September 10, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports the Poverty rate rose in 2008. The U.S. poverty rate increased to 13.2 percent in 2008, up from 12.5 percent the prior year according to a report from the Census Bureau.

    The 2008 poverty line for a family of four was $22,025. “According to the census data, 39.8 million residents lived below the poverty line in 2008.” 15.4 percent, or 46.3 million people, are without health insurance.

    The share of children who were uninsured declined, to 9.9 percent from 11 percent in 2007, apparently because of the federal government’s special efforts to insure low-income children. But the share of adults aged 18 to 64 without health insurance climbed slightly, to 20.3 percent in 2008 from 19.6 percent in 2007…

    In another sign of both the recession and the long-term stagnation of middle-class wages, median family incomes in 2008 fell to $50,300, from $52,200 the year before. This wiped out the incomes gains of the previous three years, the report said. Adjusted for inflation, median family incomes were lower in 2008 than they had been a decade previously.

Four at Four continues with drive for banking reform sputters as bankers continue looting, an ICC war crimes investigation into U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and a deadly update from Iraq.

Riddle Me This, Rahm/Harry/Blue Puppies

Do you have any idea who your audience is?

Do you know who you’re playing to?

I don’t think you do. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, as serious, important politicians who have what I can only assume are long resumes showcasing a series of very important victories, let me then ask you this:

Who are you afraid of? Whose votes do you think you’re going to lose?

No, I’m not talking about senators here, so stop saying, “Ben Nelson” or “Mary Landrieu.” I’m talking about real, live human beings – the American voters out there across our country.

Exactly what percentage of the population is it that you think fits the following parameters:

– Open and willing to vote for Democrats

– Likely to vote for President Obama’s reelection in 2012, and likely to vote for a Democrat in the 2010 midterms.

– Generally supportive of climate change legislation, Justice Sotomayor’s nomination, repealing DADT, stem cell research, the stimulus package, et. al.


– Not going to vote for Obama or congressional Democrats because you passed a public option as part of the health care bill.

Is there anybody who fits those parameters? Is there anyone out there who’s on board, but a public option is going to be the one thing that turns them off? I don’t think it’s very many people. Maybe I’m wrong. If you think I’m wrong, please tell me who those voters are, what districts they live in, what the demos are, etc. I’m really curious.

On the other hand, do you realize how much you would energize your base by passing a public option? Do you understand how excited the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party would be if real health care reform was passed? The voters would be there in 2010 and 2012, I guarantee you that.

Which is not to mention all the millions of uninsured people you’d be scoring big points with. These are people who would remember that the Democratic Party was there for them, and that the Republicans called them lazy good-for-nothings who can drop dead for all they care.

The wingnuts aren’t going to vote for you no matter what. And the great middle of this country would see that:

A) The President is a strong leader, and

B) That Congress sometimes gets things done and isn’t completely useless.

This should all be self-evident to anyone paying attention. I shouldn’t need to point it out. So what’s the holdup?

I think the holdup is a combination of:

1. Typical Democratic Party cowardice, backing down in the face of clowns like Joe Wilson rather than standing firm, denouncing their bullshit for what it is, and doing what you friggin’ campaigned on.

2. Ego.

3. $$$$$$$$$$$$. Which, by the way, you’d get plenty of from your base if you do the right thing on health care. And who gives a crap about the insurance companies fighting you in 2010 and 2012? It’s going to be sour grapes, and we’ll all know it.

By the by, nobody’s going to turn out for you in droves because you chose to be passionately centrist. Nobody gets jazzed about legislation that’s been moderated pointlessly.

And that’s the real kicker here: there’s nothing stopping you from passing a public option but you, and the rest of us know it. Sure, there could be good things in a bill that passes without a public option, but pardon us if we don’t see a history of legislation that benefits the people instead of the corporations. So no, we’re not going to take it on faith that a bill without a public option will work for the people, nor do we like your “trigger” garbage.

