January 29, 2008 archive

Tax rebates are a goddamn farce

So the breaking news banner on CNN (online and on TV) is touting the fact that the House has passed a stimulus package which includes tax rebates for individuals and families.

While I haven’t seen the final numbers that are in the bill, nor do I know if the Senate will pass a similar bill, NOR do I know who will be eligible for these rebates, I can tell you that the whole idea of tax rebates are no different than putting a band aid on a gaping chest wound.

Four at Four

  1. I know this will come as a shock to some, but Attorney General Michael Mukasey is blocking an investigation into Alberto Gonzales. Sorry to burst the bubble. The Los Angeles Times reports the Justice Department is accused of blocking Gonzales probe by the Office of Special Counsel.

    The government agency that enforces one of the principal laws aimed at keeping politics out of the civil service has accused the Justice Department of blocking its investigation into alleged politicizing of the department under former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.

    Scott J. Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey last week that the department had repeatedly “impeded” his investigation by refusing to share documents and provide answers to written questions, according to a copy of Bloch’s letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

    The Justice Department wants Bloch to wait until its own internal investigation is completed. A department official signaled recently that the investigation is examining the possibility of criminal charges.

    But that, the regulator wrote, could take until the last months of the Bush administration, “when there is little hope of any corrective measures or discipline possible” being taken by his office.

    Bloch’s allegations show how the controversy, which mostly focused on the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, continues to boil inside government.

    So much for Mukasey being “independent”, “not part of the Bush political circle”, and “hard to see him becoming a subservient tool of the White House.” Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Right?

  2. Another shocker story from the Los Angeles Times, A Cold War redux is seen on the horizon. “Growing friction between the United States and Russia over Iran is only part of an increasingly difficult relationship that many diplomats and experts consider to be in its worst shape since the end of the Cold War, and at risk of further deterioration. Although U.S. officials are publicly playing down the rising tension, a series of conflicts has prompted some within the Bush administration to conclude that, for domestic and geopolitical reasons, Russia is now more comfortable with the U.S. as an enemy than an ally.”

    “Russian analysts acknowledge that the Putin government is trying to exploit anti-Americanism for political purposes… [But,] Russian analysts argue that the United States bears as much or more responsibility for strained relations. The two countries have often clashed because of flawed foreign policy on the part of the United States, they say.” I lay the responsibility for Cold War II at the feet of Bush administration and their joke-of-a-Russia-expert, Condi Rice.

  3. How’s that occupation working out for ya? Well if you’re poor and from Latin America, maybe not so well. According to yet another Los Angeles Times story, Iraq contractors tap Latin America’s needy.

    In the United States, [Gregorio] Calixto might be under treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Iraq, receiving daily physical therapy and counseling. Here he’s an unemployed street vendor, renting a spartan room and struggling to recover physically and emotionally from severe shrapnel wounds.

    He is one of several thousand Latin Americans who have taken jobs with U.S. contractors as security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 1,200 Peruvians are in Iraq, mostly guarding sites in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Chileans, Colombians, Salvadorans and Hondurans have also served as part of the polyglot assemblage providing “conflict labor” in U.S. war zones.

    Although most appear to have returned to Latin America safely and with enough cash to buy houses, taxis and businesses, others, such as Calixto, have been unlucky: seriously injured in Iraq and left to negotiate a labyrinthine and what he terms inadequate U.S. insurance system.

  4. The Washington Post reports despite Wall Street driving the U.S. economy over a cliff, Year-end bonuses keep coming! “The grim toll that the U.S. mortgage crisis has taken on financial markets has been felt worldwide… But largely spared have been financiers on Wall Street, a place where brokers, bankers and traders are called into corner offices at the end of each year and told how large a bonus they’ll receive for the year’s work. The size of the figure reflects their value to the company, and many feared — even complained out loud — that the amount would be badly affected by the subprime mess. They needn’t have worried. Wall Street bonuses totaled $33.2 billion in 2007, down just 2 percent, by the estimates of the New York state comptroller’s office. Seven of Wall Street’s biggest firms boosted their total compensation and benefits to a combined $122 billion, up 10 percent since 2006, despite seeing their net revenue collectively fall 6 percent”. Booyah!

Four at Four continues below the fold with a story about the 7-year prison terms facing the 10 Burmese protest leaders and Al Gore’s IPO.



do you know how

put your head back

take in a deep breath

and just ow ooooooowwwwwwww

from your gut

… your lungs

from where your soul sits

hear it sing its sadness and light

its joy and confusion

reverberate with the sound of yourself

it isn’t words

but feeling

and knowing

it is inside you


i had a friend, a dog i loved

he taught me how to howl

and every once-in-a-while

he’d sit and i’d kneel

and we’d start to howl

we’d be free then


Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

Criminalizing Kids

We often talk about a possible future of gestapo-like tactics coming to our shores if things don’t change – and quickly. I share those fears and feel the mounting fascism that fuels them.

But today I’m thinking about places in the US where this fear has already come true. I hope everyone is aware of places like T. Don Hutto: America’s Family Prison in Texas and the increasing number of privatized prisons being used to house thousands of detained immigrants.

And then, there’s the fact that, according to Children’s Defense Fund, black boys have a one in three lifetime risk of going to jail, and Latino boys a one in six lifetime risk of the same fate. Of course, for many of these young ones, getting to jail would be better than becoming a victim of the violence they live with every day on the streets. As Bob Herbert pointed out last year, 34 children were killed on the streets of Chicago in less than a year.

