Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Question, Easy Answer

Here's the question--Why the dearth of statues honoring women in Statuary Hall and elsewhere?
Come on, that 's a no brainer!  Guys pay for the statues, besides until  1920 women did not have the vote.  Oh, here's a book to read, it might help explain why the statues are scarce --

When Women Were Priests: Women's Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity
by Karen J. Torjese

Hmm, Good Point?

Liberals pride themselves on being tolerant. Are they really just suckers?


Come to think of it, I'd love to hear Obama defend Mitch McConnell's right to be speak out of his ass as he kicks the Senator in his nuts all the way from D.C. to Lexington.   Turn the other cheek? Sure, but only after delivering something they understand, mind numbing pain.

If it's the first Saturday in May

Come on, that's just another Saturday isn't it?  No way, that's Kentucky Derby Day!  Folks are looking at the field--Derby devotees see stars-to-be on Kentucky horse farms.

You may not think much of horse races, but the Derby makes for a grand day.   The loud and outrageous hats are fun.  The horses are nice, but I love the Mint Juleps.  May 7, 2011 is this year's Summer Drink Kickoff!  How's your mint growing?  Are you ready for some Mint Julep?

Assess your bar.  Are you ready for warm weather?  If not, you've been warned.  I have not had my first hot weather drink yet.  Mrs.  Jake jumped the gun the other day when we hit 90 degrees. Our mint is up, she had the first Mojito of the year.  She's ready for the heat--we bought fresh limes this week, I fertilized the mint.  I make her a lo-cal version.  Instead of bar sugar, I use Splenda.  It doesn't change the taste at all.

As the weather warms, after the Derby of course, I'll shift to Mojitos, Juleps, Man-bour-tinis, and Cognac and Coke, ice cold Margarets* and Manhattans (they're great any time of year ).  Enjoy!


*2 oz. ice cold Bailey's, 1 oz. ice cold Dark Rum (like Meyers) in a glass, garnish with a spring of mint. 

New Food Products

BP created the exciting new food,  Instant Shrimp Flambe--exposed to oxygen, it cooks itself at tableside.  Tepco, the Japanese power company has introduced several new seafood-lit entrees, they 're more romantic than candles.  Try some food that glows, let it illume your dining room.

Oh, the nukes at Fujushima, they're still heating up the ocean, as in radioactive heat.  Gee, pre-irradiated seafood.  That fish won't ever rot or decay.  It must all be an exercise in the interest of public health.

Radioactivity rises in sea off Japan nuclear plant

Consider this dish.  A filet of hot fish from Japan covered with pre-marinated oysters from the Gulf.  At tableside, the fish cooks the oysters and as they cook,  their oils create a sauce for the fish.  Who could turn down a dish like that, especially if it all rested on a bed of Bhopal rice.

Obama's War Number One

On the Eastern Front, in Afghanistan, a Taliban committed suicide by blowing himself into martyrdom and took several others along for all time and eternity.  I assume we all wind up in the same place when we go regardless of how we go and what we thought when we lived in our ante-martyr days.  Consider, if the Muslims are right and you happen to have been a Mormon.  Better yet, reverse it.  Somebody is going to be a bit pissed off.

Quick what is the name of the coalition in Afghanistan?  Come on, we've been there for ten years.  Try harder.  No it's not NATO.  No, it's not the U.S. Army.  Coalition of the willing?  Nah, that's the Iraq war.  It's the International Assistance Force.  Does anyone in the U.S., other than the soldiers have any skin in this game at all?  I bet if we surveyed Congress on this question, we'd have a 95% failure rate.  Why not end the war?  Can you really beat an enemy that will voluntarily kill themselves?  Hm, maybe we need to adopt their tactics and send in our own suicide bombers.  I bet we could find thousands of volunteers.

5 soldiers die in latest attack in Taliban's suicide campaign

What do self serving people do?

Why they serve themselves of course.  It doesn't matter what the issue, topic or matter may be, the self serving protect their interest at any cost and do their best to "make sure" it all comes out right for themselves.  In politics they even praise themselves for their acts.  We voters, in turn, believe what they say, we reelect them.  God, what would happen if we actually examined what they have done?

Oh, it's the decennial redistricting time again.  I think the only state that does not have problems in this area is Iowa.  No, Iowa for real, they really re-district rationally--the pols don't do it and it's based on  where people actually live, not their ethnicity, party affiliation or religiosity.  It must be all the corn.

Virgina may go the courts. How's your state doing?

McDonnell vetoes state legislative redistricting bill

Super PACS

Super PACs?  Oh, they're the PACS the Supremes gave us for umlimited corporate spending on political stuff.  Guess who has formed one?  Ready, it's Stepehn Colbert!  He has opened a super PAC.  I wonder what kind of money he'll take in?   I wonder what he will spend his take upon?

Colbert announces a ‘super PAC’

It might be an entertaining election season coming up.

Open Mic

Obama had an open mic moment.  He dissed the GOP, that's accurate and good.  He said government workers are slugs.  The key word is "some."  Gee, government employment is just like the private sector.  His assessment in on target, most are damned good and diligent.  He accurately assessed government IT, it sucks.  What do you expect from systems designed to spend tax dollars?  I think the guy needs to have more open mic moments.  If he did he might regain my vote in 2102.  Might, but I doubt it.  He talks a lot.  He fails to follow through and walk his talk.  Libya was my last straw.

Obama on open mic--candor and honest assessment

Attention Non-Voters

If you did not vote in 2012, I assume you are down with the GOP's dominant role in our government's functions.   If you did not vote in 2012 you may think it doesn't matter who is in office, so why bother voting.   If you didn't vote in 2012  you must be rich and not have any need of a government service at all or you just don't avail yourself of them.  If you did not vote in 2012 then gutting programs like Medicare will be a plus for you.    I guess you may have been right.  Here's an example of what the best and brightest from Congress and the White House have done in the name of fiscal discipline--

But details of the budget compromise this week between the president and congressional leaders show federal funding for job training programs has taken a significant hit — more than $870 million in all. Included are cuts to occupational training grants at community colleges, green jobs classes and a program to help low-income older people acquire work skills.

