September 17, 2009 archive

Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO7): GREEN Act Like Pay Raise for Working Class Americans

    The Wonk Room (@ spoke with Perlmutter today, who explained the economic benefit that he hopes the GREEN Act will have for American households, and particularly those with low- to moderate-incomes:

It helps low- and moderate-incomes. It helps all income levels, because utility costs have been going up for, you know, the last umpteen years. And particularly for low- to moderate-income earners, that’s a big part of their discretionary income, what they have left over at the end of the month, after paycheck and groceries and everything else. So if we can help them control or even shrink utility costs, it’s like a pay raise to those people…We’re hoping to shrink energy costs by 30 percent.

    More below the fold on some good news

Obama Scraps Central European “Missile Defense”!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting what would be maybe the best move, yet, by the Obama Administration:

The White House will shelve Bush administration plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to people familiar with the matter, a move likely to cheer Moscow and roil the security debate in Europe.

The U.S. will base its decision on a determination that Iran’s long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals, according to current and former U.S. officials.

This is a brilliant move, on several levels, the first and foremost being that “missile defense” is an enormously expensive farce that has yet to come close to being a proven technology. Despite billions upon billions poured into the coffers of its various contractors. Beyond that, though, merely attempting to put even an ostensibly advanced weapons system in Central Europe, in nations that were once part of the former Soviet Union’s buffer zone, was seen as a blatant provocation to Russia, thus politically enabling the hard line Putin regime. As explained by the BBC:

Four at Four

  1. The LA Times reports Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is focus of corruption probe.

    The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department.

    The criminal investigation centers on the Interior Department’s 2006 decision to award three lucrative oil shale leases on federal land in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary. Over the years it would take to extract the oil, according to calculations from Shell and a Rand Corp. expert, the deal could net the company hundreds of billions of dollars.

    The investigation’s main focus is whether Norton violated a law that prohibits federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in dealings with the government that could benefit the firm, law enforcement and Interior officials said.

  2. The MercoPress reports OECD warns of 25 million jobless in industrialized countries. “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says the global recession could cost 25 million people their jobs.”

    Fifteen million jobs have been lost so far, and up to 10 million more could go by the end of 2010, the OECD said.

    The unemployment rate across the 30 most industrialised nations in the OECD was 8.5% for July, the highest since World War II. It was 5.6% at the end of 2007.

    The group said that the rate could reach a new high of 10% by the end of next year, with 57 million people out of work, if the recovery fails to gain momentum.

Four at Four continues with an update on Afghanistan, organic fraud, final years of Wobegon, and a cool new dinosaur.

The Democrat Socialist Party? How about the Republican Anarchist Party?

Conservative voices have continued to rehash, as part of the Reagan mythology, the military impotent of President Carter a la Iranian Hostage Crisis.  They use this as their catch-all justification for and evidence of the evils of a weak military.  Advocating for a strong military is the same kind of feel-good panacea as pushing for a strong local police force.  Both of them promise security and peace of mind, when what they often produce is neither secure nor peaceful.  A policeman on every corner will not necessarily keep young women from being violently attacked and seventeen police cars on the road at all time will not eliminate bank robberies or theft of property.  However, many people like to entertain the delusion just the same.  The facade of security is much more popular than the reality.  For example, a sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to propose a sharp reduction in money earmarked for the police department, no matter how justified one might be in requesting it.  

In my own place of residence, the city has had to cut back funding for a variety of projects and departments.  In particular, the school district has been given a much smaller share of tax revenue then ordinarily allotted it, while a far larger share has been allocated to the police force.  As for me, I’d much rather have an informed and educated citizenry of our future leaders than the spectacle which routinely greets me when I’m driving around town—that of bored policemen and policewomen driving around to make their visual presence known, but seemingly not much else.  While I do appreciate that most of the police vehicles these days run on flex fuel, not conventional gasoline, I still can’t help reflecting on how many tax dollars are being squandered on the latest state-of-the-art gadget or technique that is funded out of the paychecks of ordinary citizens and will be used infrequently, if at all.  Many police purchases I have observed come across to these eyes as nothing more than expensive toys for grown ups.            

On this same subject, a former Bush treasury official has stated in the Wall Street Journal that he fears Health Care spending will exceed military spending.  Like the good Quaker I am, my immediate response is, of course, “What’s wrong with that?”  A sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to start talking about war as an immoral agent in direct contradiction to Jesus’ teachings—one that needs to be banished from the face of the earth.  I suppose I’d much rather people be healthy and live long lives as free from pain as they can than for us to have the unfailingly depressing capacity to blow the hell out of our latest enemy.  Not only that, I might even be enough of a dreamer to believe that improving the quality of life for all might be a far more unifying solution than violently ending lives in an inferno of evil.        

