Who Are These Guys?
Key Figures:

• Irving Kristol

Widely referred to as the "godfather" of neoconservatism, Mr. Kristol was part of the "New York Intellectuals," a group of critics mainly of Eastern European Jewish descent. In the late 1930s, he studied at City College of New York where he became a Trotskyist. From 1947 to 1952, he was the managing editor of Commentary magazine, later called the "neocon bible."

• Norman Podhoretz

Considered one of neoconservatism's founding fathers, Mr. Podhoretz studies, writes, and speaks on social, cultural, and international matters.

• Paul Wolfowitz

After serving as deputy secretary of defense for three years, Mr. Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, was chosen in March 2005 by President Bush to be president of the World Bank.

• Richard Perle

Famously nicknamed the "Prince of Darkness" for his hardline stance on national security issues, Mr. Perle is one of the most high-profile neoconservatives. He resigned in March 2003 as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board after being criticized for conflicts of interest. From 1981 to 1987 he was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.

Perle is a chief architect of the "creative destruction" agenda to reshape the Middle East, starting with the invasion of Iraq.

• Douglas Feith

The defense department announced in January 2005 that Mr. Feith will resign this summer as undersecretary of defense for policy, the Pentagon's No. 3 civilian position

• Lewis "Scooter" Libby

Mr. Libby [...] chief of staff and national security advisor for Vice President Dick Cheney. He's served in a wide variety of posts. In the first Bush administration, Mr. Libby served in the Department of Principal Deputy Under Secretary (Strategy and Resources), and, later, as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Libby was a founding member of the Project for the New American Century. He joined Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and others in writing its 2000 report entitled, "Rebuilding America's Defenses - Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century."

• John Bolton

In February 2005, Mr. Bolton was nominated US ambassador to the UN by President Bush. [...] he would move to this position from the Department of State where he was Under Secretary for Arms Control, the top US non-proliferation official. Prior to this appointment, Bolton was senior vice president of the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. He also held a variety of positions in both the George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan administrations.

• Elliott Abrams

In February of 2005 Elliott Abrams was appointed deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy. From December 2002 to February 2005, Mr. Abrams served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and North African affairs.

Robert Kagan

Mr. Kagan writes extensively on US strategy and diplomacy. Kagan and fellow neoconservative William Kristol co-founded the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 1997. Kagan signed the famous 1998 PNAC letter sent to President Clinton urging regime change in Iraq.

• Michael Ledeen

Seen by many as one of the most radical neoconservatives, Mr. Ledeen is said to frequently advise George W. Bush's top adviser Karl Rove on foreign policy matters. He is one of the strongest voices calling for regime change in Iran.

• William Kristol

Son of "godfather" of neoconservatism Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol is currently chairman of the Project for a New American Century, which he co-founded with leading neoconservative writer Robert Kagan.

• Frank Gaffney Jr.

Mr. Gaffney is the founder, president, and CEO of the influential Washington think tank Center for Security Policy, whose mission is "to promote world peace through American strength."

In 1987, President Reagan nominated Gaffney to be assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. he earlier served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy under then-Assistant Secretary Richard Perle.

20 February 2009

Joke Patrol

by: Debra

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's party. Jack is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He didn't even remember how he got home from the party.

As bad as he was feeling, he wondered if he did something wrong. Jack had to force himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!!

Jack sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house.

He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror.

Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick: 'Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to get groceries to make you your favorite dinner tonight. I love you, darling! Love, Jillian'.

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and the morning newspaper. His 16 year old son is also at the table, eating.

Jack asks, 'Son..what happened last night?'

'Well, you came home after 3 A.M., drunk and out of your mind. You fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door.'

Confused, he asked his son, 'So, why is everything in such perfect order and so clean? I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me??'

His son replies, 'Oh THAT... Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, "Leave me alone, I'm married"!!!

Broken Coffee Table $239.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Saying the right thing, at the right time: PRICELESS


Pictures Worth A 1000 Words

by: Debra

How cute!  Mother Nature strikes again.  Which is why you otter see this picture.  And all this time you thought it was monkey see, monkey do.  Not that using a monkey as an example is the best way to get your point across.  Fortunately the picture isn't a cartoon.

Reader Rick sent me photos from the Australian bush fire, here are three of them from Amy (last name on request only).

Victoria in flames.

Burnt to a crisp.

An innocent life saved.

Heartbroken and homeless.


Honestly, what kind of person would do this?  How can anybody live with themselves after knowing that they deliberately caused this type of destruction?

· ·


by: Foiled Goil

Michael Steele: Yo yo yo!


Holy shit this is funny.
Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” [...]

Under Mr. Steele's helm, the “old” may seem inappropriate in the Grand Old Party's affectionate nickname. He said he is putting a new public relations team into place to update the party's image.

“It will be avant garde, technically,” he said. “It will come to table with things that will surprise everyone - off the hook.”

Does that mean cutting-edge?

“I don't do 'cutting-edge,' “ he said. “That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge.”

"Laughter is the sound of hope. Hope is the seed of power. Power is the combined force of a multitude of voices joined together that began as a mere whisper in the immense darkness and the ferocious cold and only kept alive by small, improbable notes of laughter."

~Ricardo Levins Morales

GOP getting hip?

Rachel Maddow:
Feb. 19: New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele wants a “hip-hop” makeover for the GOP. What is he talking about? Rachel Maddow is joined by Princeton University professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

[ 9:58 ]

"Off the hook" ... "urban-suburban" ... "hip-hop"?

The GOP? Yah, like that worked out so well, before:

[ 1:47 ]

· ·

all that glisters...

by: astraea

Himmelfarb, btw, is William Kristol's mother*: think Weekly Standard. Murdoch owns WSJ
(*bet he ate his brussels sprouts for her!)

Paul Krugman:

February 20, 2009, 8:18 am — Updated: 8:18 am -->
Glorifying the Gilded Age
Matthew Yglesias catches the WSJ publishing an op-ed urging macroeconomics to build a bridge to the 19th century — to go back to the good old days when recessions were left to heal themselves.
This is actually part of a broader intellectual phenomenon: the persistent tendency of conservatives, even now, to glorify the Gilded Age.
Consider, for example, Milton Friedman’s assertion in the mid 1970s that
Far from being a period in which the poor were being ground under the heels of the rich and exploited unmercifully, there is probably no other period in history, in this or any other country, in which the ordinary man had as large an increase in his standard of living as in the period between the Civil War and the First World War, when unrestrained individualism was most rugged.
Um, what about the generation following World War II, in which living standards doubled?
Or consider Gertrude Himmelfarb’s On Looking Into the Abyss, whose key argument was that soaring crime rates showed the need to return to Victorian values. (American society promptly paid a dirty trick on Ms. Himmelfarb, by delivering a dramatic drop in crime, somehow without bringing back the poorhouses.)
There’s much, much more. One of the hallmarks of modern conservatism, at least in its intellectual branch, has been the insistence that the Gilded Age was a golden age.
It wasn’t.

by the rays of the sun and moon...

jung on the victorians:

The historical conditions which preceded Freud were such that they made a phenomenon like himself necessary, and it is precisely the fundamental tenet of his teaching-namely, the re­pression of sexuality-that is most clearly conditioned in this his­torical sense. Like his greater contemporary Nietzsche, Freud stands at the end of the Victorian era, which was never given such an appropriate name on the Continent despite the fact that it was just as characteristic of the Germanic and Protestant countries as of the Anglo-Saxon. The Victorian era was an age of repression, of a convulsive attempt to keep anaemic ideals artifi­cially alive in a framework of bourgeois respectability by con­stant moralizings. These ideals were the last offshoots of the col­lective religious ideas of the Middle Ages, and shortly before had been severely shaken by the French Enlightenment and the en­suing revolution. Hand in hand with this, ancient truths in the political field had become hollow and threatened to collapse. It was still too soon for the final overthrow, and consequently all through the nineteenth century frantic efforts were made to prevent the Christian Middle Ages from disappearing altogether. Political revolutions were stamped out, experiments in moral freedom were thwarted by middle-class public opinion, and the critical philosophy of the late eighteenth century reached its end in a renewed, systematic attempt to capture the world in a unified network of thought on the medieval model. But in the course of the nineteenth century enlightenment slowly broke through, particularly in the form of scientific materialism and rationalism.

This is the matrix out of which Freud grew, and its mental characteristics have shaped him along foreordained lines. He has a passion for explaining everything rationally, exactly as in the eighteenth century; one of his favourite maxims is Voltaire's "Ecrasez l'infame." With a certain satisfaction he invariably points out the flaw in the crystal; all complex psychic phenom­ena like art, philosophy, and religion fall under his suspicion and appear as "nothing but" repressions of the sexual instinct. para 45, Sigmund Freud in his Historical Setting CGJUNG CW 15
19 February 2009

American History

by: Debra

It is frightening to me how many people who have served in government wouldn't be able to pass my high school American Government class.  From the idiocy that is Michele (we're running out of rich people in this country) Bachmann to the sinisterness of Karl Rove, the dumbing down of political discourse continues.   Mr. Rove worries about President Obama's reputation for competence because the White House only suggested $200 billion of the stimulus plan instead of line by line requests.  I guess he missed the part in civics class about it being the House's job to initiate revenue bills.  Something about them being more representative of the people since they have a smaller constituency and are more likely to understand what the people who elected them need. 

While the Democrats may have tax problems, as if Republicans haven't done the same things, the Republicans have a sex problem.  They rail about homosexuality being being immoral while indulging in the same activities behind closed doors.  Or stalls.  And that shows more of a lack of judgment than not paying the taxes that Republicans are always trying to cut. And is Mr. Rove really trying to convice people that Bush didn't wing it on a daily basis?  On second thought he might not have if The Pet Goat being upside down is any indication.  Man, that's hard to watch.



by: astraea

(and here's the playing field: )

Hot Chicks in Bikinis: Seen as Less Than Human?


By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet

Brain scans reveal that when some men are shown photos of scantily dressed women, the part of the brain reserved for objects is activated. Read more »

whose reason is it anyway?

by: astraea

23 July 2008 by Bioethicist Tom Shakespeare
Magazine issue 2666
Tom Shakespeare is a research fellow at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, set up by Durham and Newcastle universities and the Centre for Life, Newcastle

Great piece. One point:

...People understand the world in stories, not dry rationality. It's not that they are unreasonable, it's that we need ways to look at the world which are both as empirically accurate and rationally sustainable as possible, but which also speak to everyday experience and do not exclude as mere superstition or irrationality the ways most people most of the time live their lives. The trouble is we don't seem to know how to do this...>

I hear ya. Propagandists, preachers, and cult leaders do too. "Jesus" is stories, parables, after all. The hero cult, so big in late antiquity, was the "virtual" version of the long-standing system of enculturation: the great memorized epic. Homer, the Greek and Roman's Bible.

Of course, THEY ALL knew it was story. In our electrified positivistic post-Teller age, where we plug machines into walls, click around the net, flip open the phone, people become so far removed from reality that the world becomes magical. High dependence on instruction manuals and techs comes with it, just to make it all work. We sit back. Abandon ourselves to it. Forget to steer. We BELIEVE.

No wonder simple folks crave a magic book from God, a literal and unassailable truth of all, angels whispering in ears and all else the devil. The great instruction manual of the universe!

Phone home. How can I extend my warrantee?

(picture from

Husband Down

by: Debra

I humbly present a joke, sexist though it may be.

A husband and wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart.

The husband picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart.

'What do you think you're doing?' asks the wife.

'They're on sale, only $10 for 24 cans,' he replies.

'Put them back, we can't afford them,' demands the wife, and so they carry on shopping.

A few aisles further on along the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream and puts it in the basket.

'What do you think you're doing?' asks the husband.

'It's my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,' replies the wife.

Her husband retorts: 'So does 24 cans of Budweiser ... at half the price.'

On the PA system: 'Cleanup needed on aisle 25, we have a husband down.'

Goofy Obstructionist Psychosis

by: Foiled Goil

Bachmann strikes(out) again

Feb. 18: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., took a new stand against President Barack Obama when she claimed the stimulus bill was just a payoff for those who supported him throughout the election. The Nation’s Chris Hayes discusses.

[ 7:14 ]

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Michele?

Arjun Jaikumar aka brownsox:
There are lies, there is stupidity, there are stupid lies, there are migraine-inducingly-stupid slanderous lies, and then there are Bachmannisms.

