Saturday, April 16, 2011
Both of these songs are set in God's Country, which runs from about where I'm sitting in the Sierra Nevada east until it plunges down the Rockies to its final reward in ever-expanding Jesusland.
"Nightriders Lament" is a song about choices - doing what you want instead of what others think you should do. Trust me, 'cuz I did it, if you follow your heart instead of your head, you'll be happy in life and you'll never make much money so you have to use your head even more to get by. Funny how that works...
This is by Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith who brings in professional help on the yodelling, Don Edwards.
"Darcy Farrow" was written by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell (reference deep in here) many years ago. If you've never heard of them you should go read. This version is by Canuckistanian folk/country superstars Ian and Sylvia Tyson with an able assist by the OG* of country rock and La Belleza de Tucson, Linda Ronstadt.
This song is set in my neck of the woods. The place names mentioned are all familiar to me.
The West Fork of the Walker River is one of the most scenic rivers in the Eastern Sierra, particularly through the canyon from about the Sonora Pass turnoff on US 395 to the wide spot in the road of Walker which has a joint that serves the best Chile Cheeseburger in the world!.
Yerington is a nice town if you like Superfund sites. The town is very proud to have been mentioned in a song and there may be a reference to it on their city limits signs. Heh.
The Truckee 'runs through' less than half a mile from where I sit and our town's motto is "Flush twice, it's a long way to Reno". Actually, our world-class wastewater treatment plant puts very clean water into the river.
Virginia City is a 2000-foot vertical drop waiting to happen. Most famous for Hoss Cartwright's mad sexual escapades with Julia C. Bulette. No video. Drat. Rumor had it that these thunderous performances were also used to test the integrity of the Deidesheimer Squaresets used to shore up places like this. The Squaresets are still there, peacefully rotting away. Since most of 'em are right under the main street VC better be glad Hoss and Julia ain't.
Now that I've bored you silly, please enjoy this sad and lovely song.
If you caught Larry last night, you heard his "Rewrite" segment about the interest we give to England's Royal Family, especially the upcoming wedding of Wills and Kate. Now, I'm not one for royalty but, being of British descent (dad), being a big fan of the great charitable organizations (over 3000) the royals have lent their names to (namely Diana but Chuck and the Queen as well), I do sorta keep tabs on the boys, watching them grow into the young men they are now. As the son of a British subject, I'm proud of them.
Now, Larry's correct, in the intellectual sense, about the wedding and how much time we spend gawking at them after giving them the finger a couple hunnert years ago but, as R.K. Barry says over at Michael's place:
... Unless, of course, many are not thinking about this in a critical way but simply want to enjoy a good party ...
We'll be aboard Queen Eizabeth* for the wedding**. Why do you think I care? Heh ...
*If I can find my fucking clothes.
**You know the Mrs. and my buddy Terry's Mrs., saps that they are, are gonna cry through the whole thing (especially if they have a couple drinks in 'em beforehand). Pics will be posted as soon as I pull 'em out the camera. Heh ...
Crosby, Stills, & Nash - Southern Cross
The Republicans are always kvetching about how the government should be run like you run your household finances and I agree with them. After that, our paths diverge, drastically. Here's why.
We'll use the "household finance" example.
You = America (or, more accurately, the US government). Your house and the land around it is America.
Your job = Running the country. You are responsible to provide for your family's (the American people) well being. Keeping the house fixed, the lawn mowed, the lights on, the water running, the cars gassed and maintained, etc.
Tax revenue = Your salary. What your boss pays you to give him a certain amount of work for a certain amount of time every week.
Okay, got that? Let's move on.
Now, you find you've over-extended yourself somehow. Maybe spent too much on Christmas presents for the rugrats, or had a medical emergency your insurance barely covered, or had a fucked up mortgage that adjusted on you and doubled, or tripled, your payments. Whatever, but you're in the hole.
According to the Republicans, you should go to your boss and say "boss, I'm really in debt and I need every dime I can, so I'm gonna ask you to cut my hours" and, in turn, you'll make less.
That's what the Republicans want you to do by calling for more tax cuts for the rich and corporations. They're telling you to voluntarily cut your salary at a time when you need the money more than you ever did.
Then, with less money, you find you have a leaky roof, termites, the car's acting up (infrastructure), your kids are coming up on college age and they ain't Einstein or Hawking, and your mother or mother-in-law can't live on her own anymore and has no means to get into a decent home or home care so you have to care for her yourself (social programs).
The Republicans won't let you to spend anything on those things (because you got yourself in debt, you loser, and you got your boss to cut your hours). Their big plan, instead of you or your spouse going out and getting a second job to make a little more money (raise taxes) to fix and take care of the necessities, is for you to ask your boss for another cut in hours and pay (more tax cuts for the rich).
Thing is, you live in a neighborhood that isn't inherently dangerous, but there have been a few robberies and domestic violence (localized disruptions in other countries), maybe you've been robbed once (9/11). The local news tells you, day after day, that your neighbors are all planning to kill you and take your stuff so you go and invest in security (national defense), big time, because you want to keep your family and stuff safe. You couldn't really afford it to begin with, but it's all you got and you want to protect it. Now, since you got your boss to cut your hours, you really can't afford the armed guards patrolling, the searchlights, infrared night vision cameras, and perimeter fence with guard towers but your security company is running around with its hair on fire telling you the crap your paying for is now obsolete and you have to upgrade, for a fee. Also, disagreements with your neighbors due to your over-the-top security have got you sued a couple times and a decent part of what's left of your salary is garnished (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya).
Also, during this time, the price of gas has gone up 50% and you have to drive 35 miles to get to your job (where now you're making about half of what you did before) and that expense is added on to everything else. You also find out the bank you deal with has been badly managed and run into the ground, so all your savings have been taken to keep them afloat (big bank bailouts).
