Monday, August 29, 2011

Arab Spring: Winter is Coming

As most of America moves onto domestic news coverage of Hurricane Irene, the poor economy, Beyonce’s pregnancy, and the latest line up for Dancing With the Stars, things in the Middle East and North Africa have grown increasingly unstable and uncertain.  In North Africa alone, the previously authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya have fallen only to be replaced with what?  In Tunisia, the peaceful overthrow of the Ben Ali regime has led to a shaky government with many of the previous regime’s power brokers still in positions of influence and authority and little or no economic opportunity.
Next went Egypt and its president Hosni Mubarak, by far the biggest shoe to drop.  Mubarak’s ouster has had significant effects on the region not least of which is the rise of the previously banned Muslim Brotherhood and the even more fundamentalist Salafist movement closely tied to Al-Qaeda and its dream of a global caliphate.  The fall of Mubarak set off alarms in Israel and the U.S. as both countries feared a decline in the joint anti-terror programs and a loss of Israeli-Egyptian relationships.  These fears have not gone unfounded.  Recent terror attacks in southern Israel were perpetrated by Islamists living in the Sinai (The Sinai was returned by Israel to Egypt as part of the peace agreement signed between Sadat and Begin) resulting in a cross border gun battle between Israeli forces and Egyptian police that left 5 Egyptian police officers dead.  This incident further inflamed the already high anti-Israeli sentiments in Egypt and put both nations on edge even as the Israeli government apologized for the accidental deaths.  Of course, what did not get reported ANYWHERE in the media was the fact that the terrorists who attacked Israel were dressed as Egyptian policemen.  As the Sinai descends further into lawlessness, natural gas lines being severed, attacks on police stations, and increased smuggling of weapons and material into Gaza, the Egyptian army has stepped up its efforts to bring the region under control including the destruction of several Hamas tunnels into Gaza.  At lease the responsible adults in Cairo realize that a militarized terror organization in the Sinai is a security risk to Egypt too. The best hope for Egyptian-Israeli-U.S. security stability is for the Egyptian Military to remain independently strong from what will surely be a weak coalition central government; whenever they get around to forming one.
With the impending fall of Libya strongman Moammar Gadhafi, another hornets’ nest akin to Iraq following the fall of Saddam is likely.  And while Libya is predominantly Sunni, there will be those seeking a secular nation, some more liberal than others, and of course there will be the same Salafist elements linked to Al-Qaeda looking to destabilize the region.  How quickly Libya moves from the joy of Gadhafi’s demise to chaos to functioning government will likely fall on the Arab League, the French, and the British.  Specifically, look to the oil rich nation of Qatar to take point in the rebuilding, as the nation, home to Al-Jazeera, was at the center in providing military, communications, and command assistance to the rebels especially when Gadhafi’s tanks were bearing down on the rebel hub of Benghazi.  What is especially beneficial to the U.S. and its citizen: we will not be the ones lifting the nation building load like we did after we broke the shit out of Iraq (Thanks Dick).  So the next time a Republican’t criticizes President Obama about his handling of the Libyan crisis ask them to name the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq (36,000) and Libya (0), and the amount we are spending in Iraq ($1trillion)and how much we are spending in Libya ($1Billion).
Finally, Syrian Murderer/President Bashar al-Assad stepped up his excessive armed response to peaceful demonstrations within his own country and at least 2,000 Syrian citizens have been killed.  Criticism and condemnation has been uneven and sporadic.  The ineffectual U.N. Security Council cannot agree on a sanctions package because the totalitarian Russians would not want to be seen as hypocritical as they continue to use force, imprisonment, and murder to stifle freedom.  The Arab league finally got into gear as Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Damascus in a rebuke to the Syrian government.  This was quickly followed by similar moves by Kuwait and Bahrain.  Long term friend Turkey, who shares a nearly a 500mile border with Syria has been putting pressure on al-Assad.  The strangest situation involves the troika of Iran-Syria-Hezbollah.  Iran is clearly both Syria’s and the Lebanese-based terror organization’s patron and supplier of arms, training, intelligence, and funding.  But there appears to be some cracks in the relationship as Hezbollah, having been a loud voice calling for Mubarak’s capitulation and the rise of the free Arab, has been critical of the Syrian President much to the chagrin of the masters in Tehran.  A similar situation is occurring in Gaza where Hamas has had its funding cut off, possibly completely, from Iran for not voicing support for the Syrian Butcher.  I guess this proves that terrorists learn politics pretty quickly.  If you support the murder of fellow Arabs, you may end up sharing a seat with Mubarak in his cage.
And so it goes….

