icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
My dear international friends,

Long have I labored (at least once or twice) to explain:

- US elections ("Yes, well we have to vote along party lines for the least objectionable candidate because splitting the party vote results in getting someone Very objectionable.")

- the death penalty ("but we don't even have a death penalty in my region! Yes, well, that's Texas for you.")

- gun control ("But it depends on where you live; in New York City, I think they've outlawed water pistols.")

- religious freedom ("Yes, supposedly we have a separation between church and state, but some areas just don't vote that way. Where my friend Andrea lives, she was told she shouldn't even have Buddhists praying for her.")

Now, Tufts University has managed, in one brief gun control article, to do the impossible.

They've EXPLAINED America.


The country was settled in waves by very different groups of people. With different political philosophies and cultural attitudes.

If you like, you can consider that America has multiple personality disorder. First, check which America you're speaking to.
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Regarding my cousin Savion, who committed suicide March 1st:

I'm declaring a moratorium on the phrase "don't blame yourself" (oft repeated to family members who've had a relative commit suicide). That phrase is now being shipped to all people going through divorces instead: they could use it. In a divorce everyone one's blaming everyone else.

But fantasizing about what you could've done differently I find is inherent to the grieving process in the case of suicide. It's natural. It's normal. It's to be expected. It's not something you can prevent or, I think, should prevent. And it feels terrible to be told that I shouldn't do this.

So. Good intentions accepted. Phrase "don't blame yourself" for future reference: delete it. Stick with the time-honored "I'm sorry for your loss." It's a good phrase, none the worse for having been used before.

Unrelated: In Keystone XL pipeline news ... I'm putting this link here, where I can find it later: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/upload/GLI_KeystoneXL_012312_FIN.pdf

Now if the purring cute kitty would just let me get dressed so I can go out to my prayer shift, that would be good. (Ooooh, but he's so sweet. Maybe another minute or two. Who needs a shower?)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Occupy Wall Street is outperforming the Red Cross and FEMA in their response to hurricane Sandy. They've been fast, scarily competent, and flexible, and gone to the hardest hit areas FEMA has ignored.

They receive high praise, and in the hard hit areas like Rockaways, volunteers from Occupy are the only help they've seen. Occupy members say that they feel capitalism is broken, and so they've stepped up to attend to community needs.

I'm totally pro-Obama, you know that, but this disaster has disappeared too quickly from the news cycle. From what I've heard, I'm getting the sense that there's too much crowd control going on, and not enough help.

The word is that it's really bad up there. People have lost everything, absolutely everything, and in the rubble -- with no infrastructure even -- must somehow rebuild their lives from scratch.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

Oh, wow.

Come join me over on my Facebook, where most of my political stuff has migrated (through ease of posting articles).


And one classy concession speech from Mitt Romney. Probably his most classy moment in the entire campaign.

Marriage equality has passed in Maryland!! Also, looks like it'll pass in Washington and Maine, too.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I LOVE this.

Clickclickclick! You've gotta see. Also, hear Obama's speech, because he's right.

icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Who would the candidates be in a zombie apocalypse?

Joe Biden would be the guy who raids the federal armory and kicks open the doors to the local supermarket, waving everyone in to take food while he stands guard. You know the one -- the first guy to figure out that the old rules don't apply.

President Obama would be the guy you find at the local church (that's been turned into a hospital). He's introduced as "the doc" and he's wearing an expensive blood-stained shirt as he directs people inside. Once the doors are re-barricaded, you discover he's a lawyer who retooled himself to fit the need of the moment when the first doctor got killed.

Mitt Romney's the smug socialite who, when the chips were down, shot his neighbors to make sure he himself would have enough food. Everyone is warned to stay away from his house, and folks have to wrestle with their consciences when the zombies head his way: do you warn the selfish bastard? Do you help him? He wouldn't help you.

Paul Ryan's the zombie. He's first guy who got killed. You watched him be a vicious boss, a liar, and an arrogant jerk. When he died you didn't regret it. But now he's a zombie and he's even worse.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Going through FactCheck.org about the recent speeches at the recent Republican and Democratic conventions.

