Friday, October 28, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

(image courtesy...yes, THAT I.W.W.)
1) I'm going to get a little preachy here, but it's important and for a good cause.
As you may be aware, in response to the brutal police activity in Oakland, the Occupy movement has called for a general strike on November 2.
Maybe you haven't had the opportunity to march in the Occupy movement, or visit a camp near you. Maybe you've been too busy to send blankets, clothing and food. Here's a way you can participate easily.
Take Wednesday off from work or school. Come on, you've done that to get your car fixed or to wait for the cable guy, you can do it to try to help get a nation back on the right track.
If you're concerned that you'll get in trouble, call in sick. Or take a personal day. Cheat, if you have to. If you absolutely have to be at work (and no one's life depends on you, of course,) then stage the protest at your desk: don't do any productive work. File. Compose a long reply to an email that's been sitting in your inbox about something trivial and stupid.
Or get your Wednesday work done on Tuesday, and save it for the following day.
There. I've given you four sequentially easy ways to join the protest, but the important part is that you join.
2) I haven't been watching much of the World Series, for the following reason: On the one hand, you have the Smirking Chimp, W, getting facetime on Murdoch's wet dream, the FOX Network. On the other, the Cardinals are managed by Glenn Beck's BFF, Tony La Russa, and led by Beck's other BFF, Albert Pujols. So I have no real interest in watching Survivor: Fascist State. But....I hear I missed a helluva game last night.
3) Dear Dr. Warren, there's no shame in being painted a liberal in this day and age. Accept this label. Adopt it like it means you're Betsy Ross, because in many ways, you are that mythic now.
4) Hey, 1%ers! Tell it to the Marines!
5) Michael Moore is apparently not an American citizen! The NYSE hates us for our freedoms.
7) One of the most criminal gangs in America is the Juggalos. I guess, if you define "criminal" as including "overly obsessed with shitty music performed by rap wanna-bes who's best days ended when WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon, then yea. I can concur.
8) If you were to re-do Star Trek for TV, how would you do it? This article raises some intriguing possibilities.
9) Your moment of Zen irony (Zirony?)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goofy Shit People Do

First, came planking. I didn't mind. Looked kinda fun, actually
Then came owling. OK, stupid, but harmless
But now?
It's Tebowing
This! Must! Not! Stand!

The True Parasites Of The American Economy



Even if this is exaggerated in any way, this is still a harrowing tale of bigotry and police misconduct.

Ladies And Gentlemen!

We officially have twelve months of hilarity in front of us!

This Week In Zombie News

How much do zombies contribute to the US economy?

Hey, Remember That Missing $6 Billion During The Iraq War?


Hmmmm. Shorthand...

I've often been scolded by media types who've wanted to interview me that my blog name is just too damned long, that I ought to shorten it if I want to be quoted more often in the press and other media.
Well, how about this mark?
This, and thirteen other punctuation marks you didn't know existed are here

Paranormal Advice

If you don't want to be abducted by aliens, stop eating cheese.

Throwing Grandma Under The Bus

Since I'll be that grandparent one day, and a LOT sooner than I care to be, I've got a bit of interest in this

An Exercise In Privitization

Outsourcing traffic tickets: What could possibly go wrong?

Truly, He Was A Divinity

Well, OK, that's hyperbole, but how many mortals would have the nerve to tell Rupert Murdoch, to his face, he's destroying America?

You’re blowing it with Fox News. The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.


Whoda Thunk?

A really good overview of the corrosive effects of corporate money in politics.

I Have A Question For The 53%ers

I see a lot of comments and rebuttals to Occupy Wall Street that boil down to this, no doubt spurred on by the Koch brothers and their minions:
I work three jobs. I own a house. I have a family to support. I am the 53%.
My question is this: why?
Almost everything we know about wages and prices tells us that the typical household has suffered a Lost Decade for market wages. Just as important, the price of necessities -- such as health care, a college education, a house, and energy to heat your home and run your car engine -- is growing faster than our incomes. [...]

CBO found that in the three decades between 1979 and the beginning of the Great Recession, real household income grew 60 percent overall. But it didn't grow evenly.

Among the poorest fifth of households, income grew 18 percent. For the next three quintiles, it grew just shy of 40 percent. For the richest fifth, it grew 65 percent. And for the top percentile, it grew by a whopping 275 percent, which means it nearly tripled. Bottom line: Income inequality exists.

Inflation for the period Jan. 1980 through Dec. 2007 was 170%, and that staggering figure excludes energy and food (which, if included would add roughly another 40% or so to the figure.)