Ho Hum: Negroponte Admits Torture, MSM Yawns

Via Raw Story

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States used waterboarding in terrorism interrogations but no longer does, a former U.S. spy chief said in the Bush administration’s clearest confirmation of the technique’s use.

U.S. officials have been reluctant to acknowledge the CIA’s use of the simulated drowning technique, which human rights groups call an illegal form of torture.


Asked by the magazine if debate over U.S. counterterrorism techniques was hampering its effort in a “war of ideas,” Negroponte said, “We’ve taken steps to address the issue of interrogations, for instance, and waterboarding has not been used in years.”

Enough Of Politics: Now On A More Serious Note

In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen.

Aleve is also called Naproxen.

Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra.

After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin.

Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer.

It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one.

Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of ‘cocktails’, ‘highballs’ and just a good old-fashioned ‘stiff drink’ . Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer’s research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.  

My SOTU: What does America Mean, Now?

Subtitles: Does This Imperialism Make Me Look Fat?

I Liked The Old One Better.

SOTU THIS, Chimpy!

Breaking: The State Of The Union Sucks large undesirable things that make you go Euwwww when you think about them.

I have always loved the myth of America…it is a GREAT myth. Even though it was not fashionable in my radical chic set back in the proverbial day…I even liked John Wayne, despite his Imperialist running dog tendencies….still do.

It wasn’t fashionable because he was/is a symbol of American Imperialism, even though his real name was Marion. One thing Conservatroids and us Hippies could agree on back then was that John Wayne symbolized America. To them it was a good thing, he was Strength and Manliness and simply ooozing confident unbeatable Jingoistic Manifest Destiny from every pore as he rode into the sunset after gunning down the bad guys and kissing the girl. To us the Cowboy, War Hero, Propaganda Tool simply ooozed the essence of America as an unthinking bully as he rode into the sunset after destroying some Native American or Vietnamese village. Ah, The Culture Wars! Now much and rightly derided, in some ways, by the New Post Boomer Post Partisan Generations.

The Duke was a symbol of them the Conservative, an icon of the Other Side. He was, to them….what America meant. But as much as I wanted to not like him, I did.

One thing you could ALWAYS say about the Duke….he played by the rules.


A rant from a footsoldier in the “Army of Compassion”

Also available in Orange

Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before.– SOTU 2008

There are plenty of footsoldiers in the Army of Compassion. But are we marching to a new day in the Gulf Coast, or retreating before the gates of Moscow?

Harry: Call a vote on the House verision. (FISA)

 The President thinks this is an emergency? There’s already a FISA bill which has passed the House of Representatives, without either telco amnesty or Blanket warrants. Call it up next. If the Republicans want to filibuster it, fine. Let ’em. And when the Protect Act’s authorization to monitor calls between Canadians expires, well you can blame the Republicans for the delay.

Not exactly a new procedural play. When the House Judiciary Committee came up with a version of the Patriot Act much less damaging than the version the Senate had passed, Hastert reneged on his promise to Sensenbrenner to bring the Committee draft to a vote, and instead placed the Senate bill first on the Calendar.

Personally, I don’t see why we should be spying on personal calls between our neighbors to the north. Kinda curious as to why there hasn’t been a bigger stink coming out of Canada.

Pony Party, Freedom is Slavery

I watched waaaay too much armageddon-themed documentary television this weekend….and im skeert, so we’re going to a scary, scary place this morning……my mind!!!  😉

(im not really scared…just a little unnerved)

All of the following quotes are from ‘1984’, by George Orwell…They’re otherwise unrelated to each other, and follow no particular discernible logical path…sorry ’bout that!!

If ‘1984’ were indeed (as some suggest) an allegory for the Barmen Declaration opposing the nazi policy of state-controlled churches, then this would probably be the first quote you’d reference.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

But thinking people can see the universal truth in ‘orthodoxy is unconsciousness’.  And it frustrates us.  

“If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.”

“Until the become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

The second sentence there…the ‘catch-22’ (another great book, btw)…worried me.  

If it hadn’t been for theevolutionarysieve’s intervention…reminding me….to quote Live, which is what I do best…that it’s all just ‘light and rainbows, smashed to smithereens’, I may have made a healthy and ill-advised investment in tin foil and ammunition  😉  

Docudharma Times Tuesday January 29

This is an Open Thread:Time keeps flowing like a river To the sea

Tuesday’s Headlines: Bush Speech Focuses on War and Taxes: Lawmakers Fault FEMA on Trailers: Kidneys ‘removed from poor Indians at gunpoint’: ‘They killed our people, so now we will do likewise.: Murdered Mexican singer’s group to tour: Berlusconi invokes Mussolini in threat to march on Rome

Pakistani Taliban grows bolder, taking fight to doorstep of frontier city

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Islamic militants known as the Pakistani Taliban have extended their reach across all seven of Pakistan’s frontier tribal regions and have infiltrated Peshawar, the provincial capital, heightening U.S. concerns that an insurrection may be broadening in the nuclear-armed nation.

Fighting over the weekend spilled into previously peaceful parts of the tribal belt that borders Afghanistan and intensified in South Waziristan, Bajour and Mohmand. In Bannu, southwest of Peshawar, gunmen fleeing police took dozens of schoolchildren hostage for several hours Monday before tribal elders brokered a deal offering them safe passage, state-run television reported.

Congressional races by state: MD

I am all for running everywhere, and the 50 state strategy.

But neither we nor the Republicans are running everywhere (at least not yet!) In this series, I will look at where we are not running (I am not going to look at where Republicans are not running, as I have no desire to help Republicans, however modestly)

This diary is partly inspired by the great work done by BENAWU.

crossposted to dailyKos

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