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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 30th, 2011

"All cruelty springs from weakness." -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stewart On Yesterday's Media Frenzy

April 28th, 2011

Gallup: New Low For Tea Party

April 28th, 2011

I am not sure to take heart in the solid "disapprove" numbers or be alarmed that such a high percentage of Americans in times like these still have "no opinion."

From Gallup:
"About half of Americans, 47%, now have an unfavorable image of the Tea Party movement, the highest since it emerged on the national scene."

Meet Sally Kern

April 28th, 2011

Following the chorus of racist hate that greeted yesterday's POTUS presser, I really didn't think anything could make me more ashamed of the current American climate. I was wrong. This morning, DailyKos introduced me to Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern.



Here is a sampling of her views on minorities:

"We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

What could top that? Well, how about this...

I

Perhaps we should all contact her and let her know what we think.

Capitol Address

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd, Rm.332
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Capitol Phone: 405.557.7348

It Should Be The End Of It... But It's Not

April 27th, 2011

Before I proceed, let me just say that I am ashamed to be in the position of having to write about this at all. The relentless and racist pursuit of our President by some of our own citizens, the "birthers," will long be remembered and not kindly.

The Obama Administration has finally caved to the American fringe. Yesterday morning saw the sitting President of the United States ultimately demean himself by going to the White House briefing room to announce formally that he is an American citizen.


Quote Of The Day

April 28th, 2011

"Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason." -- Abraham J. Heschel quotes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David Frum On Paul Ryan's Bad Math

April 27th, 2011
Our previous dissections of the Path To Poverty can be found HERE and HERE

The numbers in the Ryan Path To Poverty still just don't add up. I have pointed out (along with just about every non-elected Republican who has actually read the thing) the absurdity of the Heritage numbers in particular. Rather than respond to these revelations as an alarm bell, many members of Rep. Ryan's fanclub have doubled down on it. I am not the only one who thinks this is nuts.

David Frum writes:

"Well, we all sometimes get our math wrong. But here's the strange thing: the invalidation of Heritage's job predictions has had no impact whatsoever on Republican advocacy of the Ryan plan.

Suppose I presented you with a plan to land an astronaut on Mars. You check my numbers and discover a mistake: my trajectory will instead send the astronaut hurtling into outer space. If I answer, "Well let's use that trajectory anyway," wouldn't you conclude that I was less than totally committed to the Mars mission? That perhaps I had some other goal in mind instead?"

Indeed. 

Genuine Liberation Theology

April 27th, 2011

Meet Reverend Cletus Kiley. God Bless him. Major hat tip to The Book Of Cletis.

Good Question

April 27th, 2011

© Copyright 2011 Clay Bennet/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Quote Of The Day

April 27th, 2011

"An individual, in promoting his own interest, may injure the public interest; a nation, in promoting the general welfare, may check the interest of a part of its members." -- Friedrich List

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 26th, 2011

"I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies." -- Pietro Aretino

Monday, April 25, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 24th, 2011

© Copyright 2011 Thomas Boldt
"He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger." -- Confucius

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quote Of The Day - Here and Now Easter Edition

April 24th, 2011

"The crime of liberation theology is that it takes the Gospels seriously. That's unacceptable. The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you take a look at them." 

-- Noam Chomsky

Quote Of The Day - Easter Edition

April 24th, 2011

For ye shall go out with joy, 
and be led forth with peace.
The mountains and the hills 
shall break forth before you into singing, 
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 23rd, 2011

"As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence." -- Benjamin Franklin

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quote Of The Day - Here And Now Edition

April22nd, 2011

"Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. 

Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough." -- Paul Krugman

Meet Rep. Cliff Stearns

April 22nd, 2011 UPDATE This article was modified from its original version to include information on Rep. Stearns' NRA rating and 111con H.R.2159

Meet Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). On the Fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks he made this statement:

"Four years ago, the forces of terror launched an unprecedented attack on the United States. Although our nation had long been the target of terrorists, these events shocked us out of lethargy and into action... 


My prayers are also with the victims of terrorism, and with our brave men and women waging and winning the War on Terror. We must never forget the horrible events of that September day."

What a guy. What a "patriot."

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
Fast forward to last fall. Many of the "brave men and women" who had fought for their fellow Americans on that very day and into the following weeks were in trouble. They were now also "victims." These heroes that politicians, especially men like Rep. Stearns, had used as props and backdrops for an uncountable number of money-raising schemes were in peril and agony.

