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Bush Insists Recession Not Coming- Asks For New “Rosy Glasses” Stimulus Package

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Denying the claims of economists nationwide, President Bush today said that HE doesn’t think the nation is headed towards recession.

“I’m concerned about the economy. I don’t think we’re headed to recession. But no question, we’re in a slowdown.”

At the White House news conference, Bush also claimed that the dollar was still strong:

“I believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for us to … grow and continue growing, more robustly hopefully than we’re growing now. So we’re still for a strong dollar.”

And he’s quite proud of the faux-stimulus plan passed by Congress and signed by him-you know the one that borrows another $150 billion from foreigners so he can give taxpayers a small shot in the financial arm at the expense of future generations descended from those same taxpayers:

“We acted robustly…we’ll see the effects of this pro-growth package.”

And he rejected any additional stimulus plans for now:

“Why don’t we let stimulus package 1, which seemed like a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick in?”

Which seemed like a good idea at the time? Is he implying that just maybe it wasn’t really such a splendid economic plan, but rather a meaningless pander and giveaway that ultimately does nothing but bury this country further?

When asked about growing consumer concern about the economy, and in particular about the possibility of gasoline costs reaching the $4 mark by summer, Bush had this to say:

“That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. … I know it’s high now.”

All of these are telling signs of an executive completely out of touch with reality. Of course, we know that Bush has been out of touch with reality for most of his life, so none of these pronouncements should be a surprise, considering the source. But it almost stretches incredulity to accept that our nation’s leader is this far out of touch with reality, the reality that most economists recognize and that most Americans are enduring as best they can.

Earlier this week, my local paper pulled out the super-font to declare STAGFLATION- that lovely economic state marked by stagnant economic growth, rampant inflation and rising unemployment. And many economists agree that the outlook is not at all comforting.

“We have stagflation,” said Peter Schiff, head of Euro Pacific Capital in Newport Beach. “No matter what the government numbers say, we’re in a recession already, especially if you measure our growth against foreign currencies or gold. And even by the government’s figures, we clearly have very high inflation – and the government data really don’t capture the extent of how prices are rising.”

Right- food and energy costs aren’t included in federal economic numbers…as if the costs of these items don’t really affect average folks. Silly of us to be concerned if we have a tough time filling the gas tank so we can get to work to earn enough money to decide whether to fill the tank again or feed the family some food that might actually be good for them.

Let’s see here…among the signs of recession, the dollar is weak and getting weaker (hell- the Canadian dollar is worth more the the US dollar), gold is surging (which occurs when the dollar is so weak), the Fed keeps cutting interest rates, home foreclosures are at decade highs, unemployment is rising, inflation is rising….yep, I can see why Bush thinks we’re going along fine.

The president isn’t too worried:

“We’ll make it through this period just like we made it through other periods of uncertainty during my presidency.”

Oh right… rough periods like Katrina and Iraq. ‘Nuff said Mr. President.

WHEW! And to think I was worried there for a minute. I’d like to get a pair of those rose colored glasses Bush has. Maybe he could offer that as a stimulus plan.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Electing Obama Only The First Step Towards Real Change In Government

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

The push to select Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate continues to build as Obama won his 11th straight primary victory, winning 65% of the votes cast by Americans abroad in what was billed the “global primary.” As the candidates move towwards the Ohio and Texas primaries, Clinton campaign officials, including ex-President and potential future First Husband Bill Clinton, admit that if Hillary can’t win at least one of those states her campaign may well be over.

It’s no secret here that I am an Obama supporter. It’s his message that has energized me, in no small part because his message is so similar to the one I laid out when I began political blogging in 2005. Long before I even knew about Barack Obama I began writing about a different kind of politics- one where the power lay with the people and not with big corporations and special interest donors; one where politicians worked for the good of the citizens and not for the good of their benefactors or personal spoils; and one where government policies were crafted on sound principals of the greater good and executed with efficiency and common sense. Of course these weren’t new concepts when I wrote them and they’re not new concepts today, but when was the last time a serious politician not only espoused the rhetoric of political change but had the moxie to actually make it happen, to make it a central theme of a presidential campaign in such a visible and believable way? Not since Thomas Jefferson has a president offered such a stark choice for voters in determining what path their country will take. Jefferson’s grand change for American politics happened when he busted down the door of the new American aristocratic ruling class and delivered our government into the hands of the common man. Prior to Jefferson, political kingmaking and policy crafting was the exclusive domain of the upper classes, and the common man was thought too ignorant and/or too incapable of having a hand in political affairs. Jefferson abhored that idea, found it too similar to the monarch system of government this country fought so hard to divest itself of. Jefferson brought the common man into politics, and thus brought a bit more democracy in to this Democratic Republic of ours.

