Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad: Admit it, you are greedy, un-American socialist traitors...

F'd Up? I'd say so...
Well, at least Rick Perry seems to think so. According to ThinkProgress:

During a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) reaffirmed all the views expressed in his book Fed Up!, including that Social Security is unconstitutional, despite previous attempts by his campaign staff to walk back the candidate’s words. 
In Perry’s book, released just nine months ago, he writes on page 48 that Social Security is “by far the best example” of a program “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” On page 50, he goes on to say that we have Social Security “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”
So, it's not really a program designed to be paid for by taxes that people have paid into it, so that they have a safety net as they grow older. No, no, no. It's clearly a conspiracy propagated by, well, all of the old people who collect social security checks! That's right, senior citizens, you're the problem, not the solution. How do I know? Well, Rick Perry wrote a book that explains how collecting social security is the equivalent of "violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles"! So, if you're knowingly involved in an unconstitutional scheme to take hard earned tax dollars and buy jello or play bingo or what have you, then you must be, yourselves, engaging in anti-constitutional activity in the evil plot known as social security. (Get it? "Social" as in "Socialism" and "security" as in, um, "Social Security" I guess. Anyhoo, I don't have time to explain it to you old folks, you wouldn't understand it anyway...) 
So where was I? Oh yeah:
Unconstitutional Socialist Propaganda!
Don't think Rick Perry, potential presidentialist, doesn't know what you and your kind are up to, he does--and it involves a lot more than jockeying for a seat at the earlybird 5:00 special before that annoying Eileen and Roy show up, yessiree bob. It involves undermining the very foundations on which this country was built--foundations that you and your geriatric ilk are trying to single handedly undo (albeit with stiff joints and distracted occasional lapses into overly detailed minutae about your neighbor's problems with gout). 
Now We Know: FDR was a Traitor! That's right--forget overseeing the Work Projects Administration (socialism!) and leading the United States in victory through World War II (he got lucky with the Russian winter!), because Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935, was clearly a socialist and a traitor to his country, because the law itself is unconstitutional. And therefore, as a co-conspirator in undermining the very foundations of the United States itself, you two, Mom and Dad, are traitors too!! 
So, put down that cup of microwave noodles bought and paid for by the nanny state, turn off that Wilfred Brimely commercial, boost the volume on those hearing aids and listen up! There's a new sheriff in town, and he's got your (social security) number!!

They All Vote Alike...

Rush "Butter Smell" Limbaugh
It's no real surprise that yesterday, Rush Limbaugh belched up yet another mal-digested meal of apocryphal racist bile. I mean, that's what Rush does from behind his well-dented radio perch: spew racist hate-speech that is the red meat of the right. He did the same thing three years ago, when he argued that Powell was supporting Obama simply because he's black.

The corpulent radio talk show host stated that the moderate republican Colin Powell, former Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary of State under George Bush, would probably vote for Obama again (in spite of his publicized reservations) simply because "Melanin is thicker than water, folks." See, that's the only reason one black person would ever vote for another black person, right? I mean, "those people" can't possibly support someone for their views, policies, experience, or philosophy--it could only be because they look the same.

Amelie "The Hater" Gillette
I'm trying to lower my blood pressure in response to violently stupid utterings by the likes of Limbaugh, but it's difficult. I could try to respond with a point by point refutation that addresses the absurdity of Rush's world view, but why bother? Really, prolly the best way to deal with Limbaugh is to make fun of him as much as humanly possible. Join me, won't you?

Dorothy "Vicious Circle" Parker
Amelie Gillette, the modern-day Dorothy Parker, who used to write an extremely acerbic and brilliant culture column for the (Onion-associated) AV Club called The Hater, explained back in 2010 how Rush Limbaugh wound up as a judge for the Miss America contest. I laughed out loud, when I first read it. I think you will too. Here's an excerpt:
A few months before The Miss America pageant, Rush Limbaugh put on his favorite velour track suit, slicked some Vaseline on his front teeth, and drove to the local shopping center for a nice, long, relaxing round of mall-walking. Passing the food court, the scent of Aunt Annie's Pretzels was so thick in the air it was like a stick of butter shoved in each nostril. Rush breathed deeply and thought, "This is the life: Extremely light exercise. A mall. None of those flying liberal gargoyles attacking me from all angles. Butter-smell."
Click here to read the entire piece: "How Rush Limbaugh Became a Judge at the Miss America Pageant" then click below to watch Rush "do the Limbaugh" on national TeeVee.

(NOTE: you might wanna dust off the good flatware to peck at your eyes during the video.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Power's out in Brattleberry...

...but that's not the worst of it--not by a long shot. Here's footage of water rushing through our little low lying town. These are real businesses owned by real neighbors. This kind of devastation merits federal assistance. The kind I was familiar with when worked at FEMA a lifetime ago. But hey, the hard right would have you believe that such aid is the equivalent of some dirty form of socialism. It's not. It's basic decency and the right thing to do. Something that used to be a given--no more.

Thank god no one was hurt in this particular flood (but that's about all that any magic deity can be thanked for when it comes to hurricane irene).