I wonder what other little gems we'll find as the "historic" cuts are revealed? I doubt if there will be any eye-opening cuts that affect war contracts.  There's nothing historic in this, it's all the same old, same old. I can see not voting, but for a change, why not find some new people to vote for.  Write ins can work.

In 2012 don't vote for a Democrat or a Republican, but do vote.  Find someone new and write them in.  If you cannot find a new person, then write in "None of the Above."  It might get very interesting if NOTA wins in several elections.  Flip off the Dems and GOP by voting, but not for them.

GOOPER Budgeter

This man loves war.  This man hates social spending.  This man is a typical Republican.  This man will end Medicare.  This man will end Social Security.  This man will end all spending for the poor.  This man will spend more on death and destruction.  This man is the best budgeter in the GOP?  This man is Paul Ryan.


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What Did You Expect?

House Trogs voted for Eddie Munster's (Paul Ryan-hey look at him, he's all grown up) "Prosperity for the Rich" budget.  It passed.  The GOP knows all Americans are concerned about the fiscal fortunes of the rich.  The GOP budget removes spending on 98% of Americans while giving back more to the upper 2%.  After all, without that money, the rich will not be able to accept more war contracts.

Does Granny really need Medicare and an income?  No, she's irresponsible if she is unwilling to pauperize herself, eat dog food and die a death panel free death.  Hell, it's her patriotic duty to make no claim on programs that spend tax dollars.  What otherwise would be spent on Granny will be given back in tax cuts to the affluent.  Granny needs to buck up, give it all back, and be a proud American.

What is a nation that is owned and ruled by less than 2% of its population?  Try monarchy, oligarchy, or kind of dictatorship.  What does the GOP want for 98% of us?  Think about it, it's certainly not contained in the Constitution's Preamble.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Why would any reasonable person support the GOP's plan?  It will pauperize our people and our nation, but secure the wealth of their masters.  Will we let the irrationalists dominate our collective lives?  The 2012 race is on.

Obama's War Number Three-- Costs

Obama turned the war over to NATO.  NATO has maintained his various NO ZONES--fly, tanks, ships, camels, walk, etc.  U.S. resources were minimized.  Gee, maybe it's not a war after all.  Oops, bad news from NATO, they've run out of munitions, especially the high tech bombs we sell them.  It appears the world's arms merchant will have to resume its NO ZONE duties.

Here's a question, how much of the weaponry that's been used in Libya, by the U.S., NATO, the rebels and Qadaffi are stamped "Made in USA?" I bet we sold the cluster bombs to Qadaffi.   Again, we face more private gain at public cost and risk.

If NATO has no bombs, no planes, then let's have no war.  However, if we must have war, let's arm everybody with swords and spears.  They are cheaper.  Or, get the job done and nuke the place--do we really need Libya?

NATO runs short on some munitions in Libya

Friday, April 15, 2011

As the world turns

Daytime network TV has changed.  The soaps are a dying type of show.  Two more have bitten the dust.

ABC kills long-running soaps ‘All My Children,’ ‘One Life to Live’


ABC's replacement shows seem more fit for our times. One is a show how to eat more and become fat. The other is about how to lose weight and be healthy. Are we a bipolar nation or what?

Would McCain have passed muster?

The good idiots of Arizona have passed a birther bill.  The Gov. may sign it.  The bill requires "...presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens before their names can appear on the state’s ballot."

In 2008, this would have required Obama to provide whatever Hawaii uses as proof of birth. If he produced it, he'd have had no problem. John Mccain, on the other hand, would have had to produce two things. First, his birth certificate from the Canal Zone. Second, he would have had to show that where and when he was born would legally make him a natural born citizen born outside the United States. I think Obama would have lost his opponent. The bill has little to do with citizenship and more to do with Obama--tall, big ears, funny name, eloquent, smart and he has an interesting bio. Oh, forgot, he's also black.

I doubt this is really legit anyway. The Constitution says "natural born citizen" at least 35 years old. That's it. It doesn't say who shall decide. By default it has to be federal courts, not the state of Arizona nor any other state.  What control do states have on who appears on the ballot for presidential elections especially since we elect electors not individuals?

20%?

Should the government determine the proportional size of a mortgage down payment?  If so, then how much is sufficient to help deter the past housing bubble from occurring again?  This is a case of minimum regulation?  It's funny that a percentage of  purchase price has become the focus of attention.  The problem will be solved because a high percentage limits risk and anything below the  magic number will require banks to keep a bit of skin in the game to reduce risk.   Is this really the crux of the matter?

Why not begin with an honest credit worthiness assessment first.  Then scale the interest  to the percentage size of the down payment.   As far as retaining a stake, absolutely, but for all mortgages regardless of down payment.  When this past disaster happened, if my local bank had still owned some of the paper, then I'd have known whom to approach with a bucket of  tar and a feather pillow.  Don't forget we have to make sure sub-prime loans and all of its relatives are illegal.    The issue is not home ownership or mortgages, it's really about control of banker's rampant greed and their passing the buck of responsibility while facilitating real estate purchases.

Housing officials criticize 20% down-payment proposal


Mortgages, bank regulation, home ownership and all are part of our social policy--what we do together because it's too damned hard to do all by ourselves.  What proportion of our population should own their own house?  Before WWII  about 40% or less owned a house.  After WWII, courtesy of the federal government via the GI bill and FHA, home ownership went up into the high 60% range.  Remember, the middle class was created by us for us through our representative  government.  The way we govern ourselves and our social policies are under attack today.  The GOP wants to return to the good old days.  The middle class is the enemy of the GOP.  The GOP is the ante-bellum party, the problem is their "bellum;" it's the Civil War.  They especially long for the good old days of 1854 long before the 14th and 19th Amendments existed.  Some even long for the days before the fore fathers.  The GOP is strange.