Of course, over 200 years later, Jefferson’s political revolution has paled, and too often seems little more than a charicature of itself today. Substitute today’s lobbyists and corporations for yesteryears well-bred and high-born, and the government we have been languishing under isn’t so different from where we began. We still have all the trappings of a democratic government-people vote after all- but none of the benefits of a government that truly governs for the betterment of its people. And the reason is simple- the average person still thinks that voting is enough, that personal involvement beyond casting a ballot is a waste of time, and our politicians and government reinforce this perception at every turn.

But Americans can see clearly now the failure that occurs when government is left to run amok, led for generations by self-serving ideologues, and finally handed over to a man-child whose best trick is to break the china and shove the shards under someone else’s carpet with a smirk on his face. We see that decades of citizen inattention and corporate dominance has created a wave of disastrous proportions coming on all fronts- a debilitating economic crisis, shattered health care and ineffective education programs, false security ploys that do little more than waste money,  a splintered and wounded defense capability- the broken bits are littered everywhere. Americans can see that change is needed. In Barack Obama, Americans are seeing that change is possible.

So let’s say that Obama wins the democratic nomination, wins the general election, and in January 2009 he is sworn in as the next president of the United States. Let’s say that he wins the election by a comfortable margin and has what would be considered widespread support among American voters. Let’s say that he rides into the White House with his banner of CHANGE waving in the wind, right under the American flag. What happens then?

Time for the reality check folks, because no matter how much I support Barack Obama and no matter how much I agree with his premise of change coming from the people of this country, from involving them and listening to them and acting to make their lives work a little bit better each day, I know in my heart of heart that the first two years of an Obama presidency will look a lot like they do now. In fact, aside from my hope that President Obama would put a quick and decisive end to the Iraq quagmire, I don’t expect much in the way of real-world political change from Washington D.C. until 2011 at the earliest.

The reason for this is pretty simple, but is probably missed by a huge number of voters. Because despite eight years of contrary actions, our president does not legally have brute power to do as he sees fit whenever he sees fit. Only in extreme circumstances (like in a government run by ideologues and selfish power brokers- or in a dictatorship) does a man like George W. Bush manage to reinvent the powers of the presidency and have his minions fall into lock step behind him. In normal, LAWFUL, administrations, the real power of government lies in the legislature, and the president is just the person who sets the tone, and guides the direction of government as the people see fit.

Obama is setting the tone now. The tone is change. The tone is getting corporations out of government and getting real people back inside. The tone is an end to wasteful spending and harmful policies. The tone is an end of cronyism and outsourcing and payback politics. And the people are responding to this new tone in politics. We want to trust our leaders again. We want to know that our hard earned dollars aren’t making the rich richer while we struggle to make ends meet. We want to have a say in how our taxes are used. And we want to reclaim our reputation in the world.

But even though this election could bring us new leadership in the legislature too, the attention and energy is all focused on who will be the next president. If the next president ends up being John Mccain or Hillary Clinton then the congressional seats up for grabs won’t really matter. Neither of those candidates have real plans to try to change the system of governing. They are both so entrenched in the status quo that they can’t even see why it has become so rotten. But if Obama wins the presidency, those who sit on Capitol Hill will be the conduit or the barrier to real change. And as few voters are considering the reality of the situation, a President Obama will be facing the same corrupted politicians, the same moneyed lobbyists, the same pay-to-play political culture for at least two more years.

Serious political watchers understand this, and critics of all things democratic are probably chomping at the bit for an Obama presidency, built on the mantra of change, that will likely produce little real change in the business of politics for at least two years. I can imagine the pundits now, ready to tear apart the concept of real political change by claiming that the campaign rhetoric was nothing but chump chat if Washington continues on as usual, as it is likely to do. But in looking ahead to this particular future, one can only hope that both the voters and a President Obama will use the first two years to plant the seeds of change, nurture them with care, and help them sprout into full fledged flowers of reality when the 2011 mid-terms come around.