Steve Benen has the greatest hits from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's latest flurry of inanity:
ACORN is "under federal indictment for voter fraud," but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN "$5 billion." (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn't mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

many members of Congress have "a real aversion to capitalism.

the stimulus bill includes a measure to create a "rationing board" for health care, and after the bill becomes law, "your doctor will no longer be able to make your healthcare decisions with you."

the recovery package is part of a Democratic conspiracy to "direct" funding away from Republican districts, so Democratic districts can "suck up" all federal funds. Bachmann doesn't think this will work because, as she put it, "We're running out of rich people in this country."

the "Community-Organizer-in-Chief" is also orchestrating a conspiracy involving the Census Bureau, which the president will use to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to "40 years." When the host said he was confused, noting that congressional district lines are drawn at the state level, Bachmann said Obama's non-existent plan is an "anti-constitutional move."

In all seriousness, these latest Bachmannisms really are rather disturbing. It's one thing for a regular citizen to be so woefully misinformed that they spew this kind of blatantly idiotic nonsense. It's relatively easy to ignore such a person and move on with one's life.

It's quite alarming, however, that someone viewing the political scene through such a twisted kaleidoscope lens is a member in good standing of the United States House of Representatives.

Perhaps we really should not be disheartened, though: it is proof positive that there really is almost nothing you can say or do that's crazy enough to kill a political career.

If you're a Republican, anyway.

Pelosi's Mouse Explained: What's Actually In The Stimulus Bill

Ryan Grim:
The problem for stimulus critics is that the package has no earmarks, leaving little to ridicule.

But the money has to be spent somewhere, so House Republicans went looking for embarrassing projects that could be funded by the stimulus. "Appropriations Committee Republicans have been asking federal agencies exactly how the pots of money in the bill will be spent - since much of the spending isn't explicitly spelled out in the legislation," wrote Michael Steel, an aide to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), in an e-mail to reporters.

"One response? Thirty million dollars for wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area - including work to protect the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse," he said. [...]

On Thursday, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) took to the House floor to make a different point: the money for the restoration isn't actually in the bill.

"There are no earmarks in this bill. There is no earmark for rats in San Francisco. There is money that goes to the EPA and the Department of the Interior for cleanup of wetlands and maintaining of wetlands and apparently this is on a list of ready-to-go projects but it, like many others, must compete within the departments for that money. It is not a specific earmark within the bill," he said. "That trivializes this bill."

Steel isn't backing down. "The bottom line remains the same: if the bill passes, taxpayers will spend $30 million to protect a rodent in San Francisco. That will not help struggling American families, and it will not help our economy create or preserve jobs," he told the Huffington Post.

But Pelosi's office says even this broader claim isn't true. Spokesman Drew Hammill tells the Plum Line's Greg Sargent, "There are no federal wetland restoration projects in line to get funded in San Francisco... The idea that $30 million will be spent to save mice is a total fabrication."

Of Mice And (Wo)Men

Barbara Morrill aka BarbinMD:
Last Friday we were treated to the sight of Republicans self-righteously opposing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as one after another, they denounced a non-existent mouse earmark.

And today the White House has released "state-specific details on the local impact" the bill will have across the nation.

So let's take a moment to remember that while Republicans were taking to the floor to rail against imaginary marsh mice, Democrats were taking action to jump start the economy, even for the luckless constituents of the rodent-obsessed.

Boehner Slams Mythical Vegas HSR Project, Ignores Ohio Rail Opportunity

Matthew Yglesias:
The madness continues on the right-wing’s crusade against a mythical high-speed rail to Las Vegas project that Harry Reid is alleged to have snuck into the stimulus bill. “Tell me how spending $8 billion,” asked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on the floor, “in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.” [...]

In a last-minute change, the total quantity of funds available was increased. But there’s no special plan for Las Vegas. The money will be spread all across the country. [...]

Indeed, the existing plan is a bit freakishly Ohio-centric, offering both a Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago line and a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati-Indianapolis corridor while leaving things like Houston-Dallas and Orlando-Jacksonville (and, indeed, LA-Vegas) off the list. Long story short, John Boehner doesn’t know what he’s talking about and his position on this issue would imperil both short term jobs for Ohioans and an opportunity to substantially improve Ohio’s long-run capacity for economic growth.

No Nevada Rail

OpenCongress Summary:
This is the economic stimulus package that was passed by Congress on Feb. 13, 2009. The final version is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $787 billion over the 2009-2019 period.

The two portions of the final agreed-upon bill text can be downloaded here in .pdf form (Div. A - appropriations and Div. B - tax provisions).

Bond flip-flops on stimulus

Feb. 18: Worst Persons: Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., voted against the stimulus yet took every opportunity he could to take credit for it once it was passed. Watch in Worst Persons in the World.

[ 2:14 ]

Kit Bond Touts Effects Of Stimulus Bill He Voted Against

Ali Frick:
Last week, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) slammed President Obama’s recovery and reinvestment plan. “Hold on to your wallets folks because with the passage of this trillion-dollar baby the Democrats will be poised to spend as much as $3 trillion in your tax dollars,” Bond said. “Unfortunately, this bill stimulates the debt, it stimulates the growth of government, but it doesn’t stimulate jobs,” Bond insisted.

However, today Bond is touring Missouri to tout the very stimulus plan he railed against. In a press release, Bond boasted about an amendment he included in the bill to provide more funding for affordable housing — and that will create jobs: [...]

“This is the type of emergency stimulus spending we should be supporting — programs that will create jobs now and help families,” Bond said. [...]

Bond is not alone in trying to reap the political benefits both from voting against the bill and from bringing much needed funding to his district:
– Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), who complained that the “federal government is spending money they don’t have,” told Rachel Maddow he would nevertheless accept funds for Minnesota: “Our view is, if you buy the pizza, it’s OK if you have a slice.”

– Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also campaigned ardently against the bill, said he would nevertheless gladly accept its funds for his state. “You don’t want to be crazy here,” he said.

– Rep. John Mica (R-FL) gushed over the bill, which he, too, voted against. “I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” he said in a press release.

– Rep. Don Young (R-AK) boasted that he “won a victory for…Alaska small business owners” in the recovery bill he refused to vote for.

No wonder RNC Chairman Michael Steele declared recently, “You have absolutely no reason — none — to trust our word or our actions at this point.”

Extremist Makeover

Barbara Morrill aka BarbinMD:
The Republican Party has found itself:

Seeking political traction, Republicans are using the economic stimulus package to try to restore an image of fiscal discipline tarnished by a free-spending GOP Congress under former President George W. Bush.

The return to what many Republicans consider their small-government, tax-cut roots is driving unity in a party that now lacks power in the White House and in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.

So, after taking the country from a $5.6 trillion surplus to a $1.2 trillion deficit, the GOP has remembered their roots.

And with their long, power-induced amnesia cured, they're ready to tell anyone who will listen about their "bedrock principles" of restrained spending ... now that they're actually restrained from spending.

And what better way to proclaim their new-found fiscal responsibility then to go after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, because:

A message of fiscal discipline is a surefire energizer for the party's long dispirited conservative base, party faithful who will be critical foot soldiers for the GOP's fundraising and organizing efforts in next year's midterm congressional elections and beyond.

Limbaugh GOP

R. J. Matson

"Unity" ain't the GOP's problem

Seriously. Look at Republicans, their enablers and allies, and the beltway media -- they're all trumpeting how the GOP is "back!" because of their "unity".

Unity? Really?

That's never been a problem with the GOP. In fact, we were able to kick their asses the last two cycles precisely because Republicans were unable to break with Bush on anything, not even on denying healthcare to kids. Heck, that was the point of all those "Congressman X voted with Bush 99.8 percent of the time" commercials Democratic challengers ran (and will continue to run in 2010). If there's one thing Republicans can do, it's "unity". And it's done them (and the country) zero good in recent years.

But somehow, everyone has convinced themselves that by showing "unity", that Republicans are suddenly back and a force to be reckoned with, despite all the polling showing otherwise. As if anyone gives a damn outside of the Beltway media whether Republicans are "unified" or not. As if "unity" ever had anything to do with the GOP's woes (which still boil down to "their ideas suck and everyone hates them").

But let those jokers believe whatever it is they want to believe. The country is certainly marching to a different beat.

· ·
18 February 2009


by: blackdog

Maybe one of the best ever made.

Get some popcorn and just enjoy, this kills me.

Obstructionist Republicans

by: Debra

Federal or state, it makes no difference. Republicans in Congress continue to crow about not supporting the stimulus bill and California Republicans continue to stand in the corner and hold their breath. Why is it so hard for the media to point out that even though California has a Democratic legislature that it is Republicans, and Republicans only, who will not compromise on the budget issue? Even though this budget isn't the best for those who don't have money, those who have been laid off or disabled, those who don't have health insurance and those who don't want to buy a new house, something must be done before the state grinds to a halt.

Businesses will receive a 1 billion dollar permanent tax cut, I guess they need it more than the average citizen. Way back in 1978 when I voted for Prop. 13 I had no idea that businesses were going to benefit from the property tax bill also. There are buildings that have stood empty for years because the company doesn't want to sell the land and make the tax rate increase. Which means that lower property taxes are paid and revenues have not kept pace with inflation. Meanwhile a good proportion of the people who this proposition was designed to protect have either moved or passed away. There are a few left and they should be protected but the business protections need to be eliminated.

Gray Davis was recalled over a budget crisis and Arnold Schwarzenegger took over and immediately proceeded to try and balance the budget on the backs of the little people. Several years later and they are still using the little people to try and balance the books repeating ad nauseam the tired old canard that Republicans have used for years. If businesses have to pay more taxes, a higher minimum wage or let their employees have breaks for lunch and get paid for overtime, then the whole business structure will collapse. What a load of hooey. Slavery was supposedly abolished in 1865, let's keep it that way.

Businesses use the roads, their employees use the emergency room in lieu of preventative healthcare. Corporations have the ear of the governor, their employees have the sound of silence. Corporate taxes go down, employee benefits disappear. The elderly paid taxes at a higher rate than we do now during their earning years, now they are treated as disposable and considered to be a drain on the economy. If it wasn't for them this state would never have achieved the greatness it did, now they are being punished for being old and are portrayed as leeches for using services that everyone else imagines are theirs.

We are one of the few nations on earth that treats its elderly as disposable. Which is interesting since we all grow old eventually. If you're lucky, otherwise it's just people's memories of you that get old. Growing old gracefully is not a privilege reserved for the rich, it's a right that everyone is entitled to. Too bad the Republicans have no respect for their elders.

Ten thousand people could permanently lose their jobs if this crisis isn't resolved. Just what the state needs. More unemployed. As I have reason to know, rents are not cheap in the Bay area so cutting a disabled person's income by thirty dollars will increase the homeless population and why should someone who through no fault of their own be forced to survive on the street while the fat cats continue to be driven around on the taxpayer's dime? If we can't afford to help the weakest among us what makes us think we are so great?


· ·
17 February 2009

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?

by: astraea

From Robert Greenwald:

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?

That's the amount of extra cash each and every Burger King employee in America would have received last year if Goldman Sachs (one of the fast-food chain's largest owners) had shared its bailout billions with rank-and-file workers. Instead, Goldman Sachs squandered 6.5 billion of our taxpayer dollars on bonuses for their financial staff. These were some of the highest bonuses on Wall Street! Meanwhile, Burger King workers earn wages averaging just $14,000 a year -- well below the federal poverty line for a family of three.

Watch the harmful effects of Wall Street's greed:

Goldman Sachs has been having it their way with Burger King workers for too long. It's high time you had it your way with Goldman Sachs. Tell the Wall Street giant how they could have used the $6.5 billion blown on bonuses. We're looking for the most creative, constructive, or comical ideas to curb corporate greed and help fix the financial crisis. We will send all ideas to Goldman Sachs as a reprimand for their wastefulness. The winner of the Have It Your Way with Goldman Sachs contest will have their idea featured in our next video. The contest ends March 3.

Pass this video and contest to your friends and family, and don't forget to digg it. Tell them working people all over the country are pushing back against Wall Street excess. Tell them we're joining with SEIU and others to stage demonstrations and hold Goldman Sachs accountable! And tell them it's time to end this era of corporate greed and impunity.


Robert Greenwald

and the Brave New Films team

P.S. - Do you think Goldman Sachs should be forced to give back their bailout money to taxpayers, should they have to raise Burger King workers' wages, explain their spending to the government, or be left alone because they are living the American dream? Vote now in our online poll.

J. D. Hayworth Is An Idiot

by: Foiled Goil

And he's still clinging to the GOP failed policies of the last eight years, and the Party's lockstep idea that when they were in the majority it was okay to do everything their way, and now that they are the minority they think they're still going to do everything their way! That's their idea of bi-partisanship. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Hardball with Chris Matthews:
Stimulus bill – too partisan?

Feb. 16: A Hardball panel talks about the risk and rewards for both parties as President Barack Obama prepares to sign the stimulus bill Tuesday.