Let's Hope There's Some Walk After the Talk

The GOP wants to know why Obama invited them to his budget speech, their feelings are hurt.  Instead of rolling over and praising Paul, "Eddie Munster," Ryan Obama gave them a dose of their own medicine.  The President must have read the GOP's "Politics for Dummies" manual.  Ryan was seated in the front row, he got bitch slapped.

They expected a peace offering, a gesture of goodwill aimed at smoothing a path toward compromise. But soon after taking their seats at George Washington University on Wednesday, they found themselves under fire for plotting “a fundamentally different America” from the one most Americans know and love.

Is Paul Ryan really Eddie Munster?  Was his father Herman Munster?  People have questions.  Is Ryan bulimic?  Health care providers look at him and are worried.  Are the GOP really agents of the British Crown hell bent on restoring the monarchy?  People are concerned.  See, it's easy to play GOP!  By the way, about everything Ryan or Obama wants to accomplish debt wise can be done by repealing the Bush Tax Cuts.  Then if we want to return to surpluses all we have to do is bag Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

As Kinky Friedman said, thinking about George Bush,  as he ran for the Governor of Texas, "How Hard Can it Be?"  The budget mess is complicated only when pols and parties are more concerned with reelection than governing a nation.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Debt Fixes--WAR

1.  Insure we don't shoot, draw, and then aim in the future on defense.  Repeal the War Powers Act.  Congress has to declare war to deploy troops.  If Congress votes for war, make a draft mandatory and make  war tax go into effect immediately.

2.  Reduce spending due to our three idiotic wars.  End all three unilaterally today.  Withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.  Libya is a logical location, but end the action.

3.  Reduce spending by ending the post WWII military nonsense.  Pull all of military forces back to the U.S. form all locations around the world.  Close all overseas bases.

4.  Reduce the size of the Army and Air Force to a reasonable minimum.  The Navy and Marines can stay as they are, I think if might a Constitutional issue.

5.  Shut down the Military Industrial Complex by eliminating 80% of all DOD procurement.  while we're at it, make a law preventing Mercs from being hired by our government ever again.  Government should make more of its own weapons and such--minimize contracting.

6.  Change the name of the Defense Dept. back to the Department of War.

The target amount for War Dept. spending--no more than $300 billion.

Oh, Shit

Consider--

Legal challenges to the sweeping federal health care overhaul backed by the Obama administration are heading toward the Supreme Court, where the justices who would decide the law’s fate could have as much at stake as the parties battling over it.

It may be called the Roberts Court, but get real, it's the Scalia Court. Should we be concerned? I think so. Remember it was Scalia and Co. that appointed George Bush. Look at today's unemployment numbers, look at our economy, look at Sarah Palin and ask yourself, since Gore actually had the most votes, what would life be like it the Court had not appointed the Shrub?  Gee, no wars, no 9/11, no tax cuts, hell, we'd have continued to have surpluses.  Why do people want folks like the Shrub and the GOP in charge?  Oh, to be fair, Scalia and Co did get an assist from Bill Clinton--one blowjob.

Jobs and Work

I'm an old fart (almost, it 65 defines entry into oldfartdom).  I know I have fewer Summers in front of me than ones I've already enjoyed (unless science finds the fountain of youth).   As I think back about jobs and work, I was always able to find work when I needed a job--I spent a lot of time in school.  Today I wonder what it must be like.  Is it harder today than in past hard times or not?  I have a feeling it's worse today.  Unlike past hard times I don't hear many folks talking as though it was going to get better any time soon or at all.  Has our sense of a better future died?  It is worse today or not?  Will our economy return or is 8% unemployment the new normal?  If it is, how long before grumbling gets serious about the rich?

More Americans leaving workforce


Scientists, get cracking.

Where do our Streetwalkers get their cash?

From the Johns of course.  Hey, there's a John, it's Goldman Sachs.  How does Goldman make his gold?  First, he assures there is no regulation or at least ones he cannot skirt.  Then he fleeces his customers--

Goldmans securitized their trash mortgages.  They unloaded the risk and made a bundle to boot.

The subcommittee report, however, accuses Goldman of conflicts of interest in three other deals in which it allegedly withheld key information from clients, the most serious known as Hudson Mezzanine-2006-1.


According to the report, Goldman executives selected the securities that would be included in the $2 billion deal with no input from investors, which included the Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley. Goldman didn't disclose that it would be holding the "short" position — betting on the default of the securities, even when a representative of one investor, the National Australia Bank, directly asked, it said.


Goldman used the deal "to transfer the risks" of $1.2 billion in risky home loans to investors, the report said. Goldman not only rid itself of risky assets, but also wound up with net profits of $1.35 billion, the report said.


A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley, which lost most of its $1.5 billion investment, declined comment.

Goldman's used some of the proceeds to purchase the services of elected officials who are always willing to serve (for a price). Goldman's actions beg for serious regulation. Why is it not regulated? Oh, the streetwalkers are in charge of regulation services, what do you think Goldman bought?  Should you trust any pol who receives any campaign cash from the likes of Goldman Sachs?  Conflict of interest anyone?