By the way, those inequalities get worse once you account for taxes paid.

In other words, the 53% still made out better than the 47%, even after you account for the fact that the 47% paid no income taxes!

And the only reason the 53% made out better is because the top 1% made out like bandits.

So I ask again, why?

Why are you working three jobs just to keep up? Why wouldn't you rather work one job at a living wage and have more time to enjoy the finer things that wage provides.

Finer things, like kids, and family time, instead of rushing off to job number two or three.

Why are you angry at the people who have it even worse than you? Why aren't you angry at the people who have sucked up every spare bit of money lying around like a vaccuum cleaner and stuck it in their pockets, rather than provide a decent wage that allows you to work to live, not live to work?

Why aren't you mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As The Erstwhile Ernie Anastos Said....



To: Women
From: Actor212
Subject: Your Monthly Natural Dividend
Don't have them anymore. You'll be accused of murder.

A Gordian Not

NotJoe the NotPlumber is NotNotRunning for Notgress.
I sense a karmic humiliation.

Kenya Dig It?

I've kept quiet about the situation unfolding in Kenya and Somalia for a couple of reasons.
Notably, I'm not sure what to make of it, yet.
On the one hand, I can't blame Kenya for wanting to secure its borders and Somalia has long been a haven for terrorists and pirates, so it's likely some of that criminal activity has spilled over the border.
On the other, I sense the presence of forces beyond the continent behind this. After all, it's not likely Kenya would have undertaken a serious breach of sovereignty without at least giving the US State Department a heads up, yet the surprised tone of the American reaction seems to indicate they hadn't.
Which is odd, given our history not just with Somalia as a nation but with its affiliation with Al Qaeda.
So this could just be diplomatic Kabuki.
One thing that is troubling: this is just an additional flare-up of violence on a continent that has seen and is seeing more than its share of unrest. If this is a prozy war between the US and her allies, and Al Qaeda (or China, who has an economic stake in African oil sources) and her allies, we're sort of screwed here.

Sounding Mayoral

Alec Baldwin sounds like he's marking his turf.
The potential candidates to replace Mayor Mick Bloomberg are at once plentiful and scarce. The front-runner, current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has a few strikes against her, mostly stemming from her abrasive personality and, frankly (and I speak from personal experience here) her ability to screw constituents without lubrication.
She seems to have signed a non-compete agreement with the current three-term mayor who probably dangled his (now) faltering approval ratings and potential endorsement in front of her in exchange for her almost sheep-like devotion to his agenda, which included massive cuts in assistance to the poor as well as contravening the ballot initiative that banned mayors from seeking a third term.
Apparently, Quinn wasn't paying attention all these years she's been politically active: third term mayors inevitably end up being hated. It happened with Ed Koch and the only reason term limits were passed in the first place was because Rudy Giuliani was fucking his third term up royally.
There are other potential rivals to the Speaker, notably Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is a liberal's liberal, and who has enough stroke citywide to have pondered (altho ultimately decided against) a primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Thank god, because that would have been a tough choice!
Stringer has roughly a million and a half dollars stowed away in the bank in anticipation of a mayoral run. Apart from some minor controversies (such as possibly using his influence to throw some business his parents' way) he doesn't have many skeletons in the closet and since he was raised in a power family of New York politics, he understands the map of the land better than most. And Scarlett Johansen has thrown her endorsement behind Stringer, so he's got some star power in his corner.
Baldwin tossing his hat in the ring would upset that dynamic of two liberals duking it out and offset Johansen and then some. Of course, Baldwin comes with his own weighty baggage, but he's shown he can stand in their with critics and duke it out, with intelligence, wit and just enough abrasiveness to make things interesting.

Eric Cantor Shows His True Colours

Chicken yellow, apparently.

If Only The Right Wing Would Pick Up On This

Cheering death, anyone's death, is not helpful
And yet, certain minions and AssProfs would do more and hope Qaddafy was butt-raped before he was killed.
Way to be Americans, shitheads.

The Atlantic Finally Catches On

I've maintained for months that the only bullet left in the gun for the Federal Reserve to reduce debt while stimulating the economy is to let inflation loose, a little.
It's nice to finally have someone get my back.

Occupy Wall Street Learns A Lesson From Tahrir Square

Activism isn't just passive protest.

On Monday evening at Zuccotti Park, Mahfouz was eager to model the fiery disobedience with which she's inspired so many Egyptians. "Let's march!" she said after an hour-long question-and-answer session, grabbing an Egyptian flag and flashing the victory sign with both hands.

