Wednesday, August 31, 2005
This is the link to the song itself - on the website we are selling it as a 99¢ download, but we don't want to ask you to pay; we'd like to invite you to listen. You can go to the website for information about the song, lyrics, etc.
I hope it speaks to you like it speaks to me.
As I've mentioned, I'm a mom, raising four kids. I know a lot of you out there are parents or pet owners (yes, it applies there too!). Now, which is the better parent - the one who says, "My little darling is just perfect! He can do whatever he wants!" as Little Darling pulls the wings off flies, bullies other kids on the playground, steals their toys, lies, and disrespects others, or the one who corrects Little Darling's behavior?
Most people would not dream of allowing their children to grow up cruel and selfish. Children are born selfish by nature as a survival instinct, but it's a parent's job to teach the child to get along with others, to share, to wait their turn, to put themselves in other people's shoes, to respect others. That makes for a happy, well-adjusted child who has friends, who does well in school, and later on does well in life. To not give a child limits is to neglect and abuse them. We even treat our animals with more kindness by training them.
If a kid eats too much candy he gets sick. If he isn't given nutritious food, he becomes weak and sickly. If he isn't given chores and responsibilities, he doesn't understand how to take care of himself. If he's given every toy or thing he demands, he will not understand the meaning of money. He'll be spoiled, greedy and what's more, unhappy and dissatisfied without knowing why.
I see our relationship with our country that way. To say "America's perfect and if you criticize it you're unpatriotic" does our great country a huge disservice. Nobody wants America to be a spoiled bully, but if we do not discipline her, that's what happens. I love my country too much to do that.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Well, my goodness gracious. What have we here? It seems as if the Worst. President. Ever. couldn't be bothered to fund the Army Corps of Engineers in the New Orleans district. According to this article,
In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.
It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.
I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.
There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.
Read it and weep. I mean, for reals. Read it. And weep.
There could be no better example of the idiocy, the avarice and callousness of the cumulative effects of all of the Worst. President. Ever.'s policies - insane tax cuts, coupled with the stinking black hole of Iraq that's taken away the National Guard (who would have been on hand to help with the disaster) and sucking out the money (six billion dollars a month) that hasn't been given away in tax breaks for zillionaires and corporations; the elimination of the estate tax, and not least, the Bankruptcy Bill, which (among other travesties) will take away the ability of a bankruptcy judge to use his or her own discretion to give a person declaring bankruptcy any kind of a break on repayment depending on individual circumstance, even though corporations get those breaks. And thanks to stubbornly ignoring the reality of global warming, we only have more of the same in store ahead.
I just look at the TV and cry. New Orleans may gone forever. But Dubya spent one minute and twenty five seconds of a forty-minute advertisement - uh, I mean speech - making an offhand reference to the disaster and telling people to call the Red Cross, and the rest of that time he was promoting the Iraq sinkhole and comparing himself to FDR.
The only way you can make a comparison between the Worst. President. Ever. and FDR is that they were both afflicted with paralysis - FDR had paralyzed legs and Bush has paralyzed decency, morals and intelligence.
And here's an article from 2001 in Popular Mechanics predicting this.
Here's J. James:
I know you're not a big fan of numbers, but on the topic of Germany, there unemployment is right about 10.5 percent.Here's me:
Just food for thought.
J.J. - I don't dislike numbers per se, and I always appreciate food for thought. I am not saying that we should be like Germany - I am saying that we can do better with the system we have than showering the wealthy and the corporations with tax breaks in the hopes that jobs will result.
As we have seen, it hasn't happened that way. We've had outsourcings, giant mergers with resulting layoffs, and the job growth that we have seen is mostly in the area of service jobs - jobs that do not pay a living wage. Meanwhile, CEO wages continue to increase, prices increase, corporate profits rise, and regular wages stagnate or retreat.
A number like 10.5 just out of the blue does not take a lot of things into consideration. For instance, there is the difference between East Germany and West Germany numbers. There are also a lot of other factors that are not comparable between our business model and theirs. If you count people with service jobs that don't pay a living wage, how is that better? If people who work at Wal-Mart have to get food stamps, what kind of employment is that?
If I have a business, and hire 2 guys at $15 an hour, and you have a business and hire 10 guys at $3 an hour, are you creating more jobs than I am?