Some were suffering from cancer. Some were experiencing the slow disintegration of their lungs. Others had developed neurological disorders. Almost none of them possessed the kind of wealth required to supplement their existing health care. These miseries were the result of having answered the call of duty.

Indeed, they may have sacrificed all but their last measure by rushing into the carnage on that September morning. So a bill was proposed to serve them as they had served us. It was to be called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law, named for a NY City detective who died from a respiratory illness he contracted at ground zero.

How did the Republicans respond? Did they rush to the floor of the House and the Senate ensuring swift passage? 

Absolutely not. First, they framed the bill as an "entitlement". The firefighters and law enforcement officers who we had been told represented everything that was noble in our culture were portrayed as looking for a handout.

As the mess spiraled and everyone from Shepard Smith to Jon Stewart heaped much deserved scorn on their machinations, the Republicans played games with the lives of our most selfless citizens. They held them hostage to the extension of the W Tax Cuts. After the back door deals were done, the legislation finally passed. As it turns out, there was an interesting caveat in the law and it came from the office of Rep. Cliff Stearns.

From HuffPo today:

"The provision was added in an amendment by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) during the heated debate over the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee last May.

Sept. 11 responders in the committee room at the time mostly shook their heads at the move, which Democrats accepted on a voice vote after battling to bar other amendments on abortion and immigration that might have killed the bill.

But suddenly the point is no longer just a strategic concession to get a law passed.

As doctors and administrators begin acting on the federal instructions, participants in the 9/11 treatment and monitoring programs will soon be told that their names, places of birth, addresses, government ID numbers and other personal data will be provided to the FBI to ensure they are not terrorists."
EMPHASIS OURS

I guess that was just Rep. Stearns way of looking out for us. You never know how many of those "brave men and women," crippled by their own heroism, may actually be Al Qaeda. Or something.

I am sure Rep. Stearns was just protecting us by adding an extra layer of bureaucratic red tape to keep potential evil-doers from conning us out of our money. I mean, we can't possibly provide medical care to anyone on the terrorist watchlist even if they are proven to have behaved heroically on 9/11 or in its aftermath. If care is delayed for some during an as yet undetermined appeals process or is outright denied, shouldn't these union cops and union firefighters still feel lucky?

We don't keep these watchlists for nothing. Right? They are very serious business. 

Screencap from Stearn's Amendment
There's just one small problem. Stearns' position on the 111th congress' H.R.2159. Perhaps you have forgotten that bill. It's full title was the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009." That proposed legislation was pretty simple. It attempted to prevent anyone on the terrorist watchlist from buying a gun. The NRA went nuts. The far-right cried that it was "anti-American."

Let's just say Rep. Cliff Stearns didn't get his A+ rating from the NRA for nothing.

So here we are. If you are on the terrorist watchlist and are provably a hero who saved fellow Americans or one of the thousands of souls who combed through the wreckage looking for remains or maybe even just one of those who helped amidst the chaos and maintained order, no medicine for you!

But if you are on the terrorist watchlist because you are a mouth-breathing, Stormfront member and a whack job with a history of anti-government threats? GUNS,GUNS, GUNS! All the guns you want!

Either way, Rep. Stearns is not really responsible for this. When the Zagroda bill finally came to a vote, he didn't vote yea and he didn't vote nay. He abstained from voting at all.

As I said. He just not responsible.

2370 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0906
Phone: 202-225-5744
Fax: 202-225-3973
Email: fl06wyr@housemail.house.gov

Andy Comes Unglued

April 22nd, 2011

If you have not yet seen the exchange between Martin Bashir and a somewhat unhinged Andrew Breitbart discussing his new book and the Sherrod affair, it is remarkable. That Breitbart becomes so flummoxed by Bashir's soft spoken style should serve as a lesson to all pundits today; Keep cool. It seems to drive the outliers nuts.


Quote Of The Day

April 22nd, 2011

"A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over... is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen." -- G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 21st, 2011

"Dishonesty in government is the business of every citizen. It is not enough to do your own job. There's no particular virtue in that. Democracy isn't a gift. It's a responsibility." -- Dalton Trumbo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 20th, 2011

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Alan Keyes... What Happened???

April 19th, 2011

There was a time when I found Alan Keyes' arguments intellectually frustrating. I sometimes found them infuriating. There were even times when I found them downright dangerous. But I have never before found them to be so wildly removed from the realm of reason that my jaw dropped. Apparently, living in the margins these past few years has not done him any favors. This is nuts. He has become a disaster of epic proportions.