[ 12:20 ]

16 February 2009

The Dark Wraith Audio Lecture Series: Marketing

by: Dark Wraith

This lecture is from a class for students who have declared intention to major in business but have yet to take any business courses. The purpose of the course is to teach these students about business thinking, business subjects, and business decorum, among other things. Lectures are interspersed with presentations by representatives from professional organizations inside and outside the college, business professionals from a variety of industries, and those with important knowledge of matters like resume preparation, proper business attire, and success in interviewing for internships and career positions. In my role as professor, among other objectives I have in preparing these young people for their subsequent business courses and their jobs, I must enculturate them to business. When I lecture, it is often to the purpose of getting them past diffuse, popular, and general thinking about business matters.

Duration: 00:37:55
Size: 34.7 Mb

The Dark Wraith invites readers to enjoy this particularly enlightening lecture.

· · · ·

My Memory Seems Weak

by: blackdog

I was just cruising around to various sites a while ago and happened to hit on this one, which I do check out from time to time, Anntichrist's site. She did me a fantastic favor some years ago when she was with Blondesense and I'll never forget it.

She fights like a tiger and even though it's been a long time since I was actively involved with her, I still do visit, even though I can't easily comment on her site.

Follow the above link to her place and scroll down a bit, you will find Terrible's post featuring Uriah Heep, "Lady in Black".

Now I do apologize, I had simply forgotten just how incredible Uriah Heep was, and how it affected me back then.

My favorite Uriah Heep:

That song held me in sway, even before acid. One interesting night myself and several friends were spending the night over at a friends house who had a cool room off the back of the garage with a blacklight and lots of UV posters, this was I think back in 1971 or so, not sure if I was 14 or 15. We all were out doing what nasty young boys do, trying to raise some hell without getting into too much trouble. Somehow we got over to an old friend of mine's house and lo and behold! It was Fagan and Farmer B! Before he was a farmer. They turned me on to a half hit of orange acid, just a small piece since it would be my first of many more to come.

I popped it and thankfully we were also able to score some weed which I find greatly enhances the experience. This was before I drank alcohol, that's another story, and a much more tragic one.

We got back to that cool room and after about an hour I began to go, in a major way, no one else had done any so I was somewhat alone on my trip, but I did have companions who were there to interact with me cause i really got off. There was a reasonable stereo in that room and a large can of Charles's Pretzels, this was before anyone had attempted to choke to death on a pretzel, and as the music flowed and the mind opened in a curious way, I ate at least 2 lbs of them.

I wouldn't take that night back for any amount . Was off for about 6-7 hours and it was fantastic.

But I do so love "the wizard" by the Heep.

Monday Morning Quickies

by: Debra

Surreal comment of the day.
With more than 265,000 people tracking his messages, President Barack Obama has the most Twitter followers even though neither he nor his staff have tweeted since he moved into the White House last month.
I haven't heard President Obama make high chirping noises either.

If your vehicle was worth hundreds of millions of pounds or euros you would think that someone would have been watching where they were going instead of driving by Braille.
Britain's government "needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world's second-largest ocean," lawmaker Angus Robertson of the opposition Scottish National Party said.
Everybody knows California is having a budget crisis, but how many people know that it is because a 2/3 majority vote is needed and that the Republicans consistently refuse to see reason?  Even given the opportunity to shaft the poor, disabled and elderly, Republicans stood their ground, refusing to sign anything with a tax increase because they are math challenged.  Are they upset that the bill was drafted by five people behind closed doors and no one knows everything that is in the bill?  No!  Are they happy that businesses are going to receive a permanent tax cut?  No!  One of them has an even better reason for not supporting the budget that a Republican governor is trying to shove down our throats.
Maldonado and Schwarzenegger have a tense relationship: In 2006, the senator publicly criticized the governor for not backing his unsuccessful campaign for state controller.

"Where was he when I needed him?" Maldonado said of Schwarzenegger on Sunday. As for Cogdill, who helped negotiate the budget plan, Maldonado said: "There's a difference between managing a caucus and leading a caucus."
What?  The million dollar makeover of the state controller's office wasn't enough to buy him off?  The state is imploding and these guys are playing games because they want to be reelected by their conservative constituents.  Reelected to what is not entirely clear.  The longer they dawdle, the more dire the budget crisis becomes until the state is completely bankrupt.  Then they will be like the rest of us.  Unemployed.

There really is an App for everything.  Hmm, and all this time I thought that was illegal.


· · ·

Republicans Bail Out

by: astraea

Please send this to your Rush lovin' brother-in-law:

I sit in on the free alaska group on yahoo that Palin's husband made famous: Why? Like Lincoln, I'm interested in the other side of things. Taking the pulse.
Republicans have recently proven they're a wall of making things not work. Republicans from Rush on down are united on one track, a comeback in 2010 & 2012. Step 1: a vow to not vote for anyone who voted for the stimulus.

Have a look at the screed: Website, the CFIF ORG:">

Do they care if the US economy fails? Well -- if they're not working for it, that means they're working against it. That's just the truth. They've made that choice.

It's a game, of course. Republicans want it both ways. They knew exactly how many could vote against the stim and still have it pass.

We all know this, but the media still doesn't. Evidence? Turn on the tube. Media matters:, Putting the "partisan" in "bipartisanship"

Pretty clear, innit?
15 February 2009

Sunday Night Cats

by: Dark Wraith

Tonight is yet another exciting night in the Dark Wraith's hovel: papers to grade, data to analyze, rants to write, conspiracy theories to consider, projects to plan. Below are my two cats, Gabriel and Matilda, brother and sister Manxes. Long-time readers here at Big Brass Blog last saw them in my post, "Teaching Peace," published here almost exactly a year ago, on February 17, 2008. (George W. Bush was still President, then.)

Gabriel and Matilda

Clearly, they are most interested in what I'm doing. That, or they're waiting for me to open the drawer that has the catnip bag in it.

One way or the other, it's an action-packed Sunday evening.

And for you, good readers, here's a little question: What is that white thing hanging on the wall behind the cats? It's partly hidden by the closet door, but enough of it is visible for the informed observer to identify. (Truth be told, I'll be surprised if anyone provides the right answer.)

The Dark Wraith should get back to work, now.

The End of Time, Epilogue

by: Dark Wraith

First published January 1, 2008, the original work of fiction, "The End of Time," may now be closed to a brief comment in the reality of this, our own place and circumstance.

We may expropriate from future generations as much as we wish; in return, those future generations can take nothing from us but respect for who we were and what we did.

We have again and now plundered their land with our self-gratifying impunity, lying to ourselves that we are somehow doing this for them.

We are not. We are doing this for ourselves. We know that, and surely they will, too. Our choice of whether or not to acknowledge this is irrelevant: they, not we, control the words that will be inscribed about us in their history books.

In their time, in bitter disgust, those now very young and those yet to be born will plunder our graves of honor. It is their privilege and right; it is, in fact, their grim and solemn duty.

Without the past, which we have already bled of its treasure gifted to us, and without the future, which we are now about to bleed of its treasure gifted by us, we have reached the end of time, that circle of light in the present from which we have drawn what light the times that have passed could offer and from which we have no light to cast into the swallowing blackness of the ages and years to come.

Celebrate this day: we vanquished the past, and we have now sacked the future. Victory is ours.

The consequences are theirs.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
14 February 2009

During The Commercial Break

by: Debra

Have you ever wondered what television news anchors do during the commercial break? Straight from WGN-TV, an intimate look at that most serious of institutions.

They must really like each other.


· ·

Once again we must confront

by: Anna Van Z

The giant loony bin that is South Carolina. It's not so much a state as another dimension; very much like Florida, Idaho, Montana, Alabama, etc. In other words, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. Here is yet another example: The Richland County Sheriff's Department in SC has so far arrested eight people who were at the party where Michael Phelps was photographed with a bong. Seven have been charged with drug possession, and one with distribution. How they think they can convict anyone on the basis of that is beyond me, but any time law enforcement can help ruin the future opportunities of kids smokin' dope, they are Johnny-on-the-spot. Betcha they also helped themselves to whatever property and loot they could carry or tow away, which in and of itself has become a strong incentive for police departments to initiate drug arrests.

Yes, Richland County felt that it just had to protect the public from these fiendish, dope-smoking college kids. Too bad the county isn't equally motivated to close the 48 unsolved murders it currently has open. Or to arrest the 14 dangerous sexual predators they've got running around loose there. Or to confront the prevalence of domestic violence, for which the state ranks second in the U.S.; Richland County alone having more than 2500 reported DV incidents annually. Or to catch the 9 "most wanted" felons at large, who've committed crimes ranging from murder, assault with a deadly weapon, to child rape, and so on.

Of course, these actual criminals are a little scarier to apprehend than your typical bong-smoking students, most of whom are unarmed and have no history of violence. So if you're a big fat pussy man - say, one who hasn't seen his own dick in a decade, for instance - and someone who gets winded going up a flight of stairs, and can barely make his required marksmanship score, going all commando on 21 y.o. dope smokers is far more appealing. Of course, the public's safety declines significantly as a result of this focus, but who's paying attention, right? We're just the dummies funding this bullshit in perpetuity with our copious tax payments.
You may recall that in 2007, then SC State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was busted with many grams of cocaine, and had in fact been distributing it to friends. In SC, like many other places, a poor "nobody" is going to get a lengthy sentence for a conviction like that. But this guy, being a big whoopdeedoo and all, went to a couple of cushy "rehab" centers (spas) out west, and didn't even get a year's sentence. And none of his property was confisgated. In fact, he will do the rest of his two months remaining "jail" time at his expensive Charleston home!

So, it's kinda like Rush Limbaugh and the 30,000+ Oxycontin in Florida. What did authorities call it again? Oh that's right, "doctor-shopping." Which sounds way better than opiate addict, or junkie. Or slimy, skanky, demented pervert. (I know, full-on skank is not a crime - but shouldn't it be?)

It seems to depend on how gov-corp perceives an individual, and that person's relative usefulness to the machine that determines how problematic someone's illegal drug use actually is. Since Michael Phelps spent part of last year helping to promote progressive causes and candidates, it's possible that his behavior has been far more of a priority for the goose-stepping set. And nothing is going to alter this scenario, unless a mass movement of citizens is sufficiently motivated to loudly demand changes in our draconian drug laws and sentencing guidelines. Frankly, I don't see that happening. Most Americans seem content to (at best) grouse about any particular issue for about as long as the commercial break lasts. But I digress...

Read about the SC developments here. And also here.Then, if you feel so inclined, contact the Richland County SC Sheriff's Department to share your thoughts on the matter with the good constabullies. You can send 'em an email at sheriff[a@t]rcsd[d.o.t]net. Or give them a ring at 803-576-3000.

Go ahead, make my day...

First Valentine

by: Foiled Goil

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love, from your Valentine.

There are several legends about the origin of Valentine's Day, and several stories go much like this one:

In the third century A.D., Claudius II Gothicus, the emperor of Rome, outlawed Christianity, ordered all Romans to worship the state religion's idols, made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians, and issued a decree outlawing marriage because he felt married men would be reluctant to become soldiers.

During this period of oppressive rule, Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, secretly performed marriages for young couples because he believed that people should be free to marry and to worship their Christian God. Unfortunately, Valentine was caught and taken before Claudius II, who tried to persuade Valentine to leave Christianity and serve the Roman gods and become an ally of the Roman Empire. Valentine refused and Claudius sentenced him to a three part execution: he was to be beaten, stoned and then decapitated.

While he was in prison waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Valentine was visited often by the blind daughter of one of the jailers, who regained her sight during that time. Before his execution on February 14, the eve of the all important Roman festival called the Lupercalia (this was virtually an erotic carnival, one of the most ancient Roman festivals, which was celebrated every year in honor of Lupercus, the god of fertility), Valentine sent her a small farewell note signed:


From your Valentine."

Sen. Diane Feinstein's Net Neutrality Killer

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. EST, 14 February 2009: The United States Senate has passed and sent to President Obama the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 reconciled with and approved yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives. The final version of the bill does not appear to contain language previously inserted by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) for "Reasonable Network Management" (RNM). The details of how her attempt to end the existing rules and regulations guaranteeing "net neutrality" are still somewhat unclear, although the RNM provision was contained in an amendment by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), which was withdrawn, apparently at his behest or with his consent. Given Sen. Feinstein's demonstrated willingness to use a critical piece of legislation having nothing to do with Internet management to advance her to desire to end net neutrality, the removal of her provision to that purpose from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will most certainly not be the final chapter in the battle to prevent further erosion of freedom of speech on and access to the Internet.

◊                ◊                ◊

Via Crooks & Liars comes word that Sen. Diane Feinstein was attempting to insert into the economic stimulus bill a provision called "Reasonable Network Management," a term apparently straight out of Comcast's playbook of euphemisms for corporate control (read that, ownership) of the Internet.

