Friday, July 29, 2011

Obama's Communist speech to school children found

Not even a Socialist, much less a Communist... This was pretty funny though.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If the right could have it's way...

Their Social Security Reform plan:


Social Security Reform Bill Encourages Americans To Live Faster, Die Younger

Colbert points out media completely fumbles domestic terrorism in Norway

While other areas of the country suffer, Lexington holds strong

While other areas of the country suffer, Lexington's economy/housing market holds strong.

HL:

The number of houses sold in Fayette County in 2010 declined for the fifth straight year, yet property values have remained stable, and Fayette County's property valuation administrator sees that as a positive indicator that Lexington continues to weather the housing-market downturn better than many cities.

For the first time, David O'Neill, Fayette County's PVA, has compiled an annual report about the state of property in Fayette County, which accompanies the official certification of the 2011 Fayette County tax rolls received last week from the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

O'Neill said he thought it was important to compile the snapshot of Lexington's real estate landscape "so people can form a more educated opinion of what's going on in our economy."

"We've been chugging along in this recession for so long now, and the national news has consistently been painting a little bit different picture than what we're experiencing in Fayette County," he said.

Among the highlights of the report:

• The number of sales of single-family residences has steadily decreased over the last five years, from 5,432 sales in 2005 to 2,917 in 2010. That's a fall of 46 percent.

• But when homes do sell, "values are holding," O'Neill said. The median home sale price increased from $142,000 in 2005 to $156,000 in 2010. Many areas of the country have seen prices decline when the housing bubble burst.

• Both commercial and residential construction in Fayette County have fallen dramatically since 2005. In 2005, 2,289 new residential units were built. That fell to 602 in 2010. In 2005, 165 commercial buildings were built; that dropped to just 14 in 2010.

• Overall, the taxable fair cash value of all property in Fayette County has risen modestly since 2008, a contrast to other areas of the country hit harder by the housing downturn.

• Fair cash value for commercial property in 2011 was $6.42 billion, up slightly from the total of $6.2 billion in 2008. Fair cash value of all residential property in Fayette County was $15.2 billion, up from $14.7 billion in 2008.

O'Neill's report also includes more specific information, such as the biggest property-tax assessments in Fayette County. The top assessment belongs to Fayette Mall, which owns properties assessed at a total of more than $108 million for 2011.

In general, O'Neill said, there have been no wholesale, upward reassessments of any neighborhood in Fayette County for two consecutive years.

"We have not had the sales or economic conditions that would help justify to taxpayers a reassessment was necessary," O'Neill said.

However, during this same period, the property-tax roll has continued to grow, "albeit at a very modest rate, less than 2 percent," O'Neill said.

O'Neill attributes this growth to property sales, additions and improvements to property and to the PVA's use of better technology, including high resolution aerial photographs to discover improvements not previously listed on the tax rolls.

The 109,000 parcels of property in the county have a total value of slightly less than $23 billion. Of those parcels, 75,000 are single-family homes.

The report shows that people are buying houses with more square footage — approximately 1,600 square feet in 2010 compared with 1,450 square feet in 2005. But the price per square foot of homes remains flat: $97.99 compared with $97.93 five years ago.

Lisa Peel with Keller Williams Realty has seen home sales steadily decrease.

"They haven't plummeted. Other parts of the country are in a panic. We are not," said the veteran real estate broker, who has sold property in Central Kentucky for 21 years.

But sellers have to be "very realistic about market values today," Peel said. "Prices are not what they used to be."

Realtor Whitney Pannell tells her sellers there is so much inventory on the market, a house has to be "HGTV-ready." Whether it's a $100,000 house or a $1 million house, "Buyers don't want to come in and have to make repairs," she said.

For a house to sell, Peel said, property has to be in excellent condition, as well as "very fairly priced."

"It's about price and condition, no matter what price range you're in."

The five-year decline in the annual number of home sales has put a strain on real estate companies, developers and related fields such as banking, mortgage lending and property appraisers.

Todd Johnson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Lexington, said a few builders have gone out of business. "Not many, but a few," he said.

Builders take on jobs they might have passed on a few years ago, including traveling long distances to locations such as Eastern Kentucky, Johnson said. "They are considering just about anything that comes to them in terms of a building or remodeling job."