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nothing is Certain but Death, Taxes, and Republican Bull

So America has become uncompetitive because of the marginal corporate tax rate?  Is the marginal rate of 35% one of the highest in the world?  Absolutely, only Japan has a higher marginal rate.  Do other developed nations have much lower marginal rates?  You Betcha (ooops sorry): Ireland (12.5%), Germany (15.8%), and Canada (16.5%) to name a few.  But there is a big difference between marginal rates and effective rates in the U.S.  In Europe, they are one in the same, but in the U.S. the differences are enormous thanks to loopholes, credits, and offshoring.  Did you know that of the S&P 500, 115 paid tax rates below 20%, 30+ paid less than 10%, and some of the true tax masters include Southwest Airlines (6.3%), Boeing (4.5%), Yahoo (7%), General Electric (3.6%), Merck (12.5%), H-P (20%), and J&J (22%). 
GE gets special consideration for claiming a loss of its U.S. operations in 2009 due to losses at GE Capital while globally it earned $14.2Billion in global profits.  I guess having a tax department of 975 lawyers and accountants pays off, especially when many of them are former Treasury employees.
But are corporations paying less income tax as share of total federal tax revenue now?  Is Eric Cantor a weasel?  During the 1950’s the IRS collected 30% of its revenues from businesses, in 2010 it was down to 9%.  Well if corporations are people (thanks Supreme Court and Mitt Romney), then some people are making out a whole heckuva of a lot better than some others.  But we shouldn’t complain because they are the job creators right?
But don’t you fear; the Big People (formerly known as corporations) are willing to help us Small People out.  They are willing to bring back some of the $1.5Trillion they have socked away offshore provided Congress lowers the tax rate for repatriation and that way they can take these new mounds of cash and hire workers.  Praise the Lord; except why does this sound so familiar to me?  That’s right, the cynically named American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 that allowed U.S. Multinationals to repatriate their offshore cash and 92% ended up going to dividend payments and stock buybacks.  Fool me once assholes.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Twenty Questions for a Saturday Night

1.       Can you be a Christian and for capital punishment?
2.       Is a person that is pro-life and pro-death penalty inconsistent?
3.       Was Jesus a socialist?
4.       Why do people in the South call themselves Patriots but they were the last to join the revolution, many sided with the British, they seceded from the USA, and they still love to fly the Stars and Bars?
5.       Do European leaders really think they can save the Euro and the EU?
6.       Can Hollywood make a movie that isn’t a sequel, a comic book adaption, or a remake?
7.       Does anyone in America have a tougher job than new Apple CEO Tim Cook?
8.       Will the broadcast networks ever air a show that isn’t a safe sitcom, a serial drama, or a cop show?
9.       Do Meteorologists have to read off the temperatures in every town and city within broadcast range?
10.   Did the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART’s) anti protest maneuver of cutting off cell communications strike you as something a dictator would due to quell free speech?
11.   If the Republican pundits truly believe the 2012 GOP field is strong, then why is George Pataki entering and calls for Christie and Ryan continue?
12.   Has the Electoral College outlived its purpose?
13.   Does Glenn Beck think the people of Israel like him?
14.   Will anyone condemn Turkey for bombing Kurdish civilians in Iraq?
15.   How worthless is the U.N. Security Council?  Russia won’t even agree to sanctions against Syria?
16.   Does anyone else remember something about politicians agreeing to curb the nasty rhetoric after the Giffords’ shooting in January?
17.   Does anyone recall Laura Bush being subjected to as many personal attacks as Michelle Obama?
18.   Has President Obama silenced his critics by showing that he can lead the country while on vacation?
19.   WWLT.  What would Lincoln think if he could witness what the Republican Party has turned into? 
20.   Do you think Dick Cheney believes he is without error or sin while others are mistake prone and often wrong?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Quick Hits