HT to Right Wing Watch

How They Think

April 15th 2011

Meet Douglas Holtz-Eakin. If you are unfamiliar with his work, he was formerly the head of President George W. Bush's budget office. He also served as a key economic advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign. Although he is a backer of Paul Ryan's Path To Poverty, he recently and very openly acknowledged its flights of fiscal fancy.


But make no mistake, he is the kind of guy who puts the "arch" into "arch-conservative."

Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was faced with a very serious problem while trying to pass his cruel and vindictive spending bill. Many Republican house members were in revolt. They felt they had been duped. It seemed that the bill was not sticking it to the poor and vulnerable nearly as much as they had been promised. It was time bring in Doug.

From TPM:

"The GOP defections came after news reports revealed that the legislation will only cut $350 million in immediate spending -- not the $38 billion that had been advertised. Indeed, the defections may have been worse if Republican leaders hadn't enlisted the help of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of George W. Bush's budget office, to explain the massive discrepancy to skeptical members Thursday morning. Holtz-Eakin ran through his presentation again Thursday afternoon on a conference call with bloggers.

He asked the conservative advocates on the line to engage in a thought experiment. If the Department of Education's only responsibilities were paying employees and buying books, its annual budget might not reflect both expenditures because books take time to process and deliver -- and might not be paid for until the next fiscal year. A spending cut deal like this one, he argued, prevents the Department of Education from buying more books -- and thus the savings don't materialize right away." EMPHASIS OURS

See? Just be patient, he was arguing. It might not be that great now, but it'll keep 'em from buying nasty, wasteful things next year! Nasty, wasteful things like books.

"It's activities like that, that span fiscal years, that make it hard to get the full impact in one year," he said. "I'm perfectly willing to speculate that there are some who would be happy to take advantage of that confusion."

This is exemplary of Neoconomist thought. It actually makes sense to men like Holtz-Eakin to promote fiscal policy by framing books for our nation's children as waste. It does not occur to such men that this might be construable as as unseemly. Or immoral. And it is just such men who are essential for the current Republican leadership to sell their wares to their own outliers in a pinch.

The next time you hear a contemporary, elected Republican speak about "the children" or "the future" or intone about "compassion," I beg of you to remember Mr. Holtz-Eakin's contribution to the budget battles of 2011. 

20 years ago, a pronouncement by a celebrated member of either party in America that was this extreme would have led every news cycle. In our current climate, however, it doesn't appear that very many people have noticed it at all.

But it is how they think.

The Story Of Citizens United

April19th, 2011
This remarkable piece is from The Story Of Stuff Project

Stewart Parses The Crazy

April 19th, 2011

The GOP base truly seems to have added a pair of crazy pants to the requirements for a 2012 Presidential candidate. Jon Stewart has noticed.

FOX Comments Roundup

April 19th, 2011

So. I have said it before and it bears repeating; I do not know how the watchdogs at FoxNewsComments can stand it. It's been a banner month so far for Murdoch's moderators. What have they NOT been deeming inappropriate lately?

Headline: Principal Apologizes For Mock Auction of Black Students in Virginia 



Headline: Mexican Authorities Find Mass Grave Holding 59 Bodies
20 people clicked "like" on this last one.







Sleep tight all you folks who might be foolish enough to think we are living in the 21st Century. 

Quote Of The Day - Here and Now Edition

April 19th, 2011
Damn straight.
"By the way, Heritage is always like this. Whenever there’s something the G.O.P. doesn’t like — say, environmental protection — Heritage can be counted on to produce a report, based on no economic model anyone else recognizes, claiming that this policy would cause huge job losses. Correspondingly, whenever there’s something Republicans want, like tax cuts for the wealthy or for corporations, Heritage can be counted on to claim that this policy would yield immense economic benefits." -- Paul Krugman on the Heritage Foundation's now discredited numbers used by Paul Ryan to promote his Path To Poverty

Quote Of The Day 3

April 19th, 2011

Uh huh...
Oklahoma City, April 19th, 1995
"We must find out where the roots of terrorism lie." -- Brent Scowcroft

Quote Of The Day 2

April 19th, 2011

© Copyright 2002 Salt Lake Tribune
"Defeating terrorism is more difficult and far-reaching than we have assumed.... We may be advancing the ball down the field at will, running over our opponent's defenses, but winning the game is another matter altogether." -- Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.)

