Friday, December 31, 2010
2) Flooding. Blizzards. Earthquakes in Indiana. The surest sign of the apocalypse? UConn lost in women's basketball!
3) He won't be boch.
Get a fucking clue, already, will ya?
5) Neo-Cons will soon get a taste of their own medicine. Foaming up anti-Islam hate will always backfire.
6) It's hard to believe Haley Barbour is actually getting praise for this.
7) It's funny how she hasn't been able to conjure up proof of her non-denial denials.
8) Cenk Uygur: troublemaker. God bless him.
9) What a fucking idiot.
10) This may be taking the green debate to a whole new level. It's really shaving off nits.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
If America was a Muslim state, Muslims would still suck.
A President who supports dogkillers like Michael Vick ought to get the dogkiller killed. Right? But it's OK when I fuck up because I'm a Christian. Like Michael Vick.
With no snowplows in sight, stranded passengers vented their rage at Mayor Bloomberg.
"He should have gotten those plows out here," said Cynthia Jones, 43, a nurse unable to get to work. "The mayor may not need his paycheck, but we need ours. I lost two days' pay."
Sharon Tahir, 40, shivered at Archer Ave. and Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens, because her Q60 bus route was shortened before her normal stop. The home health aide was waiting for her son to pick her up.
"It's too cold to walk the rest of the way," she said. "Many sidewalks aren't shoveled. My feet are cold."
Transit executives also expressed frustration with the city's street-clearing efforts.
"I've never seen it this bad," one executive said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "They left us in the lurch."
MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the agency would do a full review of how it handled the blizzard. Officials want to probe why heavier hybrid buses struggled in the snow, whether buses had appropriate tires and whether more tires should have been covered in chains.
Now, before I get to the meat of my point, let me dispense with a few conditional factors involved. The storm hit the Sunday after what was pretty much a universal three day holiday weekend with many drivers on the road to visit family or celebrate Christmas. Many people who were coming home were racing to beat the storm, assuming that there would be a work day, albeit a difficult one, the next morning. In addition, many of those people were the very people who would be manning the snow removal efforts, the emergency services, and other vital functions required to get a city the size of New York up on its feet.
Too, I noted an unusual number of cars abandoned in the middle of the street. It's hard to get a plow down a street with a ton of metal between the plow and the other end. We citizens only have our fellow citizens to blame for those.
As I pointed out the other day, the timing of this storm could not have been much worse. Had it happened on Christmas day, a Saturday and a day typical for heavy snowfalls in the city for some odd reason (I blame HAARP, myself), there would have been another 24 hours prep time for the opening curtain to the work week.
Well, to sum up my point in a nutshell, we asked for lower taxes, we got lower taxes, and here's the price we pay. Mayor Bloomberg has been at the forefront of cutting property taxes, business income taxes, lowering city revenues as far as he possibly can, and cutting services to compensate. 300 Department of Sanitation drivers were "retired" during this recent budget slashing to help cover the shortfall. That's 150 snowplows that could have been on the street.
Ironically, the people who benefited the least from the tax cuts are the ones who suffered the most from the budget cuts: the poor and working classes. Just as with the inevitable health complications of this storm...imagine triaging in a major city? It happened!...the people who will suffer the most are the most disenfranchised.
In fairness to Mayor Mike, NYC is under a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, a leftover from the dark days of the 1970s, when NYC teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of restoring some of the tax cuts, since NYC was not as hard hit by the real estate meltdown as other areas of the country, Bloomberg opted for the coward's way out, trying to right-wing the budget into balance.
There's plenty of blame to go around, of course. The MTA, the folks running the trains and buses, probably could have been more proactive in clearing the tracks, although the blizzard conditions during and after the snowfall made any effort troublesome. People who live here could have take that tax cut and bought a snowblower or invested in a private plowing service for their sidewalks and curbs, and maybe thrown a little extra in the kitty for the street to be cleared.
After all, the function of a government is, according to the Teabaggers, as minimalist as possible, meaning protection of its citizenry and that's it. You may recall the uproar over the fire department that refused to put out a blaze for a house where the residents hadn't paid a stinking $50 annual bill. This is that story, writ large, except we're talking streets plowed, not buildings burned.
The next, obvious step up the ladder will be a statewide crisis. Maybe the levees in California, after all the storming and stuff there, will fill with salt water, depriving 25 million people of drinking water. And after that, we face a national crisis that could have been prevented if taxes weren't so goddamn low...
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Compare these circumstances to those of 1911, a century ago. Even in the wealthier countries, the average person had little formal education, worked six days a week or more, often at hard physical labor, never took vacations, and could not access most of the world’s culture. The living standards of Carnegie and Rockefeller towered above those of typical Americans, not just in terms of money but also in terms of comfort. Most people today may not articulate this truth to themselves in so many words, but they sense it keenly enough. So when average people read about or see income inequality, they don’t feel the moral outrage that radiates from the more passionate egalitarian quarters of society. Instead, they think their lives are pretty good and that they either earned through hard work or lucked into a healthy share of the American dream. (The persistently unemployed, of course, are a different matter, and I will return to them later.) It is pretty easy to convince a lot of Americans that unemployment and poverty are social problems because discrete examples of both are visible on the evening news, or maybe even in or at the periphery of one’s own life. It’s much harder to get those same people worked up about generalized measures of inequality.