Gulf Aftermath

I still won't eat Gulf seafood.  I am not partial to spontaneous shrimp flambe.  It's been a year.  BP is still shelling out cash to right their wrongs.  Money seems to mean justice to lots of folks.  Maybe we should have tried less cash and added in a bit of summary execution--Tony Hayward and a dozen other BP and drilling execs heads hoisted on top of drilling rigs would have been nice.  I'd have used the word "pikes" but I'm not sure there are any pikes in the Gulf, and it wouldn't have been humane to use Pelicans since BP killed them off.  Drilling rigs it will have to be.  How's the purchase of justice going?   It fares quite well for some and not so well for others.  It has created a new term--spillionaires

‘Spillionaires’ are the new rich after BP oil spill payouts

Annals of the Blowhard

Consider Paul Ryan, a.k.a. Eddie Munster all grown up, and his budget plan.  What is his budget plan really?  It's a GOP contrivance dedicated to securing campaign donations and votes in the name of fixing a problem.  It won't really fix the mess for all people, but it will help some people (go ahead and guess who).  Obama's plan is similar, it's a Democratic contrivance.  The problem with two competing plans is that we get sausage when we expect steak.  We will get solutions made of partisan leftovers.

Here's  a fact checking piece on Ryan and the CBO.  Give it a read and remember you cannot modify the word politician with the word honest.  

If you haven't read the side bar to the left hear it is--

"A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker."

The nation's elected whores will not solve the problem.  Think about it when you think about having children so they can have your taxpaying grandchildren.  Are you that mean, petty and vindictive?   Nah, but we all need to change the way we vote.  Don't reelect anyone, it's a moral issue.  One term and we then keep them off the streets.  See, term limits are doing god's work.

National Debt

Obama gave a good speech on how we can repair our fiscal house.  The problem is, not his ideas, they will help.  No, the problem is the permanent campaign.  If, unbeknownst to anyone else, Obama rewrote his speech and presented the Ryan plan as the Obama plan, the GOP would have condemned it anyway.

 Why?  Obama is always wrong because he is a Democrat.   The same obtains when a Republican presents what formerly was advocated by the Democrats, the Dems then trash the GOP.  Who wins in this mess?  Certainly the incumbents win since the historic reelection rate fluctuates around 95%.  Who loses?  The nation loses since problems are not even addressed much less fixed.

Think about it for a minute.   Since 1980 power has been wielded by Democrats and Republicans.  Both parties have been in charge of Congress and the White House.  Who designed and executed the actions which created our current fiscal mess?  Oh, it was your neighbor down the street who created the budget, the deficit, and the debt nightmare?  No, it wasn't us.  Who did?  Oh, it was accomplished by the same guys and gals who are going to fix it today, pols we elected to office.  Some of them were even in office in 1980!

If we want solutions, then we have to let the elected bozos know, regardless of party they will not be reelected unless they de-politicize the fiscal repairs.  Facts, reason and logic wielded by experts are needed.  The blowhards need to defer to expertise, listen and cull the best from their deliberations.  Then they will be able to fix the damn thing.  That done, they can return to ever important discussions about whether the president was born in the U.S. or on the Moon.

Obama announces framework for cutting deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dems Budget Proposal

Obama's speech was good.  The problem is, will he stand by his proposals or "compromise" his ass off and give the GOP their way.  I fear he has more in common with the GOP than everyday folks these days.  After all, he wants his post presidental Rolodex to be quite valuable.  In other words, talk is great.  Will he walk his talk?  His track record is less than stellar.  How does his proposal compare to Eddie Munster's?

Comparing Republican and Obama Budget Plans

Interesting

Virginia has cut prison spending and closed 10 corrections centers since 2009.


How Virginia has achieved lower-than-average recidivism rates is difficult to pin down, experts said. One likely factor, though, is lack of parole.


The state did away with parole in 1995 after get-tough-on-crime initiatives by then-Gov. George Allen (R). Prisoners are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. By keeping prisoners behind bars longer, the effect is to “age them out of their crime-prone years,” said Brian Ostrom, a researcher for the National Center for State Courts who has extensively studied Virginia’s prison system.

True or not?

The Federal Pad

Here's a simple example of what's driven us to today's fiscal problems.  The feds, Congress and the White House, decide that we need to do X.  They appropriate a lot of money for X.  Fearing voter reaction over adding government employees, they decide to accomplish X via contracts with the private sector.

The private sector responds. The private sector follows money, there's profit in X.  The private sector ramps up for X.  The private sectors hires Congressional staffers  who wrote the law on X.  The private sector hires the best government employees currently working on X  and X like stuff.   X has just become a pad.

Once a pad is created it cannot be destroyed.  Even if the problem ceases to exist, more money will be thrown at the problem--the private sector knows how to lobby, seek redress of grievances, and to donate generously.  Our government creates permanent private profits at public expense.  Ending X is impossible.  May the pad be with you.

Here's a piece on one small current example--

In the decade since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, private intelligence firms and security consultants have peeled away veterans from the top reaches of the CIA, hiring scores of longtime officers in large part to gain access to the burgeoning world of intelligence contracting.

How big is the pad?  Well, the number of government employees has been basically flat for decades, but, as an example, the federal budget has grown from $1.25 trillion in 1990 to 2011's $3.7 trillion.  How much "private" income depends on public expense?  The pad is huge, the GOP knows it, the Dems won't admit it, and the nation will fritter away due to paralytic debt.  

Who like poor people?

It's obvious the GOP despises the poor--that's any household making less than $50,000 a year.  The poor eat up tax dollars that otherwise could be spent on the GOP's affluent masters.  Actually, the Dems aren't that keen on the poor either.   Come on, the majority of campaign donations do not come from the under $50K crowd.

As we continue down our federal fiscal road of failure, the question is who will screw whom the most?  The GOP will not raise the debt ceiling until the Dems are willing to end Medicare and Social Security.  Want a good first step that will not be part of the fix, then get rid of the Bush tax cuts and raise the top rates a bit more.  The GOP wants to cut taxes, raise defense spending and eliminate the rest of the federal government.  How far will Obama go to get along with the GOP?  What's more important to Obama getting reelected or taking the GOP to task over their irresponsible fiscal fixes?  Obama will be reelected.

