Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Give 'em Hell, Barry!


As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us, watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead.
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Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege, one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans, for in our hands lies the ability to shape our world, for good or for ill.
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I know that it's easy to lose sight of this truth, to become cynical and doubtful, consumed with the petty and the trivial.
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But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places, that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans who are anything but ordinary.
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President Barack Obama
February 24, 2009
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Someone please hand me a chisel.

President Barack Obama found his voice last night. For the first time since Jack Kennedy nearly half a century ago, an American president looked the American people straight in the eye and called for shared sacrifice. For the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt three quarters of a century ago, the chief executive demanded that the sons and daughters of privilege pay their fair share of the nation's tax burden. For the first time in who-knows-how-long, the President of the United States of America gets it:

This time the CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes disappear on a fancy jet. Those days are over."

Someone pinch me.

It was such amazing thing to witness: the first African American president addressing the American people from the podium of the House of Representatives. Behind him sat the first woman Speaker of the House and the first Catholic vice-president. Is this a great country, or what?

But the highlight of the evening (for me anyway) was the Republican response from Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Someone has likened it to Air Supply following the Rolling Stones on the bill. The speech was so jaw-droppingly pathetic, so politically tone deaf, it left MSNBC's Rachel Maddow literally speechless. The choice of Jindal to respond to the president's oration was as interesting as it was obvious. They could not choose a sitting member of the House and Senate to go on the attack so they chose someone as far removed from Washington politics as is possible to be. The fact that he, like Barack Obama, is not white was also the reason for the choice. If you didn't have a chance to watch it, please, check it out on You Tube. It bordered on the comical. One could not help wondering whether the governor even read Obama's speech before responding:

"Democratic leaders in Washington, they place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you, the American people....A few weeks ago, the president warned that our country is facing a crisis that he said we may not be able to reverse. Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that America's best days are behind her."

It was your typical right wing smoke, mirrors and bullshit. First of all, Barack never said - never even implied - that our best days are behind us. As has been the case for as long as memory serves, they cannot deal with the facts directly, the only strategy available to them is to lie and distort. That's their only hope these days. As ex-Republican congressman Joe Scarborough related this morning on MSNBC, he received an e-mail from one of his former colleagues in the House which said, quite truthfully: "MAY DAY! MAY DAY! WE'RE GOING DOWN!" Indeed.
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It's amusing to watch these Republicans lashing out at the president's rescue plan. When George W. Bush was spending this country into utter ruin, they were right behind him. Think about where we'd be today if We The People had been wise enough to elect Al Gore nine years ago. Gore would not have squandered the surplus that existed then on a tax cut for a class of people who already had more money than they knew what to do with. Nor, you can be sure, would he have pissed away America's treasure on a useless, illegal war. He would have (as he was promising to do) invested in us. Gore understood something that the loony right wing has never been able to get: History has shown too many times to even catalogue that only when our social and economic infrastructure was being invested in did we thrive. Had America not made the grievous mistake of sending an arrogant half-wit like George W. Bush to the White House on Election Day 2000, we would be living in a different world today.

The desperation of the Republicans at this stage is a truly funny thing to behold. Jindal is being discussed as a possible nominee to run against Obama in 2012. The reason for that is obvious as well. There is no way in hell they'll be able to run a white guy in four years. It will either be Bobby Jindal - or a white woman. Take that to the bank. Better yet, stuff it under your mattress.

Keep your eyes on these jackasses in the next few weeks. They're going to do everything humanly possible to ensure that the president's stimulus package is a complete and utter failure. Count on them to make statements in the press so reckless that the market responds in a negative way. As has been stated on this site before, they know their history. After FDR was inaugurated in 1933, they would not control the executive branch of our government for a full twenty years. Their very survival depends on the destruction of this country's infrastructure. To hell with the American people.

Last night President Barack Obama, in words that will be echoed down the decades, elevated America's political oratory to a precipice higher than it has soared in generations. Calling out to the best in each of us, he pleaded the cause of government activism in a way that hasn't been articulated in many years. The tired old Reaganesque idea that "government isn't the answer, it's the problem" has been rendered deader than the Gipper himself. There will be times (and this is certainly one of them) where government will be the only answer. Wake up and smell the gnarled carcase of that dead elephant. We're entering a new age. Get used to the idea.

If there is one thing that a quarter of a billion people need, it is governance. The very idea of eliminating the government or (as was once fantasized by GOP strategist Gary Norquist) "shrinking it to the point where it can be drowned in the bath tub" is - to be polite - nuts. They have been chanting that tired old mantra for over thirty years: that government is bad and needs to be euthanized. It's really getting kind of old, don'cha think?
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Here's something we need to understand, when government is at its most functional, rich people pay more in taxes. The Republican party is controlled and owned by those people. It is in their financial interest that the only function of our elected representatives is that they fund the military industrial complex and make really stupid laws. It's as simple as that. For the last three decades, America's tax burden has been shouldered by the poor and middle classes. That's about to end, boys and girls.

Am I waging class warfare? You'd better believe it, Buster.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED VIEWING:

W: A Film by Oliver Stone

I finally saw it a few days ago. It's a lot better than I expected.

50 Comments:

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give me a break, Tom. We'll start chiseling on Mount Rushmore only after he pulls this economy out of the crapper. Until then, his words are just fodder for an already burgeoning supply of Obama speeches designed to inspire and comfort - and little more. As the tiny old lady used to exclaim in the 1980s Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?"

