You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

Steven Weber, the actor who starred in “Wings,” had this to say about 2009.  I think its brilliant.  Who would have thought that an actor was so intelligent?

As a new year strides in shoulder to shoulder with a new presidency, both provide the distinct possibility of much fresher air than the foul effluvia we’ve been forced to breathe for so long. But we still need to remember the devastating impact of the last 8 years of George Bush’s neo-con capitalisto-fascist sting operation and seek to remedy the damaged lives, the suppressed truths, the twisted logic and the utter and brazen abuse of Democracy that he and it will surely embody for all history.

And for all the upcoming celebration, it’s vital to remember that we are in many respects still manipulated and still oppressed, even if we can’t always feel it.

So firmly latched to the media teat which for the most part neither educates nor enlightens are we that even the liberation from BushCo an Obama era promises is dangerously close to being merely an updated version of the same side show which distracted the citizenry from ever allowing the usurpers to wield its destructive ideology in the first place.

We the People are not simpletons, though we may have been rendered thus by years of steady, insidious indoctrination via purposely inadequate education, infrastructure and government assistance programs.

We the People are not a legion of jump-monkeys, though our trust in our leaders has been so exploited that we respond with Pavlovian precision when color coded alarms are rung by would-be patriots who hide their treachery beneath a brazenly brandished flag and who themselves would no sooner defend this country from a real threat than profit by the very panic such a threat would incite.

We the People are not slack-jawed, empty-headed vessels, though the apologists for this dead-end ideology behave as if we were and still rant, still spew, still seek to divide and fill the void with vitriol not seen in scale since Germany in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s.

We the People are not a bully nation which supports unilateral aggression nor shrinks from engaging its true enemies, but if you claim to wage an honorable war then at least allow us to care for our wounded and honor our dead. Don’t hide them as though they were misshapen, disposable freaks.

We the People are capable as individuals and as a nation of sacrifice in difficult times, as we proved so ably during the Great Depression and the Second World War, though we have suspiciously not been asked to cut back on our expenses, to serve in our communities, to demonstrate common sense and thrift from the outgoing administration during its many crises.

But this new year and this new presidency is the snap of the finger which will break the trance, the scent which will awaken and excite the muted senses. The consistent deriding of intellectualism, of reason, of science, of art, of ethics, of service, of thrift, of respect that BushCo has so shrilly embodied is what this new year and this new leader should begin to liberate us from. This is what we as a nation need and deserve.

It is all possible. There are clear cracks upon the faces of the Pop Pap purveyors in their monomaniacal motive to perpetuate mass consumption. The corporations and the banks are being exposed for their avarice and their fraud. The media and the networks are desperately churning out commercial-saturated serials, all incestuous copies of the other, all identically procedural and virtually interchangeable and the viewers are losing interest. Green alternatives have finally found purchase in the most proudly of gasaholic consciences. And even The Rest of the World, that place travel-terrfied Americans rarely encounter in person and which BushCo so royally pissed off with its errant jingoism and old white man arrogance has shown a ready desire to embrace change and be rid of the snickering shitkickering sneering profiteers.

So, while popping the cork on pricey champagne may not be the most economically feasible thing to celebrate the new year and the new president, we can with real pride and hope look forward. But only if we learn from our past.

Happy New Year and Happy New President. We the People deserve

We’d like to propose a toast.

Here’s to the Republican Party for a year no one will soon forget. When 2008 began, you were still hopeful. A long trend of Republican gay sex scandals had finally come to an end and you were thinking that maybe you could sneak out of the shadow of the worst president in memory and really shine. That didn’t quite work out.

You launched into a presidential primary crawling with Mormons, cross-dressers, gay-hating bass players, and one enraged septuagenarian. You ran the one least likely to be alive in November, and you paired him up with a beauty queen whose political talent amounted to knowing five different ways of saying, “I know you are but what am I?”

You spent much of the autumn being blamed for the worst economy since the depression, then you even managed to get blamed for not doing what was necessary to fix it.

You lost one veteran Senator to an indictment. Liddy Dole made sure that the Bush dynasty would be the only GOP family dynasty to come to an inglorious end this year. You became known as the party of hate-mongering, your “base” was characterized by people demanding that their opponent be murdered. In the end, you lost all three branches of government and your only victory was limiting the sweeping Democratic victory to a few Senators short of a filibuster proof majority. Congrats.

It was a tough year, but that won’t prevent you from going out with a bang, no sir. Even with everyone off for the holidays, you managed to get embroiled in a new controversy. Not a sex scandal or a kickback scam. No, you went over the top and had the candidate or party chairman become the focus of a controversy surrounding a song parody that has the word “Magic Negro” in the title. The best part about it, the cherry on the cake? As the “Magic Negro” song parody scandal reached its high point, many on your side began saying, “This could actually work out for us.”