What do the Republicans want to do? They're telling you, once again, not to cut back your security system because it's bleeding money. Not to, maybe now that you're up to your neck, have your spouse go get a job, or you get a second one (raise taxes), but to cut back on feeding your kids and educating them (sorry, kids, no college for you), to cut back on grandma's care (sorry, grandma, but you and the dog can share the same bowl), and ask your boss to cut your hours once more (even more tax cuts for the rich and corporations).
If the Republicans want to run the country like I run my household budget, that's fine. I'd welcome that. But I don't go and abandon everything in order to make my boss "feel certainty" that he can make money in the future. If my boss loses his shirt, that his problem. If he can't run a profitable business unless he cuts my salary, he's either a bad businessman or he's trying to fuck me. If I think, after giving him back so much, he'll come to my aid when I can't afford my basic needs anymore (trickle-down economics), I'm a fool.
The Republicans are playing a good portion of us for fools.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Just think for a moment about the 55-year-old Tea Party activist who today is caught up in the excitement over Rep. Paul Ryan’s “bold” Republican budget. Picture the activist adjusting his tri-corner hat, waving his yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, and thrilled that finally someone is getting serious about dismantling the socialist tyranny of Medicare.
Ryan’s 2012 proposal doesn’t envision balancing the budget for almost 30 years. So, as the Tea Partier hobbles through his late 60s, suffering through insurance-induced poverty and anticipating an early death, the prospect of the government having its fiscal house in order will still be a hazy future promise, maybe a decade or more still to go.
The Tea Partier, however, will be able to take some solace in knowing that he contributed to the luxury of the moneyed interests and multinational corporations. Freed from government rules and enjoying historically low tax rates, the rich will be the nation’s new royalty, able to hire servants at sub-minimum wage (since, thank goodness, those oppressive wage laws would be repealed, too).
Note to the ignorant 'bagger dupes: Be careful what you want. You might get it.
The Rude Pundit, more links at site.
In case you hadn't heard, that right there is a new stamp* from the United States Post Office. It has a photo of the Statue of Liberty, but there's a mistake there. For it's not the one that greeted immigrants coming to America in New York Harbor. Oh, no. It's the one from New York-New York casino and hotel in Las Vegas. New York-New York is owned by MGM Mirage, which is about 10% owned by Dubai World of the United Arab Emirates.
There you go: a postage stamp honoring reduced Liberty at a place where dreamy middle and working class people merely give their money to a big multinational corporation. It's the American dream. No wonder the word "Forever" has a line through it.
By the way, in the midst of the faux New York City is a 9/11 memorial with real artifacts from the day. You can honor the fallen before you play blackjack and eat at the buffet.
And people wonder why I hate Vegas. As if we didn't have enough shit wrong with this country without their help. Yeesh.
It's a great idea if you think about it. American penes are unique in regard to the pressure handling capabilities of their urethra's, the masculine design of their veins, and the shape and taste of their helmets.
Candidates aren't required to present penis identification documents if they have a long-form birth certificate, but many, being men and thus always eager to brag about their little soldiers, have already submitted theirs. I'm including a few excerpts below:
Put. Coffee. Down. Before. Clicking. Link.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – The U.S. policy of exporting democracy abroad has meant that there is very little of it left at home.
That is the grim assessment of a new study commissioned by the University of Minnesota, which predicts that if the U.S. continues to export democracy at its current pace it may completely run out of it at home by the year 2015.
The University of Minnesota study contains several proposals, such as outsourcing the U.S. government to the world’s largest democracy, India.
“The work done by Congress could be accomplished much more efficiently by a series of electronic phone prompts,” the study recommends.
But Mr. Boehner warned that eliminating Congress entirely would have disastrous effects: “That would destroy entire sectors of our economy, especially the prostitution industry.” [my em]
Thanks to Tina at The Agonist for the link.
The Air Force has problems distinguishing men from women and adults from children. Which means pilots sometimes target — and kill — the wrong people. The air service’s solution: a nationwide contest, to help the military pick out kid from grown-up.
Yeah, in the Air Force, the adults are the NCO corps. The officers are the children. Though, while I was in, more than once I walked up behind a female officer and said "excuse me, sir."* ;)
*Unintentionally, of course.
Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.
The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".
And in the US, we've got Mother Nature tied up and we're ass-raping her for all she's worth. I'm waiting for the day when nations and people who are concerned with the health of this planet start taking measures to contain us from doing any more damage to the environment. We seem to be the only ones in denial about the mess we're making.
Thanks to Cookie Jill for the link.
... And don't let personal feelings get involved. Just because, for example, Goldmine Sachs are rotten, scumbag motherfuckers doesn't mean you can't invest in them. In this shitbag system, they always come up smelling like a rose ...
Well, they just might not:
Is this the time, finally, when we see some of these bastards go to jail for crashing the economy to feed their own greed? Finally? I wouldn't hold my breath:
It would be nice to see them all perp-walked out of their offices by the feds.
This is a little financial lesson in the making. If indictments come down, I'm unloading as fast as I can. But, as Susie said: "I wouldn't hold my breath" for any indictments materializing. With Levin being a Dem, I'm sure the White House will do their best to nip this in the bud. Wouldn't want Timmy-boy to cry.
Update to the Update:
Comrade Misfit gives good advice too. A buncha people who should neither be believed or taken seriously.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) begged reporters Wednesday to "take the bat" to a 76-year-old lawmaker for collecting a pension and a paycheck.
Yeah, 'take the bat' to a widow who lost all her money to Madoff, you fucking asshole. Typical Repug bully.
Note to Secaucus Fats: I'm here. 'Take the bat' to me and I'll shove it up your roly-poly ass, pine tar, tape, and all. I'm in no danger. You ain't got the balls to take on anybody that ain't an old woman.
Think of F** when you see the stirrups! If that don't make ya grow teeth in them things like the Repugs are convinced you already have, nothing will! Ha!
