Thursday, October 13, 2011

Last Call

When Republicans reveal their actual plans, they get in a lot of trouble.

Facing a firestorm of criticism, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis said Wednesday he may have made a "poor choice of words" when he suggested the state "find a way to divide and conquer" people on public assistance.

However, he stuck by other remarks that the state might consider drug-testing recipients of welfare and other public money, and even some state employees.

The Cornelius Republican made the comments late last week in response to questions at a town meeting in Madison County. Tight budgets, he said, force tough choices.

He compared public assistance for "a woman in a wheelchair" to that for a mother with children out of wedlock.

"At some point, we'll have to say, 'First kid, we'll give you a pass. Second, third or fourth kid, you're on your own. What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition that needs help and we should help.

"And we need to get those folks to look down at those people who choose to get into a position that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, 'You're on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies but we're not going to take care of you.' "

It wasn't a "poor choice of words", it was a Republican telling the truth about how they feel about the poor: that they must be shamed, ridiculed, and hated out of existence. Republicans want to jettison the poor in order to make America "great" again.  Period.  That's the entire ball game over there.

Why is everyone acting all surprised?  Republicans want to finish squeezing all the life out of a good 150 million Americans or so.

Bitter Blackberry

This might be the end for Blackberry (RIM).  I'm not saying they will collapse tomorrow, but a once dominant giant has now fallen to the bottom of the pit.

I'll go back as far as the tablet failure.  It was released half-baked, and wouldn't even allow users to have full range of use, yet the price was outrageous.  Once upon a time, Blackberry was able to charge a premium for their devices, but after a long string of failures that time has passed.  Users were angry, and rightfully so, at the incomplete development and the patch and repatch updates that cause more aggravation than they resolve.

Then the Bold 9900 came out and was supposed to revolutionize cell technology, and re-establish Blackberry as the top producer. Snore.  First, it's the same glitchy crap that one has come to expect, with resource-hogging "improvements" that actually bog down an already struggling processor.

Now we have this: a global outage.  Millions of Blackberry users are not getting full service right now, something Research In Motion is trying to fix.  It's recently spread to the U.S. but in the last eight weeks there have been tremors and flickers in available service, culminating in one massive outage that just keeps growing.

RIM had better put their best foot forward, or their journey may come to an end.  Consumers are fickle, and the population has figured out that Android is a lot more open and far fewer hoops to dance through.

Bitter Tea Leaves

Old Tea Party Village wisdom:  They will lead America into a new age!  New Tea Party Village wisdom:  Shut it and back Romney, you morons.

This year was supposed to be different. This was to be the time for the tea party to flourish and nominate a true believer. It's the moment, we were told, for an out-of-the-box Republican who would be against everything Barack Obama supports, like health care reform or bank bailouts.

Fine, except that Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health plan was a model for Obama (as the president fondly points out). And Romney told us during the debate that he supported the bank bailouts. ("Action had to be taken.")

If this keeps up, the tea partiers will be back at the harbor -- throwing themselves in.

Or, they can decide to suck it up and try to win.

You think the Village tolerance of the Tea Party is at an end?  I do.  The Sensible Centrist crowd wants Mittens, and they want him now.  They don't particularly care what the Tea Party wants, either.  They have a narrative, and it's "Mitt Romney is inevitable." If Borger's argument sounds familiar, it's the same argument the Village Centrists have been making for years.

Borger goes one step further:

So does this potential receptiveness to Romney dilute the tea party into an ineffective -- and unimportant -- movement? Not exactly. Inevitably, new political movements do lose influence as they mature. They initially inject a huge amount of energy into the process, as the tea party did in the 2010 midterm elections. New political organizers and leaders are born. New issues are highlighted. But then comes the self-selection: The serious reformers remain. Those who can't accommodate political reality drop out of the process.

And yes, I'm aware of the comparisons as to why the left should back Obama.  Here's the difference however:  the Tea Party was never real, it was just channeled into the latest effort to do what Republicans have been trying to do for decades now: eliminate the New Deal while transferring wealth to the top.

Republicans weren't going to exactly stay home because of Romney if it means throwing out President Blackguard McDarkenangry.  They'll vote anyway.

Will we?

The Responsibility Of The 99%

Finally, people are seeing our nation's problems as something more than Republican or Democrat.  How well this will withstand the upcoming elections is hard to say.  I feel a glimmer of hope that we are finally coming together to force changes and tell government we have had enough.  Our representatives have ignored us for their own gain for too long, and corporations bought the country decades ago, a problem that spans every generation since the factory boom at the turn of last century.

Movement is good, but as the direction of our country changes it is important that we see our role in the future.  It's not enough to get attention through a protest and not show the change in ourselves.  We must demand more from government and hold our public servants accountable.  We must also shoulder some of the burden of getting our country back on track.  Voting is the easiest thing we can do to shape our nation, but choices we make every day will also have an impact.  How we raise our children, spend our money, educate ourselves and commit ourselves to doing better will do as much for redeeming our future as who we elect.  Instead of looking to leaders to support us, we should support ourselves and take responsibility for our decisions.  In a generation bred to look for a fast payout and taught to blame others, that is a mighty goal.

