Monday, February 28, 2011

At Ease, #15577

Frank Buckles died yesterday.

That name mean anything?


He was America's last veteran of what was called The Great War, The war to End All Wars - we know it as World War One.

Mr. Buckles was 110 years old, and died of natural causes on his farm in West Virginia.

As a rear-echelon ambulance driver, Corporal Buckles missed actual fighting, but saw the results. The carnage, the limbs blown off and eyes burned by gas, the human debris left after the world's first total war.

His fight is over, and let him rest.

Taps is appropriate.

Hey Guys and Gals!

Ever wanted to actually talk like a repressive, slightly askew dictator?

Well now you can!

Simply follow this link to the Vanity Fair "Qad Libs" generator, fill the blanks with random words, and you too can crank out a speech similar to the ones the Brother Leader's been bleating.

Speeches like this one:

“I am a Doctor, a revolutionary from the gardens …. I am not going to were this land. I will die here as a rodeo. You Armenians and Tutsi who adore Qaddafi … get out of your swamps and fill the Bostons …. A blue group of scary people who have taken Angel dust have annihilated police stations like hamsters … masturbated the marmots. racers in Djibouti protested for days near a Pepsi sign …. Then the taxis came and left them …. I have not yet ordered one house to be shopped. When I do, everything will came. There is no going right. Only north, sideways, down!”

It's easy, and fun!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Words



This cadaverous-looking guy is Governor (p)Rick Scott of Florida, Republican, elected by a 53,000-vote margin last November. You can see why some people compare him to Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter books. I disagree with them, as Scott actually has a nose.

However, Scott was elected even though the people of Florida knew that while he was CEO of the Columbia HCA health-care company, he basically dummied up in his video deposition as the company forked over the largest Medicare fraud fine in US history - one Billion dollars.

So he's less than honest, and a fraudulent manager.

But he still got elected by a slim margin.

Scott campaigned on the motto "Let's Get to Work," and promised to do whatever needed to be done to bring jobs into Florida, which is suffering from an unemployment rate hovering around the 12 percent mark.

Okay. So how's he doing?

Well, he's sold off one of the state airplanes on eBay, which he may not have had a lawful right to do. He's run all over the country, pimping Florida in an effort to persuade companies to move to Florida and hire people.

And he's pledged to cut taxes (in a state with a hefty budget deficit) and get rid of 8,700 state jobs.


In a state with 12% unemployment, he's going to put another 8,700 people out of work?

Not much of a job getter, is he?

And it gets worse. The scoundrel has also scotched the projected high speed rail system for Florida, which would have brought jobs to Florida (construction, manufacturing, service and all that that implies), piously explaining that he won't take taxpayer's money.

The moron wing of the FL GOP (which is quite a few of them) applaud this, while everyone else was appalled. See, that's Federal grant money, and if Florida refuses it it goes to another state. California has already bid for it.

There was talk of trying to bypass Scott, and talk of a deal, but today Tampa Mayor Iorio (how had earlier called it the worst decision she's heard in 26 years) announced that Scott had killed the plan.

For someone who campaigned on bringing jobs to Florida, Scott's starting off on the wrong foot, isn't he?

There's no recall mechanism in Florida election law, but one enterprising Democratic legislator is putting forward a recall law bill proposal. Good luck, I say; with a preponderant GOP majority in both houses up in Tallahassee, I don't see the bill going anywhere fast.

So I think you'll agree with me when I call Governor Scott a Fucking Idiot.

Oh, and the 2,553,434 fellow Floridians who voted for Scott? Are you too stupid to know when to come in out of the rain, or what?

It's Worse Than You Thought

Mother Jones has put together a few charts to illustrate how bad the problem is.

And what might be the problem, you may ask.

Well you might ask, gentle readers.

