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31 March 2009

we outsourced torture, now we outsource justice...

by: astraea

Google News gives 1025 links for "spain torture" stories -- as we speak. (Yoo, too? There is a god.) The way the US press covers this should be a true barometer of truthiness. I hope PEW follows it. Viddy well. My colors ride with Keith, toob wize.
30 March 2009

what I want to know is how much money the rightwing fundi churches and uni's lost... and if they side-stepped this, how

by: astraea


Big TroubleThe more I look at these investment decisions of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and former Lehman exec Charles Millard the more my suspicion grows that some very bad happened here. There's no question that something happened very bad for the pensioners who were relying on this fund. But is there any conceivable good reason why you'd take most (the quote from the Boston Globe is "much" of the funds) of the assets of the fund designed to insure pension benefits out of safe investments like bonds and put them into highly speculative investments -- hedge fund, equities, etc. -- just before the stock market collapsed.

Incompetence doesn't cut it as an explanation.

First, some topline numbers: The PBGC decided to put most of its $64 billion of reserves into stocks. And already by September 2008, i.e., before the bottom really fell out on Wall Street, the stock portfolio had already lost 23%. That percentage must be much higher today.

One of the big drives behind Social Security privatization was the desire to find more money -- in the case of Social Security, a lot more money -- to keep the fires burning on Wall Street. Not just more fees for the people handling the money, but more money to keep pushing asset values higher. This looks like the same thing just using slightly different means.

Late Update: TPM Reader HL notes that the behavior here is not at all unlike that of investment managers at a lot of big institutions who should pursue at least relatively conservative investment strategies -- college endowments, state pension funds, big non-profits, etc. And this is a very good point -- all part of the ever-escalating need over recent years, for greater and greater rates of return. Some worrisome hints came out this weekend about CALPERS (the California state pension system), for instance. So point taken. What still makes me suspicious about this case, though, is the timing. The Globe piece leaves some key variables a little vague -- just how much was put into stocks, precisely when, etc. But it sounds at least like PBGC moved a big portion of its assets into stocks last spring or summer.

--Josh Marshall

Moon Over The Waves

by: Foiled Goil

Rev. Moon Exemplifies Right Wing GOP Subsidy of Big Media to Frame Message

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash Editor's Blog:
Rev. Moon has adopted a relatively low-profile in recent years (if you don't count his bizarre "coronation" by elected officials in a Capitol Hill House of Representatives meeting room a couple years back), but that hasn't prevented the weird religious leader (and close ally of the Bush family) from pouring an estimated 1 - 2.5 billion dollars into subsidizing the Washington Times since 1982.

In 2002, Rev. Moon pronounced "The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world." But the reality is that the Washington Times -- like the New York Post and Weekly Standard for Rupert Murdoch -- are investments in obtaining financial regulatory and other favors from Republican administrations in return for helping frame and market the GOP talking points of tax cuts, cultural wars, and Wall Street gambling. [snip]

In short, Moon, in essence, shells out hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to use the Washington Times as a public relations vehicle for "framing" the GOP perspective. The Washington Times doesn't have the incendiary flamboyant impact of Rush Limbaugh, but it has played a vital role in moving the "frame" of what is considered "centrist" in the U.S. among D.C. insiders way to the right.

Just last week (March 23), it was announced that the Washington Times is going to launch a radio program:
The Washington Times is headed for radio. In a partnership announced Monday (March 23) with Talk Radio Network, the paper plans to launch later this spring a nationally syndicated, three-hour, morning-drive radio show (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET) aimed at showcasing the paper's investigative reporting and accountability journalism. [snip]
If you want a little insight into how the pieces of the right wing media echo chamber puzzle fit together, it is worth looking at some of the people under contract to Talk Radio Network: Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Rusty Humphries, Monica Crowley, and Tammy Bruce. Bruce most recently made an infamous remark calling the Obamas trash, and Tammy Bruce managed to insult the entire nation of Canada a couple of weeks ago, resulting in an unprecedented Ottawa call for an apology from FOX "News." [snip]

When you read the term "investigative reporting" applied to the Washington Times, think about the Clinton impeachment. To say the least, there was no investigating of the Bush Administration multiple illegalities going on by Rev. Moon's media empire, just cover-ups. [snip]

Meanwhile, wealthy liberal Democrats don't buy up or create large media outlets; they just support efforts to criticize the corporate press and the likes of Rev. Moon. And the only other daily in D.C. is the pro-war Washington Post, which is the voice of the status quo self-appointed punditocracy. It's like a right leaning Democratic Leadership Council.

You can win elections, but you can't make dramatic change unless you own part of the major media.

Rev. Moon understands that. Why can't wealthy Democrats?

Or is it because many of the wealthiest Democrats really don't want a change in the distribution of wealth in this nation?

Good question.

29 March 2009

The Other Side Of The Argument

by: Debra

I received this email from someone I didn't think I was ever going to hear from again and who I thought was fairly liberal so they must have sent me this knowing that I would have to comment. My thoughts are the ones in parentheses.
This is TOO good! (Not really, it's a pretty sad state of affairs.)

5 million of our older Americans have not signed up yet for their Medicare Part D, drug plan------they are old and confused. (Once again, not really. The plans are the ones confused and in the long run do nothing to help the elderly afford the medicines that they need but can't afford because the rent is due and food prices have gone up tremendously.) We are NOT going to grant them an extension.  (Yup, because that's how we roll, only the IRS has extensions.)

However, 25 million illegal aliens (according to Native Indians that number is closer to 300 million) are in our country and we are going to allow (who died and crowned us king?) them to stay (just like our ancestors), protest (the First Amendment applies to everyone or are we going to have to show our papers every time we speak?), procreate (can we say hypocritical? For a biblical nation some people certainly do like to cherry pick what parts they want to use and when), receive support monies (mainly from nonprofits, churches and other people who think that trying to help someone change their life for the better is important and until recently that place was America. Besides, have you ever tried to jump through all the hoops to get those monies? It isn't for the faint of heart and the documentation required is pretty extensive), attend schools (isn't educating the young a good thing? They wouldn't need government money to support them in adulthood because they would have jobs and could pay taxes), avoid paying income taxes (no they don't, taxes are taken out of their paychecks just like yours and mine, they just can't file for refunds at the end of the year because they might get caught. Which means that they pay more taxes than some who were born here), have our teachers take 300 hours of ESL (English as a Second Language) training at our expense, etc. (The world country is becoming more diverse by the minute. Many professions have to take continuing education classes. Why not teachers? Or are only English speaking people and their children allowed to emigrate here?)

WE MUST REALLY DISLIKE OUR OLD PEOPLE...... OR WE MUST REALLY LOVE TACOS!!! (Now we get to the heart of the problem. Yes, we do disrespect our old people, ever since the sixties being old has been synonymous with useless. And we do love our tacos, burritos, falafels, french fries, chow mein, fried rice, goulash, lasagna, etc. Or do you mean that only Hispanics are illegal aliens?)

If it ticks you off, pass it on!! (Oh it did that but not the way I'm sure you it was meant.) Don't forget to pay your taxes......(unless you're rich or a corporation) 12 million illegal aliens are depending on you. (I'm confused. Which is it, 25 or 12 million? Or is that the only objection are to those of Hispanic descent?)
Well, that was fun.



Budget Fudge It

by: Foiled Goil

Budget Deficits & Blow Up Dolls

Dean Baker, HuffPo via Common dreams:
In the movie Lars and the Real Girl, the main character imagines that a female blow-up doll is his fiancé. To humor Lars, his brother and sister-in-law go along with the charade. Over the course of the movie, more people are drawn into the circle, until eventually the whole town is treating Bianca the blow-up doll as one of its leading citizens.

This seems to pretty well describe the debate over the budget deficit, except it's not clear that many people realize it's a charade. The main story is that Lars' budget hawk counterparts are upset that the deficits projected for 2013 or 2019 are too large. They want President Obama to commit to spending cuts and/or tax increases in order to bring these deficits to levels they consider acceptable.

The unreality of this picture is striking because the budget hawks seem not to notice that we are in the middle of an economic meltdown.

People are losing their homes through foreclosures at the rate of more than 100,000 a month. The default rates on credit cards, car loans and other debt is at record levels. Most of our major banks are effectively insolvent.

Home and stock prices have plummeted, destroying most of the wealth of the baby boom cohort as they stand on the edge of retirement. The economy is shedding almost 700,000 jobs a month, with the unemployment rate rapidly approaching the highest level since the Great Depression.

In this context we are supposed to be up in arms over the deficit projections for 2013 or 2019? This is a bit like someone complaining about the lawn not being mowed at a time when the house is on fire, it's just not the first priority. And the media all seem to go along with the charade - yes, they are very concerned about the projected deficit for 2013, just as the characters in the movie expressed concern about the health of Bianca the blow-up doll.

It is especially annoying to hear the whining from this group of deficit hawks since their whining in prior years helped to drown out serious discussion of the dangers posed by an $8 trillion housing bubble. While some of us were yelling at the top of our lungs about the imminent disaster that would hit the economy when the housing bubble burst, the media chose to focus on these deficit hawks with their dire warnings about budget deficits 40 or 50 years in the future.

Because the media and political elites chose to pay more attention to the deficit hawks than those warning about the housing bubble, we now get to enjoy the current economic crisis. And, one result of the economic crisis is (drum roll, please) ........record deficits.

To put the point so simply that even a Washington Post editor can understand it: because the media highlighted the views of the people who were ranting about the deficit rather than the views of people who understood the economy, we both got a wrecked economy and larger deficits.

The moral to this story is that the economy must take priority, not only because the state of the economy is what most directly determines people's well-being, but also because the state of the economy will be the most important determinant of the deficit. [snip]

There is no guarantee that President Obama's policies will be successful in restoring strong growth, but they are clearly a step in the right direction. If we have strong growth, then our deficits will be manageable. If the economy remains weak, the deficit will remain a serious burden no matter how much we raise taxes or cut spending.

Someone has to tell the deficit hawks that their blow-up doll is not real. The issue is the economy, not the deficit.

Republican recovery: road to nowhere.

h/t Driftglass

A romp through the Republican ... budget?

P.M. Carpenter, BuzzFlash:
They took the bait. Assorted commentators, Democratic pols of varying convictions and no less than the faux-appalled president himself kept taunting the GOP to commit the exceptionally stupid, and they -- the now-hapless remnants of the once-powerfully propagandistic House Republicans, anyway -- stepped right up and did it.

"But I'm -- look, I'm not going to lie to you. It is tough," said Mr. Obama, for one, in his latest installment of tease and taunt, Tuesday night. "[T]he critics tend to criticize, but they don't offer an alternative budget."

They don't, of course, or at least haven't till now, because it's even tougher and more hazardous for them. Generally speaking, any party that's just had its coast-to-coast clock cleaned at the polls isn't too keen on reemphasizing that it stands intensely opposed to virtually everything the electorate just voted for.

Ah, but enter those plucky Republicans, with goggles strapped on and scarf flipped over the shoulder, bravely nose-diving into the abyss and managing to catch every predictable piece of flak out there. [snip]

For this they universally got crucified. But I'll come to their defense: I'm a sucker for underdogs.

What difference would numbers have made? I mean, just how does one quantify, "We haven't a bloody clue"? How does one numerically characterize, "Jesus, this just dawned on us -- We can't believe we fell for this trick"? Just how, in heaven's name, can one slap a cold, impersonal figure on the red-faced human realization, "Oops, we're more stunningly hapless than we -- even you -- thought"?

I'll also offer Republicans a little sincere advice: Go away. Just go away for a long, long while. Grab whatever cash you have in the RNC account and hasten thee to a faraway exotic spa, or go on a year-long drunk, or simply hide yourselves at home, shutter the blinds, and shut the f*ck up.

It's not your critics doing you harm. It's you and your non-budgeting budgets which advocate spending freezes during a deep freeze. It's Dick Cheney running around defending torture and denouncing social progress. It's Sarah Palin babbling about deficiently prayerful McCainites. It's your Cantors and Pences and Boehners looking and sounding so insufferably goofy. It's Michael Steele strategizing with God but genuflecting before Rush. For those fond of reifying brevity, it can even be just two words: Michele Bachmann.

Come on, boys. Give it a merciful rest.

President Obama's Budget Fact Sheets

· · · · ·

Fudge It Budget

by: Foiled Goil

House Republicans Present Outline of Alternative Budget

Perry Bacon Jr., WaPo Staff:
Looking to rebut criticism from President Obama that the GOP is attacking him but not offering proposals of its own, Republican lawmakers released an 18-page outline of an alternative budget that proposes to cut overall government spending except for defense, ban additional spending for bailouts of financial companies, and cut the maximum income tax rate to 25 percent from the current rate of 36 percent.

"Two nights ago, the president said we haven't seen a budget yet out of the Republicans," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), waving a document titled "The Republican Road to Recovery." "Well, it's not true, because here it is, Mr. President."

Republicans said they will release actual numbers as an amendment to the budget next week when it comes to the House floor. But Democrats criticized their effort. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked that "it took me several minutes to read it."
Fudge it budget

Childish GOP Budget Stunt: A Republican Road to Nowhere

Meg White, BuzzFlash Analysis:
After the Republican party took rough hits from the White House, congressional Democrats and the media for its Playskool alternative to the president's budget proposal, they promised to come out with a grownup version -- now with real numbers! -- next Wednesday.

I feel bad for the GOP congressional aides. They've got to give up their weekend just so their party will have a better prop with which to posture next week, right before both chambers are expected to vote on the real budget that Friday. In other words, the Republican alternative should arrive in time to have no impact at all in the budget negotiations. Perfect. That'll make it easy to criticize Obama's budget later, without actually having to be involved in the messy process itself.

After hearing quite a bit about the negative aura surrounding the "Party of No" of late, I thought I'd do a little analysis. I lifted all the language from the alternative, titled "The Republican Road to Recovery," to the budget and put it in two categories: anti-Democratic blustering, and actual Republican proposals (however vague they might be).

(A note on methodology: I excluded any language that was neutral; a quick and easy job. In fact, if you look at the document itself, it's quite neatly divided into categories that could be titled "What is totally lame about the Democrat budget" and "Why Republicans are magical money trees.")

The result: More than 61 percent of the 19-page document was dedicated to smacking around the Democratic budget, with the remainder addressing the Republican ideas. Feeling a touch defensive, are we?

To put this in perspective: If the president had dedicated that much space in his budget criticizing the right, the Office of Management and Budget would have had to print off 226 pages, instead of the current 140.

Not only does the GOP budget proposal have no numbers to speak of, it has neither solutions nor new ideas. The same failed policies, such as cutting taxes on the rich and drilling in ANWR, are trumpeted as godsends.

The budget alternative also appropriates themes that GOP operatives must have noticed were popular in the 2008 campaign season. Of course, they're Democratic Party themes, but never mind that. [snip]

So, while it seems to be true that the GOP has turned into the Party of No, it's important to note that they're regressing as well. Not only do they have no new ideas of their own, but they cannot even say "no" without in the same breath saying, "You suck, also."

· · · · ·
28 March 2009

Abusing The Country

by: Debra

This is the opposition?  They sound like they've been listening to too many "experts"and it certainly sounds like Gregg has turned off his brain as if it was a light switch.  Anyway you look at it tomorrow's generation is going to have to pay for the sins of the Bush administration and to say that President Obama's budget is irresponsible after eight years of massive tax cuts for the wealthy and the almost continuous war on the poor, is a little too much like downing bottles of champagne and then trying to convince the police officer that you aren't drunk, you still have the judgment to drive and the alcohol on your breath is from a mint.
Gregg repeated what has become an opposition mantra, saying the president's plan "spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much."
As opposed to the billions lost to graft and greed in the last eight years which will never to be accounted for, corporations getting ridiculous tax breaks and then moving their operations to a different country so they can avoid any taxes or paying workers a living wage, stealing the youth of today to fight wars whose only accomplishments were to kill innocent civilians, a couple of politicians in a sovereign state that had nothing to do with terrorist acts perpetrated on the United States yet lets Osama bin Laden wander free to continue creating havoc and leaves the veterans to suffer neglect and abuse after serving their country honorably?

Republicans need to get a grip on reality and realize that the country is in a hole that they dug and learn to support their president.  Or at least that's what they've been telling the rest of us for the last eight years while they destroyed the Constitution and rammed disaster after disaster down our throats while threatening us with treason for speaking out about being treated like an abused wife.  The country divorced you and it didn't ask for alimony or child support, it just wants you to go away while it tries to rebuild itself.

And like true abusers, Republicans keep believing that more abuse will make us see it their way.  Until they get therapy and realize that not only are they part of the problem but that they created the situation, the country is not going to listen to much of what they say.