The Audacity of Hope isn't going to put food on people's tables, or pay their mortgages, their car payments, or put their kids through college. It isn't going to pay their medical bills or allow them to live with dignity. The Audacity of Hope only provides solace for those who hurt and have nowhere to turn; for those who have no money and can't find work; for those who have work but can't make a decent living. His words are no more an economic stimulus than The Sermon on the Mount. It's like Chinese food - after an hour you're hungry again.

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Just remember that he has only been in office for one month and five days. He's off to a pretty good start. Lets see what happens....

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

I disagree with you when you say that the priveleged are not paying their fair share of the tax burden. The only people who have not paid their fair share of the tax burden are the people who have illegally evaded taxes, who many times happen to be priveleged, drug dealers, prostitution ring managers, embezzlers, etc. The fact that there are LEGAL loopholes to avoid paying taxes DIRECTLY to the government does not mean the priveleged are not doing their part for America. Does it matter that the rich can get a tax deduction for donating to a charity or for using their income to open a hospital? Even if they are ONLY doing it to get a tax deduction, what is the problem, the result is still a good one.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

Taxes wouldn´t even be necessary if EVERYONE were noble and did volunteer work, were their neighbor´s keeper, partook in family planning practices, didn´t steal, lie, cheat, throw trash on the ground, recycled, etc.... How realistic and expectation is that though?

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

Oh AND of course if the rich didn´t buy fancy drapes...

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Fabianna, I have to respectfully disagree with your statements about taxing the wealthy. Although there are certainly cases where the wealthy benevolently provide good and honorable assets to the public through their generosity, as you said it's only because of the subsequent tax-breaks (loopholes in the tax code) they receive. Undoubtedly, the traditional purpose of tax-breaks was to allow the wealthy to invest in infrastructure, factories, and other mechanisms to create jobs and a semblance of security for the middle and working classes in the United States. With ever increasing globalization within "free markets", and state-capitalism (as is practiced in the U.S.A.), the earnings that used to be infused into the American marketplace are now invested outside this country (into factories overseas, jobs overseas, etc., etc.). The benefit of the investments provided by generous tax-breaks never reaches the pocketbooks of America's citizens.

The supposed "trickledown" hailed by Milton Friedman, and those who espouse the "truthiness" of Arthur Laffer's taxation curve, is a lie and a total misconception. Maybe it applied in much earlier times (say, in the 1960s/1970s -- and before), but it's ludicrous to believe it applies now. That's why, in my opinion, tax rates for the wealthy (and corporations) should be comparable to what they were back in those years.



"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." -- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

J.G, some very fine points and I agree with you completely. Fabianna, sorry, but I do not see the wealthy giving away huge chunks of their income to charities, opening hospitals or such as that. Other than Bill Gates, who among the extreme wealthy have done much of worth for the world?

When you think that the largest part of this country's wealth is held by less than the upper 5%, the UPPER FIVE PERCENT; think of that, it is indeed, time for redistribution.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Fabianna,

If all human beings were saints, not only would taxes be unnecessary, neither would currency. Unfortunately, until human perfection is upon us....

peace....

Tom Degan

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Laneman said...

Class warfare today, class warfare tomorrow, class warfare forever! The rich have waged class warfare on the poor and working class for all of the history of civilization. We have the right to fight back!

The rich own most of the wealth in this country. The rich earn most of the income. The rich use most of the resources. They're rich! Get it?! Therefore the rich should pay the most taxes! Pretty simple, eh?

Now maybe we should not have income taxes but instead a carbon tax and a resource use tax. I think that would be more fair. Also put an end to the current globalization scheme. At one time the government got all of its income from tariffs. We should bring back tariffs.

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Class warfare huh ?? Back in the good old days we had a slogan: EAT THE RICH !! Along with QUESTION AUTHORITY it was one of my favorites. Since we have failed to do both we now find ourselves with our work cut out for us. Redistribution of the wealth certainly won't occur voluntarily. It seems though after the Madoff scam that all of that horded wealth may not have obtained by the rich legally !! If that is indeed the case, all that ill gotten wealth should be forfeited and confiscated by WE THE PEOPLE. Don't even jail the bastards...make them live below the poverty level and see how fast they kill themselves !!

 
At 3:07 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

I have to hire a proof reader !! The prior post should have read " may not have BEEN obtained by the rich legally ". Sorry !!

 
At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon, Tom. You know Obama's gift is oratory only. That mega-billion stimulus law will only drive us into the poorhouse sooner. The Republicans have the right idea with additional tax cuts. Government isn't going to get us out of the crapper. Only people, spending their dollars as they see fit, will provide the needed stimulus to turn this economy around. All the Democrats want to do, is do what they do best: spend money. Give me an old-fashioned Republican any day.

