Monday, August 5, 2013

A Threat to Justice Everywhere

“A second year under sequestration will have a devastating, and long lasting, impact on the administration of justice in this country,” “slash operations to the bones” "profoundly compromise" “We do not have projects or programs to cut; we only have people. We must adjudicate all civil and criminal cases that are filed with the courts,” the judges wrote. “Our workload does not diminish because of budget shortfalls. … Another round of cuts would be devastating.”

The Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Tribune have done fantastic jobs of detailing how the sequester is threatening the U.S. justice system. The sequester is literally a threat to the justice of our justice system and also a threat to the just Catholic social doctrine of the "preferential option for the poor." This blog entry is the place for the who, what, where, when, and why of the sequester.

In August 2011, with the Tea-Party led Congress holding the United States' credit hostage, Congress and the President agreed to the "Budget Control Act." A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the Sequester but in the Senate it was a majority of Democrats. Obama may have thought up the idea under duress, but it was 98% of what the Tea-Party influenced House wanted.

Journalist Bob Woodward basically said the idea for including the military in the sequester was Obama's idea. Now this is being used by Republicans, who got 98% of what they wanted, and can blame Obama for it. The Republican impetus for the sequester was threatening not to raise our nation's debt limit. As blogger Billmon put it, this tactic was akin to the guy in the movie Blazing Saddles who took himself hostage. In retrospect, it was a horrible move for President Obama to give in to these shenanigans. To make matters worse, the U.S. credit rating was dropped despite the sequester compromise.

Furthermore, in car accidents the driver who has the "last clear chance" to avoid an accident are supposed to take it or it is their fault. The Republican Congress has failed to stop the sequester, therefore it is their fault.

Sequester is for all practical purposes a misnomer. Sequester makes it sound as if Republicans could be in favor of cutting the budget while being against sequester. It makes it sound superficially plausible that President Obama wants to raise taxes instead of cutting the budget and still be the one to blame for the sequester. Calling it deep budget cuts instead would reduce this confusion.

(The "fiscal cliff" sounded much more alarming and many of us thought disaster was averted on January 1 of this year. In reality, only lessening tax hikes had been accomplished. That compromise was not so bad. I wish the parties could compromise on the sequester. There is no room for compromise due to gerry-mandered districts. Because of gerrymandered districts there is no fear of re-election and no room for compromise due to deeply red and deeply blue districts.)

Indeed, when you realize that if the Republicans in Congress didn't want they sequester all they'd have to do is vote to repeal it--as they've done to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) 40 times. But in contrast to repealing Obamacare, repealing the sequester would be able to pass the Senate and be signed by the president. The only reason Republicans won't repeal the sequester is because they want it's deep cuts, or even deeper ones with the exception of military cuts.  So Politifact notwithstanding, Republicans should not only own the sequester, they love it!

Admittedly President Obama's idea of the Sequester as a supposed deterrent--a Mutually Assured Destruction, if you will, was flawed. MAD worked in the U.S.-Communist Cold War, but is outdated in defending against terrorists. For MAD to work, you have to have a rational opponent not hell-bent on destruction. Followers of sociopath Ayn Rand want "moochers" to suffer while followers of Grover Norquist want to shrink government and "drown it in a bathtub." Such right-wing nut-jobs hate the government. I just wish they wouldn't run for elected office and that no one would vote for them. These are not rational opponents.

Lastly, if air traffic controller furloughs had continued the sequester would be over by now. As Martin Luther King, Jr,, put it “When you impede the rich man's ability to make money, anything is negotiable." That leverage should never have been given up by the Democrats.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Marking 25 Years of Excrement In Broadcasting

Rush Limbaugh has now been syndicated for 25 years. It has been over 10 years since I have listened to him at all. I stopped listening after I complained to a co-worker after lunch about something I heard Limbaugh say.

My co-worker asked, "Why do you listen to him?"

I replied that I only listen critically.

He said, "but you give him ratings and that's what he cares about most."

I thought about it and he was right. So I stopped listening. But the following are some of my criticisms back when I listened to him first-hand. For more recent Limbaugh lies, Media Matters now tracks those for us. So without further ado...

Quick Quiz: What do G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent have in common?

Did you say convicted criminals? Wrong.
Only Liddy and North are actually criminals, and, besides, North's conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Let's see, Liddy worked for Nixon, North was in the military, Ted Nugent is a rock star, and Rush Limbaugh is a conservative talk show host. But wait, Liddy also has a talk show, so does North, but Ted Nugent? That's right, even Ted Nugent. All four are conservative talk show hosts.

Brief History of Talk Radio
Talk radio was first heard after 11 PM on top 40 radio stations. KABC became the first all-talk station in 1962. Gradually, many "impartial" hosts were replaced by opinionated ones. Now with no fairness doctrine in sight, conservatives proliferate the airwaves with their views.

Although not alone, Rush Limbaugh epitomizes this group, which I like to call "rechtsdreck‏ radio." Rechtsdreck is the German word for "garbage right." And no, I am not inferring that conservative radio has anything in common with some, limited aspects of 1930s fascism in Europe, I am implying it. You can infer it!