Congress’ approval rating has sunk to an all-time low of 12%.  It is safe to say that Hurricane Irene is more popular than John Boehner. 
Shocking development in Major League Baseball: It’s the Yankees and Red Sox battling it out for the AL East.
Did you know at this time in the election cycle four years ago that Hillary Clinton led Barack Obama by 20 points and Rudy Giuliani was the Republican front runner?  Moral of the story: polls at this stage mean less than a politician’s promise.
Granted it has been only two preseason games, but Patriot fans have to be excited about what they see.  Brady and the high powered offense now coupled with an aggressive 4-3 Defense.  Yep, lots to like.
Channel surfed and came across the first episode of Deadwood.  Lost count of the f bombs, c—k suckers, and g-d damns after just 15 minutes.  Though, Ian McShane was tremendous.
82% of America’s high schools are failing the No Child Left Behind math and reading minimum standards with the 2014 deadline looming.  Now I believe standardized tests are not the best way to create a learning culture in this country, the sad state of education needs a complete overhaul. 
Expect to see Obama’s big jobs speech to reiterate the need for an infrastructure bank, extending payroll tax cuts, incentives to businesses to hire workers, and mortgage relief for homeowners.  Republicans will call it wasteful and Keynesian and will block it as best they can.
Do you think Ronald Reagan would even have 5% backing in a Gallup Poll of GOP contender?  Immigration amnesty, deficit spending, dealing with Iran, etc., they would eat him up.
If Hurricane Irene hits the Jersey Shore is it wrong to wish for it to take Snookie out to sea?
Does anyone else get nervous that the future of Europe is in the hands of the Germans?  I’ve seen this movie before and frankly, I didn’t care for it then or now.
Silliest news flash ever: “Hamas agrees to cease fire”

Wake The Hell Up America

So Rick Perry wants to repeal the 16th Amendment (Income Tax) and thinks Social Security is a sham: “This unsustainable fiscal insanity is the true legacy of Social Security and the New Deal. Deceptive accounting has hoodwinked the American public into thinking that Social Security is a retirement system and financially sound, when clearly it is not….Now if you say Social Security is a failure, as I have just done…”  Mr. Perry’s 2010 book “Fed Up” will provide lots of fodder for his opponents.  I suppose he will claim that passages were taken out of context (reminds me when Charles Barkley complained that words from his own autobiography were out of context), which is exactly what he did when he cherry picked quotes from the Federalist Papers. 
A vote for Perry is a vote for no healthcare coverage and minimum wage jobs.  By the way did you know that since June 2009, Texas has lost 1,800 manufacturing jobs while adding 39,000 government jobs?  Perhaps it is time to talk about quality of jobs created and not quantity of jobs created.
Could Jon Huntsman end up being the Americans Elect nominee?  The web based open party where all members are delegates is the exact place where a moderate could end up.  Six months until the New Hampshire primary and Huntsman could surprise, assuming he’s still around.
Don’t get distracted by Bachmann’s mistakes and goof ball comments.  While she may be a nincompoop with respect to distinguishing Concord, NH from Concord, MA, John Wayne from John Wayne Gacy, and Elvis Presley’s birthday from the day he died, she is razor sharp in her beliefs of a US Christian Constitution.  And that is a dangerous proposition.  I have no problem with a politician’s faith and personal beliefs.  I especially like it when the likes of Joe Lieberman do not have to flaunt their religious beliefs and commitments but instead quietly follow their faith.  But when a politician; a lawmaker; a candidate for the highest office in the nation has spent decades studying a revisionist evangelical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution we all need to take notice.  Not only is the separation clause at risk, we have an ignorant fundamentalist with a misguided interpretation building a following of like-minded close minded acolytes.
How about freshman Florida Congressman Steve Southerland (R)?  During a recent town hall meeting, Southerland complained that his $174,000/yr salary and benefits plan were not so great:  "And by the way, did I mention? They're shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that? If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I'll just tell you: This job don't mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City."  Yep cut from the same cloth as the Founding Fathers. 
Take Southerland and Mitt Romney’s recent gaffes about himself being unemployed and corporations are people too, is it any wonder that Americans are growing even less convinced that the Republicans are ready, willing, and able to solve our economic problems?
Want further proof that Republicans only care about the wealthiest?  They are willing to let the temporary payroll tax cut (from 6.2% to 4.2%) expire.  Why?  They claim it is because they oppose temporary measures and only want permanent tax cuts.  You mean like the TEMPORARY Bush Tax cuts passed in 2001 through budget reconciliation?  No the real reason is punitive.  The Republicans want to punish the 46% of all Americans who pay payroll taxes, but no income taxes.  And what is even more perverse is that according to John Kartch, director of communications at Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, “Obama in late 2010 asked for the reduced tax rate for Social Security as a temporary tax cut -- a stimulus measure like the temporarily refundable tax credits of the 2009 ‘stimulus’ package.  One could argue that therefore allowing it to lapse was not a tax hike.”  What a hot steaming pile of rationalized bull shit. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Further Crap From the Right

Still on Libya.  In a statement issued late Sunday, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they regretted that "this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.  Ultimately, our intervention in Libya will be judged a success or failure based not on the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, but on the political order that emerges in its place," the two senators said.   How about simply stating “We are happy to see this successful six month operation coming to an end  as per the U.N. Mission Charter our coalition of NATO and Arab League nations was able to prevent a humanitarian slaughter AND dethrone one of the world’s most heinous and destructive dictators.  Success is also measured by minimal collateral damage and that President Obama has demonstrated that diplomacy and firepower can be used by the U.S. to achieve mission objectives.”
Yeah, what was I thinking?  That will happen when Republicans introduce a jobs bill.

This brings us to Captain Kangaroo himself Bush Neocon John Bolton.  “Not only is the president unable to conceal his general disinterest in national security policy, but neither could he be bothered to exercise political leadership within his own party at a critical moment.”  Are you freaking kidding me?  The same President who took out Somali pirates, caught and killed Bin Laden, organized a relatively peaceful withdrawal from Iraq, negotiated a new START Treaty with the Russians, and has done more to neutralize Al Qaeda in two years than Bush did in eight.  Hey Captain, I am not saying you should say thanks, I’m just saying shut the hell up.
In Tea Party news, the Chair of the Sumter South Carolina Tea Party posted -- and then quickly pulled -- a post on her Facebook page earlier this month that joked about throwing the Obamas out of a helicopter.  Shery Lanford Smith posted the joke on her Facebook page on August 11th.  Gotta love those Fort Sumter Patriots, nothing has changed there over the last 150 years. You secede from the Union and make jokes about killing the President, and you call yourselves Patriots.  I think I will stick with Inbred Ignorant Red Necks with mullets.
America’s favorite Governor once again showed her intelligence and leadership.  Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer went on another rant about the President’s immigration policy because now it is affecting her ability to complete her book “Scorpions For Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure the Border.’’  Brewer said she knows there are some 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, including 400,000 or more in Arizona alone.  She then admitted she does not have an answer for exactly how to deal with that.   If you do not know how to solve the immigration problem, my guess it must be a short story.
Glenn Beck, like so many other fundamentalists has taken his road show to Israel.  This week he will be making several appearances, to mostly American audiences, preaching about the Biblical prophecies and the need for a strong Israel.  It’s funny but I always thought that a pro-Israel anti-Semite would be a contradiction.  No sir; this Charlatan is a new age/new world wonder, a Mormon Evangelical.  Mormongelical or Evangelormon?  Yep, Mormongelical it is.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back From Vacation Back to Reality

Are we really so broken we cannot fix our fiscal house?  Has ideology trumped common sense?  Has patriotism, the love of or devotion to one’s country, been corrupted by blind faith?  Has critical thinking been replaced with pledges?  When did compromise become an abhorrent trait, the anathema of politics?  A sad sad day in America.
The Middle East and North Africa, short of all-out war, are quickly descending into chaos.  Things will get decidedly worse before they get better.  Wherein the U.S. elections tend to end debate and settle uncertainty, the aforementioned seem to go from dictatorship to revolution to election to anarchy to oligarchy to dictatorship.  Democracy without rules is corruption; life without personal and property rights is not freedom.  So the next time Ron Paul bitches about a lack of freedom in the U.S. he should thank his lucky stars that we had great men who understood the nation’s survival, its very existence, must be placed above personal glory or importance.
Pundits cannot predict politics or international events.  George Will was trumpeting the nomination of Tim Pawlenty right up to T-Paw’s withdrawal from the race and months ago we heard that without U.S. airpower, Gadhafi would never be removed from power.  What does it mean?  Simply, those that cash checks for their opinion are all overpaid.
Is Arizona a state or a collection of civilians stuck in a carnival fun house?  A sheriff who will investigate the President’s birth certificate because the never say die Arizona birthers are in denial when even Trump called it quits.  Then there’s another sheriff whose department loses hundreds of DNA test kits and evidence.  And now we have a mayoral race that includes claims of illegitimate children.  When did we become Tunisia?
Does John McCain actually do anything besides appearing on Sunday Morning Talk Shows?  I think he has been on Face the Nation more than Bob Schieffer.  What’s worse was his comment’s last weekend: “This conflict didn’t have to last this long.  U.S. airpower could have shortened this conflict dramatically.”  How do you shorten a successful six month operation dramatically that included ZERO U.S. casualties?  Between him and Lindsay Graham, could the GOP be any worse off with Palin and Angle?
While some on the left, Eric Boehlert, were quick to mock GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman’s performance in Iowa and his subsequent appearance on This Week, I remind those on the left that the douche gene has no ideology.    You don’t like what he has to say, change the station or just cry in your pillow that Obama isn’t living up to your Liberal fantasy.  Huntsman’s right of center policies may not represent the 2012 Republican Party, but his policies are more in line with America.  God forbid we drown out the moderate voice irrespective of party affiliation.   
Where do you send deposed Muslim leaders such as Ben-Ali, Mubarak, Saleh, Gadhafi, Al-Assad?   I a think a special Survivor Despot from Bangladesh or some other shit hole would be appropriate.
Who says you cannot get good political lessons from fiction?  Lord Commander Jon Snow “a fair deal is one that leaves both parties unhappy.”  Not bad for a bastard.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If Texas is a miracle, I'll take Massachusetts.

Even on vacation, one cannot escape from the stupidity, pettiness, and lies…
So the Secret Service commissioned two armored buses for the President to travel domestically at a cost of $2.2Million.  If it’s not his vacations or his limousine, it’s now these buses that have the right wing firing up their mock outrage machine.  What would you have the Secret Service do rent the Partridge Family School bus and hire Shirley Jones to drive?  Besides, it created jobs (that’s sarcasm).  Move on righty.
I am very happy to see the truth seekers digging into Rick “The Miracle Man” Perry’s real record in Texas.  I do not doubt he is master politician, but he is not a great economist, no on second thought he knows as much about economics as I know about cow milking.  Not a freaking thing.  Let’s see; an energy producing state that had economic growth when oil was $140/barrel, he used federal stimulus money to fill budget gaps, he inherited a highly restrictive lending policy (some on his side would call it excessive job killing regulation) that kept the housing bubble in check, and he benefited from enormous Defense spending.  So now that it looks like it will be Perry vs. Romney for the GOP nomination, here is some state by state comparisons between Massachusetts (Taxachusetts) and Texas (No state income tax):
Metric
Texas
Massachusetts
Unemployment Rate
8.2% (flat in 2011)
7.6% (down from 8.2 in Jan)
Citizens w/out Healthcare
25%
3%
Median Income/Household
$57k
$81k
Science and Engineering Readiness Index
31
1


My takeaway from the above?  Texas may be creating lots of jobs, but they are low paying, its citizens are uninsured and there is little to no upward mobility.  Yet Perry is the free market Tea Party hero.  Ricky needs to be careful not to claim too much of a Texas miracle as Michael Dukakis did in 1988 when he went on about the Massachusetts Miracle that was fueled by Reagan’s deficit spending on defense and as soon as Dutch quit spending, hello recession and Massachusetts was screwed.
Big shout out to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for saying no more campaign donations to any politician.  His goal: is to hit lawmakers right where it hurts: the pocketbook. "All it seems people are interested in is re-election," Schultz told CNNMoney on Tuesday. "And that re-election -- the lifeblood of it is fundraising."
Does anyone else get as nervous about how Germany and France have taken over the fate of Europe’s finances?  The Gauls, Goths, and Huns.  Yikes.
Does anyone else find it funny that Arizona had a state treasurer named Dean Martin and a state senate candidate named Jerry Lewis?  I am hoping for Joey Bishop for Governor, Sid Caesar for Attorney General, and Milton Berle for Secretary of State.
Back to the beach.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

RP McMurphy for President and Chief for VP

Some thoughts about Iowa and politics:

1)      Never has one state done so little to be so important in the election of our nation’s leader.
2)      Which brings me to the unbalanced process in electing our leaders and representation.  Should Iowa or North Dakota have equal representation as say Texas, California, or New York? And while we are it, why not an open election?  If every vote is to truly count, then where is the general popular election?  A republican voter in New York feels his presidential vote is as meaningless as a Democrat’s in Texas.  Besides, I grow weary of the swing state phenomenon.  I can already tell you that the citizens of Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina will be inundated with countless political ads.
3)      When can we get citizen selected redistricting commissions like California?  If you allow the elected officials to redraw the districts we have gone from citizens choosing our representatives to representatives choosing their citizens.
4)      Sarah Palin reminds me of that guy who used to wear the rainbow wig while holding the biblical placard and seemed to show up at every major sporting event AND get himself on TV.  Or perhaps she is more like Morganna the kissing bandit?
5)      I wonder what Ottumwa, Iowa’s own Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly would think of the circus that has descended on the Hawkeye State?  In related news, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell reminds me of Major Frank Burns (eats worms).
6)      I mock the Iowa “People’s Choice” Straw Poll because citizens have to pay $30 to vote and politicians have been known to bus in supporters to prop up their numbers.  I think the MLB All Star Game and So You Think You Can Dance voting methods are no less nefarious or suspect.
7)      In 2008, state party officials were battling their respective national committees to move to earlier spot on the primary/caucus calendar so that they could feel  that they had an impact in the nominating process since the nomination can be secured so much sooner due to the advent of Super Tuesdays.  In 2012, the opposite is happening, due to the Great Bush Recession many states are in dire fiscal conditions and are seeking to put off their primaries as along as possible.
8)      At the Iowa State Fair you can pretty much get anything deep fried.  I don’t think we need healthcare reform, we need wellness reform.
9)      Food prices are going up due to the Department of Agriculture’s report that the drought in the heartland has reduced our farm output.  Not to worry, I am sure those farm subsidies won’t be impacted.
10)   Michelle Bachmann said she predicted the S&P downgrade, blamed Obama, and voted to not raise the debt ceiling.  That’s not even a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s pure gibberish.  With Rick Perry coming onboard I would love to see a sort of March madness debate format where there would be one on  one debates for one hour and the winner advances.  Winners would be chosen by Nurse Ratched’s patients since each candidate is crazier than the next.  To help fill in the field we could include Trump, Palin, Steve King (Iowa), Malkin, and Liz Cheney.  “I want my cigarettes Nurse Ratched”.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Republican Motto: Do as I say, not as I do.

Hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
Exhibit One: GOP Frontrunner and former Massachusetts’ Governor Mitt Romney.  Romney was amongst all eight GOP candidates who last night said they would not accept a budget deal that included $10 of cuts for every $1 of tax increases.  A problem for Romney, there are many, is that he increased taxes to help balance the Bay State’s budget, though he wouldn’t use the ‘T’ wprd, instead he called them fees.  Here is an exchange years ago with the late great Tim Russert:
Mr. Russert: The AP says it this way: “When Romney wanted to balance the Massachusetts budget, the blind, mentally retarded and gun owners were asked to help pay. In all, then-Gov. Romney proposed creating 33 new fees,” [and] “increasing 57 others.” The head of the Bay State Council of the Blind said that your name was “Fee-Fee”; that you just raised fee after fee after fee. That’s a tax.... A fee’s not a tax?
Gov. Romney: A fee — well, a fee — if it were a tax, it’d be called — it’d be called a tax. But…
Mr. Russert: Governor, that’s, that’s gimmick.
Gov. Romney: No, it’s, it’s reality. It is. But — and I have no — I’m not trying to hide from the fact we raised fees. We raised fees $240 million.
Exhibit Two: Texas Governor and self-perceived shit kicker Rick Perry will announce his candidacy on Saturday.  Perry is a tremendous politician and shitty governor.  While he goes around touting his jobs creation successes, he fails to mention that while he was slamming Washington and the stimulus package he took $12.1Billion in federal money for infrastructure and services.  I was always taught that when you accept a gift, you say thank you; you don’t bite the hand that feeds you:
In his letter to Obama accepting the stimulus dollars, Perry said: "As you know, I have been vocal in my opposition to this legislation because I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe (the stimulus plan) will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt."
It reminds me of this exchange from the classic western The Magnificent Seven:
Calvera: I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to see a village like this. So much restlessness and change in the outside world. People no longer content with their station in life. Women's fashions — shameless! Religion! You'd weep if you saw how true religion is now a thing of the past. Last month we were in San Juan, a rich town. Sit down. Rich town, much blessed by God. Big church — not like here, little church, priest comes twice a year. Big one. You'd think we'd find gold candlesticks, poor-box filled to overflowing. You know what we found? Brass candlesticks. Almost nothing in the poor box.
Bandito: We took it anyway.
Calvera: I know we took it anyway! I'm trying to show him how little religion some people now have.

Exhibit Three: While the Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachmann may have been out of bounds, I do not buy the argument that calling her the Queen of Rage is sexist.  Have we already forgotten the attack job on Howard Dean after his war cry in Iowa in 2003?  Was that sexist?  Just saying.
Exhibit Four:  The bad penny that keeps turning up; yes that would be Sarah Palin.  The Tea Party anti-tax darling was in attack mode following the S&P downgrade blaming Obama for not having a plant to attack the nation’s debt.  Well, one way to decrease the debt would be to increase taxes, and there is evidence that raising taxes can actually IMPROVE a sovereign entity’s, state or nation, debt rating.  Say for instance, Alaska and its Governor Sarah Palin.  In 2007 Palin “raised taxes on oil profits by $1.5 billion a year” in Alaska, “a step that has generated stunning new wealth for the state as oil prices soared.”  In a statement released after signing the tax bill, she said the tax increase would give Alaskans “an equitable share for our resources”:
By receiving an equitable share for our resources, we are now in a position to demand more accountability and seize opportunities to save for future generations.
Not only did she raise taxes to secure her state a AAA rating, she also REDISTRIBUTED WEALTH.  Talk about a Marxist.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Republicans: Good at National Security and Fiscal Issues? Hardly