This is where 2008 has taken you. You’re now in a place where the only thing you have to cling to is a novelty song that refers to the first black American president as a “Magic Negro.” That’s the train you’re going to ride straight into 2009. Magnificent.

So here’s to you, GOP. You really knew how to entertain this year. Let’s make 2009 even better.-Bob Powers

CNN’s transcript page now shows they covered the story once on Dec. 28. The incident took place on Dec. 22.

When I say CNN’s coverage of the Tennessee ash sludge spill has been dismal, here’s what I’m talking about. I perused their transcripts and noted how many times they covered the story:

Sunday, Dec. 28: zero
Saturday, Dec. 27: zero
Friday, Dec. 26: twice
Thursday, Dec. 25: zero
Wednesday, Dec. 24.: zero
Tuesday, Dec. 23: zero
Monday, Dec. 22: zero

Meanwhile, on Saturday the Santa shooting rampage in Covina, CA was covered five times, and then seven times on Friday. Yes I know, if it bleeds, it leads. Still, this is a bigger environmental disaster than the ExxonValdez–1 billion gallons of toxic sludge vs 11 million gallons from an oil tanker. You’d think that would register as more than a blip on CNN’s radar.

story

iconxCLINTON, Mass. — Weekly attendance at the two-year-old Museum of Russian Icons has doubled from about 250 to 500 since mid-October, when 16 of Russia’s most precious icons arrived on loan from the state-run Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Visitors to the “Two Museums, One Culture” exhibit see ascetic lives of saints depicted in centuries-old, tempura-on-wood creations that survived a ban by atheist Soviet officials who burned millions of the holy objects. Russians regard these icons as portals to the holy, and now, as tangible links to a resurgent Christian tradition that thrived for more than 1,000 years in Russia before Soviet rule.

“This (loan) is an exceptional gesture by the Tretyakov Gallery because these are sacred objects,” said Catherine LeGouis, a French and Russian literature expert at Mount Holyoke College and a collector of Russian icons. “This is a private, cultural exchange that shows we are not fated to perpetual enmity between our countries.”

story

MSNBC is reporting that the Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston may receive up to $300,000 for the first pictures of their son Tripp.The price didn’t soar immediately, according to the sources, because Sarah Palin stories just didn’t sell all that well for the weeklies on newsstands. The drug-related arrest of Johnston’s mother, however, caused the price tag for the photos to go up.

Only in America………, Only in America…….

 The Archives of American Gardens contain more than 80,000 images of gardens — from drawings of Colonial kitchen gardens to black and white photographs of 1930s landscapes.

Unfortunately, many are unidentified. And that limits their usefulness. So they’ve posted the images on the Web in hopes that someone will recognize them and let them know the details.

They’re posted by state — California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia — as well as unidentified locations.

If you know where any of the gardens were located and details about them, the  Smithsonian asks that you contact the staff by e-mail at aag@si.edu or by phoning (202) 633-5840.

She had to have been smoking crack because these words came out of her mouth the other day.

(CNN) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that despite President Bush’s low approval ratings, people will soon “start to thank this president for what he’s done.”  “So we can sit here and talk about the long record, but what I would say to you is that this president has faced tougher circumstances than perhaps at any time since the end of World War II, and he has delivered policies that are going to stand the test of time,” Rice said in an interview that aired on CBS’ “Sunday Morning.”

Obviously this propaganda is part of the Bush “Legacy Project,” but she still had to be high to say this…

story

While Bush has been briefed on the situation by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, he has opted not to interrupt his final vacation as president to make a public statement on the crisis. For someone who has enjoyed the most vacation days as sitting president — including days spent relaxing in comfort during Hurricane Katrina and in the lead-up to 9/11 — it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Bush prioritizes vacationing over crisis management. ABC News reports:

Even an emerging crisis in the Middle East, one he pledged to resolve just 13 months ago, has not drawn President George W. Bush from his final vacation before leaving office. Despite his personal pledge at Annapolis last year to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians before 2009, this weekend Bush sent his spokesmen to comment in his stead. […]

Since departing Washington for Crawford on Friday, President Bush has made no attempt to be seen in public. In fact, he has yet to leave his ranch.

story

The Obama transition team is taking questions again at Change.gov, throwing open the site this week for citizen input. There are thousands of questions that you can vote for to be answered, but here’s a vital question that few reporters have ever presented to Obama:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor (ideally Patrick Fitzgerald) to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Here’s a chance to take part in your democratic government. It’s real simple, here’s what you do…

Sign in at http://change.gov/openforquestions

Search for “Fitzgerald”

look for the question listed above

Look to the right for the checkbox, mouseover it so it goes from white to dark, then click to cast your vote.