Lawmakers urge Obama to accept mandatory restraints on spending

Peeps

Here are the winning entries from this year's Peeps diorama contest--

Peeps Show V

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taxes and the States

Some states receive more back from the feds they pay in taxes.  Some states pay in more than they receive back.  Basically, red states are the moochers and blues states are the givers.   It seems to me that red states have more people who are a tad paranoid about the budget, the debt, and the size of government than the rest of us.  Given their concerns and the benefit they receive maybe they could help themselves out by  refusing to accept one dime over what they paid in taxes.  Since they are so adamant about spending less, they can start at home.  For example,  surely Oklahoma can return 36 cents out of every $1.36 in federal funds sent there.  Be a patriot and refuse to accept more back than you paid in.  We'd balance the budget and pay off the debt if the moochers quit mooching.  Funny how the GOP creates the problem and then demands a solutions that others have to pay for.    

War on Drugs

We don't see the carnage here in number one land, but it's deadly, I doubt that we're wining any hearts and minds--

Pentagon: Central America 'deadliest' non-war zone in the world



Let's end the damn war on drugs.  Legalize all drugs, regulate them, tax them and agree to never do another Prohibition type program again.  How much money would be be able to cut from the 2012 budget it we ended the DEA and legalized drugs?  If we released everybody doing time over drugs?  Come on, we'd save money and open up new government revenue streams from taxing legit drugs.

How big of a cash crop is pot today?  How big would it become if pot was legal?

Obama's War Number One-- Coalition Maintenance

We, that is, some of our government employees, regularly blow the crap out of areas in west Pakistan without our allies permission.  We send in CIA piloted drones and it's bombs away.  The CIA pilots get at least one bad guy for every 10 mushrooms (that's CIA speak for Pakistanis who were living and minding their own business before the bombs fell, but are no longer so after the bombs exploded).

The CIA knows it is vital to our national security.  If they were not at the joy stick the Constitution would crumble to dust as the land of the home and brave became a historical footnote.  At least that's what they'd like folks to think.

How's the spook air wing doing?  Okay, the Pakistanis are just pissed, but they remain well bribed.  However, if you send a mercenary spook into country, let him kill a few people, deny he's a spook, call him a diplomat and demand immunity, the bribes don't work like they used to.  They did just that.  New bribes may be needed.

Pakistan demands drawdown of US drones, CIA agents



Do they still make exploding cigars at CIA HQ?

How dumb is too dumb?

If you serve a 15 month old enough booze to get the child's alcohol blood level up to .10, I'd suggest the folks running and working in a particular Applebees are too damn dumb to be in the restaurant business.   It's not a matter of training and re-training.  They are not qualified to work at Applebees.  There may not be that many jobs left for them, but they are amply qualified to run for elective office.

Applebee's makes changes after child gets alcohol

Cheats?

If success in education is measured by standardized test scores, then expect some problems.  Not from the kids taking the tests, but from the adults giving the tests.  Hold it, that makes little sense.  After all we've been giving and taking tests for decades without many problems.  There must be something new.

Oh, if we base teacher's and school administrator's compensation and continued employment on children's test scores we add a new dynamic to testing.  Welcome to NCLB in D.C.  Gee, how can a teacher transform a dolt into a dazzler?  Well, take one answer book, one number two pencil, completed tests, and a very large eraser---

When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?


Why do any of us think the feds will improve education?  Look at what the aces have done to the economy, the federal budget, the national debt, health care and so on.  Come on these guys and gals designed the Alternative Minimum Tax, implemented it, and cannot fix it.  Do you really want to entrust pubic education to them?  As part of re-ordering our fiscal house, I suggest we repeal NCLB and eliminate the Department of Education.   Get the feds out of the public school classrooms.



Breaking News!!!!!!!

Willard might run for President!  He's explored himself!  He's formed a committee to continue the groping.  The committee will not find any Willardcare on his person.  He's stashed it well out of site.  Oh, my, one of committee members is a proctologist---yeeeeeeow!

Willard Romney launches exploratory bid for president

Obama's War Number Three-- Costs

DoD estimates the first 17 days of bombs away on Libya cost our federal government about $608 million.  In other words, we tax payers forked over $365,000,000 of our hard earned tax dollars and allowed our fearless leaders to borrow $243,000,000 to create a No Fly Zone.

Note the target of operation Odyssey  Dawn, Qadaffi, remains in power.  Who will pay the IOU for this non-war, war?  Oh, we'll stick it to our unborn grandkids.  They will inherit the debt.  It's natural law isn't it, that the sins of the father must be borne by the grandchildren?

Pentagon estimates Libya costs

The Return of Wal-Mart

A couple years ago Wal-Mart cleaned up its stores, reduced inventory, and remodeled.  I guess they were trying to look good.  What happened?  Sales went down at Walmart.   Target's sales boomed.  Get ready shoppers, the shabby, cluttered, mess will return.

Wal-Mart to reinstate dropped products, emphasize price

Who's to blame?

Cable TV got a boost from the near shutdown of our government.  They didn't have to find news stories or do much at all except run  and make comments about computerized countdown to shutdown clocks.  Government did not shutdown.  Who created the shutdown mess, well--

In a Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll , 72 percent of people said Obama bore some blame for the near-shutdown, compared to 82 percent who blamed Democratic leaders in Congress and 81 percent who cited GOP leaders.

In other words all of our elected officials, "leaders," screwed with us, boosted TV ratings, received loads of free airtime, while stroking for 2012 vote.   When I think of this kind of leadership, I think about lemmings.  Too bad we can't get rid of all of them before they take us all over an irrecoverable fiscal cliff.

The Budget Cut

They cut $38 billion.  They called it historic.  Our capital resounded with self-praise. They patted themselves on the back?  Who?  The GOP, Obama, and the Dems.   They are all proud of themselves.  What goes before a fall?