· · ·
27 March 2009

Spin Me Right Round

by: Debra

For a good portion of my teen and young adult life I lived in the Lompoc area.  We started with Vandenberg AFB and then moved to Vandenberg Village which was halfway between the base and Lompoc.  As we would travel to visit Solvang, the La Purisima Mission was on our left and across from the most spectacular field of flowers just as you left town.  This quiet and beautiful place, so packed with history, is on the Governor's list of state parks to be closed.  How much more can this state lose and still offer a quality of life that makes it worth it for an individual to live here and pay higher taxes while corporations pay practically none?

Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of dealing with Nevada state employees.  It seems that if you call for information about their Medicaid program your name goes on a list and pretty soon all these associated agencies start calling you and offering their services.  When I first started looking I thought we were going to move to Las Vegas but still couldn't afford it.  The other day Medicaid called to check and see if I needed any help filling out the paperwork and I told them we were moving to Reno instead.  Two hours later the Reno office calls me and then yesterday an Alzheimer's group called and asked if they could send me an application for a grant for my mother to help make the move less traumatic and to help her out.  It's like being in the Twilight Zone but in a good way.  Oh, and did I mention that the energy company bills you for the deposit and if you can't pay it in one month they give you two?  They don't even have a state tax, do they put happy pills in the water?

Having been a child of the military and a veteran myself, I can say that universal health care works.  Sometimes slowly but it works and is much better than nothing at all.  Health care is a right for everyone and should not be reserved for the very rich or the very poor.  Unfortunately those in the middle have to either do without or pay so much that they have to do without other things in their lives such as saving for their child's college.  I've had insurance in the past but no longer qualify due to asthma and a tendency for kidney stones and have had to rely on the county health care system when either of those flares up.  All other problems I'm managing by myself but as I age that will only go so far.  Whatever the solution is, it shouldn't be to prop up the insurance companies and their mountains of paperwork.

Good thing DiSH has its moving program though they might not be any more financially stable than any other highly overpriced television provider either.  Tumbling dice is the best way to describe our economy.  And the reason they are still tumbling is because the board is slanted downhill.

Consumer spending may be up while income is down, but what did they spend what they don't have on?  The article never says.  It was too happy that the savings rate was above 4% for two months in a row.  The only people making money off of me are the banks.  Two days ago BofA said they would probably decide my case in my favor (photos, persistence, plus merchant fraud helped) but they still haven't refunded the $500 (or the $140 in fees yet) and California lowering my check by $101 with less than 24 hours warning has made me even more resolved to get the heck out of here.  If I'm going to make less money, I would rather know it ahead of time.

Plus, the people really do sound happy in Nevada.


· · · ·

GOP: Got "0" Plan

by: Foiled Goil

March 26, 2009:

Gibbs Mocks House GOP 'Budget': More Windmill Pictures Than Numbers:


Contessa Brewer rips Republicans' phony 'alternative' budget proposal: 'old wine in new bottles':
The House Republicans made a big deal about their new budget proposal today on the hill. They held a full press conference at the same time President Obama was answering questions during a live streaming web chat format. Rep, John Boehner was holding an 18 page pamphlet in his hands and calling it "The Recovery Road to Recovery. He was accompanied by "Britney" Cantor and pretty boy Paul Ryan to do the honors of getting down to the business of conservative ideas instead of being the "just say no to Obama" party. Well, their plan is not a plan. It has no information in it. The only person that made out today was the printer they used to copy this up. Contessa Brewer got a bit bothered by their ponzi press conference as much as I did.

Republican Budget Plan: ‘Undo’ The Stimulus, Cut Taxes For The Rich
Today, House Republicans released their budget plan, entitled “The Republican Road To Recovery.” They claim the plan “curbs spending, creates jobs and lowers taxes, and controls the debt; and it will soon have our economy growing again.”

For an “alternative budget,” however, it is very short on numbers, including no mention of deficit implications. And the plan for creating jobs and sparking economic growth is actually undoing the stimulus and then cutting additional spending:
Republicans propose to undo the recent reckless and wasteful Democrat spending binge included in the so-called “stimulus” and omnibus bills. In addition, Republicans would cut overall nondefense spending by reforming or eliminating a host of wasteful programs deemed ineffective by various government entities.
Of course, stimulus dollars are already on their way out the door, so it’s difficult to envision how one would “undo” the bill.

Pressed By MSNBC, Pence Is Unable To Say What Deficit Would Be Under New GOP Budget:
Earlier this week, President Obama challenged Republicans who have been ripping his budget proposal, saying, “Critics tend to criticize, but they don’t offer an alternative budget.” Today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released a GOP budget called “The Republican Road to Recovery.” “Here it is, Mr. President,” he said, proudly waving it in the air.

Except this “budget” is short on one key detail: numbers. The AP calls it “a glossy pamphlet short on detail and long on campaign-style talking points.” The budget proposes heavy tax cuts to the wealthy, which have time and again exploded the deficit. Today, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell challenged Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) to say what the deficit impact of the GOP plan would be. [snip]

Pence is unable to specify what the deficit would result under his plan because his plan simply doesn’t say so. The plan contains three charts: “Gov spending as percentage of GDP,” “Future Debt Burden, and “Deficit Under Democratic Budgets.” Yet there is no chart about the GOP budget. [snip]

In a press conference today, reporters pressed Boehner on why the plan was so short on numbers. “What’s your goal?” “To do better,” said Boehner. “How much?” “You’ll see next week,” he said.

Can't get anything right:
You know how the GOP promised to propose a budget today, but failed to deliver?

Well, do you know when they've repromised to deliver it?


Wednesday, April 1.

April Fool's Day.

The GOP is now promising to deliver its budget on April Fool's Day.

They are gold. Pure gold. Pure fool's gold.

Check out the diagram at
The Republican "Road to Recovery" budget alternative, rolled out today by John Boehner, has been criticized by left and right for its lack of specificity and its promise to eliminate the national debt while significantly cutting taxes., however, has received an advance copy of additional details prepared by the Minority Leader's office. Although some elements of the proposal are still under discussion -- Eric Cantor is said to want to eliminate North Dakota rather than Idaho, while Thaddeus McCotter has suggested using the balance of TARP funds to purchase scratch-off tickets -- the final plan can be expected to contain most or all of these components.

· · · ·

Dem Blue Dawgs

by: Foiled Goil

The Blue Dog -- A Republican's Best Friend

Shirley Smith, BuzzFlash:
All of these Blue Dogs love to tell anyone who would listen, how they put their people first (who do they mean?) and they just believe in being "conservative." A nasty word, that, since "conservative" has delivered the US with the highest debt in our history. These Blue Dogs formed their own club years ago, and today it is known as a coalition. Get that? A coalition is a group alliance, when they should be forming an alliance with the party whose name they carry, and not the party they usually vote with, and the same party that helps to put them into power and probably gives them money . . . that has to stop.

Truth be told, we Democrats have been bitten in the ass many times by these Republican Blue Dogs . . . these people are not Democrats. Why would any Democrat, any real Democrat, support the very criminal Bush GOP that has brought this country down in just eight years with their help, and join them in trying to see that the Democratic administration will fail? Why must we Democrats always have to clean up after these Republicans? People wonder why they don't come up with any ideas . . . running the US government was never their intention. Taking what they could get away with was. [snip]

I've always been amazed at the Democrats for not realizing that the Blue Dogs are the Republican Party's idea of controlling both parties in US government. A real Democrat would caucus, discuss and then, as in a Democratic way, which is what the Democratic Party is . . . go with the majority of their party for the good of this country. With Republicans, it's never been about the good of this country, or conservatism, it's always been about control.

A "real" Democrat would not place their most important votes with the same party that has taken the US down as a leader in the world, sold us all out to China, placed this country into two invasions/occupations with a total of dead fellow human beings somewhere around a million (The GOP military would never count bodies, and today Bush's most important objective, Iraq, he won't discuss or mention. How's that for respect?), including American military deaths and our own National Guard, and millions of lives ruined. And, with this country on our ass today, with jobs out of the country, and people going hungry, they are "proud" to vote in solidarity with the Bush GOP in Congress today? [snip]

It's years past the time for Democrats to get serious about who in the hell is in this party. You vote like a Bush GOP Republican, you run on that ticket. What we don't need in this country today, is a "dog eat dog" attitude by the very people who helped to bring the US, once a great and vibrant country -- and can be again -- down, with their greed for power and personal gain, and call it, of all things laughable, "conservative." Many of our Republican government officials should have gone to jail years ago for what they have done. How many American citizens can still hold a job after running their company into the ground? Only if you are a very large contributor to the political coffers.

26 March 2009

Class Warfare Continues

by: Debra

While Wall Street companies who receive taxpayer's money and then spend it frivolously on planes, parties and bonuses, the people who were put out of work by the aforementioned's poor fiscal policies are now in eight states facing some type of legislated drug testing in order to collect benefits.  In Tennessee if you are unfortunate enough to be born into poverty and are forced to either use welfare to survive or die, there is a bill proposing that if you win the lottery you only receive $600 of it.  So, if a poor person won a million dollars they could have $600 and still live in the ghetto.  Besides the fact that it is poor financial planning to hope that the lottery will end your poverty, this bill is more about punishing people for being poor than it is about helping them get out of poverty.
Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

And the commenters.  Well, it's more than obvious that they still have jobs and money in the bank.  I have never agreed with random drug testing for any reason.  I understand that pilots, truckers and other moving vehicle operators need to be tested as an issue of public safety, but why should a person who wants to be a dog sitter at Petsmart or a person unfortunate enough to need to apply for food stamps be tested?  The tests aren't cheap, sometimes they aren't even accurate and the sheer number of people being tested to qualify for state or federal programs will set up another bureaucracy at a time when state budgets are already past their limits.

This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to kick people when they are down and to increase the amount of governmental control over individual lives.  It's interesting how Gingrich and the rest of the Republicans can babble on and on about Obama instituting a dictatorship when what Republicans are really trying to do is control your "life" from conception until death.

And since when did unemployment become welfare?  Just by definition it says that you were working and money was paid into the system on your behalf.  And while you were working they took money out of your check for Federal, State, sometimes Local and here in California, Disability taxes.  Grrr.



Snippets: GOP Hypocrisy

by: Foiled Goil

Consolidating snippets into a rant:

Snippet 1:
If I remember it correctly, the top issue in the 2008 election was the collapsing economy, with energy, health care reform, the Iraq war and other issues following in the distance. On all of these questions, Obama prevailed because he convinced more voters that reversing Republican policies is a better solution than sticking with the status quo. Obama didn't win on a platform of "planning to meet the GOP halfway across the charred ruins of American prosperity".

Snippet 2:
What Republicans can't really handle, of course, is confronting the reality that it was their misbegotten approach to the economy -- mass deregulation, complete "free markets," and tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts -- that was responsible for creating this mess.

So what we're actually seeing is the Right busily constructing its own fresh new wing of Planet Wingnuttia, the alternative reality they're coming to inhabit: Liberals conspired to cause the housing crisis, and therefore caused the economic collapse. Then Obama started the stock-market slide even before he was elected, and now his radical socialism is driving the market into the sub-1000 region.

Hoo boy. Get ready to deal with this nonsense for the next four years.

Snippet 3:
Of course, these last eight years are not the only years that the Bush led Republican Party has brought debt and military destruction and charged it all to the taxpayers of the US. It's been going on since Nixon. We Americans would like to think that they could take responsibility for their (cough) mistakes, and try to help out those who want to bring this country back into solvency. That's what most of the American people would think.

But, that's not what the members and leaders of the Bush GOP think today. In their own words, they can't take responsibility and they don't give a damn about solving problems, so why would any thinking American want to constantly pick up the tab by this greedy political party? How many years before we put a stop to this? Eh? [...]

Where were these holier-than-thou Republican voices for the last eight years? [...]

And, to this day, so far, no accountability, no act of conscience in words or deeds is heard coming from the Republican Party leaders, shock jocks, whatever. As an American, I hate what I see in this country today, when we have had a Republican run government that was responsible for a million deaths, hundreds of thousands of injuries, and the displacement of millions more people, and yet, we hear nothing of these crimes against humanity from these people. No feelings whatsoever for the crimes committed by the Bush GOP regime.

What we hear is that they do not want to help bring this country back and if they ever get into power again, we Americans can rightly assume that they will do the same things that they did to bring this country to where we are today. They show no intelligence, exchange of ideas, or remorse. [...]

Who, in this country, could possibly still want to listen to these people and their anti-Democratic Party rants, which are also anti-democracy rants, all for the purpose of shutting out real news, or all important news, and what's going on in the Obama administration about the real problems facing this country today [...] and, after knowing that these same vociferous loudmouths have supported the Bush GOP for over thirty years without fear of US law, they supported them in complete silence . . . not a word was heard.

Snippet 4:
This intense, impatient, often self-righteous, frequently wrongheaded and at times willfully destructive criticism has come in waves, and not just from the right. Mr. Obama is as legitimate a target for criticism as any president. But there is a weird hysterical quality to some of the recent attacks that suggests an underlying fear or barely suppressed rage. It’s a quality that seems not just unhelpful but unhealthy. [...]

In the midst of the craziness, conservatives are busy trying to blame this epic economic catastrophe — a conflagration of their own making — on the new president. Forget Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and George Herbert Hoover Bush and the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth and Phil Gramm and Newt Gingrich and all the rest. The right-wingers would have you believe this is Obama’s downturn. [...]

What I know is that the renegade clowns who ruined this economy, the Republican right in alliance with big business and a fair number of feckless Democrats — all working in opposition to the interests of working families — have no credible basis for waging war against serious efforts to get us out of their mess.

Snippet 5:
The Republicans aren't interested in coming to a consensus or bipartisanship. Their idea of bipartisanship is a fairy tale where the Democratic Party adopts Republican "values". Anything less will get Republicans to cry the Democratic majority is "partisan".

The Republicans are interested in scoring political points any way they can. That means they are to disrupt the process or obstruct the process of every piece of legislation and do it while proclaiming they are sticking to their "core principles". There is no reason for you to appease these difficult and obstinate politicians.

Snippet 6:
But what occasionally bears repeating is that they don't even remember Reagan especially well. Reality may be blasphemous in some Republican circles but the inconvenient truth is Reagan raised taxes. He raised them several times. The conservative Republicans -- with Gingrich and the WSJ editorial page, I mean that literally -- who are whining incessantly about President Obama's proposed tax increases on the wealthy are the same ones who complained bitterly about Reagan's tax increases in 1982.

Brooks is right; conservative Republican lawmakers want desperately to turn back the clock to how they perceive the 1980s. But they're not only wrong about today's economy, they're not even getting the '80s right.

They were wrong about Reagan's tax increases. They were wrong about Clinton's tax increases. They were wrong about Bush's tax cuts. And now, they're wrong again about Obama's tax policy while simultaneously pushing "insane" ideas.

If they could just let the grown-ups talk for a while, we'd all be better off.

Snippet 7:
The hyper partisanship we have witnessed for the past 15 years or so has to stop. The mean spirited, all out warfare, continuous campaign style of politics is doing immeasurable damage to the country.

George W. Bush had his macho, swaggering style and a "My way or the highway philosophy!" With impetus from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, the Bush administration, and the current GOP, engaged a scorched earth strategy all the time. It worked for him long enough to get another term and then the bottom fell out of the Bush presidency as the many shortcomings of the President’s policies and proclamations became exposed.

Now, instead of working with the new President to consider his hugely ambitious agenda, or to proffer alternatives, they choose to declare war on President Obama and work to undermine him. This is an irresponsibly dangerous game they are playing.

Snippet 8:

And here is a hint, REAL PEOPLE are suffering ... because of you.

Throwing more tax cut fuel on it won't put it out. Cutting funds for contraception won't put it out. And stamping your widdle feets and obstructing every move that the people who DIDN'T light the fire are making to put YOUR fire out ... won't put it out. [. . .]

NO ONE, but you, has forgotten how we got to this point ... in two wars, our standing in the world damaged nearly beyond repair and standing in the flaming soon to be ruins of what used to be our economy. No one has forgotten that it was you who brought us to this point. Or that you have gotten us to this point while laughing at, mocking, denigrating and calling people traitors ... the same people who now have to clean up the steaming pile of elephant poop that YOU deposited in the middle of the living room ... of our burning house.

The time when you could blame all of your mistakes on the Dems and have the public and the pundits buy it is over. No one is buying it. Ok, I'm wrong, the stupidest factions of the Village and the punditocracy are still buying it ... because they helped you light the fire. [...]