I am not advocating socialism and reviling capitalism. I think the socialist countries could do with some capitalism, and I think without some regulation and constraints, unbridled capitalism leads to where we are headed right now - a huge gulf between the haves and have-nots, which eventually leads to revolt and the swing of the pendulum the other way, which certainly doesn't work either. Communism is a fairy-tale and so is Ayn-Rand-every-man-for-himself-the free-market-is-king capitalism.
We need to rein in the excesses or we're going to be even sorrier than we are now.
Monday, August 29, 2005
You heard me right.
I'm sick and tired of people bitching about having to pay taxes.
I may not always be happy about how taxes are spent and managed, but taxes are what make it possible to live the 'American Dream'. I have conservative friends who say, "I have to pay the first 3 months' salary of the year to the government," as though that were some kind of definitive argument against taxes. And any politician who wants to be popular vows to 'cut taxes'.
So it's an outrage to have to pay taxes. So, we expect to have roads, firemen, policemen, infrastructure in general, a prosperous business environment, a military, education for all, protection and promotion of our way of life - for nothing!
Now, this is not the sort of rant that is filled with 'statistics', because as we all know, as Mark Twain said, there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics". Statistics are easy to manipulate and it's a convenient way to get away from a point by wrangling over them. I'm talking about a philosophical point of view.
The impetus for our nationhood was rebellion against unjust taxation. There is a deep-seated distrust of taxes built into the American psyche for this reason. And acquisitiveness is a primal survival mechanism. Babies are born selfish out of necessity. But we are not babies. We learn that sharing is not only kind, it's necessary to our way of life. We have to give if we want to get. If we want something, we have to pay for it.
Americans believe in hard work, and making your own way. But Warren Buffet acknowledges that "There's no way I would enjoy what I enjoy if I had been born in West Africa." Part of being successful in America is the resources that America has to offer, and these don't just come out of thin air. If we want the benefit of all these resources, we need to pay for it. No matter how hard a person works, no matter what sort of entrepreneurial spirit and determination you have, it doesn't matter if the infrastructure and resources are not there to work with. Babies expect to be given everything without having to pay for it. Adults should know better.
I'll say another dirty word - tax the rich!
That's right. When our present system of taxation came into being, the idea of the progressive income tax was based on the notion that all Americans should bear the same amount of financial burden in contributing to the well-being and prosperity of this country. We all have basic needs - food, shelter, medical care. But obviously that takes up a larger share of the income of the less-well-off. The people who are well-off are well-off because they (or their parents) were in a place with the resources to reap benefits from the work they do. If you have 2 farmers, one with a rich, fertile piece of land, and another with an infertile pile of dirt, and they both try to grow something on their piece of land, is the farmer with the fertile land harder-working or more industrious or deserving of wealth than the farmer with the dry dirt pile? But somehow, people have this notion that people are rich all on their own merit and that poor people are poor because they're lazy and deserve poverty. And the evangelical right echoes that, saying in effect that God rewards His faithful with earthly riches and if you're poor, you're obviously out of God's favor. Never mind that Jesus said the exact opposite! But I digress...
Call for taxing the rich, and the howls of 'class warfare' are heard from the right. But it is a privilege to be able to do business in the United States, and poor people pay a much larger proportion of their income in taxes that benefit the rich when you figure in the taxes that are paid on everything they consume. There is already class warfare, and it's the war of the rich against the poor, and of the corporation against the individual.
For all the reminiscing about how great life was in the 50's, and how family life was so fantastic because moms stayed home, one big reason was the high tax rate of the well-off, and of corporations. The overall economy was prosperous enough that a shoe salesman could own a home, a car, and support a wife and large family - on one job! And a not-especially high-paying or prestigious one at that! Never mind that much of the idealization of the 50s conveniently forgets about racism and sexism, and the fact that many dads missed out on their kids' entire childhoods and moms were often tied up in a pink ruffled straitjacket, but speaking in economic terms, the dollar went a whole lot farther than it does today. Plus, decent-paying blue-collar jobs have gone the way of the 45 record, college tuition is through the roof, and social mobility is more stratified and frozen than ever. The good-paying jobs for those without a college degree (and those with one!) have been replaced by service jobs - McJobs, if you will, without benefits, where you can work full-time and not be able to support yourself. Think about that - you work as hard as you can for 40 hours or more a week, and not make enough money to supply even the basic necessities of life. That's not work - that's indentured servitude.
Folks, the trickle-down theory does not work. It's just a race to the bottom for the poor, and the formerly-middle-class that is rapidly becoming poor. More money might be made for those at the top - Wall Street shows that - but it's staying there, siphoned to offshore accounts and tax shelters. We've seen the results, and we're living with it now. And with the elimination of the estate tax, money that would have gone to charitable giving as a tax shelter is now unnecessary.
The object of the progressive tax is to ask the rich to bear the same burden as the poor. Not the same amount; not even the same percentage - the same burden. That is obviously impossible, since no one would ask the rich to pay everything that they make except for the bare essentials - like a crowded apartment, food stamps, second-hand clothing, free-clinic medical care - in taxes. But that's what the poor are asked for. There is a price we all have to pay for life in America, and if everyone assumed the same burden, the overall quality of life for all Americans - including the rich - would improve immeasurably.
So shut up, rich people, and pay your goddamn fair share.
(Gee, I feel so O'Reilly-esque! Pass the falafel!)
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
(I just love me some Pat Robertson. He's always good for a hoot. He never lets you down in the crazy-ass department. If only he'd take another run at the Presidency.)
The streets are paved with gold in Heaven, but it seems that televangelist Pat Robertson is trying to get a head start here on Earth.
While bitterly decrying "the tyranny of an oligarchy", he was busily laying up treasures in cahoots with one of the most despotic and savage tyrants in the world - Charles Taylor, former 'President' of Liberia. Now in exile in Nigeria, Taylor has been indicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone on 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in contributing to the death, rape, abduction, and mutilation of thousands of civilians during Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991 to 2002.
Bad guy? Not according to Pat. In fact, according to Demopedia
Robertson and Taylor are good friends, so much so that in 1998 Robertson negotiated a business partnership with the Taylor regime giving him the rights to gold mining interests in Liberia in exchange for a 10% kick back to the Taylor government. To move on this opportunity Robertson created a for-profit company -- Freedom Gold -- in which he was listed as President as well as Chairman of Board; Robertson being the Board's only member. The company was chartered within the tax evading borders of the Cayman Islands.
Robertson also defended Taylor in his time of need. The strongest critic of the President (When it came to Charles Taylor stepping down) is televangelist Pat Roberston, who has been lecturing his national television audience regularly about how wrong headed it would be for the US to intervene in Liberia. Indeed, Robertson has been critical of US policy toward Liberia for several years. "We're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country," Robertson told his 700 Club audience recently. "And how dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down."
Strong words for the President, huh, Pat?
But, interestingly enough, there seemed to be a bit of a sticky wicket, legally, according to a 2001 article in The Perspective, a Liberian newsmagazine, which stated that
Under Liberian law, specifically Chapter V: Article 34 section (f) of the Liberian constitution states "The Legislature shall have the power: to approve treaties, conventions and such international agreements negotiated or signed on behalf of the Republic."
The Liberian Legislature refused to ratify the Freedom Gold agreement signed by President Taylor and Pat Robertson. So on Oct. 30,2000, a second contract, which is virtually identical to the first, except for one significant passage, was drawn up. Section 2 of the document was modified, according to GQ and Liberian legal experts familiar with the deal, to read that the contract will go in effect "when approved by the president of Republic of Liberia." Gone is the language that reads that the contract is to become valid only "in accordance with the constitution and laws of the Republic."
Clearly Mr. Robertson, a graduate of Yale Law School who was represented by Gerald Padmore, a Liberian-born Harvard Law School graduate, must know that his agreement with Taylor is unconstitutional.
Amazing. Just amazing. So last Sunday we find Pat holding forth with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" (here's the transcript, thanks to the Randi Rhodes Show) and opining (in all seriousness) that the worst problem facing the nation is the "out-of-control judiciary". When Stephanopoulos asks him, "How can you say that these judges are a more serious threat than Islamic terrorists who slammed into the World Trade Center?", he answers (I kid you not):
"It depends on how you look at culture. If you look over the course of a hundred years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings. I think we're going to control al Qaeda. I think we're going to get Osama bin Laden. We won in Afghanistan. We won in Iraq, and we can contain that. But if there's an erosion at home, you know, Thomas Jefferson warned about a tyranny of an oligarchy and if we surrender our democracy to the tyranny of an oligarchy, we've made a terrible mistake."
A few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings. No big deal.
I can understand why it's no big deal to Pat. It's obvious that he's not squeamish about a li'l bit o' terrorism where his financial interests are concerned. After all, another interesting but little-discussed factoid about his "Christian buddy" Charles Taylor is that the Washington Post reported that Taylor received at least $1 million for providing safe harbor to agents of Osama bin Laden in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the American Atheist Newsletter in 2003,
The operatives were there to supervise "a $20 million diamond-buying spree that effectively cornered the market on the region's precious stones." Indeed, diamonds are part of a culture where deals are struck on a handshake and often leave no trace or records, including electronic "footprints" that are monitored by international police and intelligence services. Diamonds are more convenient to use than gold or other precious metals. They can be easily transported, re-cut, and serve as the ultimate black market currency.
Taylor's wealth and political power stem from his ties to the Revolution United Front (RUF) of neighboring Sierra Leon. The RUF controls extensive diamond mining operations which ship the stones to Liberia where they often sold for hard currency at discount to willing buyers, including al Qaeda agents. For providing safe harbor and anonymity, Taylor receives a commission on each transaction.
But it's OK, cause he's a "fellow Baptist".
I get it.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Do You Love America Or What?
The Department of Homeland Security today issued a directive that the Administration claims will aid in making a distinction between 'Patriots' and 'Terrorists and their Sympathizers'. An addendum to the Patriot Act, it's known as the Patriot Suit Act, and it states that
"All Patriotic Americans will wear the 'Patriot Suit' to distinguish them from 'Non-Patriots', meaning 'Terrorists and their Sympathizers'. This will eliminate the need for airport screenings, racial profiling, and other heretofore-ineffective and expensive methods of securing our Homeland, and simplify and streamline the identification of subversive elements in our society."Starting September 11, 2005, in honor of the Twin Tower attacks, all Patriotic Americans will be required to wear the Patriot Suit to identify themselves as Red-Blooded All-American Patriots. The suits will be issued (for a nominal fee) to all Americans following a complete FBI background check, a cavity search and the swearing of a Loyalty Oath. There are 2 suits, one for men and one for women, and smaller versions of both for boys and girls. (Note: Men may only wear the Man Suit, and women may only wear the Woman Suit. Any deviation from this will result in the loss of your suit, and subsequent identification as a Non-Patriot.)
The Administration is confident that the Patriot Suit Act is the answer to our Homeland Security needs, and suggests that you sign up for yours today, while supplies still last. Don't be labeled a 'Non-Patriot'!
(thanks to Agi T. Prop at Agitprop, via the incredibly Patriotic Helen Wheels at Just Ain't Right for the photo!)
Also, it goes without saying that all items and accessories belonging to the Patriot Suit must be worn at all times. Woe betide you if you are caught out without your Patriot Suit Butt-Pack...
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I just got back from our local 'Candles For Casey' vigil, and it was fantastic. We stood on the four corners of Ventura and Van Nuys with candles and signs. The spirit there was overwhelming - people bringing pizza to share, signs to share, hope and heart to share. Horns were constantly honking as people who drove by showed their support. Jim Ward, the 'voice guy extraordinaire' from the Stephanie Miller Show (a never-miss for me!) was there. I took a lot of pictures - come and visit the slide show...
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
Our trip to Florida, while fabulous, was not without its harrowing moments. Unbeknownst to us, we were harboring an international terrorist in our midst - our 8-year-old son James. As we attempted to check in like we normally do, at the kiosk, we were told that we could not use the kiosk, but must go to the ticket counter. At the counter, we were asked for our IDs over and over, then the attendant would get on the phone, then go into a back room for five minutes, at which time she would check our IDs again and then disappear once more. This went on several times. Then she asked who 'James' was. I told her it was my 8-year-old son. After several more phone calls and disappearances, she reluctantly allowed us to get tickets and proceed toward the plane.
Look at that face. Doesn't it strike fear into your heart?
I thought so.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
But I can't help but be disgusted by the right-wing's smear campaign against her, accusing her of being "in bed with the radical left" as if she were some kind of puppet mouthpiece.
