“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison,” – Nelson Mandela, proof that the final form of love is forgiveness.
It is rare that one soul can impact all of ours – and make us more patient, more powerful and more human. Mandela was such a soul. And he will never leave us.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Congratulations to all who attended! Crowd estimates are trickling in and are showing that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally matched and even surpassed the numbers that attended Beck's in August.
But that was never the point of this demonstration.
The point was to show solidarity with all Americans and to encourage civility and cooperation--the opposite of what we have seen and heard at Tea Party rallies where we've witnessed anger, fear, and loathing of our American president--where divisiveness is their goal, and hate is the engine that has been driving it.
As an example, here's a sign seen at a Tea Party Rally:
versus one from yesterday's Stewart/Colbert rally:
(Blogger is acting up and won't let me post the photos of signs from the Stewart/Colbert rally), but here's the link. Go and enjoy the fun. I guarantee that there will be no hatred and antiAmerican dishonoring of our president. What you will find is funny signs with intelligence behind their messages.
Our blogging buddy, Sue, of "Helloooo...Mr. President Are You Listening?" has Stewart's entire speech posted. Go here and read it and be proud to be a liberal with a message of unity and cooperation, rather than hatered and fear.
It was a great day, a great rally, and proof that there really are more people of good will than there are malcontents with nothing but bile and rancor for their fellow Americans.
I'm proud, as I've always been, to be a Liberal.
Stewart beat Beck by 2-1. Oh, but this rally isn't about numbers, as I said. But it feels soooooo good to read and then report this! LOL!
UPDATE 2: Blogger is cooperating (thanks Jon and Stephen!) and here's another funny sign:
Great rally. No H8!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
"I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.
I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me.
I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.
I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.
In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.
I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.
I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.
The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.
I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.
This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.
– John Shelby Spong
Bishop Spong's Manifesto is an antidote to the seething hatred that this disgusting excuse for a human being has visited upon young people.
Arkansas! Shame on you!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
You can read about it at dailykos and laugh as loudly as I have:
A state appellate court in Sacramento threw out a lawsuit claiming President Barack Obama is not eligible to occupy the White House because he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States. The court ordered the plaintiffs to pay all court fees of the defendents.
The lawsuit was filed shortly after the 2008 general election. The leading plaintiff (of three) was Alan Keyes, a former member of President Ronald Reagan's administration from Maryland, and the 2008 American Independent Party candidate for president.
Keyes is a member of the so-called "birthers" movement. In his complaint, he claimed there is persuasive evidence Obama was born in what is now Kenya, which was then (1961) the British East African Protectorate of Zanzibar. He further claimed that President Obama would have automatically been a British citizen, based on his father's citizenship, and ineligible for office.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
But here are the money quotes:
"Most politicians arouse my skepticism. Not to mention what we are subjected to on a daily basis that masquerades as news.
My point is, the seemingly ever-growing masses of 'sheeple' don’t seem to have a fully developed or functioning B.S. meter. If they did, they wouldn’t be so easily led to believe the half-truths and outright lies being spread by talking heads and politicians with hidden agendas. One thing is certain, fear is a powerful tool being wielded every day by those who strive to divide and turn us Americans against each other. Yes, I said Americans, not Caucasian Americans or African Americans.
Be skeptical, when you hear our duly elected president referred to as a half-Kenyan Muslim, the meter in your head should tell you that whomever is doing the talking is skirting around and talking about race. When that red-faced, screaming Tea Party candidate says 'we’re gonna take back our country' the translation is, 'take back the country from those who don’t look like us.'
In the words of the famous philosopher Yogi Berra, 'It’s déjà vu, all over again.'
In the nearly five decades in that I’ve been aware of the delicate social fabric that makes up this great country of ours, several unfortunate facts seem to always rear their ugly heads when times are challenging. When economic times are hard, we Americans tend to be myopic and blame those in office now, forgetting that they inherited major problems from previous administrations. Historically, hard times and uncertainty about the future make us prone to knee-jerk political reactions that prove detrimental to our own best interest in the long run. We just 'throw the bums out' of office. Plus, when your president, according to any number of misinformed sources isn’t even American, it’s the perfect storm for fearmongers to do their worst. And don’t get me started about how the use of religious differences preached from the pulpit or airwaves places an insurmountable wedge between people who under normal circumstances would be considered normal.
Early voting has begun, but I believe there’s still time for the old school American common sense we all possess to kick in and help us realize we cannot vote against our own best interests by giving in to the current season of fear.
The bottom line is this. I’m proud that my conservative parents taught me to listen, learn, question and make up my own mind, based on facts, not distortions.
And that’s why when people try to act like 'liberal' is a four-letter word, maybe you should take some advice from my Mama, and look it up!"
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Glenn Beck demonstrating to his followers his intelligence quotient.
"On his radio show today, Beck wondered how many people in the country believe in evolution, and said he doesn't: "I don't think we came from monkeys. I think that's ridiculous. I haven't seen a half-monkey, half-person yet." "If I get to the other side and God's like, 'You know what, yep, you were a monkey once,' I'll be shocked, but I'll be cool with it," he said. ." --h/t dailykos
Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but, my dear fellow, you do abuse the privilege.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Dame Joan Sutherland, who Luciano Pavarotti called "The Voice of the Century," died last Sunday, and the world of Opera and its fans mourn the loss.
Through my parents, who were born in Italy, I learned to love and appreciate opera as they listened to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts every Saturday afternoon. My grandfather had a collection of Enrico Caruso 78s that he listened to on Sundays, after we had all eaten a typical Italian Sunday dinner.
At one time in Italy's past, every town had an opera house (Venice once had over 30 opera houses.) Opera was to the Italian people in the 19th and early 20th centuries what baseball was to America in the '50s and '60s. Young and old alike were passionate about it.
I first heard Dame Joan Sutherland sing "Lucia di Lammermoor" sometime in the '70s, when her operatic career had been established and she had teamed up with Luciano Pavarotti to sing some of the greatest operas in the Italian repetoire--Verdi, Donezetti, Rossini, Bellini, Puccini. I have many of her recordings. Among my favorites: "I Puritani," "Norma," "La Traviata," and, of course, "Lucia di Lammermoor."
The Met used to go on the road and bring opera to Boston (we demolished our opera house sometime in the '60s and never rebuilt it. Cultural Boston does not have an opera house!) I eagerly awaited the Met's visits and have seen some of the great singers perform live: Robert Merrill, Anna Moffo, Sherrill Milnes, Richard Tucker, Renata Scotto, Mirella Freni, Jose Carreras, and many more. Unfortunately, I never saw Dame Sutherland in a live performance.
But I've enjoyed her performances on PBS, digital recordings, and DVDs. Her voice was incomparable and there will never be another like her.
Farewell Dame Joan. Thank you for the beauty of your voice and all the joy you have given us.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
"Who Are We To Judge the Nazi SS?"
"Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Iott got grilled by Anderson Cooper last night on his rather unusual hobby of dressing up as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a unit in the German army during World War II.
Iott also contended that 'this particular unit was one that was never charged with war crimes,' though Cooper pointed out that one member was recently charged with the murder of 58 Jews. Iott replied: 'The war on the eastern front was extremely brutal on both sides. Nobody was lily-white, that's for sure. Horrible things that happened on both sides.'
Cooper also asked about the reenators' website, which he said describes members of the Wiking unit as 'valiant men.' He asked Iott if he believed these were 'valiant men.'
'I think that they thought they were fighting for their homeland,' Iott said. When pressed further, he replied: 'I don't think we can sit here and judge that today. We weren't there the time they made those decisions.'"
Iott defended the members of the unit, who he said 'wanted to fight what they saw as a bigger threat to them than Germany,' so they joined up with the Nazis to fight the eastern front of the war against Soviet forces. 'I don't think we can sit here and judge that today. We weren't there the time they made those decisions,' he said."
These are the sort of people who are attracted to the GOP.
Here's another Tea Party hero--the kind of person that appeals to bigots:
Tea Party hero Carl Paladino rages against 'disgusting' gay pride parades
"Buffalo bomb-thrower Carl Paladino branded gay pride parades 'disgusting' on Monday - and took a shot at rival Andrew Cuomo for bringing his daughters to one.
The Tea Party blowhard insisted he has nothing against homosexuals, he just doesn't want himself or children exposed to their culture.
He said he was appalled by having seen Toronto gay pride parade marchers wearing "little Speedos and they grind against each other."
'I think it's disgusting,' he told NBC's "Today" show.
He hammered Cuomo for bringing his teenage daughters to a gay pride parade earlier this year.
'Is that normal?' he asked on ABC's "Good Morning America." 'I don't think it's proper for them to go there.'"
Homophobic GOP candidate for New York governor, Carl Paladino, denigrates and demeans our gay brothers and sisters. He is truly a digusting individual not worthy to be dog catcher, let alone the governor of New York."
Here is more on the asshat Paladino.
And again, yet another GOPer who has dreams of becoming a United States Senator, her stupidity, as evidenced in these quotes, knows no bounds. It's difficult to keep up with all the idiotic things she's said:
''What's next? Orgy rooms? Menage a trois rooms? ... [Coedness] is like a radical agenda forced on college students.'' —Christine O'Donnell, in a 2003 Washington Times article about the scourge of coedization in collegesThere you have it. The GOP's shining stars:
In 1997, O'Donnell took to C-SPAN to complain that the government was spending too much money combating AIDS. She voiced concerns that a drag queen ball "celebrates the type of lifestyle which leads to the disease." She also objected to calling those with AIDS "victims" and said the disease was a consequence of a certain "lifestyle."--Source: Christine O'Donnell: AIDS Gets Too Much Gov't Money, Condoms Wouldn't Stop I
"The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can't masturbate without lust." -- 1996, MTV’s "Sex in the 90s"
“Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.” -- March 30, 1996, CNN
“Well, as the senator from Tennessee mentioned, evolution is a theory and it's exactly that. There is not enough evidence, consistent evidence to make it as fact, and I say that because for theory to become a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they put—that they use to support evolution do not have consistent results. Now too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact. But when you get down to the hard evidence, it's merely a theory. But creation … ” -- March 30, 1996, CNN
A Nazi admirerer
A homophobic neaderthal
An Evolution denier, someone who blames AIDS victims for being sick, and an anti-masturbationist.
Apparently the Tea Baggers believe these are the issues that are foremost in the minds of Americans who are jobless, homeless, and sick.
The GOP: VOTE FOR THEM AND OWN TEH STOOPID.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
"Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.
"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts."
The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?
The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...." He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage "as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask." He was full of religious talk: "Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities."
Because of Columbus's exaggerated report and promises, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans' intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.
Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."
But too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.
The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.
Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.
When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.
The chief source-and, on many matters the only source-of in formation about what happened on the islands after Columbus came is Bartolome de las Casas, who, as a young priest, participated in the conquest of Cuba. For a time he owned a plantation on which Indian slaves worked, but he gave that up and became a vehement critic of Spanish cruelty."
THE FIRESIGN THEATER TELLS A COLUMBUS DAY STORY:
Saturday, October 9, 2010
"As ThinkProgress reported...South Fulton Fire Department firefighters from Obion, Tennessee, stood by and watched as the Cranick family’s home burned down — which also led to the death of the family’s three dogs and a cat — because their fire-fighting services were available by subscription only, and the family had not paid the $75 fee. Immediately, right-wing writers at the conservative movement’s bulkhead magazine, The National Review, defended the county and argued that firefighting should not be a public service available to all, regardless of ability to pay."
Now, yet another major conservative has joined the defense. On his radio show this afternoon, leading right-wing talker Glenn Beck and his producer Pat Gray openly mocked the Cranick family. After playing a news clip explaining the situation, Gray adopted a southern drawl and began to mock Gene Cranick’s explanation of how the county’s firefighters refused to help his family.
It appears that Beck believes that events like what transpired in Obion County should teach Americans lessons about personal responsibility. But where does Beck draw the line when it comes to opposing public services for those who have not paid fees? Would he oppose subscription-based police officers refusing to help a rape victim? How about subscription-based military personnel refusing to repel a terrorist attack on a community that hasn’t paid up? One has to wonder just how far Beck is willing to go."
Yes, people like Beck, a recovering dirtbag, would have us all live in a Hobbsian world where our lives would indeed be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. And everything reduced to one's ability to pay.
Three dogs and a cat died horrible deaths in that conflagration, and rodeo clown, Beck, applauds that sort of inhumane behavior by the county--Serves 'em right. If you don't pay, you lose--EVERYTHING.
That's the distopian world the Becks, the Limbaughs, the Palins, the Hannities, the Gingriches, the Millers, the Angles, the O'Donnells and the nasty, brutish people among the Tea Baggers envision for America.
Screw the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. Make 'em pay, or let 'em die.
Go ahead. Vote for these people in November and live with the consequences.
Friday, October 8, 2010
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Budget deficit drops. This by far is the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit that has ever occurred.