And at the risk of being (too) maudlin:

And then there's this:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So, wait, there's the USSR and someone's a tea party.

Okay, so last week Michele Bachmann told a conservative talk radio show host that Americans are afraid: “There’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline,” Bachmann said. “They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.” Forget the fact that the Soviet Union, also known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics hasn't existed for 20 years or so.

The Tea Party. I'm one of those.

In addition to the constant stream of misnomers and craziness, Michele likes to tell people who she is:
"Fiscal conservatives — I'm one of those. National security conservatives — I'm one of those. Social conservatives — I'm one of those. And the tea party — I'm one of those," the Minnesota congresswoman said repeatedly in South Carolina this past week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ironic Juxtapositions: Part 312

Just noticed this listing in Huffington Post:

What's virulent and spreads and kills its host? (Hint: It's not cancer)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Koo Koo for Crazy Puffs: Michele Bachmann's Latest Hits...

Are we batshit crazy yet?
That's right, folks! The powerful words of our potential commander in chief, including:

"And I just wonder if the founders thought taxation without representation was bad, what would they think of representation with taxes. I don't know what's gonna happen."
"We are the Saudi Arabia of oil."
"Let's appreciate and value everyone's cultures. But guess what: not all cultures are equal."

So turn up the volume, grab a handful of Advil, and let the forehead slapping begin...

Hey, you can't make this stuff up, folks. But please, pass it on, or you'll get 4 years of REALLY bad luck.

I'm a Real Gone Guy.

Don't worry Micky and Ricky. I'll be back soon enough...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Relevant Voice from the Not Too Distant Past: Kurt Vonnegut was Right...

You're missed, Kurt (but the feeling wouldn't be mutual)
I got a headache dealing with right-ist commenters and Eric Cantor double-plus ungood thinkers this morning, and then I came across this excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut's last book, Man without a Country on the In These Times web site. I thought, "Goddam it, this man was great. I should share this." Because even though it was written in 2005, like so many things Vonnegut wrote, it seems timeless, and is as relevant today (or more so) than it was then. I've edited this back some because I've been told about the potential legal consequences of not doing so. I don't think Kurt would have minded me posting this, but would have minded the fact that there might be legal consequences. He hated shit like that.

Most of you, if not all of you, like me, feel inadequately educated. That is an ordinary feeling for a member of our species. One of the most brilliant human beings of all times, George Bernard Shaw said on his 75th birthday or so that at last he knew enough to become a mediocre office boy. He died in 1950, by the way, when I was 28. He is the one who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I turned 83 a couple weeks ago, and I must say I agree. 
Shaw, if he were alive today, would envy us the solid information that we have or can get about the nature of the universe, about time and space and matter, about our own bodies and brains, about the resources and vulnerabilities of our planet, about how all sorts of human beings actually talk and feel and live. 
This is the information revolution. We have taken it very badly so far. Information seems to be getting in the way all the time. Human beings have had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. Our most enthralling and sometimes terrifying guessers are the leading characters in our history books. I will name two of them: Aristotle and Hitler. One good guesser and one bad one. 
The masses of humanity, having no solid information to tell them otherwise, have had little choice but to believe this guesser or that one. Russians who didn’t think much of the guesses of Ivan the Terrible, for example, were likely to have their hats nailed to their heads. 
Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long—for all of human experience so far—that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on, because now it is their turn to guess and be listened to. 
Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. 
They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they want standards, and it isn’t the gold standard. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard. 
Loaded pistols are good for people unless they’re in prisons or lunatic asylums. 
That’s correct. 
Millions spent on public health are inflationary. 
That’s correct. 
Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down. 
That’s correct. 
Industrial wastes, and especially those that are radioactive, hardly ever hurt anybody, so everybody should shut up about them. 
That’s correct. 
Industries should be allowed to do whatever they want to do: Bribe, wreck the environment just a little, fix prices, screw dumb customers, put a stop to competition and raid the Treasury in case they go broke. 
That’s correct. 
That’s free enterprise. 
And that’s correct. 
The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn’t be poor, so their children should pay the consequences. 
That’s correct. 
The United States of America cannot be expected to look after its people. 
That’s correct. 
The free market will do that. 
That’s correct. 
The free market is an automatic system of justice. 
That’s correct. 
And so on. 
If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcomed in Washington, D.C. 
What is the response in Washington? They guess otherwise. What good is an education? The boisterous guessers are still in charge—the haters of information. And the guessers are almost all highly educated people. Think of that. They have had to throw away their educations, even Harvard or Yale educations, to become guessers. If they didn’t do that, there is no way their uninhibited guessing could go on and on and on. 
Please, don’t you do that. But let me warn you, if you make use of the vast fund of knowledge now available to educated persons, you are going to be lonesome as hell. The guessers outnumber you—and now I have to guess—about ten to one. 
This essay was adapted from Senior Editor Kurt Vonnegut’s new bestseller, A Man Without a Country, which can be ordered at www.sevenstories.comor calling 1-800-596-7437.

Finally, Some Good News: Ferrari Sales are UP!