Focusing on Rush Limbaugh, now Senator Al Franken wrote a book called Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. A lot of people had big problems with this title. Even I have a small problem with it, namely, there should be a comma between the adjectives "big" and "fat." I gleaned this Rush-Limbaugh timeline from that book:

  • Rush Limbaugh was born in 1951. At age 16 he got his first job in radio--at his father's radio station. In 1969 he enrolled in college. In 1970 he dropped out, but still avoided service in the Vietnam War.
  • From 1974-1978 he was hired by 4 radio stations
  • In 1977 he married for the first time
  • In the early 80s he divorced and remarried. He got back into radio after working for the Kansas City Royals. In 1984 he began work in Sacramento where his syndication began.
  • After revelations in  a newspaper column that he had never done so, in 1986 Limbaugh first registered to vote.
  • In 1989 he divorced for the second time
  • In 1992 his best-selling book railed against "uglo-Americans," "environmentalist wackos," and "feminazis." Its 1994 sequel denounced negativity.
  • In the mid 90s he married for the third time. He also spreads rumors like the one about Vince Foster being murdered.
  • In 1994 the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1955. Instead of listening to professors of political science and policy wonks, Congressional newcomers are lectured by Rush Limbaugh.
It has been my experience that listeners of Rush Limbaugh tend to be ill-informed, yet confident about what they think they know at the same time. Psychologist might call this the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I call it a "Limbaughtomy." Multiplied multiplicities and multitudinous examples of Limbaugh-misinformation could be sighted, but here are three:
  1. Limbaugh has claimed, "There are more American Indians today than when Columbus arrived."
  2. "There are more acres of forestland today than when Columbus [arrived]."
  3. Even if polar ice caps melted by the greenhouse effect, the oceans' water level would not increase.
The facts are quite the opposite:
  1.  The Native American population has decreased in what is now the U.S. by at least 60%.
  2. America has at least 250 million less acres of forest than in Columbus's time.
  3. Ice melted off land, such as from on Antarctica and Greenland, would supply more water for oceans, increasing their levels. Hence, these are not just like ice cubes floating in water. There is water flowing from land into the oceans.
Rechtsdreck Radio, a phrase I have coined on my blog, is replete with Rush Limbaugh and Rush Limbaugh wannabees who claim to be bastions of truth in opposition to the "liberal" media (by which they don't mean just MSNBC, the former radio "Air America," or soon-to-be-former Current TV, but NPR and The New York Times).

Except for the egregious highlights (or should I write "lowlights?") I see on Media Matters, I no longer listen to Rechtsdreck Radio (or the video version, Fox News [sic], for that matter). I simply don't waste the time getting pulled into parallel universes where Hillary Clinton rubbed out Vince Foster, Styrofoam is biodegradable, and cigarettes don't cause cancer. That is the way Rush Limbaugh wants it to be, but not the way it is.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The New York Times Editorial Board: Justice Sequestered

The New York Times

July 20, 2013

Justice Sequestered

The madness of Washington’s across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration is causing real damage to the American justice system — undermining the sound functioning of the courts and particularly imperiling the delivery of effective legal representation to poor people accused of federal crimes.
The $350 million reduction in the federal judiciary’s budget for fiscal 2013 has resulted in a roughly 8 percent cut to the network of high-quality federal defender offices across the country. It has forced the layoffs of many experienced lawyers who have devoted their professional careers to the underappreciated and underpaid work of representing indigent federal defendants. And it has inflicted a pay cut on the defenders who remain on staff in the form of up to 20 unpaid furlough days.
These hits to the core legal staff have been accompanied by other blows, including reductions in lawyer training, research, investigation of cases and expert help, including interpreters. The cuts have also meant crippling reductions to federal probation and pretrial services, including mental health treatment, drug treatment and testing, and court supervision — all with disquieting implications for people’s rights and public safety.
In April, a major terrorism trial in New York City being handled by Federal Defenders of New York was postponed until January after lawyers in that office told the judge that budget cuts had left them short of resources and staff. The defendant’s family has since hired a lawyer on its own. Many courts no longer conduct trials on some or all Fridays to accommodate the furloughs of federal defenders and strains in other areas, like courthouse security and the availability of federal marshals.
Judges in certain jurisdictions have warned that they may have to suspend civil jury trials if financing is not restored. All this comes on top of the budget-driven problems plaguing state courts, where representation of impoverished defendants is also grossly underfinanced.
The cuts for federal defenders may actually end up costing taxpayers more. Because indigent defendants still have a right to counsel, new cases that would ordinarily be handled by a federal defender will inevitably be taken up by court-appointed private lawyers. That will lead to worse results at a higher cost, according to academic studies.
That things have reached this point is a deep embarrassment for a nation grounded on the rule of law. Yet it appears that the situation is about to get much worse. Federal defender offices have been told to prepare for another round of cuts of roughly 14 percent for the 2014 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets policy for the federal judiciary, should seek ways to minimize the damage. For instance, it might reallocate funds from less critical administrative areas, spreading the pain of new furloughs across the judiciary staff (except judges). Or it could budget for a delay in fees to court-appointed private lawyers, thus lessening the need for immediate deductions.
But there are really no good alternatives here, given the continuing partisan standoff in Congress as well as lawmakers’ unwillingness to provide the emergency supplementary financing the courts have asked for. Reducing the hourly rates private lawyers are paid, as some have proposed, would simply compound the existing problem of finding capable private lawyers who will fully defend indigent clients.
One thing that might help is a louder and more forceful declaration from Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. about the damage the sequester is doing to America’s courts — the subject of a much-needed Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing scheduled for Tuesday by Senator Christopher Coons, a Delaware Democrat. If nothing else, drawing attention to the plight of federal defenders should make it harder for anyone to claim that the sequester’s impact is no big deal.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Yes, the Sequester Is Affecting the Job Market

July 5, 2013, 1:01 pm 
[To see full article with graphs, click title link:

Yes, the Sequester Is Affecting the Job Market

The across-the-board automatic federal budget cuts that began in March do not seem to be derailing the recovery so far, given that the job market over all has continued to grow. And certainly some of the scariest predictions about the sequester didn’t come true (partly because Congress stepped in to prevent their occurrence). But if you look closely at the data, the sequester still does seem to be affecting certain industries pretty badly.
As my colleague Floyd Norris wrote, government payrolls have been shrinking for several years. Those declines were mostly driven by state and local layoffs at first; lately, the layoffs have gotten worse at the federal level. In the last four months, the federal government has laid off 40,000 workers. And that number doesn’t indicate the full extent to which the sequester has affected employment, as many government agencies have resorted to furloughs rather than full-blown layoffs.
Below is a chart showing the numbers of federal workers who have been working “part time for economic reasons,” a term meaning they want to be working full time, but can’t get their employer to give them full-time hours. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so I’ve charted the trends for 2011, 2012 and 2013 to compare the level in a given month with its level exactly one year and two years earlier.
As you can see, there was a huge jump in the number of reluctant federal part-timers in June compared with the same month in 2011 and 2012. In June 2013, 148,000 federal workers were working part-time hours (defined as fewer than 35 hours a week) but wished they were working full time, compared with 58,000 in June 2012 and 55,000 in June 2011.
In fact, in every month starting in February, when agencies perhaps started preparing for the sequester, the number of reluctant federal part-timers has been higher than its level in 2012. In each of those months in 2013, the level has also been higher than in 2011, with the exception of April, when there were an equal number of federal part-timers for economic reasons in 2011 and 2013 (64,000).
And of course, these figures show only what’s happening with federal workers. There are plenty of private-sector workers whose jobs and hours depend on federal money, too, as I wrote in an article last week.
In that article, I calculated which industries were most reliant on federal defense money, based on Labor Department data showing where the Defense Department spends its money, and how money spent in any one sector affects employment in all the others (for example, employment of metal workers might rise when the government orders a new jet). The top five defense-sensitive industries are ship and boat building, facilities support services, aerospace product and parts manufacturing, scientific research and development services and electronic instruments manufacturing (which includes companies that make navigational instruments, for example).
Here’s a look at the monthly change in employment in these defense-sensitive industries, shown at an annualized percentage growth rate, versus all other industries:
As you can see, in the last few months, the defense-sensitive industries have been shedding jobs, while the rest of the country’s employers have been adding jobs over all. The trends for the previous months are noisy, but if you smooth them out, it looks as if the defense-sensitive industries and the other industries were both doing about equally well, with the exception of a huge downward spike in employment in the defense-sensitive industries around the time of the summer 2011 debt ceiling crisis.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Miltary Sequester Cuts 7.16.13

Stars and Stripes reports on how Marines are reacting to mental health furloughs (via The Libertarian Web site Already overbooked civilian mental health providers are now seeing Marines even less frequently than before the severe budget cuts know as the sequester. Combat casualties with traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorders, major depressive disorders, and memory problems that need routine are not receiving the treatment they need and deserve. Double the wait between appointments and shorter session times are some of the norms.

Airport Sequester Cuts 7.16.13

Sequester affects Foley Municipal Airport project ( reports an airport in Foley, Alabama, has had to delay renovating its runway. The runway is currently not up to FAA standards. The Congress has allowed the FAA to avoid furloughs; it does so by diverting funds from projects such as this one.

Sequester Misinformation 7.16.13

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio on the sequester via the rechtsdreck‏ site Newmax:
We need to get serious about tackling our debt and growing our economy. Unless the President steps up to plate too, all of us — especially our children and grandchildren — will suffer from his political stunts that do nothing to put people back to work, solve our debt crisis or safeguard our national security.
The political stunt was Rubio and his ilk's refusal to raise the debt ceiling in July/August 2011, which led to the sequester compromise. Until then, raising the debt ceiling had been so routine that it had been done 74 times between 1962 and 2011, including 10 times between 2001 and then. Note: Raising the debt ceiling is not to be mistaken for increasing spending, but is simply a way for the government to pay its previously incurred bills.


The Fox News [sic] Web site has removed its musings on the sequester improving the economy. There are some videos online where they have apparently broadcasted such a turn of truth on its head, but I haven't watched them.


Georgia Republican Congressman Austin Scott claims he warned us about the sequester even though he voted against increasing the debt ceiling leading up to the sequester.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bullsh*t Scandals Push Sequester Out of the News

Particularly on the national level, the Republican Party has been a crime organization masquerading as a political party since President Nixon and Watergate. Nixon had to resign because he ordered the break-in to the Watergate hotel in order to spy on the DNC. The Administration of President Reagan and then Vice-President Bush illegally sold weapons to Iran in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra Scandal, and 11 members of Reagan-Bush administration were convicted of crimes. President George H.W. Bush then shamelessly pardoned some of these criminals during his single term as president. In 2000 his son, George W. Bush, stole the presidential election and subsequently should have been impeached for numerous illicit activities. Hence, Republicans went after President Clinton and are now going after President Obama in order to try to make the playing field look level, when all the executive-level criminals has been Republican for the past 40 years.

Here is my summary of the so-called Obama scandals: 1. Benghazi--complete bullsh*t. It's sad 4 Americans died there, but this was through no fault of President Obama, and deaths overseas have been happening all too frequently since Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. 2. IRS investigating Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt statuses: complete bullsh*t. Common sense should tell you that if a group hates the federal government and has members who equate taxation with stealing, such a group merits some extra scrutiny if they apply for tax-exempt status. And if those groups were truly educational, one of their characteristics would be that they would be geared toward the long, arduous process of education, so growing pains during one election cycle would be no big deal. [update: the IRS also scrutinized liberal groups because political activity is not tax exempt] 3. NSA surveillance scandal--the only one that should bother Americans. Sadly, it is a continuation of the Bush administration's policies and is probably all legal under the Patriot Act.

Thus, Republicans and bogus scandals are muffling the news we should be hearing about how harmful the sequester has been and continues to be. Government employees are losing jobs and leaving services undone which need to be done, and this should be making us boiling mad. But we're just not hearing enough about the insidious sequester.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Answer this if the mainstream media is liberal

What mainstream news sources are reporting that there is not enough spending by the U.S. government and the rich are not paying enough taxes?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

There's Stupid, and Then There's Tea-Party Stupid

I am neither a Democrat or a Republican. Just to be clear, I usually vote for the Democrat as the lesser of two evils, but I'd rather not vote evil at all. Hence, I long for a decent third party. The Tea Party, however, makes a mockery of this longing and actually makes the other two parties look good. Well, it makes the Democratic Party look good anyway.