This is why, for example, large numbers of Americans oppose the idea of an estate tax even though the current form of the tax, slated to return in 2011, is very unlikely to affect them or their estates. In narrowly self-interested terms, that view may be irrational, but most Americans are unwilling to frame national issues in terms of rich versus poor. There’s a great deal of hostility toward various government bailouts, but the idea of “undeserving” recipients is the key factor in those feelings. Resentment against Wall Street gamesters hasn’t spilled over much into resentment against the wealthy more generally. The bailout for General Motors’ labor unions wasn’t so popular either—again, obviously not because of any bias against the wealthy but because a basic sense of fairness was violated. As of November 2010, congressional Democrats are of a mixed mind as to whether the Bush tax cuts should expire for those whose annual income exceeds $250,000; that is in large part because their constituents bear no animus toward rich people, only toward undeservedly rich people.
The question is, what is "undeservedly rich"?
Warren Buffet and United For a Fair Economy posit that all wealth is derived from society, and indeed, there is much truth there. A business cannot sell unless there is a collection of consumers ready to buy. That business relies on the population for its workers. It relies on the resources of that society, the infrastructure, and the raw materials that it or its suppliers need to produce goods which ultimately are provided for free by Mother Earth...indeed, it is estimated that a fair price for those raw materials, like air and water and minerals, would equal the cumulative gross domestic product of every economy on the planet, thus making world net profit precisely zero.
Clearly, one can make the case that between the raw materials and labor pool, society should devolve the majority of revenues from any business (the value-added tax is an attempt to put this into practice, however marginally). In practice, the individual entrepreneur is the one who stands to most benefit from commerce. In truth, he risks an awful lot too, but that's a different article. We're talking here about the ones who succeed.
I think we'd all agree that a guy who opens up a shoe repair shop and works long hard hours for little money building his business is entitled to some kind of payoff for his hard work. In practice, the truth is very different: success usually occurs more from sheer blind luck than from hard work. You can work really hard and make nothing of a company, but add a little luck, and you have success.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one
Came in at ten to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So Happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true
They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me
You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night
The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day
You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last
The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day
I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you
The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas DayMerry Christmas to you, my dear friends and readers. Thank you for making this year better.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The outgoing 111th Congress is among the most productive in history, in spite of its reputation for gridlock and 13 percent approval rating. Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, and used their large majorities to push through landmark legislation with barely any GOP support.
The post-election lame-duck session – typically a mopping-up operation to get out of town – also made history, passing key pieces of legislation, often with greater input from Republicans than had earlier been the case. People can argue the merits of what Congress did, but it’s hard to quibble with the scope of the undertaking.
Granted, much of the legislation runs antithetical to the interests and values of liberals, and we should note that too. But a lot of what was done was good for a progressive agenda. Let's take a look, in chronologic order:
1) The American Recovery and Re-Investment Act -- Everyone points to the "stimulus" portion of the bill, but the largest part of the bill was a tax cut for you and me. 98% of Americans saw a tax break out of this bill, incremental and therefore obscured by just sloppy minimalism. Too, the roll-out of the spending portion of this bill, which favored pet liberal projects like education, came down the road a bit and the agenda had already been co-opted by Teabaggers. But we ought to make note of the true progressive nature of the stimulus package.
2) Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act -- Healthcare reform. It was nasty, it was ugly, and the ultimate law was a shamble of progressive and conservative philosophies, but it got done and it's a first step in a highly charged and volatile conservative atmosphere.
3) Financial Regulatory Reform -- Want to know how progressive this bill is? It's been priority targeted for budget cuts in the new Republican Congress.
4) Tax Cut Extension Plus Stimulus Spending -- Sadly, when liberals want spending, we usually force ourselves to raise taxes. Here was an instance where the evil of Republicanism, tax cutting, forced liberals to actually borrow to spend. I know, odious, right? But we got the ok to spend to try to get some jobs created, and that's good. It's all about jobs, this economy. We have to get to work on that.
5) DADT -- Nuff said.
6) START Treaty -- This is a great achievement in ratcheting down the threat of mutual annihilation. I don't think anyone...well, after 1962, at any rate...seriously believed any nuclear power would use nukes in any capacity. Until those weapons started to spread to countries who will be less than scrupulous in their use. With both Russia and the US in accord on this issue, we can now turn to those nations and start asking them to dismantle them, with the full authority of speaking on behalf of the rest of the world. What happens then is a different story, but we accomplished a step towards world peace.
Could there have been more? Oh hell yes, and that's where I think most liberals get upset. It took so long to get the modest healthcare reform we did get and that vote alone probably took the wind out of the sails for a true energy policy, for carbon trading, and for any number of other progressive items that we could have easily obtained with supermajorities in both houses.