Typically, the PVA inspects and reassesses neighborhoods every four years. The office has divided the county into about 300 residential neighborhoods.

While no neighborhood assessments were raised in the last two years, six neighborhoods had their assessments lowered, O'Neill said.

Those were Winburn, the Johnson property off Russell Cave Pike near the northside library branch, Tuscany in the Hamburg area, Garden Meadows near Greendale Road, the Camelot neighborhood near Wilson-Downing Road and the Village at Tates Creek on the southwest corner of Man o' War and Tates Creek Road.

A downward reassessment is not necessarily an indication of a neighborhood in decline, O'Neill said. Some of these neighborhoods had not been reassessed since 2006, when real estate prices were strong.

"We may have been assessing a little aggressively, so we are backing those down a little bit," he said.

The PVA annual report also includes numbers about the foreclosure trend in Fayette County.

Foreclosures increased gradually from 298 in 2005 to 369 through 2007. That number jumped to 485 in 2008 and 566 in 2009 as the housing market lost steam. The PVA report shows foreclosures fell slightly to 524 in 2010 and early 2011, though O'Neill said that was due more to regulatory changes than improvements in economic conditions.

Foreclosures are scattered throughout the county, but the biggest concentrations fell in an area between North Broadway and Winchester Road, and along Man o' War Boulevard east of Tates Creek Road, according to the report.

Generally speaking, these are in areas "where people would be more susceptible to losing their job and missing a mortgage payment when the economy goes south," he said.

No-tax ultrawealthy megachurch Rick Warren writes: the Poor pay too little in taxes!

Irregular Times:

No-tax ultrawealthy megachurch Rick Warren writes: the Poor pay too little in taxes!

 When conservative preacher Rick Warren raked in $2.4 million last December for his “Saddleback Church” (an archipelago of high-tech churches, gymnasium courts, restaurants and even a music school sitting on nine campuses of prime California real estate), he didn’t pay a penny of tax on that income. Saddleback Church is tax-exempt despite its wealth.

Most years, about a third of Americans have an income too low to pay income tax. But lately, more Americans are losing their jobs and sinking deep into poverty. When Rick Warren found out that half of Americans now are so poor that their income doesn’t meet the low minimum threshold for income tax, he vented his all-caps rage on Twitter. His rage wasn’t directed at the misfortune of poverty. No, preacher Warren directed his ire at those nervy jobless poor people who don’t pay income taxes:


Boehner scared of Obama?

Think Progress:

Boehner overheard leaving Capitol: “I didn’t sign up for going mano-a-mano with the President of the United States.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Murder, Cornerstone Church, Anders Behring Breivik, Geert Wilders, The Tennessee Freedom Coalition and Politicians.

Hillbilly:


Murder, Cornerstone Church, Anders Behring Breivik, Geert Wilders, The Tennessee Freedom Coalition and Politicians.


Before we begin I want to thank Mike Watt for helping with with the research and the Nashville Scenefor documenting Pastor Maury Davis and Cornerstone Church.

We've all read about the Anders Behring Breivik's rampage in Norway, but this may be closer to home than most of of us can really imagine.



The Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Maury Davis, is a convicted murderer. He was convicted of the the brutal murder of Jo Ella Liles. The Nashville scene has the full story here. So what does Maury Davis and the Cornerstone  Church have to do with Anders Behring Breivik and Geert Wilders? Geert Wilders spoke at the Cornerstone Church, to be fair it wasn't a church sponsored event, it was sponsored by theTennessee Freedom Coalition. However it was held at Cornerstone Church and pastor Maury Davis and Cornerstone Church could have just said no and I believe it's reasonable to assume that pastor Maury Davis and the Cornerstone Church approved of this event and looking at some of the sermons listed on Cornerstone Church's website only further what I consider and believe is a reasonable assumption. So what does Geert Wilders speaking at Cornerstone Church have to do with mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik? Well, this is what Anders Behring Breivik had this to say about Geert Wilders.

Glenn Beck On Norway Killings: Children Like 'Hitler Youth,' Breivik 'Just As Bad As Osama Bin Laden'

HP:

And people wonder why those of us on the left think the right is seriously out of their minds...

