Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hey, Supply Siders!

Guess what doesn't work!!! Those tax cuts were supposed to increase revenue, right?

From Reuters:

With the U.S. government fast approaching its current $8.965 trillion credit limit, the Senate on Thursday gave final congressional approval of an $850 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority.

The Senate voted 53-42 to raise the debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion, the fifth increase in the U.S. credit limit since President George W. Bush took office in January 2001. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the higher debt limit earlier this year as part of the overall budget resolution and the legislation now goes to Bush for his signature.

Check Google News for "debt ceiling" and see how many hits you get.

Credit limit ... that's like on your credit card. Only the government just ups the limit when it maxes itself out. Don't you wish you could do that?

The problem with credit in general is that it represents money you have to pay back. Given our population of 301 million people (July est.), a debt of $9.815 trillion means every man, woman and child in this country owes ... well, you do the math.

Even on if its an interest only loan (like those wonderful teasers the mortgage industry has been feeding us for the last ten years), the interest payment alone has us all eating hot dogs and beans from now until hell freezes over. And we're not even paying down the principal! (We could have used the Clinton surplus to do that, folks.)

And what do you suppose happens when the value of the dollar drops like a rock ... as it has been through the Coulter Republican regime? (We're 1 to 1 with Canada, fer Christ sake. I'm in my friggin' 60s and I can hardly remember the last time that was true.)

That dollar in your pocket? It's only worth $0.80 in the real world.

The Coulter Republicans (they like to think of themselves as Reagan Republicans) like to frame the debate in terms of "tax and spend liberal Democrats". My disgust comes form the degree to which the the Democrats allow that to happen. The debate could just as easily be framed in terms of "pay as you go" and it would actually be a more accurate description.

So, the Republicans sell a program of tax cuts (which, incidentally, don't really effect the vast majority of tax payers ... just the upper couple percent of tax payers ... the ones who can afford to pay the taxes) and they "leverage" the economy. They say the balance will be invested in the economy and that will result in healthier profits in the private sector and therefore, greater tax revenues. If that's true, how come it never shows up in the numbers? "Leveraging" sounds just peachy keen ... until you realize that "leverage" is just another way of saying "take a loan". Now the loans are coming due. You can only ride on other people's money for so long. You simply can't get rich by taking on debt! Try it sometime with your credit card. You may look rich for a while, but eventually, the debt comes due.

Thank you, Ronnie. Thank you for the legacy of debt up to our eyebrows. The trickle down just doesn't seem to be trickling down. Those wonderful companies have taken the windfalls and invested them in other countries, exported American jobs ... and now the loan taken in the name of the American people is coming due.

And then they have the balls to call themselves"fiscally responsible"!

Without comment

Or catch the video on YouTube ...

Just when you thought you were the only lonely one

All candidates make claims. Here's someone who's keeping track of the "only one" claim that they all make at one time or another ... and it's lonely being the only one!!

Here's an example of how much of a snicker it can be when desperate little people with no vision or charisma attempt to distinguish themselves from each other:

Said Gloucester, Mass., mayoral candidate Jeff Worthley after describing his unemployed status as a ideal situation for full-bore effort: "I"m the only candidate with no other commitments."

Well, doh! ... all the others work for a living. Talk about your overinflated sense of self worth!

"I'm the ONLY candidate that ..."

Friday, September 28, 2007

America Used To Be Really Goddamn Awesome

Excerpted from an essay by Bob Cesca on HuffPo

"Tell him to look at th' bright side of things,
Willie. His trees is pruned, his ground is
plowed an' his house is air conditioned."
- Bill Mauldin, combat cartoonist, 1944.

The prevailing attitude of the ladies and gentlemen featured in [Ken] Burns' film [The War], and by proxy all Americans of that era, was that if we had to fight a war, we had better do it right. Clearly and with little dissent, we had to fight that war, and without fail, Americans rallied together to do it really damn well.