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A movie line comes to mind, “you use your tongue pretty than a five dollar whore.” That’s about all I thought of the speech. Just more democrat rhetoric; like George, only democrat and well delivered. They are all controlled by the rich and the corporations; it’s not just the republicans. I don’t like either party pissing away my money. It is apparent that Obama is on record pace to put us in the poor house. No earmarks in the stimulus? Bullshit! His stimulus is costing more than the Iraq war; hopefully we will have more to show for it, but I doubt it will be little else than more government when all is said and done. What he saves in Iraq will be spent in Afghanistan. No earmarks in the current 410B spending package in the Senate? I’ve heard anywhere between 8000 and 9000. He will sign it to get what he wants later. Can you say “typical politician”? You are all crazy if you think taxing the top 2% and corporations a little more will solve all our problems. He is on track to do the same thing to us that George and the republicans did. He is going to leave us with more debt, AND more recurring costs for increased government and spending. Granted, some of it is for a better cause than Iraq, but you need to balance the budget! Everybody’s taxes will be going up within the next ten years because of him and the democrat’s spendfest; not just the rich folk. The stimulus package was a big ass pork sandwich. Almost every item was somebody’s pet project that’s been waiting for an opportunity; and the economic crisis is just the ticket. Either you go along with it, or be called an obstructionist like the democrats call the republicans who disagree with the approach. Bipartisanship according to the democrats is maybe asking the republicans what they think and then gleefully and vengefully doing whatever the want. Stick it up their ass to get even, right Tom? Anonymous is correct; all the democrats want to do is spend money and increase government. Barry is full of shit when he alludes to less government; he says smarter government. Every time you add or increase spending programs, you increase the size of the government to support it, FOREVER. It’s fine with me if you want to cut taxes on the middle and lower income class and raise it on the wealthy; just let the people decide where to spend it, not the assholes running our government. Government is NOT the answer. Fix the F#^$& regulation of the banking and mortgage industries, cut the corporations out of the political system, and leave the rest to the people. As far as I can tell, the republicans built an economic coffin and the democrats are nailing it shut. Joel

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Good evening Joel (aka Anonymous). I had to reply to some of your comments while thinking about them:

Yes, agreed, both major political parties are beholden to corporate and banking interests. That should start becoming clear as the days and weeks unfold. As one guest remarked on, I believe, Countdown tonight: "If the banks don't comply and step in-line, Vice President Biden will shame them." Funny, huh? Like "shame" is going to have any affect. When billions of dollars are at stake, do you think "shame" will be strong enough to override free taxpayer money? No, me neither.

You're off with your claim that the $787 billion stimulus law is more than what's been spent in Iraq. The cost of the Iraqi occupation turned over $1 trillion long ago. Coupled with Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cuts, which went predominately to the wealthy, and you're talking about some big money. President Obama has a long way to go to reach those dizzying heights.

I don't believe anyone claimed that taxing the top two-percent of wealth owners, along with corporations, would "solve all our problems" (as you insinuated), but it's a good start towards creating more equality as far as wealth distribution.

President Obama has publicly announced that he intends to reduce the deficit by one-half by 2013. Given the gravity of the current crisis, I'd say that's pretty optimistic. But, at least he's laying his neck on the line. That's something that Bush and the Republicans, for the previous eight years, never even brought up.

I disagree with you that the stimulus package is "a big ass pork sandwich". There's very little "pork" within the legislation. There are too many tax cuts, in my mind, but it apparently wouldn't have passed through the Republican "nay-sayers" without throwing them a bone. That's politics.

Personally, I don't care how large government is -- or becomes -- as long as it does its job efficiently and effectively. Quit sounding so "Reaganesque" with your pronouncements that government is the problem. It's not government, per se, that's the problem. It's government cozying-up to big business that's the problem.

I appreciate your anger and blowing-off steam, but please get your facts straight before going into a one-man tirade.

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspiring column as always, Tom. You managed to elicit some serious flak, too. I'm so proud of you!
PeaceOut,
Shehova

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Frank. Thanks for the response. I do believe my facts are straight. I suppose the cost of the war and the stimulus is debatable to a point, but I am not far off. Check it: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22926.pdf And the “stimulus package” is most certainly pork in the sense that it fulfills political special interests. I found this nice summary: http://finance.senate.gov/press/Bpress/2009press/prb021209. You can say it’s all for a good cause, but most is for special political interests in my mind. There is far too little investment in infrastructure. I think most of the money is going to be pissed away; considering our politicians, I have no reason to believe otherwise. The tax cuts you speak of are predominantly for the middle to lower income classes, not that I have a problem with tax cuts if they have a purpose; some so called tax cuts are simply give-aways that unnecessarily increase the debt and trade deficit. Sure, people are going to spend the money, but likely on crap from China. What good is that? Most “tax cuts” were proposed by the democrats to fulfill a campaign promise for wealth redistribution, and not to appease republicans; the way I see it anyway. I guess it is a matter of perspective. Obama is doing exactly what Bush did. He is going to spend whatever he wants and leave the mess for the next guy, and he’s just getting warmed up. He promises to cut the deficit by a half within the next ten years; he won’t be around. I didn’t read anything about 2013. Half is not good enough anyway. And I stand by my philosophy that more government is not the answer and will only increase the burden taxpayers have to bear. I agree that big business is a problem, but for every person the government adds to their payroll, the private sector looses one and the burden grows. The size of government does not fluctuate much based on need, it just continually expands. There’s no real incentive be efficient. Joel

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Hey Joel. It seems like most of your feelings concerning, for instance, the cost of the Iraqi occupation or the size of government, are based upon misrepresentations (lies) by the Bush Administration (i.e., CRS Report for Congress) or your own prejudices, or preconceived notions, about what constitutes "right-sized government". I can't, or won't even try, to sway you on the latter, but maybe you'll walk away with a different perspective concerning the former.

Per Joseph Stiglitz in an article in The Guardian last April, operational spending in the Iraqi occupation was occurring at approximately $12 billion a month, and with every year costing more than the last, it is easy to come to a total operational cost that is double the roughly $600 billon already spent through that time. Coincidently (or not), that $600 billion figure is what the CRS Report for Congress estimated. Stiglitz believes the true cost of the Iraqi conflict and occupation is closer to $3 trillion, and gets down to the nitty-gritty in how, and why, he arrived at this number in his latest book, The Three Trillion Dollar War. He claims his analysis is conservative, although some economists claim it's not. Taken to task, let's just say he's overestimating the number by a third. That being the case, we can safely say the war has cost, at least, $2 trillion. That's lots of money, where the opportunity costs are phenomenal. Just think if half of that went to developing and implementing alternative energy sources. We would never have to deal with OPEC, or middle eastern conflict, again. It would essentially become a mute point -- not to mention the benefits the environment would derive from such action.

I took a closer look at the other link you provided, and I have to say I don't see where all the "pork" and "special political interests" are that you mention. The major categories (Tax Relief for Individuals & Families; Tax Incentives for Business; Manufacturing Recovery Provisions; Economic Recovery Tools; Infrastructure Financing Tools; Reinvestment in Renewable Energy; Assistance for Families & Unemployed Workers; Health Insurance Assistance; State Fiscal Relief & Medicaid; Health Information Technology; and Trade Provisions) seem pretty straight forward to me. All provide some sort of stimulus (e.g., tax credits, developmental bonding, tax exceptions) or recovery. I'm not sure why you would find a problem with any of this.

 
At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jefferson's Guardian,

It's kind of ironic how you call the "trickle down effect" as being outdated, yet you quote Benjamin Franklin at the end of your post?

Also, the wealthiest 5% of Americans pay over 42% of the federal governments taxes.

Keynesian economics worked really well during the Great Depression didn't it? FDR led the US through double digit unemployment until WWII came in 1939.

 
At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank,

Your quote..."Personally, I don't care how large government is -- or becomes -- as long as it does its job efficiently and effectively."

You need to look at Lord Actons quote of "All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Come on, you really dont care how large government becomes? Please, stop and think about what you are saying.

Before you tell someone else to get their facts straight please get yours straight. Stop listening to everything the media says, especially Olberman since you quoted him, and think about the words they are using. The federal deficit that Obama is going to cut is the current deficit. That means that half of the current spending by the government will be cut by the end of his term. He is not cutting the federal budget by half and definitely not the federal debt in half. The current federal deficit does not include his new programs, which are going to add to the federal deficit making it larger than it is right now.

I appreciate you taking an interest in the trying to set someone else straight but please get your understanding straight before you do so. You may actually share some of their views.

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank,

Again I just read another post by you and looked at the link to the reinvestment act. The one where you said there was no "pork". Please take notice that at the top it says "full summary". The entire document is only 19 pages. The bill that was passed was nearly 1000 pages. Ofcourse the "pork" isnt going to be in the summary!!!!!

BTW, Obamas new 600 some billion dollar proposal has 9,000 earmarks.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Hey I have an idea......why don't we go somewhere and start our own country ??? Oh wait, there is nowhere left to go. RATS !!!

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger Fabianna said...

You anonymous people, man. It´s confusing enough to try to understand all this political jive without having to figure out how many of you there really are and who of you is who.

 
At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s a conspiracy of the Anonymous’. Frank, Please tell me that you are not a fan of Olberman. He’s such a smug little A-hole. Re Iraq: I was just making a comparison for a frame of reference; not defending the Iraq invasion. I could probably make a similar argument regarding cost by adding in the interest on the stimulus as well as the lost dollars which could have been used for private investment rather than repaying all those dollars given away. I do not believe that government spending is the answer. I do not believe that it was FDR’s New Deal spending that brought us out of the depression. For every source you or Tom points to supporting this theory, I can find a contrarian point of view. I agree that FDR was a great president, and instituted some good programs. However, if you are going to have a “stimulus”, at least spend it wisely. Handing out checks just for the sake of redistributing wealth and paying for COBRA are two ways, for example, I would not spend money. I think the tax credits encouraging people to install solar energy systems is great, for example. Do you want to talk about that high speed rail to Vegas? If it looks like an ear mark and smells like one, it probably is. Joel

 
At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, Don't pick on Jindal. He is a good man. He really cleaned house when he got into office. We NEED a good fiscal conservative. I want to see him run with Palin in 2012. I just can't decide who should be on top; of the ticket that is. I think I'd like to see Palin on top. What do you think? (You can not be serious about Al Gore; what a putz) Joel

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous (2:07 PM post time), where's the irony that's leading you to think I'm possibly being contradictory? My quotation (from Benjamin Franklin) was an indirect response to Fabianna's post (9:24 PM) regarding the necessity of taxation. There shouldn't be any mystery there. My explanation as to why trickledown might not be legitimate, during these days of globalization, had to do with whether the very top income earners (whose top marginally tax rates are exceedingly lower than during the '60s/'70s time period) actually invest to produce jobs and capital funding for today's American middle and working classes. I alluded that it's invested in overseas capitalization, instead. Once again, I'm not sure where you see the irony. Please explain.

The top marginal tax rate during the 1950s and into the early 1960s was around 91%, and maintained about 70% from 1964 until Reagan took office. From that year forward (until the Clinton years), it dropped precipitously. Right now, it stands at 35%. With such a dramatic differential in MTR, I question the folly of trickledown economics. Where did it "trickledown" to? It certainly didn't create new factories (in this county). It didn't create higher-paying jobs in America due to investment. Tell me, where did all that money, which in prior years normally went towards taxes, go?

Yes, the wealthiest segments of society should pay the most in taxes -- and they should gladly do it.

And also, yes, I believe Keynesian economics did an admirable job during the 1930s. Just as with this stimulus bill (law), it wasn't enough to do the job. Granted, WWII brought us out of the Great Depression, due to the massive influx of public spending on the war.