The chart below illustrates the percentage of actual wealth in the United States held by quintile:

As you can see (you may need to zoom it up), most Americans think that the upper 20% of the population hold about 60 percent of the wealth. That's bad enough, but the reality is the top bar of the graph. According to this, courtesy of two guys at Harvard Business School and Duke University, the top 20% of the population hold a bit over EIGHTY PERCENT of the actual wealth in this country.

Eighty Percent.

Eighty cents out of every dollar.

To call this a minor problem is to call gang rape a mild social deviation.

If you're in the bottom quintile (that itty bitty light blue bar way to the right in the top graph), you're basically fucked, a total loss with no insurance. The article suggests that the bottom 20% makes about $31,244 a year.

So, what's the solution?

Taxes on the upper 20%. Now, before you gasp in horror at the "filthy Socialist," I'm a lifelong Republican, but unlike so many modern GOPers I'm a clear-minded thinker.

I'm not asking for much of a hike on the top tax bracket, just to what it was when Lyndon Johnson gave the right a tax cut back in 1964. That is, the top tax rate was pegged at 55.63%.

Yes, yes, yes - I can hear the Koch Brothers swooning from here, along with all the rich parvenus who used to disgrace the airwaves on VH-1's My Super Sweet Sixteen.

Get over it. I also advocate eliminating the payroll tax cap, by which those people making over $106,800 a year pay little to nothing in Social Security taxes. That's how you ensure the solvency of the social safety net for the next century, folks.

Of course, raising taxes is not popular - it's the right course of action, but not popular - but people have to realize what taxes actually are.

Taxes are fees, fees you pay for services rendered.

You like roads? Safe skies to travel in? Safe houses? Clean air? Unpoisoned food? Those are services the government provides, and for which you pay a fee.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "With taxes, I buy civilization."

No taxes? No civilization.

So it's time the greedy bastards who hold a preponderance of the wealth in this country to pony up and pull their own weight. Otherwise, I call dibs on the torch and pitchfork concession.

Because this level of income disparity is something you normally associate with nations and societies like Egypt, pre-Castro Cuba, Libya, Tunisia, and so on.

The conclusions I leave as a lesson for the student.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Goal

Retards, indeed. Many of them (nearly all, in fact) have an 'R' after their names.

For Republican.

A Party that was founded shortly before the Civil War, was the Party in power when the North won the Civil War, that wrote and passed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Now what has my Party wrought?

1. Its philosophic heart is composed of a wilting, aging party girl, a drug-addled sex tourist and a man who is so clearly unbalanced he cannot string two coherent thoughts together.

2. A Missouri state legislator who has written a bill to remove the prohibition against child labor in her state.

3. Another, in South Dakota, wrote a bill to justify homicide against abortion providers (when legal abortion is legal throughout the United States).

4. Two Republican Governors, one in Wisconsin and the other in Ohio, seek to erase fifty years of hard-won rights by denying public service unions the right to collectively bargain.

5. A spate of Republican Governors who seek to wreck their own states' economies, throwing even more people out of work in areas that already suffer from high unemployment.

6. A concerted effort on the part of some to repeal the birthright provisions of the 14th Amendment itself, turning US citizenship into a grant of the State (and not realizing that anything the State can grant, it can withhold).

7. The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has defunded Planned Parenthood, perhaps not realizing that in order to maintain an apartheid-style regimen over the growing minorities in the country requires more contraception and birth control, not less.

The Republican agenda is utterly clear, as it has been since Reagan. The goal is not to turn the clock back to the 1950s, to the idyllic world of Ozzie and Harriet, to the world where whites were Masters of the World, and everyone else knew their place. The goal is to make a nation where nothing stands in the way of the endless pursuit of money by a tiny majority while the rest of the population sinks into serfdom. The goal is to deny education to anyone who cannot pay for it, while making public education a haven for antiscientific dogma.

The goal is not to turn the clock back to the 1950s.

The goal is to turn the clock back to the 1850s.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In the End ...

It was all over quickly.

In a hasty 35-second speech, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman nervously said the words that many Egyptians had been longing to hear:

To put it another way, it was a gentle military coup d'etat. Mubarak shoved off to Sharm el-Sheikh and his private compound there, while the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took over the government.