People from every corner of the nation selflessly pooled their resources for the great cause of World War II, and I'm not sure about this one, but I don't think President Roosevelt ever once asked the country to sacrifice by going to the mall. And I'm pretty sure he didn't outsource the construction of tanks, Flying Fortresses, Hellcats and Thunderbolts to Mexico and China. That's a hell of a thing by today's standards, isn't it?

We've fallen so far from what we used to be ...

And now, 50 years later, in our lives and times, we get President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

Read the full essay here ...

My comment: We've squandered all of the post 9/11 international good will, we've squandered our united solidarity, we've squandered a surplus left by the previous administration, we've squandered billions of dollars on a war that we were told would finance itself, we've squandered the lives and hopes and dreams of 4,000 of our young and brave dead and 21,000 horribly wounded and maimed ... for what?

We've spent our faith in our leaders and we have none left, we've given away our rights as citizens, and we've sacrificed our optimism ... the price is to great.

We are more afraid and less secure. Hatred and division have increased by orders of magnitude ... the return on our investment is not worth it.

But look on the bright side ... we still have bread and we still have the circuses, we still have 24 hour O.J. and Oprah and Princess Di and Anna Nichole.

And when the bread is gone, we'll still have the circuses.

Oh! The bread and circuses!

This phrase originates in Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries. In context, the Latin phrase "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses) is given as the only remaining cares of a Roman populace which has given up its birthright of political freedom:

"... iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. ..."

(Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81)

("... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,
the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time
handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now
restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:
bread and circuses.")

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Open Letter to Bill O'Lie-to-me

Falafel*, anyone?

Bill O'Reilly
The O'Reilly Factor
Fox News Channel

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

I'm so sorry to hear that you're being attacked by hate sites for saying some black people are almost civilized. I have nothing but respect for you. You've been able to hold the same job for many years. And as far as I can tell, you're not constantly drunk and you brawl only infrequently. You've overcome a lot of genetic and cultural baggage to get where you are today.

And I think you've become an excellent role model for your people. I went to an Irish pub for lunch the other day, and I have to admit I was very surprised by how everyone behaved. It was about 11:30, and no one was drunk yet; no one was brawling; and I didn't see a single patron yelling" "Give me another whiskey ya fuckin' gobshite 'fore I give ya a few vinegar strokes up the rasher." They were just like real people. Obviously they're following your example.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

on Jesus' General

* As quoted in a sexual harassment suit filed against BillO by a Fox News producer, 2004: "So anyway I'd be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda' kissing your neck from behind...and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I'd just put it on your p***y but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business..."

Another scary peek at the future

The following piece is part of an ongoing series of OffTheBus reports by citizen policy experts critiquing different aspects of Campaign 08.

John Dean* knows something about White House abuse of power. He wrote a bestseller in 2004 on the Bush White House called Worse Than Watergate. In a recent interview I asked him what he thinks of that title now. Now, he replied, a book comparing Bush and Nixon would have to be called Much, Much Worse.

"Look at the so-called Watergate abuses of power," he said. "Nobody died. Nobody was tortured. Millions of Americans were not subject to electronic surveillance of their communications. We're playing now in a whole different league."

And how does Bush compare with the Republicans seeking to succeed him? "If a Rudy Giuliani were to be elected," Dean said, "he would go even farther than Cheney and Bush in their worst moments."

What about the rest of the pack? "I'm very concerned about the current attitude in the Republican party," he said. "However there are candidates on the Republican side who are not quite as frightening as Giuliani." When I asked who he had in mind, he laughed and said "Ron Paul." He conceded that "there's no chance he's going to be president."

Read the rest of the piece by Jon Wiener here ...

My comment: Wasn't John Dean a Republican? Used 't be. Actually, he's currently a registered Independent who supports the impeachment of the "current occupant".

* He was also White House counsel during the Nixon administration, the job Alberto "Gonzo" Gonzales held before he was appointed Attorney General.

The man who traded his crystal balls for brass

Or watch the video here on YouTube.

'A Coup Has Occurred'

by Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg's remarkable speech:

"I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

"If there's another 9/11 under this regime ... it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

"Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? ... They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they're not now they will be after another 9/11.

