It appears the Taleban targeted Vice President Dick Cheney today in Afghanistan via suicide bombs attack at Bagram Air Force Base often called the safest place in the country. Cheney was unharmed being nearly 1/2 mile away from the blast which reports say that he heard and felt mid morning local time. Many observers of the region are calling bombing that killed twelve, and the fact that a Taleban spokesperson made it clear it was a symbolic attack on Cheney, signals the beginning of an offensive on the part of the near destroyed movement that once held sway in the Land of the Pashtun.

Let us take a moment and play a bit of a digital table top exercise. Given all the spin and rhetoric surrounding the war in Iraq, the rationale for invading, the verity or falsification of intel and the sloganeering by the Bush administration clearly floundering to find some bit of flotsam to hold onto now that their ship of state has sunk, what happens the day after this scenario plays out.

CNN- 1015 EDT Xxxxxx, 22, 2007

Heidi Collins: We are getting word in to the CNN Newsroom that a massive explosion has gone off in the lower level of a shopping mall in the northern Virginia city of Arlington. Reports coming in from the Associated Press tell us that numerous people are wounded and the underground of the mall at Crystal City is on fire.

Tony Harris: Heidi, we need to pass off to Betty Nguyen who has a chilling bit of news to update this situation, Betty?

Betty Nguyen: Heidi, Tony it seems our worst fears have been realized as I am reading a message coming on on the AP news wire from the group in Iraq that is aligned with al Qaeda stating in great detail that this is an al Qaeda operation in the American city of Arlington and that the bomb contained the radioactive element Cesium. That is now being confirmed forty two minutes after the blast was first reported by a flurry of 911 calls to fire and police from the mall. A quarantine and decontamination effort is underway and now we are getting our first pictures of the radioactive cloud drifting toward Washington, D.C.

Tony Harris: It seems that once again, Betty, America is the main front in the global war on terror.


Where would the Bush administration go from here? The drumbeat has always been that the fight in Iraq was an effort to keep terrorists from striking within America's borders. Is there any way the spin machine could turn such an attack into a positive for the beleaguered White House? Or would this be the straw that broke the camel's back?

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
29 Colnu 1 AS


A Call To Action

Here's a small proposal that I'd like to invite you to be part of. First you have to do a little homework (I know you have tons to do - but this is important). Read this article by Matt Taibbi at Alternet. It's full of pesky numbers and information, but it's a quick read, easily understood, and well-written (I have a blog-crush on By Matt Taibbi, of Rolling Stone.) Add to all this that Taibbi uses the word fuck more than once and you've got a recipe for a real barn burner of an article on the 2008 Federal Budget.

On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion. Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.

Look, do you pay taxes? I do, too. Now read the article because it tells you how the 2008 proposed federal budget would spend your tax dollars. And it ain't pretty. Remeber this - for every subsidy or tax break given to big business or wealthy families, one of three things happen. Other taxes (or fees as they're so lovingly euphemized) are raised so that the middle class pays more, programs (usually those benefiting the poor) are cut or the deficit grows.

After you've read the article, please consider contacting news outlets to tell them that you expect them to cover the budget with the same vigor they have for covering Brittany's bald pussy, I mean head, and Anna Nicole's sperm intake.

More tax background. From the
Washington Post.

Mainstream media contact list.

Who's zooming who at
OpenSecrets.org. Just for the hell of it.

take on the 2008 Bush Budget.

list of alternative media.

I'm preparing my email to Keith now.

Cross-Posted at PoliTits.

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So let the sniping begin...

Hollywood record mogel David Geffen recently made some less-than-supportive comments about Senator Hilary Clinton at a fundraiser for one of her opponents, Senator Barack Obama. Senator Clinton promptly makes some retaliatory comments at and about Senator Barak Obama, not at the person (Geffen) who "threw down the gauntlet" originally. This does bring to mind that Senator Clinton is feeling the effects of Senator Obama's campaign quite acutely or else she would have ignored Geffen and kept to her "positive campaign".

It's way too early in this process, to start the "sniping" and "grunging" and "bitching". At the end of last year's campaign, voters loudly expressed their opinions of the negative campaigns (most negative campaigners lost their races). At this rate, many people are going to be so turned off by the process, that both campaigns become consumed making way for a sweep by the loyal opposition. I suspect that the rest of the Democrats are hoping for this very happening.

It seems to me that the juggernaut of the Clinton campaign can take a little "ribbing" from a non-political type without the retaliation from the candiate herself. Such actions make Senator Obama's campaign especially more powerful if the impact of Geffen's words creates this much of a response. How creditable is a record executive's political opinions anyway? Obviously, pretty powerful and creditable to Senator Clinton.

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I am sitting here watching British Prime Minister Tony Blair on C-SPAN 2 explaining his decision to withdraw 1,600 troops from the Basra region of Iraq in the House of Commons. The event where he had been pummeled with questions from the like of Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democratic leader Menzies Campbell is still on going and forces me to pause with this question. How would George Bush fare if he had to answer in the well of the House of Representatives the direct questions on his policies from the likes of Barney Frank, or Charlie Rangel or John Conyers? A president then would have to be more than just a straw man for political interests with deep pockets and draconian agendas. American presidents would have to be more dare I say it like Tony Blair.

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
23 Colnu 1 AS
21 February 2007 Anno Domini


Too stupid to breathe

This is my first post here; please be gentle.

First-- I'd like to thank Cav for the opportunity. Second-- Cav, What the Hell were you thinking?! OK, then...

Background-- IRL I'm a scientist by training (Piled higher and deeper in chemistry). I also have a keen interest in science education having taught at both the high school and college level. Of particular interest are those tales of creationists who deny the fact (yes, fact) of evolution. Yes, there are folks who are so unscientific, whose faith is so weak, that they choose to deny the evidence in front of them rather than accept that the Bible is not a science textbook.

Today is a red letter day.

I've gotten used to dealing with garden-variety young-Earth creationists who argue (with a straight face) that the Earth is approximately 10,000 years old. (They're close-- only off by 4,499,990,000 years.) But I haven't run across too many flat Earthers. Josh Marshall at TPM found one who happens to be in the Georgia state legislature.

“Indisputable evidence — long hidden but now available to everyone — demonstrates conclusively that so-called ‘secular evolution science’ is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion,” reads the letter that went out under Bridges' name. “This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic ‘holy book’ Kabbala dating back at least two millennia.”


[Rep. Bridges'] memo pointed fellow state legislators to the information at fixedearth.com which rails against the “a mystic, anti-Christ ‘holy book’ of the Pharisee Sect of Judaism” and claims that “the earth is not rotating … nor is it going around the sun.” They've even caught on to the "centuries-old conspiracy" on the part of Jewish physicists to destroy Christianity.

This idiot chairs a committee in the state House, so he's probably been around a while. So the big question-- who's the bigger idiot? Bridges or the people who keep re-electing him?



I know the Anna Nicole Smith aftermath is on some level fascinating to everyone on Terra, but is it news? If you think highly of popular culture and less of the weightier matters of the day then the diversion of the post mortem legal exploits surrounding the early demise of a silicone enhance nude model is right up your alley. So to speak. I think the many directions Anna Nicole's death tears at American hearts is synonymous with the many directions America is torn regarding many other issues. (Say taxes at a dinner party and see how many reactions you get.) This one is just more decadent. Iraq is a boiled pot roast with peppered potatoes; Anna Nicole is your three favorite flavors of ice cream with chocolate syrup, syrup walnuts whipped cream, sprinkles and a huge Maraschino on top. And you get paid to eat the ice cream. The Libby trial is fillet of sole; the Diaper Astronaut is funnel cake with powdered sugar. None of those who consume news, all news, want Brussels sprouts. That is unless the vegetable in question was buried under a molten mound of caramel so deep . . . well you get the picture. That fine dish would be the Impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney an even a great percentage of America would relish. That event would prompt those who cannot get enough of Anna Nicole Smith's earthbound problems to question, "Is it news?"

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
17 Colnu 1 AS
15 February 2007 Anno Domini


Journalist: Ethics or Elitists?

First... thanks to Cavalor for the leadership & insight - developing a Digital Press Club may be the hottest thing since the discovery of Bull Riders!!! Greetings to the rest of you... I am looking forward to reading all your stuff!!!

Certainly, there is an abundance of news covered without investigation or proper disclosure of political alliances, personal dalliances or outright relationships. Without proper context the news might as well be placed in the recycle bin. As domestic politics encroaches on the habitat of Hard News... fewer and fewer reporters/producers are objective.

The Scooter Libby trial demonstrates a weird phenomenon akin to the death of the Extreme Right Wing. The midterm elections put Extremists (outfitted with Ostrich suits) into a Terri Schiavo-esque electoral coma. They don't know it yet. Likewise, the truce that has existed between the press corps and government came to a close when Opening Arguments began in the Scooter Libby trial.

The Washington Press Corps enjoys a dominance and stature, built on the shoulders of honorable men & women like Bob Woodward. The current crop has benefited from the truce that exists between the federal government and the press. News copy gets written because reporters have access to newsmakers. For many years, the press operated on a 'trust but verify' model where confidential sources were protected BECAUSE reporters got the information independently verified. The Scooter Libby trial has put many reporter/source relationships on the rocks.

NBC's Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert proved a convincing witness for the prosecution. On cross examination, however, he was gruff and defensive. Despite his public protestations, Russert played Judas on the stand. In a moment eerily similar to the re-defining of "is" - Russert tried to claim that talking to the FBI was different than talking to the Federal Grand Jury. Except that once you have already provided a sworn affadavit, the cat is already out of the bag. Russert didn't want to be cited for contempt - so he played nice with Mr. Ambitious himself, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

As DC Bureau Chief for NBC News, Russert had it both ways. He threw away the Holy Grail of Journalism (confidential sources) to avoid a contempt citation by chatting with the FBI. Once the cameras were on, he cried foul - refusing to acknowledge a sworn affidavit he provided.

Pettiness litters the transcript. Russert claims the whole conversation began because Libby was complaining about Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, Russert claims he didn't watch the show and couldn't be helpful. First, why is the DC Bureau Chief not doing a quality check on programming from his own bureau? Second, is Russert simply pissed off that Matthews enjoys the elitist-inside track with pols and the press? Russert's political career as a staffer was/remains lackluster. Matthews, on the other hand, is seen as fair and affable. Matthews has a infectious smile and gregarious personality that wins him many more allies than Russert could dream of. Russert is respected but feared. Matthews respected and liked. Both are worthy achievements.

Thankfully, Libby's lead attorney, Ted Wells, went for the jugular. The press must live up to the standards they profess, and hold others to. One glance at the defense witness list and I can't help but lick my chops. NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who is married to former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, will ostensibly be rebutting Russert's testimony. Her hubby has ties to Cheney going back more than 30 years. Her testimony is informed by her life. Just as Russert's was. The defense team also plans to call the NYT Managing Editor to contradict Judith Miller's testimony for the prosecution. Vice President Cheney may testify as well.

The jury will have to weigh more than the evidence. They will weigh the circumstances that led to a trial in the first place. The pettiness extends to battles between West Wing staff and the Vice President's staff. They will weigh who has more credibility, reporters with a political axe to grind, or competing political staffers who failed to realize they were on the same team.

--- Media Lizzy

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Is Obama Black Enough?

CNN's Sunday morning "Reliable Sources" gave some air time to the question of whether or not the "black community" in the United States would accept 2008 Presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barak Obama, as "black enough". The correspondents pressed the notion that this man a first generation American whose father was African, yet who embodies the success of everything about the "American Dream" would not be acceptable to the American "black community" because New York Senator Hillary Clinton is married to former President Bill Clinton, the champion of the "black community". This discuss brings forth some interesting impressions in the minds of a political junkie (turned surgeon) like myself.

Senatory Obama, by all accounts, made the most of his educational opportunities. He has neither apologized for nor championed his race as the means for his excellent performance in undergradate or law school and into a career in politics. Like any person interested in being in the political arena, he studied and mastered the scholarship necessary for the career and positions that he seeks. As he set his sights on the highest political office in the United States, the new pundits have decided that they need to make sure that he is "black enough" for African-Americans because he seems to have an appeal for other races and ethnic groups in the United States. Why would Obama not appeal to African-Americans as well as any Americans who support his politics?

Contrast former President Bill Clinton and his campaign for the White House. I don't seem to recall that anyone questioned his "whiteness" when he sought the support of African-Americans and Latino voters (winning both). Well, if Bill Clinton appeals to a multi-ethnic constituency, then he cannot be "white" enough to appeal to white Americans.

Even on the same show, there was discussion of whether former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani, could win the Republican nomination for president because he is pro-choice and pro-gay rights in a party of evangelical christians who do not support either of these issues. Interesting that there was no discussion of whether Guiliani was "white" enough to appeal to the white voters in his party.

Whether you will support Obama and his positions on various issues in the upcoming election, make no mistake, he is going to be defined by his race (often negatively) because here in the United States, our culture does not allow people who appear to have ancestors from Africa to be defined by anything other than race first. First Senator Obama, you must be "black" enough to be labeled an African-American, and then we can discuss the merits of your campaign.

Certainly coverage of Senator Obama is going to provide an interesting look at our culture in the United States. Wouldn't it be fun, just this one time in 2008 when there has been more information at the fingertips of every voter, that the news media treated every candidate on the merits of their positions and not their sex or color? There is going to be so much to analyze and present before November 2008, that we can just get beyond the mistrust of anyone and anything that is not "white and male" that marked politics in the 1950s?

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This doom saying for my black avian friends based upon just how many human beings felt that the war in Iraq would be over by now or even as recently as 2 years ago felt the American people would be on board with the drive for victory. That brings me to Jonah Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times who by now is likely drink-sloshy from bourbon at his desk wishing he had not shot off his patriotic mouth to Juan Cole in February of 2005:

"I do think my judgment is superior to [Cole's] when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc."

As Tom Grieve in the War Room at Salon points out Cole did not take the bet (good man all the way around there!) but clearly he would have been on his way to his favourite restaurant for the surf and turf and a fine bottle of his top drop. What did some of the conservatives see that the rest of us did not? I think many of them were blinded by the ingrained power of stuff generated by American capitalism. Let me say that in brief, the elites in America call that democracy so that when the poor and middle class hear democracy they think cars and satellite TV and Wal-Mart™ not elections, the diplomacy needed to get Muslim sects to cooperate and why Turkey hates the Kurds.

Just one more before I go, sure why not?

"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."-- US Vice President Dick Cheney on CNN's "Larry King Live", 20 June 2005.

Now that quote is eight months before the bombing of the Al Askari Mosque the defining turning point in the war. Still, one can clearly see that especially at the highest levels had taken note that the insurgency was gaining ground and that was a clear threat to the characterization of the American involvement in the war. These observations make this demon reporter wonder if the Bush administration knows how to turn their war machine off?

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
11 Colnu 1 AS
9 February 2007 Anno Domini


Apology for Slavery

The Virginia General Assembly has been attempting to pass legislation that would "apologize" for slavery. This legislation, if you follow the link and read the article, http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149193000553&path=%21news%21politics&s=1045855935264 you can see why the legislation was introduced and why the introduction of this legislation has not been without its critics.

Like it or not, the ancestors of many African-Americans came to Jamestown, VA in 1619. This is a part of history and not subject to change or debate. The people of those slave ships helped to build this state and this country and have added a rich cultural aspect to life here in the United States. Does it matter how these people came as long as we recognize their unlimited contributions to life as we know it in this country?

There has been a very outspoken group of people in the United States that have been advocated for monetary reparations for their ancesters being involuntarily brought this country. The question that begs to be asked is who should pay those reparations? Should the Commonweath of Virginia pay those reparations? After all, that slave ship landed at Jamestown in 1619. Pehaps every citizen of the United States should pay reparations, since we have all benefitted from the contibutions of the labor of those who were enslaved? What about those, who like myself, are first-generation American but are of dual ancestory (Jamaican & English)?