Quote Of The Day

April 19th, 2011

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Totally Random Let's All Stay Sane Moment

April 18th, 2011

Screw budget debates. I would venture to say that this guy actually has life all figured out. Enjoy.

Consequences, Ctd...

April 18th, 2011

A number of readers responded to my piece on today's S&P warning. Most agreed that the Friday afternoon vote in the U.S. House on Rep Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Path To Poverty was a primary factor. Many were correct in taking me to task for neglecting to mention the very dangerous game-playing by Republicans with regard to raising the debt limit ceiling leading up to the vote and continuing through the weekend. Some noted dryly that the Ryan plan itself would require raising it to well over $19 trillion from it's current level of $14.3 trillion. This does seem to render the rabid opposition to an increase by so many of the Path's supporters absurd. Particularly that of Rep. Ryan.

More than a few also thought it was a terrible omission on my part to look at Friday's vote as the last straw without the context of these revelations...
From Politico 4/13/2011:

"House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has had conversations with top Wall Street executives, asking how close Congress could push to the debt limit deadline without sending interests rates soaring and causing stock prices to go lower, people familiar with the matter said."

Speaker Boehner seems to have implied it's all a game. There are few examples of just how un-serious the GOP is that come close to this. However, one reader brought this gem from Investors Business Daily to my attention; The House GOP seems not to have reconciled the fact that Ryan's plan would be illegal under the equally fabulist Balanced Budget Amendment recently passed by their Senate counterparts.

Our national adventure in decline continues...

Really, Really, Really Reluctant Hat Tip

April 18th, 2011

I think there is so much wrong with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's Administration, her tactics and her philosophies. That said... Hat tip to Jan Brewer.

From My Fox Phoenix:

"PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed two controversial bills passed by both the Arizona Senate and House -- the guns on campus bill and the 'birther' bill.

Guns on Campus Bill: SB 1467

- Would've allowed guns to be carried on public rights of way at public university and community college campuses
- Applies only to rights of way -- not inside classrooms
- University presidents opposed the bill

"This bill was very sloppily written and drafted, and I believe when it affects not only our education system, all the way from K-12 through the university, and we can't even find out a definition of what is a right of way... how are we going to enforce a law like that?" Governor Brewer told us.

'Birther' Bill: HB 2177

- Would've required President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens before their names can appear on the state's ballot
- Arizona would've become the first state to require such proof
- 13 other states have considered similar proposals this year. The proposals were defeated in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine and Montana

As for her decision to veto this bill, Gov. Brewer said in part: "I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their 'early baptismal or circumcision certificates'… this is a bridge too far. This measure creates significant new problems while failing to do anything constructive for Arizona."

The First Consequence Of The Ryan Plan

April 18th, 2011
You can read our critique of the Ryan plan's tax proposals HERE and defense position HERE

ADDITION: My readers made great points after I posted this. Some of them have been included HERE
It's not just our Nobel winners like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz who are appalled by the supposedly "serious" Path To Poverty. Many on the right who actually study numbers for a living such as former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman, arch-conservative economist and former George W. Bush advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin as well as Libertarian Tyler Cowen have pointed to its major flaws. The Economist went so far as to call Ryan a liar.

So it was with interest that I watched very little comment from either Moody's or Standard & Poor's regarding the much ballyhooed pamphlet. It seemed clear that the organizations were waiting for a response from the President and the Democrats. Along with the rest of us, they got one last week. S&P stayed largely mum but Moody's liked what they heard:

From Bloomberg 4/13/2011:
"President Barack Obama’s plan to cut $4 trillion in cumulative deficits within 12 years may be a “positive” for the nation’s credit quality and mark a reversal in the budget debate, according to Moody’s Investors Service."

"Cindy Stroller and Mimi Barker, spokeswomen in New York for Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, respectively, said the firms couldn’t immediately comment."

The following day, Moody's made some damning observations of the Ryan Plan.

From the Fiscal Times 4/15/2011:

"Economist Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, forecast on Thursday that Ryan’s plan would eliminate 1.7 million jobs in its first two years, with 900,000 jobs lost next year. Other economists were equally dismissive." 

The real debate was set to begin in sober and deliberative earnest. Or at least it should have been.

