Friday, February 24, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) So it's come down to this? PFC Bradley Manning, who ported a whole bunch of clkassified documents to the website WikiLeaks, has been charged with "aiding the enemy." There's really only one question to be asked here: Who? Who is the enemy? WikiLeaks? Has there been a formal declaration of law against a website? Or even a Presidential finding that WikiLeaks poses a "clear and present danger" to American security? Do they have nukes pointed at the heartland? Did they weaponize avian flu, then release their recipe to the general public?
2) Having lost the culture wars to Rick Santorum, Romney is trying to pivot back to the economy. Bad news, Governor: the economy is tooling along, and a majority of Americans now feel it's at least "good." Maybe if you show us your bank balances again, you can have our attention.
3) Funniest line in this story about Apple's embarassment of riches: "Another suggestion of what to do with the cash was to buy Greece, which is currently experiencing a debt crisis, but Cook said Apple is not interested." Apple has $97.6 billion in the bank. As recently as June 2011, it "only" had $76 billion, which was still $3 billion more than the Federal government.
4) Nice gesture but, I'm worried how this will be implemented.
5) Mayor Mike Bloomberg is turning more and more into a tinpot dictator with delusions of grandeur each day. It's bad enough that he had the NYPD spy on Muslim student organizations and mosques within the five boroughs, but he extended this undercover work almost nationwide and without the knowledge or coordination with local law enforcement or administrations. You know who else used to spy secretly on citizens?
6) How nuts are sports fans? Baseball player Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, who was selected the National League MVP, tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in his urine during the playoffs last season. His punishment was a 50-game suspension this season. He did not deny using performance enhancing drugs (meaning he cheated to win his MVP award), and instead, focused on a technicality in how his urine sample was handled. He had his suspension overturned. The reaction of Brewer fans? Ecstatic.
8) You'll note Newt mentions nothing about selling our daughters and sons out to King Abdullah. Really? $2.50 a gallon, Newt? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!
9) Bill Maher stepped up for Obama last night. Will you?
10) Finally, many of you have approached me here, on Facebook and privately with respect to the procedure I underwent yesterday (because I know many of you read this while eating and drinking, I've been purposely circumspect about mentioning the precise name, but lemme just say that the "monkeycam"-- to quote my friend Michael-- found none poised to fly out of my butt.) Thank you for your words of support and concern. I was a nervous wreck this past week in anticipation of the horror of the prep. The procedure itself is not too bad particularly since the doctor insists on mild sedation, even if I did wake up to my appendix large and in color on the monitor just feet from my face. As I haven't seen that partcular organ since my skin turned opaque in the womb, it was like seeing an old friend. He looks healthy. I didn't get to ask about the family.
There will be a few days of trepidation but I'm confident that, in the end (pardon the pun) things will come out alright (again, pardon the pun.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Light Days

Blogging will be very light these next few days as I am required to undergo a diagnostic procedure that requires a certain amount of preparation.
Men of a certain age know the one I mean, maybe many women do too.

Dirty Fuckin' Hippies

The Wall Street Journal suggests that big banks should be broken up. Citing the inadequacy of the Volcker Rule in the Dodd-Frank bill now wending its way through Congress, the Journal states any real reform should include "a Congressional plan either for allowing large banks to fail or for breaking them up."
Horrors! Nationalizing banks? The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal?
More astounding: Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan Chase Bank and an proud 1%er (he once claimed to feel safer in Lebanon than amongst the Occupy Wall Street members) is for raising his own taxes:

And Dimon acknowledges the issue highlighted by Occupy Wall Street. “I do think we’ve become a less equitable society,” he told me. “So I’d ask the question—let’s say we agree it’s become less equitable—what would you do about it?”

“I would tax dividends and interest income higher and capital gains,” said Dimon. “Have a higher tax rate. If you said there’d be a certain percent rate for people making over a million dollars and a higher percent rate for people making over $10 million, no problem with me. I don’t think people should be able to pass unlimited amounts on to their kids.”

Wow. Simply friggin' wow. In one fell swoop, Dimon acknowledges income inequity and its bad effect on the nation, prescribes a progressive income tax on the wealthy and uberwealthy, AND endorses an estate tax!

And yet, Occupy Wall Street is just a rag-tag rabble of aging unemployed free-laoding hippies and young, debt-laden college kids terrified of getting their hands dirty at the fry counter.

All of this comes against the backdrop of President Obama's announcement of a new corporate tax plan, one that will close loopholes while lowering the corporate tax rate to 25-28%.