They cut two cents from every budgeted dollar.   Some of the cuts were all theory--the money wasn't gong to be spent or positions weren't going to be filled this year anyway.  Others are cuts today, but must be replaced in 2012.   The historic was normal politics,  much more smoke and mirrors than substance.

The one thing missed by all our dunderheaded pols was any serious discussion of why we have government and what we want from government and how we will pay for it all.  Instead they only talked about spending.

Until we have those discussions we will keep borrowing 40 cents on the dollar, well 38 cents for the rest of the year.  Yeah, instead of $1, 400,000,000,000 borrowed for 2011, we'll only have to borrow $1,330,000,000,000 and that assumes we were going to spend all the money in the first place.

In other words we  didn't "save" all that much.  Does the sea level drop when someone removes a thimble of water?  We're dealing with chump change, but it was designed by chimps to impress chumps with votes.

Budget deal: Cuts of $38B include accounting gimmicks, target Obama priorities

Feeling conned yet?  Get ready, it's going to get worse as we head towards the national debt ceiling.

When governments and for profit companies are involved--

They defer, hide, and lie.  Then, forced by public events they no longer can contril, they have to own up to reality.  Who and what?  Oh, the Japanese government, the power company Tepco, and the radioactive mess in Fukushima.

Japan rates nuclear crisis at highest severity level

Gee, if our economic meltdown hasn't quite yielded cander from our pols and fat cats, I wonder what it will take?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thanks Willard

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of Romneycare in Mass.  Obamacare was copied from Romneycare.  Hm, the Dems health insurance reform is really a Republican health care program.  Too bad Willard can't take credit for it.  If he does, the crazies who vote in GOP primaries will be sure to smack him down.  Even with his flip flops and bizarre stretches in 2008 to prove he's really as batshit crazy as the primary voters he could beat Obama.  Yeah,  if he took credit for Obamacare, ignored the crazies, and got the nomination, then he might unseat Obama.  Fortunately for Obama, to get the nod, Willard has to disavow Romneycare, prove once again he's an evangefundie's values voter type of guy who hates government.  The GOP is so damned strange.

New Hampshire Democrats celebrate Romneycare

Gun Nonsense

I don't give a rats one way or the other on this one.  Some officials in Illinois are trying to make public the names and expiration dates on all state issued firearms permits.   Other officials are trying to block them.  I wonder which officials own guns?  Who cares?  If I were a gun kinda guy, which I am not, I wouldn't care if people knew I had guns or secreted them on my person?  Hm, secreted?  Does anyone make a double secret gun, you know, a butt gun?   If so, that one might be a good idea to keep secret, not because of the gun, but because it's just so damn weird.  Gun pervs?

If I carried guns openly, everyone would know without the state doing anything.  I can't see this causing much gun violence, unless bad guys created a "Who's Armed Database" to use before they to commit a crime.  That is silly.  Does it matter?

Illinois debates keeping gun owners' identities secret



Gee, in the national debt debate, why not trade the elimination of gun control for gun taxes?  You can own an 8" howitzer, but it's gonna cost you $2,000 a year to the feds, $1,000 to your state, and $500 to your locality.  Maybe the tax should be higher?  Lower?

Tax Phobia

Why do Trogs fear taxes?  They, irrationally and unconditionally, drool over tax cuts.  I swear they would not bat an eye at zero taxes.  Imagine no revenue coupled with no borrowing.  How would a Trog pay defense contractors?  It's a bit nonsensical, but insipid batshit eating voters eat tax cut RNC produced drool for breakfast.   Then again, in their hearts they may really want to borrow because they hate their unborn grand children.  Trogs are an odd lot.

Here's a piece that may help explain the Trogs aversion to raising taxes.  I read it.  I have sympathy for their idiocy.

Budget stalemate: Why America won't raise taxes

As we face our budget, deficit, and debt problem do you think we can afford to cut taxes?  I do not.  I know we will have to raise taxes.  Let's bite the bullet and get the job done.  De-politicize the problem, fix it and only go back to politicizing everything.  It will be hard for Trogs, batshit is addictive.

Debt Ceiling Thoughts

About May 4th we have to raise the debt ceiling or we may default on our national debt.  If it even looks like we won't pay off the T-Bills we sold to finance our way of life then investors may have a run on the bank so to speak.  Finance does involve a lot of speculation about what ifs.  People with lots of money are a nervous lot.  It's a good idea to raise the ceiling and then get serious about our deficits and debt.

We can't just be teabagging Republicans and say live "within our means, no borrowing!"  Assume the debt limit is $15 trillion right now.  Okay, our debt is getting close to the limit.  If we hit it , then we cannot borrow any more money.  On the surface that seems to be one thing we can do.  Don't raise the limit, force us to cut back.  Force us  to spend what we "earn."  Declare that the  nation will have to live within its means.   As nice as that may sound, it's idiotic because the amount we borrow, our normal,  is too damn large.  It's ended easy, simplistic solutions.  

We borrow about 40 cents of every dollar we spend.   60 cents comes from taxes of one kind or another.  40 cents is borrowed by selling T-bills.  We spend about 3.5 trillion a year.  We borrow about 1.4 trillion a year.  Unless you believe every federal government office can sustain an immediate 40% cut today, you had best request an increase to the debt ceiling.   After raising the ceiling we have to decide what we want government to do and how to pay for it.

Those folks who demand that we do not raise the debt ceiling are not thinking it through.  When a household has this kind of problem, government provides a solution for those fiscal fuck-ups.  It's called bankruptcy.  Businesses have this option too.  Unfortunately, countries don't have that luxury.  Instead they just open a new credit card account (and print money).

We have to raise the ceiling and then force ourselves to decide how we will fix the mess we created over the past few decades.  However we face another problem when we try to fix the mess.  We elected the people in Congress and the White House who made the mess for us over the past several decades.  Many of them are still in office.  Our track record indicates we're not that politically or financially astute.  Maybe we should listen to some folks who know what the hell they're talking about.  The pols and their masters don't, look at their track record.  

There goes the recovery

With the price of gas above $3.50 a gallon in all but one state, there are signs that Americans are cutting back on driving, reversing a steady increase in demand for fuel as the economy improves.

If folks don't drive beucse is costs too much to tank up, then they aren't going to go shopping as much. Their cash gets spent more and more on necessities, food is going up too. Stay at home consumers don't exactly drive an economy premised on consumption. Feeling screwed yet? I guess we should thank ourselves, we elected all the dorks in D.C.

In case you missed it

The good folks in Israel and Gaza have been blowing the crap out of each other in their latest alercation, the School Bus War.  Missiles and rockets have gone back and forth.  Somebody decided this has to be a waste of ordinance.  The guys in Gaza said "ceasefire."  Their Israeli counterparts said "ok."  This is the 3,745,122nd ceasefire since 1967.  It will last until it is expired.

Israel, Gaza terrorists enter ceasefire

CIA Gives Up Torture!

Gee, after all the bad PR, closure of their secret prisons, and a boss who wants them to follow the military's rule book on interrogation (torture lite), they've quit and gone off to pout in some corner office somewhere.  If they cannot torture then they will not ask any questions of just any old terrorist.  Wow, I'm so glad w have a CIA, aren't you?

CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role

In the coming debate on budget, deficits and death, maybe we should consider elimination of the CIA. Can anyone prove they have been worth the tax dollars we've spent on them?

Thought

I heard this on one of the Sunday news programs, I forget who said this about the sorry state of our government finances--

If the dollar was not the world reserve currency, we'd be the same as Greece is today.

Gives one pause.  We need to de-policitcize this issue.   We don't need debate.  We need serious, informed, expert, discussion that leads to well designed and implemented solutions to the problem.  Once we've done that, we can return to debate, which really means parties not agreeing on anything in their lust for power.  Maybe one component is to abolish political parties?

Afghanistan

We had a civil war.  We're still resolving our differences though the war ended in 1865.  We split the nation.  We split families.   The Union did not win Southern hearts and minds.  The North defeated the South.  The South surrendered militarily and politically, but not culturally.  The South was occupied.

Needless to say when you split families and kill each other in a war, memories are long and deep.  Hate takes so damned much time to dissipate into a vague unremembered past.   We're not at that point in our nation--we're "celebrating" the 150th anniversary of the our war this year.

Why mention this in a piece on Afghanistan?  Well, we've assisted them in having their own kind of civil war as our actions split families in deadly war.  We pit Afghans against Afghans.  Hearts and minds anyone?

War pulls apart Afghan families

Brother Leader?

Come on, "Brother Leader?"   I guess that's how one tribal dictator addresses another tribal dictator in Africa.  Who was being addressed by whom?   Qadaffi was being hailed by a representative of the African Union who have a plan to end the non-war, war.

Needless to say the AU did not call for any kind of regime change, they just want the U.S. and NATO intervention to end.  I'd guess there's a fair bit of fear about who might be next in the dance to depose depraved dictators.  Oh, the revolting Libyans basically said 'fuck off' to AU, they Qadaffi and his family  dead.

The AU's plan is what one would expect to not solve a problem.  They suggest a ceasefire, that means get NATO out of the game.  Then they want safe passage for humanitarian aid.  That means make sure free stuff from the West can flow throughout Africa.  Then comes safe passage for foreign nationals.  That means don't mess with reporters and let our people back into your place for jobs (the oil is in Libya).  Finally comes, are you ready, here 'tis, dialogue.  That means everybody will sit down and talk about what to do.

They plan is a lot of talk and more talk.  It will be called the transition period which will surely lead to an interim period.  The interim dialogue will be followed by talks during the hiatus segment.  Then in the  subsequent provisional period dialogue will persist.  We will see a respite era that takes us to the final, hopefully,  interval decade.

In  other words, Qadaffi will die a natural death in Libya and one of this sons will take over.

Gaddafi accepts African Union’s road map for peace

Japan Nuke Disaster

It continues.  Mom Nature just doesn't help.  An earthquake an tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nukes.  The damaged nukes are still hot, but are coming under control since power was restored to the facility.  Gee, what can interrupt power?  How about an earthquake?

Japan rattled by aftershock; power briefly knocked out at Fukushima reactors

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I'm So Tired of Obama's Approach

Maybe he'll write a book about himself the budget.  He's been in office long enough to know the budget, deficit and debt problems this country faces.  Hell, a GOP asshole has a budget and Obama is getting around to something.  I think the guy over worries about getting reelected.  Maybe he should worry.

Here's the opening paragraph from a piece in the Post--

President Obama will lay out a broad plan to reduce the nation’s soaring deficit and debt this week, going further than he has before to scale back costly entitlement programs such as Medicare and other social programs.

Broad plans? Come on at this point we need details! Does anyone know what he and Dems gave away away to the GOP in the 2011 budget cut? Obama needs to do more than suggest broad ideas.  Put it all on the Web--broad strokes, gee that's like a Table of Contents, but we need the chapters so we can see all of the details.  We've been Obamaed one too many times--how many of his "books" have been Table of Contents only?  What kind of a manager did we elect? He's the adult? Bullshit, if he is, it's because the others just quit.  He's not so based on his actions and ideas. I can hardly wait for another cool speech followed by a total lack of action but dripping with with wait and see and deferral to the GOP. His donors must be asking for lot of nothing in exchange for their something. The Dems need to nominate someone else.

Afghan War--Ah, those hearts and minds

I don't think the drones and cameras see hearts and minds much less anything else. There is blood lust. Make a kill shot, feel good, and if no one goes "oops," get a medal. War is deadly business. No matter how you cut it, it's still one man killing more of the enemy so that the enemy no longer wants to wage war. I think, to avoid bad PR at home, we've lost sight of the fact we are at war, which means we've already lost.  So far the enemy remains committed, willing and able to fight on. Here's how we fight and screwup.  Stalemate.