Now, it seems that Feinstein has managed to get her nasty little trick inserted via amendment through the backdoor of the House-Senate conference committee that reconciles the differences in the two chambers' versions. At the second link is the means by which you can contact Rep. Henry Waxman, who seems to be in a position to do something about Feinstein's stunt but who is apparently right now supporting her net neutrality killer amendment.

What Feinstein is doing is nothing less than sponsoring legislation further defining legal censorship of the Internet, claiming her handout to corporate welfare queens is to the noble purpose of providing more laws " that American ISPs can deter child pornography, copyright infringement, and other unlawful activity." Yes, Feinstein is trotting out the children; and if that isn't enough for all of us to hand the keys to the Internet to government and corporate bosses, she's tossing in the music industry, which is apparently being systematically destroyed by people sharing lousy pop music performed by over-hyped, talentless twits whose fortunes are made by record industry power brokers who tell addled music listeners that bad music is good music.

Ah, yes, and if all of that isn't enough, we also need the government-corporate Axis of Weasels to protect the world from "other unlawful activities."

No, that doesn't mean the Right-wing Websites will get shut down for FBWS ("Felonious Blogging While Stupid"); it means... oh, my! It means whatever the federal law enforcement community decides it means.

That's right. Legislation with language that vague is precisely how interpretive regulation morphs into its ugly (and constitutionally sanctioned) evil twin, quasi-legislative regulation.

If you don't like this nonsense Feinstein is pulling, you have but one option: you need to start bitching. Either you can do so to yourself and your long-suffering friends and relatives, or you can bitch your fool head off to select congressional representatives, including your own and that guy I mentioned earlier, Henry Waxman.

You can also raise Holy Hell with Sen. Feinstein, herself. Here's how:

In Washington, D.C.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501

In California
San Francisco
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710

You can also send the corrupt authoritarian Democrat an e-mail message.

It should go without saying that any message you send to Sen. Feinstein should contain only the most diplomatic of language and be free of implied or expressed threats, including those involving turbo wedgies. It would also be terribly insensitive — in light of last week's jaw-dropping blunder in which she let the cat out of the bag that our Predator drone flights to bomb Pakistani targets are being launched from Pakistan, itself — to start your message to Sen. Feinstein with the greeting, "Dear Stupid." Accurate, yes; appropriate, I think not.

Anyway, you might want to suggest in your message that she stick with helping her war profiteering husband keep getting those big bucks in pork-barrel war money from appropriations that went through the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee on which she sat until the stench of her conflict of interest became too much even for her Democratic and Republican cohorts in the upper chamber of Congress. (Instead of requesting that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into what Feinstein did, how did the Senate handle the matter? Why, Ms. Feinstein is now the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee! Boy, that'll teach her a thing or two.)

If you're uncomfortable addressing a supposedly "liberal" Democrat with harsh words, just tell her you were compelled to do so by the Dark Wraith. Remember: he might seem incredibly charming, but he's a paleo-con; that means he has no patience for Republicans or Democrats when they're sporting their Prada jackboots.

We shall surely not stop the death plunge of this nation into an authoritarian state; but at the very least we can make its shock troops suffer the incessant din of our ceaseless bitching about it. Sen. Feinstein might even have to use some of that lobbying money she gets from the telecoms to buy a set of earplugs.

The Dark Wraith encourages readers to help make the Democrats at least pretend to be something other than Republicans with candy coating.

· · · ·
13 February 2009

A Short Ode to Father Tyme

by: blackdog

I used to work out in the desert at a super dooper secret Navy base which had a host city, amazingly the largest in the Great Mojave. Not that it was all that secret, it was the US Navy's largest piece of property on this planet, so it was hard to hide.

Being as I was into the difficult task of treating and hopefully disposing of human waste products, the only creature I am aware of that takes reasonably good water, processes it to a very high standard and then defecates and urinates into it before dumping it downstream to be someone else's problem, well pardon me, I digress.

A funny thing happened out there, two PhDs from the Optical Phisics lab out there approached me with the intent to demonstrate a most interesting and energetic process for treating the 3 MGD of water we had to deal with.

It was peculiar, since I always thought optical sorts dealt with light, but these guys were using very powerful sonars, tunable, to flash oxidize all sorts of stuff in the water. The shear power of the sonar would produce bubbles in the water (vapor pressure) which would then collapse with a firece determination. But since these guys were optical sorts, it just so happened that as these bubbles, very small, collapsed they would produce a burst of light.


This was amazing as to how well it could clean up the water, turning green algae laden shit into colorless, clear H2O without measurable coliform bacteria. And this all happened in the early 1990's fer gawds sake.

Then the pair of PhD's vanished from my radar and all talk of the process vanished as well. Many years later I was to read about the possibility of the cavitating bubbles (Young Einstein) generating enough heat to produce fusion, the magical elixir of all of our energy problems.

Well, the rest is beyond me. I'm best with a mop or broom to provide services, so I leave the comment section to those who are actually intelligent, plus I am just tired of typing this out.

Have at it!

The Vegetarian Myth

by: Konagod

I have referred to myself as a vegetarian for about 18 years. I also mock people who say they are vegetarian but occasionally eat fish or chicken. That's like a 2-pack a day smoker saying they are a non-smoker when they're in between cigarettes.

But the reality is that there are really no vegetarians or vegans. Those of us who abstain from meat, fish and poultry can, at best, describe ourselves as having a "vegetarian preference." Because if this gross-out op-ed piece is true, and I'm sure it is to some extent, we eat far too many flies and maggots. And more.
Tomato juice, for example, may average “10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams [the equivalent of a small juice glass] or five or more fly eggs and one or more maggots.” Tomato paste and other pizza sauces are allowed a denser infestation — 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams or 15 or more fly eggs and one or more maggots per 100 grams.

Canned mushrooms may have “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or an “average of 75 mites” before provoking action by the F.D.A.

The sauerkraut on your hot dog may average up to 50 thrips. And when washing down those tiny, slender, winged bugs with a sip of beer, you might consider that just 10 grams of hops could have as many as 2,500 plant lice. Yum.

Time for my breakfast muffin which I shall enjoy while trying to forget I read this piece.

Crossposted at konagod

Accountability Justice

by: Foiled Goil

Leahy's Truth Commission for Bush White House Only One of Many Calls for Accountability

Christine Bowman, BuzzFlash:
While most media attention is on the fierce battle over the economy that is being fought out in Washington, D.C., and across the country, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Tuesday night gave ten minutes of air time to what could become an equally huge story. Maddow interviewed Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont regarding the "truth commission" he has proposed. Leahy argues that convening a "truth and reconciliation commission" with subpoena power would give Bush administration members the opportunity to testify about just what happened over the last eight years, in exchange for grants of immunity from prosecution for possible crimes. Conversely, any refusal to come clean by testifying fully would carry the risk of prosecution and punishment.

Leahy compares his idea to the Church Committee that reviewed Nixon era illegal activities such as the FBI's targeting of law-abiding anti-war protesters. Leahy sees a need "to assemble the facts" and calls forming the commission "a middle ground where we can at least find out what happened." He considers it a good deal to trade immunity from prosecution to get the truth out. Leahy stopped short of portraying prosecutions as a goal, but argued that uncovering the truth, and making it "very very public," would help prevent future abuses.

Maddow's own closing analysis possibly deserves as much attention as does her probing conversation with Leahy. Maddow identified what she said may now be "an emerging consensus" among high-level Democrats that Bush-era wrongdoing warrants serious investigation. Besides Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy, Maddow listed others who have joined the call for accountability in one way or another. They include: House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, and Karl Levin. Furthermore, in his confirmation hearings for Attorney General, Eric Holder refused to rule out the possibility that investigations might be warranted.

Although the Obama administration has appeared eager to avoid confronting their predecessors, the ever more insistent calls for accountability coming from high levels may well become impossible to ignore.

See related Big Brass Blog post:

No One Is Above The Law: Our Obligation To Justice

Poll: Most People Want Inquiry Into Bush Administration's Terror Tactics

Susie Madrak, C and L:
Apparently not everyone is willing to "move on":
Even as Americans struggle with two wars and an economy in tatters, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush administration: Whether its tactics in the "war on terror" broke the law.

Jack Reed: ‘I don’t think we should be afraid’ of investigating Bush crimes.

Ali Frick, Think Progress:
I think we have to seriously investigate allegations of torture. … I think our political system as well as our judicial system is strong enough to conduct these investigations fairly and then to bring those people the law to justice. I don’t think we should be afraid of that.

[ 1:13 ]

A Government of Laws, Not of Men

Editor’s Note: Washington insiders are divided into two basic groups over what to do about the sordid history of the Bush administration: one side wants a “truth” commission but no jail time, and the other side says do nothing beyond thanking George W. Bush and his aides for a job well done.

But there is a grassroots movement out there that battled the Bush administration’s crimes as they were happening – often in the face of disdain from the insiders – and that group believes serious accountability must be achieved if the health of the American Republic is to be restored, a position shared by journalist Peter Dyer:
Now that the unprecedented lawlessness of the Bush administration is history, we have an equally unprecedented opportunity to reaffirm the foundation of American democracy: the rule of law.

Peter Dyer, Consortium News:

In 2000, during his first campaign for President, George W. Bush said, “I’m running for President because I want to help usher in the responsibility era, where people understand they are responsible for the choice they make and are held accountable for their actions.”

Now a private citizen, George W. Bush has much to be held accountable for as President. During his “responsibility era” he and several other of the most powerful Americans accumulated a list of serious and far-reaching criminal offenses.

Despite his oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the U.S. Constitution, President Bush and his administration used the fear and anxiety generated by 9/11 to justify torture, kidnapping (extraordinary rendition), and illegal surveillance and wiretapping.

These offenses were followed by the crime of aggression -- the waging of unprovoked war. Aggression is, in the words of the judgment at Nuremberg, the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

A measure of the enormity of this crime is that five of the eight high-placed Germans convicted of aggression at Nuremberg received death sentences.

U.S. aggression in Iraq violated both the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter (Article 2, Sec. 4 and Article 39) as well as U.N. Security Council Resolution #1441.

Both charters were established by treaties signed and ratified by the U.S. This means the invasion of Iraq also violated the U.S. Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2: the “Supremacy Clause”).

The scale of open contempt for the rule of law in the Bush administration also was historic. It was a sustained assault on the vision of John Adams and the Founders: “a government of laws and not of men.” [snip]

We must repair the Bush administration’s legal vandalism and ensure that we fulfill our obligation to deliver intact to the next generation the precious and fragile treasure entrusted to us by Adams and the other architects of the Constitution.

It is precisely the magnitude of Bush administration criminality that provides the unparalleled opportunity to do this. Justice and the rule of law demand of us now that we enforce the law.

Justice demands as well that we reverse the Abu Ghraib approach, which punished only some lowly prison guards, and begin at the very top where policy was formed.

At Nuremberg, Justice Jackson said: “The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”

Harry Truman said of the President’s desk: “The buck stops here.” He was right.

We should begin with the arrest and fair trial of citizen George W. Bush.

It would be difficult to imagine a more dramatically convincing way to give new life to the vision of the rule of law shared by Adams, Justice Frankfurter, Justice Jackson and generations of less conspicuous Americans whose love for their country was and is rooted in wholehearted devotion to this bedrock American principle. [snip]

There is no question a failing economy poses an immediate threat which cannot be ignored. But the threat to the Republic posed by lawlessness among the powerful is at least equally grave.

Justice Frankfurter said: “…from their own experience and their deep reading in history, the Founders knew that Law alone saves a society from being rent by internecine strife or ruled by mere brute power however disguised.”

What could be more fundamental to the survival and maintenance of democracy than the preservation of the rule of law?

The decay of the rule of law and the disintegration of the economy can be seen as two sides of the same coin: failed leadership grounded in a culture of irresponsible abuse of wealth, power and the public trust, nurtured by our own failure to insist on accountability.

In that light the best chance of turning this culture around lies in a comprehensive approach that addresses both issues concurrently.

And whatever the costs of criminal trials in dollars, they are unlikely to approach the nearly unimaginable sums we have been throwing at war and at bailouts.

We now have a chance to unequivocally affirm a government of laws and not of men. Rather than shrink from it we should embrace it.

Neither should we tentatively peck around the edges with suggestions of non-punitive truth commissions, etc.

If timidity and apathy prevent us from defending our way of life we will effectively show that the Bush administration’s contempt for the rule of law is mirrored by our own. [snip]

Likewise we should neither fear nor hesitate to challenge and to bring these people to justice. As powerful as they may still be, they are no more nor less than fellow citizens with whom we share exactly the same legal rights and responsibilities.