"Glenn Beck spoke out about the mass killings in Norway on his Monday radio show.
Beck said that he was disturbed by the summer camp that was the site of the overwhelming majority of the carnage perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who has admitted to the killings. The camp is run by Norway's leading center-left party, the Labor Party, and has long been a haven for young people looking to break into the political scene.
Beck said the camp "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics?"
He then went on to say that he had warned that there would be horrible consequences due to the rise of what he called the "evil" strain of Islam in Europe. Islam, he said, is "squeezing the neck" of the continent, and multiculturalism is "killing" it.
But Beck was at pains to denounce Breivik completely.
"There is no difference between him and the 9/11 bombers," he said. "No difference. He is just as bad as Osama bin Laden. Period."



Even Republicans Are Sick of Tea Party Nonsense





I get the feeling that, if he were still alive, Ronald Reagan would like to choke the hell out of someone in the Tea Party movement.

Before you write that off as too outlandish, consider this: The Tea Party of 2010 America would consider Ronald Reagan to be insufficiently conservative to earn their support. Let's face it. Whatever your political orientation, if Ronald Reagan isn't conservative enough for you, you are an extremist. It's like saying that Franklin Roosevelt fella just wasn't left-wing enough.

(Then again, Ronald Reagan raised taxes, ran a huge deficit, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, pulled troops out of the Middle East, and was, at one point, the president of a union.)

Of course, Reagan isn't the only Republican icon who'd have problems with the Tea Party. Barry Goldwater, father of the modern conservative movement, was socially liberal and actually read the Constitution a few times. He'd get booed off of Sean Hannity's Fox News set before he could even get a word out.

John Yarmuth: Your policy doesn't pay the bills

Media spin and the consequences we face


While Rome (America) burns, from the NYT's:


Drought Spreads Pain From Florida to Arizona



COLQUITT, Ga. — The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.


Farmers with the money and equipment to irrigate are running wells dry in the unseasonably early and particularly brutal national drought that some say could rival the Dust Bowl days.
“It’s horrible so far,” said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who is trying grow cotton, corn and peanuts on a thousand acres. “There is no description for what we’ve been through since we started planting corn in March.”
The pain has spread across 14 states, from Florida, where severe water restrictions are in place, to Arizona, where ranchers could be forced to sell off entire herds of cattle because they simply cannot feed them.
In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. In the Southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres.


Limbaugh: The Killer 116° Heat Index Is ‘Manufactured By The Government’

Spinning a conspiracy theory that puts his listeners’ lives at risk, hate radio merchant Rush Limbaugh argued that government warnings of life-threatening heat are “playing games”:
They’re playing games with us on this heat wave, again. Even Drudge. Drudge getting sucked in here. Going to be 116 in Washington. No, it’s not. It’s gonna be like 100, maybe 99. A heat index, manufactured by the government to tell you what it feels like when you add the humidity in there.
Listen here: 




Sunday, July 24, 2011

The sad state we're in...

People who "suck off the program" are the ones who will be affected

Sen. Coburn: Gang Of Six Budget Cuts Will Only Hurt Those ‘Sucking Off’ Programs


Think Progress:

Tell you poor, helpless family members to quit sucking off the program you damn leeches.

Hillbilly "flashmobs" Grover Norquist's Facebook page

Hillbilly:

I think he's scared of Jim Pence...

Oh wait, 94+ people were murdered in a terrorist attack and I'm supposed to be talking about Amy Whinehouse?

I'm really sorry, are my priorities out of line? But who gives a s$#@ about some pop star who OD'ed vs. people who were trying to work within their government's system to make a better more equitable world when they were murdered in cold blood?  

Least we forget a default crisis that's going to throw the world into the Second Great Depression if it happens:

Amy Winehouse, the Grammy Award-winning pop singer-songwriter whose sultry and profane compositions reflected - and ultimately were overshadowed by - a turbulent personal life and struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, was found dead Saturday at her apartment in London.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

So a bunch of rightwing nuts shoot up Norway and people are afraid of the left?

Least we forget Oklahoma City 1995 in this country...

AP:

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- A Norwegian who dressed as a police officer to gun down summer campers killed at least 80 people at an island retreat, horrified police said early Saturday. It took investigators several hours to begin to realize the full scope of Friday's massacre, which followed an explosion in nearby Oslo that killed seven and that police say was set off by the same suspect.

The mass shootings are among the worst in history. With the blast outside the prime minister's office, they formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings killed 191.

Police initially said about 10 were killed at the forested camp on the island of Utoya, but some survivors said they thought the toll was much higher. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims.

"It's taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya," Maeland said. "It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional."

Maeland said the death toll could rise even more. He said others were severely wounded, but police didn't know how many were hurt.

A suspect in the shootings and the Oslo explosion was arrested. Though police did not release his name, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK identified him as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik and said police searched his Oslo apartment overnight. NRK and other Norwegian media posted pictures of the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian.

National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told NRK that the suspected gunman's Internet postings "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but whether that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen."

A police official said the suspect appears to have acted alone in both attacks, and that "it seems like this is not linked to any international terrorist organizations at all." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway's police.

"It seems it's not Islamic-terror related," the official said. "This seems like a madman's work."

The official said the attack "is probably more Norway's Oklahoma City than it is Norway's World Trade Center." Domestic terrorists carried out the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City, while foreign terrorists were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The official added, however, "it's still just hours since the incident happened. And the investigation is going on with all available resources."

The motive was unknown, but both attacks were in areas connected to the left-leaning Labor Party, which leads a coalition government. The youth camp, about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of Oslo, is organized by the party's youth wing, and the prime minister had been scheduled to speak there Saturday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Congratulations America, you voted and got what you voted for

To be fair you should more or less thank corporate America which funded this idiotic witch hunt, one that believed that President Obama was a F&*$%#$% Socialist trying to set up FEMA death camps.

Now we've elected a House of Representatives so far right and so afraid of their own base there can't be any sort of common sense deal in regards to the debt, deficit and debt ceiling.  

I have little hope at this point, they're going to pull the G#d d$#n temple down on all of our heads:


Debt-reduction negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner collapsed Friday, derailing an effort to reach a landmark agreement to cut spending, overhaul the tax code and avert a government default.

In subsequent statements, both sides blamed the other for an impasse that threatens to plunge the nation into a fiscal crisis if the government fails to meet a looming deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling.

“It’s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” Obama said, but Boehner (R-Ohio) countered that it was the president who walked away from an agreement on revenue increases.

“The White House moved the goal posts,” Boehner said in a press conference, demanding “more money at the last minute — and the only way to get that extra revenue was to raise taxes.”

“The vast majority of the American people believe we should have a balanced approach” between revenues and cuts, Obama told reporters. He added that he had been willing to agree to a deal that was more generous to Republican interests than to those of his fellow Democrats."


Headstomper "denounces violence"

CJ:


FRANKFORT, Ky. — A former GOP campaign volunteer serving probation after being charged with assaulting a liberal activist last year now is denouncing violence.
Tim Profitt told The Associated Press on Friday that he has “humbled himself before God” after his involvement in a scuffle with a heckler outside a Kentucky television studio where Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway were scheduled to debate.
“I denounce violence unless it is in self-defense,” Profitt said in a telephone interview from his Arizona home.
Last month, Profitt, 53, a former Kentucky resident and county-level coordinator for the Paul campaign, entered a special plea in which he didn't admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him on a misdemeanor assault charge. He agreed to serve a year of unsupervised probation and pay $600 to cover medical bills of MoveOn.org activist Lauren Valle.
Widely televised footage of the scuffle showed Valle, one of hundreds of people gathered at Kentucky Educational Television for the debate last October, being pulled down and stepped on.
Profitt had asked Fayette County Judge Kim Wilkie earlier this year to dismiss the assault charge, claiming use of force was justified to protect Paul. Wilkie declined after watching the video.
If Profitt had been convicted by a jury, he could have faced a maximum of a year in jail and a $500 fine.
A retired telephone company technician, Profitt told the AP that he accepted the plea deal to avoid the cost of a potential trial and traveling back and forth between Arizona to Kentucky for court appearances. He said he also had no desire to rekindle the media frenzy that followed the incident.
“I just felt like it was in my best interest to accept the plea,” he said. “I felt like it was the best thing for me and all of us to get on with this thing, and be done with it rather than go through all the hoopla again.”
Profitt said he regrets what he did and that he wouldn't do it again. But he said he believed at the time that Valle was trying to hurt Paul when she rushed at his vehicle as it pulled up to the Lexington television station.

Did we learn something about our country and economy from that human monster Bin Laden?

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed" 
-Mahatma Gandhi

Let me preface this by saying that Osama Bin Laden was a cold blooded killer who murdered over 3000 people in the name of a religion.

10 years have passed by and I think we've learned something about this country and the institutions of power that control and influence it.

The United States has become an imperial power, there's no question about it.  After the 9/11 attacks we proved Bin Laden very right, let's remember his goal wasn't to destroy the country by offensive military force but to bankrupt us with our own military expenditures.


With 750 base across the world it's really hard to argue that we've become anything but an empire.  This alone shouldn't be a concern, nations have been fighting over influence since the beginning of time.  However an iron fisted foreign policy that relies almost entirely on how much violence and destruction we can do to other people should be.  “To a person who has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”


The most worrying thing of all was the direction we took in March of 2003 with the invasion of Iraq.  While I think everyone agrees that Saddam Hussein was a complete as$&*@#, let's not forget he was our guy up until 1990 when he invaded Iraq in an attempt to repair an Iraqi economy left in shambles after an American supported proxy war fought with Iran for 10 years.



After invading Iraq and going to war for the same reason almost all wars are fought (access to resources, in this case oil) Bin Laden had us right where he wanted us and people here in the U.S. and around the world no doubt took notice.

The Bush administration was pretty much a validation of everything we suspected about a corporate oligarchy that if doesn't outright run this country at this point wields incredible economic and policy influence.  We started wars, cuts taxes for the wealthy, gave huge government handouts to corporations directly and indirectly; Enron, the oil and gas companies, big pharma, banks and mortgage companies.  And while the Democrats stood horrified at the build up of debt that was being created by these policies the Republicans pushing the policies shrugged their shoulders.

When the American people exhausted mostly over the war swept into power in 2006, the brakes were finally applied to The Bush Doctrine, but the damage had already been done and government action would sit in limbo until President Obama and the Democratic wave swept into power in 2008.  But by the summer of 2008 we saw the utter collapse of our economy, a Bush led bailout of the banks, it seemed as if Obama had this collapsing situation thrown into his lap and we hadn't even hit the bottom yet.

And along came a corporate led protest starting in 2009 known as the Tea Party movement disguising itself as a grassroots populist movement was organizing as best as it could to policies aimed at curbing corporate influence.  Over the last 3 years we've passed weak reforms even though we've had a super majority in congress, but due to the fact that portions of the Democratic Senate are bought out just like the entire Republican Party, in short we've had no real reform. So, the last 3 years the economy has sort of tugged along, corporate profits have been through the roof and yet that good news hadn't translated to the vast majority of the American people.  And with a deficit piling on, the ideas on how to reduce it have translated into a direct attack on the poor, and most helpless people in our country, corporate America doesn't care though, it needs that money too and another tax holiday.

With the Republican victory in the House in 2010, where does the debate sit now?  Let's reduce the debt and let's do it by raiding Social Security and Medicaid.  If you would have told me this would have even been possible to do so back in 2005, I would have told you you were out of your mind.  If you would have told me 6 months ago that Obama was considering these draconian cuts I would have said you were on another planet, but here we are.

This system we live in has been described as a vampire squid, I more liken it to Pearl Jam's representation of it in their video 'Do the Evolution' (towards the very end), a monster enslaving mankind and destroying the very eco-systems that keep humanity alive:



"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people."
-Theodore Roosevelt

‎"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." -Thomas Jefferson

Corporate Tax Holiday in Debt Ceiling Deal: Where's the Uproar?

Have been meaning to write about this, but I’m increasingly amazed at the overall lack of an uproar about the possibility of the government approving another corporate tax repatriation holiday.
I’ve been in and out of DC a few times in recent weeks and one thing I keep hearing is that there is a growing, and real, possibility that a second “one-time tax holiday” will be approved for corporations as part of whatever sordid deal emerges from the debt-ceiling negotiations.
I passed it off as a bad joke when I first saw news of this a few weeks ago, when it was reported that Wall Street whipping boy Chuck Schumer was seriously considering the idea. Then I read later on that other Senators were jumping on the bandwagon, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan.
This is what Hagan’s spokesperson said:
Senator Hagan is looking closely at any creative, short-term measures that can get bipartisan support and put people back to work. One such potential initiative is a well-crafted and temporary change to the tax code that encourages American companies to bring money home and put it towards capital, investment, and–most importantly–American jobs.
For those who don’t know about it, tax repatriation is one of the all-time long cons and also one of the most supremely evil achievements of the Washington lobbying community, which has perhaps told more shameless lies about this one topic than about any other in modern history – which is saying a lot, considering the many absurd things that are said and done by lobbyists in our nation’s capital.
Here’s how it works: the tax laws say that companies can avoid paying taxes as long as they keep their profits overseas. Whenever that money comes back to the U.S., the companies have to pay taxes on it.
Think of it as a gigantic global IRA. Companies that put their profits in the offshore IRA can leave them there indefinitely with no tax consequence. Then, when they cash out, they pay the tax.
Only there’s a catch. In 2004, the corporate lobby got together and major employers like Cisco and Apple and GE begged congress to give them a “one-time” tax holiday, arguing that they would use the savings to create jobs. Congress, shamefully, relented, and a tax holiday was declared. Now companies paid about 5 percent in taxes, instead of 35-40 percent.
Money streamed back into America. But the companies did not use the savings to create jobs. Instead, they mostly just turned it into executive bonuses and ate the extra cash. Some of those companies promising waves of new hires have already committed to massive layoffs..

Carlin was right, there are owners in this country, it's a club and you ain't in it:

Sea ice shrinks to almost record lows

MG:

"Last month saw the second lowest Arctic ice cover since 1979, continuing the downward trend of summer ice cover, says the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.

Ice extent shrank in June at an average rate of 80,800 square kilometres per day, about 50 per cent faster than the average drop recorded from June 1979 to 2000.

At this rate, the Arctic Ocean may be ice free in summer by 2030, said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, calling the decline of the extent of the sea ice and its loss of thickness "an overall downward spiral."

On the heels of that, Al Gore took a piece out in Rolling Stone:

The first time I remember hearing the question "is it real?" was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by "professional wrestlers" one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.

The evidence that it was real was palpable: "They're really hurting each other! That's real blood! Look a'there! They can't fake that!" On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today's language, a "narrative"), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.

But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the "rules" — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question "Is it real?" seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?

That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is "real," and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth's thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.

Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it's a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.

The referee — in this analogy, the news media — seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show — the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.

The Lesser Depression

Paul Krugman:

These are interesting times — and I mean that in the worst way. Right now we’re looking at not one but two looming crises, either of which could produce a global disaster. In the United States, right-wing fanatics in Congress may block a necessary rise in the debt ceiling, potentially wreaking havoc in world financial markets. Meanwhile, if the plan just agreed to by European heads of state fails to calm markets, we could see falling dominoes all across southern Europe — which would also wreak havoc in world financial markets.



We can only hope that the politicians huddled in Washington and Brussels succeed in averting these threats. But here’s the thing: Even if we manage to avoid immediate catastrophe, the deals being struck on both sides of the Atlantic are almost guaranteed to make the broader economic slump worse.
In fact, policy makers seem determined to perpetuate what I’ve taken to calling the Lesser Depression, the prolonged era of high unemployment that began with the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and continues to this day, more than two years after the recession supposedly ended.
Let’s talk for a moment about why our economies are (still) so depressed.
The great housing bubble of the last decade, which was both an American and a European phenomenon, was accompanied by a huge rise in household debt. When the bubble burst, home construction plunged, and so did consumer spending as debt-burdened families cut back.
Everything might still have been O.K. if other major economic players had stepped up their spending, filling the gap left by the housing plunge and the consumer pullback. But nobody did. In particular, cash-rich corporations see no reason to invest that cash in the face of weak consumer demand.
Nor did governments do much to help. Some governments — those of weaker nations in Europe, and state and local governments here — were actually forced to slash spending in the face of falling revenues. And the modest efforts of stronger governments — including, yes, the Obama stimulus plan — were, at best, barely enough to offset this forced austerity.
So we have depressed economies. What are policy makers proposing to do about it? Less than nothing.
The disappearance of unemployment from elite policy discourse and its replacement by deficit panic has been truly remarkable. It’s not a response to public opinion. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of the public named the economy and jobs as the most important problem we face, while only 7 percent named the deficit. Nor is it a response to market pressure. Interest rates on U.S. debt remain near historic lows.
Yet the conversations in Washington and Brussels are all about spending cuts (and maybe tax increases, I mean revisions). That’s obviously true about the various proposals being floated to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis here. But it’s equally true in Europe.
On Thursday, the “heads of state or government of the euro area and the E.U. institutions” — that mouthful tells you, all by itself, how messy European governance has become — issued their big statement. It wasn’t reassuring.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beshear and Williams have their first debate, Williams gets mad again

Sonka wraps it up with the Leo's coverage:

Some highlights:


The unexpected fireworks revolved around the state of Tennessee, as mentions of the Big Orange slowly turned Williams a little red.
As David Williams spoke out against Kentucky’s tax structure (which he views as one where the Beshear administration gets to pick winners and losers by handing out tax incentives), he advocated for a system that “taxes consumption rather than production.” He then spoke favorably of Tennessee’s system, where there is very little income tax (interest and dividends) heavily reliance on sales and property taxes:
“Our entire tax structure is broken. If you live on the Tennessee line, you understand what impact it has to be competing with people who don’t have a personal income tax.”
That prompted Steve Beshear to defend the honor of Kentucky’s tax system (“I’m not fixin’ to support tax increases on anyone”), as he went Go Big Blue on Williams:
“I don’t know the love that this fellow over here has for the Big Orange (TN). I tell you, I don’t like their football, I don’t like their basketball, and that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon, it doesn’t qualify.”
I’m not exactly sure that Kentucky voters equate our antiquated tax system with Kentucky basketball, but it did visibly irk Williams. When it was his turn he fired back, defending the honor of the Big Orange Tax Code:
“You can’t make jokes about that fella sitting over there liking orange. Our economic situation and job creation is not a funny situation right now. If you don’t think Tennessee’s creating more jobs than Kentucky, if you don’t think that the other states to the north are more competitive with job creation, and someone says we have to give leeway on our tax credits and by tax credits you create jobs, that’s nonsensical.”


Williams whinefest seen here:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Republican position on default

Friday, July 15, 2011

Have a good idea on how to balance the budget? Here's your chance:

The embedded link didn't fit all that great, click here to view the full screen game:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bernie Sanders takes the floor

HP:



"We are at a pivotal moment in American history, and many Americans watching the deficit talks in Washington are confused, perplexed, angry and frustrated.

This country, which has paid its debts from Day 1, must pay its debts. Anyone who says it is not a big deal for this country to default clearly does not understand what he or she is talking about. This is a nation whose faith and credit has been the gold standard of countries throughout the world. Some people simply say we're not going to pay our debt, that there's nothing to really worry about. Those are people who are wishing our economy harm for political reasons, and those are people whose attitudes will have terrible consequences for virtually every working family in this country in terms of higher interest rates, in terms of significant job loss, in terms of making a very unstable global economy even more unstable.

Our right-wing friends in the House of Representatives have given us an option. What they have said is end Medicare as we know it and force elderly people, many of whom don't have the money, to pay substantially more for their health care. So when you're 70 under their plan and you get sick and you don't have a whole lot of income, we don't know what happens to you. They forget to tell us that if their plan was passed you're going to have to pay a heck of a lot more for the prescription drugs you're getting today. They we're going to throw millions of kids off health insurance. If your mom or dad is in a nursing home and that nursing home bill is paid significantly by Medicaid and Medicaid isn't paying anymore, they forgot to tell us what happens to your mom or dad in that nursing home. What happens?

And what happens today if you are unemployed and you're not able to get unemployment extension? What happens if you are a middle-class family desperately trying to send their kids to college and you make savage cuts to Pell grants and you can't go to college? What does it mean for the nation if we are not bringing forth young people that have the education that they need? They forgot to tell us that. And if one of the growing number of senior citizens in this country who are going hungry, they want to cut nutrition programs. And on and on it goes. Every program that has any significance to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children, the poor, they are going to cut in the midst of a recession when real unemployment is already at 15 percent and the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. That's their idea.