"And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

Read the rest ...

PMC = Private Military Company = The Police State

Compare and Contrast: The War v. Bush's War

What is new, and shocking, in The War is the realization of just how far we have strayed from our fundamental "Americaness" -- from the essential spirit of the nation we inherited.

Full essay here ...

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

See the mini-feature: The Shock Doctrine

Watch the interview: A 17 minute preview of future history ...

Think about it.

"Naomi Klein is an investigative reporter like no other. She roams the continents with eyes wide open and her brain operating at full speed, finding connections we never thought of, and patterns which eluded us. She shows us, in clear and elegant language, how catastrophes -- natural ones like Katrina, unnatural ones like war -- become opportunities for a savage capitalism, calling itself 'the free market,' to privatize everything in sight, bringing huge profits to some, misery for others. To ensure the safety of such a system, it becomes necessary to constrict freedom, to assault human rights. The torture chambers for some then match the torturing of the larger society. This is a brilliant book, one of the most important I have read in a long time." -- Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States.

"Naomi Klein is one of the most important new voices in American journalism today, as this book make clear. She has turned globalism inside out, and in so doing given all of us a new way of looking at our seemingly unending disaster in Iraq, and a new way of understanding why we got there. And she does it in a lucid, reader-friendly style that almost makes it fun to read."
-- Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist

"Naomi Klein has written a brilliant, brave and terrifying book. It's nothing less than the secret history of what we call the 'Free Market..' It should be compulsory reading."
-- Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More from the Garden

Beautiful, autumnal colors. The garden is alive.

I read the news and find it so discouraging. Sometimes I just have to take a breather and shut the world outside the gates away for a bit.

I've been reading the blogs and the news sites today. I can't find anything particularly amusing going on ... nor can I find anything that shocks me. I think I've been jaded. No travesty on the national or international scene moves me to comment. I'm numb.

So, out into the garden to make more pictures.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quotable quotes

Rep. Rahm Emanuel "[I]t's a bizarre thing that a president who believes in testing kids for math does not believe in testing kids for measles and mumps."

Just a couple questions, Mr. Bush

Bush, kicking a$$ in Iraq.

"With brave American soldiers dying in record numbers, I have two questions for the President — just whose posteriors are we kicking and how do you know?

With Sunnis and Shiites killing themselves and each other, plus an incompetent Maliki government, we don’t know who we’re fighting, much less where we’re kicking them. And while we’re tied up in Iraq, Al Qaeda thrives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So the President’s turn of phrase will go to the blooper hall of fame with other Bush Golden Oldies like "last throes", "links to al Qaeda" and "Mission Accomplished".

There was a time when America’s success meant defeating Nazis, tearing down communism’s Iron Curtain and walking on the moon. Supportng our troops meant honest safeguards, not trash talk.

How low have our standards fallen when the President points to the debacle he created and says, this is what I’m proud of.

Most Americans believe in a country that’s capable of much higher standards, and if America were really “kicking butt,” the President wouldn’t need to say anything, every one would know it."

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY03)
On the floor of the House today.

Pin-ups for Vets

Nostalgia for a time when we fought wars and won ... against actual heavily armed armies.

Click image and get yours now.

I wonder why the theme music and the backdrops reflect a time more than 60 years ago. No hip-hop? No full body tattoos? What's wrong with this picture?

Infantile Nation

by Patrick J. Buchanan on AntiWar

Does this generation possess the gravitas to lead the world?

"Considering the hysteria that greeted the request of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, the answer is no.

"What is it about this tiny man that induces such irrationality?

"Answer: He is president of a nation that is a "state sponsor of terror," is seeking nuclear weapons, and is moving munitions to the Taliban and insurgents in Iraq.

"But Libya was a "state sponsor of terror," and Col. Ghadafi was responsible for Pan Am 103, the Lockerbie massacre of school kids coming home for Christmas. And President Bush secretly negotiated a renewal of relations in return for Ghadafi giving up his nuclear program and compensating the families of the victims of that atrocity. Has Ahmadinejad ever committed an act of terror like this?"