 
At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Hey Anonymous, I'm sorry you're confused about the meaning of "deficit". I never said Obama was reducing the "budget" (which he eventually will), nor did I say anything about the "debt". I only indicated that he intended to reduce the deficit (as it currently stands -- since he hasn't sent a budget to Congress, yet), by 1/2, by the beginning of his second term in office.

I'm sorry you were confused. Please reread what I wrote (both postings to Joel), then perhaps it'll make more sense to you.

Also, I'm well aware that the link provided was only a summary to the Recovery & Reinvestment Act. If you'll read Joel's post, that I was replying to, you'll realize he provided the web address for that very document. I only made it more easily accessible by providing the hyperlink. As far as my reference to "pork", again I invite you to reread what I said, which was "there's very little pork within the legislation". I never mentioned there was "none".

I believe my "facts" are in order. But, I question yours. Please, just so you can prove to me you're right, please do me (and everyone on this forum) a favor and list -- exactly -- what "pork" you see in this law. I'd really like to know. You mention that there's 9000 earmarks. Please, enlighten me, list twenty of them. No, let me make it easier for you -- just list ten. I bet you can't.

You have a great day, too!

 
At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

I came across this handy little map of ear marks in the proposed O'budget. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub%3Fkey%3DpqxnHT66fIAqY0H6YdMyJJg%26output%3Dtxt%26gid%3D0%26range%3Dkml_output%26time1%3D3987055 I suppose what some call earmarks, others call pork. Like Chuck “The Shmuck” Schummer says, people don’t care about a few billion here or there. Barry said no earmarks!

 
At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Good evening, Joel. Yes, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a huge fan of Keith Olbermann's Countdown. It's probably one of the few truthful -- and truth-seeking -- news programs on TV. Olbermann, I agree, comes across pretty strong. But, in his defense, he's usually right. That's the kind of news reporting I want to see. I think Rachel Maddow's setting a new standard for truthful reporting and commentary, also.

As far as Iraq, sure, there's no doubt, you could probably validate and substantiate everything (or anything) the government's said about that horrible war. Equally, you can refute everything (or anything) Tom and I (or anyone else) say about it. But, one thing you can't deny, is this: The war and occupation has cost a ton of money -- any way you look at it. It was a boondoggle, and a terrible waste of treasure and human life. For comparisons, this war and occupation was all pork -- every bit of it. That can't be said of the Recovery & Reinvestment Act, no matter how much you disagree with it.

Now, here's my question, and I ask this in all sincerity. If you don't believe a Keynesian approach is the best way to solve this monstrosity of a cluster-fuck we find ourselves in, just what do you think would be the answer to getting out of this thing (with the least amount of collateral damage)? I ask, because I haven't found one Republican (or conservative) that can give me a legitimate answer. And no, please don't tell me more tax cuts. That's already been tried, remember?

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

I agree with you, Frank....

Olbermann's is what the American media has been waiting for for decades, "truthful and truth seeking" indeed. He's compelling, informing and SO DAMNED FUNNY!. I cheered five years ago when he came back to MSNBC after a five year hiatus.

All the best to everyone....

Tom Degan

 
At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Frank, it doesn’t surprise me that Tom, my favorite ranting liberal lunatic, has an Olberman fetish, and I wouldn’t call Olberman truth seeking. I’ve tried to watch his show but get disgusted when he makes a big deal of non-issues. He seems really petty to me. I caught part of Rachel’s interview of Pelosi last night. I thought it was quite good; the interview, not Pelosi. How did she ever get to be Speaker?

Iraq: You misinterpreted what I said. I was using the cost for a comparison, nothing more. I wasn’t trying to validate anything.

I didn’t bring up Keynesian economics, but I think the basic idea behind it is for the government to stimulate demand for goods and provide regulation of markets. I’m all for some regulation to prevent greedy assholes from getting us into another situation like we are in now. I think it is ok to spend on infrastructure as a way to minimize the effect of the economic down turn; it is in sad shape and in need of improvement. But the government can not spend us out of it. We need to straighten out the banking mess, and wait until demand returns, and hopefully it won’t take another world war. Unfortunately, we now buy so much crap from overseas (major trade deficit) that I fear we don’t have a prayer of a thriving economy again, especially with all the deficit spending; give it to China so they can lend it back, smart. We really do need to develop a new technology and keep it here. Barry has that right; the concept anyway.

I don’t think tax cuts are the answer either. I like tax cuts and spending cuts simply because I don’t trust the federal government to spend my money wisely; and large states are not much better. I’m a big believer in local control when it comes to taxing and spending. I support my democratic governor and legislature; to me, it’s not a democrat vs republican issue. Answer me this: Why is it that government (federal, state, local) employees have better pay, better benefits, better job security, better retirement and earlier retirement than the taxpayer doing similar work?

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earmarks
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r111:@FIELD(FLD003+e)+@FIELD(DDATE+20090225)

 
At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Green River Rider said...

The Obama administration sends 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, says we can be out of Iraq in 18 months of course leaving 50,000 permanent troops onas 'advisors'?

Sorry, I'm not enthused.

Same shit, different face. Whats the excuse going to be when a short time in office is no longer enough of a fig leaf to obscure the obvious.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

 
At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank,

I really hate doing this. I dont like to show people up and im not trying to make any statement.

1. $3.4 billion towards Clean Coal. This is a bunch of bullshit. I am a mechanical engineer, I study renewable energy. It takes over 40% of the energy produced by a coal factory power plant to run the process, or scrubber, if you like to remove the CO2. Even after that it has to be compressed and stored. WE DONT KNOW HOW TO STORE COMPRESSED CO2!! The entire this is propaganda paid for by the coal companies.