A few hundred demonstrators fell in line behind her and Maher, who gamely joined the English chants. The police allowed the march onto Wall Street itself, and at each corner the American leaders consulted an officer about the preferred route. Weary of the somewhat stilted slogans, which lacked the umph and rhythm of Egyptian chants, Mahfouz and Maher taught the crowd the iconic cry of the Arab uprisings: "Al shaab yurid isqat al nizam," or "The people demand the fall of the regime." The crowd adopted its own hybrid: "Al shaab yurid isqat Wall Street."

As they wound back to Zuccotti Park, demonstrators awaited a cue from the police before crossing Broadway. It was too much for Mahfouz. She stopped in the middle of the intersection, stopped traffic, pumped a fist in the air, and demanded the fall of Wall Street. Nervous demonstrators skittered to the sidewalk, leaving Mahfouz with just the cameras and a few dozen stalwarts who seemed willing to accept her invitation to be arrested.

I totally understand why OWS is reluctant to turn it up a notch. Things changed after 9-11, and Americans have longed feared their government more than the government fears us.
And I'm not suggesting violence, or law-breaking, but something more is going to have to happen to break the stalemate and open the floodgates.
Comments are open for suggestions.

An Innovative Idea Long Overdue

President Barack Obama will propose today a program that will help younger Americans consolidate their student loans and offer lower interest rates in the process.
An education should not be a usurious experience for anyone. Student loans are exempt from bankruptcy filings, so the banks are rarely completely busted on a loan, and payments can be extended to 25 years, which cripples the borrower but also permits the banks to accrue enormous fees and interest from each loan, a la a mortgage.
Really? Really? That's the most creative a bank can be when helping someone start out in life? Rip them off like they're bank robbers?

Hey! 53 Percenters!

Still think Occupy Wall Street is wrong?

When the federal income tax was first imposed in 1913, the richest 0.1 percent of households reaped 8.6 percent of the nation’s income. In 2007, as the recession began, the share going to that sliver of megarich Americans was 12.3 percent.

Those numbers suggest that the Occupy Wall Street protesters can make a compelling case when they complain that the economic scales are unfairly tilted toward the wealthy. The megarich hold more of the nation’s wealth and collect more of the overall income today than at any time since right before the Great Depression.

You remember the Great Depression, right? A time of massive famine in the land, of 25% unemployment, people selling moldy apples to try to make a buck to feed a family of four for a week (they needed to sell 20.)

Back then, it was massive dust storms that sent people packing from their homes, the Great Foreclosure by Mother Nature as her home was raped and pillaged by farmers who only knew how to grow, but not conserve. Today, it's foreclosures by banks, who only know how to lose money, not nurture family fortunes.

You say that you pay the taxes that the 47% do not, and to a degree, you have a point. Most of those people earn so little that they are exempt from income taxes, but not Social Security, Medicare, and other payroll taxes. Nor are they exempt from sales taxes, gas taxes (because, you know, they have to get to their shithole jobs that barely keep them afloat,) or any number of myriad ways that governments reach into our pockets without us even thinking twice.

Many of those people earn enough to pay income taxes, but get to take advantage of deductions and credits that society as a whole deem appropriate: dependent care credits, tuition credits, mortgage interest deductions, and so they don't get taxed twice on the same money, state and local income tax deductions.

So it's really disingenuous for you to imply that you resent "paying" their freight when millions of people are struggling with a kid in college and a mortgage and making money in a state that is deprived of a fair return on the money it fronts to the Federal government just so some mega-rich corn farming conglomerate in Kansas-- you know? The 1%?-- can get subsidies for growing what amounts to an almost nutritionally useless junk food.

Yet you defend that corporation, its board and managers, for taking even more out of the nation than the corn subsidy. You want them to be wealthier, and that's a noble cause, to be sure, IF they're going to give back to the community.

Give back not in the form of a cancer wing to the local hospital that amazingly treats precisely the kind of cancer they've just been diagnosed with, but in jobs and infrastructure improvements that can benefit everyone who works the shithole jobs that allow that corporation to make money hand over fist AND THEN grab enough subisidies and credits to offset ALL their tax liabilities.

It's funny how you'll whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine about the 47%ers who take advantage of the "small beer" tax credits and deductions to reduce a four of five figure tax bill, but you won't raise an alarm about the seven-, eight-, and nine-figure tax bills that are *poof* gone with a blow on the magician's hands.

You want to understand what Occupy is about? Get your head out of your ass. It ain't that hard to get.