Just some food for thought?


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FCC hears wrath of Senate Dems

shalom from "jew" "girl"... this is my first post on the digital press club. I am so overjoyed about being invited. thank you for having me.
this is cross-posted at all the way from oy to vey.

this morning in the hollywood reporter, fcc hears wrath of senate dems. sure, the dems have control of congress, but is freedom of speech safe? oy, the ahj.

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats on Thursday pressured the five FCC commissioners to set programming requirements for broadcasters as part of the industry's mandate to operate in the public interest.

In the FCC's first appearance before the Senate Commerce Committee since the Democrats took control of Congress, the lawmakers weren't shy about voicing their objections to what appears on TV.

Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., called television a menu filled with "junk, sex and scandals." Rockefeller and other Democrats -- most notably Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey -- complained that the FCC was abdicating its obligation to police the airwaves."

I think TV is in the worst state it's ever been in," Rockefeller said. "I'm convinced the FCC has abandoned its core responsibility." fcc hears wrath of senate dems cont...

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Why blog?

Back when I first started blogging, there was this long interblog thread about What does it mean to be a black blogger? This was my answer (as opposed to my reactions to other people's answers).

People just do thing, events just happen, and meaning is extracted from our memories of the events. If we do stuff in order to project a meaning, that will just be another element that goes into the memory bank, another part of the pattern from which meaning will actually be extracted.

I'm not sure Black folks who blog are doing anything different than any other bloggers. Some of us do politics, some have personal blogs, whatever whatever. But writing this makes me think about exactly what is a "Black blogger." Because it's not just a Black person who has a blog. A number of Black folks what blog don't have what you'd call "Black content" (which I'm using as shorthand for "content derived from and/or targeted to participants in African American culture and their activities"). It's hard to tell some folks are Black just from the content.

So do you include a Steve Gilliard or a Jesse Taylor as Black bloggers? I don't know…I include them as Black guys, but they don't focus on Black content like any number of us do. They're not in denial or anything either, it's more like it makes no sense to say, "I'm Black and Bush sucks." I've seen both of them be very clear that they are Black when it was appropriate to the subject they were writing on. But I don't know if I'd call them "Black bloggers."

I think I have to switch up a bit and refer to "Black blogs" instead of "Black bloggers" for clarity's sake. I can skip the extra quotes that way.

So. What does it mean to run a Black blog? I think it's either an attempt to make a statement or a connection. In my case, it's the statement (though to be honest, the connections I've made incidental to the statements I've made have been rather cool. Not deep, but that may be me).

You remember that old cartoon:

Of course, nowadays we know better. We know it's more like this:


The real response to the first cartoon, though, is "What's wrong with being a dog?"

Why should someone be satisfied by acceptance that comes at the price of anonymity? Is that acceptance anyway?

All Black people view themselves from the outside as well as from the inside to a degree that mainstream folks do not understand. This is what DuBois meant by his dual soul formulation, to this day the best description of the core problem of being Black in the USofA I've ever read. And while traveling in the mainstream, Black folks tend to give primacy to the external view for practical reasons.

The connections made online, through blogs, mailing lists, discussion boards and the like, provide opportunities to express and develop that internal view in ways that are socially unprecedented. That Black topics don't have the same weight in everyone's internal view is fine. In fact, it helps shatter the stereotypes and scatter the pieces.

And we're STILL not doing anything any other blogger isn't doing.


Still Waiting for Bold Action

Cross-posted at PoliTits.

Oy. I hate economics. I went out googling something after I had a conversation with a friend. She made some blanket statement about "You know what will happen if we get a Democrat for President."
"No."(long awkward pause as she assessed what I might say) "What?"
"Oh, don't get mad."
"What? What will happen."
"Interest rates will go up. They always go up when we get a Democrat after a Republican."

Now there's a clear statement.
I wish I'd used the old blogger/commenter line. "Cite, please." But I didn't. Instead I said "
If so, it's an effect of having to pay down deficits run up by Republicans?"

Huh. Well.

I hate these kinds of conversations when someone makes a broad generalization that's likely pulled from their ass or from the ass of some rightwing radio blowfuck. So a'googlin' I went.

Well, I'm still looking for the answer to my query "Do interest rates rise when we have a Democratic President?" But the googlin' and searchin' took me to some interesting places. Here are some gems.

From the
Washington Post. What, exactly, is the problem?

In testimony yesterday, there were almost as many answers as experts. But they cited some common themes, ranging from stagnant wages to rising costs for college and health care.

As President Bush traveled to New York to tout a robust economy with a low jobless rate, low interest rates and low inflation, "this is not what's generally felt out there in America," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which yesterday wrapped up a four-part inquiry into economic conditions with a hearing on "economic challenges of the middle class."

"To me, even though you got more compassion for the poor, you've got to pay attention to the middle class. Because they vote," Rangel said. And right now, "the middle class are scared to death they could become poor."

Okay, so the problem is estabished. But have we reached the nub of it?

Rising inequality -- the growing gap between the rich and everyone else -- is often cited as a primary cause of middle-class angst. Republicans yesterday disputed the notion that income inequality has widened during President Bush's years in office, citing Census statistics that show it has been relatively static since 2001.

So is income inequality the problem? According to this guy, that's the wrong measure.

In testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, Richard Vedder, a visiting cholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argued that income, at any rate, is the wrong measure. Spending is far more important to economic well-being, Vedder said, and "we know that, in any given year, consumer spending is far more equally distributed than income."


Now that's an interesting concept except for one thing. Hello! Americans are spending more than they're taking in. Give me a D! Give me an E! Give me a B! Give me a T! What's that
spell? What a preposterous statement. Spending is a better measure of economic well-being? Are you fucking kidding me? Credit is easier to get. People run up huge debt with their spending. But their income isn't rising to cover that debt and its subsequent late fees, overlimit fees, doubling minimum payments, increasing interest rates. Middle class and working class people are spending themselves into indentured servititude until death. They may be spending like they have money, but it's a big, fat lie.

The wealthy may be spending, too, but as a percentage of their income, their spending is smaller than the average middle class family. Workingclass and middle class people, pay a large percentage of their income for housing, for example.

This isn't a measure - it's a mess!

And let's not forget, in many families, it's taking two full-time workers to keep up that spending.

10 Reasons America's Two-Income Families Aren't What You Think
(According to Harvard Law professor and bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren)

1. Two-income families today make 75% more in inflation-adjusted dollars, but have less money to spend than one-income families did 30 years ago.
2. Two-income families today spend: 21% less on clothing, 22% less on food,and 44% less on appliances compared to one-income families a generation ago.
3. Every 15 seconds an American family files for bankruptcy.
4. This year, more kids will live through their parents' bankruptcy, than through their parents' divorce.
5. 1.6 million families will file for bankruptcy this year, 9 million more are already in credit counseling.
6. Home mortgage foreclosures are up more than three-fold over the last generation and car foreclosures have hit record levels.
7. More than 62% of families say that they worry about making ends meet.
8. The average family spends 69% more in inflation-adjusted dollars on their home mortgage than their parents spent a generation ago.
9. The average family spends 61% more on health insurance, than their parents spent a generation ago.
10. Credit card default rates are at a record high.

In this piece from the Huffington Post, Jeff Madrick writes of wage stagnation:

But at least they're up, not down, we are told. The trivial gains are disappointing enough in a nation where expectations of a rising standard of living have been built into the national promise. But stagnating income means families cannot afford to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of education, healthcare, drugs, public transit, and other key services--costs that rise much faster than for other goods and services. Education and healthcare costs are up twice as fast or even faster than family incomes, not to mention men's wages.

But people can afford many of those discounted Wal-Mart products, of course, and new electronics products. Clothing and food prices have generally not risen as fast as other prices. I recently read an e-mail missive from a highly progressive Democrat warning his colleagues not to tell Americans how poorly they've done. They are happily flocking to the malls, he notes.