As President, I expect Obama to immediately work to end the Iraq war and begin to repair this nations damaged reputation in the world. I would expect Obama to rescind the most vile parts of the Bush years- ending officially sanctioned torture, ending the most divisive aspects of partisanship, ending political policies that are shaped on evangelical, end-times philosophies. But I would also expect Obama to continue speaking about the things that have propelled him to the lead in this primary campaing. I expect him to continue to implore the people to seek power in government by ousting those who cling to the status quo of our dirty politics. I would expect a President Obama to issue a call for a legislature filled with people who believe that the politics of today are over, that a new day in America can only come when the Congresspeople and Senators finally discard the power-partisan politics, the high money campaigns or else get discarded themselves.

Change can come, it really can. But electing Barack Obama as our next president is just the first step towards change. We can’t just give the man the job and expect he can single-handidly change the corrupt culture in DC. We have to take the next step for him. We have to give him a legislature that will embrace a new day in American politics. We need to give him people who will fight for their constituents instead of their corporate donors. We need to elect a congress and senate who also embraces the power of change through people.

People may not be seeing this yet. Right now, the euphoria surrounds the possibility of a people’s president. And that’s all well and good. After all, we have to start somewhere, and electing a person who actually believes that change is possible, necessary, and achievable through the involvement of real people is a great place to start.

Just remember that Obama alone won’t be enough. We need to take the next step. It’d be nice to think that the steps would happen together, that not only would we elect a president commited to really fixing the worst parts of government but that we’d elect legislators who see things that way too. But in this I am realistic.

Barack Obama is just one man with a shared vision of a better America, a different America. We need him to be the next president if we ever want to move in a new direction. But we also must recognize that in order for him to succeed, in order for us all to succeed in changing the way our country works, we need to fill the halls of Congress with people who also will work for change. We don’t have these people there now. We won’t have enough of them there in 2009. But we have time to find them- people of all political stripes who care more about really helping America and Americans than they do about buttressing their resumes and bank accounts-and we have to elect them. Because with a president committed to changing the American government AND a congress that actually listens to the people, this country can once again be a leader in solving our own and the worlds problems without making things worse than when they started.

(cross posted on Common Sense)

The Cost of Food For A Week

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

My family of three spends about $400 a month at grocery stores for food and probably another $200 a month dining out or buying extras for cook-outs. Included in this budget is fresh produce and meat, organic dairy products, and a small assortment of snack (junk food) items. Also included in this budget is non-consumables like paper products and cleaners.  We consistently have our cupboards stocked and we often cook enough for left-overs. All said, our weekly food budget hovers around $150. So I found this e-mail I received pretty interesting.

Below are several “average” families from around the world. The caption details how much they spend per week on food for their family. The picture shows you what they get for their money. Pay close attention not only how much their money buys, but what it is they are eating.

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily                                                                                                                                  Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca                                                                                                                       Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

 Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna                                                                                       Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

 Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

You may have noticed that all of these families have a healthy portion of fresh fruits and vegetables, except for two-the American family and the family from Chad. The family from Chad lives in an extremely impoverished nation and spends the least amount on food of all the examples, so we can give them a pass, if you will, for not having a more balanced diet. The American family has no excuse, unless you are willing to lay blame  for their less-than-healthy diet on the over-commercialized, fast-paced, brain dead culture that we inhabit.

How does your family stack up?

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Who Best To Beat McCain?

Friday, February 8th, 2008

With Mitt Romney announcing the end of his presidential bid, it looks like John McCain, the 71 year old senator from Arizona, will be the likely Republican presidential nominee. (Sure, Huckabee or Ron Paul could surge ahead, but it’s not probable that either will unseat McCain from his frontrunner status at this point in the race.)

More than 20 states still have primaries to hold, and for Democrats the focus must now shift to who can best beat McCain- Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

McCain is not embraced by all members of the Republican party equally, and by some not at all, so there is reason to suspect that in a general election some Republicans could jump fences and vote for the Democratic candidate. Even McCain seems to recognize this fact.

“It is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative….

I am acutely aware that I cannot succeed in that endeavor, nor can our party prevail over the challenge we will face … without the support of dedicated conservatives,” McCain told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday at an annual meeting in Washington.

Now facing a candidate not fully embraced by his party, the Democrats need to settle on the candidate best positioned to scrape off votes from unhappy Republicans and moderate independents.

Democrats have been giddy with their candidates up to now, seeming to bask in their historic choices for president, but the time for giddiness is over now. Regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, they will be a historic candidate-either because of race or gender. No longer can Democrats look at these two candidates as barrier breakers, but instead must look to see who could beat McCain. You might think that either of the Democratic contenders would beat a 71 year old opponent, but the truth is not so simple, even with McCain’s own troubles within his party.

To think that Republicans would cross the aisle to vote for Hillary in a general election is an exercise in wishful thinking. For many in the GOP, a vote for the Ebola virus would be preferable to a vote for Hillary, meaning that in a general election, the contest would be too close to call with Republican voters backing McCain and Democrats backing Clinton. Independent voters in that match-up have seemed to prefer McCain, but who knows? Frankly, I don’t want another president selected by the Supreme Court if the race is so close. We all know how well that has worked out for America.

But when you match up McCain and Obama, it’s a different story altogether. Polls show him having a much better chance of taking the presidency against McCain than Clinton has. Consider that in the Super Tuesday primaries, Obama bested Clinton among independent voters by huge margins- 37 points in Missouri, 39 points in New Mexico and 10 points in Arizona and New Hampshire. In red states on Super Tuesday, Obama got more votes than even some of the Republican contenders. Clearly, Obama has crossover power that Clinton does not. And in the general election, this is what really matters. In many other national polls, Obama beats McCain everytime. Clinton does not, and where she does, the margin is too slim for comfort.

A McCain presidency wouldn’t likely differ too much from the current Bush presidency, especially considering that McCain is a “maverick” who seems to know what he knows. He shoots from the hip and is known to have a less than presidential temperament. Oddly though, a Hillary presidency isn’t going to look much different than Bush either. She is too entrenched in the mire of Washington politics to even consider looking outside the box (so to speak) for new, innovative ways of solving problems. And as I’ve said before, Hillary’s still stuck in the “I” of politics, as opposed to the “We” message of Obama.

It seems clear that Obama represents the best chance for America to turn away from the insidious politics that have so divided this country. He offers the best opportunity to reform the way our government represents our citizens. He seems to understand that being liberal and progressive isn’t synonymous with “Big Brother” politics. And he certainly doesn’t have a sense of entitlement to the office. Obama appeals to people of all parties (or lack of a party) where Clinton does not.

And for what it is worth, I think Obama really could offer an opportunity to put away some of the partisan rancor in our government by turning the page on American political dynasties. A fresh start, a fresh face…this is what America really needs.

Those who have yet to cast a primary vote need to strongly consider whether they want a close race that could as easily return the White House to “business as usual politics” with an entrenched and entitlement driven Democrat or another 4 years of Bushlike myopic Republican control, or whether they are really ready to give America a chance to redeem herself in her own eyes and the eyes of the world.

Who best to beat McCain? Barack Obama.

Americans of both parties have said they aren’t happy with the direction of the country. A vote for McCain or Clinton will assure that this direction does not change. The only hope for change is through an Obama presidency, supported by average Americans of all political stripes. It is within reach folks. Stick out your hand and grab it.

Vote. It Matters.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

I know that not everyone has a chance to vote today, but if your state is holding primary elections today, I seriously urge you to go and cast a ballot. One of the most important rights we have in this country is the right to select our leaders through the vote.

Some think voting is meaningless…that nothing will change anyway. So they don’t vote. And in the process of not voting, their prediction becomes reality, thus reinforcing their faulty initial opinion. Because, of course, if you do not vote nothing will change.

But if you do vote then something COULD change, and that is how we move our government into new directions. 

Go out and Vote. It matters.

Hey GOPers- If A Democrat President Raises Your Taxes, You Only Have Bush To Blame

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

If I have to listen to another Republican complain about how a new Democratic president is just going to raise their taxes and increase the size of government I might just put my foot right up their ass. After all, it’s precisely because of the Republican party, the Republican Congress, and an asshat of a Republican president that our next national leader may indeed have to raise taxes. Somebody has to clean up the country after it’s been crapped on for 8 years.

Consider that when Bush took office the federal government had a budget surplus, and despite way too many pork barrel projects, earmarks were much lower than they are now. But then came a series of tax cuts, an increase in federally mandated spending programs, an unnecessary war, a couple of tax rebate give-aways, and unprecedented borrowing to finance the largest expansion in the federal government in over 50 years. The surplus disappeared. The spending didn’t.

Republicans like to pretend that the only thing Democrats care about is “Big Brother” government. Hah! Bush has presided over the biggest “Big Brother” expansion ever. Republicans think that only Democrats expand the size of government. Hah! Bush has added more government jobs to the federal payroll than probably any other president since FDR. Republicans like to pretend the Democrats will take all your tax dollars and waste them on untested and ineffective social programs that ultimately hurt people more than they help them. Can anyone say No Child Left Behind???

The fact is that Republicans aren’t alone in disliking taxes. Democrats don’t much like them either. But where Democrats can accept the fact that it takes taxes to run government, Republicans only seem to think that taxes are evil.

Here it is kids…no matter who takes over as next president, we are going to have to see a serious reversal in domestic funding policy. That likely means higher taxes and lower spending. Hopefully the next president will get us out of Iraq which would save a serious amount of change. but it won’t be enough, especially in the short term. Especially when our government (both Dems & Reps) think it is wiser to borrow another $150 billion they don’t have to hand out to citizens so they will rush out and spend it. This is an economic stimulus plan? For what? A month? Gee Mr. President (and all the rest of you in Congress), what kind of stimulus plan will we get when that $600 bucks is all gone? Do they really think that peopl e are going to have extra money all the time now that the government sent them a check for a few hundred bucks? The only thing this plan stimulates is the Chinese manufacturing industry and the banks- for about a month.

Of course, in our brave new world, most people don’t give two seconds thought to government finances, just so long as their special interests are being funded.

Fiscal prudence means that not everyone gets everything all of the time. Fiscal malfeasance means that some people get everything they want, most get a bone thrown to them, and behind the scenes the red tape is stacked higher than the Sears Tower.

Well boys and girls, federal spending affects us all, and when you turn over the federal purse to a bunch of failed businessmen and drunken sailors, somebody eventually has to pay. That somebody will be all of us when the next administration gets to town.

So for all of you whining GOPers who are so upset that a Democrat in the White House will raise your taxes, shut up already. YOUR guy put us all in this situation to begin with. Just because he’ll be out of office when the bills come due doesn’t make it any less his fault. If you want to complain, send a letter to Bush. But quit whining to me about it.

(cross psoted at Common Sense)

Bush-Whacked Economy-More Fuzzy Math

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

The “economic stimulus” plan being hammered out by Bush, Bernanke, and the Democrat controlled Congress is a farce and a scam, and a slap in the face of every American citizen-except maybe the top 1%. Worse, once passed, it will add another $145 billion debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren so that people can get a one time cash infusion of $500 - $800 a piece.

Hey, I’d like to have some extra greenbacks in my wallet too, but at what cost? At to what real benefit? And why are those people most likely to really feel some benefit from the money excluded completely from the plan?

Let’s look at the cost-$145 billion. Last time I checked we were running a deficit budget, so where is this money going to come from? The government wants to send every taxpayer a check for up to $800. That’s not a tax credit that would just decrease this years tax receipts, that’s cash out of the treasury, cash that isn’t there to spend. How will the government finance this? More borrowing from our foreign friends? The answer is simple- future generations of Americans- our children and their children- will bear the burden of this ultimately futile give-away. The government will get the money from somewhere-hell, they may just print some more currency and inject it into the system (which of course would make the dollar worth even less, making the “stimulus” part of the plan null and void at the gate)-and our progeny will have to pay. It’s just another play now, pay never kind of scheme that politicians love to pull out, because everyone feels good today and they get to say they did something helpful. The ‘pay never’ part means that they (the politicians) and the benefactors (today’s taxpayers) will be dead long before the debt borrowed for the “stimulus” is paid off.

To recap so far- THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T HAVE $145 BILLION TO GIVE YOU. DO YOU REALLY WANT THEM TO SHACKLE YOUR KIDS’ FUTURE EARNINGS SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE AN EXTRA $800 RIGHT NOW? DON’T YOU LOVE YOUR KIDS???

Secondly, who really benefits from this “stimulus” package anyway? Well, ostensibly, every taxpayer will get a check from the government. Then there are tax breaks for businesses, so they can

“make major investments in their enterprises this year. Giving them an incentive to invest now will encourage business owners to expand their operations, create new jobs, and inject new energy into our economy in the process. ” -Bush, 1-18-08

The Democrats want an extension on unemployment benefits too. So far, both parties are embracing the worst element of the plan, the cash give-away. They are using the tax breaks for businesses and the social program extensions as bargaining chips so that each side can claim they did more. So at first glance, it seems that the beneficiaries of the “stimulus” plan would be Americans who pay taxes, maybe businesses, and maybe the unemployed somehow. While this may look good- after all every one benefits, right?-it is really just smoke and mirrors. The whole point of an economic stimulus plan is to stimulate the economy, but we don’t need stimulus. We need reform. The game of borrowing, shifting, bribing, and pandeirng is what got us to where we are- well, that and a bunch of spend-thrift dunces running the show-and this plan seeks to solve the problem using the same tried and failed strategies. “Give ‘em a bunch of cash and they’ll forget how bad things are for a bit,” seems to be the political strategy of the day.

So who are the real benefactors of this “stimulus” plan? Well, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke gives it all away.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke entered the stimulus debate Thursday, appearing before the House Budget Committee to endorse the idea of putting money — as soon as possible — into the hands of those who would spend it quickly and boost the flagging economy.

Especially important is making sure a plan can put cash into the hands of poor people and the middle class, who are most likely to spend it right away, he said, though the Fed chairman added that research shows affluent people also spend some of their rebates. -AP

Gee Ben, why don’t you just have the government send all that money directly to the business community and cut the middle man out altogether? I mean, how can $800 really help anyone, except for the Chinese who make all the crap that they hope you will buy at Wal-Mart, or the oil barons and shieks if we use the money as the president contends, “to help meet their monthly bills, cover higher costs at the gas pump, or pay for other basic necessities.” Sure you could rush out and spend the cash on things you don’t need, or you could pay off a bill, maybe two, or maybe your $800 will help cover the overdue mortgage for one more month, thus forestalling the foreclosure man for another day. But beyond that first month, what kind of stimulus benefit does this really create? None at all. And if you believe that it will you should have your head examined. You’ve fallen for more of Bush’s fuzzy math.

Recap so far-THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO GIVE AWAY. IF YOU LIKE THIS PLAN, YOU DON’T LOVE YOUR KIDS. $800 WON’T MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MOST PEOPLE ANYWAY-AT BEST IT WILL PAY OFF SOME CREDITOR OR END UP IN THE WAL-MART SAVINGS ACCOUNT. IF YOU THINK THIS PLAN WILL HELP OUR ECONOMY MUST BE A POLITICIAN.

Finally, since these “economic stimuli” are all aimed at taxpayers, the working poor and others at the lowest rungs of economic society get no “stimulus” at all, and these are the folks whose lives would most greatly be impacted by a cash infusion. $800 could rent a warm room, or maybe get a little extra food into the kids’ bellies for a change. It could provide comfort for a short time to someone who really needed it. But, nah, those people, many who are employed full time at several part-time minimum wage jobs and thus have no federal income tax bill don’t need help, right? They don’t pay taxes anyhow, right?

Final recap- THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T HAVE $145 BILLION TO BEGIN WITH. YOUR KIDS MEAN LESS TO YOU THAN A NEW FLATSCREEN TV. THE $800 IS REALLY JUST A BRIBE TO YOU AND A GIFT TO BUSINESSES WHO ALREADY HAVE ALL THE MONEY. YOU LOVE POLITICIANS WHO WILL SELL YOUR CHILDREN INTO BONDAGE. STIMULUS IS THE BIGGEST WORD GEORGE BUSH KNOWS. ANYONE WHO LIKES THIS PLAN HATES THE POOR AS MUCH AS THEY HATE THEIR OWN KIDS.