Those old people we make fun of?  Those guys know what's going on and they are trying to tell us.  The men and women who survived when they had nothing and no government backup, those guys see what we're facing.  We could do more to support our country, and I'm not talking throwing taxes.  We could all take more action, read more articles, fact check those urban legends.  Even our poorest have something to give to those less fortunate.  There is always someone less fortunate who can benefit if we are willing to share.  As a country, we have lost our scope, our sense of scale.  Our poorest are often living better than the middle class in other parts of the world.  We forget that while we go without cable or air conditioning that some people are born and die without ever having a full stomach once.  You have to hunt hard for that level of suffering here, while other huge populations accept it as their lot in life.

It's time we get a dose of reality.  Our country could break apart if people don't get some peace and prosperity soon.  We cannot afford to fight a war while the states starve and scrape to maintain.  We hear reports that the economic death spiral is slowing, but our eyes see something different.  It's time we got in touch with our inner scrappiness and reform the country from the inside.

Government starts with us.  If we demand better, and keep the greater good in mind, we can turn this around.  If we wait for our candidates to sort it out for us we may as well give up now and enjoy the good times while we have them.  The choice is ours, and we make it every time we choose whether to do the honorable or the convenient thing.

If the 1% dominates, it is the fault of those who stood by and let it happen.

You Might Be Too Drunk To Drive If...

... you hit the only tree for 250 miles.  Yes, as hard as it is to believe, that is just exactly what happened.  These trees survived thirst in the desert, building a 100 foot root system that got enough water for the tree to survive.  Because it was so scarce, a well was dug to make the landmark an oasis for those who needed shade and rest in the harsh desert.

The accident was in 1973, and the tree now resides in the national museum of Niger.  A metal sculpture of a tree stands at the original site (it doesn't look like it offers much shade).  The tree died before I was even born, and yet I feel badly for it.  It survived so many things to be taken out by a random idiot.  The article says he was allegedly drunk, but I can only say I'd hate to hear the explanation of being sober while hitting a single tree.  Moron.

Enjoy your random dose of trivia!

Five For The Ninety-Nine

Matt Taibbi offers some advice for the Occupy Together movement:

That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can't be seen by the public or put on TV. There just isn't going to be an iconic "Running Girl" photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America – just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.

No matter what, I'll be supporting Occupy Wall Street. And I think the movement's basic strategy – to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles – makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I'd suggest focusing on five:

And he suggests breaking up monopolies, taxing stock, bond, and derivatives trades, prohibiting companies that take public bailout money from lobbying, eliminate the carried-interest tax break, and eliminate cash bonuses for bankers in favor of stock options. 

These are all great ideas...and I'd go further and add reinstating Glass-Steagall, give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau real power, regulate commodity speculation if not eliminate it altogether, eliminate the ratings agencies and oh yeah, actually prosecute the assholes that cost us trillions.

Idea number eleven of course is remember to vote in November.

And The Mask Slips Again

...And the One Percenters reveal how they really feel about Americans.  Right here in the NKY, too, as local politics reporter Carl Weiser finds.

Local politicians are beginning to weigh in on Occupy Cincinnati, the protest at Piatt Park now in its fourth day.

Covington city commissioner Steve Frank had one of the more, um, vigorous denunciations, writing on his Facebook page: Turn out the lights on the Occupiers, I feel like going Taliban on them!!!”  I asked asked him, via Facebook, what he meant.

Here’s his response:  ”The Taliban, as they see it is resisting occupation. I am resisting the Occupiers and very proud to be a 1%’er. I figured that the irony would be lost on most of the dummies in Occupation Nation who oppose the war in Afganistan because they see us as occupiers. I happen to oppose the war too but for highly different grounds. PS I am proud of our troops and have a son in harm’s way.”

Franks is the same douchebag who got nailed for a DUI back in July for running a pair of stop signs while crunked up on the Levee (as far as I know he still has his license and his job as city commissioner) and I'm pretty sure the sight of Occupy Cincy protesters within 300 feet of him would probably have him reaching for Depends and a fainting couch.  Not only is his threat laughable, but his explanation is arguably pulled from the same word salad shooter than Palin and Bachmann use on a regular basis.

The poor, poor One Percenters.  If only some brave, patriotic Real American heroes would come along and free them from the terrible oppression of having people exist in society who make less than $250,000 a year, and preferably liberate our precious job creators from the hoi polloi with lots and lots of Second Amendment remedies, why America could once again be the Shining City On The Hill.

Atheists Ahoy!

The 20th anniversary conference of the Free Inquiry Group here in Cincy is this weekend at the Doubletree by the airport, and the famous PZ Myers will be there, along with JT Eberhard and former NPR Morning Edition editor Jamila Bey, among others.  Sunday only tickets will be free, too.

Tickets are going fast, and for one weekend at least, the state of Kentucky will more than balance out the stupid of the Creation Museum about 5 miles down 275 from the conference.  Drop by if you can.


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