2. Green Golf Carts - Communities are going to be getting more of them. You have probably seen police driving them around. They are not green. Its again bullshit propaganda. They tell you that they dont use gasoline and that you plug them into the wall to charge them. Well, where does the electricity come from? Its not renewable energy, solar and wind power account for less than 2% of the energy production in the United States. The electricity comes from COAL, providing over 70% of the US electricity with the other coming from natural gas and nuclear. COAL is the largest producer per mass consumed of CO2. The little battery things are green.

3. $185,000 for coral reef research and preservation in Maui County, Hawaii.

4. $55,000 in meteorological equipment for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.

5. $9.9 million for science enhancement at historically black colleges in South Carolina.

6. Lowbush Wildblueberry Research at the University of Maine. I dont even know what that is. (earmarked by someone who isnt even in congress anymore)

7. $950,000 Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center.

8.$950,000 nature education center in Moss Point, Miss.

9. Police radio upgrades in Peroia, IL.

10. Honey Bee Research in Texas

11. Astronomy in Hawaii

I am sorry that all of them dont have dollar amounts. Those are the ones from memory that I didnt bother looking up the details. These earmarks are from Republicans and Democrats alike.

My point is Frank, please form your own opinions from your own research, not what you hear on Olberman, Maddow, Hannity or Rush. Their job is to make money by spinning the truth in their favor. They are no different from Jerry Springer. They say whatever it is that will get them more viewers.

A great example of this is a story from an economist I was talking to about nationalized healthcare.

Someone was using some statistics from Sweden where healthcare is nationalized. They were trying to make the point that their healthcare was better than our and that he had the stats to prove it. He went on to claim that the US has an enormously higher amount of infant deaths, which they do. The US, per capita has more babies die during and after birth than Sweden.
I was shocked. My friend then told me that in Sweden, if there is any chance that there is something wrong with the baby they abort the pregnancy. They dont have the money, ability and time to try a delivery if there is a chance of expected problems. The US on the other hand will try a delivery at almost any cost and yes some do not make it, more than is Sweden.

Have a good night.

 
At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In number 2. Typo. It should say the little battery things ARENT green.

 
At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Joel, I guess you can mark me down as another ranting lunatic liberal -- like your favorite one, Tom. I suppose, if you're of the conservative persuasion, you would feel like Keith Olbermann gets under your skin. My suspicion is that it's because the truth hurts -- or is, at least, uncomfortable. The very thing that drives you crazy about Olbermann -- the "big deal of non-issues", the pettiness -- are what make me respect and enjoy him. For way too long, the conservative mouthpieces have had their say; enjoyed their merriment around "non-issues" and fictional nonsense. Now Olbermann takes all those "non-issues" and "petty" investigations, about real happenings and events, and exposes the Right and the conservative entourage for what they are.

I agree with you about Pelosi. She's one of the most insincere and deceitful people I've ever witnessed in public life. She can't even lie without it being disgustingly apparent. How she made it to the House Speaker position, I'll never understand. I totally agree with you there.

I read you on the Iraqi matter. I just hope you're in agreement that it should never have happened; that it started under false pretenses, and it continues to this day for no valid reason. Every dollar spent in Iraq is a dollar of "pork".

Regarding Keynesian economic theory, you're mostly right. It emphasizes the role of demand-side factors (as opposed to supply-side factors) in the determination of aggregate output. Keynesian economics argues that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes, and therefore advocates active policy responses by the public sector, including monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government, to stabilize output over the business cycle. Investment by government injects income, which results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending and so forth and so on. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment. At least, that's the hope. It's not meant to "take the place" of spending by the private sector, but instead "prime the pump" to get private investment started again. Keynesian theory doesn't advocate governmental regulation, but the two seem to work well together.

As far as your last question: "Why is it that government (federal, state, local) employees have better pay, better benefits, better job security, better retirement and earlier retirement than the taxpayer doing similar work?" My guess is that it's because their members are, by and large, better represented and organized. Yes, it's true, government workers have better protections (along with all the other benefits you mentioned) simply because they are "unionized". Did you realize private sector workers used to have better pay, better benefits, better job security, and better retirement plans (yes, real pensions -- not those miserable 401(k) devices that are erasing people's retirement hopes by the day) at one time? But, with the gradual elimination of labor unions from our lexicon, the American workers have lost all those attributes that used to make this country's middle and working classes the envy of the rest of the world. Well, I'm hear to tell you, we're not the envy any longer (unless, of course, you consider those who live under dictatorial regimes or third-world conditions). The European friends I have can't understand how we toil for such insufficient wages, while at the same time lacking the vacation and holiday benefits, along with pension plans, that are a normal part of their everyday life.

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous John said...

What a fun bunch of comments! I have to say the first one was my favorite. Next was...

>>Just think if half of that went to developing and implementing alternative energy sources. We would never have to deal with OPEC, or middle eastern conflict, again.

I think exxon and the others would take the Lee Ioccoca argument and say 'what is good for us...' - so alternative energy is just un-american. What a bunch of dullards.

Yea, my idea was if we took 1.6 trillion (or whatever it is) in bailout and gave it to homeowners for, say %80 of the cost of alternative energy projects with the stipulation that 80% of the parts are produced domestically, it would probably fix most of our immediate problems. The gotcha is that it is so unlikely happen as the powers that be don't like to reduce our dependency on them, as that equals power. I guess that there is a razor thin possibility that Obama reads Tom's blog and realizes what a great idea this is and makes it happen without getting keelhauled on shell's latest supertanker... but maybe not - it is pretty far-fetched. But if so, I'll be the first to head out to Rushmore with my chisel.

As for myself, I'm not waiting. I've got geothermal heat & solar hot water going in. I'm investigating wind & photovoltaic. They make sense - unfortunately not everywhere, but I'd love to arrive at energy self sufficiency. Then the only thing to chase me into the street when I reach old age will be the taxes (you always get fucked over somehow).

The last reminder I have to make (I'm not sure if it is to the aristocracy or the potential starving masses) is if the economic situations get too screwed up, remember what happened to the Czar!

I'd love to have revolution, but the sad fact is that governments and the wealthy always feed off the people - but hopefully somehow a better way comes along.

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, you're probably the only one on this comment board with any iota of wisdom (besides, of course, our host Tom). Your comment was not only interesting, but is backed-up by true democratic action in progress! You score the most points on Tom's latest round of "Here's My Beef" -- by being the only one actually doing something positive instead of bitching and moaning.

You, sir, get the maximum allowable points. You've performed the Blogosphere's equivalent of the coveted Triple Axel! For this, I salute you!

Tom, what do you have for our winner today...?

 
At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

Anonymous, I knew you'd accept my challenge and would dig up the ten items of "pork". Thank you. Before I respond, which you shouldn't have had any doubt that I would, let me say that I don't feel you've attempted to show me up. But, although you claim otherwise, you have made a statement -- that being you disagree with the $787 billion allocated for the Recovery & Reinvestment Act. As I replied to Joel, what viable solutions do you have that would work better? What will stimulate spending and investment to get people working again, without going through the Japanese experience of the 1990s?

1. Clean Coal: Could the $3.4 billion be earmarked to learn how to develop the capability of storing and compressing carbon-dioxide? If so, it's a legitimate stimulus item. Otherwise, I'm stumped. I don't know a lot about the concept of "clean coal". If the future of burning pollution-free and greenhouse gases-free coal lies, partly, within the development of storing and compressing carbon-dioxide, I'm all for the government spending that allows for this.

2. Green Golf Carts: Agreeably, battery-powered "anything" isn't totally green until the source of the power also is. But, the concepts, and the promoting of the ideas, are worthy and necessary. You know, as well as I, that small internal combustion engines, such as those used in most golf cart-like vehicles, lawn mowers, etc., are some of the worse polluters and expellers of greenhouse gases. This could be pork, but, at the same time, it could be legitimate.

3. $185,000 for coral reef research and preservation: Yes, this is probably pork. But, in the scheme of things, $185,000 is chicken-feed compared to the cost of the overall package. It was a political maneuvering gesture, I'm sure, to get some Hawaiian legislator's crucial vote. That's the sound of politics. You don't like it and I don't like it, but in the overall picture, I can live with it.

4. $55,000 for meteorological equipment for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA: It's hard to tell with this. It could be a sound investment.

5. $9.9 million for science enhancement at historically black colleges in SC: Again, this could be a sound investment, although I tend to agree it's probably pork. Again, I'm sure it was a trade-off for someone's vote. It's the cost of "doing business".

6. Lowbush Wild blueberry Research at the University of Maine: Sounds like pork, but then again, it could have scientific and medical possibilities. Could this have to do with the study of the antioxidant qualities of certain plant life? Again, we don't know. The long-term ramifications could, and I repeat, could, lower health costs in the future. Who knows?

7. $950,000 Myrtle Beach International Trade and Convention Center: Sounds to me, as with item #5, it was important to get the Republican congressional membership onboard with this package. But, it is construction, and construction's on its back right now. This is probably legitimate.

8.$950,000 nature education center in Moss Point, MS: Again, this is construction. It's no different than the "make-work" projects that were put into place during the 1930s. Remember the old WPA (Works Progess Administration)? They built all kinds of things back then -- public buildings, roads, various projects, and operated large arts, drama, media and literacy projects. Many of the "pork" projects you've listed sound very similar to what they did.

9. Police radio upgrades in Peoria, IL: This could be pork, but than again, it could have necessary "stimulus" to create even more jobs. Who knows?

10. Honey Bee Research in TX: Sure, it seems like pork, but if you've been keeping up with the news about the dwindling bee populations, and the adverse affect it's creating for our food supply, than this is likely money well-spent.

11. Astronomy in HI: Well, your title doesn't tell much, but it could be pork ... but then, again, it might not be. My guess, it's another political gesture. But, if it's for the design and/or building of a telescope needed for scientific purposes, it's probably going to be "money in the bank".

In conclusion, let me assure you that my political and economic views aren't derived from Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, or anyone else in particular. My mind-set wasn't created by their particular brand of news reporting or commentary -- but it's certainly being fed, and nourished, by them. Their work has given me hope that justice and truthfulness isn't all opaque -- that there is some hope, and not all the media outlets are for pure corporate propaganda. I research my viewpoints thoroughly, and they've been developed and shaped over a lifetime. I've always been liberal -- and I'm proud to make that claim.

Have a good day. Be sure to watch Keith tonight. You may learn something. ;->

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

Hey John, I agree with you 100%! We need more incentive for homeowners than 30%. I think CA provided 50% in the past; not sure now. Most people aren’t going to spend big bucks for alternative energy if they don’t see a payback. I’m planning on an evacuated tube hot water system for both heat and domestic. Check this: http://eos-solar.com ; highly recommended by a mechanical engineer friend of mine.