Soon it will be apparent to all sane people that being nice to you just doesn't work, that every time we give in to you, your unquenchable three year old egos just take that as a signal of weakness and demand more. With every petulant demand, with every hold you put on a nominee, with every little nit you pick, with every foot stomp, with every BLATANT obstructionist tactic you use to keep us from cleaning up YOUR mess and putting out YOUR fire ... you reveal yourself as the petulant, vengeful, idiotic spoiled little children you are. [...]

You failed. Your ideology failed. Your economic theories failed, your foreign policy failed, your theocratic social policies failed and your theories of governing failed. Everyone knows this ... except ... apparently ... you.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again ... as you have with your trickle down bullshit ... and expecting different results. Everything you are screaming for is EXACTLY what got us in to this mess. The fact that you think that doing MORE of the same will fix the mess YOU made just proves your true character and intelligence. You are exposing yourself, again, as insane ideologues living in a delusional land where things that have never, ever worked ... suddenly start to work, because you held your breath long enough. You are proving to the entire nation and the world that you are insane. Insane little children, throwing a tantrum in the middle of a house on fire ... a fire that, I remind you once again ... YOU started.

Snippet 9:
You Republicans are the arsonists who burned down our national home. You combined the failed ideologies of the Religious Right, so-called free market deregulation and the Neoconservative love of war to light a fire that has consumed America. Now you have the nerve to criticize the "architect" America just hired -- President Obama -- to rebuild from the ashes. You do nothing constructive, just try to hinder the one person willing and able to fix the mess you created. [...]

With people like Limbaugh as the loudmouth image of the Republican Party -- you need no enemies. But something far more serious has happened than an image problem: the Republican Party has become the party of obstruction at just the time when all Americans should be pulling together for the good of our country. Instead, Republicans are today's fifth column sabotaging American renewal. [...]

For the party that created our crisis's of misbegotten war, mismanaged economy, the lack of regulation of our banking industry, handing our country to rich crooks... to obstruct the one person who is trying to repair the damage is obscene. [...]

After Obama was elected, you Republican leaders had a unique last chance to send a patriotic message of unity to the world -- and to all Americans. You could have backed our president's economic recovery plan. Since we all know that half of our problem is one of lost confidence and perception, nothing would have done more to calm the markets and project resolve and confidence than if you had been big enough to take Obama's offered hand and had work with him -- even if you disagreed ideologically. You had the chance to put our country first. You utterly failed to rise to the occasion.

The worsening economic situation is your fault and your fault alone. The Republicans created this mess through 8 years of backing the worst president in our history and now, because you put partisan ideology ahead of the good of our country, you have blown your last chance to redeem yourselves. You deserve the banishment to the political wilderness that awaits all traitors.

Snippet 10:
I realize that most of this is going to be ignored by many of those at whom this is directed, but they should consider this . . .

After eight years of trying to tell me and every other Democrat that any attitude other than getting 100% behind the US President, no matter who he may be, means you are a traitor, your frenzied antipathy toward Obama makes you all seem like the most ridiculous of hypocrites on the American political scene. You might want to think about that some.

· ·
25 March 2009

Infotainment Instead Of News

by: Debra

Well isn't that just awful, the pundits have lost patience with the President.  As if I care what the pundits think.  I remember when they were relatively good (This Week with David Brinkley, Tony Brown's Journal and the good versions of Meet the Press and Face the Nation) and confined to their place voicing opinion, not making it.  I lost all respect for them during the Clinton affair.  They perpetrated and encouraged a witch hunt against a sitting President whose only results were to expose private marital discord to public ridicule and to ensure that when the bumbling idiot that is George W. Bush took over and ran this country into the ground that they could say that the country was tired and that all talk of impeachment was off the table and we must support the President otherwise we were automatically guilty of treason. One must not criticize the President.  Unless he isn't the President that the wingnuts wanted, then all bets are off.

And people wonder why today's youth are so confused and who could blame them?  On the one hand they were taught that it is okay to try to impeach a President for lying about having sex outside his marriage (like that hasn't been done before!) but it isn't okay to impeach a President for lying about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, allowing an American city to drown on worldwide television, spying on innocent Americans without any oversight from the court system, considered the Constitution as an old piece of paper, destroyed the military and then cut benefits to veterans, gave the orders that caused the deaths of innocent civilians in two countries, let the Grand High Poobah of the Taliban live free after the most traumatic incident this country had seen in a decade (funny how the FBI could find Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols within days but the military and the CIA can't find a 6'5" man on dialysis in a country where we've been for eight years) and I'm supposed to think that pundits opinions are the word from on high?  Oh my, I'm just quaking in my boots.  And what the heck is wrong with a little patience?  Bush got eight years to screw up this country while the press was complicitly quiet and because Obama hasn't fixed everything that the press has just noticed is broken in the last four months while only being in office for two of them, he doesn't know what he's doing?

Maybe the President is combative because the press asks stupid questions.  Repeatedly.  Substance is no longer the press' forte.  If half as much time was spent on researching what the public needs to know as the news spends on letting us know about the lives, loves and tweets of today's entertainment crowd maybe the President and I could take them seriously. 

Our country is in deep doodoo and avoiding the issues is what the press does best and they are at the top of their game.  Unfortunately these guys are so clueless that it probably hasn't occurred to them that if they reported the news in an objective manner that maybe so many papers wouldn't be going out of business for lack of readership.

As Anna Z pointed out so eloquently, why is it that nothing can be done about the AIG bonuses but the government has rules and regulations in place to deal with the last dime of a Medicaid patient because it is considered government money and must be repaid by any means possible?  The rich can commit crimes and escape punishment on a consistent basis but the poor must be stripped of everything, including their dignity. 

Not that the press notices these things, that would be too much like doing their jobs and they would rather be voicing their opinions instead of reporting the news.  Bloviating is their specialty which is why they think everybody else does it too.


· · ·

mad hatters

by: astraea


after obama last night, we turned on faux news for a bit, wondering. all was as usual, Bill-o and Rove foaming at mouth (Bill-o loves the word bloviate: ETYMOLOGY: Mock-Latinate formation, from blow ... it must sound very naughty to him): Obama is boring, Obama is professorial, Obama is pompous. A bloviateur. They reminded me of sixth grade boys, the ones who get in trouble for spitballs. People actually watch this stuff?

Yeah. Afraid some do. The Beck crowd, the Palin folk who think a great patriot is the rugged individual who can dress moose. Fight injuns. A world of TV Westerns that never existed. So much for a sense of community. A future.

Meanwhile, thank Buzzflash for having the stomach to keep an eye on them.

Tea Party Tantrums: GOP Astroturf Groups Failed to Hit the History Books Before Fomenting Revolution
Submitted by meg on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 2:47pm.

by Meg White

This whole conservative tea party thing has really gotten out of control. The idea that these anti-tax, anti-spending conservatives are anything like the Boston colonists is downright laughable. What was sparked by CNBC stock market reporter Rick Santelli's on-air freak out over the homeowner bailout has outgrown its anger britches (The brainchild behind this cute repackaging of lusty GOP rage is probably irrevocably obscured, you'll find an interesting round up of the Santelli chase here and here).

go read....


from the don't go website, some sanity:

Responses to “Portsmouth Tea Company Donates 70 Pounds of Tea to Tea Party Revolution”

A real Sam Adams Says:
March 4th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I won’t be buying my tea from your company ever again and any time I find it in a store or online from this time forward, I will tell the proprietor to remove the product from their shelves. This whole “tea party” movement was planned back in August and is not a spontaneous event, but a planned “sleeper cell” attack by the GOP oligarchy.

You’re steeped in some bad company.

24 March 2009

RIP George Kell

by: Foiled Goil

George Clyde Kell

August 23, 1922 - March 24, 2009

The baritone voice of George Kell has been stilled.

George Kell, Hall of Fame third baseman, went on to broadcast Detroit Tiger games for 37 years. In 1959, Kell joined Van Patrick on the Tigers’ television team, then teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Al Kaline for 15 straight years, from 1980-94.
Hall of Famer Kell passes away

Third baseman edged Williams for AL batting crown in 1949

Kell's 15-year career with the Philadelphia Athletics (1943-1946), Detroit Tigers (1946-52), Boston Red Sox (1952-54), Chicago White Sox (1954-56) and Baltimore Orioles (1956-57) established him among the game's great third basemen, not just of his era, but of all time. One of just 11 third basemen elected the Hall of Fame, he was a 10-time All-Star who set standards at his position for defense and offense alike.

A career .306 hitter, Kell is best known as a player for his American League batting crown in Detroit in 1949, winning a race with Ted Williams that went down in history for its minuscule gap and stellar hitting. Down 10 points in late September upon returning from a jammed thumb, Kell went on a finishing tear that brought him within three points on the season's final day. While Williams went 0-for-2 with two walks, Kell's 2-for-3 outing erased the gap. He was on deck against Cleveland's Bob Feller, pitching in relief, when Eddie Lake hit into a game-ending double play.

Kell not only hit .3429 that year, edging out Williams at .3427 and denying the Red Sox star the Triple Crown, but his 13 strikeouts that year stands as the lowest total for a batting champion in Major League history. He went on to post nine .300 hitting seasons before he retired at age 35 following the 1957 season in Baltimore.

Just as solid if not more so than his bat, however, was his sure glove and strong arm. Seven times, he led all American League third basemen in fielding percentage. Four times, he led the league in assists from the hot corner. [...]

Little did Kell know when he was playing that he would earn a similar regard by getting behind the microphone once his playing days were over. Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell introduced him to the profession by inviting him to the booth while he was injured during that 1957 season in Baltimore, where Harwell was working at the time.

"He sat in the booth with me after he'd been hurt and did a couple of innings with me," Harwell told WWJ radio. "And that got him started in radio and TV. And then, when he got the job at the Tigers broadcasting with Van Patrick, and Van left, George called me and asked if I could come to Detroit."

After handling pregame work for CBS Television in 1958, Kell was back in Detroit, replacing the late Mel Ott on Tigers radio and television broadcasts. Except for 1964, he remained a voice of the Tigers in various outlets through 1996.

He was as welcome a presence as a broadcaster as he was a player.

Major League Baseball video: Remembering George Kell [4:22] looks back at the life and career of Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell, who passed away at age 86

Baseball Hall of Fame:
Kell Was A First-Rate Third Sacker

Third base remains baseball's enigmatic position, the only one where fielding prowess stands on equal ground with hitting skill. It is the rarest of combinations and one that has sent just 11 former Major Leaguers to the Baseball Hall of Fame -- the fewest of any position.

George Kell, one of those 11, died Tuesday at the age of 86. During his playing days, his skills with the lumber and the leather produced one of baseball's most consistent players of the mid-20th century.

"He's a seven-day-a-week ballplayer," said fellow third baseman Red Rolfe.

Kell broke into the big leagues with the Athletics at the end of the 1943 season, then took over as Philadelphia's everyday third baseman the next year at 21 years old. After two get-your-feet-wet seasons in which he struck out just 38 times in 1,088 at-bats -- and finished 22nd in the American League Most Valuable Player vote in 1944 -- Kell was traded to the Detroit Tigers on May 18, 1946, for Barney McCosky.

It was a trade A's owner Connie Mack long regretted.

Kell hit at least .304 from 1946-51, going to the first of eight straight All-Star Games in 1947. He finished fifth in the MVP voting in 1947 with a .320 average and 93 RBIs, then hit .3429 in 1949, winning the batting title by .0002 over Ted Williams and denying Williams his third Triple Crown. [...]

Kell was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1983 and was a frequent visitor to the Hall of Fame. He will be missed in Cooperstown.

National Baseball Hall of Fame's Video Tribute to George Kell [:42]


What's wrong with this picture?

by: Anna Van Z

From the NC Medicaid Handbook for Consumers:

Estate Recovery is a claim filed against the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient when Medicaid has paid for certain medical services. A lien may also be placed on property owned by the recipient. The claim or lien is filed to recover Medicaid dollars paid on behalf of the individual. Federal and State laws require the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) to place a lien on property owned by the Medicaid recipient, or file a claim against the estate of individuals to recover the amount paid by the Medicaid program during the time the individual received assistance with certain medical services. Ask your Medicaid case worker for specific information regarding which services are applicable to estate recovery.

Think about what this means: The government can step in front of any heirs of a Medicaid recipient, commandeering any remaining assets, in order to get paid back. The Medicaid recipient's only fault? Being low-income and sick.
Yet we are told that the government can't do anything about stopping executive bonuses and outrageous pay. The thousands of financial industry players who have already received such excesses are NOT required to pay anything back. No property is seized, auctioned, or attached with a lien. Their homes, properties, boats, cars, jewelry, investments, and foreign assets remain intact. In spite of the fact that these people, whether through gross incompetence, greed, or deliberate fraud, directly caused industry losses on a scale few of us can imagine. And consequently, they are the biggest recipients of government welfare in the history of the world - no strings attached.
Oh wait, I forgot - the auto industry was required to gut worker pay and benefits, and must pay back what congress sternly called a "loan".

Homosexuality -- Go Ahead, CONDONE It

by: Konagod

The Vermont Senate voted 26-4 yesterday in favor of same-sex marriage. It is expected to pass in the House vote.

Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, opposes the measure. Natürlich.

While this is an important step for equality, I never cease to be amazed by the delicate dance of politicians who try hard not to seem too gay-friendly.
“We are not condoning homosexuality,” said Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, as he introduced the bill to the Senate. “What we’re doing is recognizing some people are homosexuals.”

Gee, thanks! I'll take what I can get. But you know what? Homosexuality is real. It's as real and natural as your heterosexuality, Senator Campbell, just not as common. And there's nothing wrong with condoning a natural love. You make it sound as if you are passing a law legalizing cocaine and heroin. We don't condone it but we acknowledge there are addicts out there.

I can't believe I actually have more respect for a Republican response:
Sen. Phil Scott, R-Washington, said he didn’t know how he was going to vote when he walked into the Senate chamber Monday afternoon, but made up his mind while listening to the debate. “I said if I’m going to err on one side or the other, I would err on the side of basic human rights.”

But to be fair, it was arguments by Senator Campbell which persuaded Scott to "err" on the side of human rights when Campbell said this:
“You know who those ‘they’ people are? They’re our policemen, our firefighters, our teachers, garbagemen, the guy who plows the street. They’re our children. Our sisters, brothers, they’re human beings, and as such, as it’s said in this bill, they should be treated equally,” Campbell said.

Treated equally.. but not condoned. That would just be a step too far.

condone: to regard or treat (something bad or blameworthy) as acceptable, forgivable, or harmless.

via konagod

For Jade Goody

by: Debra

I was playing Sudoku on the ole iTouch and this song came on and as I listened to the lyrics, I literally started to have palpitations which made it impossible to beat my best time.  As anybody who knows me will tell you, I despise reality television.  But if one thing she did in her last few months of life benefits her children, she has done as much as a mother could, or should to provide for her chidlren.  Rest in peace, may I give it as good as an effort when my back is against the last wall. I may not cry for yesterday but I will did cry for the tomorrows you will have missed.

No matter how bad one may think that their life sucks, someone else's life always sucks worse.  My heart goes out to her family and especially to her children.  Lindsay, Britney and Paris should get down on their hands and knees and thank the Universe every morning  that Thanatos has overlooked their worthless cabooses one more time and took Natalie Richardson and Jade Goody instead.

If only Blackdog knew how much he was really going to be missed.  If only he knew.


Corrected Ms. Goody's name, no more typing while crying.

· ·
23 March 2009

Ron Paul: Believer in small government predicts 15-year depression

by: Jersey Cynic

From the Financial Times:

“The US government just won’t allow the correction the economy needs.” He cites the mini-depression of 1921, which lasted just a year largely because insolvent companies were allowed to fail. “No one remembers that one. They’ll remember this one, because it will last 15 years.”

At some stage – Mr Paul estimates it will be between one and four years – the dollar will implode. “The dollar as a reserve standard is done,” he says. He sees little hope for other currencies where central banks have also created too much liquidity dating right back to the early 1970s.

“Europe and the US will both have to fundamentally change their money systems,” he adds.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Paul has been viewed as a crank in Washington, dismissed as a doomsayer and a party-pooper. His bill early this year to abolish the Federal Reserve was largely ignored. And his adherence to the Austrian School of economics, which predicted that fiat currencies would destabilise the world economy, has won him few friends.

“People don’t like the Austrians because they are against big government, against armies and against the welfare state. To accept Austrian economics, you have to accept limitations of credit expansion and that is what has kept the government and financial firms in business for so long.”

