Friday, February 22, 2008

It's the Money, Stupid

by Joseph A. Palermo

There is no better illustration of everything that is WRONG with Washington than the John McCain-Vicki Iseman tryst. The Republican Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee carrying on with a comely female Republican lobbyist who represents the corporate interests of other Republicans with business before the committee and who donates to the chairman's campaigns. Wow! And today McCain is out sanctimoniously waving the flag and "supporting the troops" while the evidence mounts that he used his position as Commerce Committee chair to rake in cash hand over fist for his corporate campaign donors.

Throughout 1999 and 2000, the Republican lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, was close by McCain's side at fundraisers, parties, and on private jets. Their face time together caught the attention of members of McCain's own staff. They grew concerned about the impropriety of McCain flying around the country with the fetching female lobbyist, 30 years his junior, on a jet owned by the telecommunications tycoon and McCain campaign contributor, Lowell Paxson. Ms. Iseman "lobbied" McCain on behalf of Paxson's business interests.

More after the click ...

My comment:

The good folks on the right didn't get it in the 90s with Clinton and it doesn't seem they get it this time around. It's not about the roll in the hay ... or it shouldn't be. The real moral issue is the betrayal of the public trust. Clinton, getting a BJ in the Oval Office didn't rob the people. If McCain used his influence as a committee Chairman and favored the few at the expense of the many, that would be robbery. It doesn't matter if the bribe was in the form of cash or the lobbyist's ability to cross her ankles behind her head, it's still dishonest.

I wasn't concerned about Clinton getting his plumbing attended to and I don't care whether or not McCain got his adjusted. I do care about the idea of being in bed with special interests and not attending to the business of "We the People".

Still more here ...

Is this kind of hypocracy in the Right Wing DNA?

Ironic Headline of the Day

... it may actually be the most ironic quote of the last seven or eight years!

Bush Tours Genocide Memorial: "... Forces That Divide People Up Inside Their Country Are Unbelievably Counterproductive."

More after the click.

My comment:

He really doesn't get it, does he?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Monty Python - Words for Our Times

FOLLOWERS: Master! The Master! Master! Master!

FOLLOWERS: Speak to us, Master! Speak to us!

BRIAN: Go away!

FOLLOWERS: A blessing! A blessing!

A FOLLOWER: How shall we go away, Master?!

BRIAN: Oh, just go away! Leave me alone!

FIRST FOLLOWER: Give us a sign!

SECOND FOLLOWER: He has given us a sign! He has brought us to this place!

BRIAN: I didn't bring you here! You just followed me!

FIRST FOLLOWER: Oh, it's still a good sign by any standard.

SECOND FOLLOWER: Master! Your people have walked many miles to be with You! They are weary and have not eaten.

BRIAN: It's not my fault they haven't eaten!

FIRST FOLLOWER: There is no food in this high mountain!

BRIAN: Well, what about the juniper bushes over there?

FOLLOWERS: A miracle! A miracle! Oooohh!...

SECOND FOLLOWER: He has made the bush fruitful by His words.

YOUTH: They have brought forth juniper berries.

BRIAN: Of course they've brought forth juniper berries! They're juniper bushes! What do you expect?!

SECOND FOLLOWER: Show us another miracle!

FIRST FOLLOWER: Do not tempt Him, shallow ones! Is not the miracle of the juniper bushes enough?!

FOLLOWERS: A miracle! He is the Messiah!


BRIAN: I'm not the Messiah!

FIRST FOLLOWER: I say You are, Lord, and I should know. I've followed a few.

FOLLOWERS: Hail Messiah!

BRIAN: I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!

THIRD FOLLOWER: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.

BRIAN: What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!

FOLLOWERS: He is! He IS the Messiah!

BRIAN: Now, fuck off!

FIRST FOLLOWER: How shall we fuck off, O Lord?

BRIAN: Oh, just go away! Leave me alone.

- From "Monty Python's Life Of Brian" (1979)

Just the thing for your Right Wing-nut friends

Get a bunch today ...

Letterman's read on McCain

or watch it here.

"... looks like the guy at the supermarket who's confused by the automatic doors."; "... a Wal-Mart greeter."

Yup ... I can see it now that he says it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Dead-skunk-in-the-middle-of-the-road" approval ratings for Bush

ARG Poll Results Summary

George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in American Research Group polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.

Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 15% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 79% disapprove.

A total of 78% of Americans say the national economy is getting worse and 47% say the national economy is in a recession. A total of 42% of Americans, however, say they believe the national economy will be better a year from now, which is the highest level for this question in the past year. This optimism does not spread to improvements in household financial situations as 17% of Americans say they expect their household financial situations to be better a year from now, which is the lowest for this question in the past year.

More from The American Research Group.

My comment:

Aren't you glad you voted for him?

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road
Loudon Wainwright III

Crossin' the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
He didn't see the station wagon car
The skunk got squashed and there you are!