George W. Bush liked to call his Adventures in Iraq a crusade of the coalition of the willing.  Most of us realized it was more like the coalition of the bribed and browbeaten.  Nonetheless, right before our eyes, there has been a coalition of the willing forming with the U.S. guiding the process, not demanding it.  Where is this happening?  Syria.  Moderate Sunni Arab Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have recalled their ambassadors in protest of the al-Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on the people of Hama, Homs and other cities.  It appears Turkey, once a strong ally and partner of Syria, has also given al-Assad his final warning and it looks like President Obama will lead the western nations call for al-Assad to step down.
One group you are not hearing a peep out of is the Shia terrorist/political militant group Hezbollah.  While Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah were extremely vocal in calling for the resignation of Egypt’s Mubarak, Yemen’s Saleh, and Libya’s Gaddafi, they have been as mute as a mime when it comes to Syria’s al-Assad.  Perhaps it is because the terror organization is so dependent on Syria and Iran for weapons and money?  That’s a big yes.  If al-Assad should fall, there could be significant backlash against Hezbollah especially after the UN tribunal indicted four Hezbollah members for the murder of Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. 
More debt facts.  The list below summarizes the start and end of the gross U.S. federal debt as a percentage of GDP since FDR and Truman and the actual amount of debt added or subtracted during that administration.                              

U.S. President
Yrs
Start Debt/GDP (%)
End Debt/DGP (%)
Increase Debt ($Tr)
1
FDR/Truman (D)
45 - 49
117.5
93.1
-0.01
2
Truman (D)
49 – 53
93.1
71.4
0.01
3
Eisenhower (R)
53 - 57
71.4
60.4
0.01
4
Eisenhower (R)
57 – 61
60.4
55.2
0.02
5
JFK/LBJ (D)
61 – 65
55.2
46.9
0.03
6
LBJ (D)
65 – 69
46.9
38.6
0.04
7
Nixon (R)
69 -73
38.6
35.6
0.10
8
Nixon/Ford (R)
73 – 77
35.6
35.8
0.24
9
Carter (D)
77 – 81
35.8
32.5
0.29
10
Reagan (R)
81 – 85
32.5
43.8
0.82
11
Reagan (R)
85 – 89
43.8
53.1
1.05
12
H.W. Bush (R)
89 – 93
53.1
66.1
1.48
13
Clinton (D)
93 – 97
66.1
65.4
1.02
14
Clinton (D)
97 – 01
65.4
56.4
0.40
15
Bush (R)
01 – 05
56.4
63.5
2.14
16
Bush (R)
05 – 09
63.5
84.2
3.97
17
Obama (D)
09 -
84.2
93.2
1.65


Ok students, what did we learn?
Every Democratic President reduced the level of debt per GDP while in office.  The only exception is President Obama who was forced into a massive spending initiative to stave off a depression.  All of our Presidents did a tremendous job managing spending until we get the Hero of the Conservatives, King Ronald himself.  Not only was Ronny the first President to add over a $trillion during a term, the debt to GDP percentage went from 32.5% to 53.1% over his eight years.  His successor H.W. Bush didn’t do much better.  However, their combined 12 years was nothing compared to W’s $6.11Trillion increase to our federal debt.  And then there’s Democrat Bill Clinton who REDUCED the debt to GDP percentage and turned over a budget surplus to the Crawford Calamity.
So the next time a Conservative or Republican talks about how Democrats spend and spend, just remind them that when we spend, we actually get something in return in the form of a rapidly growing economy.  Yes Keynesian Economics does work. You just need to know when to stop the flow of stimulus.  Also, feel free to remind the Reaganites that there hero’s tremendous growth numbers were a result of Fed Chairman starving the economy to beat inflation, thus allowing Reagan to be in the Oval Office when the economy bounced back when the handcuffs were off. 
Damn those facts are stubborn.