A Big Birthday Party

The Statue of Liberty, the iconic American symbol of freedom and inclusion, celebrates its 125th birthday this Friday.
But would it be the same symbol without Emma Lazarus' sonnet?
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command  The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OWS May Soon Be Among The 1%

They now have $500,000 in donations in the bank.

Poverty: It's Not Just For Inner Cities Anymore

Meaning, it's right on the doorsteps of the 1% wannabes.

Beer For Breakfast

Sometime soon, in Wisconsin

If The HPV Vaccine Encourages Promiscuity In Women, As Some Would Say....


One Word

Most of these were pretty shitty to begin with.

Aw, Jeez!

Get a room, you two!

Republicans Really Just Don't Get It

Paul Ryan, douchenozzle

Quo Vadis, Apple?

This could be very interesting. I would imagine the set would ship with the world's simplest remote control, built-in WiFi, perhaps a hard drive to store programming that would obviate the need for TiVO or a DVR, and surround-sound.
Figure it would sell for about $5,000 or $6,000, or slightly less than a comparably-sized (say 60 inch) set and all the candy you'd have to buy separately.

Your Photo Of The Day

Just When You Thought You Were Safe From Birthers


Ever Wonder Why Your Teeth Have Ridges?


Weaker Boener, Where Are The Motherfucking Jobs?

S&P may downgrade the US. Again.

Blowing The Campaign, Purposely

Obviously, Herman Cain woke up one morning and realized people were taking his candidacy seriously
What if it really was all just a long joke played on the right wing?


You sort of sensed this was coming. Let's just hope it was a hyperreactive event, and things will calm down, the protestors return and all will be peaceful again.

The Gaping Hole

25 years ago tonight, my Mets saw the handiwork of God.
Being a Mets fan means being religious.
No. I'm serious. This team's history is fraught with miracles and calamities that can best be described as divine reclamation/retribution, depending on whether the fortunes of the team rose or fell. From the 1969 Miracle Mets, who saw time and time again that fate had decreed a championship, to the 1973 team that pulled off one of the most, if not the most, miraculous rise from the ashes of a season to take the eventual Series champs (and future dynasty) to a seventh game, to the 1986 humbling in the face of an onslaught of playoff misfortunes, and into the current day, the Mets have lived on the graces of fate.

The Flathead Mill

So Rick Perry has jumped on the flat tax bandwagon, no doubt influenced by his most recent endorser, Steve Forbes:

Perry will propose a 20 percent flat tax rate for income taxpayers. But taxpayers will be allowed to stay under current rates if they choose.

It wasn't enough that Herman Cain's "Nein! Nein! Nein!" plan was soundly ridiculed by everyone from the National Review to any number of economists. Perry had to double down on teh stoopid.

“On Tuesday I will announce my ‘Cut, Balance and Grow’ plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity. The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents. This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.”

Perry continues, “We will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a “territorial tax system”—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income. … Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes. To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings. We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.”

Perry will also propose raising the Social Security retirement age.

Now, in fairness to Perry, there's some interesting wrinkles to his tax plan. For example, the Alternative Minimum tax was devised way back in the 1960s as a way to force the rich to pay their fair share of taxes (funny how often that pops up in American economic history.) It was never indexed for inflation, meaning that any hikes in the floor income level were done manually, such that now, if you live in a high tax state, own a home and have a couple of kids with both parents working, you likely are affected by the AMT. It really needs to be re-indexed at least, or eliminated altogether.

But here's the thing: a flat tax that maintains mortgage interest deductions, charitable contributions, and state and local tax deductions is not a flat tax any longer if those deductions are income-dependent.

In effect, all Perry is doing is lowering the top rate of taxation...WHILE RAISING THE BOTTOM RATE FROM 15% to 20%!

Plus, he's eliminating the Earned Income credit for low-wage workers, education and dependent care credits, which will force millions of people to pay more in taxes, those least able to afford to.

All while cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us.

I term this an Epic Fail.


Thanks For Pointing That Out, Captain Obvious

(image courtesy)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Ten truths about Occupy Wall Street.

Tone Deaf


Barack Obama: Master Baiter

Yup. He actually beat the Republicans by making them look bad, then going ahead with what he wanted anyway.

Gee! I Wonder What Song They'll Play At His Funeral

Songwriter Paul Leka died two weeks ago.

The "People" Who Own Everything


Happy Birthday, Earth!

(image kudos)

Welp! We're Fucked!


Why Does Mickey Mouse...I Mean, Bachmann, ,Want You To Die Of Cancer?