I would also like to see some program to fit up gas stations with hydrogen refueling equipment for hybrid vehicles like the Volt. I think plug-in vehicles with back-up fuel cells are the way to go at the moment, especially if you combine it with photovoltaics in the home. The stimulus package provides up to $7500 tax credit if you buy a car like the Volt. But the credit ends in the quarter the first 200,000 are sold; amounting to about $2B, not nearly enough. You would think we could get the auto makers to keep the cost down too since we are loaning them so much money. I know that makes too much sense.

It’s too bad our government doesn’t know how to prioritize. Take the list Anonymous and Frank are debating. There are some worthy items, but personally, I pay for my immediate necessities before I spend on discretionary items; and I don’t borrow to do it. I wish our government could do the same.

 
At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Green River RIder said...

Clean Coal (oxymoron)
and the Obama Administation

Read about it here.

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank,

It has become apparent to me that you do actually know what you are talking about. You do actually understand Keynesian theory and dont just suck up the BS on TV. If only every american did the same, maybe things will be a little different.

Have a good day

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

I just love how rabid wingnuts want to run their diatribe while hiding behind "Anonymous".
Why don't you played-out white boys grow a set? That'd be a refreshing change we could believe in. If that feels too scary for you, maybe your gelatinous idol Rush Limpbow could lend ya some Oxycontin...

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooohhhhh Anna, I love it when you whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Talk dirty to me baby!

 
At 5:07 PM, Anonymous John said...

Joel, Check out americansolarworks.com Their model from a couple of years ago is what is going on the roof. The quality appears good and they were quite helpful in resolving delivery issues. I have the internal plumbing done but don't have the collectors on the roof yet (there is always something that needs to happen first). I did however have a different collector that I picked up super cheap ($260 at a close-out store) hooked up until winter. It paid for itself in the few months I had it running. It was not designed for a freezing climate so had to come off line.

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous John said...

Anon, Thank you... and Ladies & Gentlemen thank you very much for the... uh-uhh award... I would like to first thank mom & dad ...a special shout-out to Jehesus ...and to Tom for teachin' me everything I know... I love you all!

 
At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Frank Spengler said...

John,

I have to agree with Anonymous -- one of several joining the discussion the last few days, that your industriousness is only surpassed by your wit and your wisdom. I hope that your geothermal heat & solar hot water system works wonders, and you're able to get the wind & PV cells off the drawing board and installed before oil gets near $100/bbl again. Best of luck! You're definitely worthy of the prize that "The Rant" is so charismatically awarding you. ;->


Anonymous (the ME -- I "think")

Thanks for the compliment, but it was quite unnecessary. Why don't you leave the "dark side" and come into the light. There's plenty of room for people interested in peace, justice, and those who care about equality for all. Hey, and we won't even hold it against you that you voted for Bush -- even if you voted for him the second time, too. ;-)


Joel,

I'm glad you ditched that "Anonymous" moniker and decided to show your face. Now, see, wasn't that easy? I enjoyed the dialogue with you. I sense we agree about more than we disagree. Just as I extended my offer of coming over to "the light" with Anonymous, the ME, why don't you do the same? Just like A-ME, you make some very valid points.


Ellis D.,

You've been pretty quiet lately. Where has that, "f#@k Amerika" spirit been hiding? C'mom, certainly you have some ideas and thoughts that you're dying to share. Don't you?


Fabianna,

Where have you been all day? Don't tell me you're making t-shirts in that hot Argentine sun. I'm waiting for you to blow Jefferson's Guardian away with your response. C'mon, let 'em have it. ;-)


Anna Van Z,

I have to ask, are you as gorgeous as your picture? Apparently, "Anonymous" wants to know, too. For some reason I'm thinking you're the only progressive in Mills River -- or even within a two-hundred mile radius. Is that about right, or am I totally off the mark? Where is Mills River, anyway? It's close to Virginia, isn't it?

Finally...

Prairie Waif,

Where have you been? Have you been traveling, or are you keeping your nose in a book?


Have a great weekend, all, and be sure to open your hearts to enlightenment in whatever you do. Until it happens, on a grand scale, I'm afraid it's not going to matter what Mr. Obama does (or doesn't do). It's ultimately up to us, each of us individually (as Joel alluded to) and all of us collectively -- because there's no one else left.

Peace...

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anne!!! said...

Heading Tom a Chisel! And hoping he doesnt hurt himself! Be Careful Tom!

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

Ah, Frank - if only. Sadly, when I get up in the morning I actually resemble the bride of Frankenstein. Apparently small mammals spend the night nesting in my hair. But every now and then I clean up good. Once I take off the flannel shirt, that is.

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Wilma Lamb said...

Tom, I am absolutley giddy over our first African-American president.
At last we have put our money where our mouth is when we blathered civil rights yet did everthing we could to "keep them in their place"
Rosa Parks, MLK, JFK, and all the other foot soldiers who worked so hard and sacrificed so much are looking down and cheering.
The Obamas are young,handsome articulate, intelligent and are a welcome change from the past.
Isn't it fun having kids in the White House once more?
Give Obama a chance please. The damage the Bush-Cheney greedheads have done to our country at home and abroad cannot be changed overnight;China isn't going so say oh we forgive your debt amd make it go away

 
At 5:03 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear Wilma,

I agree with you whole-heartedly. And while we're on the subject of fott soldiers in the fight for equal rights for all Americans, let us not forget poor old Lyndon Baines Johnson. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, no president in history did more for the cause of African Americans than LBJ. Obama's very presence in the Oval Office his his mors enduring legacy.

God bless him - flaws and all.

peace....

Tom Degan

 

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