So there you are happy campers. The economic “stimulus” plan that promises to keep things as they are, that is, in the shadows and out of control. A plan that does nothing to address the reasons why our economy is a shambles and does nothing to change the status quo. It is less than a band-aid on a machete wound. It is pandering to the public. And it a a complete bipartisan failure. I’ll leave with a few quotes…

“What he believes is that we’ve got to do something that is robust. It’s going to be temporary and get money into the economy quickly,” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday on CBS’s “The Early Show.” “It’s going to be focused on consumers, individuals, families — putting money in their pocket. And it’s going to be focused on giving businesses the incentive to hire people, to create jobs.”

Government must “spend the money, invest the resources, give the tax relief in a way that again injects demand into the economy, puts it in the hands of those who need it most and into the middle class … so that we can create jobs.” -Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives

“Putting money into the hands of households and firms that would spend it in the near term” is a priority. -Ben Bernanke, Chariman of the Federal Reserve

Here’s $800 bucks. Go create a job for someone this week-someone in China that is.

“By passing an effective growth package quickly, we can provide a shot in the arm to keep a fundamentally strong economy healthy.” George W. Bush, President of the U.S.A.

Fundamentally strong economy? Healthy? Shot in the arm? Can anyone say “delusional?”

All this will come to pass though, and the underlying problems will be papered over like yesterdays fish. And the hole will get bigger my friends, the hole will get bigger. Without fundamental reform and political restraint there will be no economic reform, only more economic tomfoolery. Without individual restraint and without a solid employment base, there will be no economic growth for the vast majority of Americans.

Enjoy your rebate, brought to you by Fuzzy Math Incorporated.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Screw Veterans, Children, the Poor and the Elderly…We’ve Got To Save Television!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

tv 

 Proving once again to have their collective finger on the pulse of what really matters, the federal government has begun dispensing $40 coupons to households in the effort to make sure that no American will go without their precious television shows. All told, up to $1.5 BILLION has been set aside to protect the interests of electronics manufacturers, broadcasting networks, and pretty much anyone who has a commercial to run on television.

For years, the public has been told about the upcoming conversion to digital transmission for television signals. Of course, this is a topic that is about as interesting to the average person as the molecular make-up of peanut-butter (which may account for the fact that 51% of people still have no idea that this is coming.) In fact, the switch is coming soon- February 18, 2009 to be exact. On that day, any person who does not own a digital telelvision set and still gets their television signal “over-the-air” with an antenna will suddenly be greeted with static and snow when they turn on their set. Imagine the horror! Imagine the fear! Imagine the mass panic! What the f%#k happened to our TV???

Fortunately, Congress in its infinite wisdom, foresaw such a widespread panic in the making and has worked ahead of the curve to provide a solution. Because of this coupon give-away program, there should be no reason for any American to lose even a second of life-giving television viewing when the switch is made.

For the record, I work in the television industry. Television literally pays my bills, so of course I am happy in a sense that so many people prefer to sit for hours in front of their sets instead of doing other things. So for my own personal reasons, making sure that everyone can get a TV signal is a good thing. But to spend $1.5 BILLION of federal tax money to make sure that people don’t lose their signal? Give me a freaking break! This is beyond ludicrous, it’s obscene.

America has many more pressing problems that could be helped with a billion and a half dollars. Dilapidated schools. Hospital shortages. Food pantry closures. Making sure our veterans don’t get screwed every time they turn around. I could go on and on and on. The last thing we need to be throwing money at is television converter boxes.

Let’s face reality here. Americans are already so addicted to television that they will go out and buy the damn boxes themselves. Even the people who can’t really afford to. The anecdotal proof is in the pudding- I can’t tell you how many times my wife or I have been to the grocery store and seen a family ahead of us splilt their purchases into two piles: one pile of food that they pay for with food stamps, and one pile of dvd’s and video games and beer that they pay for with cash. Or how about the fact that most people consider someone who lives without television to be really wierd? In the land of the free and the home of the brave, even the poorest houses have at least one television. So when the government starts throwing out money to “help people keep their television’s working” I want to wretch. Because this is a program that is unnecessary, wasteful, and offensive in a time where dollars are short and there are many things more important to fund.