Do the right thing here. Pass a strong public option. The votes, money, and volunteers will be there. And who’s going to be turned off that is legitimately open to voting Democratic? I just don’t see it.

Cross-posted in Orange.

The Progressive Caucus Becomes a Political Force

Simulposted at Daily Kos

There is nothing more influential and powerful in American Politics than a united and unswerving voting bloc.

If a group of (in this case) Representatives can mange to hold together, while holding a consistent political and policy viewpoint they are able to wield a great deal of power. Not just in the power of their votes, but in how legislation in general is approached and crafted.

We have all seen, much to our regret, how much power the Blue Dog bloc can wield. Because they are united and have a clear agenda that they represent, they are a force that simply must be reckoned with.

Well now there is a new Bloc on the block. The Progressive Bloc. And not only do they outnumber the Blue Dogs, but they are rising stars that have the potential to…IF they show they are powerful, attract new members and become even more of a force.

To the Mattresses, People!

I don’t know about you, but the President’s speech last night filled me with a sense of pride.  It really did.  Obama is a great motivational speaker, and after watching it I just wanted to get on the phone and and help him get this thing done.  

Update: And he told us on the left not to fixate on the public option.  I’m nothing if not subservient, so I took some notes, and started to write my script for the phone bank……


Republicans, The Loss of Balance, Loss of Sanity, Loss of Relevance

When you are involved in politics there is often a level of paradox. There is the need to stand firm on your agenda, yet there is the requirement of being open to compromise if you are to get that agenda enacted. There is the need for cold, hard eyed realism, yet there must be passion to push forward, even when it looks as though you are going to lose. It all seems to come down to the idea of balance, the Yin and the Yang, constantly opposed, yet each needed to balance the other, if there is to be a harmonious whole.

Originally posted at

Surrealistic Pill-Dough: A Journey into Tea Baggers & Healthcare Brighton MI

Last entry; remember ACTIVISM AND BRAVERY TRUMPS LECTURE. GO OUT AND DO IT! peace, out, D.

Cross posted from my blog, The Wild Wild Left (and I was told WWL & DD were the only 2 mentioned on Detroit’s WWJ radio report! 🙂

We parked at Mexican Jones, a small and empty restaurant I worked for at one time, when it was thriving. In the very back of the lot, there was a neglected trellis that lead to the almost invisible path that follows the waterway along the back of the business district to the Mill Pond where the “festivities” awaited.

We could hear the roar of the crowd, and the speakers a mile out. My 10 year old was nervous. “We have to walk through all that Mom? They’ll kill us,” he said laughing, but with the tinges of fear in his voice. I assured him we would be fine, as we came around the bend into the open where our wet footsteps squeaked on the slippery boardwalk that went over the swampy creek leading to the pond.

I opened my video camera as we neared the crowd, and asked him to hold my hand  in unity. I told him despite my “Liberal” t-shirt, no one would mess with a Mom holding her son’s hand, told him it would make me safer. That appeased his queasiness at being “almost 11” and holding his Mom’s hand. There were thousands there, and as we approached the outskirts, groups of ten here and five there, their wild-eyed glares, almost drugged, hate-filled ecstasy told me I had to keep him close, keep him safe. He fell for it.

Safe, from these self-acclaimed “Real Americans.”

“Don’t run your mouth, we’re here to report, not fight, Jake,” I warned him. He heard, but couldn’t help but say, “Unbelievable!” when we passed a black woman standing with a sign, standing and cheering the toward the stage from the bridge, not 15 feet from a middle aged businessman, whose sign read, “We don’t want no BaLack Obama.” “Mom why would she support these Republicans, they hate people like her, they’re racists,” his voice rising in the pitch of a distraught youth, whose voice has not yet changed. I saved the explanation that Brighton was chosen for a reason for a later date. Making it in Howell, the National Seat of the Klan for many years was too overt, so they made it 8 miles away in Brighton. They knew what base they were tapping. Hard core racists.