You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven!

Take a whiff on me, that ain't no rose!
Roll up yer window and hold yer nose
You don't have to look and you don't have to see
'Cause you can feel it in your olfactory

You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven!

Yeah you got yer dead cat and you got yer dead dog
On a moonlight night you got yer dead toad frog
Got yer dead rabbit and yer dead raccoon
The blood and the guts they're gonna make you swoon!
You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven!

C'mon stink!

You got it!
It's dead, it's in the middle
Dead skunk in the middle!
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high heaven!
All over the road, technicolor man!
Oh, you got pollution
It's dead, it's in the middle
And it's stinkin' to high, high Heaven!

Or watch the video here.

Obsolete Skills

Here's a list of obsolete skills. How many of these skills did you develop out of necessity (and in some cases, at great emotional cost in terms of stress) only to find out now that they're totally useless?

(Tip of the hat to F. Michael Harris.)

Notes on a tailspin

From Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

"Suppose you want to spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a 'budget deficit'. So you borrow. The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you don't have enough money to cover your spending (another deficit), you must borrow some more, and you'll still have to pay the interest on the loan. If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don't have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy."

My comment:

It's been the policy for the last several years to buy votes by talking up tax cuts. Given there are two basic sources for revenue available to the government, taxes or selling bonds (selling debt), we've financed two wars on borrowed money. On the consumer front, individuals have borrowed to the hilt, leveraging the equity in their homes by taking mortgages for the "full valuation" and spending the money on other things.

The credit cards are MAXED OUT!

Be suspicious of anyone who tells you they want to cut taxes. Those things taxes paid for ... the military, the infrastructure including roads and waterways, education, medical care (Medicare), social security ... represent a meter running. The money is committed. Cutting taxes without cutting the spending that dictated the taxes forces borrowing to cover he difference. The money has to come from somewhere.

Be suspicious of anyone who tells you that financing a country is somehow different than financing a household. The only difference is the number of zeros.

Some calculations concerning the current stimulus package indicate that the net effect will be on the order of .5% of GDP ... that is to say, insignificant ... and I think the .5% calculation is optimistic. I'd rank it right up there with prayer which allows you to do nothing while still feeling you're having a positive effect on the universe.

Spend your rebate at Wal-mart and you'll do more to stimulate the economy of China than you will to do to stimulate the economy of the US.

If you spend your rebate on debt reduction; making an extra mortgae payment or paying down your credit cards, you're paying for the past ... for things you already "consumed". Personally, I think debt reduction is the wise move ... but it's not going to stimulate any segment of the economy ... but you'll be better off for it.

Other calculations that have crossed my attention suggest that a stimulus package involving the extension of unemployment insurance would net a $1.75 return fr every $1 invested. It was rejected.

For every dollar invested in the the food stamp program would net $1.55 return. That was rejected, too.

The current $150 billion stimulus package that gives checks to individuals and families is calculated to yield $1.25 of positive benefit to the economy. Given a $13.86 TRILLION GDP, the $187.5 Billion positive effect isn't a lot of leverage.

In the meantime, the administration promotes tax breaks to industry ... which sounds like a great idea. However, given the time frame involved for any changes in the corporate welfare system to take effect, the net impact of $1 invested in that direction has a $.33 net positive effect.

What are the priorities? You tell me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More of 'em than you imagined

Atheists An Increasingly Outspoken Minority

Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) ― In this presidential campaign season, Democrats and Republicans alike have declared their religious faith. They do it, in part, because they believe it wins political points. After all, the latest Harris polls show somewhere between 73 and 80 percent of Americans believe in God. But what about the rest?

Agnostics say they just don't know; others say they are firm non-believers. Whichever is the case, non-believers are increasingly outspoken in modern America.

By all appearances, the Lows are a tight-knit, loving family. Ron and Alice are devoted parents. Daughters Morgen and Maddy are good students involved in wholesome activities.

And there is one other significant fact of their lives: the Lows -- all four them -- are atheists. They say it's the certainty of science as opposed to what they call the "magic" of religion.

"I do feel like it's really important the whole world think rationally," Ron Low said. "I think a lot can go wrong when people make decisions based on things they don't really have evidence for."

Some atheists, like the Lows, lead quiet lives. But others are famous, including Lance Armstrong and Jodie Foster.

The numbers might surprise you in country with such a strong religious tradition.

The rest after the click ...

Monday, February 18, 2008

I wish I could quit you

Bush Supporters Spread Racist Rumors About McCain’s Daughter in 2000.

Bush supporters in South Carolina made race-baiting phone calls saying that McCain had a “black child.” The McCains’ daughter, Bridget, was adopted from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. In August 2000, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the McCains “are still seething about Bush supporters in South Carolina spreading word of their dark-skinned adopted daughter.”

After Rove Denied Role In McCain Whisper Campaign in 2000, Reporters Concluded He Was Behind It.