I expect exaggerations and hot air at these things.

I didn't expect Bill Clinton to provide more solid facts than anyone -- especially the Republican candidate, who gave no facts at all but instead rambled in a Mad Men fantasy land -- and then have them all check out.

Accuracy and facts at a convention? Good heavens! What's this world coming to?

The rest was normal, normal, normal, no facts, normal ... until I got to Paul Ryan.

What struck me about the fact check report on Paul Ryan is that he's a shit. No, really. This guy's a total asshole. He accuses the president of the stuff Ryan himself is responsible for.

Paul Ryan's the guy you don't want as a neighbor. The guy who puts his boat on your side of the property line, killing your grass. Then, once he's finally moved it, calls the neighborhood association to complain about your dead grass. Paul Ryan's a dickwich.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Regarding President Obama. I always knew it would take more than one term to undo the damage of President Bush. I'm not naive.

I followed what Bush was doing. Two wars. Massive deregulation leading to total corruption (I'm looking at you, Cheney and Haliburton). No bid contracts--fundamentally cash giveaways. The insanity of cutting taxes while wildly spending on wars and unfunded drug benefits for seniors and NCLB. Jobs vanishing overseas and corporations paid to do it. Torture and extraordinary rendition. Stomping over the UN and military advice. The Patriot Act and total disregard for human rights. A staggering mess even before the recession. People don't realize, but most of the US economy fell into a recession around 2005. The housing bubble hid the fact that every other area of our economy, aside from housing, had floundered because of outsourcing.

Now we have a solid indicator of economic improvement, according the conservative Brookings Institute: the return of US manufacturing, mostly the auto industry and peripheral businesses.

That's Obama's doing. And the government is making money on the deal.

This pushes us away from what caused the recession in the first place--and again, those credit swaps merely triggered the collapse of an artificial housing bubble, revealing the weak foundations beyond.

We wanted overnight change. We got slow, solid change.

We wanted a crusading hero. We got a pragmatic diplomat.

I knew when I watched his inauguration parade, saw the troops parade by him, that he would be a military president. Maybe it was his respect for those soldiers. I knew those would be his successes. I wasn't surprised by the death of Osama Bin Laden and the end of our involvement in Iraq.

I worried about that 2008 slogan, "Hope." Heartening. And when we hope, we're capable of more: everything goes better. But "Hope" also made him a blank screen for people to project their own hopes and dreams, no matter how varied and disparate. And sure enough, the Democrats wanted it all, yesterday, and pulled in a million different directions. That slogan didn't bring the Democrats together on a single agenda. His goals, like the closing of Guantanamo Bay for example, were undermined by the defection of Democrats who *hoped* he would to accomplish *their* projected dreams.

It's time to vote for the real Obama.

- The fiscally cautious man who can build a stimulus bill while making so many tiny little cuts, he offsets a third of its cost -- and yet not a soul complains about those cuts.

- The president who listens to the advice of his military advisers and takes bold, decisive action.

- The president who's willing to seize the opportunity to pass health care, even knowing the Republicans would wreak revenge.

- The dignified diplomat who represents us with such credit throughout the world, I feel proud to see him step off of Air Force One.

- He's a man who comes from where we're from, with student loans, a beater car, and junky college furniture.

He's one of us.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
President Barack Obama: One of Us.

Michelle Obama gives a brilliant and moving speech at the Democratic National Convention (full text).

"Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.

"And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President.

"I loved Barack just the way he was.

"You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate…to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.

"But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

"You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves. (Read the rest)."

She goes on to talk about their combined student loan payments, which were higher than the mortgage on their house. And how being president doesn't change a man, but reveals who he is.

And I would say: he's one of us.

He cares about us, has already reduced student loan payments and protected students from rapacious loan practices. He's supported equal pay for women because he has two daughters and a wife he respects.

The first move he made when he stepped into office was close Guantanamo Bay--it's gotten complicated, but the fact that he did that first tells you who he is.