I'm hoping The Dark Wraith will provide me with a few links to his articles about the Austrian School of Economics.
(If I remember correctly, Ludwig von Mises isn't one of his favorites)

The only thing I know about Austria is that the hills are alive with the sound of music!

truth really will set you free

by: astraea

Thanks for the article on The Shministim.

Kids intent on truth. Intent on heart. Thou shall not kill.

I've long been writing along the lines, circumambulating the dangers of religion-- which is identity statement-- trying to make itself material.

For today's stab-at-it, turn your browser to :

The truth really will set you free.

The Bible Unearthed, subtitled Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts[1] is a 2001 book about the archaeology of ancient Israel and its relationship to the origins of the Hebrew Bible. The authors are Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, and Neil Asher Silberman, a contributing editor to Archaeology Magazine.
Sure makes short work of the Naked archaeologist. Also note, Coldwater Media, who produce "programming with a distinct fundamentalist Christian perspective, particularly films attempting to debunk Darwinian evolution and promoting 'intelligent design(sic')," have invaded the History Channel.

And so the weekend's self-fulfilling prophecy that the Obama budget leads to Doomsday (thanks for covering this nonsense, AP!) sends me here to wonder aloud. How do we unplug such well endowed mental filters?

2,000 years of middlemen messing with one's birthrighted dialogue with the higher speculations (as in soul, guardian, philosophy, your-theory-here), and we're not free. It's--like everything else-- just gone high-tech corporate. All these leaders spouting scripture they can't even read. Translations made by such interested parties simply can't be trusted.

I've always felt that it can't go beyond a generation, the Pat Robertson-John Hagee empire. Beyond the certain bloody infighting, there will always be Bart Erhmans. Real scholars who actually seek "truth" -- a model that objectively examines all the evidence -- and understand what history actually is.

Of course, so much has been destroyed...
And now Gaza. So important in the ancient world. A crossroads. We have no idea what we've lost.

But keep searching the drainage ditches, holy texts overwritten, palimpsesting. Truth keeps turning up. Must be its nature.

Is Anybody Out There?

by: Foiled Goil


Is Anybody Listening? The Real Faces Of The Economic Crisis

Nicole Belle, C and L:
When AIG attempted to rationalize the bonuses given as the only way for them to retain "the best and the brightest" in the workforce, it was all I could do not to lose my lunch. Those guys--who drove the corporation into the ground are the best and the brightest? Mais non.

Meet the real best and the brightest: Michael Steinman's Advanced Placement English class at Village Academy High School in Pomona, California. These are the real faces of how this economic crisis has hit America.

Steinman led his students in a discussion of the American Dream following the novel The Great Gatsby. Steinman discovered that his students' idea of the American Dream was far more utilitarian than the acquisitive Buchanans or Jay Gatsby: a refrigerator with food inside; no fear of homelessness; employment for their parents. When he discovered that every student in his class was touched deeply by the economic crisis, he encouraged them to put their stories on video. The video, entitled "Is Anybody Listening?", was sent to then presidential candidates Obama and McCain as well as uploaded to YouTube. In the video, students talk about how economic realities have infringed on their hopes and aspirations for the future. [...]

The student video, as well as the coverage both on Newshour above and ABC's 20/20 last night are heartbreaking and put real faces (as I've tried to do on this post as well) as to who exactly are the victims of the de-regulated marketplace, where hedge fund managers and CDS traders still feel they're entitled to seven figure bonuses despite the bailout. This should once and for all quell the attempts to minimize the importance of those bonuses. It's not about the percentage of the overall bailout that's that these people's actions have taken food out of these children's mouths and roofs from over their heads.

"Is Anybody Listening?"

A testament by Village Academy High School students on the economic crisis

· · ·
22 March 2009

The Shministim

by: Dark Wraith

These kids are being imprisoned, harassed, and otherwise brutalized for opposing the political-military policies of their country, the State of Israel. They choose not to serve in the army of their nation. Listen to their story.

You can read more about these Israeli conscientious objectors in Ed Asner's article, "The Shministim," at The Huffington Post.

If you support them, if you feel in your heart that they are right and that their treatment at the hands of the Israeli government is wrong, go to their Website,, and sign the letter addressed to the Israeli Defense Minister.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, chose as his White House Chief of Staff a Zionist of "good Irgun stock" who holds dual United States/Israel citizenship: Rahm Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli Defense Forces base to serve during the Persian Gulf War, yet he found no time or obligation to volunteer service in the armed forces of the United States of America, the nation that has so richly elevated him to the halls of Congress and now to the inner sanctum of the White House despite his deep ties to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a wing of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The kids you saw in that video have no power other than that of their own free will and the voices of those who would be outraged by their treatment.

President Obama has chosen Rahm Emanuel, Dennis Ross, Richard Holbrook, Hillary Clinton, Tony Lake, Susan Rice, and other supporters of a bellicose State of Israel to stand with him. Now, you may choose with whom you choose to stand. Do not make the mistake of believing that you can have it both ways.

The Shministim have not.

· · · ·

Four Years And Eleven Days Ago

by: Debra

I wrote my first post and here it is.
My first blog. Prior to this moment I have ventured into the online literary world twice. These were very brief posts on Dkos after the recent "National" election.

My interests are varied, but I have a few favorites that occupy a good percentage of my thinking time. Depending on my mood I can focus on politics (the stuff that gets glossed over on the national infotainment that describes itself as news), things that fall into the geek category (science, electronics, etc.), cooking/nutrition (from recipes to the latest health news) and anything else that strikes my fancy.

I am an Acupuncturist by trade, a borderline geek by nature and a home cook by intention. Almost any problem can be solved or defused by food. Whether you are hunting/gathering (shopping), prepping, cooking , presenting, eating or digesting, your mind should be focused on what you are doing. The above activities can be creative and relaxing with the reward being you get to eat the results. Digesting usually makes most people calm and sleepy. Thanksgiving springs to mind. National eating holiday.

People usually know how to drink water, come in out of the rain, find sexual companionship, but cooking intimidates the most adventurous person. As Lao Tzu is reported to have said, "The journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step". So I just might write about the wonders of the dark leafy greens that Americans avoid with such creativity while embracing the statins and colonoscopy in their stead.

I had hoped there would be more Wil Wheaton on CSI last night. Oh well, there are two other CSI's. The way they have been recycling plot twists, he could easily get a better gig. Maybe one where we can see his face. They used a fingernail clipping as the key piece of evidence on LV and NY in the same week! He's better than a clipping. Maybe he could have a recurring role?
A few days later I wrote this one.

People are looking outside California for places to live. Number one reason is a better quality of life. Not for their kids, but for themselves. They want houses they can place a king size bed and furniture in the same bedroom. They don't want to look into their neighbors kitchen, living room or backyard. They really don't want their neighbors to have the ability to do it either. They want to be able to afford something else besides their house. Traffic, taxes, politics, watching what they work for count for nothing.

In the last week two different households decided to check out our neighbor to the immediate north. For right now that means Oregon, but both of them are capable of relocating outside the US. A woman who shares my birthday is moving to Arizona, she bought over the w/e and is now checking into her pension plan, plans to be gone in a year. As soon as her new house is completed. Arizona? I would rather go somewhere a little more green.

My only hope to get out of this state is to accidentally get roped into marriage or have there be national recognition of the CA Acupuncture license and I can move to another state. Zip, zilch, nada, a snowball's chance in the nether regions springs to mind for both those options. Since I no longer take insurance, staying here isn't required. Just a compatible scope of practice.

Someplace green with old trees and very little traffic would be great. A really good grocery store would rock. Of course, it is a little difficult to make money when you are isolated. Hmmm, will have to think on that.
Well, I didn't get roped and there isn't national recognition of the CA Acupuncture license but I'm finally moving.  And with the most exquisite timing in the world, a reader named G. who reads me via the Feedburner Flare (thank you!) sent me this encouraging message.
Regarding your acupuncture license being good only in California - Reno is right on the border of California and Nevada, so you should be able to work in California while living in Nevada.  You should be able to find people interested in your services around Lake Tahoe.  I think you should give it a try!  I wish you all the luck in your journey.
Thank you so much for your wishes and for your fresh idea.  I like it except for a couple of things.  One, I would probably still have to pay CA taxes while receiving only the benefit of not having wasted the last fourteen years, which now that I've written it sounds pretty stupid and two, I would need special dispensation from the Board while I try and get all the CEU's I'm behind on and aren't in the budget.  I will check on that tomorrow.  I haven't been able to leave mom alone but the complex we are supposedly moving to has quite a few senior citizens and maybe I'll be able to find someone to watch her while I'm gone all day.  However you look at it, it's an idea worth trying.  Once again, thank you.

It wasn't until August that the blogging fire really took hold.  I was picking up speed, having finally recovered from the previous election disappointments and then there was Katrina.  From before the storm hit to the inhumane treatment during and after, I went on a tear.  I ranted and railed about how it wasn't all incompetence, that it was deliberate and time marched on while the victims were forgotten.

The rest of the year was occupied by Harriet Miers, various blog redesigns, plenty of jokes, posts about the troops getting screwed, the most popular post I ever wrote, how the Democrats couldn't roll over and play dead any more than they already were, and ended the year with the attempted bullying of John Ashcroft by Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales.

It's sad seeing how much I've changed and the world hasn't.  I don't do as many jokes or find as many feel good stories and while evil still rules it no longer looks like a certain ex VP (I love how they use his trademark snarl to show contempt and arrogance on Lie To Me). The little people still pay the price and get blamed for it not only being so high but that without any outside positive changes in their lives they still haven't achieved the American Dream that is shown nonstop on television so it's really their fault and they aren't worthy of any help. Government is still clueless as to what the taxpayers really need and some Republicans are willing to punish their constituents for a future principle (running for national office) while those same constituents and their children are suffering right this moment.

For the last six months my personal drama has ruled my life and my posting, hopefully I'm making a change for the better.  Like a good Netflix queue, I hope that the drama becomes an adventure comedy and I can return to my original goals.  A mixture of politics, humor, cooking, science, space, and whatever else tickles my fancy at the moment.

21 March 2009

Environmental Impact of Livestock Production

by: Anna Van Z

Animal-based Agriculture and the Environment
Betcha thought I forgot, eh? I didn't, I had an animal emergency, and it ended up taking hours. Everything is okay now, though.

From BiteGlobalWarming.Org:

Did you know...
*Raising animals for meat, dairy and eggs produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

*The rainforest is being cleared to produce animal feed, while feed cropland and animal waste dump more pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined.

*Meat-based diets require 10-20 times as much land as plant-based diets and nearly half of the world's grains & soybeans are fed to animals.

Meat Consumption & Global Warming
Most of us blame automotive and industrial emissions for global warming, and rightly so. But animal agriculture is an even bigger culprit. Livestock farming contributes carbon dioxide from burning forest land to create animal pastures and from combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, factory farms, transport vehicles, and slaughterhouses. It releases methane from the digestive tracts of cattle and nitrous oxide from animal waste cesspools.

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent -- 18 percent -- than all transport combined. Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information & Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” Rest of article.

More info and resources here.

UN Report here.

Saturday Funnies

by: Debra


There is a new study about women and how they feel about their asses, the results were pretty interesting:

30% of women think their ass is too fat..

10% of women think their ass is too skinny......

The remaining 60% say they don't care, they love him, he's a good man, and they wouldn't trade him for the world.

My friend had been bugging me for weeks to listen to this video. I finally got around to it. Should have done it earlier because it was a great laugh.

The End Of The Saga, I Hope

by: Debra

As most of you know, mom and I have been having an extremely hard time for the last six months.  It has been an ugly roller coaster ride with enough thrills and chills to weaken the knees of the strongest of people.  To this day I still have no idea why my landlord decided that mom and I didn't deserve to live in this dump of a park but child molesters, meth addicts and prostitutes do.  I have made myself ill trying to figure it out and finally came to the conclusion that I just don't care anymore.

We're supposed to be out on the 29th of March but the downstairs apartment that I found in Reno we won't be able to afford (first, security, pet deposit) and it won't be ready until May 1st so my current landlord will just have to wait until the lease is legally up.  Or he can go through the process of taking me to court, whichever makes him feel like more of a man.  I'm betting that he starts the court process, which is his right, but he's going to look pretty stupid after he has to acknowledge that the only reason I owe him any money is because he refused to take it three separate times, then changed his mind and hit me with three separate pay or quit notices.  Which I paid.  Then he hits me with 30 day notices.  I don't know what he thought I was going to do, pay double rent during the same month and leave quietly?

I'm taking a chance with one of the places that I found on Craigslist.  The owner and I have the same name, are only a few months apart in age and she has this idea that the economy sucks and that most people's credit reports don't look very good so she isn't checking them.  I told her my credit was bad, that my manager would give me a good recommendation and that the dogs are well behaved.  They don't normally have pets in the complex but she will allow them for us.  Thank goodness.

Hopefully between my nephew's pickup, my car that needs the $1K tuneup (platinum spark plugs and you have to take half the engine off to get to where they're located but an oil change is only $30) and my friend's Tahoe, we should be able to get everything important from point A to point B.

Both mom and the dogs are going to be pretty disoriented by the move, this is to be expected.  Elderly people with dementia don't adapt as readily to big changes and the dogs are going to be in a completely different environment.  Me?  I just have to worry about the logistics (electricity, tv for mom, etc.), the budget and finding a job when I get there.  Fortunately the complex seems to have a few elderly people, maybe mom can make a few friends and I'll be able to find a job that will allow me to support myself after she's gone so that I won't have to face this load of trouble again.

Nevada doesn't recognize my acupuncture license from California so there's five years of school and $100K down the drain.  Sometimes the only reason I think I have the degree is so I can help my mom and advocate for my friends when they're in the hospital and answer all the medical questions on Jeopardy.  Oh well, I have other skills that are just as useless, it's time to develop some new ones.

After the loss of Blackdog a few weeks ago I did some hard thinking that was reinforced by the recent unfortunate passing of Natasha Richardson.  My life isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but at least my eyes are open, I still experience a sense of wonder at new experiences and there is hope on the horizon.  What more could anyone ask for?

Other than for my current landlord to chill out, for mom to be able to handle the move in good health, that I accidentally find a chunk of money to help with the move and for nothing else to go wrong.

Thanks for sticking by me, hopefully I can get back to what really makes me happy; making caustic observations about the media, politics and whatever else interests me at that moment.

20 March 2009

Happy Spring!

by: Anna Van Z

Woo-hoo! It's here! Well, officially, anyway...doesn't mean the weather is gonna cooperate! March 20 is also the 25th annual Great American Meatout. Today, consider giving yourself and the planet a tremendous gift. Consider changing the way you eat. No one is saying you must do it, or should do it overnight, but simply consider exploring and experimenting with different recipes, cuisines, cooking methods, and ways of buying food that will help save the planet, and other sentient beings a world of misery.
Most of the progressive people I run into in places other than Asheville are not vegetarian or vegan. If I share information on livestock production, they say things like: "Well, I only eat meat from local/organic farms." Or, "I'm an omnivore and I need to eat meat." I'm going to address these issues, starting with the second statement.
First of all, humans are not inherently omnivorous. We have become so out of habit and earlier on, for sheer survival. In days past, there were few options in many regions where humans had settled. In modern times, western cultures consume record amounts of meat - amounts that would have astounded my farming ancestors. Because of technology that enables everything from transportation, refrigeration, and factory farms, to the enormous government subsidizing of the livestock industry and assembly line mass slaughtering operations, meat consumption is off the charts.
Look around you. Do you see a healthy, thriving society? Or do you see a overweight and unhealthy culture, one crippled by epidemic rates of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, digestive diseases, auto-immune disorders, and a number of problematic disorders that can't be explained? While many would acknowledge these issues, few want to look at if it's really "natural" for us to be eating flesh foods at all.
Lets start with the mouth and go from there. Humans have the teeth of herbivores, not carnivores. Flat edges teeth and molars for grinding plants, nuts, and grains; not sharp like a carnivore's for tearing through flesh. No, those two vaguely pointed teeth are not canine teeth - humanoids have not had true canine teeth for almost two million years. Humans also have the saliva typical of herbivore species, as well as stomach acids that are 20 times weaker than that of carnivores. We also have the the long, convoluted, intestinal tract of herbivores. Carnivores have short, wide intestines designed for processing and passing decaying flesh quickly. If you observes our closest primate relatives in the wild, you will note that they are herbivores, like gorillas and apes. Chimpanzees are typically about 98% vegetarian.
We also have no nutritional need for animal proteins. Our bodies are able to extract any needed essential amino acids from various plant-based sources. These do NOT have to be "combined", or eaten together for your body to utilize them. If you are eating an optimum amount of calories daily, from a normal variety of plant-based foods (ie, not 1800 calories of potato chips), then there is no way you will be short of protein. That doesn't mean you're confined to plates of rice and beans! There's a whole world of delicious cuisines and recipes without meat out there, and every standard favorite has a veg analog. I eat burgers, hotdogs, sloppy joes, chile, "chicken" nuggets, etc. They just aren't made from decaying carcasses. If you haven't tried these products, or tried them lately, you're in for a pleasant surprise. They have come a LONG way since I made the switch many years ago.
Actually, I didn't originally go veg because of health. I did because I learned about what happens to the animals destined to be dinner, in life and in death - the hideous reality that the livestock industry works 24/7 to make sure you never find out. And that process started after I saw a working slaughterhouse floor in action. Those horrific images and agonized screams of pain and terror will be etched in my brain forever. It was Auschwitz for animals. After I stopped crying, there was no question in my mind that I was NOT going to be a participant in this transaction ever again. And that was that. I never wavered, never even missed it. I still don't, and it's been almost 20 years.
Even if you think you "only eat meat from local/organic/humanely raised livestock" (whatever the fuck that means), the fact is that you don't really know how these animals are treated, how they live, and how they die. They still die, terrified and in pain. Getting killed hurts. There is no legal standard of care for farm animals, and they are all EXEMPT from animal cruelty laws. Even though they feel what you and I feel, and what your dog and cat feel, they are legally treated as objects. If someone treated a pet the way most livestock is treated, they'd be arrested - and the public would (rightly) be outraged.
The following is from a recent article in Alternet. The article wasn't even about animal cruelty, this was mentioned almost incidentally, in discussing a "processing" plant in the south. And please, if you think this isn't widespread, you're kidding yourself:

PETA says its investigator witnessed workers "ripping birds' beaks off, spray painting their faces, twisting their heads off, spitting tobacco into their mouths and eyes, and breaking them in half -- all while the birds are still alive." In one shot, workers jump on live chickens with their entire body weight, sending blood and innards splashing on the lens of the hidden camera.
Mostly, the workers appear to have been acting either out of sheer boredom with their jobs or out of anger with management, sometimes for making them work too many hours. One sequence filmed on 6 April this year [2004], shows workers amusing themselves by throwing 114 birds against a wall, their stunned bodies collecting beneath it. At one point, a supervisor walks past and shouts "Hold your fire" so he can safely pass. Once out of the way, he tells the workers to "carry on."

For more information on how animals are treated in the livestock industry, check out "Meet your Meat", from If I didn't totally scare you away, come back tomorrow for Part 2, where the environmental impact of animal-based agriculture will be discussed.

I'd like to wrap this up with the following. It's a story about William Penn, related by Cheri Huber, a Buddhist teacher.

William Penn converted to Quakerism as a grown man. In those days, the fashion was for gentlemen to wear a sword, and after awhile Penn began to feel uncomfortable about being a Quaker, a member of a completely non-violent religion, and at the same time wearing a sword, an instrument of violence. He went to a friend who had assisted in his conversion. What should he do about his sword? he asked. The answer was this: "WEAR IT AS LONG AS YOU CAN."

Tea Bag Fail

by: Foiled Goil

The Hilarious Hypocrisy of the GOP's So-Called 'Tea Bag Revolution'

Bob Cesca, Huffington Post:

Their gimmick to protest the bailout is hilarious because GOP tax policies are more in line with King George than colonial patriots.
As the sign demonstrates, the funniest and most contradictory aspect of the recent far-right revolution is, hands down, the tea bag thing. But it's not just about the double entendre aspect of "tea bagging." A lot of it has to do with the idea that far-right conservatives are emulating the Boston Tea Party.

- - - - -

And unless I'm mistaken, the basic idea of the tea bag revolution is to protest against government bailouts and in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans. Ultimately, the tea baggers (can I call them that?) appear to be against allowing the Bush's tax cuts to expire. Strangely, they also appear to be against President Obama signing into law the largest middle class tax cut in history. They're also against helping middle and working class "losers" keep their homes. (By the way, your neighbor's mortgage is your problem. Just watch your property values plummet as soon as there's just one foreclosure on your block.)

This series of Obama policies, they say, portends tyranny in America. Of course none of the policies of the Bush administration were considered tyrannical by many of the current tea bag leaders. You know the list of Bush trespasses. The illegal searches and seizures, the illegal electronic eavesdropping and torturing. The suspension of habeas corpus, the record deficits, the doubling of the national debt and so on. None of that was tyrannical. But allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent to expire is absolutely the vanguard of totalitarianism.

- - - - -

To sum up: higher '90s-era tax rates for the wealthy and corporations? Tyrannical. Tax cuts for the middle class? Also tyrannical. Therefore, emulate the Boston Tea Party as a means of underscoring these positions.

Here's the problem.

The Boston Tea Party was ultimately precipitated by a massive corporate tax cut.

In 1773, the only major multinational corporation at the time, the British East India Company, was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. According to that obviously liberal organization, the Boston Tea Party Historical Society, one solution was to bail out the corporation by offering it a government loan. But instead, at the urging of the East India Company's powerful lobbyists and supported by King George III, Parliament passed the Tea Act which almost entirely eliminated the duty -- the tax -- on British tea exported by the East India Company to the American colonies. How do we know this? Well, the actual subtitle of the Tea Act, for one:
An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

The rationale was that lower taxes meant lower prices, which meant the East India Company would sell a lot more tea. Your basic free market precursor to Reaganomics and supply-side economics in action. In other words, the British government's solution to the East India Company's financial crisis was, in effect, a tax cut. A big one. Exactly the same economic solution that's been pushed by congressional Republicans and the tea bag revolutionaries 236 years later.

The tax cut was viewed by colonial patriots as another example of British tyranny against smaller merchants whose business would be severely undercut. Consequently, political activists and, most famously, the Sons of Liberty, organized a boycott against the East India Company's tea. And later that year, when the Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor were docked in Boston harbor, the Sons carried out their famous protest.

So. Whoops.

- - - - -

So in keeping with a long, embarrassing history of ill-conceived, contradictory or just plain self-defeating marketing ploys, the tea baggers seem to have adopted a concept that completely and utterly contradicts what they claim to stand for. Don't misunderstand me, though, they absolutely have a right to protest or do whatever the hell they want. They also have a right to be ridiculously and hilariously inconsistent. In a strange way, consider this column as helpful advice to the tea baggers. Perhaps it's time to quietly abandon the whole tea bag thing.

Unfortunately, I doubt they'll listen. Last week, with crocodile tears streaming down his punch-me face, Glenn Beck urged his viewers to: "Believe in something -- even if it's wrong. Believe in it!" Looks like they're way ahead of you, Glenn, you crazy bastard you.

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19 March 2009

Bailing Out The Failing

by: Foiled Goil

The Real AIG Scandal

It's not the bonuses. It's that AIG's counterparties are getting paid back in full.

Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG's bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG's counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?

For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman's collapse, they feared a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG's inability to pay the counterparties to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG's trading partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already.

It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure.

Moral Decay Swirls Around Banking Bailout: Time for a Criminal Investigation
Those who stole billions in 401(k)s of innocent victims were rewarded handsomely, rarely needing to break the laws their lobbyists purchased.

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York's top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks.

I'm not just referring to the swindlers in the Financial Products Subsidiary of AIG who devised and sold those insurance policies on derivatives that brought the world economy to its knees. They do seem deserving of a special place in hell, and presumably the same divine power that according to Scripture labeled usury a high moral crime and threw the money-changers out of the temple will consider that outcome.

However, the enablers are the AIG leaders who, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed Tuesday, signed those bonus contracts a year ago to reward the very people "principally responsible for the firm's meltdown." That's a cool $44 million divided among the top 10 shysters, even though the depth of their chicanery was well known to top management.

As Cuomo noted in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank: "The contracts shockingly contain a provision that required most individuals' bonuses to be 100% of their 2007 bonuses. Thus, in the spring of last year, AIG chose to lock in bonuses for 2008 at 2007 levels despite obvious signs that 2008 performance would be disastrous in comparison to the year before."

The lame argument that those bonus-baby employees needed to be retained in order to sort out the mess they had created was also shot down by Cuomo, who revealed after his office's initial investigation had pierced AIG's veil of secrecy that "[e]leven of the individuals who received 'retention' bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million."

But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery.

Geithner Says He Pushed for Bonus Loophole
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told CNN his department asked Sen. Chris Dodd to include a loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out insurance giant AIG to keep its bonuses.

Geithner said he takes full responsibility for the situation.

Meanwhile, CQ Politics notes the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would tax bonuses at 90% at companies receiving bailout funds. Despite initial criticism from Republican leaders, 85 Republicans voted for the bill while 87 voted no. Numerous GOP members changed their votes from "no" to "yes" as the roll call proceeded.

CNN's reporting vs. CNN's transcript
The key point here is that while Geithner does confirm that Treasury spoke to Dodd's office and expressed concern about whether the clause would hold up to legal challenge, when Velshi asked him specifically whether Treasury instructed Dodd to do something that resulted in the AIG bonuses, Geithner said no.

Now perhaps there's more to the story than what Geithner is saying. But he didn't say what CNN reported he said.

And that means CNN's transcript is at odds with CNN's reporting.

Goldman Sachs, Welfare Queen

Wall Street's most storied firm is surviving on taxpayer dollars.
People sometimes refer to the firm as Government Sachs because so many of its former employees wind up in high positions in Washington (Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson, etc.). But the sobriquet sticks today because the company is heavily reliant on the government for support. Tally up the various forms of direct and indirect taxpayer assistance Goldman has received in the last several months, and it turns out that you and I are providing billions of dollars to bail out the proud firm. The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the financial services sector has become one of New York's biggest welfare queens. [...]

But wait—there's more! Last fall, concerned that financial firms could raise funds only by issuing expensive debt to the likes of Buffett, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. established a program to guarantee new unsecured debt sold by banks. Many banks felt they didn't need to participate. (Here's a list of those that have opted out.) [...]

And there's still more! A good chunk of the money taxpayers gave to AIG as part of the bailout found its way to financial institutions—including Goldman Sachs. Here's the full list of AIG counterparties, which documents payments made by different entities.

Edward Liddy is the GOP Hypocrite of the Week for killing bonuses at Allstate but not at AIG
Boy, when it comes to the Wall Street Bailout/AIG scandal, just point a finger and find a hypocrite. What about all the Republican senators who were opposed to restricting bonuses and now are outraged -- we tell you -- just outraged! [...]

But the hypocrisy for Liddy, as we pointed out in a BuzzFlash Editor's Blog on March 19 is that he knew he could hold the AIG execs who helped destroy our financial system accountable -- and deny their bonuses -- without legal repercussions because he did it at Allstate, according to the Chicago Tribune.
...The agents sued. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued -- twice. Liddy fought those lawsuits, and Allstate has won at every stage.

And none of the Allstate agents helped crater an economy by selling snake oil default swops and derivatives beyond what AIG could cover so that it would increase their bonuses. If a prosecutor can't bring these cases to court, we have a big problem in the Department of Justice.

House Passes Legislation to Return Excessive Bonuses to Taxpayers
March 19th, 2009 -- Bonus Recoupment

As a result of extraordinary abuses of the public trust by companies rewarding employees with excessive compensation while receiving billions in taxpayer assistance, today the House passed legislation (HR 1586) to hold companies, including American International Group (AIG), accountable for the bonuses that were paid to their executives. After receiving more than $170 billion in taxpayer funds, AIG paid $165 million in retention payments to executives – most of whom have mismanaged their company into near bankruptcy. The top recipient received more than $6.4 million and more than 73 of these executives were paid over $1 million in retention bonuses. After receiving their retention bonuses, at least eleven recipients left the company.

Some Rescued Companies Owe US Taxes: Lawmaker
Washington - Some top recipients of U.S. bailout money owe the federal government more than $220 million in unpaid taxes, a U.S. lawmaker said on Thursday.

Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia who heads the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, said 13 bailed-out companies owe the federal government taxes. Two of them owe more than $100 million each.

Lewis said the firms, which he did not name, signed statements at the time of receiving federal aid stating that they owed no federal taxes.

"It is a disgrace. The American people are fed up ... and they're not going to take it anymore," Lewis told a hearing to examine the oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Lewis said it raised further questions about the $700 billion program. "Are they signing contracts knowing that they owe taxes by thinking they will not get caught?" he asked.

Lewis' subcommittee looked at the top 23 TARP recipients and found that more than half owe unpaid federal income taxes. One unidentified company owed $112.75 million in unpaid taxes from 2006 and 2005, according to the subcommittee's research. Another company that received government funds owed $101.8 million dating back to before 2004.

· · ·
18 March 2009

In Order To Form A More Perfect Union

by: Foiled Goil

We Are Entering a New Political Era, and We Need an Educated Public to Deal with It

The era of hearing that government is evil, that a "hands-off" government gives us freedom is over. Now it's time to think about the public good.

Doug Kreeger, AlterNet:
For thirty years, the ideologues in power convinced the very people who need a strong and competent government to protect them that government was evil. This ideal ultimately gave power to group who relentlessly worked against these people.

A generation of Americans has grown up hearing messages that government is evil, that a “hands-off” government gives them freedom. Meanwhile, the government was really taking away those freedoms. We no longer had a government that protected us from the abuses of powerful corporations that were willing to foul our air and water while creating a financial system that placed greed over economic well-being. Over the last thirty years, our national education policy has been more concerned with producing ideologues than creating scientists and critical thinkers. This “cultural” entity tried to turn schools into factories for reciting information for tests that were based on religious dogma and conservative ideology. The best and the brightest in the conservative movement were shuttled through colleges like Regent University (whose tagline is “Christian Leadership to Change the World”) to find their way into positions of influence in the Judicial Department, the EPA and the White House.
. . . . .

This crisis will only get better if we are willing to accept personal responsibility for helping to fix what is broken and make sacrifices for those in greater need then ourselves. It is not about an ideology based on believing in magic, but a real understanding of what hard work and dedication to serving each other means for a society to prosper. It is E Pluribus Unum.

As we face the challenges of Reconstruction 2009 we need to make sure we think as broadly as we can. While taking into account our short-term needs, we need to have a vision as to the legacy we are creating for our children and grandchildren. We need to re-educate a generation of people who truly believed that government was our enemy as opposed to an institution that exists for the common good. We need to overcome fear and distrust and replace it with caring and compassion. We are one nation and one world and are all connected to a common ancestor that needs to share a belief that what is good for one, should be good for all.

Barney Fife and the Preamble to the Constitution:

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chapter 3

by: astraea

chapter 3 fairly mainstream, have a listen. eric, btw, is a hobbit. a blog about him:

killed a lot of ants.

A good time to share his full list of sins from his First Holy Confession, which -- by some small serendipity (honest!) -- I found cleaning out a shelf of teapots. (I don't go in for collecting things much, except for teapots. And things the kid's write and draw.) The list, verbatim:

1)Punch my sister.
2)lie about brushing my teeth.
3)want a nintendo*
4)say bad words
cool bad names
10)say I hate mysister.
11)tatle tale.
12)kill ALot of ants.
13)break a lamp
14)break a cup
15)yell a bad name
17)kick Ariel
1 cool blank

(Hey, he gave it his damnedest, dinne?)

That no. 3, --*want a nintendo--, really gets me. What a puritan I was, poor thing. He did get the thing, btw. I made him save up credits by reading books to buy it. Forgive me, Santa.

And here's the blog:

I remember my kids in first grade, Catholic school, being asked to write a prayer, which was graded. Odd, it seemed, a teacher judging such an intimate thing between creator and created. And, yes, that cause and effect relationship my italicised words imply simply reflects the limits of human understanding. Time and space, requirements for action, after all, are properties of matter, and thinking about that will ultimately cross your eyes. So to grade the approaches of the humble mortal, most especially a small mortal, to the question of What Beats Our Heart seems impious to me. I would cut out the middlemen in the equation entirely, but that's just a general hands on tendency here. As Jung said (all things being equal ultimately, that 1st Law of Thermodynamics), any interaction changes all parties involved, transforms all the players.

At the same school, my oldest son made his first Communion, which also requires first Confession, a spotless white soul. He had to write it all out, his sins, with hesitant yet firm pencil on brown, blue-lined paper. And being a mother, I kept it. (Hell, I have their umbilical cord stumps. Some distant day, they might be cloned.) His first sin was saying bad words. Second, being mean to his sister. Third -- best of all, yet troubling -- was killed alotta ants.

I suppose my reaction tells me more about me than him... and maybe that's the whole reason for these exchanges, on all sides... the ritual, the robes, the bread, the wine...

17 March 2009

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

by: Foiled Goil

A little Blarney from HuffPo:
Leprechauns are mythological creatures inhabiting the island of Ireland, faerie folk, and dicks.

According to lore, the leprechaun is often a cobbler who is prone to mischief and keeps a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow.

While American folk storytellers created, for example, the myths of Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Ronald Reagan, the Irish take pride in tales of midget shoemakers who bury gold in a location that can be spotted by anyone with the ability to look up.

It is unclear why leprechauns won't give us their gold, but they appear to be holding out on us simply because they are a bunch of dicks. [...]


No historical evidence exists as to the exact origin of the beef leprechauns seem to have with we non-fairies, it's fair to say that if you were a small-statured, colorfully dressed gentleman with satchels of gold, you would probably subjected to a significant amount of harassment in a country notorious for public intoxication.

In Ireland, the leprechaun is well known for tricking poor countryfolk into thinking they are going to be rich, only to have them later discover they were exploited for the amusement of the leprechaun and his friends. In America, this creature is known as VH1.

Questionable financial practices

For hundreds of years, leprechauns have been engaging in financial practices that are suspicious and ill-advised at best. For example, is a well-known fact that leprechauns keep their savings in giant crock pots, which, even in theory, is highly risky.

The circumstances have yet to be explained concerning how and where leprechauns came into possession of the gold coins they stockpile across the countryside—especially on a shoemaker's salary—though observers might speculate involvement of some sort of organized crime syndicate, horserace fixing scandal, or other criminal enterprise wherein the presence of a bunch of very short people would not seem out of the ordinary.

It also remains unclear as to why there is such ignorance amongst the leprechaun community about the existence of banks.

These practices of collecting gold and then hiding it in pots are particularly despicable in light of the current worldwide economic struggles. With the stock markets in such flux, the modern leprechaun insistence upon hoarding capital—even in a volatile market—is just the kind of fiscal isolationism that prevents market stimulation and, therefore, should be considered selfish and unpatriotic.

Kiss me, I'm Irish!

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load.
May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road.
And may all your friends remember
All the favors you are owed!

· · ·

Dear Chairman Towns

by: Foiled Goil

Kucinich Requests Investigation Into 'Executive Assassination Ring'

March 13, 2009

The Honorable Edolphus Towns
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Towns:

As you may already be aware, recent media reports indicate that investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, while answering questions before a public audience at the University of Minnesota divulged information about what he calls an "executive assassination ring" operating under the George W. Bush Administration.

If substantiated, the allegation would have far reaching implications for the United States. Such an assertion from someone of Hersh's credibility that has a long and proven track record of dependability on these issues merits attention. Mr. Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation. However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth. As such, I request that the Full Committee immediately begin an investigation to determine the facts in this matter.

Mr. Hersh made the allegation before an audience at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. He stated, "Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving."

Mr. Hersh continued, "It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently," he explained. "They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office . . . Congress has no oversight of it."

If true, these operations violate longstanding U.S. policy regarding covert actions and illegally bypass Congressional oversight. Current statute governing covert action (50 U.S.C. 413b) requires a presidential finding and notification to the appropriate congressional committees. Additionally, Executive Order 12333 clearly states that "[n]o person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination."

I urge the Committee to explore Mr. Hersh's allegation. Please do not hesitate to call on me or my staff if we can be of assistance.


Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress

· · · ·
16 March 2009

From Stupidity To Eternity

by: Debra

O.K., I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in “The Real World,” but then I realized that, well, they don’t like plus-sized models.
Meghan McCain posts a well written response to Laura Ingraham's extremely stupid comment about Ms. McCain's imaginary weight problem instead of addressing the horror that is Ann Coulter and her infantile, terroristic and treasonous statements.

A size 8 or even a 10 is not considered large (Marilyn Monroe was a size 16 and was considered to be extremely sexy) unless you are standing next to Lara Flynn Boyle or one of the Olsen twins.  Thank goodness the camera adds 10 pounds.  And as usual, Ms. Ingraham completely misses the point that Rush Limbaugh would only be considered small if he was standing next to an aircraft carrier.  And he speaks even less sense than Ingraham but it could be that she's jealous because she wishes she was Laura Schlessinger (NSFW or around dinnertime) instead of Laura Ingraham.

The thought is so disturbing that I may never close my eyes again.  No wonder he's slightly more tolerant of gays than the rest of the party, but he's still a true Republican, you can tell because he disavows all knowledge. Especially of issues that he and his buddies created.

When I was in Army basic training they made us put on our gas masks and walk into a building filled with pepper spray.  We stayed inside and discussed the benefits of the masks then they made us take them off our and take a breath before we were allowed to find the door.  The point was made extremely well and we had one girl who was so pale that she missed being an albino by just a few shades and she ended up having to go to the medic.  Spraying it directly into the eyes is neither necessary nor or long term benefit.  What's next, personalized garroting training?

Oh yeah? I dare him to go on the Daily Show and say something as stupid as that.  Why is it so hard for these guys to understand that unless lots of people like me put money in the bank and it doesn't get spent on bonuses and parties for the people who created the financial crisis that the situation is not going to get better?  People need jobs and banks have credit that the taxpayers are financing, banks just don't feel the need to spread the wealth to anyone who doesn't already have it.

After all the political budget wrangling it turns out that there is another $8 billion unfunded.  One of the suggestions was a $50 tax on an ounce of marijuana.  Good luck with that.  Nobody is going to pay $50 on a $40 bag of so-so-stuff.  The last time I checked the "kind" was going for $60 to $80 depending on the distributor.  A $10 tax would be paid by almost everybody, much more than that and the black market will never shut down.  I notice they want to tax almost everything that is considered a "sin". Fortunately, I don't live in Florida where unemployment seems to have joined that list but instead of taxing they want to drug test you and make you pay for it in order to prove that you are employable.

Which is why I'm trying so hard to move to another state by the beginning of next month.  Almost 25,000 teachers and school workers could be laid off  in California by the beginning of the summer and that is before the new budget is due.  That'll help make us competitive in the world economy.  The third world.


· · · ·

That 'How Progressive Are You?' Quiz

by: Dark Wraith

The Center for American Progress has published an interactive quiz entitled "How Progressive Are You?" I found out about it from a post here at Big Brass Blog. The 40-question exam purports to determine how progressive a person is on a scale of zero to 400. After taking the test, you are told your score, and you are told that the average American scored 209.5 on the scale. Presumably, then, anyone hitting 210 or higher is more progressive than the average American.

I just finished taking the quiz, and I have a few uncharitable words to say about a couple of the instrument's presumptions and impertinent — indeed, fresh — questions. I should predicate this by suggesting that readers might want to survey some of my earlier writings wherein I set forth in no uncertain terms my political/social leanings: most recently, I wrote and published, "A Paleo-Conservative Message to Republicans"; prior to that, among many other articles are "An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly" and "Conservatism My Way, Blunt and Hard."

Let me get down to business. This "How Progressive Are You?" quiz annoyed me to more than a small extent; but in all fairness, most quizzes annoy me. That's why I am a college teacher: I write and administer quizzes; I do not take them. My personal history taking IQ tests, personality inventories, and assorted other instruments purporting to sort and classify me has been on the less than fruitful side. My first IQ test got me rated a "moron." Back in that time, "moron" was better than "imbecile," as I recall, but the designation still got me a one-way ticket to the class for stupid kids. I'm not talking future Republicans, here; these youngsters were destined for Sarah Palin's advisory council. The upside was that I had me a ticket to ride the short bus, but my mother intervened before I got the fun ride, and I was back in the "normal" class, where I could be miserable with the kids who were dumb only to the extent of mediocrity.

Thank God, I almost got out of high school before "gifted" classes started popping up in small-town American schools. Unfortunately, I got caught in the early experiments, and that's where I took my own initiative to extricate myself from a special program where the kids did "enrichment" nonsense while the teachers avoided like the Plague anything having to do with instruction in serious, fundamental principles of subject matter like English or math. As time would go on and I would learn about the political dynamics of education from family members who were teachers, I would come to find out that "gifted" classes are political footballs that often start with decent intentions but then get hijacked by the important, if incompetent, teachers and administrators of the school in alliance with the important, if useless, parents of the community who want their little precious darlings to be part of the feather-in-the-cap programs.

I quit high school at the end of my Junior year. That was one of the best decision I ever made.

But I digress, but just long enough to address my disdain for tests that try to assess and evaluate. As yet another aside, "assessment and evaluation" is the huge fad now, especially in higher education, where the whole No Child Left Behind rot is taking new root with a vengeance. Try to question this freight train of nonsense in a department or college-wide meeting, and watch how fast you get shut down by the activist faculty members exceeded in their teaching and discipline-specific incompetence only by that of the cadre of administrators who have latched onto this as their very reason for existence as inertial mass occupying office space in the nicest buildings on campus.

But, again, I digress.

It's time to hit a few of the specifics of this "How Progressive Are You?" test that really twisted my colon.

I knew trouble was brewing when I saw the questions about "free markets" and "free trade." Both the Right and the Left are tossing those terms around like toys about which they know nothing and about which they wish to know even less. Don't make me write a long-winded, pedagogic rant on basic principles of economics. No one wants to see the situation get that ugly. (And, yes, there would be a quiz after the lecture, by God.)

And what was that "traditional family values" thing in the "How Progressive Are You?" quiz? Why does every living soul on Earth let the crazy fundamentalists hijack words and terms without even so much as a fight?

Do I believe in "traditional family values"?

If, by "traditional family values," you mean I don't want kids whoring the streets and malls instead of staying at home and doing homework and housework, then call me a traditional family values kind of guy; and if, by "traditional family values," you mean I'm calling you a bad parent if you just throw up your hands, sit on your fat ass, and say, "Well, kids will hump each other, so I might as well just show the boys how to Saran-wrap their weiners and tell the girls to insist on the packaged product," then call me a traditional family values kind of guy.

If, by "traditional family values," you mean I want criminals like George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Dick Cheney, Jane Harman, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Mueller, Eric Holder, Robert Gates and a whole lot of other Acceptably Important Persons (AIPs) thrown in prison for a long, long time, then call me a traditional family values kind of guy.

If, by "traditional family values," you mean I want my religion for myself in my home and church, and I want your religion out of my face, then call me a traditional family values kind of guy. And that means I want you to get your politically correct science and your eternal life-promising healthcare and meds out of my face, too. (And don't ask me to pay for your membership dues at the Cult of Medicine: I don't tithe at the Church of Cthulhu, and your medical establishment's collection basket isn't nearly as cool in a pre-Gothic sort of way.)

If, by "traditional family values," you mean I want to work hard and earn a decent living and not support welfare queens at corporations who take tax breaks and bailouts, and not support welfare queens at municipalities that beg themselves silly for the latest prison to be built in their neck of the woods, then call me a traditional family values kind of guy. I'll support government efforts to help people who have hit the skids, especially if children are going hungry or needing stuff, and I'll support government efforts to throw serious money at long-term problems of inter-generational poverty arising from our history of racial and ethnic injustices; but tell me my tax dollars are going to some welfare queen corporation that axes workers, makes unsafe working conditions and dangerous products, or tell me that my tax dollars are going to some prison building program, and I'll tell you what real traditional family values are all about. I don't know about your family, but my family doesn't have any corporations, agencies, institutions, municipalities, states, mutual funds, or other non-human things in it.

Enough with the traditional family values theme.

Moving on with that "How Progressive Are You?" quiz, what was that question about whether or not I think unions are a good thing? Are they talking about what unions have become in the past couple of decades? Call me old fashioned, but I remember the days when unions went to strikes without much of a dance beforehand with the pretty boys in management. After Reagan and his cowering courts did the number on PATCO, it was like all the unions in this country folded up shop and became nothing but dues-collecting repositories for guys and gals who couldn't actually work for a living. Back in my day, union guys cracked heads: there wasn't a whole lot not to like about going knuckles-to-knuckles with company-hired head-bangers and their on-the-take cop supporters. Peaceful co-existence with profit maximizers is achieved only when the profit maximizers have a little pain on the cost side of the cost-benefit analysis of how far to screw the union people. These days, it isn't that way at all; so, no, I most certainly do not think unions are a "good" thing. Show me a few old-time guys from Cleveland and Chicago running the unions again, and show me the scars on their knuckles, and then maybe I'll tell you that unions have once again become a good thing.

Finally — and by no means have I given an exhaustive list of my beefs with the "How Progressive Are You?" quiz — let me put in a word for military readiness and force. The Bush Administration wrecked the former and gave the latter a really bad name. The quiz seems to imply that progressivism has something to do with using diplomacy, peaceful means, and international institutions as the exclusive solution set for any and all problems the world might have with some of its less-than-desirable leaders. I would agree that all kinds of means are available short of and as alternatives to the use of force on bad people running nations; however, that is not always the case.

Unfortunately, in the pantheon of monsters running nations, Saddam Hussein was way down on the list, and a whole lot of the claims of his purported misdeeds cannot be separated from years of propaganda pumped out by interests that wanted him gone and his country open for plunder. That means Saddam most decidedly should never have been on the "To Kill Today" schedule, and events subsequent to his ouster magnificently succeeded in showing why, exactly, "Iraq" existed as a stable, if rather artificial, nation only because its factions were permanently kept at bay by a brute-in-charge.

Sometimes, though, monsters do need to be dealt with, and that means killing them. No, that does not mean "talking" to them; no, that does not mean "giving them incentives" to behave like civilized human beings; and no, that does not mean "imposing international sanctions" upon them.

It means killing them.

When I see all the liberals holding hands and singing silly, sappy songs for the ungodly human suffering in Darfur, or when I see pathetic international aid attempts to feed countless starving kids in other parts of Africa, or when I see useless "diplomatic engagement" to somehow alleviate the utter misery suffered by the North Koreans laboring under the inter-generational whacko dynasty of the Kim Jong Il bloodline, I cannot help but determine that, sometimes, it is far better to either knock it off with the phony rhetoric about caring or just deal with the monsters once and for all.

I stipulate immediately, though, that killing them might not be easy: bad guys can be pretty darned slippery (notwithstanding the sheer stupidity of trying to off Castro with an exploding cigar); however, we seem to be darned good these days at wasting lots and lots of innocent bystanders with our drones, our fire-and-forget weapons, and our special ops jockeys, so what's the problem with using the assets in our inventory to slaughter some people who really need it instead of wasting our firepower only on people whose last words are, "Is it really safe to have a wedding party outside in this weather?"

And, of course, on the other hand we must conclude that some places are simply where God meant no civilized person to meddle. Afghanistan comes to mind. So do suburban areas of Alaska. Ditto for the south of France during the Cannes Film Festival.

Again, I digress.

How progressive are you? Take the quiz and find out not only how progressive you are, but also how annoyed you get when complex matters of your relationship to society, your sentiments about politics, and your philosophical underpinnings get packaged into a 40-question instrument that reduces you to a series of knee-jerk Right-Left talking points, buzz words, and over-simplifications.

Who knows? By the end you might be so annoyed that, whether or not you get labeled a progressive, you can tell for yourself that you are old, impatient, and downright curmudgeonly.

Just like me.

By the way, if you want to know what I scored, listen to my Internet radio talk show this coming Thursday night, March 19, 2009, at 10:30 p.m. EDT: it's called Dark Voices Radio, broadcast on BlogTalkRadio.

Enjoy your week, fellow progressives on a scale of zero to 400.

· ·
15 March 2009

Progressive Quiz

by: Foiled Goil

h/t to Meg White at BuzzFlash:

Interactive Quiz: How Progressive Are You?

Take the interactive poll below (based on the national survey featured in Halpin's report) to see how your own ideological leanings stack up against those of your fellow Americans.

Progressive Quiz

My results?

Your ideological score is:


This makes you extremely progressive.

The average score for Americans is 209.5.

Wow! I'm extremely progressive! Who woulda thunk it?


14 March 2009

When AIPAC Attacks

by: Anna Van Z

Yes, gawd forbid that anyone in government should dare criticize Israel! Please. Is there anyone left in DC that still has some balls and their own brain? The neocon wet dream of a fundy-zionist partnership that controls the entire Middle East in an orgy of perpetual warmaking is so done. Can someone in gov-corp kindly show enough backbone to voice what most of us believe anyway? That our interests and those of Israel's are NOT one and the same? And if I may be so bold as to put forth a slice of my own philosophy, I'll venture that our interests and Israel's are often at cross-purposes. (Eeek - there, I've said it! So, are they gonna set the moose-odd folks after me now?)

To wit: During the past couple of weeks the Israeli government was trying to convince the U.S. that Iran was an imminent threat, and "was at a critical point" in enriching weapons-grade uranium. That's not new either, but the U.S. intelligence community has since issued their own findings that there is nothing resembling an immediate threat of nuclear weapons being developed by Iran at this time. Yet Israel is always looking for any excuse to invade Iran, or bomb the shit out of it. Like the Bushevik neocons, they insist on maintaining the delusion that their unbridled aggression is somehow self-defense.

Why do we uncritically support the Israeli government, no questions asked? They spy on us continually, take handouts of our tax money, alienate the U.S. from many nations, and generally don't advance our public interests at all. If anything, the mindless, knee-jerk American support of Israel, no matter how vile their actions, makes us a target of choice. That, and our own country's abandonment of the Geneva Convention and any ethical, humane principles in general.

But I digress. Here's the latest appalling example of Israeli meddling in affairs in which they have no legitimate business:

From Alternet:
"Unprecedented" Attack by Israel Lobby Led to Chas Freeman's Downfall
By Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe, IPS News.

The resignation of Obama's pick for National Intelligence Council Chair is a blow to hopes for a new approach to Israel-Palestine issues.

WASHINGTON, Mar 10 (IPS) - Amb. Chas Freeman withdrew from consideration for a top intelligence post in the Obama administration on Tuesday, following a vitriolic battle that pitted Republican lawmakers and pro-Israel hardliners opposed to his appointment against liberals and members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities who had come to his defence.

Freeman’s withdrawal came as a surprise to many in Washington, particularly since it came only hours after Adm. Dennis Blair, the administration’s director of national intelligence (DNI) who made the appointment, issued a strong defence of Freeman during his testimony before the U.S. Senate.

His withdrawal is likely to be viewed as a significant victory for hardliners within the so-called "Israel lobby," who led the movement to scuttle his appointment, and a blow to hopes for a new approach to Israel-Palestine issues under the Obama administration. Rest of article.
13 March 2009

CALLING THE DARK WRAITH......From Online Asia Times: Wen puts US honor on the debt line

by: Jersey Cynic


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, faced with growing concern that United States efforts to stem the financial crisis will hit the value of China's vast holdings of US debt, used the world's press on Friday to demand that the US honor its promises.

Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of a two-week meeting of the country's legislators that he was "a little bit worried" about the safety of Chinese assets in the US, and called on the US "to maintain its good credit, to honor its promises and to guarantee the safety of China's assets." He also reiterated that other countries had no right to push China into appreciating its currency, the yuan.

.....Pauline Loong, senior vice president in charge of China policy and risk research at CIMB-GK Securities (HK) Ltd, said she did not think China would dump its dollar holdings .

"The fact that Premier Wen talks about being worried about the value of the country's dollar holdings is a good sign. If he is going to dump the dollar, he is not going to talk about it," she said.

So....just ask and ye shall receive?

Where do you think this is leading?

Is this just a "play nice before the shit storm hits" request from China?
12 March 2009

Hersh Allegations

by: Foiled Goil


Cheney headed assassination ring?
March 12: Newsweek’s Howard Fineman talks about allegations made by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that former Vice President Dick Cheney was in charge of a covert, executive assassination ring.

[ 7:44 ]

Impact of Cheney allegations on government
March 12: Author John Dean talks about what the CIA, Congress and Obama administration must do if the allegations by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that former Vice President Dick Cheney headed an assassination ring are true.

[ 4:56 ]

· · · ·

Everybody in. Nobody out. CALL TODAY.

by: Anna Van Z

The only workable healthcare reform is a single payer system. Namely, expanding Medicare to cover everyone. Not only could this be done without levying more taxes on the citizenry, studies indicate it would net 2.6 million jobs. Some insurance bigwigs might lose their jobs, and those multi-million dollar salaries; boo-hoo. But they could likely get a job with Medicare, at a government service wage. And so could the health insurance administrators, who currently get bonuses for denying coverage and rejecting claims.
The administration of Medicare costs about 2%, while the bloated, executive and lobby-heavy health insurance industry has administrative costs running about 33%. There is no comparison in cost efficiency, and Medicare is already in place. It also doesn't pay thousands of executives, lobbyists, and CEOs billions of dollars each year.
Single payer with Medicare would still allow people to get medical services at the providers of their choice. It would mostly work the way healthcare in the rest of the developed world works, and all of those countries have better health outcomes, better quality of life, lower infant mortality - and at a fraction of the bloated prices we pay. Of course, our prices are set by the health insurance industry and big pharma, whose price gouging and racketeering would earn its orchestrators prison time in most other countries.
The U.S. congress should hang its head in shame at what they've allowed these industries to do to its constituents. At least 18,000 Americans die every year because of lack of health coverage, and those are the ones that are documented. How many more die for the same reason, unnoticed? How many more become disabled or simply die early? How many more could avoid costly procedures and treatments if they had just been able to afford regular preventative care? Even those of us with insurance coverage find that we can't afford the deductibles, the co-pays, and we regularly find ourselves without the treatment and medicine our doctor recommended, because the health insurance plan refused to cover it. I still owe my Hematologist about a grand for treatments from well over a year ago. I'm not getting my needed follow-up testing because I can't afford it with my student loan payments.
Yet the same conservative lawmakers who call a three-celled blastocyst a person, and wail at the idea that a clump of undifferentiated cells might not get to develop, couldn't care less about actual people. The fact that countries like Slovenia (!) have better rates of infant mortality than we do tells you all you need to know about the priorities of congress. The priority being unrestrained corporate profit, of course. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) went on MSNBC recently to argue that health care is “a privilege,” not a right:

"WAMP: Listen, health care a privilege. […]
MSNBC: Well, it’s a privilege? Health care? I mean if you have cancer right now, do you see it as a privilege to get treatment?
WAMP: I was just about to say, for some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right".

So this kind of thinking is what we're up against. Even though most Americans favor the single payer concept, the Obama administration refused to allow even one advocate of the single payer system at the recent health care reform summit on March 5th. Not one. The msm, not surprisingly, has refused to provide coverage of the issue, let alone accurate coverage. Allen Roland writes in today's column that:

A New FAIR survey( Fairness In Accuracy and Reporting ) reveals that the America public prefers a single-payer national healthcare system 59% -to-32% over a privatized system. Yet the recent March 5th Healthcare Summit barely mentioned Single-Pay and the mainstream press continues to ignore it ~ proving once again that special interests have much more clout in Washington than the American public.
Progressive Review reveals that over the past week, hundreds of stories in major newspapers and on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS's News Hour With Jim Lehrer mentioned healthcare reform, according to a search of the Nexis database. Yet all but 18 of these stories made no mention of single-payer (or synonyms commonly used by its proponents, such as "Medicare for all," or the proposed single-payer bill, H.R. 676), and only five included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of which appeared on television.

March 12 is Take Action ~ National Call-in Day for HR 676 (the bill for single-payer coverage). Call Congress, and the President Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 (ask for your representative's office). Definitely call today if you can, but better yet, pledge to take it further. Email campaigns and petitions are useless. Congress now routinely ignores most emails unless there's enough of it to shut down their systems. Go to Single Payer Action. org and sign on. Then makes plans to visit your congressional representative's local office in person.
When a lot of people begin to do this (and for other issues as well), we'll begin to see things happen. That's what scares these people - masses of pissed off citizenry up close and personal. They and their staff then have to deal with us, like they must answer the phone. The luxury of remaining in front of our computer screens at home is over. It should be clear to most of us by now that nothing is going to change, unless millions of us WAKE UP to our corporate serfdom and DO something. It's here. We're in it. Is this the crap you want for your kids?
11 March 2009

Do You Know Who I Am? Uh... Yeah, Dave.

by: Foiled Goil

Vitter went ‘ballistic on an airline worker,’ then ‘fled the scene’ before security arrived.

Think Progress:
Last week, scandal-plagued Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) went “ballistic on an airline worker after missing a flight from Washington’s Dulles airport to New Orleans.” After arriving just 20 minutes before the plane was scheduled to depart, Vitter gave the airline employee who denied him entrance to the already closed gate “an earful, employing the timeworn ‘do-you-know-who-I-am’ tirade that apparently grew quite heated.” But when the employee left to find a security guard, Vitter “simply fled the scene”:
Vitter, according to the witness, remained defiant, yelling that the employee could call the police if he wanted to and their supervisors, who, presumably, might be more impressed with his Senator’s pin.

h/t Raw Story:
GOP senator flips out at airline, sets off security alarm

Raw Story:
The Republican senator who found himself on a DC madam's client list is drawing new attention over "impulse control."

After missing a flight last Thursday from Washington to New Orleans, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter opened an armed security door and went off on a United Airlines employee, according to a report filed Wednesday by Roll Call. [...]

The paper joked that Vitter, 47, had joined the "mile-low club," and said that there's a "proud tradition" of US lawmakers devolving into temper tantrums at airports. [...]

Vitter's name appeared on the call logs of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the notorious DC madam who later committed suicide. Following the logs' publication in July 2007, Vitter acknowledged that he had used Palfrey's escort services and apologized for a "very serious sin" in his past.

Palfrey's records showed she called him five times -- twice while House roll call votes were in progress. Vitter served in the House from 1999 until his election to the Senate in 2004.

Yeah.  We know.

David "Hooker" Vitter Displays His Latest Version of Blatant Duplicity, Earning This Week's BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award.


There have been quite a few calls for embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris to resign. Just as they seem to be subsiding, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) stepped in to say Burris' ethical problems are too pervasive to allow him to continue serving in the U.S. Senate. The Louisiana lawmaker who refused to resign after admitting his involvement in a sex scandal didn't get the irony of the situation. From The Hill:
Vitter was connected with a prostitution ring two years ago and dismissed any suggestion of hypocrisy given his own refusal to resign in the wake of that scandal.

"I honestly don't know anybody who would compare these situations," he told The Hill on Tuesday. "They are dramatically different."

Well, just because Vitter is brushing aside charges of hypocrisy doesn't mean we're going to!


The Lex Luthor Bailout

by: Debra

Jon Hamm does a wonderful job as the psychotic Lex Luthor in this spoof of the bank bailouts. I just might have to rent the Mad Men DVD.

"Lex Luthor Bailout" with Jon Hamm - watch more funny videos


10 March 2009

Joke Time

by: Debra

The Itch

Once upon a time lived a beautiful Queen with large breasts. Nick the Dragon Slayer obsessed over the Queen for this reason. He knew that the penalty for his desire would be death should he try to touch them, but he had to try. One day Nick revealed his secret desire to his colleague, Horatio the Physician, the King's chief doctor.

Horatio thought about this and said that he could arrange for Nick to more than satisfy his desire, but it would cost him 1000 gold coins to arrange it. Without pause Nick readily agreed to the scheme.

The next day, Horatio made a batch of itching powder and poured a little bit into the Queen's bra while she bathed. Soon after she dressed, the itching commenced and grew intense. Upon being summoned to the Royal Chambers to address this incident, Horatio informed the King and Queen that only a special saliva, if applied for four hours, would cure this type of itch, and that tests had shown that only the saliva of Nick would work as the antidote to cure the itch.

The King, eager to help his Queen, quickly summoned Nick to their chambers. Horatio then slipped Nick the antidote for the itching powder, which he put into his mouth, and for the next four hours, Nick worked passionately on the Queen's large and magnificent breasts. The Queen's itching was eventually relieved, and Nick left satisfied and hailed as a hero.

Upon returning to his chamber, Nick found Horatio demanding his payment of 1,000 gold coins. With his obsession now satisfied, Nick couldn't have cared less and, knowing that Horatio could never report this matter to the King, and with a laugh told him to get lost.

The next day, Horatio slipped a massive dose of the same itching powder into the King's underwear. The King immediately summoned Nick.

The moral of the story............

Pay your bills.

Life Without Credit

by: Debra

Russ over at Scholars and Rogues, has an excellent article about credit cards being equivalent to usury and used George Washington as an example as to some of the other reasons why our Founding Fathers started the Revolutionary War. One of my college professors had told us stories about ol' George's spending habits so it wasn't a total surprise but if the Founding Fathers thought that 5% interest was robbery, I wonder what they would think of us putting up with 30-36%?

I no longer carry credit cards, they won't let me have one. They don't even send me offers. Which is okay by me because when I run out of money to pay my bills and unlike my government and huge corporations, I stop spending. I just wish there weren't so many bills left over. The last few years of taking care of mom has taken a severe financial and emotional toll as it has for many in my generation. Every month I run out of money about two weeks before I run out of month. And just like a lot of other people we are falling through the cracks.

I don't own video games, I don't go on vacation to exotic places, I don't go out to eat very often and unlike some women, I only own two pair of shoes and one purse. I hate clothes shopping which is unfortunate since mom has magically disappeared almost everything I own several times. So, where did my money go? Rent, food, cell and gas. At the end of the month rent is not going to be an issue because unless a miracle happens we'll be homeless and that bill will go the way of the dodo. Thank goodness my two year contract is up with DiSH on the 17th and I can cancel the cable without penalty. Which I can also do with mom's phone as of yesterday since no one calls her and even though I have it set to answer when she flips it open, she misses most of my calls and uses it mainly to see the time. I can't justify the expense so there's another $10 a month saved.

Last year when gas was getting close to $5 a gallon here in San Jose I put myself on a gas budget. I bought a $100 gift card at Costco at the beginning of the month and when it ran out, I walked or stayed home. And even though I am not within walking distance of anything important such as food, I cut my driving by over 70%, a practice that continues to this day though now the requirement is one tank per month.

Could I use a credit at this moment? You betcha. When I bought the used 1994 Infiniti I checked Carfax for everything except how much it cost to tune it up. It never occurred to me that it would be more than $100. Boy was I naive. Depending on the place it is anywhere from $942 to $1200. Mainly for labor. You have to take half the engine off just to get to the spark plugs! Which can only be platinum. As tight as things are I would need to spread that amount over twelve months and hope that nothing else goes wrong. If I'm not willing to take that chance why would a creditor? So, I'm cleaning it and selling it this weekend.

Fortunately I do have an iPod and it will help entertain me while riding the bus. Since public transportation was one of the things that the Governator decided wasn't important enough to be funded and he had to give corporations a $1B tax break, I will walk a mile or two to get to a bus stop where I can pay higher fares and go fewer places. It's tough losing one's autonomy in California, the state isn't designed for it. On the bright side, there is the added benefit of increasing my cardiovascular health and helping me to lose weight.

Like a lot of people I've cut back everywhere I can, I even live in a crime ridden area because the rent is cheaper. Mom and I would like to move out of the state but we can't for three reasons. One, we don't know anything or anyone in the places mom wants to go so we would have no idea about the quality of the neighborhood. Two, she loses her Medicaid until residency is established and the drugs the doctor just put her on are as much as her Social Security each month so that presents a huge problem but three is the kicker. It seems we need a credit card to rent a truck. Not pay since they are only to happy to accept cash, just as security to rent.

It's sad that our nation has become the laughingstock of the world. Our news exports scenes of beautiful people doing nothing but attending parties or adopting babies while the poor and the middle class are blamed for not being one of the beautiful people. Hospitals are content to let people die in the waiting room, food banks are teeming with more people than they can healthfully feed while restaurants are throwing out unused food by the tons as the dinner rush becomes the dinner trickle. Meanwhile, those that have not only blame those that have not, they seem to spend every waking moment trying to get the last penny from those that don't have it to spare and then call them deadbeats because the have nots can't afford all the new rates and penalties on what they already don't have.

How many tent cities will it take before the populace can drag themselves away from American Idol Idle and see that the flood waters of debt are at their doorstep and still rising? How much longer will the people tolerate bailing out the banks when they can't bail themselves out of the mess they're in? Especially without a job. Telling people not to live above their means when everywhere they turn all they see is stuff that they are brainwashed into needing is like telling an eight month pregnant teenager that sex is even better after you have the baby but abstinence is the way to make your parents happy. Some other advice needs to be given.

There's a reason why Clara Cannucciari is becoming so popular that she is getting ready to release her first DVD at the age of 92. She knows a Depression when she sees one. Cooking from scratch is an art, cooking with cheaply available ingredients is magic in the land of Mickey Ds, Whole Foods and tight budgets. I remember many of those meals from when I was growing up and you know what? They still taste good. Comfort food rocks. I may like caviar and champagne but fried potatoes and club soda taste just as good when you're hungry. Plus, you don't need credit to enjoy them.

09 March 2009

Is Racism Dead In America?

by: Debra

Not if yesterday was any indication. I told my mom a story about two kids where the melanin impaired had stolen from the melanin enriched child. The melanin enriched child doesn't get a public apology for her privacy being invaded or that her money was stolen. All of the parental adults are to get one and the melanin impaired child must work off chores in her own home to repay the melanin enriched child. Mom, who is very melanin impaired, agreed with me and thought that it was poorly handled and sends the wrong signal to the girl whose money was stolen.