To Support and Defend: A Message to US Senators and Representatives

Phillip Butler, Ph.D., TruthOut - Perspective:
These violations of our Constitution and rule of law have resulted in reducing our nation to the level of international pariah. Our beacon of liberty and justice no longer shines throughout the world. We no longer set the example for other nations to follow. We no longer stand on a firm foundation. We have lost our national, moral gyro.

I despair when I think of the personal sacrifices made by so many in US wars and conflicts since 1776. If our forefathers were here to see, they would surely be angry and disappointed. And I think they would issue a clarion call for redress and setting an example for the world by punishing those who are guilty. The only way our nation can right itself is for Congress to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.

I, therefore, call on my elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives to bring criminal charges against President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, legal counsel William J. Haynes, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former legal counsel David Addington, and potentially other high officials and uniformed officers. There is no other option if you are to carry out your responsibilities. Citizens of the United States and of the world are watching you. Do your duty. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

· ·
12 February 2009

Joaquin Phoenix: google news: 2,576 stories and rising, 2,437,375 blogs...

by: astraea

all over the blogs, the thing with phoenix and letterman. actually, it brings out the cruelty and absurdity of our culture. right off, "why the beard!" why? fuck, it's how we're made! I think phoenix is actually quite brilliant. who does he have to be? he's given us so much of himself -- to us, total strangers. what does he owe letterman, or any of these laughing people?

So Screwed

by: Debra

Just got this email.

I've tried to reach you by phone but haven't had any luck. I was going to try to call you last night but was so fucking sick I couldn't stay up that late.

We have a problem. My son called me Monday to inform me that he had been laid off from his job at the Railroad. He asked if he and the kids (my grandchildren) could move back in with me until he can find work.

I can't tell him no, Debra. I hope you understand why.

How long they will be here is any one's guess.I know this is going to be a low blow for you and your mother, and I'm so sorry, but what else can I do? Even though we can't get you two out here right now, there's nothing to stop us once he finds work and gets back on his own two feet.

My response and it unfortunately, happens to be true. I'm sick to my stomach, I'm shaking and I have no idea what to do now. None, nada, zilch.

I am so totally screwed. I canceled the lawyers, have told everyone I'm leaving and promised the landlord we would be out of here by the 21st. I wouldn't have done that if you hadn't suggested it. I have no where else to go. No where. We are now homeless and worse off than we were a week ago.

We are totally screwed.

I've known something was up since Monday but I thought I would have found out earlier if it was this bad. Now, I'm crying. No matter what I do, I just make my situation worse.

Twitter Me This... D'oh!

by: Foiled Goil

Three twits

GOP Congressman Breached Security Via Twitter

Jason Linkins - 2/6/09:
The trip was supposed to be a secret. News outlets that knew of the trip had been told that the information was embargoed. But someone's been teaching these fools in Congress to use Twitter. SO GUESS WHAT HAPPENED:
A delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio, arrived in Iraq earlier today, and because of Rep. Peter Hoekstra , R-Mich., the entire world -- or at least readers--now know they're there.

"Just landed in Baghdad," messaged Hoekstra, a former chairman of the Intelligence panel and now the ranking member, who is routinely entrusted to keep some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets.

Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.

Nobody expected, though, that a lawmaker with such an extensive national security background would be the first to break the silence. And in such a big way.

NY-20: Jim Tedisco's Twitter Fail

Arjun Jaikumar aka brownsox - 2/10/09:
Note to all aspiring candidates for political office out there; if you want to harness the impressive political benefits of contemporary technology, make sure you know what the hell you're doing.

Witness New York Republican Jim Tedisco's attempt to incorporate the Age of Twitter onto his website. Tedisco, running for the vacant old seat of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in New York's 20th District against Democrat Scott Murphy, has a nifty little feature on his website which incorporates all #NY20 messages from Twitter.

Seems that this includes all messages from, say, his opponent's campaign, or the DCCC, as well. In this case, Jimmy T. highlighted a DCCC story on his website which references Tedisco's having burned $21,000 of taxpayer money on gas expenses in just seven short years...despite living 20 minutes from the state capital.

Virginia GOP Chairman's Blog Outreach: Massive Fail

Eric Kleefeld - 2/11/09:
The Republican Party's embrace of technology, which many inside and outside the party see as essential to a political recovery, so far is working out like...well, it's not working out at all.

Yesterday the Virginia GOP came very close to taking control of the state Senate, nearly luring a Democratic Senator to switch parties and put them at a 20-20 tie, which would have been broken by the Republican Lt. Governor. Then Jeff Frederick, a state legislator and the party chairman, ruined it all by Twittering this:
Big news coming out of Senate: Apparently one dem is either switching or leaving the dem caucus. Negotiations for power sharing underway.
The Dems then read the message, quickly mobilized to talk the renegade out of it, and stopped the GOP coup before it could happen.

Three fail twits

· ·
11 February 2009

People Are Weird

by: Debra

How do I get a job working for a company that will secretly pay me an early million dollar bonus for helping them lose money all year long?  Merrill Lynch had to be taken over by Bank of America and the executives were duly rewarded at the American taxpayer's expense.  Must have been nice to know that you can screw up, get rewarded handsomely and still have a job when your company has to be sold due to fiscal mismanagement. 

Yes, their image is offensive.  As is their behavior and attitude of entitlement.  No amount of regulation at this point is going to change the fact that they took what they wanted and now that their house of cards has fallen down, they want to be chief architect on the next one.  Probably so that they can make sure to build a jacuzzi on the ground floor.  And a train ride will not make you look like a common man.  Even if it does take eight hours.  We know you have private and corporate jets available, you just don't want to be pilloried for flaunting the wealth.  As soon as the hearings are over, the bankers will return to their indulgences.

Oh yeah, that southern route looks safe.  Not.

For some reason I thought I was fairly liberal, open minded and tolerant.  Then I heard about a paraphilia that involves cannibalism and that put an end to my open mindedness.  And zoophilia?  I'm pretty sure that Lady Heather wouldn't approve.  Leave those animals alone.
"You slice off a piece of somebody and together you fry it and cook it and eat it," she said. "There's a Web site for almost anything."

In 2003, a computer technician advertised on the Internet for a well-built male prepared to be slaughtered and then consumed. His willing victim agreed to have his penis cut off, which was flambéed and served up to eat together before the victim died, according to the BBC. The courts debated whether the act constituted murder, because the victim had solicited the act.
That was more than I needed to know. Living frugally should not include cleaning your plate.  If your are full, you are full and eating what's left will only make you fat.  Either try cooking less or cook extra and put it away before you make your plate and you can save money and lose weight at the same time.

Better late than never.  And for the people of Washington, DC, it's about flipping time.  They've been the poster child for taxation without representation for far too long.

Should a woman be on the Stimulus Conference Committee?  Well, let's see.  Women are 51% of the population, the are not getting laid off as quickly as the men (the bright side of earning 77% of what a man did), increasingly the head of household, two women were responsible for amending the senate version of the stimulus package...hmm, I don't know. I guess all those old guys who haven't had to look for a job in years might think about provisions that protect women and children, but I doubt it.


· · ·

No One Is Above The Law: Our Obligation To Justice

by: Foiled Goil

Getting to the truth?
Feb. 9: Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.: Rachel Maddow explains why Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, wants to see a truth commission investigate the Bush Administration.

[ 1:17 ]

Truth and consequences
Feb. 10: Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, wants to put together a commission to investigate possible Bush-era abuses. Rachel Maddow is joined by Leahy.

[ 10:03 ]

The truth about Bush
Feb. 10: Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has suggested a bipartisan panel to seek the truth about accusations of criminal wrongdoing by the Bush administration. Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley discusses why Leahy wants this panel to have the power to grant immunity and serve subpoenas.

[ 6:24 ]

· ·
10 February 2009

Stimulus Bill Passes In Senate

by: Foiled Goil

U. S. Capitol

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 1 as Amended )
Vote Number: 61 Vote Date: February 10, 2009, 12:27 PM
Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Bill Passed
Measure Number: H.R. 1 ( American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 )

Measure Title: A bill making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.

Vote Counts: YEAs 61 NAYs 37 Not Voting 1

· ·
09 February 2009

Employment Stimulus Proposal

by: Foiled Goil

A Modest Proposal: States Lose "Main Street Job Creation Act" Funding if Senators Vote Against It

I have a modest proposal: if a U.S. Senator votes against the "Main Street Job Creation Act" (BuzzFlash's name for the "stimulus" bill), their state should lose half the funding from the bill. If both U.S. Senators from one state vote against the bill, the state loses its entire allocation from the legislation.

This may sound Draconian, but it might induce the people out of work and with piles of bills to tar and feather the "economic kamikazee" Republican Senators who got America into this mess -- and to run them out of the country. [snip]

Stepford Republican Senators who believe that you can stop a house from burning down with a tax cut for the rich -- like Chatty Kathy dolls who just repeat the same line over and over again -- should suffer the political consequences of being so profoundly treacherous to the nation. And nothing would get them off the nearly 30-year-old message point of tax cuts for the rich like a good tar and feathering. [snip]

Let's have some accountablity here.

Steele Complains That Stimulus Bill Creating Work, Not Jobs

Nicole Belle, C and L:
In the "Can't See The Forest For The Trees" department, new RNC chairman (and clearly a MENSA-level economic specialist) Michael Steele bemoans the Stimulus Bill as it stands now.

...Steele objects to the Stimulus Bill because it doesn't offer jobs, it offers ...wait for it... work. Say it with me now: WTF??

· ·

According To Those In The Know

by: Debra

Why is the Washington Times still kissing up to ex-President Bush (that felt really good to write)?  Because talk is considered presidential only when the public is being lied to?  Maybe Obama got access to the complete data only after he was sworn in and the outlook really is bleaker than it looks.  We have been lied to for so long that maybe we can't handle the truth and maybe we can.  And only the truly clueless believe that employment is at 7.6% since many people have dropped off the rolls or are working part time jobs which are rarely gainful employment.  And that benefits thing?  Not so much.

Brad Blakeman, a senior aide to Mr. Bush from 2001 to 2004, said the new president's language is immature.

"It's not presidential. An American leader needs to be hopeful and optimistic - and truthful. Everything he says is parsed; everything he says is searched for deep meaning. When he goes to 'DefCon 5' on the economy and says that we're on the brink of catastrophe, it's absolutely insane."

For eight years bipartisanship has been defined as Democrats should sit quietly and listen to their betters, follow their advice and bend over and spread their cheeks as directed.  The American people didn't like the results of that and decided that they wanted change in how things were done.  Now bipartisanship is defined as you can spend all the time and effort you want trying to listen to my concerns and I am still going to vote against you and accuse you of not bringing me in on the negotiations.  But still, people leave comments like this after Bush got everything he asked for and in some instances, more from the Democrats in Congress.

It really sucks when the "Liberal" Chickens come home to roost !!! Now look at just who is begging for a Bi-Partisan Congress !!!

Now that your Democratic Congress is in place, lets see just how you deal with the stonewalling that the Dem's have shown us how to do for the past years...

And yes, Limbaugh is a portly chatterbox.

That's how I understood Obama's dismissive reference to the AM radio entertainer: Times are serious; Rush Limbaugh's not. Needless to say, the portly chatterbox made the best of it, remarking that Obama supporters expect everybody to bend over and grab their ankles just because the president had a black father. To which Jay Leno made the perfect rejoinder: Rush grab his own ankles? That'll be the day.

The American people know that this is the stimulus package that isn't and how it got that way.  So much of what would have been helpful was cut from the bill by the centrists that it won't help those who need it the most but it did comfort the comfortable.  As more people become unemployed why was it necessary to cut food stamps, aid to the unemployed and the states who can't print their own money at will like the Feds?

What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses? A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.

But as President Obama pointed out in Elkhart, this bill isn't perfect.  It's coming out of Washington and it had to go through Congress.  Wow, the vitriol from the commenters is amazing in its anger, hatred and stupidity.  At least from those in Elkhart who still have an internet connection.

What I find interesting is that those who always tout education and hard work as the way to change one's life for the better then do everything in their power to eliminate those opportunities for those who need them the most.  Expecting Paris Hilton and her compatriots to become the doctors of tomorrow is as foolish as thinking that 38 kids in a classroom with no computers, books or food in their stomachs are going to design a rocket that lands on the moon.

But with the cuts to NASA I guess that isn't important anymore. 


· · ·
08 February 2009

Leaving Hotel California

by: Debra

Who would have thought that mom and I would trade California for fly over country?  Ms. Mule made me an offer I can't refuse, it's the only positive way to change my situation and we can't afford San Jose anymore.  Besides, this place is butt ugly and I've always hated it.

Later today I'll start running around like a crazy woman, buying boxes, sorting and packing.  My goal is to be on the road in less than two weeks.  Any move I make is going to be hard on mom and the stress of the last few months has about done me in so I might as well go for broke.  I'm trying to arrange times for my brothers to see mom one last time but schedules are difficult and reaching one of them is impossible.

The trip is going to be hard on the dogs but I'm sure that mom and I can manage this.  According to the Google taking the southern route is only two hours longer than the northern route and over three to four days it shouldn't make much difference. The northern route would be prettier but the southern route is likely to be safer in the wintertime.  Though I have to admit that on that same route I hit a patch of black ice during a freak snowstorm at the end of April a couple of years ago.  Did you know that frost on greenery lining the highway looks like cauliflower when you are spinning around at 70 mph? What a fun time that was.

I've spent most of the morning looking at renting a truck online, Budget is the cheapest, Penske is cheap and after the AAA discount will probably be competitive with Budget but the dropoff will be a pain, Uhaul is convenient on both ends but the most expensive. It's sad to say but everything I want to keep will probably fit into a 10' truck.  At least it will be easy to drive and gets the best gas mileage.

Next project, finding dog friendly motels.

07 February 2009

Bipartisanship works to better America? My asterisk!

by: Foiled Goil

Dean Baker:
Plunder and Blunder; How the 'Financial Experts' Keep Screwing You

Anyone with common sense, a grasp of simple arithmetic and a desire to go against the consensus should have seen the financial crisis coming.

Susie Madrak:
Merrill Lynch Economist: Real Unemployment Rate is 13.9%

As Mr. Rosenberg explained, what the official unemployment rate misses is the vast degree of ‘underemployment’ as companies cut back on the hours that people who are still employed are working. Those hours have declined 1.2% in the past twelve months.

The BLS still counts people as employed if they are working part-time, but the number who have been forced into that status because of slack economic conditions has ballooned nearly 70% in the past year, according to the study. Mr. Rosenberg said was that was a record growth rate for the 15-year period he has studied.

When that amount of slack in employment is taken into account, Mr. Rosenberg found that the ‘real’ unemployment rate has actually climbed to 13.9%, an all-time high for the period he studied, and up from 13.5% in December and 11.2% a year ago.

Paul Buchheit:
Unspinning the Right: the Rich Don't Really Bear Most of the Tax Burden

Based on the cold facts of statistics and percentages, the poor are paying a greater share of their incomes.

Think Progress:
Supporters Of $1.3 Trillion Bush Tax Cuts In 2001 Now Call $900 Billion Recovery Plan Billion ‘Too Much’

Such objections are indeed ironic coming from some of the greatest advocates for President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut package in 2001.
Then and now.

Ben Johnson:
The Nelson-Collins War On Green Jobs
Green economy cuts.

Faiz Shakir:
Senate centrists’ plan = 600,000 fewer jobs.

The Senate “centrists,” led by Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-NE), are cheering the fact that they’ve cut $86 billion in spending from the economy recovery package. “Spending for the states and education took the biggest hit, compared with the House bill. State fiscal stabilization funding was cut back $40 billion, school construction dropped $16 billion, and a proposed $3.5 billion line for higher education construction was zeroed out.”

John Nichols:
Senate Dems Compromise Away Best Parts of Recovery Plan

In order to get the votes of two Republican (Maine's Susan Collins and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter) and perhaps another (Mainer Olympia Snowe) that were needed to undermine the threat of a GOP filibuster, Reid surrendered $86 billion in proposed stimulus spending. In doing so, the Democrats agreed to cut not just fat but bone, and to warp the focus and intent of the legislation. [...]

The Senate's increased emphasis on tax cuts comes at the expense of the aggressive spending in key areas that might actually get a stalled economy moving.

Spending for school construction that would actually have put people to work -- while at the same time investing in the future -- has been slashed. (Almost $20 billion slated for school construction is gone.)

Money for Superfund cleanup, Head Start and Early Start child care, energy efficiency initiatives and historic preservation projects -- all of which create or maintain existing jobs -- has been cut.

Supplemental transportation funding has been hacked.

The House's proposal to help unemployed Americans maintain their health benefits has been chopped down.

Axed, as well, has been $90 million that was to have been allocated to plan for and manage a potential flu pandemic that economists and public health experts worry could shutter remaining businesses, bring the economy to a complete standstill and throw the country into a deep depression.

The bottom line is that, under the Senate plan:

* States will get less aid.

* Schools will get less help.

* Job creation programs will be less well funded.

* Preparations to combat potential public health disasters -- which could put the final nail in the economy's coffin -- will not be made.

In every sense, the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

At a time when smart economists are saying that a bigger, bolder stimulus plan is needed, Senate Democrats and a few moderate Republicans have agreed to a smaller, weaker initiative.

And Republicans are still delaying passage. [snip]

These are the fruits of bipartisan fantasies and the compromises that follow upon them.

Meteor Blades:
So, here we are, two and a half weeks into Barack Obama's first term as President and already it's a post-post-partisan world. [snip]

Some left-progressives have been suspicious of the bipartisan, post-partisan theme all along. We didn't buy it. But it wasn't our call. Now, it is to be hoped, more folks see it for the fantasy it is.

Charles Blow:

Republicans are trying to draw Democrats into a screaming match because they know they’re better at it. They are the masters of shrill — masters of stoking ignorance and rousing rabble.

John Cole:
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane.

David Broder:
It just hit me. Republicans are screwed.


bitter, bitter pill

by: astraea

My blood pressure spiked a hole in my brain reading Rolling Stone's Bitter Pill: Created to treat schizophrenia, Zyprexa wound up being used on misbehaving kids. How the pharmaceutical industry turned a flawed and dangerous drug into a $16 billion bonanza (BEN WALLACE-WELLS Posted Jan 28, 2009). [Print view]

Especially note:

Bureaucracies, like fraternities, are idiosyncratic places, formed of personality, habit and tradition. In the FDA, Bush's political appointees were coaxing the agency's bureaucrats and scientists to go easy on the drug manufacturers. "What's different now is a lot of these higher-up career officers are much more industry-friendly than was the case two decades ago," says Dan Carpenter, Freed Professor of Government at Harvard and a leading scholar of the agency. By 2000, when the Los Angeles Times documented how the FDA had approved seven deadly drugs, it turned out that the agency had repeatedly ignored strenuous objections from its own experts.*

Under Bush, experts say, the FDA has effectively become enrolled in the erosion of its own power. Instead of supporting consumers harmed by dangerous drugs, Troy's office began filing briefs on behalf of drug companies facing lawsuits from the families of people harmed by medications. In some cases, congressional investigators found, Troy operated in concert with the pharmaceutical companies. The number of warning letters issued by the FDA, a key indicator of how vigilant the agency is at tracking violations by drug manufacturers, has now fallen to half what it had been at the end of the Clinton administration. The industry is also well connected with Republican power: Former president George H.W. Bush has served on the board of directors of Eli Lilly, and Mitch Daniels, his son's former budget director, served as the company's vice president.

"With the FDA where it is, the pharmaceutical companies control far too much of the process, from the trials to the marketing," says Abramson, the Harvard instructor. A decade ago, it was a few figures on the fringe of the medical profession who sensed the trouble in this, and they had the feel of people who had been gazing into the vortex too long. Now it is professors at Yale and Harvard, and, in the case of the atypicals, by implication, the government itself.

*Sounds like what happened on Wall St., yes?

Long article, but so important, the stuff's impact in our lives. And this is just what we know about one drug. With the FDA so lax, the incentives for profit, and the proven willingness to put patients (hell, to CREATE patients) at risk, how can there not be more?

Eli Lilly, making billions by forcing and pimping bad drugs on a grand scale. Read it, read all of it. (Remember when Firth sneaked a provision in the Patriot Act to absolve Lilly of damages its vaccines might cause? And Judith Miller and the smallpox scare, forcing that lethal vaccine on health care workers? Bush's WMD hoax killed more than we know.)

And then think about how many commercials you will endure tonight that try to sell you drugs. Ask your doctor, they urge, images on screen smiling through the side effects. You couldn't pick up a magazine in the last few years without seeing ads asking you to rate yourself, answer a few questions and see if you are bipolar. (Drugs can help!) Reading Bitter Pill, I couldn't help multiply this to the whole population -- especially to Medicare, the rare program buffeted by Bush, making sure the drug companies got their cut. Oil and drugs, consistently the most profitable industries of all.

It's clear that fixing the health care system is essential to fixing the economy. Not just by overseeing the drugs industry, but by giving employers a break from trying to keep an impossible insurance system going.

Meanwhile, keep all this in mind, the obfuscation and sleight of hand of the last eight years, as you watch Krugman, that rare voice of sanity, countering the memory management efforts of team java.

Krugman on economy, stimulus fight

Feb. 6: The New York Times' Paul Krugman - winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences - joins the Morning Joe gang to discuss the economic downturn and President Barack Obama's legislation.

Wurst Person In The Whirled

by: Foiled Goil

"Fixed News Trifecta" Countdown video:
NewsCorp in decline

Feb. 6: Worst Persons: Countdown’s Keith Olbermann reports that Rupert Murdoch’s company, NewsCorp has lost $6,400,000,000 in the final quarter of 2008 and is forecasted to drop 30 percent in profits for the first half of 2009.

[ 3:28 ]

· ·
06 February 2009

Why, Why, Why?

by: Debra

Unflipping believable.  Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and newspapers have whole sections of them.   With job losses mounting and state budgets collapsing, the moron Clark S. Judge (doesn't he read his own paper or have access to the same data?) lets loose with this brilliant statement. 
The analogy with the Depression is wrong; the current downturn may be all but over; and doing too much, not too little, is the real danger.
Anybody, anybody, who thinks that the financial devastation is almost over is not dealing with a full deck and should go back to whatever cubbyhole they crawled out of until they pick up a little common sense.

I don't care if banks do business with each other, they have been using their depositors money to make money for themselves for years, but I do care whether or not they do business with companies that employ Americans.  If I don't have an income, how are tax cuts going to help me pay my bills, put a roof over my head or food in my stomach?  The Republicans in California are so crazy that they are willing to enact a budget that screws over their own constituents and benefits the rich, liberal Democrats they hate the most just so they can say that they cut taxes.

Why is it ok for banks and Wall Street to get bailed out when it was their greed that helped to cause this mess but it isn't ok to help people like me who are suffering because of their bad judgment?  Why is cutting taxes for those who don't need it more important than rebuilding our infrastructure before it completely falls apart?  Or down?  Why is it so important for Republicans to enlarge the class of people known as poor?  Why is it so difficult for those in Washington to understand that the average Joe (not Joe the Plumber) is hurting mightily and needs help now, as in today, not some mysterious future trickle down effect that isn't going to happen just like the last trickle down effect didn't happen. 

Could it be that they consider us serfs, existing only to satisfy their whims and wishes?  Did the election results teach them nothing?  And whining that reporters aren't doing their jobs, how is that news?  They didn't do their job for the last eight years, why start with something so important as the impending financial ruin of our country?

Financial terrorism is what Republicans are practicing.  And getting away with it.


· ·


by: Foiled Goil

Olbermann: Cheney doing the work of terrorists

The former V.P. is using fear mongering and lies to manipulate Americans

Feb. 5: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann accuses former Vice President Dick Cheney of using made-up statistics and nonsensical reasoning in an effort to extend the Bush administration's reign of fear over Americans weeks after voters resoundingly rejected Cheney's un-American worldview.

[ 10:53 ]



Economy Burning, GOP Fiddles

by: Foiled Goil

Senate Republicans and the Stimulus: Playing Politics When the Economy Burns

Robert Reich. TPM:
Tomorrow's job report is likely to be awful. January's job losses could easily top half a million. We're deep into the most vicious of economic cycles: Consumers are slashing their spending because they're perilously in debt and worried about keeping their jobs. But as a result, businesses are facing shrinking sales of goods and services, so they're slashing payrolls, which of course makes consumers even more anxious and further reduces their spending power. Meanwhile, businesses are cutting way back on new investments in equipment, which hurts upstream suppliers, who are now slashing their payrolls. And so it goes, downward. The gap between what the economy could produce if it were running near full capacity and what it's now producing continues to widen. The shortfall is projected to be over a trillion dollars this year.

How do we get out of this downward plunge?

Regardless of your ideological stripe, you've got to see that when consumers and businesses stop spending and investing, there's only entity left to step into the breach. It's government. Major increases in government spending are necessary, and the spending must be on a very large scale. [snip]

Can we get real for a moment? Take a look at this chart, which comes from calculations by Mark Zandy and his colleagues at You see that each dollar of spending has much more impact than each dollar of tax cut.
Bang for the tax bucks.
When government spends to repair a highway or build a school or help pay for medical services, the money and the jobs stay here in America.