I remember a real 'puppet mouthpiece'. Her name was Paula Jones. Carefully orchestrated and handled by the people responsible for the American Spectator "Troopergate" debacle, which was subsequently found to be a complete fabrication. But by the time it was debunked for the partisan nonsense that it was, it didn't matter anymore. The Big Red Machine was going full-throttle, and little ol' Paula Jones (and her handler Susan Carpenter-McMillan) got her 15 minutes in the limelight and some plastic surgery (apparently de rigueur for axe-grinding right wing puppets à la Linda Tripp) and our democracy as we knew it began to crumble.
It seems that anyone who takes a position that George Bush finds unpalatable is smeared right into the ground - the "Karl Rove Strategy". And it doesn't have to be a Democrat or a liberal, either; John McCain got served a big ol' helping when he was running against Bush in the primaries. Max Cleland, John Kerry, Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Michael Schiavo, Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Hans Blix - the list goes on and on. Cross His Majesty the Baby, and you will be the target of the Smearmeisters. And the worst of it is, many of these people are genuine, if not heroes, at least patriots who have put their lives and limbs on the line for our country. These are all people who have sacrificed in one way or another. And the people who level these smears are, almost to a man or woman (or both as in Ann "The Man" Coulter), chicken-hawks who have not sacrificed what their targets have.
Cindy Sheehan has made the hardest sacrifice I can imagine. As a mom, I know I would much rather lose my own life than one of my children's lives. Easy. No question about it. And to lose your beloved child for someone else's personal agenda and lies would be unbearable.
Have you noticed that, as a nation, we have not been asked up-front to sacrifice the way our parents and grandparents were during World War II? No rationing, no volunteering at the Red Cross. No gas cards, no sugar rations, no oleo instead of butter, no nylon stocking shortage. Even in the world of fashion, hemlines were shorter to save material. Victory Gardens, War Ration Books, War Bonds, scrap metal drives, auto companies diverted to make airplanes and other war materiel.
This has not happened because, deep down, everyone knows that this is not a cause worth fighting for. If we were truly on the side of the right (the correct, that is), as a nation we would be banding together and doing whatever we could to help the war effort. As much as the Bush Administration has been honking and grunting about how we need to be there, they know that there is really no defense of their position, just spin and propaganda.
To answer Cindy Sheehan would be to admit the truth - that her son died for reasons of greed and power, not righteousness. So instead, they fall back on their tried-and-true tactics - smears, threats and diversions.
I guess you could call it an honor to be attacked by the Bush Administration - you're certainly in good company. God bless Cindy Sheehan for the courage to take her pain and use it for the good of others. In this way, her sacrifice and her son's sacrifice will mean something more than another notch on the Cowboy Coward of Crawford's gun-belt.
Go to Crawford Peace House to support Cindy, and Marie from The Right Left Story, kicking ass as usual, has set up a list of resources and affiliated sites and blogs here.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
In the interest of giving our youngsters all the information available to choose from, and not just one 'theory', I urge you to check out this site for an important school of thought.I guarantee you will agree with me that our schoolchildren need to learn about this intriguing view of our origins. Why not expose kids to all ideas, instead of just one narrow view?
So I thought I would ask you all, as the hilarious Hootervillians that you are, to help me out here and suggest a good name for my comic. The winner will get an Amana Radar-Range and my undying gratitude. Well, my undying gratitude, anyway...
Fire at will!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Monday, August 08, 2005
I went through computer withdrawal - my sister's place did not have a phone line (everyone uses cell phones) and there was not an internet café anywhere in the vicinity, so I just went cold turkey - no news, no e-mail, no blogs. Plus, I misplaced my digital camera, so no vacation pix, except cell-phone ones, which aren't the best. I will have a lot of catching-up to do before I can post about anything topical!
Another highlight of my trip was having lunch with Cookie Christine of It's Recess-Time Somewhere, one of my favorite blogs. It was great to meet up with one of our fellow bloggers, and we had a nice lunch at a fun Mexican place. I ordered the 'Soft Naked Guy' (I think that's what it was called). Cookie updated me on the Robert Novak hissy fit. I really enjoyed meeting her.
Well, that's about it for now. Thanks for all the good wishes - they all came true!