But for the people massed in Tahrir Square and the people marching in Alexandria and the people rioting in Suez and El Arish, it was party time!

To put a final grace note on the Egyptian Uprising of 2011, I offer this photograph taken by journalism student Ghazala Irshad and titled "Broken Bones, Not Spirit":

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Won't End Well

All night (Egyptian local time; GMT +2) suspense had been building as the news spread: President Mubarak would speak to the nation.

Would he resign?

Would he flee the country?

Al Arabiya reported that he'd already left for the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, and another report surfaced that Saudi Arabia had offered him a home - but hoped he wouldn't leave.

Well, I hope the Saudis are happy. In a rambling speech which I listened to (in translation, on al-Jazeera's live Web feed since my cable provider is a bunch of assholes), Mubarak stated that he wasn't leaving. He rattled off a list of commissions he had set up to investigate who killed the approximately 300 protesters who've died in this uprising, explore ways to amend the Constitution, and hinted that he might lift the temporary state of emergency Egypt has had for the past 29 years.

He also struck me as a senile megalomaniac, since in his speech he identified himself with Egypt, in the best l'etat, c'est moi style.

When he finished, the crowd in Tahrir Square, previously jubilant, was pissed.

I'll repeat that, with emphasis.

They were pissed.

Friday prayers are tomorrow, and I'm afraid there will be blood. Mubarak and his power structure are dug in like wood ticks, and will take a lot of pain and suffering before they can be ripped off the back of the body politic.

Hold onto your hats, dear readers, it's going to get about ten shades of ugly.

Cooking the Books

Bismarck, I think said it best when he equated making laws to making sausage - you don't want to watch either one being made. It's a disturbing, lengthy and messy process.

So is setting up a budget.

Governor (p)Rick Scott of Florida unveiled his budget for next year at a Tea Party event back on Monday. Ho, ho. Judging from the list of organizations that sponsored the event, I'd expect it had the air of a tent revival. But I digress.

Scott unveiled a two-year proposal, which is rather odd considering the state constitution demands a one-year fiscal cycle. After his Tea Party function (with that forehead, one wonders how many times he can get teabagged) he took it to Tallahassee and handed it over to the legislators.

Now comes the sausage-making.

On Wednesday the Legislature slapped the Governor, saying "We'll take the budget in one year installments, so screw your two-year bullshit."

In a newspaper article today, part of the two-year budget was revealed to be smoke and mirrors, a shabby accounting trick to make the proposed budget cuts look larger than they actually are.

Of the $5.2 billion dollars of proposed cuts, only $3.5 billion are actual cuts in line items; the other $1.7 billion are just expenditures transferred from outside the state budget. Specifically, $1.3 billion from the state university system, and $453 million from the sixty-six county clerks of the court.

So yes, Governor Fraudulent has already started trying to pull the wool over our eyes, despite the slim majority of Florida voters who thought he was both the bee's knees and the wasp's nipples.

Scott also abandoned (for the moment) his stupid school-killing voucher program.

And there's still serious questions being asked about the proposed loss of 8,700 state jobs (in a state with 12% unemployment) and the possible 10 percent cut in per-student public school funding.

But you have to recall the Modern Republican Goal: Keep the masses poor, stupid and scared.

(p)Rick Scott is so far following the playbook.

Too Fast, Buckaroo

Representative Christopher Lee, Republican, representing the New York 26th District, rode into Washington DC for his second term of office this past January on a wave of Tea Party-fueled wailing and gnashing of teeth that got him re-elected back in November.

Yesterday he slunk out of Washington DC like a whipped cur, his tail between his legs.


Well, I shall tell you a tale. Unlike other tales, it is more sad than sordid.

Rep. Lee had a Craigslist account, something that should raise red flags from the start (prostitutes, female and male, use the social networking site to hawk their wares - far be it from me to restrain trade or stand in the way of capitalism). He visited the "Women Seeking Men" forum, apparently, and posted up a picture to a woman in the forum.