"DEFICIT HAWKS SHOULD BE THRILLED.... The Washington Post ran an item that was easy to overlook today, back on page A12, on the budget deficit. Given all the talk from Republicans and far-right activists lately about the deficit, it's tempting to think it would garner a little more attention.
According to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year was $1.29 trillion, which is, you know, a lot. But the deficit shrank from the year before; it's slightly lower than the deficit President Obama inherited from his predecessor; and the total was also "lower than either the CBO or the White House had predicted earlier this year, suggesting that the wave of red ink propelled by the recession that began in 2007 has finally peaked."
Stan Collender notes the larger context.
In previous years we would have been breaking out the champagne on this news: The monthly budget review released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal budget deficit fell by $125 billion from 2009 to 2010. This by far is the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit that has ever occurred.
Even if the CBO estimate turns out to be accurate -- the official tally will come from the Treasury later this month -- I don't imagine we'll see a lot of headlines blaring, "U.S. achieves biggest one-year deficit reduction in American history."
Why not? Because it's the kind of news that doesn't really satisfy anyone. For those of us who want to see the government borrow more in order to invest in economic growth and job creation, news of the deficit going down isn't good news at all. Borrowing more money is exceedingly cheap right now, and the economy desperately needs a boost. The fact that the deficit is shrinking may seem like good news in the abstract, but it's arguably the opposite of what we need.
and for those who consider the deficit a civilization-threatening scourge, we may be witnessing "the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit that has ever occurred," but it's not enough because it's still $1.29 trillion.
Or as Collender put it, "In other words, the $125 billion reduction in the deficit was both too much and not enough."
Jonathan Cohn added that there were plenty of center-right Dems who balked at deficit spending, even to improve the economy, because they were afraid of a backlash: "Running higher deficits, they thought, would incur the wrath of voters and make re-election difficult. Well, now they've gotten their way. The deficit is coming down. Let's see how much the voters care come November."
GREAT NEWS! KUDOS, MR. PRESIDENT!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The pledge: To be recited as an affirmation of what the land of the free and home of the brave is all about:
In Mississippi, a judge ordered, yes that's right ORDERED--not invited, not suggested, not asked--that the PoA be recited in his courtroom. ORDERED, as in YOU WILL--UNDER THREAT OF PUNISHMENT--I ORDER THAT YOU WILL recite the PoA in my court room!
And the lawyer correctly refused to be ORDERED to do so.
Land of the free! Liberty!
The judge threw him in jail.
Story here: FROM THE NMISSISSIPPI COMMENTER BLOG:
"Danny Lampley (who clerked for me in law school), was jailed by Chancery Court Judge Littlejohn in Tupelo for failing to recite the pledge of allegiance in open court today. Danny was one of the local lawyers who represented the plaintiff in the Pontotoc school prayer case years ago, working with the ACLU and People for the American Way.
I’m informed that Danny rose and was respectful, but did not recite the pledge.
Media is reporting that Danny has since been released after having been in jail from about 9:30 to about 2:30.
The order incarcerating him provides:
BE IT REMEMBERED, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court.
The order states that for this, Danny Lampley “is hereby ordered to be incaraerated in that Lee County jail.” The order continues:
IT IS FURTHER ORDED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Danny Lampley shall purge himself of said criminal contempt by complying with the order of this Court by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court.
I had not blogged about this because I was in the process of preparing an emergency writ of mandamus on Danny’s behalf. It’s apparently over now, and, hopefully, no legal action will be necessary.
Update: I added this: ”I’m informed that Danny rose and was respectful, but did not recite the pledge.”
I'm trying my best not to invoke Godwin's Law here, but you see the lawyer who was thrown in jail FOR NOT FOLLOWING ORDERS! was the real American patriot, and the judge should be disbarred and shamed for his egregious stupidity and defiling of the Pledge of Allegiance.
AP report here.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Miller's wife briefly worked for him. SHE VOLUNTARILY LEFT HER JOB and took unemployment compensation! That's the GOP way:
"Do as I say, not as I do."
"Tea Party-backed Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller (R) thinks federal unemployment insurance is constitutionally questionable. But it turns out his wife benefited from it in the early part of the decade -- after she left a job working for him.
According to a resume that she submitted to the state of Alaska in 2009, Miller's wife, Kathleen, worked for him briefly in 2002. In a statement yesterday, the Miller campaign acknowledged that she received unemployment benefits after she left.
'After leaving my office Kathleen did receive unemployment benefits for a short period of time,' Miller acknowledged. Unemployment benefits are typically only given to workers who are fired without cause or laid off."