Finally, those who say cutting taxes on businesses is the best way to create or preserve jobs forget about the demand side. Even with a tax cut, businesses won't hire workers unless there are customers to buy what those workers produce. A government stimulus that creates jobs is a necessary precondition.

This isn't a matter of more or less government, however much Republicans and conservatives would like to wedge it in that old ideological box. The issue is how to revive the economy. When consumers and businesses can't or won't spend enough to keep the economy going, government has to be the spender of last resort. Period.

Sens. Nelson And Collins Propose Slashing Almost $80 Billion From Stimulus, With Big Cuts In Education

Senators Propose To Cut Health Care Provisions From Stimulus

‘Centrist’ Economic Recovery Package Disproportionately Cuts Programs For Women And Children

Boehner creates GOP health care task force stacked with industry-tied lawmakers.

'Are these folks serious?' Obama rips into stimulus-plan critics

05 February 2009

Good Friends; They Enrich Our Deaths

by: Missouri Mule

Knowing how I do love a good obituary, Sue Duncan of Platte City, Missouri, wrote to tell me that she has gone ahead and wrote a rough draft for mine in anticipation of my untimely death.The following is what Sue has planned so far. This alone should be enough to make me wanna live forever.

EAST JAYSUS, MISSOURI---Missouri Mule passed away at the local sale barn. She was trampled in a massive crowd that was rushing the auctioneer for the two-for-one on foal halters. It was one day before her twenty-third birthday.

Ms. Mule was a hug fan of Hayes Hamburgers, so she will be buried in the company colors, orange and brown. The family is trying to get one of those paper hats for her to wear for the viewing.

Ms. Mule was also a lifelong member of AA. Alas, she never reached the lifetime-member status, but she went to meetings all the time. (Usually right before going to the drive-though at Hayes Hamburgers.)

Ms. Mule spend a life time giving riding lessons to thickheaded civilians and taking in some of the rankest, dink horses---the ones no other trainer in their right mind would climb on. She did not take on these horses or the thick-headed civilians because she was brave. She did it to keep a roof over her children's heads and to keep them in groceries.

Her darling younger friend, Sue (who looks like she just spent a week at one of those California spas), said the family was devastated, but life goes on. "I'm sure Mule would want us to be happy, so that's why I'm taking her new horse trailer." Sue said.

The funeral will be held at the local Elks Club. Burial will follow at the Hill Top Memorial Park. The family tried to get a plot close to a (almost famous) equestrian Olympics winner's grave, but after discovering the prices, thought a view of the ground-keeper's shed would be much more fitting for Ms. Mule.

Ms. Mule leaves behind three children, her mother, and her sweet younger friend, Sue Duncan. Sue, a stay-at-home mother, lives on her farm with her handsome husband, Bill, and their adorable children. Sue spends her time taking yoga classes, walking in the woods, and of course, taking care of her family. Sue and her husband just bought a new house .

"I wish Missouri Mule could have seen our new house.", Sue said, "It's such a nice house and so well-decorated. I was hoping Missouri Mule could be inspired and take some of the ideas back and redecorate her double-wide."

In lieu of wasting your hard-earned money on flowers, the family is accepting cash or check (with proper ID) donations.

I love Sue, really I do. I don't care at all what is said about me after I'm gone, I just wanna be buried in cheese. I envision a huge coffin-shaped hunk of cheese with a hallowed out space in the middle for me. I won't even specify a preference for the type of cheese..... having never met one I didn't want to spend eternity with.

Out Of Their Minds

by: Debra

OMG! WTF?  First of all, he divorced her.  Second of all, and most importantly, when one is murdered one has not broken their lease and they certainly shouldn't be accused of giving "insufficient notice to vacate". 

My landlord is holding fast to evicting mom and me, will not budge on the issue.  Even though I have broken no rules, am current on the rent (I paid January's rent before Christmas) and literally have nowhere else to go, he wants us out.  Still no reason given.  And thanks to the Governator and the obstructionist Republicans who won't vote on the budget unless it includes all cuts and no tax hikes to get the state out of debt, I don't know if I will even receive a paycheck for taking care of mom.  I contacted Zoe Lofgren, my supposed Representative in Washington, and her staff blew me off with some phone numbers that just went to answering machines.  They can kiss my vote goodbye.  I haven't slept in two days and am in a permanent anxiety state.  I guess catching a break is not my thing.

A Black Manhattan recipe.  The King of Zembla (dude, it's time for a new post)  introduced me to Manhattans and the variation sounds interesting.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer.  What a shame.  Somehow I doubt she will do as well as Patrick Swayze.  I tried to watch The Beast but it didn't interest me.

How can they be broke?  They charged me so much in fees last year that I know I paid someone's bonus.  They are just trying to avoid paying the Closson settlement over the ATM fees.  It was a stupid move to buy Countrywide.  Very stupid.  Buying Merrill Lynch wasn't very smart either.  Becoming a monopoly isn't as easy as it looks.


· ·
04 February 2009

If Only

by: Foiled Goil

It would be awesome!

Mapaghismagsik's Taking Stock

h/t: bluegal

03 February 2009

Answers, please.

by: Foiled Goil

The Whole World Is Rioting as the Economic Crisis Worsens -- Why Aren't We?

Americans are rightfully angry about the economic decline, but with a few small exceptions, quietly so. Why? It depends on whom you ask.

Joshua Holland, AlterNet:
Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion.

It's not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core.

Over the past few years, a series of riots spread across what is patronizingly known as the Third World. Furious mobs have raged against skyrocketing food and energy prices, stagnating wages and unemployment in India, Senegal, Yemen, Indonesia, Morocco, Cameroon, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.

For the most part, those living in wealthier countries took little notice. But now, with the global economy crashing down around us, people in even the wealthiest nations are mad as hell and reacting violently to what they view as an inadequate response to their tumbling economies. [snip]

At least in Western Europe, cries of "burn the shit down!" are being heard in countries with some of the highest standards of living in the world -- states with adequate social safety nets; countries where all citizens have access to decent health care and heavily subsidized educations. Places where minimum wages are also living wages, and a dignified retirement is in large part guaranteed.

The far ends of the ideological spectrum appear to be gaining currency as the crisis develops, and people grow increasingly hostile toward the politics of the status quo. [snip]

Notably absent from the list of countries where the economic crunch is rending the social fabric is the good ole US of A, a state with the greatest level of economic inequality in the wealthy world.

Outside of a few scattered and quickly contained protests, the citizens of the U.S. -- a country born of revolution, but with an elite that's been terrified of that legacy since immediately after its founding -- have been calm, despite opinion polls showing that Americans are more dissatisfied with the direction in which the country has been headed since they began measuring such things.

It's a baffling disconnect, considering that real wages for all but the top 10 percent of the economic pile haven't increased in 35 years.

It's more bizarre still when you consider that while European governments have handled their own bailouts relatively transparently, the U.S. government has doled out close to $10 trillion in bailouts, loan guarantees and fiscal stimulus -- if there were a million-dollar bill, that would be a stack of 10 million of them -- with a stunning lack of oversight or accountability.

Even the congressional commission charged with overseeing key parts of the banking bailout can't get answers to basic questions like "who's getting what?"

Americans are rightfully angry about that state of affairs, but with a few small exceptions, quietly so. Why? It depends on whom you ask.

· ·

Pentagon Rip-off?

by: Foiled Goil

America Is Completely Broke, And Here We Are Funding Fantasy Wars at the Pentagon

Americans don't usually think of the Pentagon as a scam operation -- but it's never to late to wake up and smell the rip-off.

Chalmers Johnson,
Like much of the rest of the world, Americans know that the U.S. automotive industry is in the grips of what may be a fatal decline. Unless it receives emergency financing and undergoes significant reform, it is undoubtedly headed for the graveyard in which many American industries are already buried, including those that made televisions and other consumer electronics, many types of scientific and medical equipment, machine tools, textiles, and much earth-moving equipment -- and that's to name only the most obvious candidates. They all lost their competitiveness to newly emerging economies that were able to outpace them in innovative design, price, quality, service, and fuel economy, among other things.

A similar, if far less well known, crisis exists when it comes to the military-industrial complex. That crisis has its roots in the corrupt and deceitful practices that have long characterized the high command of the Armed Forces, civilian executives of the armaments industries, and Congressional opportunists and criminals looking for pork-barrel projects, defense installations for their districts, or even bribes for votes.

Given our economic crisis, the estimated trillion dollars we spend each year on the military and its weaponry is simply unsustainable. Even if present fiscal constraints no longer existed, we would still have misspent too much of our tax revenues on too few, overly expensive, overly complex weapons systems that leave us ill-prepared to defend the country in a real military emergency. We face a double crisis at the Pentagon: we can no longer afford the pretense of being the Earth's sole superpower, and we cannot afford to perpetuate a system in which the military-industrial complex makes its fortune off inferior, poorly designed weapons.[snip]

It is hard to imagine any sector of the American economy more driven by ideology, delusion, and propaganda than the armed services. Many people believe that our military is the largest, best equipped, and most invincible among the world's armed forces. None of these things is true, but our military is, without a doubt, the most expensive to maintain. Each year, we Americans account for nearly half of all global military spending, an amount larger than the next 45 nations together spend on their militaries annually.

Equally striking, the military seems increasingly ill-adapted to the types of wars that Pentagon strategists agree the United States is most likely to fight in the future, and is, in fact, already fighting in Afghanistan -- insurgencies led by non-state actors. While the Department of Defense produces weaponry meant for such wars, it is also squandering staggering levels of defense appropriations on aircraft, ships, and futuristic weapons systems that fascinate generals and admirals, and are beloved by military contractors mainly because their complexity runs up their cost to astronomical levels.

That most of these will actually prove irrelevant to the world in which we live matters not a whit to their makers or purchasers. Thought of another way, the stressed out American taxpayer, already supporting two disastrous wars and the weapons systems that go with them, is also paying good money for weapons that are meant for fantasy wars, for wars that will only be fought in the battlescapes and war-gaming imaginations of Defense Department "planners."

02 February 2009

Just being a pest

by: blackdog

Spent the last few hours thinking about close calls. One of the closest happened in Ojai on an afternoon while working on a variable frequency drive (VFD) on the tower pumps, 480V 3 phase motors, 40 hp. Not too big, but big enough.

R K was our electrician and resident genius that would come by from time to time when we had a list long enough to occupy him for a whole day, it was my job to stay with him, and he was a damn sharp taskmaster, but also a decent and fine friend, he taught me more than I should let on. He would come into the plant in the morning singing "II don't care if it rains or freezes as long as I have my plastic Jesus, sitting on the dashboard of my car."

He would literally wear my butt out, by 5:00pm I was ready for a lie down. But he taught me about those VFDs.

They consisted of a bunch of capacitors and rectifiers along with a transformer that made 1000VDC on a buss that supplied the converter (made + to -) and inverters that then build simulated sine waves to power the pump motors as they required.

It was interesting, the individual converters when running OK sounded like a horse galloping with all four legs, when a SCR (silicon controlled rectifier) was out, it would sound like a three legged horse. $1100 a pop for those SCRs. Wow.

Anyroad to troubleshoot the inverters you had to decouple the 1000VDC buss from the motor load and pull two of the three racks (inverters) which were modular in a late 60's sort of way and listen for the three legged horse. Each time you had to sometimes recouple the buss to the motor since it wasn't always so obvious.

After several hours of messing with this damned thing I was reaching into its guts with a 1/4" socket to decouple the motor load from the 1000VDC buss when I just happened to look up to see that the main breaker was on. This thing was as big as a small closet.

That would have burned me down to the ground in no uncertain terms. I set my tools down and retired to my boss's office, Ron, to just sit and collect myself and tell him about the close call.

I always did and still do like Ron.

I should have never left Ojai. Perhaps the best run utility I have ever seen, and I have seen close to a few hundred.

Amazing how one can look over their shoulder and see some measure of reality. The tough part is to continue to look forward and not hit the trees. Even Peter's Lone Tree.

Our Responsibility: Demand Justice And The Rule Of Law

by: Foiled Goil

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

"Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress."

"No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's Our Responsibility as a Country to Pursue Justice for Bush Crimes

Naysayers warn against reckoning with the sins of the past, calling it partisan payback. I could not disagree more.