How embarrassing! And here I was thinking that the Bush tax cuts didn't actually do anything. Man, am I eating my humble pie with a zircon encrusted spork, or what? Better getcher order in fast, though, there's a waiting list!
According to an article in Yahoo Finance:
If the rich have done well in the past few years, the extremely rich have done extremely well. Ferrari North America President Marco Mattiacci notes that the number of high net-worth individuals grew last year and is back to the level of 2007. "What has changed is that people now want to spend, they want to enjoy life," he says. While anyone can walk into a Ferrari showroom, it's very hard to walk out with one. "Our philosophy is always to deliver one unit less than the market demand, as a way to keep exclusivity," says Mattiacci. The current wait for a California coupe (price: about $192,000) is six to eight months. (Mattiacci himself drives a Jeep Cherokee, made by another unit of Fiat.)

It's old news, I know, but, just as a reminder...
The tax cut package angered liberals in the president's party due to the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the roughly two percent of highest-earning Americans, which comes at a cost of $120 billion over two years. They were also incensed at the level at which the estate tax was set in the measure, which exempts estates under $10 million for couples and taxes subsequent income at 35 percent.
So what the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the debt/deficit deal will wind up costing the economy 1.8 million jobs by 2012. Oh puhlease. Heck, at this rate, they'll be hiring down at the Ferrari dealership!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Country, A.D.D...

When you have Attention Deficit Disorder, your interest and priorities are for whatever the shiniest object is at the moment. It's hard to multitask with any efficiency or consistency.

That's how our country seems to be governed at the moment.

Unemployment Creeping Back Up (Data from BLS)...
It's as if our leadership can focus on only one "crisis" at a time, in sequence, without "putting the pieces" together. So, while the country was held hostage by not-smart freshman "representatives," Europe is in  crisis, last quarter US  economic numbers were depressingly low, and unemployment continues to creep up. Our approach to economic priorities is like some sort of old fashioned keystone cops-style fire brigade. "Okay, that's got it, now that the debt ceiling and deficit reduction fires have been put out...wait! What's that bright ascending trend line over there??! Great scott, it's rising unemployment! Man the buckets, boys, we're going in again!"

...while the DOW is Lurching Downward.
It's as if no one could possibly think about the underlying issue in the first place--the actual US economy--while they were considering the very policies that impact it. The right wants to get Paul Krugman off their backs? Well, that's funny. If they followed the basic principles of macro economics, Mr. Krugman wouldn't actually *be* on their backs. I'm no Nobel prize winning economist, but i know (and apparently Wall Street knows too) that you don't cut spending in a down economy).

Ultimately, the Problem is one of "Beliefs" vs. an Understanding of How the Economy Actually Works

The right is wrong in believing that the government shouldn't play any role in the economy, because that amounts socialism. Of course, government *has* to have a role in the economy, especially in a recession (and yes, we're still in a recession, right?). Also, who's going to run the Federal Reserve? Bank of America? Well, at least it has "America" in its name, and that's good enough for me!

And lastly, would someone, for the love of any deity you choose, please tell me exactly *when* the Bush tax cuts are going to kick in to save the economy and increase jobs? I'd love to know, because while corporations enjoy record profits, the new debt deal would cost up to 1.8 million jobs. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Krugman is Right...

...and has been all along. Yes, he's criticized the president for a long time now, but suddenly everyone's linking to his blog and quoting him. Sadly, his views have been validated in the most unfortunate way. In his piece in the NY Times today, he warns us yet again.

About 10 days ago, when I first joined the Kos community, I wrote a diary arguing that Obama was not a good negotiator, and I received many sharp replies, to paraphrase: "How do you know he's not a good negotiator?" "Have you ever negotiated?" "As a lawyer and I've never heard of your kind of negotiation tactic." I tried to address each counter argument, and maintained hope that Obama would lead, and not just remain "above the fray" as he's tried to do. It's not 20-20 hindsight to simply say that what's been happening has been miscalculation on a grand scale.

Krugman sums up this growing "screaming in a dream" frustration better than I ever could:
Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.
First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.
And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.
At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.
But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

Why You don't Negotiate with Terrorists

I'ts nothing new to suggest that what the tea party puppets in the House did is essentially fiscal terrorism. One could even argue that it's terrorism, outright, without the "fiscal" modifier, because they threatened to tear down the country's economy wholesale. They threatened the security of the country...but I digress. It's a well-known dictum that you don't negotiate with terrorists, because once you meet one demand, they will demand more and more. That's because they deem the "give and take" of negotiations to be weakness. (And it's also probably why the leaders of the tea party probably thinks that they have the power to simply replace the Speaker of the House.) But again, I digress. And again, Krugman sums it up all too well:
It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

Saaay, what's that lurking in the foreshadows...? Doh!!

In a painful, forehead slapping return to the recent past, the other day Krugman recounted an exchange (alluded to in the first quote) that foreshadowed everything we're experiencing right now--a horrible miscalculation that we will likely be paying for over many years.

Q Mr. President
How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?
THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?
Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the — we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –
THE PRESIDENT: Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

My question now: What is to be done to turn the tide of lunacy?