To draw a parallel between a city police force and the U.S. military,  all kinds of devices are utilized that give the facade of protection and safety.  In reality, they are little more than window dressing and wishful thinking.  As we have determined, a color-coded terror alert system does not keep us safe.  An increased troops presence in Afghanistan has not interrupted the opium trade, nor prevented the reformation of the Taliban.  Constant patrols in armed vehicles have not completely eliminated violent acts.  Nor has this deceptively insufficient shift of soldiers from one troubled country to another prevented journalists from being kidnapped.  My point in identifying these limitations of military force is not to inspire fear, but rather to illustrate a very difficult lesson:  complete safety is an illusion.  

The President and others have talked constantly about the need to eliminate waste, graft, and corruption in the health care industry as a means to pay for the massive overhaul commonly known as Health Care Reform.  I don’t doubt that the program will, as promised, pay for itself if serious efforts towards eliminated frivolity and superfluous procedures are eliminated.  Living for the past fifteen years with a chronic illness have provided more than enough examples of that.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t as aware of the absurdity as I am.  However, somehow we as a society haven’t quite confronted the subject of waste and needless expenditure as regards military spending.  Though noting the negative impact of the military-industrial complex is a start, if we are committed to reduce our deficit and to streamline certain titanic segments of our economy, we might be wise to consider military spending reform, too.  

Though I might be an idealist at times, I am far from a fool.  If we thought that Health Care Reform inspired incredible hatred and spite from the Right, imagine what kind of missiles would be lobbed at us if we proposed ways to modify the military.  The Republican response would be immediate.  We’d be painted as soft on terror, soft on defense, and accused of inviting other countries to invade us.  Uniformed people at Town Hall Forums would demand that they didn’t want a government-controlled military.  The same snidely dismissive charges that greeted Candidate Obama when he advocated at least giving diplomacy with our enemies a chance would resume.  In many situations, particularly this one, my spiritual beliefs are tempered by pragmatism.  I do recognize that the only way war can be set aside is if every country gets on board and that for, a variety of complex and interlocking reasons, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.  Even so, we have a distressing tendency to believe that our military always works flawlessly and that the more tax dollars we add to it, the better it functions.  The same people who speak out against government incompetence or are the first to assert that “throwing money at a problem is no solution” notably do not extend these same scathing criticisms to our military.

I suppose could mention Abu Ghraib, enhanced interrogation techniques, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War, and others in my own defense, but spin and rationalization will always get in the way of logic.  There will always be questions considered too dangerous to be sufficiently questioned or even sufficiently answered.  I, for one, believe that there is far more to 11 September 2001 then will ever be revealed in our lifetime.  Lest anyone misunderstand, what I am NOT saying is that I believe 11 September was an inside job.  What I AM proposing, however, is my firm belief that this country was so woefully unprepared for the attack (strongest military in the world, natch) that the entire chain of command as established in the Bush Administration, on that tragic day, resembled nothing less than a comedy of errors.  I believe that Vice-President Cheney and high-ranking insiders, not President Bush, ran our government for several hours, if not for several days in the chaos and confusion that ensued in the immediate aftermath; an embarrassing degree of miscommunication and incompetence reigned.  Admitting that to the public and to the world would not exactly show us to be the sterling, confident superpower of which we like to portray ourselves.    

Much could be learned from both our mistakes and our network of quick fixes.  When we outsource our freedom and health to industries and specialized occupations, we effectively place our collective health and safety in the hands of others who might not necessarily have our best interest at heart.  No Republican would ever wish to be labeled an anarchist, but their pervasive and recently adamant refrain that government is the root of evil, whether they recognize it or not, is just that.  If conservatives wish to follow this line of logic to its ultimate conclusion, they ought to be finding ways to dismantle government altogether.  They won’t do this, of course, because dismantling government includes dismantling the police and the military.  Anarchy on one’s own terms is not anarchy at all.  Those Republican politicians who believe that government is the problem, not the solution would be wise to question why they have made a career out this supposed cesspool of corruption and terrible things.  They have had years to prune government down to some arbitrary, more manageable size and have found themselves indebted to the same corruption, out of control spending, and size-swelling as the Democrats they criticize.  Quite hypocritically, they have increased the size of the government they agree with at the expense of the government they do not.  This isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s also awful policy.  That they can still make these arguments with a straight face might explain why they happen to be the minority party who has to embrace the lunacy of their fringes to even stay relevant.

The Senate’s Clear Choice: Public Option or Corporate Option

Simulposted at Daily Kos

< Snark On >

Now that the wily tactician Max Baucus has brilliantly and cleverly tricked the Republicans and Health and Insurance Corporations into tipping their hand and revealing exactly what a Corporate written Health Care Reform Bill looks like…..

< End Snark >

And the Republicans won’t even vote for that…..

And EVERYBODY else hates it too….

The Senate is left with one clear choice.

They can pass a Bill that favors the Corporations.

Or they can pass a Bill that favors the Public.

Which will it be Senators?

Which Master will you serve?

Morning Magic

The US piggy bank is empty

The low-key announcements of several military retrenchment measures suggest to me that the US plutocracy is sufficiently frightened by the negative economic diagnosis to abandon its recreational drug of choice: military spending. Here are the clues:

1. Today brought news of the abandonment of a costly “missile shield” to be deployed in Europe. Not only does this remove an irritant in diplomatic relations with Russia and Europe, but it portends big cutbacks in the development and deployment budgets for all Star Wars missile defense programs.

2. America has suddenly developed a lively interest in free and fair elections in Afghanistan. This is consistent with the need to de-legitimize our puppet government in order to prepare for exiting this costly and futile “war.”

3. Iraq withdrawal plans appear to be picking up speed, with no signs that an upsurge of violence in Iraq will lead to second thoughts.

4. A few bloated defense procurement programs have actually been cancelled, including F22 production and an alternate engine for the F35.

The plutocrats are very afraid that they will not be able to make the bellicose American public go cold turkey when huge defense cuts come. But defense is the only place left to cut, and they know that a hard economic rain is going to fall when the current Fed cash-for-everything bubble pops.

The British and Soviet empires did not give up their military toys until their economies collapsed. We are following a similar course. We should have done so much sooner.

Forced Child Suicide Bombers = Charges of Racism to Glenn Beck, human piece of dung

Crossposted at Daily Kos

WARNING: This video depicts graphic footage of a child dying and should NOT be watched by the faint of heart.

Beck:     ” So they blow up a kid. They’re (The Taliban) using a child as a shield . . . This is the same kind of tactic being used now in America, you can’t get your agenda, so you release the hounds and point the fingers, and everybody’s a racist. Because why? Do you want to be called a racist?”

     If Glenn Beck can go any lower than this, I don’t want to see it.

     A full transcript and commentary below the fold.

Jenna Bush The Today Show

Barf bag material.  The Today Show welcomes Jenna Bush as a “correspondent”.

Well that is the equivalent of Howard Stern demonstrating the spanking machine.

Just about gone this country plus my projections about the end times being only 30 days away are gaining confirmations by the hour.  What can you do?

Docudharma Times Thursday September 17

Thursday’s Headlines:

For Democrats, 60 Senators Is Magic Number for Health Bill

Investors are thrilled yet anxious about stock market rally

Wish you were here? Asian war zones battle for tourists

India’s damned generation: young go hungry despite economic boom

How the Cold War was won… by the French

Mafia ‘was paid to sink ships carrying radioactive cargo’

Israel, Hamas called to account

Arabs tackle free speech taboo

How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster

Kenya corruption fighter rejected

Cartel rivalry blamed in latest Mexico drug clinic slayings

Race Issue Deflected, Now as in Campaign

Obama Maintains Criticism Is About Policy Differences

By Anne E. Kornblut and Krissah Thompson

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A debate over the role of race in the current criticism of President Obama is forcing the White House to confront a volatile issue it would rather avoid.

On Tuesday, former president Jimmy Carter declared racism to be the subtext of many of the attacks being lobbed at the president, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are pointing to race as a driving force behind the current level of animosity.

But at the White House, the official line is: Race issue? What race issue?

Japan’s New Leader Seeks Revision of Relations With U.S.

But Major Shift in Alliance Is Unlikely

By Blaine Harden

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TOKYO, Sept. 16 — Hours after he became prime minister Wednesday, Yukio Hatoyama said he wants to change Japan’s “somewhat passive” relationship with the United States and review the large American military presence here.

Since his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won in a historic landslide Aug. 30, Hatoyama has tried to reassure the United States that the nation remains the cornerstone of Japan’s foreign policy while following through on his party’s campaign vow to make the two nations’ relationship more equal.

Who is Richard Trumka?

Original article, subheaded AFL-CIO names new president, by Jerry White via World Socialist Web Site:

On Wednesday, John Sweeney, who has led the AFL-CIO since 1995, stepped down and was succeeded by his long-time lieutenant, Richard Trumka, who ran unopposed and was elected by delegates at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XVII

Art Link


Time enough tomorrow

At the edge

of the abyss

I looked Death

in the skull

gave myself


to jump

or fall

no need to rush

borrowed time

is golden time

Every day is

not today

Fear gone

becomes anger

becomes me not

Best to bathe

in the river

of my truth

and invite others

to join me

while I laugh

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 13, 2006

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