On February 19, 2009 CNBC on-air "Editor" Rick Santelli called for the Tea Party because he opposed upside-down home owners receiving any bailout money. It is important to note that Santelli and his ilk at the Chicago Board of Trade did not raise a fuss about the $700 billion dollar Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that gave money to bankers; it was only the possibility  homeowners he dubbed "losers" receiving money that raised their ire (these homeowners wound up receiving very little.) Santelli ranted to cheers from people he falsely claimed represented a "good statistical cross section" of America.

Big Tobacco and the Koch Brothers actually made the Tea Party a reality. And when the lemmings found out President Obama wanted sick people to be able to see a doctor, angry mobs of drooling-out-of-the-sides-of-their-mouths, knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnons turned out in droves.

And thus, the sequester became history.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Politics of "Terrorism"

Yesterday's bombings near the end of the Boston Marathon were a horrible tragedy that should make all Americans sad, regardless of our political inklings. At the time of this writing three people are dead and more than 100 people are injured. What a very, very sad tragedy.

I was watching the events unfold on CNN yesterday, and just before President Obama made his comments the (female) reporter on CNN said that President Obama had come under a lot of criticism for failing to use the word "terrorism" early enough regarding the Benghazi attacks, and should probably do so right away this time. Obama's calling Benghazi an "act of terror" was not enough even for This is really ridiculous to me.

We don't know who set off the bombs yesterday. If it was a terrorist attack, what was their motivation and why isn't any group taking credit?  I think it is useless, if not counterproductive, to speculate. I have my hunches, but I will keep those to myself, my wife, and perhaps some close friends and family. We really don't even know if it was terrorism at this point. One alternative could be that it was just an sick, angry person behind it. We don't know yet.

So I am in no rush to judgment, and I am interested in hearing the facts that unfold. The facts may wind up be damning to someone, but I am willing to wait to let the facts do their job.

It is also to soon to try to be funny. My cousin pointed out that one way we know this is that comedians are not touching this yet. There will be a time for joking to help us deal with this tragedy, but once again, I will be patient for this time to come.

For those who lost their loved ones, only time will lessen the pain. It seems right to me for us to wait, so that we don't add to the pain to the world. What a sad, sad event.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The NRA was for Backqround Checks Before They Were Against Them

 It is difficult for me to be enthusiastic about the gun legislation that is still might be considered by Congress. If it doesn't contain a renewal of the assault weapon ban, another Newtown will probably happen again. Nevertheless, universal background checks on gun ownership would save some lives.

So, as I hoped the Affordable Care Act would pass despite of its lack of a public option, so I support universal background checks with or without an assault weapons ban.

90% of all Americans support background checks. The NRA used to support universal background checks for gun ownership, and 74% of NRA members still do. The GOP filibuster of background checks is downright despicable.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dishonest Republicans on the Filibuster

Republicans say they are in favor of spending cuts, yet after passing the austerity cuts known as the "sequester" they doggedly try to blame President Obama for their draconian measures. Republicans have successfully changed the economic debate from full employment to reducing the deficit. They have successfully avoided raising enough taxes for sufficient government revenue in order to protect their donors from paying their fair share in taxes (such donors they euphemistically call "job creators.") And when those of us effected by the sequester complain about the problems the sequester is causing they have their cake and eat it to by passing the blame for the cuts onto the president.

Here are two indisputable ways we all can know the sequester was the Republicans' idea. Please tell these to anyone who says otherwise, and you need not cite my blog. They should just be common sense.

1. Republicans repeatedly say the sequester is not so bad.They do this because it is what they want. If it was what President Obama wanted they would be calling it Communist, Nazi, Muslim, etc.

2. The Republicans have tried to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act almost 40 times since it passed  in 2010. Yet the only ones trying to appeal the sequester are the Congressional Progressive Democrats. If the Republicans didn't like the sequester, surely they would join the progressive Democrats in repealing it.

So if you're among the 13% or so who approve of this Republican Congress, be proud of their sequester.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hey Sequester-supporting Congress, How About Our Sixth Amendment Rights?

If Congress would just read past the Second Amendment a little they would see the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States of America reads as follows:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
  The Sequester is a grave threat the U.S. legal system:
"Sequestration's almost $350 million cut will not be fully felt in one day, one month or even one year," Judge Hogan wrote last week. "Reductions of this magnitude strike at the heart of our entire system of justice and spread throughout the country. The longer the sequestration stays in place, the more severe will be its impact on the courts and those who use them." The federal judiciary is being held hostage, in other words, because of the failure or the refusal of Congress and the White House to make a responsible budget deal. 
While Congress has recently tried the blunt the blow with which sequestration is hammering our U.S. judicial system, if the sequestration is not repealed it's effects will continue to be pernicious.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The (Real) Huffington Post has great value after all

The Huffington Post's much-needed reporting on the adverse effects of the sequester [summary quote below, click preceding link and scroll down to see a list of 100 problems the sequester has caused] is making me rethink my attitude toward it as a news source:

Organizations and companies have begun laying off workers, while many more have decided not to staff vacant positions. Schools on military bases are contemplating four-day weekly schedules. Food pantries have closed, as have centers that provide health services. Farmers have been forced to go without milk production information, causing alarm in the dairy industry and the potential of higher milk prices. Workers at missile-testing fields are facing job losses. Federal courts have closed on Fridays. Public Broadcasting transmitters have been shut down. Even luxury cruises are feeling the pinch, with passengers forced to wait hours before debarking because of delays at Customs and Immigration. Yes, sequestration is creating the possibility of another poop cruise.
On the national level, sequestration may be defined by canceled White House tours and long lines at airports that never materialized. But on the local level, it is beginning to sting.
Perhaps it's time to get boiling mad again.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Red-state Republicans Can't Believe a "Loser School" Beat New Mexico

Number-14 seed Harvard's 68-62 defeat of Number-3 seed New Mexico on Friday night astonished many red-state Republicans who get all their information about universities from sports news.

Reactions on the "Fox Nation" Web board ranged from astonishment, to denial, to disbelief. "Bush-Cheney 2004" posted the question, "How could a loser school, this 'Harvard,' or whatever it's called, beat such a powerhouse like New Mexico?"

The latest Ass-Munchin' [Rasmussen?] poll showed 52% of Republicans had never even heard of Harvard before their win Friday night--the same percentage who don't believe in global warming.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ten years since Bush ordered Iraqi invasion on false pretenses

It was 10 years ago this evening that the court-appointed President Bush ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq* based of the false pretense that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

A year-and-a-half after failing to prevent the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the spin-meisters in the Bush White House were working incessantly to transform that tragic failure into Bush's supposed "greatest strength." The facts that Americans were scared to death and that Bush had no actual strengths made this easier that it sounds.

Bush had already had his fabled BULLhorn scene at ground-zero where he said, "I hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." That part about the people who knocked those buildings down soon hearing from us was a lie, unless by "soon" he meant, soon after we had a competent, democratically elected president take office again. Bush had already ordered the invasion of Afghanistan. I (God help me!), much of the world, and something like 90% of Americans approved of Bush during this time because even though he was an unelected idiot, in the wake of 9/11, he was our unelected idiot.

But Bush had learned a lesson from his father, that even though President George H.W. Bush had a similarly high approval rating after his relatively successful Gulf War in 1991, he would not be re-elected because of his failure on the economy. Hence, Bush-the-more-stupid ordered the invasion of Iraq ten years ago today just so he could get re-elected. Mission Accomplished.

*The lying liars who tell lies at Fox News [sic] spun this to their non-news watching audience to be United Nations' General Secretary Kofi Annan's blunder.

See also:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Footprints Prayer, Updated

One night I had a dream...
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious
child. I love you, but at those times I was
helping Tim Tebow score touchdowns."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

President Obama gave the Tea-Party Congress exactly what they wanted

Jon Stewart had a good analogy. He compared President Obama's way of responding to a Congress refusing to raise the debt ceiling with the sequestration deal to a father who catches his son smoking and forces him to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes. The only problem is, this Congress is like Denis Leary.

The economy is being "secastrated", at least in the short term. Sequester is in the same family of words as the Spanish word, sequestro, which means kidnap. Republicans are trying to kidnap the second term away from President Obama.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grover Norquist's Pledge and Plan Live On

If you haven't heard of Grover Norquist before that's OK. He is a fringe, far-right wack job that no one in their right mind should pay attention too. And no one in their right mind does, but 258 Republican members of congress do (including one of my Senators, Marco Rubio, and my Congressman, John Mica). These members of congress have forsaken the constitutional purposes of the United States government:
We the people of the United States, in order to [1] form a more perfect union, [2] establish justice, [3] insure domestic tranquility, [4] provide for the common defense, [5] promote the general welfare, and [6] secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
 And have pledged their allegiance to Grover Norquist's agenda:
I, ____________________, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of ____________________, and to the American people, that I will:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and,
TWO, oppose any net reduction, or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
Reports of the death of this pledge have been greatly exaggerated. The January 3 "fiscal cliff" did not raise anyone's taxes. The Bush Income tax cuts and President Obama's payroll tax cuts both expired as of January 1, 2013. On January 3, Congress allowed President Obama's payroll tax cuts to remain expired, but reinstated the Bush tax cuts for everyone making less that $400-450K per year.

Because the January 3 tax cuts were not as comprehensive as the previous President Obama/Bush tax cuts combined, this serves as pretense for Republicans to now claim that their have already increased taxes to reduce the deficit, and only spending cuts should now be implemented.

With the brief exception of the 1999-2000 Clinton boom years, the United States has been falling short on revenues ever since President Reagan reduced the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% during his two terms in the 1980s. Despite reductions in safety-net programs that have led to increased poverty, hunger, and homeless, the national debt has increased sixteen-fold since the Reagan tax cuts: from less than a $1 Trillion when President Reagan took office to over $16 trillion now.

The current sequester and opposition to raising tax revenue is all part of Grover Norquist's plan:
My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.
To illustrate this drowning in the bathtub metaphor, just picture the way the United States was unable to help the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and imagine the same disaster happening to the U.S. government today. This is Norquist's plan and pledge all along.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Three Truths About the Sequester

[use of the word "sequester" is negatively affecting traffic to my site]

Yet another manufactured crisis is upon the federal government. There is a lot of information to sift through, but here are three truths to guide us:

1. The austere budget cuts are what the Republicans want. In August 2011, the Republican/Tea Party Congress held the nation's economy hostage and President Obama had to agree to the possibility of "sequestration" in order to get Republicans to keep the government functioning that year.

2. The media says that both sides are unwilling to compromise. What this really means, though, is that Republicans are unwilling to raise taxes on the rich. The compromise Republicans and "very serious people" want from President Obama is cutting medicare and social security. Since most of us aren't rich, it would be natural for most of us to want the Republicans to cave and not President Obama. But even more fundamentally, Congress could just repeal the "sequester." So please contact your representative and senators and urged them to do so.

3. Republicans did not agree to raise taxes during the January 2013 "fiscal cliff" compromise. They simply agreed to reinstate the Bush tax cuts for everyone except for those earning more than $400-450K per year. They also agreed not to continue the Obama payroll tax cuts that had reduced working peoples' taxes by 2% from 2010-2012.

