Saturday, February 28, 2009

A quick calculation

If you spent a million dollars a day ...

every single day since Jesus was born ...

you still wouldn't have spend as much ...

as Congress did on the Stimulus Bill.

If you have a problem wrapping your head around that amount ...

lets quadruple it ...

and we'll have the cost of the Iraq War.

Which do you think will show the better ROI (return on investment)?

Rise and Fall of the Grammar Nazis

... or check out the video on YouTube after he click.

In case you missed it ... Launching the Third Political Party

... or get the video after the click.

Second Annual Peep Show

Here’s a Peep Show for the whole family: The Washington Post is now accepting submissions for its third annual Peeps Diorama Contest, in celebration of the “candy” Peeps that are somehow representative of Easter, in America.

... check it out after the click.

A Taxing Matter

Robert Reich

Presidential budgets are aspirations. They're not real, in the sense that no one really has to adhere to them. Obama's budget now goes to Congress, where budget committees will draw up their own versions. Even these congressional budgets are mere guidelines for appropriations and tax-writing committees. Lobbyists will be swarming. So don't expect the final sausage to look exactly like the meat the President is putting into the grinder. On the other hand, the sausage is likely to bear more than a passing resemblance. Remember: This president's approval ratings are well over 60 percent -- substantially higher than Congress's overall approval rating, and far far higher than Republicans in Congress -- and the nation is still looking to Obama to lead the way out of our troubled times. And it's a Democratic congress, with a Democratic Senate that could be (if Franken is seated) one vote short of being able to cut off a filibuster.

It's about time a presidential budget uneqivocally redistributed income from the very rich to the middle class and poor. The incomes of the top 1 percent have soared for thirty years while median wages have slowed or declined in real terms. As economists Thomas Piketty and Emanuel Saez have shown, in the 1970s the top-earning 1 percent of Americans took home 8 percent of total income; as recently as 1980 they took home 9 percent. After that, total income became more and more concentrated at the top. By 2007, the top 1 percent took home over 22 percent. Meanwhile, even as their incomes dramatically increased, the total federal tax rates paid by the top 1 percent dropped. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top 1 percent paid a total federal tax rate of 37 percent three decades ago; now it's paying 31 percent.

Fairness is at stake but so is the economy as a whole. This Mini Depression is partly the result of a widening gap between what Americans can afford to buy and what Americans when fully employed can produce. And that gap is in no small measure due to the widening gap in incomes, since the rich don't devote nearly as large a portion of their incomes to buying things than middle and lower-income people. The rich, after all, already have most of what they want.

Source: Transcript of Robert Reich on MSNBC.

My comment: How would you feel if you knew some one was seeing their taxes go down while you weren't.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Winning Hearts and Minds

Do some of the Republican claims you've heard about the stimulus bill sound too awful to be true? We find a few that are wildly exaggerated or downright false.
  • It's not true that the bill contains spending for "golf carts." It has $300 million to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, some of which may be electric cart-like utility vehicles like those already in use on military bases and at other government facilities.
  • Money claimed to be for "remodeled federal offices" is mostly designated for upgrading buildings to "green" status through such things as thicker insulation and highly efficient lighting, not new drapes or paneling.
  • A widely repeated claim that $8 billion is set aside for a "levitating train" to Disneyland is untrue. That total is for unspecified high-speed rail projects, and some of it may or may not end up going to a proposed 300-mph "maglev" train connecting Anaheim, Calif., with Las Vegas.
  • There's no money in the bill specified for butterfly parks, Frisbee golf courses or water slides, despite a GOP congressman's claim that the bill "will fund" those projects. He culled those silly-sounding items from a list of 18,750 city projects that the U.S. Conference of Mayors cobbled together as examples of "shovel-ready" projects.
... read more on after the click.

My comment: There's an old saying in the legal profession: "If the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if they're not, pound the table." Given the paucity of facts on the right, it looks like there's a lot of table pounding going on.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Denial is NOT a river in Egypt

To the displeasure of many on both sides of aisle, President Obama on today is hosting the so-called Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House. While some Democrats question the timing of Obama's expenditure of political capital on Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement reform, obstructionist Republicans are ridiculing the event even as they hype the myth of Republican fiscal discipline.

And a myth it surely is. Far from the deficit hawks of Republican legend, the modern Republican Party from Reagan forward devastated the U.S. treasury, leaving mounting debt and hemorrhaging red ink for as far as the eye can see.

... more on Crooks and Liars after the click.

My comment: Oh, yeah ... Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. That's another of those "facts" you have to accept on faith if you want to be a right winger ... because actual facts seem to have a Librul bias.

Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal's plan to improve his state's economy

... by refusing parts of the STIM funding:

[Another] thought is that there may be a “beggar thy neighbor” strategy going on here. If Louisiana makes its unemployment benefits less generous than what’s available in other states, then maybe unemployed citizens will leave Louisiana for Texas and other neighboring states, thus creating an artificial appearance of an improved economic situation. It would be the equivalent of Mike Bloomberg fighting poverty by demolishing all the low-income housing in New York and hoping the poor people all move elsewhere.

... get the rest on Think Progress (Yglesias).

More "Why you believe what you believe"

NEW YORK — There were plenty of familiar faces on-screen during TV coverage of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, people like James Carville, Laura Ingraham, Karl Rove, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Joe Trippi and Dick Morris.

What it lacked, some critics suggest, were people with real expertise in what the $787 billion plan will mean for the economy and for communities and individuals. In short, it was treated like just another political battle.

Of the 681 people who appeared as guests on a dozen cable news and four network Sunday morning talk shows in the three weeks that ended last Sunday, only 41, or 6 percent, were economists, said the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America.

... read the rest on HuffPo after the click.

My comment: Of 681 people expressing their opinions about economics on your television, only 41 have any qualifications. And you wonder why you're not sure you understand what's going on?

In the meantime, well over 90% of the bill was not in dispute! The argument was over less than 5% of the expenditures! But the news coverage of the STIM would have you believe that the whole bill in its entirety was in up for grabs! How's that for "fair and balanced"?

How Bush's Policies in the Muslim World Played into Terrorists' Hands

from Robert Cramer:

I just returned from Jordan where I attended a seminar on Islam and American Foreign Policy. What struck me most is that the more you talk to leaders from the Muslim world - the more you study the polling of Muslim attitudes - the clearer it is that George Bush didn't just get the "War on Terror" a little wrong. The basic thrust of the "War on Terror" was 100% wrong - 180 degrees off the mark.

In fact, you could argue, that if Osama Bin Laden himself had designed the strategy, it is hard to imagine how - in its essentials - it could have done more to play into the hands of the small fraction of Muslim extremists who resort to terror.

Bush's policy seemed to presume that if the military could just track down and kill enough Islamic radicals and terrorists, terrorism could be wiped out. But even the Bush administration understood that the small, hard core of Muslim terrorists depends upon support from a much broader group of radicalized Muslims - for new recruits, for money, for protection.

... read the rest after the click. It summarizes some interesting Gallup Poll findings obtained from tens of thousands of random interviews in the Muslim world between 2001 and 2007.

Hint: They DON'T hate us for our freedoms.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Does the Law Apply to the Lawless?

from UPI

Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says the United States was wrong not to give terror suspects due process protections.

Speaking on the BBC's 'World Today" program, the former Pennsylvania governor and first federal homeland security chief said he accepts some of the criticisms levied in a recent report International Commission of Jurists.

The group's report found that the U.S. treatment of detainees undermined international law.

Read the rest after the click.

My comment: A nation of laws or a nation where some are not subject to the law? That is the question. We, as a nation, have always aspired to be an example to the world but what happens when we adopt a policy that puts some people outside the law? The Bush administration took the position that they were above the law and promoted a position that, as a consequence, there were other people who didn't deserve to be held accountable under the law. We used to complain when the USSR did it; when Cuba did it; when China did it. How can we take the moral high ground when we've turned out backs on the moral high and descended to the level of the people whom we've called "lawless" in the past?

If we have been called out for being in violation of international law, where does that leave us - and what can we do to remedy the situation?

Referendum on Policy?

Jobs Still Elude Some Bush Ex-Officials

Wall Street Journal

The jobless rate is hanging high -- for many of the roughly 3,000 political appointees who served President George W. Bush. Finding work has proved a far tougher task than those appointees expected.

"This is not a great time for anyone to be job hunting, including numerous former political appointees," said Carlos M. Gutierrez, Mr. Bush's commerce secretary. Previously chief executive of cereal maker Kellogg Co., he hopes to run a company again because "I have a lot of energy."

Only 25% to 30% of ex-Bush officials seeking full-time jobs have succeeded, estimated Eric Vautour, a Washington recruiter at Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. That "is much, much worse" than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left the White House, he said. At least half those presidents' senior staffers landed employment within a month after the administration ended, Mr. Vautour recalled.

... get the rest in the WSJ after the click.