This is a misreading of the public. Is the ability to buy these products helping them forget how difficult it now is to pay for college tuitions, the house in the fancy neighborhood where the public schools are better and you are required to have a couple of SUVs so the kids can keep their heads held high, or for the hot new drugs.

And not everyone is out there buying big ticket items and throwaways. They're struggling to buy the necessities.

And, oh yes, some of these Wal-Mart shopper are outrageously poor. The poverty rate is high, the rate of working poor is high, the minimum wage historically low. A higher proportion of American children are raised in poverty than in any other rich nation. Britain is the only serious competitor in this regard. Thank goodness for Medicaid and some legislation passed in recent years that specifically protects child healthcare. But let's not talk about poor kids.

According to the WaPo piece, perhaps it not a growing inequality as much as it's a diminished decrease in inequality that is the problem.

"The basic story is very clear," Blinder said. "Inequality was mostly falling for 30 or 35 years or so until the late 1970s and has been mostly rising since then." He offered a vivid example: In 1979, the average taxpayer in the top one-tenth of 1 percent earned about as much as 44 average taxpayers in the bottom half. In 2001, the rich taxpayer earned as much as nearly 160 less affluent people.
So now we have Democrats with a majority on Capitol Hill. What are they doing to address the inequality and policies that make it harder for Americans to achieve the American Dream?

Band Aids.
Baby Steps. Symbols of caring. But no sweeping changes. So far, Democrats....

have offered a modest agenda for economically challenged families, pushing bills to raise the federal minimum wage, slash interest rates on college loans and reduce the price of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients.

Schumer and others are pushing for a broader response. In his book, "Positively American: Winning Back the Middle Class Majority One Family at a Time," Schumer acknowledges that he does not know "the eight words that will save the Democratic party." The book proposes to help the fictional Baileys by pursuing such goals as higher federal funding for public schools, a $15,000 tax deduction for college tuition and reduced dependence on foreign oil.

As chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Schumer plans to look for ways to help Americans become more flexible in their work lives, in part by making it less traumatic to change jobs. Witnesses yesterday proposed making health insurance and pensions more portable, and more closely targeting job retraining programs. Summers also urged the committee to consider "wage insurance that would enable increasingly inevitable economic mobility to take place without significant and painful dislocation."

But this just isn't bold enough. If we have enough money to pour billions down the rathole that is the Iraq War, then we could certainly make an investment in our citizens through low-cost or free public higher education, for example. Or universal, single-payer health care. Or quality childcare that doesn't pay near slave wages to childcare workers. Or improved public education. Or energy innovation. Or you fill in the blank. There's much work to be done.

I ask again, Democrats, if you're going to be painted with the big government brush anyway by people like my friend, why not do something that will benefit all Americans - rich, poor, middle class?


Of course the Washington Times surely hopes there cannot be Fitzmas in February, however many bloggers are wishing otherwise. Could the Scooter Libby trial be the prime mover for the demise of the Bush Cheney machine?

And on another topic driving Hellac citizens nuts today is "clean" as spoken by Sen Joe Biden D-DE the same as "macaca" as spoken by former Senator George Allen R-VA?

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
4 Colnu 1 AS
2 February 2007


Deja Vu

Cross-posted at PoliTits.

In his own words. President Bush

From a March 2002 White House Press Conference

Q Vice President Cheney is on the road now trying to build support for possible action against Iraq. If you don't get that, down the road you decide you want to take action, would you take action against Iraq unilaterally?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things I've said to our friends is that we will consult, that we will share our views of how to make the world more safe. In regards to Iraq, we're doing just that. Every world leader that comes to see me, I explain our concerns about a nation which is not conforming to agreements that it made in the past; a nation which has gassed her people in the past; a nation which has weapons of
mass destruction and apparently is not afraid to use them.

And so one of the -- what the Vice President is doing is he's reminding people about this danger, and that we need to work in concert to confront this danger. Again, all options are on the table, and -- but one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction. They've agreed not to have those weapons; they ought to conform to their agreement, comply with their agreement.

Yes, John.