The House speaker is reportedly contacting top bankers to ask how far he can push the fight over the debt ceiling without roiling the markets.
[...] But Wall Street is telling Boehner that, if the markets believe the debt limit won't be raised, very bad things will happen to the dollar, U.S. borrowing costs, and global finance. Why is Boehner even engaging in these discussions? Here, four theories:
With an explanation of each.
1. Boehner is playing with a weak hand
[...] And the fact that Boehner is asking Wall Street "how much screwing around he can get away with" before raising it — rather than whether raising it is a good idea — means Democrats should be completely unwilling to trade anything for a clean vote. Republican threats are mere bluffs.
"Call the hostage takers' bluff"
2. The GOP doesn't want to lose Wall Street's support
3. Wall Street knows Boehner's bluffing is harmless
4. The Tea Party is setting the terms of this debate
Boehner has already said* that the debt ceiing won't be raised without "something really, really big attached to it".
If the Dems stand firm (pigs are flying?!) they don't have to give him jack shit. He just wants to appease his 'bagger morons and make this look like a victory for them.
Stupid fucking Repug games. Business as usual.
*Great quote on the masthead at this site:
"Every normal must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." -- H.L. Mencken
Yep. Shiver me timbers!
By the way, hearing Republicans complain about the partisan tone of the speech is like watching a group of cobras complain that the local mongoose bites them too hard. Seriously, guys, you're cobras. Suck it up. It's just fucking embarrassing.
They're garter snakes who want us to believe they're cobras. Just snakes in the grass.
Also, the mongoose almost always wins. I like that!
And this month I did it. Now I am planning to game the system by using the card for groceries and gas, paying it off every month when the bill comes in, and taking the cash rewards from the bank.
The idea is to get a credit card with benefits you can use. We, fer instance, use AMEX. The Delta Airlines AMEX to be exact. Why is that? Because the Mrs. flies around the country on business half the year. Because points add up to miles. Because we enjoy traveling so much. Of course, basic fiscal discipline is always in play (never charge up more than you can afford to pay off when the bill comes) but it has really helped out, allowing us to travel a bit more easily and reasonably.
Remember too, to read the fine print before applying for (or accepting) a new card. Too many people get bitten in the ass by the bullshit fees, conditions, and penalties but if you do your homework (as with anything) you should be able to use their bullshit to your advantage.
And, since I'm giving out a little financial advice (something which I am loath to do because I am no damn expert and I only know what works for me), I got a little for the younger folks who might stop by here to listen to the old farts once in a while.
Don't have kids.
Well, at least, wait until you're married (or together, cohabitating) a few years. There is nothing etched in stone somewhere that says you gotta spit out a kid a year after you're together. Take a few years to get to know each other, learn how to work together (learn if you can before fucking up some kid with a divorce) and become a team, oriented to the same general goals (financially, spiritually, with a congruous set of aspirations). And this rule is paramount: If you're having relationship problems already, a kid ain't gonna fix it and the kid will pay the biggest price down the road.
Build up trust in each other and make sure you can trust each other. Then, when that's reasonably certain, figure out which of you is the best with money and let them run it. The Mrs. (see "Discipline") is that person here. I couldn't tell you how much my paycheck was over the past 10 years, nor could I tell you my yearly salary. If I write one check a year it's a lot. I have no idea what I'm worth. The Mrs. has the answers and that's fine with me; I'm not living out of a box under a bridge somewhere.
If it's a dollar a week. Use forced savings through your employer (though avoid a 401K made up completely of your employer's stock) or get direct deposit for your check and have your bank make an automatic transfer to your savings account, even if it's just a dollar a week.
Don't look over the fence.
"Keeping up with the Joneses" is horseshit. Shy away from "impulse buys" or frivolous shit (and by that I mean, for example, how much does a Starbucks Super Fatso Latte cost every day compared to buying a pound of good coffee and making your own?). Just because your neighbor has "X" doesn't mean you should too. A lot of folks I know got in trouble by getting competitive with their friends when it comes to "stuff" (if you've watched TV for an hour recently, you'll realize we're conditioned to it). Make a list of "Needs" and "Wants" and stick to it ("Needs" = bills, gas for the car, clothes for the kids; "Wants" = anything else that doesn't keep you fed, clothed, employed, and warm). When money's tight, stick to the "Needs" list. The "Wants" only come when you can afford them without sacrificing the "Needs". Do not use credit for "Wants" if you can help it.
Invest, if you can.
I realize, in this day and age, for a lot of people even putting a sawbuck aside every week is a big ask. But this comes back to gaming the system again. This is what's there, we might hate it, but if you want to get anywhere in it, bitching about how bad it is ain't gonna work. When you have some money saved, see if you can take a portion (never put all your eggs in one basket) of it and invest it in something long term and safe. Our rule was to invest in things we use and it's helped out too. Carnival Corp, fer instance, where we get anywhere from $150 - $750 in shipboard credit (each) on every cruise, just because we own more than a hundred shares. So far, the credits have more than paid for the stock (plus I earn dividends on the stock in good times, which we reinvest to buy more). And don't let personal feelings get involved. Just because, for example, Goldmine Sachs are rotten, scumbag motherfuckers doesn't mean you can't invest in them. In this shitbag system, they always come up smelling like a rose. Why not take advantage of that and make some scratch for yourself?
And I just remembered, rereading this: Don't forget about your investments. Check on them quarterly to see what's doing what. I know financial statements are eye-glazing, believe me, but you have to see if shit you got is making money. If the value of something (this is very general because of many factors) doesn't improve in a year, you're not making anything. Might as well take the cash and put it in a savings account where it'll at least earn a percent or two. Always remember, this is cold shit. Do not let personal feelings get involved (i.e. don't feel bad because you love X Products - you use their stuff - and you can't bear to part with it even though it hasn't done shit since you bought it). Money that's not making anything is just an interest free loan on your part to some shitbag corporation. They're fucking you enough.
Maybe, thanks to the military, my German and British heritage, and being married to a woman who comes from a long line of accountants, I got a leg up on others in the discipline category, but discipline can be learned and must be applied. Also a long-term view (this is why I emphasize "congruous goals" in a relationship) of where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years. If your partner doesn't want the same things you do for the future, it'll be that much harder to save for it.
Well, that's it. I might put something up in another couple years but these I think, are important. And, when I get the inevitable "but F-man, you're pretty well off and it's easy to give advice from that point of view" (one of the reasons I shy away from giving financial advice), I'll just answer with this: 23 years ago, I was homeless. A little over 15 years ago, the Mrs. and I were counting change in order to buy a soda to share. I never won the lottery, never had a rich relative die and leave me flush. Nobody ever gave us anything (except for this house when my mother died and that's cost me $150K so far) but with discipline, a lot of talking, planning, and sacrifice we've gotten to a comfortable place and we have a nice nest egg set aside for our retirement.
Like I said, I know there are a lot of different situations and I'm not saying to follow my advice to the letter or at all. Just something to think about that worked for me.
Addendum: A very important thing I almost forgot. You are not in touch enough with the markets to "day-trade" (or whatever it is they call it now). Short-term, high-risk investments, trying to make money on small, daily fluctuations in the markets is a sure recipe for disaster for the average person. Find a good financial guy who'll sit down and listen to you, ask you about your plans for the future, and try to design a realistic plan for you to meet your goals. This could be difficult and it is paramount you do your research. Take years to find the right person if that's required. These are decisions that will affect your long-term solvency and a crook, or an idiot, will dash your dreams in a New York Minute. Just look at the news nowadays and you can very well assume that if you're not on Social Security now, you're never going to be. Plan ahead. Ain't nobody, especially in these times, looking out for you but you.
And one more and then I'll shut up: Gold? No. The rise in gold prices is a bubble created by Friends of Beck. If you got in and bought a load when they first started, when the price was about $400/ounce, sell it now and retire in Liechtenstein. Buying high (gold is at record prices) and expecting the market to go higher is the same way people lost their shirts in the Dot.Com bubble, and the Housing Bubble, etc (I was around for the Hunt Bros. silver scam about 30 years ago and remember how that went). No gold, period.
*And don't look down your nose at me for flying first class. It ain't the ass-kissing we're after but the waiver of luggage quantity and weight fees (and the use of the SkyClub at the airport). Packing two people going for a few weeks on a ship with formal occasions can cost enough to actually buy a plane ticket for the luggage. Okay, I'll admit, it also lessens the chances of me having to put up with somebody's screaming kid on a night flight to Europe.
For a nation that can’t stop bragging about how great and powerful it is, we’ve become shockingly helpless in the face of the many challenges confronting us. Our can-do spirit was put on hold many moons ago, and here we are now unable to defeat the Taliban, or rein in the likes of BP and the biggest banks, or stop the oil gushing furiously from the bowels of earth like a warning from Hades about the hubris and ignorance that is threatening to destroy us.
Atrios says something that hit home with me:
I've commented on this before (as with most things), but I continue to be amazed at the completely pervasive can't do spirit that seems to have gripped the country. Maybe we need to win a hockey game against the Soviets or something to bounce back.
I was in an argument on Facebook with a few people at the Major League Soccer page the other day. I made a smartass remark about the quality of the American game versus the European or South American teams. I was stating there were a few things we could do to improve the quality of the way it's played here and maybe get a little more credibility on the world stage. Basically, the response I was met with was "this is America and we do it our way so shut up" to "the rest of the world has been playing football for a century before we were so we will never be able to compete with them (on the club level)".
And the thing that struck me, maybe because I grew up at a time when we went to the Moon and believed anything was possible, was how nobody wants to do things better. Nobody wants to say "we're Americans and we can do anything we put our minds to" instead saying "we could do it better if we wanted to, we just don't want to". They'd rather the status quo than any attempt at improvement.
Now, to me, football (soccer) is an elegant game when played well. To watch people like Wayne Rooney or Lionel Messi or Ronaldinho, in his prime, and so many others is enthralling. If my only experience with soccer was the US game, I doubt I would be such a big fan. I want US soccer to be as big here (and played as well) as it is in England, France, Germany and the rest of the world. I'd like to stem the tide of the best US players running to Europe or South America to play their football. 75% (16 of 21)of the US Mens National Team plays their club football on a different continent (we send them our best, they send us their "has-beens" and "never-weres").
What is wrong with wanting the type of football here that would give our stars (and we have some great American players) pause before signing a contract with an English Premier League or Bundesliga team? What is wrong with seeing "The Beautiful Game" played by the people who invented it and attempting to emulate it? What is wrong with wanting to be the best you can be?
Seems that in America, we only talk about how good we could be (or think we are), and we're satisfied with that.
Here's the thing: power attracts money. Money creates power. That vacuum no longer exists, and society must be vigilant, eternally so, against that slop-over. As we see, the combination of business and government is a most dangerous one. It creates fascism.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: a free society is a three-legged stool: government, the people, business. Any one of those legs gets chopped down, and the stool tips over. In fascism, the government and business carry axes. The people do not, precisely because of the regimentation and conformity that is imposed.
While most believe they "know Fascism when they see it", through their votes they've welcomed it unnoticed:
When fascism has been imposed in the past, in nations like Italy (where it was born) and Nazi Germany, it came from the government.
Here in America, it's been creeping in through the corporatocracy, aided and abetted by the government and the Brownshirt thugs who support the cause.
This is why the signs of fascism, as plain as day, are ignored by many people, who have been indoctrinated that free enterprise is their ally and government is the enemy, when in fact government is the sole bulwark against the encroaching fascist state.