The current mess stems from the Republicans' unconscionable tactic of refusing to raise the debt ceiling, which is usually done routinely. The tactic often used is to raise the debt ceiling with as few congressional votes as possible, allowing as many members of Congress to speak out against it as possible (including then-Senator Obama in 2006), but to always raise the debt ceiling nonetheless. Not to do so, or to even seriously threaten not to do so, results in slower or halting economic growth and potentially higher interest rates on federal government borrowing. (The conspiracy theorist in me thinks the latter is what Republicans want, so their investor-class constituency can earn higher interest rates.)

P.S. The U.S. budget deficit has been declining steeply under President Obama, but only 6% of the country knows this:
At the same time, the size and trajectory of the U.S. deficit is poorly understood by most Americans, with 62 percent saying it’s getting bigger, 28 percent saying it’s staying about the same this year, and just 6 percent saying it’s shrinking. The Congressional Budget Office reported Feb. 6 that the federal budget deficit is getting smaller, falling to $845 billion this year -- the first time in five years that the gap between taxes and spending will be less than $1 trillion.
Americans Back Spending-Cut Delay Amid Budget-Deal Push
Bloomberg February 21, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rubio vs. Reality

Excerpts from Senator Marco Rubio's Republican response to the President's SOTU address last night are in red. Reality is in blue.
The State of the Union address is always a reminder of how unique America is. For much of human history, most people were trapped in stagnant societies, where a tiny minority always stayed on top, and no one else even had a chance.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate for president, warned [in the fall of 2011]  that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in America.” National Review, a conservative thought leader, wrote that “most Western European and English-speaking nations have higher rates of mobility.” Even Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who argues that overall mobility remains high, recently wrote that “mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags behind.”--Jason DeParle, Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs, NewYork Times, January 4, 2012
Like most Americans, for me this ideal is personal. My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one. They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn't inherit any money from them. But I inherited something far better – the real opportunity to accomplish my dreams.

During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.
But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.
The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.”-- Manuel Roig-Franzia, Marco Rubio’s compelling family story embellishes facts, documents show, Washington Post, October 20, 2011
Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity. 
The American dream has never been the rags-to-riches fable of the Horatio Alger stories. But there once was a real American dream, and it went like this: If you work hard, your income will rise consistently and will enable you and your family to have a decent life, a good life—even a secure life.
No more. For at least half of all Americans—those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder—that dream has been dead for more than thirty years. Their household incomes have hardly risen since the glory decades after World War II. In many cases, their incomes have actually fallen. The only protection these Americans have had from a complete collapse in their standard of living has been government social programs.
This bears repeating: the only reason incomes for the lower half have risen more than marginally since the 1970s is that such federal programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, the earned-income tax credit, and food stamps have provided support. “Without America’s net of social programs,” political scientist Lane Kenworthy argues, “income inequality would be much worse than it already is.”--Jeff Madrick, Half Empty, Harper's, December 2012
Rubio's supposed working class background and inexpensive house was more B.S.

For more information, read Paul Krugman's Rubio and the Zombies.

P.S. I couldn't care less that he had to drink a glass of water to finish his speech. It was the content of Rubio's speech that was really ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No, John McCain, the Surge was not the Most Dangerous Foreign Policy Blunder in this Country Since Vietnam

But as Chuck Hagel said, it was Bush's war of choice to go into Iraq.

Answer this question John McCain: Was it smart to look for Osama Bin Laden in Iraq? What you say, Bush didn't think Bin Laden was in Iraq? Well then why did Bush stop looking for Bin Laden. It was only so he could get re-elected, right?

And Bush's invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy blunder since Crassus invaded Parthia in 53 B.C.

In 2000 Al Gore defeated George W. Bush by over half a million votes. In 2003 George W. Bush ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq. At that point the United States literally became a rogue nation without a democratically elected leader.

On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya. Later money was shifted from what was being spent in Iraq to protecting U.S. diplomats abroad. Hence, Bush's invasion of Iraq has already caused another 9/11.

 I heard an estimate that approximately 100,000 new terrorists may have resulted from Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq. Hence, due to Bush's horrible mismanagement, the troops were not there protecting us from terrorism, but there creating terrorists.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Scared People Want Their Guns

[Remember this blog's original tagline, "gut reactions, hunches, jokes, and wild speculations."] 

The 2002 Academy-award winning documentary feature Bowling for Columbine posits that fear, particularly, negrophobia, is the reason for gun proliferation in the United States, and this is essentially correct. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 and the NRA was founded in 1871, though this is purely coincidence. But it goes back earlier than this.

Southern slave owners feared slave uprisings such as the Stono Rebellion. So they formed militias, or slave patrols. Hence, we got the second amendment in 1791:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed
To understand the history behind this read Roger Williams University School of Law Professor of Law Carl T. Bogus's The Hidden History of the Second Amendment, or at least watch this summary and interview. Professor Bogus argues that:

James Madison wrote the second amendment in significant part to assure his constituents in Virginia and the South generally that the federal government could not use its new Constitutional powers over the militia, which had previously been controlled by the states, to indirectly subvert the slave system in the South by disarming the militia.

History bears out that militia debate was prominent when Congress was ratifying the Bill or Rights in 1789. The "New Originalist" Roberts' Court (District of Columbia v. Heller) was the first Supreme Court case to set the precedent that the second amendment applies to individual gun ownership. Truly pro-life lawmakers should put aside fear and pseudo-strict constitutionalism in order to protect human life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TWC Should Carry Current TV

Earlier this month I wrote that over 1/2 the liberal media was eliminated with the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera. Turns out this is true if you have Time Warner Cable as your provider, but those with other providers are providing access to Current TV. The Young Turks, John Fugelsang, and Jennifer Granholm are still on the air.  Elliot Spitzer just left, and, of course, Keith Olbermann was let go long ago.

Current TV also has TV broadcasts of Bill Press's (6-9A ET) and Stephanie Miller's (9-12A ET) liberal radio shows. If only the fairness doctrine were reinstated and enforced, we'd be able to hear them on our local radio stations, but Current TV gives us a chance to hear them (as does the Internet: click their names above during the times their on the air).

So call Time Warner Cable, 877-TWC-EASY, and ask them to put Current TV back on the air. Also, ask them to pick up Free Speech TV while their at it. If you want extra credit, call your local radio stations and ask them to carry liberal radio hosts such as Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann (12-3P ET), Randi Rhodes (3-6P ET), and Mike Malloy (9-12P).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Everyone who's bought an assault rifle since the Sandy Creek shooting should go fight in Afghanistan

Many have the mythic and nostalgic second-amendment notion that once upon a time gun-owning citizens would take up arms as militiamen to defend our country. Many of the founding fathers voiced concerns about having a standing army during peace time, so this myth appeals to the peace-loving, military-industrial complex fearing side of me in addition to the traditional/patriotic side of me. Furthermore, on the surface level it seems to make sense of the entirety of the second amendment:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
If you're an original-intent-type Constitutionalist, then I hope you agree that all second amendment lovers should memorize and quote the entire second amendment when referring to it. Many who are this way about the Constitution are also this way about the Bible, and we've been warned over and over again in that regard not to take verses or phrases "out of context." If you're having trouble memorizing it, then here's the folk song that helped me to memorize it.

Speaking of context, we know that the second amendment is not endorsing leveling war against the United States for Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution identifies such as treason punishable by as much as death. To none of the rebellions against the United States, two of the most well-known being the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794)  and the South during the Civil War (1861-1865), did the U.S. government respond by saying, "that's OK, they're just exercising their second amendment rights." So perhaps instead this meant forming militias to protect against foreign enemies such as the British or Native Americans. Just for the sake of argument, let's say that this is right. Then all gun owners should be fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan right now.

But, an informed person might bring up, the Supreme Court, for the first time in U.S. history, extended the second amendment to handgun ownership. Well you're getting away from original intent and siding with activist judges if you argue thus. But since I'm not as opposed to nuanced interpretation by the Supreme Court, let's admit that mere handgun owners are not ready to go fight in a way. I feel generous, and willing to compromise, so let's put hunting rifle owners in this same category.

Assault rifles, however, are an entirely different thing. Those buying such weapons are preparing for war. Thus, I conclude that everyone who's bought an assault rifle should go fight in the bi-partisan FUBAR in Afghanistan, especially the a**holes who have bought one since the Sandy Creek massacre.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time to Impeach the President (Retroactively)

Not President Obama, of course, but we still owe George W. Bush an impeachment. The fact that Bush was not impeached has this parallel in history:
After Andrew Johnson was impeached but not convicted, the corrupt Grant administration followed. Also after Bill Clinton was impeached but not convicted, the corrupt Bush administration followed.
I don't want to go into detail here, but President Ulysses S. Grant's corruption included the following scandals: Black Friday Gold Panic 1869; New York custom house ring; Star route postal ring; Salary grab; Sanborn contracts; Delano affair; Pratt & Boyd; Whiskey ring
Refresher on the reasons to impeach George W. Bush (retroactively):
1. Bush sanctioned the torturing of prisoners at Guantanomo Bay and Abu Ghraib in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Article VI of the Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
2. His administration outed a CIA agent in retaliation for her husband's criticism of the 16-word lie that led to the Iraq War, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
3. Warrantless wiretapping of Americans in violation of Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
4. Violated Amendment XIV, Section 4 when he disparaged the government bonds set aside for Social Security
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
The Tea Party and members of Congress who don't want the United States to pay its debts are probably also guilty of violating the 14th Amendment. (In fairness to the Tea Party, however, many of its members are probably not big fans of Amendments 13-15.)

[Note: for those who argue for President Obama's impeachment because he's trying to take steps to prevent five and six year olds from being mowed down again by automatic or semi-automatic weapons, click here.]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Despair over Guns

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since the shooting at Sandy Creek Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, which killed 28 people: 20 1st and 2nd graders, 6 teachers and administrators, the gunman, and the gunman's mother. Every time I hear a story relating to the victims it just makes me sadder and sadder.

I am going to lay it out plainly: Everyone of good will must now agree that assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines must be banned. So even though I admit I would rather have guns completely banned, people like me, along with others who cherish their gun rights, should be able to agree on this compromise. If, after hearing of caskets being built to bury innocent 5 - and 6- year-olds, you don't want to act to protect people by limiting gun ownership beyond simple handguns and rifles, you need to search yourself--to see if you even have a soul.

I can remember talking to a Republican friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and giving the example of Australia's gun laws (this is must see, if you haven't seen it already) as a way to prevent future mass shootings, he admitted that he liked the idea and this made me feel good because people of good will from different sides of the political spectrum could agree on common-sense law. The next time we met he changed his mind because he "looked it up" and [supposedly] the crime rate went up after this gun law went into effect in Australia. No doubt he got he got his misinformation from the right-wing echo chamber, because Australia's government crime statistics tell a different story. Most crimes have gone down since the new laws went into place in 1996, including theft, robbery, and murder. The one crime I saw that did go up was assault, but as crime goes assault is almost always preferable to murder. After this second talk with my friend, my faith in reaching a simple compromise diminished because pro-gun extremist propaganda is uncompromising; hence, my despair. Nevertheless, I persevere in my blogging.

The second amendment is not stopping us from reaching compromise. I am willing to concede handguns as an individual's right after the 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, (though I plan to look historically at the 2nd Amendment in a future post, which will demonstrate what an activist court the Roberts' court is). But there is no constitutional impediment to imitating the effective laws that Australia passed after a massacre with a similar weapon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Over Half TV's Liberal Media Eliminated Last Night

Last night Al Gore's Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera for $500 Million. As 20% owner, Al Gore will get $100 million from the deal. Al Jazeera paid this much in order to reach into more homes, but Time Warner Cable exercised its contractual right to drop a station with change of ownership, reportedly eliminating the station during Elliot Spitzer's 8PM-ET show. Time Warner Cable, who also owns CNN, said that they eliminated the station due to its ownership.