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Huffington Post:
As we proceed, however, the question remains how best to respond to the severe challenge posed to our constitutional structure, and to our national honor, by the Bush administration's actions, and in particular its national security programs. Faced with a record of widespread warrantless surveillance inside the United States, brutal interrogation policies condemned by the administration's own head of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions as torture, and flawed rendition practices that resulted in innocent men being abducted and handed to other countries to face barbaric abuse, what actions will we take to meet our commitment to the rule of law and reclaim our standing as a moral leader among nations? [snip]

While disparate investigations by Committees of congress, private organizations, and the press have uncovered many important facts, no single investigation has had access to the full range of information regarding the Bush administration's interrelated programs on surveillance, detention, interrogation, and rendition. The existence of a substantially developed factual record will simplify the work to come, but cannot replace it. [snip]

To me, the bottom line is this: If we move on now without fully documenting what occurred, without acknowledging the betrayal of our values, and without determining whether or not any laws have been broken, we cannot help but validate all that has gone on before. If we look at the Bush record and conclude that the book should simply be closed, we will be tacitly approving both the documented abuses and the additional misdeeds we will have chosen to leave uncovered.

That is why there is nothing partisan about the call for further review. In the end, these acts were not taken by George Bush, or by John Yoo, or even by Dick Cheney - they were taken by the United States of America. By all of us. There is no avoiding the responsibility we all bear for what has been done, and for what we choose to do next.

Our country has never been perfect. This would not be the first time we were forced to take a hard look at difficult choices made in times of peril. But when we have done so before, it has made us stronger, both by improving our policies and our practices and, more fundamentally, by strengthening our moral core and by breathing new life into the principles of our founding.

The responsible way forward requires us to look back as we go.

How One Citizen Is Doing His Part -- to Prosecute George Bush for Murder

Meet Citizen Bob, who's doing his part

Linda Milazzo, AlterNet:
President Barack Obama of the Capitol of Washington, it is my most sincere honor to introduce you to Citizen Bob Alexander of the State of Washington, who by the standards you have set to 'give our all' has valiantly answered your call. In fact, Citizen Bob answered that call long before you were President. He seized his responsibilities gladly, not grudgingly, just as you asked at our inauguration. And now President Obama, Citizen Bob and millions more, would like you to hear THEIR call.

Before I tell you more about Citizen Bob, allow me to remind you of a few of the inspirational words you delivered at your inauguration. Here they are in a 31 second clip:

[ 0:31 ]

Dare say, Mr. President, I agree with you completely. And fortunately for you, and for this country, so do Citizen Bob and millions more who are taking on difficult tasks just like we did before we made you President. The only difference is that under the previous administration our patriotism and dedication were viewed as disloyal, and our hard work was deemed unAmerican, even though we volunteered our days, our nights, and in many cases our lives to upholding our Constitution. We took no verbal oath but we acted as though we had. You see, for millions of us, our country is so beloved that we ask no pay or elected office to act on her behalf. We love her THAT much. It was daunting to protect her from her enemies for the past eight years because her primary enemy was her President, George W. Bush. He stole her dignity, plundered her resources, and slew her human treasure. And now that he's gone, it's time to bring him to justice. In truth, President Obama, if you don't pursue Mr. Bush for his crimes, we will question your love of your country and your devotion to its laws. Remember what you said in your inauguration as shown in the video above:
"What's required of us now is a new era of responsibility; a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world. Duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there's nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship."

Yes, President Obama, just as you [say] this to us, we say it back to you. If ordinary people can do extraordinary things, surely you can, too. The difference is yours won't be as extraordinary because you have the tools to prosecute Bush -- including the will of the people and the HOPE of the world.

Read the words of Citizen Bob, who exemplifies your example of citizenship. Citizen Bob is a regular guy with a small online coffee company who has dedicated his life to bringing George Bush to justice. Bob's efforts on behalf of America are selfless and heroic.

Buy American -- Good or Bad?

by: Jersey Cynic

I always thought it was good. But what do I know...

I guess it's not a simple question anymore. Many moons ago, I would always look for the "Made in the USA" symbol.
Can't seem to find it anywhere now a days.

The question seems to be more complicated today. It has to do with the "Buy American" clause that is a provision in the US stimulus bill regarding infrastructure projects...

What do you all think?

Here are some of the latest opinions

From NYTimes Op-Ed
If We Buy American, No One Else Will

From our "friend" up north
Buy American' clause concerns Harper

From some voices on some blog
Is the 'Buy American' provision in the stimulus plan anti free trade? Will it hurt the chineese who buy our bonds and stocks? Or will it protect jobs and get things growing again?

and here's the google search I did
buy american -good or bad

Crossposted at Blondesense

I Was Feeling A Little Demented

by: Debra

Sorry Blackdog.

· ·
01 February 2009

Our Children and Our Children's Children

by: Dark Wraith

Year after year during the Bush II era, the U.S. government ran massive budget deficits. Over the course of the next several years, the red ink will flow at a rate at least twice as great as the very worst of the past seven. That means, quite simply, the government does not have anywhere near enough money flowing in from tax revenue to pay for its expenditures. Any person or business accepting a check from the government, either as a rebate or as a bailout, is getting most of those funds from foreigners who are lending the money to the U.S. Treasury for disbursement to the taxpayers and bailout recipients.

Yes, our children and our children's children will be paying for this bonus and that $600-per-person check last year; but they will be paying for considerably more than two rounds of pandering handouts that will be largely ineffective against a freight train of recessionary forces that will not let up until a sufficient level of asset devaluation has been realized in its own course, at its own pace, and for our own good.

Our children and our children's children will be paying for a lot more than a wad of C-notes stuffed into our pockets in a frenzy of hasty counter-cyclical fiscal policy crafted over the past week.

As a starting point in the calculus of accounting for the debt our progeny will bear in our names, our children and our children's children will be paying for the wars our leaders prosecuted. By some estimates, when all is said and done, the war in Iraq alone will have cost $3 trillion.

Moving on to other highlights and sidelights of our generous gifts to the future, our children and our children's children will be paying for all the government-authorized infrastructure of domestic surveillance and other "security" and law enforcement pork, the rampant building of prisons, the trillions of dollars in money handed out to financial institutions, car makers, and other companies, as well as the interest on the money we have been borrowing at the rate of hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

But here's the really good news: not all of what our children and our children's children are going to pay will be in cash money. By having labored under year after year of trade deficits of staggering proportions, we have been exporting dollars to foreign central banks in exchange for cheap imports from those countries, one of which, China, has for years been deliberately and systematically pegging its currency at a ludicrously low level against the American dollar to the purpose of making its imports very cheap here and our exports very expensive there.

Those central banks that accumulated foreign reserves of greenbacks lent some of that money back to us at the federal, state, local, private business, and personal levels. (Yes, if you borrowed money for a home, a car, or even college tuition, through the labyrinthine complexities of global finance you were actually borrowing money from foreigners who had gotten that money from you every time you bought cheap imported merchandise.) What the foreigners did not lend us of those greenback foreign reserves, they used for equity investments in everything from real estate to corporate stocks.

That means the foreigners with those greenbacks have now taken both of the two so-called "claims on future cash flows": they have the "prior claim" due in debt service and retirement of principal owed to lenders, and they have the "residual claim" due to owners after debt obligations have been satisfied (as the prior claim).

That means our children and our children's children will pay in cash for our excesses of the past eight years and those we are about to commit in trying to right that awful time, but they will also pay in loss of control over their own destinies because we have consigned them to sharecropper status on the very land their ancestors toiled to the bone and died valorously to make theirs and pass on to future generations of Americans.

But it goes even beyond that awful fate: for the past nearly eight years, in our name the United States government has killed, tortured, and otherwise disrupted the lives of countless people in places as far-flung as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay, secret prisons in Second World countries, and in our very own nation's cities, factories, and farms. While we, ourselves, are a quite docile people (notwithstanding our folkloric bravado to the contrary), those of other nations may not be so willing to forgive and forget our violence against them.

The bitter call to vengeance will echo across generations for peoples we have wronged, and we very likely will find that all of our talk of "hope and change" does nothing to quell the fire of rage that will burn in the hearts of men and women whose fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunt, uncles, and cousins we harmed so savagely when we let slip once again the remorseless dogs of our national soul at its very worst.

We, ourselves, can talk all we want about "Not in my name was this done" and "Never again," but those flaccid jingles will blow away as dust in the fire and shrapnel unleashed upon our descendants by the children and the children's children of the men we tortured in our nationalist zeal, the families we slaughtered in our pre-emptive wars, and the nations we shattered in our unbridled hubris.

We are the recidivist addicts, convulsing through our history from one bout of hegemony to the next, with precious but all-too-brief periods of sworn rectitude before our next debilitating high in manufactured casus belli and self-righteous manifestations of hypocritical morality.

Yes, our children and our children's children will pay: they will pay in cash, and they will pay in blood; and worst of all, they will pay with their own precipitous falls to the gutter from the highs of fiscal and military recklessness they learned from us, their ancestors who could not wash the blood from our hands before passing the future to the broken heirs to the throne of Empire in its nightfall.

We shall be most fortunate if the debt they will pay in our name comes due only after we are safely sequestered in the insular, eternal comfort of our graves.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · · ·

It's Math Time!

by: Debra

The answer may surprise you.

Try it without looking at the answers......


1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3
3) Now Add 3
4) Again Multiply by 3
5) You'll get a 2 or 3 digit number, add the digits
together Now Scroll
down ..............
Now with that number see who your ROLE MODEL is from the
list below:

1. Einstein

2. Nelson Mandela

3. Abraham Lincoln

4. Helen Keller

5. Bill Gates

6. Gandhi

7. George Clooney

8. Thomas Edison

9. Deb of Debsweb

10. Ronald Reagan

I know....I know that I have that effect on people....Just day you too can be like me.... smile As everyone goes running away screaming in terror.

P.S.: Stop picking different numbers. I am your idol, just
deal with

· · ·

Economic Stimulus

by: Foiled Goil

Subject: Stimulus Payment

This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic Stimulus Payment. This is a very exciting new program that can be explained using the Q and A format:

Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money?
A. From taxpayers.

Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Only a smidgen.

Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?
A. Shut up.

I has a money.

Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the US economy by spending your stimulus check wisely:

* If you spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China.

* If you spend it on gasoline, it will go to the Arabs.

* If you purchase a computer, it will go to India.

* If you purchase fruit and vegetables, it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala (unless you buy organic).

* If you buy a car, it will go to Japan.

* If you purchase useless crap, it will go to Taiwan.

* And none of it will help the American economy.

We need to keep that money here in America! You can keep the money in America by spending it at yard sales, going to a ball game, or spend it on prostitutes, beer and wine (domestic ONLY), or tattoos, since those are about the only businesses still in the US.


Rich, Bitch And Snitch

by: Debra

Now even the rich are whining.  Three pages worth and it's hard to read without realizing how clueless some people are.  I understand the principle, but it's hard for me to feel much sympathy since even they admit that they can afford to live there.
That's tough to do when you live in a place where the board of the country club recently approved a plan to spend $60 million in upgrades. That has caused some tenants, like Goodwin, whose annual expenses run to $80,000 for a 720-square-foot, or 67-square-meter, home, to put his property up for sale.

"It was a grandiose program that went directly into the eye of the storm," he said. "I used to be rich and by American standards, I still am. But now it is a time for people like me to hunker down."
I can almost hear tiny violins in the background.

Is Gaza like the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation?  Professor Levine offers a multitude of reasons why they are similar and one on why they are not and determines that they are not the same because not a high percentage of enough Palestinians have been killed.  Not that Mr. Levine cared when the 200,000 Rwandans were dying but they are useful now.  And here all this time I thought I was good at rationalizing anything.  Politicide, genocide, they're two sides of the same coin.  Either way it falls the Palestinians will never have anything but a below third rate status and the world will continue to watch and do nothing except say "stop that." Until it's too late.

Speaking of rationalizing, Kathleen Pender thinks the job cuts announced this month should be put into perspective.  That it isn't really that bad when you look at the percentages.  Maybe she should sit outside some of the major retailers and see how full the parking lots and the baskets that come out of them, aren't.

Two weeks after a fellow officer shot an unarmed, handcuffed, lying face down on the cement, man in the back the story is that the victim was trying to kick him in the nuts so that's why he hit him in the head and then had him in the position so his fellow officer could use what he now swears he thought was his taser to shoot a man who was already subdued.   They are trying this case in the media and just like with rape victims they are trying to use the victim's past against them.  And the cop who did the shooting has been granted bail.  It might be $3 million but it still brings to mind an interesting question.  Why do cops get granted bail at all?  If I committed murder I wouldn't be granted bail and neither would anyone else I know.  Being rich has its advantages also, just ask Phil Spector.  Yup, she walked in the door of his mansion where she had never been before, grabbed his gun and committed suicide.  Next thing you know I'll be believing in fairy godmothers.

So Michael Phelps likes to get stoned when he isn't competing.  There is nothing wrong with that since in no way is pot a performance enhancing drug, but you shouldn't let people take photos of you hitting the bong.  And to the person who did it for the money, shame on you!


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