Archive for January 27, 2011
Rand Paul breaks the sound barrier and does the unthinkable: He talks about ending aid to Israel (a conversation that is essentially banned in the US media):
[Rand] Paul, a Republican newly elected in Kentucky, was on CNN Wednesday outlining where he would cut the $500 billion in government spending he says is critical to sustaining the U.S. economy. His focus was on the departments of energy, education and housing.
Interviewer Wolf Blitzer then asked about foreign assistance, asking if he wanted to end “all foreign aid.” Paul said yes, and Blitzer asked him about aid to Israel.
“Well, I think what you have to do is you have to look,” Paul said. “When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too.
“You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as a, you know, a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East.”
Blitzer pressed, “End all foreign aid including the foreign aid to Israel as well. Is that right?” he asked.
Paul answered, “Yes.”
Woohoo! Bravo! Someone finally said it.
While I don’t agree with Paul about cutting the departments of energy, education and housing, I love the idea of cutting foreign “assistance,” including “assistance” to Israel.
What Israel does with the billions we give it is another post. Suffice it to say, cut the talk about privatizing Social Security. Bring. That. Money. Home. And leave Social Security alone.
This is why Egypt blocked the Internet. They’re shooting their own citizens in cold blood.
Memo to American taxpayers: Roughly $1.5 billion of our tax dollars go to Egypt annually. We’re paying for those bullets and those tanks.
I’m watching Michelle Obama on Oprah. She looks good. She’s dressed very conservatively — a pinkish/purple sleeveless dress, blue/gray “kitten” heel pumps, “diamond” stud earrings (I don’t know if they’re real, of course) and a mesh-like silver necklace with five or six grayish stones:
I’m trying to figure out what the righties will say is “wrong” with her look. They always find something, as in the commie red dress she wore last week to the state dinner honoring the President of China.
I’ll keep you posted. If Sarah Palin can turn Obama’s “winning the future” theme from the State of the Union into WTF (what the fuck), they’re capable of anything.
The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Rahm Emanuel is eligible for Chicago mayoral race.
The thing I find so repulsive about this is that Rahm seems to think he deserves the job. That Chicago owes him.
I just received a call from a friend in Cairo (I won’t say who it is now because he’s a prominent activist) telling me neither his DSL nor his USB internet service is working. I’ve just checked with two other friends in different parts of Cairo and their internet is not working either.
This just happened 10 minutes ago — and perhaps not uncoincidentally just after AP TV posted a video of a man being shot.
Will update with more info. The ISPs being used by my friends are TEDATA, Vodafone, and Egynet.
A huge rally is planned for tomorrow afternoon in Cairo.
My thoughts are with the people of Egypt.
UPDATE @7:55 p.m. ET:
Hey folks, here’s Rudy Giuliani in 2000 (with Donald Trump).
And there’s this from 1997:
In 1997, Giuliani made an artistic pivot. For the first time he put on women’s clothing in public, a trope he would return to throughout his career. (This was also no doubt around the time that Focus on the Family’s James Dobson opened a file on him.) Playing Marilyn Monroe in an Inner Circle production with Julie Andrews, Giuliani donned a platinum-blond wig made by RuPaul’s wig maker and wore a sequined dress that required three fittings. Hillary Clinton is not the only candidate whose victory will bring us a president who is at ease in a brassiere. “Can you play a woman playing a man playing a woman?” asked Andrews. “Haven’t you seen my act?” the mayor shot back. “I already play a Republican playing a Democrat playing a Republican.” Later in the show, Giuliani returned in a robe and sang a tune that included the lines: “Once upon a time/ I was a Democrat/ How the press loved that/ But then I grew/ Now I wear a dress/ size 22.”
I know this is old stuff but I wanted to have it on my blog, you know, in preparation for the 2012 election.
Turns out the current crop of potential GOP presidential candidates aren’t all that popular even in conservative West Virginia. Voters there really dislike Barack Obama, of course, but Mike Huckabee is the only GOP candidate with even a marginally good approval rating:
West Virginia’s one of the most conservative states in the country. But even there voters don’t like any of the leading Republican candidates for President, with the exception of Mike Huckabee. It’s yet another sign that the current front runners have limited appeal and that the party might be better off with someone else emerging from the pack of currently second tier candidates as their nominee next year.
Huckabee’s favorability in the state is a 48/27 spread. But the rest of the pack all have negative favorability ratings. Mitt Romney’s at 34/37, Sarah Palin’s at 41/47, and Newt Gingrich is at 33/43.
So, who’s it going to be? I’m hearing Jeb Bush’s name being knocked around.
Ready for another Bush?
Lord have mercy.
It’s break time — time to appreciate an amazing tree:
The Tree of Life in Bahrain is a remarkable natural phenomenon that is witnessed by most who visit Bahrain. The Tree of Life stands alone with almost majestic flair, miles away from other vegetation and with no apparent source of water. The Tree of Life in Bahrain is a mesquite tree that has grown at the highest point in Bahrain for over 400 years. The mystery of the survival of the tree has made it a legend.
The local inhabitants believe with heart and soul that this was the actual location of the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Life or Sharajat-al-Hayat, as the Arabs call it, is located 1.2 miles or 2 kilometers away from Jebel Dukhan. The tree stands lonely in the heart of desert, on top of a 25-foot-high sandy hill. The tree of life has continued growing-despite the extremities of the climate. At present it is 32 feet in height.
The tree’s source of water is mystery. Plant scientist may say that its roots go very deep and wide to get water from the reserves of sweet springs kilometers away. The Bedouins believe that Enki, the mythical God of water, had showered its blessing.