Q It seems to me -- you seem to be saying, yes, you would consult with the allies and others, including in the Mideast, but if you had to, you'd go ahead and take action yourself.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're answering the question for me. If I can remember the exact words, I'll say it exactly the way I said it before. We are going to consult. I am deeply concerned about Iraq. And so should the American people be concerned about Iraq. And so should people who love freedom be concerned about Iraq.

This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons; a man who won't let inspectors into the country; a man who's obviously got something to hide. And he is a problem, and we're going to deal with him. But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that's exactly what we're doing.

But not all options were on the table. The one option that the Bush Administration refused to exercise was diplomacy. And that has been disasterous in oh so many ways.

And now as we set our sights on Iran, it's deja vu all over again.

From Reuters, January 28, 2007.

By deploying a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf the United States has sent a "strong signal" that it is in the region to stay and working with allies to deal with an Iranian threat, Vice President Dick Cheney said.

He repeated the Bush administration's stance that the United States seeks to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program through diplomatic means, but that all options are on the table.

"I think most of the nations in that part of the world believe their security is supported, if you will, by the United States. They want us to have a major presence there," Cheney said in an interview with Newsweek magazine, according to a transcript released by the White House on Sunday.

"When we -- as the president did, for example, recently -- deploy another aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf, that sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat," Cheney said.

The United States suspects Iran's nuclear program is a cover for developing weapons and pressed the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against Tehran in December.

Iran recently issued conflicting signals on its nuclear program, with an Iranian nuclear official this weekend denying a statement by a parliamentarian that the country had begun installing 3,000 new atomic centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

The United States has also accused Iran of fueling instability in Iraq, and President George W. Bush on Friday warned Iranians that they would be stopped if they attacked U.S. or Iraqi forces inside Iraq.

Cheney, asked whether he could see a scenario in which there were air strikes on Iran, replied: "I'm not going to speculate about ... security action."

The United States was "doing what we can to try to resolve issues such as the nuclear question diplomatically through the United Nations, but we've also made it clear that we haven't taken any options off the table," he said.

What diplomatic efforts are we really making with Iran?

From ThinkProgress, here's what we were doing in
February 2005. Not helpful.

During his confirmation hearing, new U.S. Commander in the Middle East Admiral William Fallon,
....he will focus on regional diplomacy and carrying out President Bush’s new Iraq plan, which calls for an American troop surge to help Iraqi forces reduce violence-wracked Baghdad neighborhoods.

Fallon says he wants to meet with regional governments to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s influence in Iraq.

He never comes right out and says that he will meet with Iran.
Historically, Iran and Iraq have been regional rivals. Fallon said that “Iranian activity, particularly regarding Iraq, has not been helpful to date.”

Iran’s support for terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons, “is destabilizing and troubling,” Fallon said. “I would welcome steps by the … Iranian government that would indicate they really are interested in helping the situation. To date, I haven’t seen that.”

Fallon said he intends to meet with regional governments and to work closely with diplomats to address Iran’s actions.

“There’s a lot that isn’t being done,” Fallon said. “In fact, I see an awful lot of sitting, watching by the ‘neighborhood.’ And it’s high time that changed. So I would be very anxious to try to engage and intend to engage with our State Department, Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice and her folks, to have a full understanding of this. And then maybe we can figure out collectively how to proceed.”

In written testimony to the Senate committee, Fallon said, “I sense that our allies in the region are more concerned about the potential threat posed by Iran now than at any time since the Iran-Iraq War.”

He said “Iran’s political system is slowly changing as its people increasingly participate in representative processes. However, the unelected institutions of the Iranian regime are well entrenched, hold the preponderance of political power in Iran, and control of Iran’s military forces and intelligence services.”

In all these words, still no confirmation that the United States will actually meet with the Iranians.

Our past refusal to talk to our enemies has been a terrible mistake and
our soldiers and the Iraqi people are paying for it now. This lack of diplomacy has done nothing short of ensuring that every conflict we have culminates in violence. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute writes that we must find other solutions outside the military option.

Congress must act and not allow this Administration to mire us more deeply into an all out regional war.

It's time for Congress to demonstrate what it means to say "all options are on the table."