And when did this happen?
... The second the business sector was allowed to participate fully in the political process, America was doomed to fascism.
The quotes I pulled don't do it justice so I'd urge you to read the whole thing.
We've allowed corporations and the rich to extort our democracy away from us and I get the feeling we're never going to get it back. They're too entrenched in our political process, with money and personnel, to weed them out. That is, unless we change the campaign finance laws and those concerning "corporate personhood".
Finally, Obama placed tax hikes for the rich at the very center of the debate, arguing that the “worst” thing about the GOP vision is this: “Even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.”
There’s no ignoring the fact that such stirring rhetoric jars against Obama’s recent deal with Republicans to continue the tax cuts for the rich, and some will be understandably wary of his stated moral conviction about them. But the President did draw a sharp line — one that will be hard to climb down from — on the coming fight over whether to let them expire: “I refuse to renew them again.”
On entitlements, it’s true that Obama repeated the formulation — disliked on the left — that we will reform entitlements without “slashing” benefits for future generations, which leaves the door open to mere “cuts.” But Obama did draw a hard line on defending Medicare’s core mission, and crucially, he did so while reiterating the speech’s larger message, which was that the Democratic version of the social contract is inviolable.
It was a great speech but, after seeing so many of Obama's promises left on the side of the campaign trail, after seeing him cave to the right on more than one occasion (whether from lack of a spine or by design), I'm taking a wait and see attitude. I'll be thrilled if he comes through and actually holds this high ground (as opposed to bargaining it away as soon as the Orange Boner opens his pie hole) but I'm not expecting miracles.
I quote my dear friend once again: "Talk, however, is cheap."
A 15-year-old rape victim was forced to stand terrified before her entire Baptist congregation in New Hampshire to confess her “sin” of having become pregnant.
What Tina Anderson wasn’t allowed to tell the congregation was that she had become pregnant after she was raped by a church deacon, a man twice her age.
Power-mad, sadistic bastards. And it ain't confined to the so-called Christians. Even the rabbis are ratfucking each other in NYC:
It is certainly one of the more unusual cases coming out of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
And one that now raises questions about one recent child molestation case.
"Imagine what happens when someone is motivated by greed and causes false or exagerated claims to be made about such terrible abuse," said DA Hynes.
Nobody knows whether the original molestation charge is bogus or not (of course that doesn't matter to the DA), but it gets better:
"Kellner then hatched a plot to make a profit out of this terrible situation by offering a second young man money to falsely claim that Libovits had molested him as a child," adds Hynes.
Kellner is accused of trying to pay him $10,000. Rabbi Libovits went to trial last year on child molestation charges and strangely at the time, even his attorney questioned one of the alleged victims.
But Kellner, the District Attorney accuses, carries his alleged plot even further.
Another power-mad "religious man" using an awful situation to get ahead, then making it worse by witness tampering, maybe even allowing a rapist to go free.
As you know, I'm for freedom to worship, or not, but it really kills me that a decent percentage of Americans want to basically ban Islam (they ain't no better than the others) because they're scared of the terrorist bogeyman, yet willingly bring their children to places, on a regular basis, that seem to be breeding grounds for pedophiles, molesters, and rapists.
What am I missing?
It's too early. I knew I wanted to add another link to this post and my friend WK reminded me in comments. Another who should be burned in a 55gal. drum with a stack of bibles used for kindling is the Catholic League's Bill Donowhore:
It would serve Bill Donohue and the Catholic League well if they went through some basic public relations training. Their latest attempt at bomb-throwing is a full page ad in the New York Times that blames the sexual abuse crisis on an overzealous media, scam artists, and, of course, "the gays."
Another apologist for rapists and pedophiles. If there was the god all these holy assholes claim there is, these fuckers would all have been smited by now.
*Great thanks to Ol' Fez for the link.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.
Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.
The absurd thing is that Ryan’s act isn’t even politically courageous. It’s canny calculation, but courage it is not. It would be courageous if Ryan were, say, the president of the United States, and leaning on that budget with his full might. But Ryan is proposing a budget he knows would have no chance of passing in the Senate. He is simply playing out a part, a non-candidate for the presidency pushing a rhetorical flank for an out-of-power party leading into a presidential campaign year. If the budget is a hit with the public, the 2012 Republican candidate can run on it. If it isn’t, the Republican candidate can triangulate Ryan’s ass back into the obscurity from whence it came, and be done with him.
No matter what, Ryan’s gambit, ultimately, is all about trying to get middle-class voters to swallow paying for tax cuts for rich people. It takes chutzpah to try such a thing, but having a lot of balls is not the same as having courage.
The worst part of this is that the President is going to address the budget in a few minutes and I fear he will give up any leverage he has in his speech. The Repugs know they have him buffaloed, so they swing for the fence knowing he will meet them halfway before serious talks even begin. Then they can bluff him with threats and he'll cave even farther to the right.
I hope I'm wrong, but I'll bet I'm not.
Well, he didn't give away the store and he pretty much told Ryan NO on undoing 75 years of progress of the New Deal and Great Society, but when all is said and done, I'm afraid more will have been said than done. As usual. We will see.
It was a good speech, but all his speeches are good. Talk, however, is cheap.
And then it came to pass that they almost shut down the entire U.S. government over -- what was it again? -- condoms and pap smears and those ever-horrifying, omnivorous vaginas? Right.
Ah, abortion, the single issue no one in America save for fringe religious fanatics cared to have regurgitated in the public debate, a fact that didn't stop the GOP, which saw an opportunity to create wedge and hate and gain evermore power, as women across the nation felt an all-too familiar icy shudder pass through their ovaries, the same bolt of cold misogyny they've felt ever since the first church elder put quill to parchment declaring them all whores and temptresses and repositories of unclean menstrual blood. Except for the virgins. Who were, of course, even scarier.