In the message he described himself as a 36 year old divorced lobbyist.

He's 43, with a wife and a son.

The woman did a bit of googling, found out the truth, and squawked to Which broke the story. Lee's staff offered the 'explanation' that his Blackberry and Craigslist account had been hacked, but the statement was so lame that no one bought it.

Not four hours or so later, Lee tendered his resignation.

It had to be the fastest sex scandal in the history of Washington sex shenanigans, but really - resigning over misrepresenting yourself and trying several ham-handed email attempts to entice a woman? Please. It's not like he was cruising for trade in airport bathrooms (ex-Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho), or hiring a hooker through a madam to diaper him and spank him until he wets himself (Senator Dave Vitter, R-Louisiana).

You quit too fast, Chris.

We didn't even have time to make fun of you.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Year of the Rabbit! Carrots All Around!

So what if it's two days late? Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Although I fear it'll be more like this:

Friday, February 04, 2011


Or, Bend Over; Here It Comes Again.

The criminal scumbag who became Governor of Florida, (p)Rick Scott, has a money problem. Like all other states, Florida cannot run a budget deficit, and right now it's staring at a $4 billion hole. Since much of the state's revenue is derived from property taxes, the foreclosure tsunami has hit Florida very hard.

Don't look now, but in hindsight it appears that dialing back property tax rates a couple years ago was a stupid idea.

Well, Scott (some call him Lord Voldemort, but I disagree - Scott actually has a nose) has decided to lower taxes again, depriving the state of more revenue and increasing the deficit. "Oh, but not to worry," says Scott, "we'll just cut spending!"

Well, sure - we don't need to educate our kids, or provide heath care for the elderly, or anything else for that matter.

One thing that Scott's proposing involves 'modernizing' the state retirement system. Part of that 'modernization' involves forcing new law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs to enroll in private sector 401(k) plans. This is stupid, as these plans are subject to market fluctuations. Many people with 401(k)s saw their retirement funds evaporate over the past two years.

The real danger here is that young people will not be willing to undertake careers in law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical services - work that involves voluntarily getting covered in body fluids, facing down armed and dangerous individuals, or walking deliberately into a burning building to save lives - because there's no attractive pension waiting for them at the end of that long career path.

But Scott doesn't care, and it's doubtful he ever did. Having spent $70 million on his campaign ($60 million out of his own pocket, and he still damned near lost), he can afford to hire Blackwater or Xe or whatever the fuck they're calling themselves today and have his own private army of mercenaries.

One solution to the state's budgetary woes is the state income tax. Florida doesn't have one, and hasn't since the Twenties when it was decided to write that prohibition into the state Constitution in an effort to attract retirees. It might be time to revisit that.

Either way, voters in Florida voted this criminal, fraudulent asshole into office.

So bend over, Florida. Here it comes again.

Irhal, Mubarak ...

Things look rather quiet in Tahrir Square in Cairo right now.

At least, on the tape-delayed footage one sees on the morning news; if you want real time, check out Al Jazeera. The Qatari network has managed to scoop the planet in its wide and in-depth coverage of the crisis ever since it erupted in the wake of the uprising in Tunisia.

The 'pro-Mubarak' forces (purportedly an eclectic mix of hired thugs, plainclothes police and others employed by the Interior Ministry) are also getting ready - getting ready to charge the barricades and suppress the popular revolt against Mubarak's 29-year rule over Egypt.

Back-channel talks are going on between VPs Biden and Suleyman on how to ease Hosnni out of power gracefully. Meanwhile, people have died and more have been wounded, and the country's economy is grinding to a halt.

If Mubarak loves Egypt so much, he should leave. Move to Siwa and live in retirement.

Just leave.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Springtime in Florida

It may still be the icy grip of winter elsewhere in the United States, but the weather down here in Flori-Duh has put this sprightly little song into my mind: