Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Minimum Wage - Less Than Minimum Outrage

Where IS the public outrage that Congress is debating rasing the federal miniumum wage from $5.15 to $7.75 per hour? I spent more than a couple of summers doing maximum work for minimum wage, and it helped me buy books and such at college. In no way would it have paid for college itself. Parents & loans have made that happen.

Yet, what we're asking, as a society, is for people who work these jobs as their main source of income, day in and day out, to support themselves on $5.15/hour. Have you ever done the math? $5.15/hour x 40 hours a week = less than $10,000 a year, which is about the poverty level of one. (Poverty level for a family of 4 is $20,000.)

Yup, what we're saying to our fellow Americans is that if you have a minimum wage job, we're ok with you being poor. If you don't want to be poor, don't look to us to help raise that level, add more jobs.

And what jobs are these? I'm making a pretty good income. Unlike my minimum wage jobs, which involved constant physical labor (often unpleasant), my good income job is in a comfortable office, with all the amenities. Think about it. The people out there working those minimum wage jobs are not only working for little, they're physically working a lot harder than most of the rest of us. And our solution to them is to add a second job? Sure, why be worn out by one job when you could be wiped out by two.

Those of us who worked minimum wage for summers or to supplement our climb through colleges and entry level jobs owe it to our fellow Americans to remember those jobs. And ask ourselves why what we worked so hard to get out of is something we're apparently ok with condeming millions of people to stay in.

And Here I Thought it Was Just the Republicans Who Were All Wet

Over 13 inches of rain in 2 days. It's been tons of fun here in DC lately. The only amusement we've had lately is watching Senators run so fast and wildly that they're knocking each other over on their sprint to save us from the plague of flag burning.

What's an aimless war, growing poverty numbers, bad economics and tons of rain in our basements if the US Senate can spend days debating the evils of flag burning.

Ok, I was right to begin with. The Senate Republicans ARE all wet.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Christmas Comes Again and Again for US Oil -- Thanks to Bush

When unchecked price increases just aren't enough for that special lobbyist whose hand is in their pocket, the Bush administration was finally able to deliver a present to Bush/Rove buddy Ernie Angelo and the oil industry this month. The gift? Well in 2002 Angelo asked Rove to do something about the EPA rule that was designed to keep groundwater around oil drilling sites clean. That most horrible rule was such a strain on the pockets of big oil that Angelo was forced to let Rove know that oil men had begun "to openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republians when we wind up with this type of stupidity." Indeed! Why what's the point of electing Republicans if they can't get rid of the most basic health and safety laws in favor of big oil?

Well fortunately for those poor, desolate oil men, that law is now pretty much ripped to shreds. Now big oil can stop worrying about polluting the groundwater and get back to making money.

Give Me One Reason NOT to Impeach Bush

And for this exercise, I'm not accepting my own 1 reason, (because it makes Cheney president).

Today we're hearing from one more expert who was there that the "intelligence" we shared on WMD included the ravings of a lunatic (no, not Rumsfeld, but just as deadly in the long run, the guy we've come to know as Curveball). From today's WaPost:

In late January 2003, as Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to argue the Bush administration's case against Iraq at the United Nations, veteran CIA officer Tyler Drumheller sat down with a classified draft of Powell's speech to look for errors. He found a whopper: a claim about mobile biological labs built by Iraq for germ warfare.

Drumheller instantly recognized the source, an Iraqi defector suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar. The CIA officer took his pen, he recounted in an interview, and crossed out the whole paragraph.

A few days later, the lines were back in the speech. Powell stood before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 and said: "We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."

The sentence took Drumheller completely by surprise.

"We thought we had taken care of the problem," said the man who was the CIA's European operations chief before retiring last year, "but I turn on the television and there it was, again."

A true testament to the spirit and resilience of the American people and the world will be if we manage to actually survive this bizarre, corrupt and lying administration.

Following the Money in Jack's World

In today's Post, there's an interesting (and let's face it, depressing) article about Abramoff's financial shenanigans. Some of us have been paying attention to Jack again after the latest revalation of his connection with White House staff. The article focuses on Abramoff's use of Grover Norquist and his conservative "Americans for Tax Reform" and another Norquist-tied organization, "Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy" to funnel funds. Read more about it here.

Ever wonder why the Republicans don't just right out and create an organization called, "Helping the Rich Get Richer and Screw the Poor, the Earth and Regular People" and be done with it? Then again, honesty has never really been much of a strength for the right wing.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Next Time, Hire an Historian, Not a FOX News Commentator

Well done Tony Snow -- "The president understands peoples' impatience--not impatience, but how war can wear on a nation. He understands that. If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare saw people would have said, "Wow, my goodness, what are we doing here? But you cannot conduct a war based on polls."

Uh Tony, you know they actually DID have polls in the 40s. And guess what. The one taken at the time the Battle of the Bulge was raging (12/31/44-1/4/45) asked "If Hitler offered to make peace now and would give up all the land he has conquered, should we try to work out a peace or should we go on fighting until the German army is completely defeated?"

The result? 73% of Americans chose refuse to make peace and keep fighting. Then again 86% of the Americans polled then thought we'd win the war in Europe.

Some Republicans seem determined to keep on comparing the Iraq War with WWII. Who can blame them. If the public doesn't support your war, you can ask yourselves what you've done wrong and try and fix it (yeah, when pigs fly with this crew). Or, you can start a full court press to try and link your war with a "good one." Think anyone's going to fall for it?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Democratic Strategy -- new site to check out

The Democratic Strategist had gone online. The first issue features comments from Jerome Armstrong, Elaine Kamarck, Kenneth Baer and Andrei Cherny, Will Marshall, Robert L. Borosage, Harold Meyerson, Donna Brazile, John W. Wilhelm, William Galston, Ruy Teixeira, and Stan Greenberg on 2006 and beyond.

The online mag is edited by Scott Winship, who states his goals:
I hope to augment the monthly publication cycle of the magazine with information relevant to Democratic national political strategy. Some days that will mean highlighting news from other outlets. Other days it will mean provoking other bloggers or responding to their provocations. Still other days I will summarize academic and think tank research.

Trying to corral the suggestions for improving the Democratic party is a big job, and who knows how well Winship will manage it, but it's an interesting start and a worthy goal. We wish him the best.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hit Back, Indeed! -- GET THIS BOOK

50 Simple Things You Can Do to Fight the Right
by Earthworks Group
ISBN: 0977689700
Author: Earthworks Group
Publisher: Pub Group West
Publication Date: 2006-04-17

Stuck for ways to Fight the Right by Being Right? Tired of those who are morally wrong claiming the moral high ground?

This is a good guide to help get you started on ways to fight the psycho right. Among their suggestions? Fighting back by taking back -- taking back political language, faith and patriotism.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Just hit back!

I've been stupefied throughout this Iraq war at some of the rhetoric and analogies being used by President Bush's supporters. For example: Iraq/Saddam is Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo, and postwar Iraq is Japan and/or Germany--it's going to TAKE TIME to build that democracy that's just waiting to be born. Never mind that Saddam was a local despot who was increasingly losing touch with reality, or that Germany was a homogenous, functioning democracy for years prior to Hitler...anyway, and then there is the old war horse recycled from Lyndon Johnson's stable down someplace in Texas: "If we don't fight them in Iraq, we'll be fighting them in the streets of San Francisco"--or is it San Diego, since this incarnation of Republicanism wants to drop the bomb on SF? In any case, you get the drift.

the above is GOP Stupid, Then there's GOP-McCarth-ee, just vicious and aspersion-casting, e.g. John Kerry and John Murtha, sure, they saw combat, but after the first bullets fly, they're cutting and running like the cowards they are. And GOP-rich, really rich, since Karl and co. never heard a shot fired in anger and probably don't know the old adage, "maybe in the next war, we will see that sight unknown in human history, the jingo with a bullet in him." You can try to combat and counter GOP-stupid with op-eds, expert testimony and soapboxes, but it won't be heard on the Rush Limbaugh program and anyway, it won't fit in a 15-second tv report. But you CAN fight GOP-McCarth-ee--with a hard slap back, hard enough to throw the calumnizer back in his or her heels.

Murtha showed everyone how to do this today on the House floor. Some pipsqueak GOP Congressman, probably a southerner, stepped up to the podium during debate on the Iraq "cut and run" resolution and declared that if Murtha had been deciding about the invasion of Normandy or Okinawa, we would all be speaking German or Japanese. That was GOP-Stupid AND GOP-McCarth-ee in one sentence, no mean feat. But Murtha was unimpressed. He asked if the congressman had been at Normandy. No, he hadn't. Okinawa? nope. Did the congressman fight in Vietnam? Uh, no, didn't make it there. Iraq? Well, the congressman had...been there a few times, and you already heard that voice kind of wavering. Sure enough, he ended with a whimper, thanking Murtha for his service while he retreated, tail between his legs. It was a maginificent performance. So the lesson for this day, and all days, of GOP Stupid or GOP-McCarthee is: HIT BACK, as HARD and as OFTEN as you have to. Maybe you will stun them sufficiently to get some brain wave activity.

Come on in Cops, Don't Bother Knocking

Thanks to the Supreme Court, the Constitution's taken one more hit. Yup, those folks in robes have now voted 5-4 that police/fbi/name your favorite law enforcement agency here no longer have to announce themselves or knock before they bust through your door.

This will make for some fun discussions in NRA circles after a few of our gun-hugging friends let fly with the lead at unidentified folks busting through their doors at 2am.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bush in Iraq

Do you think if we offered them enough money, they'd keep him?

Fun with history and politics at the World Cup

Full disclosure: I am not a "football" fan, never have been. I learned to play in high school, that is during the mezoic era, and i was always dismayed that you ran, ran and ran, making occasional contact with the ball, but hardly ever scored. if you are going to put out that much effort, you ought to get something for your trouble. American football might represent the worst in American life--violence punctuated by committee meetings--but at least you get some serious forward motion and touchdown action.

Nonetheless, most of the rest of the world is gaga for "football," and there's some pretty good entertainment to be had there, mostly in the realm of international relations:

England has so many out-of-control "football supporters" that certain of said "supporters"--some 3,000-- must turn in their passports during the World Cup. To prevent attempts to circumvent this requirements swim to Germany, these fellows have to check in with the local police just prior to the start of a given match. And you thought those NCAA revelers were beyond the pale! These guys have given England a new name: "Hooligans' Isle."

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on hold, at least in some places, during the festivities. Israelis have bought millions of pricey cable packages for the Cup. Palestinians are eagerly accepting some under-the-table packages themselves--I think almost everything is illegal there after Hamas--and Gaza residents are promising a cease-fire so that everyone concerned can watch the matches in peace.

There always is the intriguing colony-colonizer/commonwealth angle: will England end up playing Trinidad-Tobago? Australia? How about South Africa? Will David slay Goliath, or will Goliath overcome History and Tradition and the Desire for a Good Story?

The United States, while much improved, is at best a marginal player in this competition. It's nice not to have to play the leading role for once. We usually tend to suck up all available oxygen in a given venue.

Then, finally, inevitably, we have Longstanding Animosities Creeping Back into the Picture: despite the Monty Python alumni's humorous advice for harmonious relations with Germans during the cup, i.e. "Don't Mention the War!" "Don't Mention the War!," there is this valedictory gem, delivered in l966 by the London Times on the eve of England v. Germany for the World Cup and unearthed by Dave Kindred in the Sporting News:

"Fret not, boys, if on the morrow we should lose to the Germans at our national game, for twice this century we have defeated them at theirs."

Uh, England won that one, 4-2.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

How Democrats Can Win Again

Remember the old days when we actually won a few elections here & there? The WaPo Outlook section devoted several pages today to asking a variety of people how the Dems could come out on top again.

How to Reconnect With Voters and Realize Your Dreams of Victory
A Step-by-Step Guide for Democrats

Michael Grunwald's intro piece that lays out some basic questions and assumptions.
These are dark days for the Republican Party. Voters are angry at the government over the war in Iraq, the price of gas, Capitol Hill corruption, out-of-control spending, the Dubai port deal -- and Republicans control the government. They failed to deliver Social Security reform or ethics reform, and now they're failing to deliver immigration reform. After Katrina and Haditha, NSA wiretapping and CIA bungling, President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to Jimmy Carter levels. As the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal spreads, the GOP congressional leadership's ratings are approaching O.J. Simpson levels. And now the Fed is warning that the economy may tank.

So the political pundits, as always, want to know: What's wrong with the Democrats?

Always the Party of What-Went-Wrong

Dan Balz looks at the history of Democratic loss and asks if we'll be doing it again.
Democrats would be delighted to see Republicans go through their own public agony. But there are good reasons for party leaders and rank-and-file activists to fret. Maybe Bush will have rebounded significantly by November and will once again spoil their celebration. Maybe there really aren't enough good competitive House districts or attractive challengers to retake control. Maybe the Bush-Rove magic will work again. Or maybe the Democrats will find just one more way to blow it themselves.

Al From and Bruce Reed ask if 2006/2008 Dems can use Clintonism to get back on top.
By any logical standard, Democrats of every stripe ought to be embracing Clintonism and its central tenets -- providing people with more opportunity while demanding more responsibility, and being willing to try new methods to realize progressive ideals. As an instrument of progress, it's beyond compare. Just recall its achievements: record budget surpluses, rising incomes, more than 22 million new jobs, millions leaving welfare and poverty for work.

FIND YOUR TRUE CENTER (Don't Compromise)
David Sirota looks for the real center of American politics.
Inside the Beltway, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) is called a "centrist" because he still supports President Bush's misguided policies in Iraq; Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) proved his centrist credentials when he helped gut consumer bankruptcy protections; Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is a centrist because he votes for corporate-written, wage-destroying trade deals. And former senator John Breaux (D-La.), now a corporate lobbyist, was labeled the ultimate centrist after working to stop Congress from cracking down on the drug and health industry profiteers who backed his campaigns.

These are just a few examples of how many high-profile Democrats promote the Beltway's idea of centrism -- focused on perpetuating the status quo and abetting the influence of corporate interests that finance political campaigns. But with a centrism like this, so far outside the real center of public opinion, no wonder the Democratic Party keeps losing congressional elections.

Peter Beinart's examination of our place in the world.
America can't protect itself by withdrawing; the world's pathologies will find us. But if isolation isn't an option, neither is Bush's neo-imperial project. Iraq -- which I mistakenly supported -- has exposed the limits of what America can achieve on its own. And with America's international legitimacy in tatters, the rest of the world is extremely dubious about unilateral U.S. efforts to tinker under the hoods of other countries.

Finally, a series of individuals were asked for their advice on how the Democrats could take back Congress. Among those asked was Daily Kos' own Markos Moulitasas.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

2006's Dweb Candidate of the Year

Is it too early to get some nominations in for the first annual Make it Stop! Make it Stop! Dweb Candidate of the Year?

Unfortunately for all of us, no it isn't.

I'm throwing North Carolina Republican Vernon Robinson's name into the hat.

Got someone you think can out dumb, out dweb, and out stupefy Vernon "If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals" Robinson?

If you do, offer up your nomination. All we need is:
Name, state & party of the nominee
Why s/he should receive this soon to be not at all prestigious award.

Nominate your choice in the comments section of this post.

Winner will receive the world's eternal gratitude if s/he loses the election.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The company they keep...

Having glimpsed two late middle-aged, paunchy men standing on a street corner of our town, sporting bermuda shorts, cowboy hats and T-shirts reading, "STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION," I wondered who these folks are. What would motivate you to leave your home and hit the road to campaign in sparsely populated areas against illegal immigration, when the United States was founded on immigration generally?

As you might suspect, it's not a pretty picture. The official line is "lack of respect for our American laws," but that's only for public consumption. In fact, as prominent members of the stop illegal immigration crowd make clear, the motives constitute a witches' brew of racism, paranoia, conspiracy theories and plain old nativism. One woman from Virginia maintains that illegals have brought a leprosy epidemic to an area just outside Boston, Massachusetts and must be stopped on that basis. She also maintains that those not diseased are probably pedophiles, fleeing draconian Mexican penalties for their crimes. One of her confreres, or perhaps this same woman--it all kind of runs together, after all--alleges to audiences that al-quaeda has teamed up with various nefarious Latin American leaders(Chavez is probably a leading candidate)to bring middle eastern terrorists to Latin America, teach them impeccable Spanish, then smuggle them across the border so that they can commit atrocities here. Which terror candidates would volunteer for the desert ordeal when they can get into the US on legal visas through JFK airport is unclear, but never mind. Then there is the terra irredenta angle, made known to everyone by an elderly Arizonan. This fellow claims that Hispanics are a Trojan Horse force sent to begin the so-called reconquista, the retaking by force of former Mexican territory from the hapless and unsuspecting United States. A few years ago, he declared that if the United States could bomb the television station in Belgrade, it could certainly do the same to TELEMUNDO and all the Spanish media in this country.

This is quite a group here. If you have any friends obsessing about this issue, about the illegal "invasion" of the United States by Hispanics, clue them in as to what their famous fellow travelers say in their less public moments(these stories and more courtesy of the Southern Povery Law Center, www.splcenter.org). They'll no doubt agree that these are not people with whom they would travel the world on a tandem bike...

How Stupid Can a Political Race Get?

Yeah, there's North Carolina's Vernon Robinson's mental trip to Leave it to Beaver land, and out in California, we've got republican from Modesto Bill Conrad bashing republican Tom Berryhill because Berryhill had a heart transplant - the ad? that the guy doesn't "have the heart" for the office. And a woman who is bashed for not sending her kids to public school. Oh yeah, she doesn't have kids.

Oh yeah, and the repubs in Calif. bashed Democrat Francine Busby for praising a teacher reported to have child porn. What the ad didn't mention? Busby voted to fire the teacher.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

One of Bush's Forced Pregnancies

A depressing, but eye-opening piece appeared in today's WaPo Outlook section. Titled, "What Happens When There Is No Plan B" The story of a middle aged, married woman who unfortunately for her, lives in 1) Bush's America; and 2) Virginia. Her story to try and obtain the Plan B pill is thwarted by pro life nonsense. The result? She becomes pregnant.

Read her story. And let us all redouble our efforts to kick out not anyone in power who is a puppet of this nation's psycho conservative right wing.

Help Fight Idiocy - Contribute to Brad Miller's Campaign

North Carolina Democratic representative Brad Miller is running against what I can only term as the stupidest man on the planet. If you've got a few bucks to spare, send them to Miller's campaign here.

Wonkette is running Robinson's tv ad here. It's a MUST VIEW, one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time is this Twilight Zone take off. Oh, wait, they meant us to take it seriously? I would suggest that we take any voter who lives through Robinson's campaign and still votes for the man and get that person some serious psychiatric help ASAP.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

London calling, or, "perspective, people."

Just back from the UK and Hungary, where things are presumably better than they are here, since those nations don't have George W. Bush "leading" them. Well, things AREN'T necessarily better and the grass ain't that much greener. In Hungary, the socialists have come to power once again after a series of anti-Semitic remarks made by the leader of the ruling party, Fidesz's Victor Orban. No one much likes the socialists, because they still recall the Bad Old Days of "gulyas" Communism, so there's a lot of grumbling. Also, those forints don't go as far as they used to; the EU entry has sent prices on everything skyrocketing, with no corresponding across-the-board wage increases. In Britain, meanwhile, the successor to Tony Blair has been caught canoodling with an attractive secretary, then playing croquet with wealthy backers while he was supposed to be hard at work, minding the shop in Blair's absence. Last weekend, there was a wave of knife crime, with some l9 individuals offed by other, knife-wielding individuals. A knife turn-in/ amnesty was subsequently declared, with disappointing results. Several more British soldiers died in Iraq, along with Kimberly Dozier's CBS camera crew staffers. It has become nearly impossible to get a timely appointment with a health service dentist, so that many Brits are walking around with stabbing tooth pain. And everyone hates the current regime so much that they are talking about trying to exile the Prime Minister and Cherie Blair.
I'm not sure what grand conclusion all of this adds up to...maybe misery loves company?

I've Never Heard of Brad Miller, But I Just Sent Him a Check

Miller is a North Carolina rep who is being challenged by Republican Vernon Robinson with this radio ad:

"Brad Miller supports gay marriage and sponsored a bill to let American homosexuals bring their foreign homosexual lovers to this country on a marriage visa. If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals."

Brad Miller, enjoy my check, and hopefully many more folks will be sending money your way.

Bush Continues His Race for Most Irrelevant President Ever

What's the most critical issue facing the Bush administration this weekend?

North Korea?
The Economy?
Slowing Housing Market?

Fools! Of course not. It's the spector of gay (gasp!) marriage, of course. According to the WaPo, "The president intends to devote his weekly radio address today to the Marriage Protection Amendment and has invited supporters to the White House on Monday for another speech promoting it, according to aides and activist."

Surely our Congress realizes there are more pressing issues out there, do they not? Ok, well, maybe not. "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he decided to call for a vote on the amendment because states that banned same-sex marriage in the last 18 months are under assault in the courts."

Do I hear the growing call of desparate politicians seeking the adoration of their psycho right wing?

Live (for the moment) From Washington, DC

Where, along with NYC, we've been told by homeland security that we're less at risk of a terrorist attack than Montana, Utah or Rhode Island.

Isn't it OBVIOUS that terrorists would be after those targets instead of the ones they've already had success at hitting? Why hit the Pentagon again, or the Capitol or White House when you could hit a target in Provo or Butte. Obviously the press would cover those much more extensively.

Chertoff (who unsurpisingly in this administration, is still in his job) has said that officials want to "spread the money to other places" -- yes, you have it. Bush & buddies want to curry favor with the heartland by sending them money to protect them from . . . well, . . . not getting money?

At least I know now that I can wander the streets of DC or NYC in safety. No self respecting terrorist would apparently attack them again!

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