I think all the majority of Americans know about Al Jazeera is how it was disdained for showing videos of Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. However, having seen the 2004 documentary Control Room, I have a more nuanced view. During the lead up to Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was the Bush administration and a compliant U.S. media who were guilty of the propaganda (especially Fox News [sic] and rechtsdreck‏ radio, but extending throughout the mainstream media including The New York Times). This while Al Jazeera offered brave, on-the-scene reporting of what was actually happening in Iraq. By the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, in March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say about Al Jazeera:

"Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."
Ms. Clinton said this because she feared the U.S. was losing the worldwide "information war." Indeed, not only is the U.S. losing due to a woefully underfunded PBS and NPR, even Britain's BBC has had budget cuts and has let go some of their talented reporters who have since been hired by Al Jazeera.

In my opinion, the best thing one can do for news in the U.S. is to subscribe to the New York Times and to read other national and local newspapers. Two key newspapers to avoid, however, are the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and the Moonie-owned Washington Times, both of which get cited on C-Span's Washington Journal (a decent, but highly-overrated source of news) as if they were not the mere Republican-1% propaganda that they are. One must also always keep in mind that most newspapers aren't liberal. Britain's Guardian and Wisconsin's Madison Times being the only liberal ones I've encountered. The fact is that most newspapers more often than not endorse the Republican candidate for president. Most of those who throw around the phrase "liberal media" do so only because they want to dismiss facts inconsistent to their world view.

If one supplements newspapers with NPR, PBS, the BBC, Harper's magazine, MSNBC's All In w/Chris Hayes [updated 4/14/13] and Moyers & Co., and some business news such as Bloomberg, The Financial Times, and The Economist, one will get about as informed as they can be in the United States (if I do say so myself).

But most of those who do watch news squander too much time on cable. This is especially appealing to liberals who can find the nearly-mythical liberal media some times on MSNBC, and up until yesterday, on Current TV. But now that Current TV has been eliminated, and given the fact that MSNBC shows Morning Joe weekday mornings, TV's liberal media has been reduced by over 50% since January 2, 2013. The biggest reason I will miss Current TV is because its truly liberal bias contrasted so well with CBS, NBC, and ABC News who are only  labelled "liberal," once again, by those who hate having their worldviews contradicted by facts.

Footnote: Those watching the misnamed Fox News [sic] are not getting news at all, but a 24/7/365 commercial for the Republican Party that would honestly be called "GOP-TV."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nearly 2/3 of House Republicans Opposed the 2013 Middle Class Tax Cut

151 out of 236 House Republicans (64%) voted against the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013. Included among those who wanted all of us earning less than $400,000 a year to pay more income taxes were Michele Bachmann, Jo Bonner, Eric Cantor, Darrell Issa, Connie Mack, John Mica, Dana Rohrabacher, David Schweikert, Jim Sensenbrenner, and Daniel Webster.

By waiting to vote until after the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts expired at 12 AM on January 1, it was no longer a matter of wanting to extend the Bush era tax cuts to all. Those tax cuts were history. The top 39.6% rate of the highest earners was then a given. The issue was, did they want to lower income taxes for the rest of us or not? 151 House Republicans answered "no."

If any of them claim they could not vote for these tax cuts for lack of spending cuts, most of them are contradicting their past actions. Why do they think Reagan was so great when his presidency lowered taxes without reducing government spending accordingly? Why did they vote for or support the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 without corresponding spending cuts? And will they finally admit that tax cuts don't produce enough growth in government revenue to pay for themselves? Since the Bush tax cuts went into effect the national debt has risen from $5.8 trillion to $16.3 trillion, are those who voted "no" now willing to admit that the Bush tax cuts were a mistake?

When the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy started the unemployment rate was between 4.7 and 6%. Now it is 7.8%. So the Bush tax cuts failed to produce jobs. 

Instead the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy freed up money for the rich to invest in bundled sub-prime mortgages and oil speculation. The latter played a significant role in raising gas prices from $1.56/gallon to $3.60/gallon. (How many poor and middle class Republicans supporting tax breaks for the rich realize that they are supporting policies that led to higher prices at the pump?) The former ballooned an over-inflated housing bubble, which resulted in the great recession of 2008 after it burst.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Well the little planet that could just completed its orbit around the sun another time. I know people just want an excuse to party, but yesterday was amateur night, and some of them were annoying to those of us with new families. The hardcore partiers just need the day to end in y in order to party. I am only familiar with this due to an early mid-life crisis in my 30s.

Part of me is cynical about New Year's, but another part of me likes the fact that some people use this time as an opportunity for self-inventory and self-improvement. The cynical part of my brain would tell you that my New Year's resolution is to save all my used aluminum foil this year to make one big ball. The better angel of my nature, in contrast, likes any and all reasons to make a fresh start. As my Dad was fond of saying after he joined AA, "Do the Next Right Thing." Hence, I have a  real New Year's resolution: to blog at least once a week.

So whether it's Rosh Hashanah (we are in year 5773), the Islamic New Year (AH 1434 as of November 14, 2012), today's calendar new year (MMXIII, for those of you reading movie credits), or the upcoming Chinese New Year (we go from "year of the Dragon" to "year of the Snake" on this February 10), one should always jump at the opportunity to start anew. Indeed, this is why I like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol so much. Put the past behind and do things right, now. As Saint Paul put it in the first century A.D., "Forgetting the things that are behind and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). OK, maybe that last part should be for my other blog, Red-Letter Catholic. So let me close, instead, with the words from Kung-Fu Panda, "The past is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift, that's why we call it the present."