But let us not get caught up in the savage and unsolvable abortion debate right now, because there are far more fascinating and demonic energies afoot; why, just over here we find that, in the latest example of our insatiable appetites for cheap energy no matter what the cost to land, life, beauty, or anything of value beyond powering the bleak engines of capitalism, a Canadian company is now fast proposing to start strip-mining huge and pristine swaths of Utah.
Fear of hoo-hah to stripmining hordes of commuters in Utrecht to organic everything. It's a mixed bag today.
NEW ORLEANS -- Some civil rights advocates are outraged after a 6-year-old girl received an intense pat-down at Armstrong International Airport security on April 5.
Someone caught the pat-down on video [At link - F.], and it's making its way around the Internet.
It has many asking, are the intense security screenings really necessary, especially for a little girl?
I tell ya what. Why don't we all just hide under our beds and never come out? It's amazing how we talk so big, yet we're so scared that we're reduced to frisking a 6 year old girl. What, did they think her mother shoved a bomb up her ass? Do they think the kid joined a terrorist cell all by herself? What everybody calls "security" is nothing more than feel-good theatrics for public consumption and a welfare program for Homeland Security-related corporations.
I'd posit to my friend Michael, that there's no such thing anymore, at least not amongst those who aspire to, or wish to retain, political office:
Back to Romney, though. He's evidently trying to capture the "sane" wing of the GOP, positioning his apparent sanity (non-Birther) against the insanity of so much of the rest of the party (including Trump and the Birthers). Will that get him anywhere? Not with his RomneyCare record, not with his flip-flopping over the years, and not with the general lack of credibility he has with the hardcore conservatives/extremists who make up the Republican grassroots and who, in a year without a leading establishment candidate (e.g., Dole, Bush II, McCain), will very likely determine the winner. (Pawlenty is trying to be the establishment candidate, but he has a lot to overcome, not least his lack of broad national appeal. The establishment, such as there is one anymore, is so desperate that the party could end up with an embarrassingly unelectable nominee like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann that draft-X campaigns are springing up around potential "sane" candidates like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush.)
Personally, I'd be more afraid of Romney appealing to supposedly "sane" Democrats if he won the nom, but there's too much loony in the Crazy Old Party for that to happen.
The rich are already at the table, as are the Democrats, the Republicans, the Tea Party and the unions, the business interests and the moneyed interests. The poor can’t afford for you to forget about them, and you cannot afford it either. Of all Americans, the poor are not just the real victims of this recession; they are the victims of a thirty year campaign of smear and neglect, to strengthen the rich on the backs of the rest of America in the dim and ultimately futile fantasy that the rich getting richer will somehow "trickle down."
Well, it hasn’t trickled down. While middle class wages have declined in the face of unparalleled wealth and technology creation since the 1980′s, the poverty rate in our country is the highest it has been in 51 years. That takes us to the early 1960′s. Shame on all of us who otherwise take pride in the achievements of this rich and powerful nation.
If you don’t put the poor at the heart of your policies for the next two years, with the interests aligned in favor of the rich, too many of the middle class will join them in their suffering. That is the "trickle up" of poverty that has impoverished nations with unfair concentrations of wealth at the top. That is what destroys great nations.
Thanks to Susie for the link.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Today is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s beginning, when secessionists fired on Union troops at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. According to a new poll from CNN, the Civil War’s legacy remains unresolved. The poll finds that Republicans and Tea Party supporters are more likely to support the Confederacy and confederate leaders than Democrats or Independents.
According to the poll, nearly one in four Americans sympathize with the Confederacy more than with the Union. That number grows to nearly four-in-ten among white Southerners. Among Tea Party members, 26 percent sympathize with the Confederacy more than the Union, and that number grows to 28 percent among Republicans.
There's that Dead End Quarter again.
Meanwhile, while respondents overall viewed slavery as the main reason for the war by a 54-42 margin, Tea Partiers and Republicans held different views. Fifty-two percent of Republicans believed slavery was not the main reason, and that number rose to 54 percent among Tea Partiers.
Yeah, it wasn't over slavery, it was over the "states' rights" that permitted slavery. Yeesh.
Even though these battles are radical and out of the mainstream, it isn’t that shocking that these Republicans are attempting to refight them. According to these poll numbers, that’s exactly what large segments of their base want them to do.
Fine. The sane people kicked their ass once and apparently they've recovered enough that they need it kicked again.
Note to Confederacysymps: Just secede already. The United States will pay a high price in the loss of a lot of fine people but I can accept it if it makes you STFU. Maybe a sound wall around you would work. A thick one.
Michele Bachmann Calls For Stripping Judges’ Power To Enforce Parts Of The Constitution She Doesn’t Like
Well of course she does. Tell the Founding Fathers where they fucked up, Michele. They couldn't possibly have foreseen that one quarter of the populace was gonna go batcrap crazy, but I'm sure they would have allowed for that had they known. Or maybe they did.
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
Well under way according to plan, thank you. And your point is...?
When I was a small boy I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than than everyone else. They demanded the cupcake my mother had packed in my lunchbox, or, they said, they’d beat me up. After a close call in the boy’s room, I paid up. Weeks later, they demanded half my sandwich as well. I gave in to that one, too. But I could see what was coming next. They’d demand everything else. Somewhere along the line I decided I’d have a take a stand. The fight wasn’t pleasant. But the bullies stopped their bullying.
I hope the President decides he has to take a stand, and the sooner the better. Last December he caved in to Republican demands that the Bush tax cut be extended to wealthier Americans for two more years, at a cost of more than $60 billion. That was only the beginning — the equivalent of my cupcake.
It is impossible to fight bullies merely by saying they’re going too far.
You have to turn them black and blue and red and make them afraid to fuck with you. Simple. If you don't, the bullying will never stop.
Boy, there's a dream vacation...