Satyam Khanna-In an interview with Vanity Fair for its upcoming issue on the Bush White House, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, ripped President Bush, saying that after the 2000 election, Bush’s knowledge of foreign affairs was as poor as that of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R):

We had this confluence of characters–and I use that term very carefully–that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be “the dream team.” It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president–because, let’s face it, that’s what he was–was going to be protected by this national- security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. Bush famously was unable to name the leaders of Pakistan, Chechnya, and India when running for President in 1999. In a recent interview, he reflected on his early days as President, stating, “I think I was unprepared for war.” Similarly, in 2004, Bush said he “was not on point” prior to 9/11. “I didn’t feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

 

  nikeswoosh

Apparently Nike has expanded its advertising campaign beyond that of athletic wear.  I guess Nike feels that terrorist garb is the new chic and a growing consumer base.They’re probably targeting the young, impressionable terrorist who is not only willing to kill others for the Nike gear, but themselves as well.

(Picture is of an Israeli bombing raid on a Hamas government compound early Tuesday, leveling the foreign ministry building and at least two other structures.)

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day’s exposure at the agency’s permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country’s principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.

“In my 24 years at the Agency, I have never experienced such indecision and delay,” Infante wrote in an e-mail to the agency’s director of standards in March 2002. Eventually, top OSHA officials decided, over what Infante described in an e-mail to his boss as opposition from “the entire OSHA staff working on beryllium issues,” to publish the bulletin with a footnote challenging a key recommendation the firm opposed.

Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.

The result is a legacy of unregulation common to several health-protection agencies under Bush: From 2001 to the end of 2007, OSHA officials issued 86 percent fewer rules or regulations termed economically significant by the Office of Management and Budget than their counterparts did during a similar period in President Bill Clinton‘s tenure, according to White House lists.

story

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker discusses the lasting effect of the Bush administration’s contempt for science.

Americans’ trust in the media, their government and each other has declined over the past four decades. And yet, according to many national surveys, such as the Harris and Gallup polls, trust in science and scientists remains high. In one Harris poll, for example, 68 percent of respondents said they trust scientists to tell the truth — more than the number who trusted the president.

In recent years, however, several areas of scientific research — from global warming to stem cell research to evolution — have become highly politicized, in ways that threaten the credibility of prominent scientists and their findings.

In one notorious instance, the Bush administration fired cell biologist Elizabeth Blackburn and medical ethicist William May from the President’s Council on Bioethics, a decision that many critics alleged was part of an effort to purge the council of dissenting scientific voices. Janet Rowley, professor of molecular genetics at the University of Chicago and a member of the council, later characterized the dismissals as “an important example of the absolutely destructive practices of the Bush administration” when it comes to science and scientific issues.

story

David Cay Johnston is one of the few people in the United States who’s exposing the American tax code for what it is: backwards socialism. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter for the New York Times, Johnston has, over the past nine years, uncovered the inner workings of a system that coddles, aids, and abets the rich in their various attempts to get out of paying taxes, forcing the upper-middle, middle, and working classes to pay for government on their own.

As Johnston showed in his book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—And Cheat Everybody Else, few people have really closely examined the intricate loopholes, devices, dodges, and shelters that allow corporations and superrich individuals to pay shockingly little in taxes. Sometimes even the IRS can’t decipher the most complex tax-dodging schemes, and few journalists have the knowledge needed to cover the tax beat adequately.

As a result, most Americans remain unaware of the ways in which the wealthy cheat the system.

story

TAXES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS….Ezra Klein is doing tax wonkery over at his place, and I can’t let him have all the fun. So just for the record, here’s a look at effective federal tax rates in general:

Not very progressive! Add in state and local taxes and it would look flatter still. And just to remind everyone of exactly what that “Top 400 Taxpayers” segment at the far right looks like, here are the pinkos over at the Wall Street Journal to explain it to you:

The top 400 taxpayers have greatly increased their share of individuals’ income since the mid-1990s. The group accounted for 1.15% of total income in 2005….more than twice as large as its 0.49% share a decade earlier.

….The average federal income-tax rate for the group was 18.23%….well below the average income-tax rate of nearly 30% back in 1995, when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

So there you have it. The top 400 taxpayers, a group so rich and elite that I’d need scientific notation to properly represent their proportion of the population, have doubled their share of income in the past decade or two but have decreased their tax burden by nearly half. Nice work! As you can see, Warren Buffett wasn’t exaggerating when he said his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he does. If she pays more than 18% — not exactly a tough hurdle when you figure that payroll taxes already account for about 8% of that — she probably does.- Kevin Drum

Partner Website www.wewillrockdem.com
. . . . . . . . . .
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"
. . . . . . . . . .
worker_lib1