"None of those Afghans was an insurgent. They were men, women and children going about their business, unaware that a unit of U.S. soldiers was just a few miles away, and that teams of U.S. military pilots, camera operators and video screeners had taken them for a group of Taliban fighters.


"The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe.


"By the U.S. count, 15 or 16 men were killed and 12 people were wounded, including a woman and three children. Elders from the Afghans' home villages said in interviews that 23 had been killed, including two boys, Daoud, 3, and Murtaza, 4.


"Several weeks after the attack, American officers travelled to the villages to apologize to survivors and the victims' families.


"They gave each survivor 140,000 afghanis, or about $2,900.


"Families of the dead received $4,800."

High-tech tools and human errors

Iraq

If we don't leave Iraq, per the SOFA schedule, there might be a bit of a problem.  Al Sadr (black turbaned bad guy) thinks we need to leave, period.  If we don't, well, how does a 2003-2006 repeat sound?  Will Malaki beg us to stay?  If no one asks, will we go or find some moronic pretext to hang around?  If we do stay, invited or uninvited, and all hell breaks loose will we ramp back up in Iraq?  How much more of this war, that should never have  been, will we take before we elect people who end our wars?

Sadr threatens return to war if U.S. troops stay in Iraq


Should we send the Shrub thank yous for the legacy he left us in Iraq? Do you think he gives a shit about anything at all?  Ever?

Libya--Obama's Iraq?

I bet ObamaCo wishes they had decided to pull off a global No Qadaffi Zone instead of a Libyan No Fly Zone. The guy remains in power. He still has an army. He still has support. The rebels, well, they will hand around since NATO and the U.S. have to save face. Here comes another Korea.

Egypt's Military

What a difference a few bodies, several wounded folks, burnt out vehicles, and lots of gunfire can make.  When they didn't shoot at the rebels they were best friends, now, well, not quite so.

Egyptian army no longer seen as protesters' friend




GE, Taxes, and the Budget

If you listened to cable news, network news (other than NBC*), or read a paper (on-line or real) you know that GE did not pay taxes and will receive a $3.2 billion refund this year.  The story began with the NYT.  It's not quite what the Times and then others hawked.  To avoid indignant huff-puffery about GE and possible ill-thought out reactive laws, why not read a bit about GE, tax law, and GE's public statements?  We do not need another Alternative Minimum Tax fiasco.   Congress has still not repaired the AMT damage which they inflicted in a 1969 rage over some rich folks ducking taxes.

The truth about GE’s tax bill

Is it time to examine our federal tax code?  It's too complex.  Is it time to simplify the code for personal and business income taxes?  What's the appropriate level of taxation?  Should we as a people first declare how much we are willing to give to government.  With a tax revenue number we could then decide what we want government to do (spend it on).  How much of your income do you think is fair take for the feds, the state, the locality?  How about businesses?  Rich folks?   How does taxation tie into the coming 2012 Budget debate?

NBC did finally cover the story, but it's fun to pretend they didn't at all.

Mexico, Drugs and Us

Every time I read a piece on drug cartels, Mexico and the the attendant violence I have to wonder why we keep the drugs illegal?  Why is pot still illegal?  It makes zippo sense to me, until I think about all the money involved.  There's money made in the drug trade.  There's money made is trying to stop the drug trade.  There's money made in incarcerating those convicted of using and dealing drugs.  There is not an aspect of the trade lacking a revenue stream of one kind of another.   Make the trade legit and the money would dry up.  Of course new legitimate revenue streams would open up, but the recipients would not be the same.  I cannot find any other explanation than those who benefit from the illegal drugs keep them illegal.

Mexican drug cartels targeting and killing children

With the 2012 and future budgets of the U.S. coming upon us, is it time to gut the DEA and end the War on Drugs? Can we "Just Say No" and be done with the war?

U.S. Budget

Here's a pie chart for 2010.  Keep the proportions in mind as our
Congressional aces yammer about spending.



U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2007.png

Keep your eye on the Net Interest segment.  If we don't do something soon it will be a killer.

Home Mortgages

As we recover from the housing bubble that burst all over us, what is the fix to prevent such messes in the future?  How about getting the feds out of the mortgage business and then require 20% down payments?  We may be heading in that direction.  Would you be in your home with a 20% requirement?   If this is too stringent what should be the boundaries?

Housing, as other areas with federal involvement--tax dollars or regulation--attracts opportunistic thieves.  Maybe a simple, unchanging law would deter or at least diminish those who use government to advance their pecuniary interests.  At 20%, no sub-primes would exist.  If there was a reason to have lower levels of down payment, should the lender be forced to cover the loan by requiring that they maintain higher levels of cash reserves?

Down payment proposal could make a mountain out of a mortgage

The debt ceiling and 2012 budget noise will begin soon.  Is housing and its associated costs part of the discussion?  Why do we have a mortgage deduction?   Why not eliminate it as part of tax reform?

For Profit Education

The Washington Post makes a lot of money off of our tax dollars.  No, not through subscriptions but through federal student loans.  The Post owns Kaplan, a for profit education company.  Kaplan and others have been to education what loan sharks were and still are in the sub-prime home loan business.  Funny, in both instances if the feds were not part of the picture, there would be no scandal or crisis.  It's a long piece but worth reading.  After you finish, ask yourself--what should be the role of our federal government in post secondary education?

The trials of Kaplan Higher Ed and the education of The Washington Post Co.

As we head into the next round of budget mania, how much and for what should federal tax dollars be spent on what kind of education?  I'd bag the entire Dept. of Ed, eliminate all student loans and guarantees, and all assistance to states for any kind of education.   Education is a state and local issue, period.