This morning, a criminal complaint filed in circuit court alleges that William Gardner, the president and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., skirted campaign donation laws by soliciting employees to give to Scott Walker’s campaign and then reimbursing them, in what amounts to two felony counts. It has also come out that Walker’s campaign then reimbursed Gardner and seven additional railroad employees to the tune of $43,800, which indicates a criminal probe is imminent of Walker’s campaign.
The state might be trying to get William Gardner to testify against Walker with the two felony counts. If this is legitimate, the people of Wisconsin have more than enough reason to oust Walker. If it’s unclear how serious this is, think Tom DeLay (my em).
A pattern of systemic corruption within the Wisconsin Republican Party is being established by recent events. What we have here is a pattern of reckless disregard for the law, which I deeply suspect will eventually rear its head in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race as well, though we don’t know exactly how yet. But the Walker administration and the Republicans in the state Senate and House have established a pattern of violating the law, now topped off by allegations against a donor of violations of campaign laws.
Systemic corruption? Repugs? Yep, from coast to coast. If they didn't break laws wholesale they'd never get elected. Finances, vote tampering, lying, cheating, the works.
But it's OK. God told them to, and besides, it's the American way. Yeesh.
Let's hope this pans out.
... the Barry Bonds case and the multi-years' long efforts of the Federal prosecutors to put Bonds away for being an arrogant dickhead.
... The Feds also went after Martha Stewart for some of the same reasons, both the legal reasons and the unofficial ones.
But I can't help think this: The Feds have, to all appearances, not put forth any effort to go after any of the banksters, other than the schmucks who were running obvious pyramid schemes. There has not been, as far as I know, any sustained series of perp-walks for the banksters who violated their fiduciary duties to their clients.
High profile names the feds can point to in order to show the public they're "doing their jobs". For whatever reason (the bankers have Obama's balls in a vise or we just don't want to take on tough jobs anymore - except when it comes to killing "Little Brown Bastids"), America has become the "Land of the Mediocre".
But he's also kept hundred of documents secret, and we used the FOIA to find them--we got everything that the Pentagon handed over to Rumsfeld, so we know what what he got and can see what he declined to publish. We received a few hundred pages in February, and just got another 1,300 pages, including memos urging President Bush to start toppling regimes in the Middle East just days after 9/11, suggesting that he thought Gen. Tommy Franks was lying to him, and chastising his generals for being too concerned about civilian casualties.
After reading this, it's obvious (as if Iraq and Afghanistan aren't proof enough) the man was inept and incompetent as a leader of men (and women) at war. He and his suck-buddy Wolfowitz should both have been up against the wall (or twisting at the end of a rope) by now.
As Leona Helmsley so sweetly put it, when speaking of the wealthy,"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..." And thanks to the efforts of the Republican/Teabaggers in their budget negotiations, many more wealthy people will be able to say that.
They're coming for the tax collectors now.
It's hard for me to believe that the whole world isn't riveted on this story --- and maybe everyone but Americans are. This ongoing epic disaster is unfolding right before our eyes and yet we look away. Is it too much for us? Or are we just so self-absorbed that unless it affects us personally we lose interest?
Two reasons, my dear Digby.
1) Americans, collectively, have the attention span of a gnat. If shit ain't on fire, blowing up, or have military weaponry being brandished about, we lose interest quickly. A radiation disaster doesn't lend itself to the cable news cycle.
B) The Japanese are "Little Yellow Bastids". Of course Americans do nuclear better; we're Americans and that could never happen here.
These two statements also explain why we can turn our backs on places like Africa and why we intervene in places like Libya and Iraq. Ain't nobody here cares about any "Little ________* Bastids" unless they got something we need.
*Insert color of your choice.
I got the perimeter beds cultivated and added about 800lbs of topsoil (organic stuff I get from a local Long Island company for $1.35/50lb bag) to the compost (I got my own that my mom started when I was a baby and we perpetuate; good soil) I put down last week.
I also added 4 more of the Sweet Flag grass next to the steps coming up from the house (pay no attention to the delinquents in the background; heh ...).
Click pics to 'fertilize'.
Glad I got the time (and the girls got the time) outside yesterday as we're having thunderstorms and rain until tomorrow night. They'll be stir crazy by Thursday (when the weatherman says the sun will come out again) but at least they're tired* today.
I still have to find flagstones for the walk but that'll have to wait until we get back from Europe. I'll be around the house today, playing Chinese Laundry making sure everything we plan to take with us is clean (you know, being aboard a British-flagged ship - Queen Elizabeth - during the Royal Wedding, there'll be some sort of gala the Mrs. - and my buddy Terry's Mrs. - will make us go to**). Hopefully, the Mrs. will be home from Jersey early enough to
*A tired Cattle Dog is a good Cattle Dog.
**Me and Terry would much rather sit in the bar, watch football, and swap war stories.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Idaho Republicans ‘run amok’, sue taxpayers for $100K
According to Spokane, Washington's Spokesman-Review, Republicans in the Idaho state legislature rushed a bill through in the final days of the legislative session to pay the Idaho Republican Party $100,000 in attorney's fees and legal costs for a primary election lawsuit that it brought against the state and won.
Though it’s not uncommon for prevailing parties to get their legal fees paid in a federal civil rights case, what’s unusual is how the Idaho GOP set up its fee arrangement with its attorney – a rare “contingent fee” deal in which only the taxpayers would have to pay, not the party, regardless of the outcome.
Democratic lawmakers were agog at the Republican Party's conduct. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise said, “I have to point out, we’re paying $100,000 for the Republican Party to sue the Republican Legislature, defended by the Republican secretary of state, in order to close primaries in Idaho – I just think this is so bad it’s comical."
Comical indeed! Works out to a little less than 7¢ per Idahoan, which is still too much. Not only are the goddam Repugs rich, they're cheap. Anything to avoid opening their own creaky purse, eh?