OK, I can get behind that plan. After all, our nominal tax rate on corporations is 35% but no one actually pays that anyway, and it's about mid-pack for industrialized nations, plus we see so little benefit in society from a rate that high.

In fact, I'd go Obama one better: I'd cut the tax rate to 15%

...wait for it...

On gross revenues. No more dodging the tax man by purchasing this asset or stowing money in some tax shelter. You earn it, you pay on it, just like a person.

You'll note that, since taxable income is usually only a small fraction of gross revenues, this is a bonanza for the nation. Now, we can argue and adjust the tax rate to be sure (15% might be a bit high, but hey, if it's good enough for a poor family...) but the simple fact is, if corporations wish to have free speech like the rest of us, then they ought to be as subject to tax burdens as the least of us.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012


One can only sit back and wonder how badly the SCOTUS will screw this up.


How's that Citizen's United thing working for ya?

It Must Suck To Be Newt

I mean, the poor guy has to resort to talking about energy policy to get any headlines.
PS He's wrong, of course. Obama's energy policy has tried to bring as much energy independence to the US as the past three Presidents combined, with his tri-partite green energy, fuel efficiency, and off-shore drilling initiatives.
We can argue the value of any or all of those, but the simple fact is, he's the only President since Carter to even try all three at once.

All Greece'd Up

It looks like the slipper slope has been avoided yet again. Greece received a bailout from the EU after implementing strong austerity measures last week.
Think this is the last time to that well? Think again.

Holy Shit

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan —Deeply angered over reports that U.S. troops had burned copies of the Koran, Islam’s holy text, thousands of protesters on Tuesday tried to storm the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan.

The protests erupted early in the morning, after Afghans working inside the Bagram air base reported to local residents that a number of copies of the Koran had been burned. The incident prompted the top U.S. military officer in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, to offer a public apology and order a prompt investigation.

“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them,” Allen said in a statement. “We are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you … I promise you … this was NOT intentional in any way.”

It's not hard to find out that the proper way to dispose of a Koran is by burying it or releasing it into flowing waters. You can burn it, but there had better be no other option available.

It seems to me that, in the largest military base in South Asia, there's a front loader lying around idle somewhere.

You Really Want To Go There, Papist?

Because there are many more Protestants in America than there are Catholics.

Santorum, a conservative Catholic, is fairly strict when it comes to religion. You might want to check out his 2008 speech at Ave Maria College — just do the Google — in which he said that "mainline Protestantism in this country ... is in shambles (and) is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it." Which may come as a surprise to many of the millions of mainline Protestants.

Indeed. Not content with sticking his foot in his mouth, Santorum proceeded Sunday to shove his kneecap in there, as well:

But on "Face the Nation" Sunday, Santorum insisted he wasn't talking about Obama's Christianity or religion at all, but, rather, about the theology of "radical environmentalism," which he explained this way:

"But we're not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective. And I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down."

You know who else believes in global climate change?

While some lawmakers and ideologues blithely challenge the world's leading scientists, along with a growing number of military leaders concerned about this issue as a global security risk, they also part company with the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI. The Green Pope, as some have called Benedict, has frequently addressed climate change and care for the environment as profound moral issues. The pope has touted solar energy, the benefits of local agriculture, sustainable development and the perils of hyper-consumerism. He has spoken boldly about the shameful reality of "environmental refugees" and recognizes the link between war and ecological exploitation. The Vatican has even taken steps to become the world's first "carbon-neutral state."[...]

For Catholics, caring for creation and being prudent stewards of our rivers, mountains and forests is not a trendy cause. It's a Biblical mandate, and a necessity to promote the sacred dignity of life. The Catholic Church has been in the forefront of these efforts long before rock stars and Hollywood celebrities made it cool to be "green." In particular, faith communities have a unique role to address the ways the poor and vulnerable around the world are most impacted by climate change.

(Emphases added for contrast)

Yea, that world leader who Santorum suggests we should model our own laws and customs on. One wonders if the Pope is now mainstream Protestant or if Santorum has decided to convert to Evangelicalism.

The right wing of this country will spend the next several months playing "Wack-A-Mole" with President Obama, trying to find any weakness in his armor that can be summed up in a soundbite. You see, it's hard to say he's been horrible with the economy since people intuitively grasp that the economy was bad, got worse, but is now better.

It's hard to say he's been on the wrong side of social issues, since the grand majority of people agree with his centrist, principled stances.

And it's hard to paint him as corrupt because, hello, not a whole lot of "there" there.

So the hammer keeps bashing, and the President keeps ducking back into his hole until all that's left for conservatives is to hit themselves in the head with the hammer and cry foul.