I hope she gets hammered on this at the next beauty pageant.

The Day The Music Died

Now, I say "the day the music died," for a particular reason, one that struck me over the weekend as I was unloading the CD changer in my car, and wondering if I should get one of those cables to the Aux In plug from my iPhone.
I no longer listen to music. I listen to songs.
Music was dying, to be sure, for a long time. The advent of videos probably did it in, altho I suspect the culprit could go as far back as the rise of discos and clubbing.
No one listens to albums much anymore. No one listens to albums that are carefully designed musically to tell the listener a story, like "Sgt. Peppers" or "Days of Future Passed," or countless other albums from the 60s and 70s. It was a rare era, to be sure, paralleling only classical music and opera in storytelling.
Part of that is, with the advent of MTV (and the lack of electronic transmission) people just made crappy albums to put a framework around the one forgettable song in order to support the one-off tour that would support album sales that would eventually peter out as people realized it was just another shitty band with pretty faces.
The iPod just put the final nail in the corpse of that facade. Now bands could hand-pick a couple of songs and upload them to a server, and enjoy the profits off Apple's iTunes service. Or the listener could pick and choose songs he or she was familiar with, and upload those into the iPod and skip over any potential hidden gems that one sometimes heard with LPs, because, you know, to lift the needle risked scratching the album.
The iPod gave listeners a spiffy little device to stuff into a pocket and listen to songs. And if by chance you had a crappy song, you could rate it out of existence on your unit, or merely skip it and let the song count drop it down the charts like a Milli Vanilli comeback.
Music is dead. Long live music.

Do They Know It's Nearly 2012 Yet?

More important, do they care?
A group of leaders from Houston is taking a stand against a proposed Confederate flag license plate for Texas.

“The Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “The brutality of slavery and it is a symbol of fear and intimidation.”

The specialty plate is sponsored by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“They make it sound as if there’s some brazen banner on the plate,” said member Frank Johnson. “It’s a three by three logo. It’s not the battle flag! It’s the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles’ board tied during their first vote on the plates in April. The next vote is scheduled for November.

One hundred and fifty years ago, a band of idiots made the biggest, most monumentally egoistical mistake of their lives: they decided they were bigger than the United States of America.

I'm pretty sure we don't need to be reminded, in this day and age where morons like Mickey Mouse...I mean, Bachmann, and Rick "Let's Secede Again!" Perry are taken as serious Presidential contenders for even an eyeblink, that idiots abounded in our history like dinosaurs in the muck of an Alabama swamp. We see that in our very founding documents, where slaves are allowed and Negroes are considered 3/5 a person (if only corporations were so shabbily treated.)

The larger question, however, is why any rational government would stoop so low as to placate people who would honor hatred? Shall we have an "American Nazi" commemorative license plate? After all, no Jews in this nation died in domestic concentration camps, yet those poor babies were humiliated after the big bad DC government got into the war over in Europe and Japan.

What will it take for those small fringe groups of Americans to finally coalesce into the greater citizenry? Because for now, we probably ought to consider them outlaws.


Special Students

No, not the short bus kind. The kind no one talks about.
I was, to no one's surprise, what they called a "gifted" student back then. Worse, I was labelled "intellectually gifted," which was one level up.
I guess the contemporary classification would be "exceptional."
All of those imply a difference, and all can be synonyms for "special."
Yea, I know, this is going to sound like the rant of the spoiled child who doesn't understand why her friends are all jealous of her bling-coated iPhone. Bear with me.
As you remember, any difference in school is fair game for ridicule, and we've all had to endure our fair share, and find ways to deal with it.
What? You didn't think I spontaneously became a snarky asshole, did you?
Worse, tho, is the singling out by adults, who identify the gifted child and try to segregate him from his peers. There's a component of elemental emotional abuse involved here: often, intellectually gifted children are presumed-- or worse, forced-- to more mature behaviors because "we're so smart." Meanwhile, they're still children with all the hormonal storms and frustrations inherent in that title.
We're just better able to articulate them.
Anyway, I oppose that school mentioned in the link to the Times for these reasons: to segregate exceptional children even further is to segregate them from their peers, who have an unique way of "bringing them back to earth." The teasing, the mocking, they all serve as humiliations, true, but they also serve to remind each of us that, ultimately, we are no better than anyone else in toto.

Wanna See Something The Public Hasn't Seen In A Hundred Years?

Very cool, even for Noo Yawk

Remember Last Winter?

The wild weather of last December, January, and February looks like it will return, and with a vengeance.