Whether it’s “The Tree of Life” or not, I applaud this tree for surviving in the environment it’s in. (There’s a lesson here.)
Did Obama just cave to the gun lobby? Something’s up:
The White House, facing fierce criticism from the gun lobby, has delayed approval of a proposed rule that federal law enforcement officials say could help them stanch the flow of U.S. assault rifles and other high-powered weapons to Mexico’s drug cartels.
The proposed rule, announced by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms acting director Kenneth Melson on Dec. 20, would require U.S. firearms dealers in four southwest border states to report multiple sales of long guns, such as semi-automatic assault rifles which are frequently purchased by so-called “straw buyers” for the cartels. Melson had said he expected the proposed “emergency rule” would receive approval in early January 2011.
But the announced deadline date for White House approval, Jan. 5, has come and gone, leaving ATF officials bewildered and keenly disappointed. Some officials had expressed hopes that President Barack Obama might even address the issue during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night as a positive step the administration was taking to address the issue of gun violence.
Instead, Obama failed to discuss guns in his speech, and now some ATF officials are wondering whether the proposed emergency rule will take effect at all.
Guess we should be used to the caving thing by now.
Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — the guy who gave the official rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union speech (he looks kinda like he should have been on the Munsters television show), has big plans for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid:
Ryan’s Roadmap puts Americans on the path of privatizing entitlement programs, such as Social Security. The Plan boasts about “the creation of personal investment accounts for future retirees” that are “the property of the individual.” (Emphasis in the original document). “Individuals will be able to join the investor class for the first time,” the Roadmap says. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes that “the Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits — roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone.” It “initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency.” CBPP also notes that the Roadmap “would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program” by creating a private voucher system that won’t keep up with the cost of health care.
He must be a cold, hard dude because there was a time when he received Social Security. He used it to help pay for college:
One day as a 16 year old, Ryan came upon the lifeless body of his father. Paul Ryan, Sr. had died of a heart attack at age 55, leaving the Janesville Craig High School 10th grader, his three older brothers and sisters and his mother alone. It was Paul who told the family of his father’s death.
With his father’s passing, young Paul collected Social Security benefits until age 18, which he put away for college.
Here’s more on Paul Ryan’s hysteria.
The right claims that threats by wingers against Democrats are rare, “isolated incidents.” Not exactly. This is the fourth “isolated incident” in the last three weeks:
Federal authorities have charged a Granger man with threatening U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly and his South Bend office staff.
Brett Keiling, 46, of the 10000 block of Anderson Road, called Donnelly’s downtown South Bend office Monday and told a staff member that everyone in the office had been “back stabbing him,” according to an affidavit from FBI special agent Robert Dane.
The employee tried to rationalize with Keiling, but he continued to threaten her, saying, “I am going to come and back stab you. I mean literally come down and stab you.”
The woman told the FBI that she felt the threat was directed at her, the rest of the staff and Donnelly, D-2nd.
Keiling regularly calls the Donnelly headquarters and the FBI’s South Bend office to discuss current events in the media, and is “routinely irrational, confrontational and uses vulgar language,” Dane wrote in his affidavit.
Okay folks. Let’s stop, take a deep breath and look at what’s going on around here.
Six weeks ago, when the Republicans sat on their hands and said they weren’t going to budge until President Obama agreed to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, they were poo pooing the Congressional Budget Office:
Unfortunately, Republicans have long had it in for the CBO.Many would like nothing better than to abolish it altogether, just as they abolished the Office of Technology Assessment and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations when they took control of Congress in 1995. Even those Republicans that don’t hate the CBO see its close to $50 million per year budget as an inviting target for false economy.
They poo pooed it because the CBO’s calculations showed that extending the cuts would cost billions of dollars:
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the Senate Budget Committee today and dropped something of a bombshell. Extending the Bush tax cuts, he said, will “probably reduce income relative to what would otherwise occur in 2020.” The reason is simple: Debt.
And early this month, when they were preparing to vote to repeal “Obamacare,” Republicans practially laughed when the CBO said repealing that would also cost billions:
House Speaker John Boehner is dismissing an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that repealing President Barack Obama’s health bill would increase the deficit by $230 billion over 10 years.
“The CBO is entitled to their opinion,” the Ohio Republican told reporters in his first press conference as speaker.
But, in the end, they got the extension of tax cuts for the rich and they symbolically voted to repeal “Obamacare.”
Fast forward to yesterday when the CBO came out with a report showing that,
[T]he government’s deficit spending will surge to a record $1.5 trillion this year, congressional budget experts estimated, blaming the slow economic recovery and last month’s extension of Bush-era tax cuts.
While Republicans aren’t talking about how the extension of Bush’s tax cuts play a role in the deficit projection, they sure as hell believe in the CBO again:
Many Republicans are demanding steep, immediate cuts in federal spending, and Senate Republicans said they would press again for a constitutional amendment requiring balanced federal budgets.
Democrats, meanwhile, denounced the Republicans’ suggested cuts, including a proposal by the conservative Republican Study Committee to slash $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Democrats said that plan would gut vital programs and eliminate more than one million jobs, including 4,000 agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and 160,000 railroad jobs at Amtrak.
Bottom line? Now that they’ve got theirs, i.e., tax cuts for their rich buddies and benefactors, they are chomping at the bit to use the CBO numbers to cut jobs and programs that benefit we, the small people. After all, don’t forget, their objective is to reduce the size of government such that they can “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
Their chutzpah is breathtaking. Over the course of literally six weeks they have gone from claiming that the CBO can’t be trusted, to full-fledged crisis mode today because of the new CBO numbers. And they’re counting on us having such short memories that we don’t see them as the slimy, manipulative scum that they are.