Shouldn't the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations contribute to deficit reduction rather than just the elderly and the sick and working families? They say no. They're going to defend the richest people in this country -- millionaires and billionaires -- and make sure they don't pay a nickel more in taxes. We're going to make sure there is no tax reform so we can continue to lose $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, and that's just fine. We'll protect those tax breaks while we savage programs for working families.

Those are the choices that our right-wing Republican friends are giving us. Default with horrendous economic consequences for working families in this country and for the entire global economy or massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need.

Neither of those options is acceptable to me. Neither are those options acceptable to the vast majority of the people in this country. Every single poll that I have seen says that the American people want shared sacrifice. They don't want or believe that deficit reduction can simply come down on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable, the elderly, the children, and the poor. They believe that the wealthy and large corporations also have to participate.

In all honesty, I also must tell you that I have been disappointed by President Obama's role in these discussions. He has brought forth and idea which I categorically reject, that we should make significant cuts in Social Security, that when someone when someone reaches the age of 85, they would lose $1,000 as opposed to what they would have otherwise gotten. This senator is not going to balance our budget on the backs of an 85-year-old person who's earning $14,000 a year. And this senator does not agree with the president that we should raise eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, because I don't know what happens to millions of people who have worked their whole lives, finally reach 65 anticipating Medicare but it's not going to be there for them.

One of the most important lessons in all of this is that elections have consequences. Many people now are beginning to catch on to that. It is no secret that our right-wing Republican colleagues did very well in November 2010. They captured the House of Representatives.

If you believe that we have to start investing in America and creating the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs, elections have consequences. If you believe that we have to address the deficit crisis in a way that is responsible, in a way that asks the wealthy and large corporations also to play a role, in a way that calls for cuts in defense spending and bringing our troops home as soon as possible from Afghanistan and Iraq, you have got to be involved in the political process.

In my view a group of people in the House whose views represent a small minority of the American people are holding this Congress hostage. It is time for the American people to stand up and say, enough is enough; the function of the United States Congress is to represent all of our people and not just the wealthy and powerful."

Get ready kids... 2008 was just the beginning, the R's are going to take us off a cliff...

2008 was just the beginning, the R's are going to take us off a cliff...

National Journal:

Democratic and Republican Members of Congress agree that the economy would take a significant hit if the debt ceiling is not raised by early August, but they differ on how hard a blow that would be. Democrats see a catastrophe, while Republicans generally are a little less worried according to the results of this week's National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll.


Click here to see:



"Some economists have said that it could be worse than the day Lehman Brothers went under," warned one Democratic Congressional Insider who saw an impending catastrophe. "And the long-term ramifications of defaulting on our debts will likely be irreversible in the global market." Another echoed, "The jolt in our country and throughout the world will be horrible."
And even Democrats who weren't quite as alarmed over the immediate fallout from failing to raise the debt ceiling worried that the costs to the economy would quickly escalate. One Democratic Member said the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling in early August would be "major, for a few weeks, then catastrophic." Another who predicted major consequences said they would become "catastrophic if the 'major' economic consequences don't scare Members into moving quickly to fix the problem."
Some Republican Members concurred that they were courting a catastrophe if they didn't meet the early August deadline. "Only a fool would believe that doing something that hasn't happened in 235 years--default on our obligations--won't shake the world," said one GOP Congressional Insider. "We are the largest economy and the most credit worthy government on the planet. What we do or fail to do matters."
Other Republicans were a bit more circumspect. One Republican Congressional Insider who said there would be "major" consequences explained, "I say this because Wall Street and the markets tend to overreact to everything. I think the market takes a huge one day nose dive, just like the first TARP vote that failed." Another said, "It will be bad, but raising taxes and killing jobs or ignoring our spending problem would be bad too."
And while nearly a third of the Republican Congressional Insiders downplayed concerns over not meeting the August deadline, even some of them were still nervous. "If the deal is inked but not passed yet, the market barely ripples," said one GOP Member who predicted "minor" consequences. But the Insider added, "If the White House and the GOP are still 100 miles apart, they could be 'major.'"
The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.