Of course, politicians need television, and they need people to get television signals, so this is as much self-preservation for them as it is a nod to their contributors and a give-away to the public. But hey- who am I to rage? When it’s all said and done, the Great Television Coupon Give-Away of 2008 may well end up being the most popular thing that the 2006 Democratic Congressional winners can produce. After all, if there’s one thing every American would probably agree on it’s that life without television is just, well, un-American.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Something To Think About…

Friday, December 28th, 2007

According to my Uncle John’s Unstoppable Bathroom Reader Calendar, if you could shrink the world’s population to just 100 people, AND keep the current ratios as they are, there would be-

 -51 women and 49 men

-58 Asians, 13 Europeans, 15 from the Americas, and 14 Africans

-50% of the wealth in the hands of 6 people, all from the United States

-50 malnourished people

-80 people living in substandard housing

-70 illiterate people

-1 person with a college education

-No one who owned a computer

As I said, just something to think about.

Window For War With Iran Slammed Shut?

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

When is a nuclear threat NOT a nuclear threat?

When the Bush administration thinks it IS one. 

Despite a current intelligence report that indicates that Iran’s nuclear weapons program was halted in 2003, current and former members of Team Bush continue to assert that Iran is a looming threat to American security and the security of the world because of their continued nuclear ambitions, which Iran insists are being developed for civilian purposes.

Is it just me, or are these the same kinds of warnings trotted out by this administration before the Iraq invasion? The same kinds of warnings that were discredited both before and after that invasion, and have since been proven to be not only wrong, but really wrong? For opponents of the administrations hawkish mentality, this Iran intel reversal comes as no real surprise. That Team Bush would overhype, misstate, or even intentionally lie about something of great importance, like whether or not to bomb the hell out of a foreign country, is simply par for the course for this group of malignant politicos. What is shocking is the fact that the information is seeing the light of day before the bombs start flying. Bush, Cheney, and their “never been to war but happy to send others” cadre of criminals have been building the case for war with Iran for well over a year now, perhaps much longer if you interpret the “Axis of Evil” designation in ‘01 to be the start of the ramp up to war. At each turn and opportunity they have been eager to paint a picture of mounting crisis while twisting themselves into pretzels to pretend to be trying all possible means to avoid war. But it’s war they want, make no mistake. And it’s war they’ve been pushing for. And now it looks like they won’t get to play GI Joe in Persia after all.

Sadly for the president (but much less sadly for the rest of the rational world) the debacle that is Iraq, his lies and mishandling of the intelligence for that action, his administrations total lack of post-war planning, the fraud and graft from war profiteeerer’s, the mounting death toll, and the financial house of cards about to collapse had already turned the public into a wary mistress regarding war towards Iran. The new intel that says that Iran quit trying for nuclear weapons over 4 years ago is like the sound of that mistress slamming the window shut on her wayward lovers’ fingertips.

For Bush to continue to push war rhetoric against Iran now, in the face of intelligence that says they are not making weapons and thus present no imminent danger to the United States, shows us more than ever how deluded and myopic this man can be and in fact is.

Reality check: Iran is no friend of the United States. But that’s no reason to start a war. Especially when the intel bears evidence that they pose no real threat to the homeland, nor are they in any position to do so any time soon.

If Bush had any brains at all he’d be making political hay out of this intelligence report. He could be using this newly released information, along with recent “successes” in North Korea (apparently they US does deal with “terrorists” as the Bush administration has been able to secure some concessions from Kim Jung-Il, similar to those extracted by the Cinton administration but derided by Team Bush perviously) to make limited claims of success stemming from Iraq. Bush could be trying to assert that it was his brilliant Iraq War plan that drove these other “Axis of Evil” member states into submission. He could at least stand up and say something to the effect of “Hey, these guys see what happened to Iraq and decided to shape up a bit.” Hell, the public might even buy it. I’m sure our elected Democrats would latch on to that to deflect their own shabby war record. But Bush isn’t saying anything of the sort. Nope…instead he’s saying we need to keep the pressure on Iran to ‘fess up to their deeds.’

Looks to me like there’s not much to fess up to, unless you want their president to apologize for his rhetoric. But asking for that would be too hypocritical for even Bush, now wouldn’t it?

(cross posted at Common Sense)


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