I pointed this out to my friend that this wasn't exactly fair and that the melanin enriched child who was the one who suffered the invasion of privacy was being shown that she didn't matter as an individual. And that's when my friend snapped my head off and said she was tired of hearing me talk about racism and that everything is racist to me. I was also told that since the melanin enriched child's other home was full of melanin enriched people that it wasn't like she was isolated or anything. Heaven forbid that it should have crossed someone's mind that when you are the only melanin enriched person in a room and that when harm is done to you that you should have to swallow it until surrounded by other melanin enriched people because it is more important that the other child learn a lesson than for you to get a public apology for being wronged. What a fucking crock of shit that was. Yes, I cussed.

If it had been the other way around, it would have been determined that the melanin enriched child would have had to make a public apology so that she would be so embarrassed that she wouldn't do it again. You know, to teach her a valuable lesson.

I have spent my life ignoring racism (and manage the first 18 years of my life without every uttering the word) but over the last few years I've noticed that people indulge in it much more often and in very subtle ways. Yes, all of the elders have psychology degrees of some type but none of them understands what it's like to be all alone in a room full of people that don't look like you and that you only see on a monthly basis. And pointing it out doesn't mean than I look for racist actions, it means that I with 52 years of experience living thourgh the same situations, know what it feels like inside and that maybe someone should have considered the victim's feelings. If a child of eight can be charged with murder then a child of nine should have to understand and publicly apologize for stealing from your friend and that you knew it was wrong and shouldn't be tolerated under any circumstances. Most kids learn not to take other people's toys by the time they hit kindergarten.

Then today I learned that the Supreme Court has determined that there has to be at least 51% of a minority in order to help elet minorities that reflect their point of view. So, all it takes is for a few brave souls to move into poor neighborhoods and all of a sudden...less minority candidates.

Thank goodness women make up 51% of the population or we would never get to vote and it certainly would make it harder for women to be elected to national office. Not that it's happened yet.



Life after Being President

by: Dark Wraith

This Photoshopped image was sent to me by Judy Burnette. Given the obvious stereotypes rendered in the image, I do not exactly approve of it, but neither can I categorically reject its implied hope for a just and fitting closure for a man and an era.

Home Boy

The Dark Wraith will allow readers to decide for themselves.

08 March 2009

Expand The Boundaries Of Caring

by: Foiled Goil

Darkening Clouds... Silver Lining?

Arianna Huffington:

You can see America's already-frayed safety net coming apart, strand by strand.

That is why it is so urgent to buttress the government programs and charitable groups struggling to provide resources to the growing pool of those in need. Service, volunteerism, and giving are absolutely central to our recovery as a nation -- not questions of noblesse oblige.

As Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine, said when he testified to the House Education and Labor Committee: "Service is in our DNA as a nation and as a people."

Indeed, while we are trying to move the economy to full capacity through the stimulus package, bailouts, etc., we also need to make sure that our communities are operating at full capacity. Our full capacity of giving. Our full capacity of service. Our full capacity of compassion.

That's why the passage of President Obama's plan to expand service in America should be a Congressional priority. [...]

Writing about the housing meltdown, I said that foreclosures are "a gateway calamity: every foreclosure is a crisis that begets a whole other set of crises. Someone loses his or her home. It sits vacant. Surrounding home values drop. Others move out. Squatters move in. Crime goes up. Tax revenues plummet, taking school budgets down with them."

Volunteering and service are the other side of the coin. They are a gateway opportunity: not only do they meet a pressing need, they allow us to expand the boundaries of our caring beyond ourselves -- the reverberations are felt throughout our communities.

And there is the additional psychological advantage for those who've lost jobs of using their skills to help others while they are dealing with their own harsh economic realities.

As America's Misery Index soars, so must our Empathy Index.

Margaret Mead Biography: An Anthropolgy of Human Freedom

07 March 2009

On A Personal Note, Partt II

by: Debra

As most of you know, life hasn't been going so well. The housing situation continues to deteriorate, someone has been poisoning the dogs in the neighborhood as well as trying to cut the neck of youngest dog who is never out the yard, my favorite Blackdog decided on Monday that the payoff in life wasn't worth the pain and trauma Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art, my health has taken a serious turn for the worse, I caught two "friends" lying to me as they think I'm too stupid to notice that their stories weren't consistent and in both instances information came back to me through separate sources who could only have found out by these two repeating private information Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art, and my family thinks that all I have to do is twitch my nose and everything will be all better.

Mom (the old lady with vascular dementia and the beginnings of Alzheimer's, the one they are going to take away from me unless I find us a new home) has thrown away more of my clothes so I'm down to a few jeans, some old tee shirts and very little underwear, the dogs will be out of food next week and the payday loan I stupidly took out to pay the last trumped up notice from my landlord is coming due in two days and I forgot to turn in my time card. Meanwhile mom and I are still being evicted with no explanation. I just talked with someone in the park who is two months behind on their rent and they don't even have a notice. As do neither the practicing prostitute nor the three child molesters.

Our rent was paid until they stopped taking it, when we didn't leave right away someone stuck nails in the sides of three of my tires on the same night and now we have an influx of mice out of nowhere. Can we say harassment? I have no running water to take care of my plants because there was an underground pipe break in the yard and they used my garden hose as a substitute pipe and then made me pay the extra hundred dollars in the water bill. The break was in December and they refuse to fix anything in the place until we're gone. This is a major mistake on their part because I have pictures that I will show the judge and it is going to cost them so much money to fix what's broken that they can't possibly make their money back for at least three years. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for them.

One brother is still MIA (coming up on a year, mom is just another responsibility he's avoiding) and the other is so stressed that he can't help and his suggestions apply more to strangers than to family. If we move out of California Mom loses some medical benefits and I lose all of mine but we can't afford to stay here. It is impossible to live in California for less than $2000 a month and at this point we are well short of that.

I can't do what Blackdog Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art did and I certainly understand why he felt the need, but if a car spun out in front of me I doubt seriously if I would move out of the way. Unless I thought it was going to hurt and then I might think about mitigating the damage.

I hate to do it but I had to put a donation button back up. I know that no one can help us get out of California at the moment but I'm literally down to my last $18 and don't expect to receive any more until around the 25th. I'm just so glad I grew up and went back to school. Too bad it only made things worse. If I stayed at Universal Studios I could have one of those false retirement pensions like lots of other people who put in twenty to thirty years at the same company.

Listening to: Johnny Hates Jazz - Shattered Dreams
06 March 2009


by: Dark Wraith


· · ·
04 March 2009

A Quiet Moment For Blackdoggie

by: Foiled Goil

Good night, good friend.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

~J. R. R. Tolkien

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

~J. R. R. Tolkien
03 March 2009

A Friend Has Died

by: Minstrel Boy

He Wasn't Famous, He Wasn't Rich

He was a good man the name of Brad Turner, he lived in Arkansas. We met on the web. We had many lively exchanges at the Dark Wraith Forums, Badtux The Snarky Penguin, and we were co-bloggers at Big Brass Blog.

We were also friends. We spent a long time talking on the phone over the last five years. We talked about nothing, and about everything. We planned a few meetings that never happened. We talked about our love of the desert southwest, relishing the places we had in common. We talked about war, politics, health care, sewage treatment, history, and love.

He died broke, in massive debt from medical bills he could have never afforded to pay. That's not the measure of a human being though.

Goodnight my friend, Goszhde A'ago'ashe (blackdog, his nom-de-net). You will be missed, and remembered. Fires will be lit tonight, prayers will be said.

A kind, and gentle warrior has gone home.

Y'atta'alliikesh shanandahhii shicha'an, ninihalli'yah.

(the singing snake loves you, he will always love you)

(crossposted at Group News Blog
02 March 2009

No, No, No!

by: Debra

I just received this.

I know that my brother, Brad Turner, had many friends on the blog site “bigbrassblog.” I also know that he considered all of the members of this blog to be more than friends; in many ways you were part of his family. So I am contacting you to let you know that today I was informed that Brad passed away in Carlisle, Arkansas. At this time, I know arrangements are being made, but I do not know any details.

A light has gone out of the world.

Rest in peace, Blackdog, you will definitely be missed. I'm crying so hard I can't type anymore. I was so hoping that would get better, he didn't deserve to leave so soon. sad

Nutjobs, Birthers, Food And Finances

by: Debra

It is absolutely amazing how often the hardly every right bugled and trumpeted that if you didn't support President Bush you were a traitor and should be tried and shot for treason but they find nothing ironic, illegal or immoral about cheerleading for the failure of President Obama.  For eight years these people cheered every step on the United State's fiscal, moral and ethical path to ruin and now that it looks like Obama is trying to stop us in midflight as we go over the cliff that nobody in the previous administration could have predicted, the nutbags on the right want to make sure that everything fails so they can gloat about the destruction of modern civilization as it now exists.  If Obama's plans fail, there will be no brink to come back from and the windbags on the right will end up exactly where they don't want to be.  In the trash heap with the rest of us.  Or to put it another way, it's like praying that the Large Hadron Collider produces a black hole here on earth and thinking that you are going to escape because you are blessed with the incredible lightness of being.  Aint. Gonna. Happen,

Speaking of nutjobs, the Birthers are at it again.  Obama was born in the state of Hawaii two years after it became a state.  End of story.  Period.  The soldier isn't defying an unlawful order, he is committing treason, deserves a court martial and a few years at Ft. Leavenworth.

Brilliant! And they paid for the study.  Next thing you know they'll be saying that exercise is beneficial in the battle against the bulge and that if you combine the two your health will improve.

Any good cook knows that when you want to introduce new foods to finicky eaters that you don't tell them what they're eating until after they have expressed an opinion.  I guess when you're young it's easier to be fooled by X-Ray carrrots instead of plain carrots with a touch of brown sugar and butter.

No kidding.  A good night's sleep is so far in the past for me that I don't remember what it was like.

Still haven't found a place to live for mom and I that we can afford.  We've got less than three weeks or adult dependent services takes her away, puts her in a home without her dogs and she probably dies of loneliness.  Since the Governor has cut back on services for the elderly the place she'll be stuck in will be one step above a home that keeps her sedated and tethered to her bed.  I, on the other hand, will turn into snap girl and either end up dead in a cop shooting when they try to take her away or have three hots and a cot for the rest of my life.  If we had done something wrong I could understand it but we haven't.   It's been a six month battle and I'm tired,  totally out of ideas and resources are nonexistent due to so many people using them.  Meanwhile, the three child molesters will have a roof over their heads.  Go figure.

You would think that after all the work Howard Dean put in over the last four years he would have gotten the HHS post but it is not to be.  Oh well, what would a doctor and friend of the people know?  So far Obama has removed quite a few elected people from government to fill positions and ignored talent that is staring him in the face.  And Burris is working out so well, isn't he?


we may be riding to the gallows, but we're riding with Ronald Colman dept.

by: astraea

My buddy mike writes: we're obviously (or obliviously?) doing something wrong.

excellent graphic showing ceo privilege/ripoff of customers / shareholders / taxpayers, the fruits of capitalism--

you can understand where the following are coming from:

'As long as there are rich and poor, governors and governed, there will be no peace, nor is it to be desired...; for such a peace would be founded on the political, economic, and social inequality of millions of human beings who suffer hunger, outrages, prison, and death, while a small minority enjoys pleasures and liberties of all kinds for doing nothing'.

~"On with the struggle!" - Manifesto of the Mexican Liberal Party (Magonists), 1911

'The misery of the workers arises from their being forced to produce for a crowd of parasites who turn the greater part of the products to their profit. If you are sincere, don't waste your time trying to conciliate antagonistic interests, don't look to ameliorate a situation that can produce nothing good: destroy parasitism. But one cannot wait for that to be done by individuals who are themselves only parasites, and it cannot be the work of a law; that is why it is necessary to destroy the system of exploitation and not ameliorate it.'

~Jean Grave, 'Dying Society and Anarchy' (1893)

oh well!

deb writes:

Slaves that are turned out on the streets at quitting time vs All that money with blood on it.

I have a favorite teamug with a picture of a beautiful woman from the French Revolution on it. Putting her away from the dishwasher today, I saw she had a drop of water on one eye. "Don't weep," I told her. "It was worth it."

01 March 2009

Penny Wise And Pound Foolish

by: Debra

Either the fish run out of water or we run out of food.  400,000 of 611,000 acres of farming land lying fallow.  80,000 jobs are expected to be lost this year alone and the harm will continue to spread.  This is going to be a global problem in short order and fun times will not be had by all.  Or even many.

Ah yes, the glories of the American business model.  Form working at Universal Studios where they cut back the secretaries health benefits and overtime to cut costs while having weekly champagne parties for producers and subsidized executive housing loans at less than three percent, nothing much has changed in the work world.  Lay off employess at the bottom, give the people at the top a bonus.  And if they do manage to sell the company, all they've sold is blue sky since the people who did the production work won't be working there to make anything to sell.  And then there won't be any people to buy the products but nobody seems to think that far ahead.  Until it's too late.

Flambeing their own.  I hope crow tastes as bad as it sounds.  When the Republicans get around to blaming themselves for being willing and active participants in the destruction of their party and learn that saying no reflexively is not what the American people want to hear, they might be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become a respectable party again.  That would mean ignoring the Coulters, Malkins and Limbaughs and since hate seems to be more comfortable for them, I don't hold out much hope for change.

Conservatives want the border fence so that illegal immigrants can't sneak in and take jobs nobody else wants.  Meanwhile the border seems to have more serious problems such as kidnappings, home invasions and executions.  So, in typical fashion, Congress is going to hold hearings on the whether we're prepared to defend ourselves if there is even more violence.  Right off hand I would have to say the answer is no as the National Guard and their equipment is off defending other countries on the other side of the world.

Goodbye Mr. Harvey.  While I didn't agree with all your politics you were a bright spot on the Armed Forces Radio when we were stationed in Germany.  For some reason you reminded us of home and between you and Kasey Kasem we listened to the both of you faithfully.  Thank you for helping us not to feel too lonely. Rest in peace, you will be missed.

So which was is it, 2003 or 2005?  The BBC article was a little confusing but research showed it was 2003.  I had front row seats for a Siegfried and Roy performance back in 1987 and I remember thinking "maybe a front row seat isn't the best place to be when you have an elephant on two legs looming over your head."  It was still a great show and it's nice to have them back even if it was for one show only.

I went to get my hair cut yesterday and as I looked for a place to park a guy came out of the barbershop and headed toward his car.  Out of nowhere this woman started to attack him in the middle of the street.  He didn't respond and tried to get into his car.  She wouldn't let him close the door and kept hitting and screaming at him.  I had a front row view because I was waiting for the space.  Another person left the shop and I circled around to get his space after I offered the poor guy my phone so he could call the police.  At no time did this man lift a finger towards this woman who was clearly out of control.

The police arrived in short order and the first thing they did was put the man in cuffs and put him in the back of the cruiser.  Then they talked to the woman, refused to take the statement of the witnesses watching and finally let the guy go after threatening him with arrest if he didn't wait down the block for the bus to pick him up.  Did I mention that the woman was Filipino and the man was black?  I asked the cop when I left and he said it was just a domestic disturbance and no charges would be filed against the woman.  I told him that just because she was ineffectual at that moment didn't mean she didn't need anger management classes and that the second time she had burst into the shop both the patrons and the workers were afraid she had a gun and would use it.  No response.  When I drove off they were impounding the guy's car and flirting with the woman.  As I told them when I passed them the last time was that if it had been the guy hitting the woman, he would have been in jail so fast his head would be spinning.  Which is why this is video is disturbing.  I guess might really does makes right.


· · · ·

Rush Limbaugh is the RX for Illness. Let's get over him.

by: astraea

Rush and the Obstructionist party are making this country sick. Have a look:

Disease Model

*Focus on weakness

*Behaviors are maladaptive

*Problem focused


*Individual is helpless

Health Model

*Build on strengths

*Behavior is adaptive

*Solution focused


*Individual is empowered

(See why we have embraced Obama? We know what's good for us!)
Know what else? I think that unless you have something that helps solve problems, don't bring it to the table.

Now, empower yourself. Lean towards the light. It's healthy.

How about a nice flyer here to print and post at Walmart, grocery, on your brother-in-law's car, etc.

And lookey here. If you watch or listen to Rush, take note of his sponsers and help them get well by adding them to the list:

Rush Has Gone Too Far Boycott His Sponsers

Its time to act email or call his sponsers. Reward those who get well.