He's ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

He's passed universal health care, even though it cost him.

He gave immigrant kids who've lived here their whole lives citizenship.

This is the man to vote for. Someone who's one of Us.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Who raised the deficit? Hmm... let's see....

icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The whoppers at the GOP

My personal favorite is Ryan shedding tears about the poor -- while the infamous Ryan budget ruthlessly cut programs for the poor.

Ryan proposed cuts to food stamps, vouchers instead of Medicare coverage for seniors, ruthless cuts to social security for future generations, eliminated job training programs, federal lunch programs for kids, Head Start for kindergarteners.

His plan would take money from the poor and give it to the rich while increasing the budget deficit (per economist Paul Krugman). Romney would pay only 1% of his income in taxes under Ryan's budget, because Ryan plans to eliminate all taxes to capital gains and dividends.

Yep. We want to be sure to help all those poor people with stock portfolios.

Posing for the cameras, Ryan says that "it's the responsibility of the strong to care for the weak"?

How does he define "care"? As in "I care for burgers, but I don't care for sushi"? I have this image of a vulture, perched and drooling.

icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Under Paul Ryan's budget, Mitt Romney would pay 0.82% taxes

The Atlantic writes how Romney would pay 0.82% in taxes under Paul Ryan's budget plan

My. I can see why Paul Ryan is popular with the rich -- and despised by the elderly, the 99%, and pretty much anyone else who's paying attention.

Ryan's 2010 "Roadmap" budget echoes the Bush tax cuts, only worse: instead of lowering capital gains, he would eliminate all taxes on capital gains and investments.

Since Romney's income, like many who've inherited their wealth, is almost entirely capital gains, he would pay nothing on his millions. All that would be taxed would be his speaking fees -- and even those taxes would be reduced.

The taxes for the middle class and lower income people, however, would increase. (Why????)

Of course, middle class income has been shrinking over the last thirty years as corporate profits grow. And lower income people never have any money. So Ryan's Roadmap budget would create massive deficits -- unless his Roadmap cuts spending. And cut it does. Everything. Medicare, Social Security, L&I, unemployment insurance. He plans to starve every single government program from Head Start for kindergarteners to the FBI.

You want clean air, clean water, a Park Service, someone to tend the graves of our soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery? Too bad. Veteran benefits, cut, museums and libraries, cut, grants for college educations -- hahaha, Ryan's plan laughs at that.

I also note that federal employees would be dumped into the workforce, increasing unemployment, right when he plans to cut unemployment insurance.

How does this benefit us?

It doesn't. But it paves the road for corporations to run rough shod over the people, and not have to contend with pesky laws.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm floored Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Either Romney has abandoned the plan to court the middle class, or he thinks we're stupid, and hopes we'll just listen to the ads (and FOX).

Has Romney heard of the internet?

Ten things about Paul Ryan:

icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Mitt Romney: making it up as he goes along.

"Paul Ryan's career ambition was not to go to Washington." -- Mitt Romney

FACTS: Ryan began working on Capitol Hill right after graduating. He was elected to Congress at age 28 after spending 6 years in DC, and has been there ever since.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
A Republican friend asked me what Obama had done for me personally. Oh, there's a quite a list.

But let's start with my student loan and Obama's student loan reform.

Obama is for students.

A former college professor, President Obama has done a great deal to make college more affordable. He ended rapacious student loan practices. He made more Pell grants available, both freeing up funds for college students and freeing up jobs for adults during this rough period. He cut student loan interest rates in half, lowering them from 6.8% to 3.4%.

His student loan reforms cap loan payments to 10% of your income.


How has this helped me? As someone working but underemployed (I'm tutoring part-time) I was able to reduce my student loan payments to an amount I can afford.

(Note that the Republicans voted to raise student loans back to 6.8%. If you're a student, don't vote Republican.)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Very good. Senator Udall on the DISCLOSE act, amending Citizen's United.

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant ... We literally stomp on the principles of democracy when we allow tens of millions of dollars to be spent our elections without disclosure."


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