Miller on unemployment compensation benefits:
"The unemployment compensation benefits have gotten -- first of all, it's not constitutionally authorized. I think that's the first thing that's gotta be looked at, so I do not favor their extension."Just like that other Alaska hypocrite, Joe Miller was FOR unemployment compensation benefits before he was AGAINST them--you know, like that "Bridge To Nowhere" that Palin was FOR before she was AGAINST it.
Must be a GOP Alaskan thing. Blatant political hypocrisy. Hoping no one will notice. Hey, Joe. We noticed and it's seedy. It's part of the GOP ethos: "I got mine; screw you."
That's the choice this November. The sleazies who yammer on about the sanctity of the Constitution while at the same time getting their greasy fingers on every piece of pork they can stuff in their sanctimonious pockets.
And speaking of sleaze--Republican candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, [the guy who passed around racist and pornographic emails] is lagging behind New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo:
"A new Siena poll of likely voters has found Democrat Andrew Cuomo leading Republican Carl Paladino 56%-32% in the race for New York governor.
In addition, the poll finds that 61% agree with the statement "Carl Paladino is a loose cannon, who doesn't have the temperament to be governor," compared to 34% who disagree."
I've saved the silliest for last, since one should always "leave 'em laughing." The nuttiest of nutty candidates this year is another Tea Party candidate, Christine O'Donnell, who is running for the senate from the state of Delaware. I don't know what Deleware ever did to deserve such an embarrassingly kooky candidate for such a serious political office. I guess the people backing her thought, hey! pretty but with no knowledge of history, foreign or domestic policy worked for Sarah, why won't it work for Christine!
In addition to finding out that O'Donnell dabbled in witchcraft, we learned she lied about what schools she attended, she was delinquent in paying taxes, and her college tuition, she had to defend herself against allegations that she spent campaign money on personal expenses, she believes evolution is a myth, wonders why monkeys are not still turning into humans, and would have become a vegetarian, except she loves her meatballs. Yes she does. She sure loves her meatballs.
There you have it. This is the creme dela creme of the Tea Party movement. This is who they believe will best be able to deliberate on foreign and domestic issues that affect every American. We can either laugh, cry or gnash our teeth, but we cannot allow a goofball like her anywhere near the legislative process.
In her latest circus act, O'Donnell has put out a video where she employs the Nixonian defense:
"I AM NOT A WITCH!"
You can find it yourself on the "internets." I'm not going to promote another circus act.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Light blogging over the next few days. I'm tired, and Comcast has been a bitch. Lousy, lousy customer service and support. This piece from Andy Sullivan's blog made a very depressing week hopeful.
FROM ANDREW SULLIVAN'S BLOG, THE DAILY DISH
"Obama's speech to Gen44 tonight knocked my socks off. It's streaming on CSPAN here. If you've forgotten why many of you worked your ass off for this guy, and felt hope for the first time in many years, watch it. He deserves criticism when necessary as this blogazine has not shied from at times. But he remains in my judgment the best option this country still has left - and it's far too easy for the left and far too dangerous for serious conservatives and independents to abandon him now.
What I particularly loved about the speech was his direct attack on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Pledge To America, the $700 billion it means we will have to borrow from China to sustain the unsustainable Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year. And what I agreed with was his embrace of government that is lean and efficient, because these are times when the government is necessary to help reverse self-evident decline, mounting fiscal crisis, deeply dangerous enemies, and socially dangerous inequality, exploited at home by ugly demagogues and know-nothing nihilists. Here is his invocation of Lincoln's core argument about the role of government:
"I believe the government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves."
Then this passage where he soared like he hasn't since the campaign:
"I believe in a country that rewards hard work and responsibility, a country where we look after one other, a country that says I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, I'm going to give a hand up, join hands with folks and try to lift all of us up so we all have a better future, not just some - but all of us. That's what I believe."
I do too. I do not believe for a second that the GOP of Palin and Boehner and Beck and DeMint represents anything but more debt, more war, more social division and more denial about the deeply serious problems this country faces and the profound dangers that are metastasizing in the world. I have no love for the Democrats but I do fervently believe that this president's record is far better than many now fashionably claim, that his inheritance was beyond awful, and I am not giving up on this president's immense task now, and neither, in my judgment, should any of those who voted for him in 2008.
Know hope; and fight the cynicism and nihilism that is increasingly the alternative."