A December 1999 Dallas Morning News linked Rove to a series of campaign dirty tricks, including his College Republican efforts, allegedly starting a whisper campaign about Ann Richard being too gay-friendly, spreading stories about Jim Hightower’s involvement in a kickback scheme and leaking the educational history of Lena Guerrero. The article also outlined current dirty tricks and whisper campaigns against McCain in South Carolina, including that “McCain may be unstable as a result of being tortured while a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.” (DMN, 12/2/99) After the article was published, Rove blasted Slater in the Manchester, NH airport, “nose to nose” according to one witness, with Rove claiming Slater had “harmed his reputation,” Slater later noted. But according to one witness, “What was interesting then is that everyone on the campaign charter concluded that Rove was responsible for rumors about McCain.”

More about the Bush-McCain meet-up in South Carolina in 2000 here.

My comment:

For McCain to hug Bush after the litany of lies the Bush campaign perpetrated against him says something about his character ... or, in my book, the lack of it. I guess it says something about the Family Values Party ... to be able to field all that crap against one of their own without an ounce of shame. Not just the party but the people who support it, too.

Afraid that their ideas can't carry the debate, they resort to out right fabrications. Now there's a Family Value for you. Something for your kids to look up to and admire.

The Spys Who Love You

or watch the video here.

(Tip of the hat to Crooks and Liars).

Bill Moyers interviews Susan Jacoby

BILL MOYERS: It's not only the reality of our finances we are running from. In her new book published just this week, one of America's most prolific and provocative free thinkers says we are in a headlong flight from reason. The book is THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON - and it couldn't be more timely. Here's an excerpt:

"It remains to be seen, as the current presidential campaign unfolds, whether Americans are willing to consider what the flight from reason has cost us as a people and whether any candidate has the will or the courage to talk about ignorance as a political issue affecting everything from scientific research to decisions about war and peace."

THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON offers an unsparing description of what Susan Jacoby calls "an overarching crisis of memory and knowledge".

Susan Jacoby is the program director of the Center for Inquiry in New York. Her last book FREETHINKERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SECULARISM was acclaimed as one of the notable books of 2004.

See the video here on PBS.

True Blues

Democrats (Counterclockwise around the table beginning in lower left): Jimmy Carter, F.D. Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, LBJ, Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton, JFK.

More here.

We've met the enemy and he is us ...

Damage From U.S. Extremists a Concern

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID – 19 hours ago

When it comes to fears about a terrorist attack, people in the U.S. usually focus on Osama bin Laden and foreign-based radical groups. Yet researchers say domestic extremists who commit violence in the name of their cause — abortion or the environment, for example — account for most of the damage from such incidents in this country.

These homegrown groups are seven times more likely than overseas groups to commit some kind of violence in the United States, a panel reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In many ways, actions by these domestic extremists can be termed "terrorist" cases, the researchers indicated. "The typical 'terrorist' is an alienated guy, usually a young male," said Brian Forst of American University in Washington.

"They take comfort in like-minded souls and develop an idea they think will make a splash," he said. They do not always carry it out, but sometimes they do, he said. "They are not lunatics."

More research is needed into these domestic extremists and what leads them to commit violence, said Gary LaFree of the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism in College Park, Md.

"It's just as important to understand the bomb-maker as it is to understand the bomb," he said.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

How much money are we spending to thwart terrorists from outside and how much are we spending to thwart those among us who are terrorists? I bet we're spending an awful lot on the smaller threat. On the bigger threat ... seven times bigger? Not so much ...

Personally, I thought this paragraph was pretty telling:

"Damphousse said right-wing extremists spend the most time meeting, preparing and planning before committing a violent act — some 480 "events," whether that is a telephone call or some other form of plotting."

(Emphasis added)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Connecting another dot

You've never seen them together at the same time and in the same place, have you?

Maryland Republican Lawmaker Caught With Kiddie Porn!

In a rare display of political hypocrisy, a longtime Republican lawmaker has resigned today after child pornography was discovered on his computer. Can you imagine such a thing? Let’s meet Maryland Delegate Robert A. McKee, 58, a 29-year state representative with a proud record of fighting sex offenders. We believe the appropriate metaphor here would be “textbook.”

McKee’s home in Hagerstown, Md., was raided on January 31st. Authorities found — shocking! — pictures of naked children, maybe fucking. And what a heartfelt apology McKee offered today, while resigning from the Maryland House of Delegates:

“For me, this is deeply embarrassing,” McKee said in a statement released today. “It reflects poorly on my service to the community.”

Oh Robert, we all knew this was coming anyway — as a member of the House of Delegates, your record of legislating against perverts made this all the more predictable.

More on Wonkette after the click ...

My comment: This "Family-Values" charade gets tedious after a while.

Thought for the day

"The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations."

-- David Friedman