This congress is unfortunately in the hands of radicals. To hell with a real discussion. They wanted Ryan's neo-Randian visions brought to the floor immediately. By the end of the day's business on Friday and on a strictly party line vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican majority passed the Ryan Plan with only 4 of their members joining a unanimous Democratic opposition. Indeed, a political paper riddled with numerical flights of fancy, riven with extreme ideology and with policies that would transform the entire citizen/government relationship in America was put to a formal vote less than 2 weeks after it was unveiled.

Today, in what I believe is a direct consequence of this partisan gamesmanship, S&P made an announcement:

From Bloomberg 4/18/2011:
"Standard & Poor’s put a "negative" outlook on the long-term AAA credit rating of the U.S., citing a "material risk" the nation’s leaders will fail to deal with rising budget deficits and debt. "We believe there is a material risk that U.S. policy makers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium-and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013," New York-based S&P said today in a report. "If an agreement is not reached and meaningful implementation does not begin by then, this would in our view render the U.S. fiscal profile meaningfully weaker than that of peer ‘AAA’ sovereigns."

The cost to protect against a default by the government and the nation’s banks jumped and stocks declined after the New York-based firm’s statement, which assigns a one-in-three chance that it will lower the U.S. rating in the next two years. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index tumbled 1.6 percent to 1,298.67 at 12:34 p.m. in New York."

We have been broadsided by the economic equivalent of Scientologists. Just 2 weeks of this particular partisan drive has further damaged our already teetering recovery. Just think what they can do with another 20 months.

Quote Of The Day - Here and Now Edition

April18th, 2011

"It doesn't address in any serious or courageous way the issue of the near and medium-term deficit. I think the biggest problem is revenues. It is simply unrealistic to say that raising revenue isn't part of the solution. 

It's a measure of how far off the deep end Republicans have gone with this religious catechism about taxes." -- David Stockman, former director of Ronald Reagan's office of Management and Budget critiquing the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WIPath To Poverty 

Quote Of The Day

April 18th, 2011

"Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives." -- William Dement

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sometimes, It Takes a A Few Generations To Get It Right

April 17th, 2011

I hope that the injustices currently being foisted upon Americans of all heritages aren't allowed to stand this long before at least getting an apology.

From ABCNews:
"Fannetta Nelson Gordon was finally recognized yesterday as the valedictorian of Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh—an honor denied her in 1936 because of her race."

Quote Of The Day

April 17th, 2011

"A government, for protecting business only, is but a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay." -- Amos Bronson Alcott

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stockman And Sachs On The Ryan Plan

April 16th, 2011

Yup. The Path To Poverty is indeed "absurd."

Maybe Ryan Really IS Through The Looking Glass

April 16th, 2011

In economics there is the theoretical future and the provable past. It's generally wise to base proposals for that future on what we have learned so far. Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Path To Poverty is most striking in it's devotion to philosophies that we know to be destructive and ineffectual. Take a look at the cost-benefit analysis across a variety of forms of deficit spending. Make no mistake, the tax cuts called for in the "Path" are deficit spending.



The Ryan plan seems to take these facts and literally flip them. Every proposal he describes as most stimulative has been proven to be the least likely to spur growth. Everything he has targeted for elimination has the greatest immediate benefit to the economy. The problem for Ryan is that he just doesn't like these facts. As Tim Tankersley and Katie O'Donnel of the National Journal observed, the Ryan Plan is predicated on a faith in "bedrock principles of supply-side economics."

Which is how we got here in the first place.

Quote Of The Day

April 16th, 2011

"Develop a built-in bullshit detector." -- Ernest Hemingway 

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Note To Angry Readers

April 15th, 2011
Again, you can read just some of the reasons why the Ryan plan is nonsense both HERE and HERE

As my inbox has flooded with defenses of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) "pamphlet" ranging from the spirited to the spiteful, one fact has become abundantly clear; the vast majority of its defenders have not only not read the Ryan plan, they have also not read the CBO analysis or the Heritage analysis. This may not be surprising but it is disappointing.



I know it's asking an awful lot, but unless and until you folks have spent the time reading these documents... you are making fools of yourselves

Here they are. It's not that hard to read them.
The Path To Prosperity

Congressional Budget Office Analysis of the Ryan plan

The Heritage Institute Analysis of the Ryan Plan

Fallows Not Taking "The Path"

April 15th, 2011

James Fallows sees the Ryan plan for what it is. In response to the many talking heads who keep lauding its "seriousness," he responds in the Atlantic:

"1) A plan to deal with budget problems that says virtually nothing about military spending is neither brave nor serious. That would be enough to disqualify it from the "serious" bracket, but there's more.

2) A plan that proposes to eliminate tax loopholes and deductions, but doesn't say what any of those are, is neither brave nor serious. It is, instead canny -- or cynical, take your pick. The reality is that many of these deductions, notably for home-mortgage interest payments, are popular and therefore risky to talk about eliminating.

3) A plan that exempts from future Medicare cuts anyone born before 1957 -- about a quarter of the population, which includes me -- is neither brave nor serious. See "canny or cynical: take your pick" above.

4) A plan to reconcile revenue and spending, which rules out axiomatically any conceivable increase in tax rates, is neither brave nor serious. Rather, it is exactly as brave and serious as some opposite-extreme proposal that ruled out axiomatically any conceivable cut in entitlement spending or discretionary accounts.

5) A plan to reduce the federal deficit by granting big tax reductions to the highest-income Americans, at a time when their tax rates are very low by historic standards and and their share of the national income is extremely high, and when middle-class job creation is our main economic challenge, is neither brave nor serious. See "cynical," above.

6) A plan that identifies rising health-care costs as the main problem in public spending, but avoids altogether the question of how to contain those costs, is neither brave nor serious. This is a longer and more complicated discussion (see below*); but I submit that the more closely anyone looks at the Ryan plan, the less "serious" it will seem on this extremely important front.

7) A plan that reduces, among other things, research on future energy sources and technologies by about 85% may be "brave," but it's also crazy and short-sighted."

Quote Of The Day

April15th, 2011

"Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on." -- Winston Churchill

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Speechless

April 14th, 2011

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) is speechless... 

Quote Of The Day - Here and Now Edition

April 14th, 2011

SFWeekly blogger Matt Smith opens his piece on this past weekend's intense debate between the NY Times' Bill Keller and Wikileaks' Julian Assange at U.C. Berkeley by humorously summing up each man's basic assessment of the other.

"​Julian Assange is a paranoid, misguided, smelly bag lady -- not an open government hero. And New York Times executive editor Bill Keller? Well, he is a cynical dissembler interested more in covering his own ass than telling the truth."

Smith's coverage is very entertaining indeed and definitely recommended.

Quote Of The Day

April 14th, 2011

"A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paul's Pout

April 13th, 2011

While perusing some of the reactions on the right to today's Presidential budget address, I came across this little gem from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

From TPM:

"House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) attacked the partisan bent of the speech, then characterized it as "a political broadside from our campaigner in chief."


This is an abject lesson in how to make an ass of one's self. How can we take seriously a critique of the President's proposals as over-politicized when the critique itself resorts to petty political name calling?



The President's Budget Address

April 13th, 2011

We will be adding our two cents in the coming days. The full text of the President's prepared remarks is below the video.


"What we've been debating here in Washington for the last few weeks will affect your lives in ways that are potentially profound. This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page, more than just cutting and spending. Its about the kind of future we want. It's about the kind of country we believe in. And that's what I want to talk about today.

Totally Random Let's All Stay Sane Moment

April 13th, 2011

Quote Of The Day

April 13th, 2011

"We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Percentages

April12th, 2011

With the U.S. government nearly shutdown last week over abortion arguments and the partial federal funding of Planned Parenthood in particular, it was interesting to see these figures.
Source

A VERY Reluctant Hat Tip

April 12th, 2011

While catching up on correspondence and confirming links for a few upcoming columns, I happened to have the FOXNews audio up on screen 2. I was about to switch feeds after hearing Sean Hannity introduce mean-spirited bomb-thrower Ann Coulter. I am glad I didn't. I would have missed this. After being asked by Hannity what she thinks of Donald Trump's flirtation with a Presidential run, Ms. Coulter not only engaged in withering criticism of his opportunistic "birtherism," she blew the whole meme out of the water. She also spoke to a particular truth that very, very few liberals are willing to acknowledge; the "birther" smear originated within the increasingly desperate Hilary Clinton camp in 2008. Regardless of her slams in the segment against President Obama, this is pretty good stuff. Can we be done now? I am quite uncomfortable praising Ms. Coulter.

Quote Of The Day

April 12th, 2011

"The people will believe what the media tells them they believe." -- George Orwell

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Billionaires' Tea Party - Trailer

April 11th, 2011

Beckwatch - Who Depends on Planned Parenthood? HOOKERS. That's who.

April 11th, 2011

Well. Hookers. Yup. Hookers. Planned Parenthood really only helps hookers. SO! Click HERE to donate to those hooker helpers.

Least...

April 11th, 2011

Least surprising tweet in the history of the medium. Perhaps Steve hasn't had much sleep. Click HERE to donate to Planned Parenthood.

The Paul Ryan Pamphlet Part 2 - Defense

April 11th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

© copyright 2011 S. Harris
Having examined Rep Paul Ryan's (R-WIPath To Poverty in some detail, it's been frustrating watching so many rightist partisans and pundits respond by lavishing praise upon its "seriousness." My first critique, focusing on the tax implications alone, argued that it is largely removed from economic science as we know it.


It was satisfying to see Paul Krugman say much the same thing and for the same reasons a few of days later. He does, after all, have a little more experience reading budgets than I do.

"They should have waited until people who know how to read budget numbers had a chance to study the proposal. For the G.O.P. plan turns out not to be serious at all."


Kid Rock 'Steal Everything' PSA

April 11th, 2011

Having spent a great deal of my life in the music business and having watched the collapse of old financial models, I was quite amused when this was forwarded to me yesterday. It's wonderful. Frankly, it's better than any of his recent records. Props to Kid Rock.

Quote Of The Day

April 11th, 2011

"The civility which money will purchase, is rarely extended to those who have none." -- Charles Dickens

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stewart On Beck

April 10th, 2011

Jon Stewart addresses the announcement that FOX and Beck are parting ways...


Donald Trump's Scottish Adventure

April 10th, 2011

Somehow, Donald Trump's surge amongst the far right is making more sense every day.

More Strange Bedfellows

April 10th, 2011

A hat tip to Tea Party proponent and Blog Talk Radio host Mark Gillar. No, really. He and I were recently discussing the Waukesha situation on twitter. Politely, I might add. We may not agree on much, but we agree on the principles of fairness and the rule of law. I would like to see more folks across the spectrum get on board and acknowledge that this is the most important issue here. He is convinced that the outcomes will not be changed by a recount. I am not so sure. But my mistrust is purely political. It is more than possible that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is just profoundly incompetent. It would not be the first time an initial appearance of impropriety was simply the topcoat on a pattern of stupidity. The point is this; we both want to turn on the lights.

Quote Of The Day

April 10th, 2011

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." -- Louis D. Brandeis

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Credit Where Due

April 9th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

Yesterday, I wrote a piece on the right wing's callous double standards regarding election fraud. I stand by my arguments and my critique of their tactics immediately following the apparent victory of the Democrat in Wisconsin's Supreme Court Race. Although I am not walking back any of my statements on arch-conservative John Fund's history of fear-mongering nor letting him off the hook for his still despicable April 7th WSJ column written prior to the stunning discovery of "uncounted votes" favoring the Republican, I need to make a clarification.

Mr. Fund has written a piece in today's WSJ that demands he not be grouped with the other conservatives I went on to expose as crass opportunists in the wake of the "magic vote" affair. He has very clearly stated what so many of his fellow travelers will not.

"Ms. Nickolaus {Waukesha, WI County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus} ought to resign her position out of a sense of shame. An independent investigation is called for, if for no other reason than to clear the air and to recommend procedures to ensure such errors don't happen again. Just as many Wisconsin officials have ignored or downplayed evidence of vote fraud (see the Milwaukee Police Department's 2008 detailed investigation) so too have sloppy election procedures been allowed to fester in some counties.

If the mistake was innocent, it resulted from a lack of transparency. Ms. Nickolaus has long been criticized for keeping her county's election data on private office computers that are not part of the county network. But of equal concern is her decision to no longer report the individual breakdown of results from cities in her county on her office's website. If she had, everyone could have seen that the city of Brookfield was listed as reporting that no votes had been cast. In addition, Ms. Nickolaus's office never reported what percentage of the county's vote had been counted at any point on election night.

Ms. Nickolaus still hasn't provided a full explanation of what happened, but the public deserves answers. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says she ended the prior clerk's practice of reporting election results for individual cities because it was "not her responsibility" and she didn't "have the staff to enter all the data that's required for such reporting." That is an absurd excuse. Many smaller Wisconsin counties are able to post such data on their websites and provide proper transparency."


Hear hear. I think, as he goes onto posit, it may well be true that there is no actual fraud. Perhaps, the candidate I supported with much passion has indeed legitimately lost this race. I might not like it, but that's not germane. Which was my whole point yesterday. The only reasonable American response is to shine a whole lot of light on Wisconsin. Then certify a result that is confirmed to be true. Either way.

Again, John Fund has argued for justice and fairness. I challenge all the members of the right who have been mocking calls for a full investigative review to grow up. And join him

Bachmann? Really? Okay then.

April 9th, 2011

I do sometimes find Mark McKinnon to be interesting. Less often, I find him to be incisive. But it wasn't until this morning that I found him laugh out loud, knee-slappingly funny. He has a piece that appeared in yesterday's Daily Beast which, to tell you the truth, I am not sure is meant to be taken seriously. This is because, in it, he seems to be taking Michelle Bachmann very seriously. You can read it for yourselves but here is a screencap of the sub-header in bold type





Wow. "Fire in the belly?" This may well be. However, he seems to have not taken into account the rocks in her head, the ice in her veins, or the "closed for repairs sign" that sits just outside her center of reason. Was this one of those unfortunate late-night posts about which we all feel regret at one time or another?

I have made a couple of gently glib remarks in the past week about actually wanting the Reagan vision back within the Republican party. The Gipper may have called ketchup a "vegetable." But I honestly think Bachmann would try and find a way to conflate ketchup with a "threat to our freedoms" if it might give her some momentary edge.

The journey through the looking glass continues...

Quote Of The Day

April 9th, 2011

"A creditor is worse than a slave-owner; for the master owns only your person, but a creditor owns your dignity, and can command it." -- Victor Hugo

Friday, April 8, 2011

Strange Bedfellows

April 8th, 2011

Sometimes, the truth of an issue runs way too deep to let general ideological differences or even past animosities interfere with cooperation. Last night, Judy Woodruff shone a light on a very strange limited political-partnership indeed. Ben Jealous and Grover Norquist are working together to fight for major reform of America's unfair, destructive and way too expensive penal system. No. Really.



Key points from the transcript:

Ben Jealous: So, on the one hand, we know that, for instance, drug rehab, dollar for dollar, is seven times more effective for dealing with nonviolent drug addicts, which are the bulk of people in prison, than jail or prison. On the other hand, we also know that, if you look, for instance, at the state of California, when California was known to really have the best public universities in the entire world, like in the '70s and '80s, they were spending 3 percent of their state budget on prisons and 11 percent on their colleges and universities.

Grover Norquist: And when you look at it, you're seeing a lot of people are sent to prison who perhaps ought not to be in prison, in terms of some cost-benefit analysis. And, again, we're conservatives. I think there are a bunch of people who deserve to be in prison forever. I think there are some people that deserve to be in prison for a long time. I don't get weepy about the whole idea. But we are keeping some people in prison who might be better off in drug rehabilitation or under other kinds of house arrest or other kinds of control, other than very expensive prisons.

Beyond the fact that I deeply support substantial overhaul of the corrections culture, this seems to me to be the way America is supposed to work. Put aside the differences. Get together. Move forward.

Oh, It's Different If THEY Might Have Done It

April 8th, 2011
Please CLICK HERE to petition the Justice Department to investigate "magic votes" in Wisconsin.
by F. Grey Parker
UPDATE: 4/9/2011 John Fund did the right thing today

An incredibly ugly thing happened yesterday in America. I am not explicitly referring to the discovery of "magic votes" that were previously uncounted due to "human error" in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. That is a factor in what disturbs me, to be sure. More troubling than this potential impropriety is that the previous day's media cycle began with a coordinated series of attacks

throughout the usual conservative outlets making baseless claims of "potential fraud" by Democrats in the race. At that time, it looked like the liberal was winning.

This is the modern, post-election playbook for the American Right. If they win, even by the slimmest of margins, it is called a "mandate." Ah, but if they lose, well then they goose step to their laptops and TV cameras and imply illegitimacy. It is red meat for those who believe that Americans with whom they disagree are, well, not really American.

Prominent right wing commentator and activist John Fund fired the first shot in Wednesday's WSJ. He laid the usual groundwork for mistrust and it was widely linked to by organizations like FOX.

Some selections from his agit-prop:

"Any recount will be scrutinized for irregularities and possible vote fraud. A recount in a similarly close race in neighboring Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate race stretched on for months, amid charges that some counties counted absentee ballots according to different standards than others did. Al Franken, the Democrat, was eventually sworn in after pulling ahead by 315 votes. His victory gave—for a time—Senate Democrats the critical 60th vote they needed to pass ObamaCare over a potential filibuster."