Then we entered the crush, the belly of the beast, circling to the right across from the roped off stage area to our left. A swarm of middle-aged whiteness, dotted with the elderly and swaddled in flags, crosses, fear and rage. A smattering of hard-core skinheads rubbed elbows with them, and were accepted in every quarter like family.

I felt like my Liberal shirt was a Star of David and I was pushing my way through a Hitler Youth rally. Yet somehow, I found myself smiling, and laughing aloud at them. At the sheer fallacy of them.

A Grateful Dead concert could not have been weirder, with the costumes and chanting, yet this was the antithesis of the vibe. These people wanted blood, not elevated consciousness.  

WIN! Hannity’s guest calls his lies “Idiotic”!

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Caroline Heldman:     “End of life counselling does not constitute death panels.”

Hannity:     “It does to me”

Caroline Heldman:    “That is an idiotic reading of that . . . ”

Hannity:     “I’m an idiot?”

     Pretty much the definition of an idiot is someone who, if you call their ideas idiotic to their face, says something stupid like “I’m an idiot?”

     No, Sean, you’re a freakin genius!


The transcript and more below teh stupid fold

Axelrod: Government by Consent of the Corporation

crossposted from The Hillbilly Report, now up at Agent Orange

David Axelrod made the case for insisting on the public option if there is an individual mandate to buy from health insurance exchanges, on the Rachel Maddow show last night (segment page). Of course, he thought he was making a different case:

And there is an incentive for the insurance industry to go along and not try to fight these, and that is that there is going to be a larger insurance market, and they have to make that calculation, but we are prepared to do it easy or do it hard, we want to make it work for consumers.

One reading of Axelrod is:

“M’lords, the peasants are getting restive, and if you want to avoid a revolt or other crisis – say, a majority of the House of Representatives elected without being beholden to your largesses – you have to make concessions. However, make the calculation – in some versions of this reform, because of the greater number of peasants you will be taxing in your domains, you will be better off.”

Update: Also see: crossposts at ProgressiveBlue and MyLeftWing, and a response to Nicholas Beaudrot drinking the Axelrod cool-aid that the Public Option will “the Public Option will only affect a small number of people”, in a comment at Donkelylicious.

Docudharma Times Thursday September 10

Thursday’s Headlines:

Judge allows gray wolf hunt to proceed in Idaho and Montana

Supreme Court justices skeptical of campaign limits

Fears Taliban was ready to move hostages may have prompted raid

Burmese generals pocket $5bn from Total oil deal

In Norway, prisoners take part in TV debates

The world’s worst radiation hotspot

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki accused of sinister purge to become dictator

Jacob Zuma joins President Mugabe’s allies to demand end to sanctions

Dubai unveils $7.6-billion mass-transit rail system

With His Top Priority on the Line, President Reframes Critical Debate


By Dan Balz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, September 10, 2009

After a month of angry town hall meetings and dire predictions about the state of his top domestic priority, President Obama moved forcefully Wednesday night to take the initiative on health care — and in the process rejuvenate his presidency and unite his fractious Democratic Party.

There was a sense of urgency in Obama’s voice — in apparent recognition of the problems he has encountered through months of congressional dickering, hostile and sometimes false claims hurled by opponents of reform, and the degree to which he has gambled his political fortunes on the outcome.

Japan death row ‘breeds insanity’

Prisoners on death row in Japan are being driven towards insanity by harsh conditions, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

The BBC Thursday, 10 September 2009  

The group is calling for an immediate moratorium on all further executions and for police interrogation reform.

A total of 102 prisoners face execution in Japan. Many of them are elderly and have spent decades in near isolation.

International human rights standards prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on the mentally ill.

In Japan, where criminal trials have a 99% conviction rate, the death penalty has wide public support.

But Amnesty’s UK Director Kate Allen called on the government to immediately halt executions.