Yes, always better to put it off onto reg'lar folks. Musta took a page from Lyin' Ryan.
Freudian Slip From Psychotic Right-Wing NewsMax:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is vowing to Newsmax readers that organized labor will not steal back the dramatic come-from-behind victory of Supreme Court Justice David Prosser even if unions end up paying for a recount.
Come-from-behind attempted election theft is more like it. Steal back is the operative Freudo-slip. Heh.
The rich gave them lots of money and told them so?
Fun facts that you should have heard elsewhere but probably haven't: Federal funding of Planned Parenthood was started by President Richard Nixon with the support of Congressman George H.W. Bush. The rumor is that they were once considered Republicans. Conservatives supported it because contraception kept women from having more babies and kept them all off welfare. An ounce of prevention, you know. But that's when "conservative" didn't simply mean "bugnuts." History is awesome.
History is also largely ignored by the right in favor of failed ideology, as are reality, facts, and compassion.
SHUTDOWN AVERTED, COMPROMISE BUDGET DEAL REACHED
Republicans agree to sell out social conservatives, Tea Partiers, Libertarians; Dems agree to sell out poor, sick, elderly.
Public Thinks Public Broadcasting Receives 5% of Budget
The rest goes to providing abortions to illegal immigrants.
GOP Proposes Trillions in Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Aid to Poor, Elderly
Reassures Republicans none of them will be affected.
Researchers Develop Cannabis-Like Drug That Dulls Pain Without the High
So far they've received no offers of funding.
Thus proving Fixer's point on the beer IV drip...
Some Prepare for End of World on May 21, Others on Dec. 12, 2012
Some buying survival gear now, others waiting for summer sales.
Buying survival gear for the end of the world is like buying new chrome for a blown-up wrecked motorcycle.
I turned on the webcam for a couple minutes this time.
Wait till you see what they say about those of us who manage to slip in under the wire. Wait till you see what they DO to those of us who manage to slip in under the wire. Rest assured, if you are in your mid-fifties or early sixties and you think you have nothing to worry about, guess again. The public sector workers who are now being scapegoated for the misdeeds of bad state governments making bad investments of pension fund money with sleazy bankers and hedge fund managers are the canary in the coal mine for tomorrow's Social Security recipients.
If you were making plans for your elderly years that included Social Security, you'd better start making other plans. Because you might get your check for a couple of years, but there are going to be a lot of angry younger people coming after you; some of them your own kids.
Indeed. They're gonna come for the seniors next.
The simple truth is that news is a business now. Glenn Beck was bad for business and therefore, the management was no longer willing to keep him on the air. The free market, you tea-baggers, at work. Your ideas just don't work in the marketplace of ideas.
Let's hope it's a trend.
They have some great commercials and they just put this one out; the adventures of 3 monks in a monastery in Nepal. I get a kick out of it every time I see it. It's funny with a great soundtrack so I'll share it here before I head out to the garden.
World Soccer Shop - How Far Would You Go?
I can relate.
Now the Rethugs are already warning the President that they'll break his balls on the Debt Ceiling vote in a few months. So, I'm sure the Dems are gonna cave some more to get them to go along with raising the debt. How much are they gonna extort this time?
And then they're gonna start on the 2012 budget.
Hopefully, over the next few months, the President will grow a set of balls. If he has to "compromise" anymore, there will be no money for anything. Considering his track record so far, I ain't hopeful. Not when his habit is to govern with the strength of overcooked linguine.
It's got to the point where the Republicans/Tea Party have gotten almost everything they demanded, compromise coming only from the Left side of the aisle. When is the time when the President and the Democrats will say "enough"? When is the time the President will get up in a public forum and say that the middle class and poor have given enough, that it's time for the rich to pay (finally) their fair share? When is the time when someone (Mr. Obama) will stand up and say that cutting spending alone will not fix the deficit and we have to increase revenue? Will it happen before 2012, or will he let them get away with more until he is reelected (if that happens)?
These are a lot of questions I shouldn't have to ask of a Dem President. I should know he'll be fighting for his supporters, not wondering just whom he thinks his supporters might be. Say what you will about George Bush, you knew where he was coming from. You knew he would take care of his pals (and throw some fresh meat to his base every now and then) to keep them in line. So far, Barry's taken care of the corporations and appeased the Republicans. From his actions, he's been more like Republican-lite than a Dem.
Like I said, I certainly don't know what the answer is. The alternative is unthinkable. The Republicans have gotten away with a lot as the minority party, I could just imagine the damage they'd do if they were in the majority, with a Republican President signing every piece of shit bill that came out of Congress. But I would like a real Lefty to challenge Obama in a primary. If anything, it might steer him a little more to the left, maybe he won't be as willing to take us for granted, that he has our vote just because the conservatives suck so much more.
That type of logic will bite the Dems in the ass sooner rather than later, yet I have zero hope they'll change anytime soon. Unfortunately, things will probably get worse before they get better.
Sorry about my absence this weekend but I've been running around like an idiot the last couple days. Leaving for London in a week and the Mrs. has business travel all this week so we got most everything done this weekend. I'll be in this afternoon after I finish the beds in the new garden.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
long time ago my friend Urbil Artola from the Basque Country and i decided to record a video and upload it in YouTube. Here is the result. It was lots of fun doing it and I tell you Urbil is the BEST !
Thanks to MartinGross, Germany.
At first glance, City Tavern might seem like the quintessential modern American gastropub: exposed brick walls, bare beams, walnut surfaces, reclaimed wood flooring and a long line of local craft beer taps standing at attention behind the bar. But three booths near the back boast something never before seen in California: TableTenders. They might seem precarious to those wary of binge drinking, but these self-serve spigots offer curious imbibers the opportunity to sample beer at their own pace, while giving managers the ability to monitor and control the amount of beer their patrons consume in real time.
“People just want to pull the handle.”
Can the beer IV drip be far behind?