  • ... but Nixon went to Moscow
  • Nixon went to China to toast Mao
  • Eisenhower met with Khrushchev
  • Kennedy negotiated with Khrushchev over the Cuban missile crisis
  • Holocaust deniers meet regularly here in the US
  • but somehow Ahmadinejad, with no air force or navy to speak of, no nuclear weapons (Israel has 3,000 thermonuclear warheads and will pave the entire nation of Iran with glass - the product of sand melted by extreme heat - in a heartbeat if they feel threatened) ... somehow Ahmadinejad is a real major threat as far as the Republicans are concerned.

Read the rest here ...

My comment: Does this generation possess the gravitas to lead the world? The answer seems to be a resounding no and will continue to be as long as those who lead us do so by using fear, the demonization of the enemy-du-jour and dream of world domination through military might.

We have dealt with real threats in the past but we are no longer capable of doing so. We have lost our sense of proportion and perspective. We have become, under Republican Reich-wing leadership, a nation of little children who have become afraid of shadows on the wall. Over the last 65 years we've gone from the "Greatest Generation" to this ... and it looks like its downhill from here as far as being a light unto the world and a beacon of freedom. We have gone from the example to which every one aspired and become the vision of what no one wants to be. We have taken the good will from around the world, resulting from fostering peace through the Marshall Plan, the Peace Corps and a thousand-and-one humanitarian acts around the globe and squandered it ... and in seven short years, we've become the preemptive, rogue state we'd warned the world about for three generations.

I rarely agree with Pat Buchanan but this time around, I have to admit, he has a point.

What World War III May Look Like

Philip Giraldi on AntiWar

Neoconservatives are great observers of war and warriors, though they are sometimes not in complete agreement about the numbering of the conflicts that they send other people's sons and daughters to fight. Norman Podhoretz, the patriarch of the neocons, believes that the Cold War was World War III and that the U.S. is now fighting World War IV against "Islamofascism." He intends to expand World War IV by slating Iran as the next domino to fall to America's military might. Podhoretz undoubtedly sees the current global conflict as something that is good and necessary, both containable and winnable, but as his judgment on Iraq was fallible, his prediction of Iran's rapid destruction is also unreliable. It might be useful to imagine just how war with Iran could play out if the Iranians don't roll over and surrender at the first whiff of grapeshot.

It might start with a minor incident, possibly involving an American Marine patrol operating out of the new base at Badrah near the Iranian border. The Marines are surrounded by superior Iranian forces claiming that the Americans have strayed inside Iranian territory. The Marines refuse to surrender their weapons and instead open fire. The Iranians respond. Helicopter gunships are called in to support the Marines, and artillery fire is directed against Iranian military targets close to the border. President Bush calls the incident an act of war and, in an emotional speech to the nation, orders U.S. forces to attack. A hastily called meeting of the UN Security Council results in a 17-1 vote urging the United States to exercise restraint, with only Washington voting "no." In the UN General Assembly, only the U.S., Israel, Micronesia, and Costa Rica support the military action. The U.S. is effectively alone.

Read how it might play out here ...

It's a Matter of Priorities. What are yours?

Thank you, Jesus' General.

Thought for the Day

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work." ~ Gallagher

Monday, September 24, 2007

Avoiding all the silliness

After all, what's good for them is good for all Americans, right?

Click the image and sign up now.

Religious Freedom Strikes Again

Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

The community college instructor says the school sided with students offended by his explanation of Adam and Eve.


September 22, 2007

A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.

Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

"I'm just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master's degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job," Bitterman said.

from the Des Moines Register ...

Some Muslims feel about their Fundamentalists the way I feel about ours

Why are we Muslims so self-destructive?
Today, dissenting Muslims have to wear virtual body armour in case someone decides to take offence
Published: 24 September 2007

I fast for some days every week of this month of Ramadan. At an ifthar (breaking of fast) gathering last week, Rahim, a handsome young Muslim doctor and I chatted about this and that, and the end of our world: "Do you think refined and educated Muslims will survive this century? Or will we become extinct? I feel I don't know who I am any more. My parents, too, say the same. Barbaric Muslims are stronger than us, more stupid and ignorant, but stronger, you know."