“Rather than persist with a shameful capital punishment system, the new Japanese government should immediately impose a moratorium on all further executions,” she said.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XII

Art Link

Bits and Bytes


There is no sound but the clickety-clack of fingers on the keyboard

There are no sights but the electronically formed letters on the screen

But there are people in my computer

Riding the crest of the technological future

And I have joined them

We have stripped ourselves down to the thoughts we express

Mind meeting mind with no distractions

The carefully chosen phrase can be undone

By the carelessly tossed word

A misplaced comma may cost a friendship

We become our vocabulary and our usage of it

Our emotions are expressed only through punctuation

Yet we bare our souls to each other

And form relationships deeper than those in the real world

Because we must always trust each other

Finland, Australia, South Africa and Canada

Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and Kansas

Baltimore, Cleveland, San Francisco and Boston

I have trod on your virtual streets today

And visited with some of your most caring inhabitants

We embrace each other thought to thought

And love each other’s wisdom

We share our joys and pain

And support each other through our sorrows and triumphs

This is life in e-space

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–June, 1993

Well, Wednesday is the Day to begin the First of the Last 20090910

Well, I found out tonight that the papers that I signed and had notarized last week made their way back to the soon to be the former Mrs. Translator’s attorney.  Everything seems to be in order, and unless the judge finds something wrong, it will be final next Wednesday.

Thus ends 32 years of marriage, and 34 years of infatuation.  But it was always more than infatuation.  Certainly there was a definite bit of sexual attraction at first, because she was (and is) so very beautiful, but there was always more.

The case of the disappearing billions

Dude, where’s my money?

There’s a scathing report in Vanity Fair right now about how all that TARP money was just thrown into the world with all the responsibility of someone shoveling it out the bank of an armored car while driving down a busy highway.

In other words, nobody knows where the money went.   Any of it.   There was no accountability, no rules for keeping track of it, heck, the banks didn’t have to do anything but take it, like lotto winnings, and do whatever the hell they wanted with it.

This whole crime is going right down the Memory Hole, which is right where the banksters, the guys who “run the place” to quote a few Congresspeople, want it to be.

But once the money left the building, the government lost all track of it. The Treasury Department knew where it had sent the money, but nothing about what was done with it. Did the money aid the recovery? Was it spent for the purposes Congress intended? Did it save banks from collapse? Paulson’s Treasury Department had no idea, and didn’t seem to care. It never required the banks to explain what they did with this unprecedented infusion of capital.

You can bet a lot of it was used for embezzlement “bonuses”, I mean, why not?   If someone gives you a few billion dollars and doesn’t care what you do with it, why not put it in your own little Swiss bank account?  

Exactly one year has elapsed since the onset of the financial crisis and the passage of the bailout bill. Some measure of scrutiny and control has since been imposed by the Obama administration, but even today it’s hard to walk back the cat and trace the money. Up to a point, though, it’s possible to reconstruct some of what happened in the first chaotic and crucial three months of the bailout, when Treasury was still in the hands of Henry Paulson and most of the money was disbursed. Needless to say, there is no central clearinghouse for information about the tarp money. To get details of any kind means starting with the hundreds of individual recipients, then poring over S.E.C. filings, annual reports, and other documentation-in other words, performing the standard due diligence that the government itself failed to perform. In the report that follows, we have no more than dipped a toe into the morass, but one fact emerges clearly: a lot of the money wound up in the coffers of some very surprising institutions- institutions that should have been seen as “troubling” as much as “troubled.”

I don’t really have time tonight to do much more than this, but I wanted to pass this along.   We certainly shouldn’t forget about this, not that it will matter with the Obama administration “putting corporations first” and the American people dead last.   They’re sure never gonna do crap about anything, especially this, and especially since Obama put his full 1000% support behind this crime anyway.  

Oh well.  

Meanwhile, millions more foreclosures are on their way.   But wait, didn’t the TARP money have something to do with mortgages?   Naaaahhhh, it was all about giving it to bankers, pure theft to fatten those cats.   The rest of us are left to melt down, even though the whole lie idea behind the bailout was to help out with the whole mortgage crash, right?

Pardon me while I puke.  

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