I blame Obama for not taking the lead on his initiatives, but I also blame Harry Reid for having little stomach for beating up his constituency.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Partisanship, a quest for ideological purity, and the "abuse" of procedural rules have bled collegiality from the U.S. Senate and mired "the world's greatest deliberative body" in gridlock, Specter said.
This was not the usual flowery goodbye and trip down memory lane.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
The new Congress hasn't been seated yet but signs of a rift are already beginning to emerge between Republican leaders and Tea Party groups who were a driving force propelling many unknown candidates to victory last month.
There are many ways to characterize this. I prefer to think of it as the chickens come home to roost.
The Republicans have had a forty year "Southern Strategy" which has yielded some pretty impressive political victories and some pretty shameful defeats. On the one hand, this strategy was most directly responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as the takeover of Congress in 1994, and the House in 2010.
On the other hand, it was directly responsible for the corrupt Congresses that ensued, the rape of the American budget, the tax hikes needed to compensate for the spending by Republicans on credit, as well as war without end and a terror attack that will go down in history as one of America's weakest moments, bought and paid for by the GOP.
This strategy divided the nation into three groups: economic royalists, socially conservative Christians, and the rest of us. Power within the GOP rested firmly in the economic royalty camp, with the occasional intruder like Pat Robertson allowed a seat at the table primarily because he could speak both lingoes fluently. The Christian Coalition was allowed to rant and rave and was allowed loose in the neighborhood every two years (especially during presidential elections) to foam at the mouth about "teh gehys" or dead pre-babies or "war on Christmas" or what have you.
The Tea Party is a curious admixture of both camps. There's a strain of "I got mine Jack, now you get yours" that economic royalists have attuned to like a 50,000 watt radio station next door, but there's also a deep strain of social conservatism that infests the movement, too.
It's basically the rank-and-file saying "Help us, finally, dammit!" to the powers that be that dictate policy that helps the wealthy without assisting the middle class and poor from losing ground.
Sadly, they still see the "free" market as the solution to the problem, when as I've pointed out consistently, the government is better poised to help them.
Worse for the GOP, there's really no way to placate all forms of the movement:
In a sense, identifying with the Tea Party movement was like catching Beatlemania in the 1960s. People were drawn in for different reasons — the beat, the haircuts, the lyrics — and great gulfs of taste divided the John fans from the Paul fans, the George fans from the Ringo fans.
Smashing success broke the Beatles apart. As 2010 closes, there is no bigger question in U.S. politics than whether the Tea Party will go the same way. The pressures on this already divided movement will be enormous. As long as the far-flung elements of the Tea Party were shoulder to shoulder against Obama, it was easy to keep them together. But now, the party that argued so effectively for smaller government is headed to Washington, where so many other waves have broken and receded. Having remade Congress and with a GOP presidential nomination up for grabs, the Tea Party is about to learn that rallying against its enemies is easier than choosing among its allies.
Effectively, the Tea Party is a movement without a leader and many people vying for that leadership. But it may be too late: success happened so quickly for the chaotic movement that even early adopters like Dick Armey have had trouble herding the kittens.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
UPDATE: Things took a turn for the worse yesterday. The O2 sat rate dipped, and the ventilator was kept on. After an examination by the intensivist and a neurologist (low oxygen = brain damage, just a matter of how much), and a negotiation between the proxy and the medical staff, it was agreed that if the patient did not show improvement by this morning, the hospital would agree to terminate life support.
It shouldn't have been a negotiation, in my book, nor should the proxy have had to be consulted, except as to the timing of the withdrawal.
I understand the conditions of the hospital. For every patient they screw up on, it costs five more patients appropriate care in terms of time, resources and scared doctors. The policies and the procedures they follow are designed to avert risk.
Still, I can't help but think this was a situation where everyone, even the doctors, had clear-cut instructions, and that the care of the patient is primarily medical but secondarily about the quality of his life.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I've got a family issue that I have to take care of today, so I'll be scarce. I didn't have much to say except we got the tax bill we earned, but didn't deserve. Sad, innit?
History shows us that progress comes against great friction to remain in place. Remaining in place, however, always loses.
We will prevail, eventually. Keep the faith, friends!
Monday, December 13, 2010
A little over two years ago, one of Sarah Palin's first interviews after being tapped as John McCain's running mate was a multipart chat with CBS's Katie Couric. And it was a disaster. To this day, Palin still has a chip on her shoulder about one question she was asked in particular: What does she read?
Since then, Palin has been asked the question repeatedly, and has come up with something approaching a stock answer.
Said "stock answer's" shorter?
I can see books from my bedstand!
Seriously, how thin skinned is this broad? Two years after she bungles an interesting-but-inocuous question, she's still fuming about it!
"Because of that one episode, that one episode, that would turn an issue into what it has become over the last two years. I think that's ridiculous," Palin told Walters. "That's one of those things, where that issue…that I don't read, or that I'm not informed, it's one of those questions where I like to turn that around and ask the reporters, 'Why would it be that there is that perception that I don't read?'"
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010