You hear these outpourings of grief and hopelessness a lot these days. Ignorance is not bliss, it is oblivion, wrote the American novelist Philip Wylie. Ill-educated, volatile, easily led, despised by millions, Muslims the world over are falling into that void, into oblivion. Some are and will be annihilated by external foes and enemies within, including the demon cheerleaders inside the heads of suicide bombers, but many more will be consumed by their own terror of the modern world.

From The Independent (UK) ...

My comment: You think that somehow their radicals are more "over the top" than ours? You're wrong. The only difference is that our fundamentalists have had to deal with the rule of law, secular law ... a tradition that's been with us since the Magna Carta in 1215 while they have lived in countries where laws are based on religious texts (Sharia Law).

If you like what you see in the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia and throughout the northern parts of Africa ... support your local evangelical who wants the Ten Commandments mounted in the court house, who wants religious instruction taught as a regular part of the school curriculum. Support your local born-again activist and they'll see that this country looks just like all those places subjected to Sharia Law.

It's been said before ... be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Here's a little more about how a religious law court works in real practice.

Military Logic : Logic :: Military Music : Music

U.S. Aims To Lure Insurgents With 'Bait'
Snipers Describe Classified Program

By Josh White and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 24, 2007; Page A01

A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed.

"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."

from the Washington Post ...

My comment: Trial by Law of Averages - we're bound to get some of them this way. The rest we shoot are just collateral damage. Yup ... they hate us for our freedoms ... not to mention, they might not be too happy about our logic.

Maybe we should introduce these tactics into the domestic War on Drugs ... or better yet, into the domestic War on Poverty. Spread some money around and if someone picks it up, they're obviously poor. so we shoot 'em. No ... wait ... we'd be shooting too many Republican Congressmen mistaking the cash for special interest bribes donations!

Vitter earmarked federal money for creationist group


Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

The rest in the Times-Picayune ...

My comment: Not satisfied with just screwing hookers, Vitter wants to screw your children out a an education.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

60 Minutes Grills Ahmadinejad

I watched the 60 Minutes interview with Ahmadinejad this evening. It was a very probing interview. Scott Pelley asked direct questions and demanded direct answers. He refused to allow evasiveness pass without at least commenting on it.

Pelley: "Are you saying that it is not the policy of this government to send weapons into Iraq? Sir, forgive me, you're smiling, but this is a very serious matter to America,"

Ahmadinejad: "Well, it's serious for us as well. I daresay it's serious for everyone. It seems to me it's laughable for someone to turn a blind eye to the truth and accuse others. It doesn't help. And the reason that I'm smiling, again, it's because that the picture is so clear. But American officials refuse to see it."

Asked if he could very simply and directly say that Iran is not sending weapons to Iraq, Ahmadinejad said, "We don't need to do that. We are very much opposed to war and insecurity…"

Pelley: "Is that a 'No,' sir?"

"…by Iraq. It's very clear the situation. The insecurity in Iraq is detrimental to our interests," Ahmadinejad said.

Absolutely fine and well done. It was a good interview and it illuminated Ahmadinejad's thinking.

My question is this.

Why doesn't our press pursue answers with our own politicians in a similar manner? Why does our press accept what a demonstrable liar, like Bush, has to say without follow up or some indication that they notice the fellow is "tap dancing" around an issue?

How come out press is so much easier on our politicians where it really counts than it is in situations like the interview with Ahmadinejad, where the outcome can, at this point, be considered a foregone conclusion?

I'm not saying Ahmadinejad should not be pursued with vigor. I'm not saying that he shouldn't be pressed hard for straight answers. What I am saying is that, in order for us to maintain a free press, it is incumbent on our media to pursue our politicians with equal vigor, demanding equally straight answers.